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BY SARAH BERMAN, VANCOUVER SUN

VANCOUVER—It’s one thing to earn millions of views, but the success of HBO’s True Blood is better measured by the lively, semi-religious devotion of its fans.

Not satisfied with watching the vampire drama alone, true “fangbangers” orchestrate screening parties, make webisodes of their favourite characters, write fan fiction or dissect series creator Alan Ball’s “anti-brunette agenda” online.

“I’m surprised often,” replies actress Kristin Bauer, who plays the acid-tongued vampire Pam de Beaufort. “That’s the interesting thing about this show—how much people want to participate and give back.”

Bauer will celebrate precisely this type of viewer dedication during Vancouver’s first Fan Expo this weekend. One of several celebrities appearing at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Bauer will sign autographs and field questions about her costumes and co-stars.

“All the women want to know what Alex Skarsgard is like, and if he’s as cute in person,” she says. “I always say he’s much cuter.”

Fan Expo Vancouver draws talent from every flavour of nerd culture—from comic illustrators to video game voice actors. And whether it’s camp, horror, action or anime you’re after, the program promises icons both past and present.

Original Batman co-stars Adam West and Burt Ward will be in attendance, along with vintage Star Trek: The Next Generation personalities Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi), John de Lancie (Q) and Michael Dorn (Worf). Not-too-distant television stars Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) and Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will also meet with fans.

Having toured conventions across North America, Bauer is familiar with the comic nerd scene. Growing up, Bauer says she even had a couple fangirl tendencies of her own.

“I loved anything supernatural or sci-fi,” she recalls of her youthful obsession with Anne Rice. “I loved science fiction books. Anything done well.” Coincidentally, prolific sci-fi novelist Spider Robinson will be signing autographs alongside Bauer Saturday afternoon.

Onscreen, Bauer plays a strong, strip club owner with a soft spot for great heels. Known for slinging sassy zingers in a southern drawl, Bauer’s character is the opposite of nerdy. Amplified by healthy doses of gory action and sexy scandal, the re-imagined Deep South vampire mysteries by Charlaine Harris have found a massive, thirsty following.

“I find a lot of people who love X-Men and those types of things love us, and also people who love zombies love us,” Bauer says, adding that the goth and horror crowds were on-board from the beginning. “It’s a show for everybody. Even my mother, who is seventy years old.”

Bauer’s character has become a crowd favourite in the latest seasons, thanks to HBO’s no-rules approach to explicit language. The network allows Pam’s creative profanity to shine through.

“Pam’s funny but she’s also accurate. I imagine we all enjoy seeing someone tell it like it is,” she says. Lucky for Bauer, it’s easy being mean on set. “For some reason it’s really easy to step into those shoes—those great pumps.”

When asked if her unfit-to-print one-liners spill over into daily conversation, Bauer says she’s always had a penchant for vulgarity. “I don’t think it was possible for me to swear more—I just love swearing,” she laughs. “I’m terrible, though I’ve learned to curb it in public.”

With so many of those signature four-letter words in the script, Bauer says the writing has a cathartic effect. “It might even make me a little more conservative at home, because I get it all out at work.”

Though many follow Pam for her provocative fashion sense, one thing you won’t see in her wardrobe is fur. “I always say that Pam doesn’t eat animals—she’s basically vegan,” Bauer says of her own views on animal protection. “She only eats free-range humans.”

Critics have picked up on the show’s allusions to civil rights movements—a clever touch that lends itself to repeated viewing. “I imagine [fans] love this stuff because it’s a great escape, but it’s also a metaphor for what we all deal with living on Earth,” says Bauer.

“There’s a lot in the show that you can enjoy at a deeper level,” she adds. “Plus the surface is pretty darn fun.”

Season 5 of True Blood kicks off June 10 on HBO.

Special to The Sun

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Originally publshed April 19, 2012. Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/True+Blood+vampire+shows+fangirl+fangs+Vancouver/6479920/story.html#ixzz1t16YFP3B

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