Dragonado '18!
Pop Culture, Actor-Businessman-Philanthropist Ian Ziering Comes to Dragon Con

By Lee Valentine Smith

The melting pot of culture, trends and social interaction that is Dragon Con returns for 2018 with an especially strong line-up of events and guests. One of the most popular attractions is sure to be special guest Ian Ziering.
The busy actor and businessman is pop culture personified. His decade on Beverly Hills 90210 made him a star, but the fit, 54-year-old performer has enjoyed a number of appearances on reality TV (Dancing With The Stars, The Apprentice) and game shows (Family Feud). Additionally, he oversees signature lines of clothing and health and beauty aids. Since 2013, he's starred as Fin Shepard in the wildly popular Sharknado sci-fi/horror/comedy franchise. The Last Sharknado: It's About Time, the sixth and (probably) final episode of the campy SyFy Newtork show is scheduled to debut on August 19.

INsite spoke with Ziering as he corralled his family for a "staycation" on Catalina Island.

I was hoping to talk with you during Shark Week recently, but then I realized every week is shark week for you now.

It's been shark years for the past six years, now, actually. But let's call it what it really is for me, it's a phenomenon. This success has been like a meteor shot. The movie caught fire in 2013 - overnight. By the time the second one came around, it already had a billion Twitter impressions. I still sit back in awe of the way it's happened, especially after reading the first script.

Initially, you must have thought Sharknado was just a throwaway project or a mild diversion at best, right?

It began as an offer that was to commence shooting in less than a week's time. So right there, I knew somebody fell out of it for some reason. Of course, they don't tell you that. But when I read the script, I could see why somebody stepped out of it. There were a lot of holes in it that were left to be filled by visual effects. I didn't even know if the production company had enough funds to provide quality content for it. Halfway through, I told my wife, "I can't do this." But I took one for the team, did it and then didn't really talk about it after we shot it. I was kinda hoping it would just go away. Then, when it aired in July of 2013, Twitter blew up!

It hit at just the right time.

Right time, right place. It had just enough ingredients for success and it had that one special ingredient, that "secret sauce." And we don't even know what that is. Major motion picture studios spend millions of dollars hoping for the secret sauce but it's illusive. Like you said, it was just the right movie at the right time. For whatever reason, people love it. The sci-fi fans love it and they're the most important fans you can have. When they find something exciting, they talk about it on social media. When that happens, there's just no stopping it.

The sci-fi fans really latched on to the movie and to you personally.

They are the most proactive, supportive fans, across any kind of entertainment. Sci-fi fans will go the extra mile and put on a cape or hold a toy chainsaw in their hand and walk proudly because they love the films.

At the cons, you can interact with fans from all ages, all walks of life.

Right, whether it's parents or grandparents who remember me from 90210 or whatever and even the little kids look at me with astonishment. Kids who have my face on their pajamas at home! It's just a mind-blowing experience.

So you understand the fan mindset.

Oh yeah, having worked in this business for 40 years, even I still get it. I get that way around people I've always been a fan of. I got that way around Judd Hirsch on Sharknado 2. I totally had to hold it together because I was geeking out!

Dragon Con represents all the best aspects of pop culture and you seem to personify nearly every aspect of it. Have you made an album? If you did a record, you'd be in the William Shatner stratosphere.

Um, maybe Ian's Greatest Hits? [Laughs] I just don't know about that. Not to say I don't sing. I sing to my kids. When I was younger, I sang on Broadway. And you know, they're talking about doing a musical production of Sharknado in Las Vegas, so I might have to take some singing lessons.

Thanks to the Sharknado franchise, you've been doing the convention circuit for a while. What is the most unusual item a fan has has brought for you to sign?

A lot of people show up dressed as Fin Shepard. Kids will have plastic chainsaws and I'll sign them. There are even people who dress up as if they are in the middle of a tornado, with sharks flying around. It gets pretty elaborate and I appreciate it. I'm not weirded out by it at all. If someone brought a dismembered arm, now that would be weird, but I haven't had that happen. Not yet, anyway.

Dragon Con runs August 30 - September 3. For tickets and more info, visit dragoncon.org. For more info on Ziering's projects, go to @IanZiering.

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