If you’re like me, every day that you can, you visit the Ice Cream Man website for your regular fix of Rupert Grint news, photos, and conversation with like-minded Rupie Groupies. Along the way, we make some friends, share a lot of laughs, support and cheer each other on through life’s ups and downs, and, like in all big, boisterous families, occasionally exchange a sharp word or two. It’s an addicting site, to say the least, and one we might sometimes take for granted. But it’s worth stopping once in a while to acknowledge the people who work each and every day to keep the site running, keep us all updated with the absolute latest Rupert news, and work constantly to keep Ice Cream Man fresh, fun, and entertaining.
As a regular who has had the privilege of meeting some of these hard-working people in person, I’d like to give you all a bit of an “insider’s” view on who they are. I couldn’t even begin to encapsulate exactly what they’re all about in these few paragraphs, but I’ll give you some impressions, and maybe one or two little-known facts about each that I’ve picked up.
Lynn, Ivana, Jo, A.J., Tao, and Karo. What a charismatic sextet! What quirks lurk beneath those rosy cheeks? What mysteries do the muscles mask? Does courage lie beneath those curls? In short, what makes an ICM staffer tick? Me, myself and I want to know. Not to mention Grintastic readers. And though here, Rita would start with the youngest, I think I’ll go in order of how I met them.
First up is Lynn. To some of the newest members of ICM, she may not be as familiar as the other staffers, but she has been a long time member of the team. I met Lynn almost two years ago now, when we attended a Reelz Channel press event to help promote Rupert, and specifically Cherrybomb. The event was held at Cinespace, a nightclub in Hollywood, and I was to meet her there so that we could enter together as representatives of ICM. Previous to this, I’d only communicated with Lynn through a couple of emails and text messages, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was admittedly a bit nervous. I don’t even think I had an idea what she looked like or how I would recognize her. But as I approached the club entrance, and saw the blonde who looked like she was waiting for someone, I knew it was her. I think she probably just naturally gave off that friendly, open vibe that I’ve come to associate with many Rupert fans I’ve met. I introduced myself, and Lynn made me feel immediately comfortable with her warm nature. When we entered the party, I discovered that her outwardly mild-mannered demeanor masked a real go-getter, for lack of a better word. She was not afraid to walk up to total strangers, introduce herself, and press one of the ICM business cards she came armed with into their hands. Thanks to her, we ended up talking to one of Reelz Channel’s hosts about Rupert and she got the host’s assurance that Reelz would be on top of any Cherrybomb news that broke. In between the elbow-rubbing and the mingling, Lynn and I fell into easy conversation. Of course, we talked about our mutual love for Rupert; but I also learned that aside from her devotion to the red-haired angel, Lynn is also a keen baseball fan, something that served her as a good ice-breaker at this event. I had a great time with Lynn, and I was so happy to see her again at the recent LA Irish Film Festival. We sat together to watch the film, which was going to be her first time, and I found out another thing about Lynn that night: unlike the vampiric salivating reaction some of us had for bleeding, beaten Malachy, Lynn does NOT relish seeing one ginger hair harmed on Rupert’s fair head, even in make-believe. I think it’s safe to say, during the scene of Malachy’s beating, if Lynn could have crawled under her seat to wait until we told her it was safe to come out, she probably would have.
The second is Ivana. I met Ivana in Dublin, where my crazy ass went to see Cherrybomb for the first time at the Jameson Dublin Film Festival. If I’d known the film would be screened twice in the past thirty days right here in my own city, well, I STILL would have gone to Dublin because it was all worth it. Not least of all because it afforded me the chance to meet another incredible ICM staffer in Ivana. I saw the tall, fashionably dressed lady walking around the lobby of the movie house and having seen her photos online, was pretty sure it was her, though her hair was shorter and darker than the blonde in the photos. I inched my way over as we waited to enter the auditorium. When I heard her introducing herself to someone and mention ICM, I knew for sure it was her. I hadn’t told anybody I was going to Dublin, so when I walked up to Ivana and introduced myself . I know it must have been a surprise for her, but we sat together for the screening. Afterwards, Ivana fired off one interesting question after another at the post-screening Q&A with the directors Glenn Leyburn, Lisa Baros D’Sa, and members of the cast who attended, especially Robert Sheehan, who made quite an impression on her. Ivana, like Lynn, is pretty confident when it comes to approaching people, and she WILL get that interview or that photo, even if it has to be in the ladies’ toilet. It’s kind of hard to laugh and pee at the same time, but I couldn’t help it when I sat in the stall and heard her corralling Lisa Barros D’Sa for a photo op by the wash basins. You really have to admire that kind of verve, and Ivana has it in spades; not to mention a sunny, perpetual smile and a lovely, lilting voice. After the screening and her interview with another cast member Kat Kirk, Ivana and I went out for pints of Guinness and Rupert-gushing , we had blast. I spent the next day with her doing the tourist thing, having a lovely walk around Dublin. When it came time for her to leave for the airport, we hugged goodbye and I’d already felt I’d made a good friend. One thing you should know about Ivana: she’s as genuine and big-hearted as she comes across online. It’s not an act, she’s the real deal.
Next is Jo. Flying half-way around the world once to see Cherrybomb is crazy enough. Doing it twice is pure, straight-jacket insanity. Luckily, I’m not the only one who suffers from this madness, and I met another world-Cherrybomb-traveler catching a connecting flight to Belfast in…gosh, was it New Jersey or Chicago? Can’t remember, and you’d think it would be ingrained in my memory since we had to wait on the tarmac for about thirty minutes while they looked under the hood. Let me tell you, it does nothing for pre-flight nerves to sit on a plane watching mechanics streaming in and out of the cockpit trying to fix a vessel that’s supposed to carry you across the Atlantic. Fortunately, I had yet another ICM staffer beside me who is utterly ballsy and fearless…except when it comes to air travel. Yes, the intrepid Jo we’ve all come to know and admire, the one who will bravely face down a certain exquisite redhead when most of the rest of us would be rendered mute and drooling, is an armrest-gripping, white-knuckled air traveler who does NOT like turbulence. But what she lacks in airplane courage she more than makes up for in general feistiness. That feistiness carries over into her fierce devotion to Rupert, he couldn’t have a more loyal champion. This is something we all know, though. What you perhaps don’t know about Jo is she has a great, bubbly laugh. The the fact that even after an overnight flight in a cramped coach seat, with little or no sleep whatsoever, she will still look impeccable and have an incredible, unflagging energy, when I looked and felt like death warmed over. She’s also, in spite of the impression her well-put-together appearance may give, a very low-maintenance, flexible, and game traveller. Once she’s assured she’ll get to her destination in one piece, she’s up for anything, takes the glitches (like sleeping next to a boiling radiator all night) in stride, and is eager to get the most enjoyment she can out of getting to know a new city. Her humor and high spirits made the long flights to and from Belfast much more enjoyable than they should have been. Once we made it to Belfast, we were greeted by the rest of the ICM team: A.J., Tao, and Karo.
A.J. is one of those people who you just instantly like. She has a really warm spirit that attracts you immediately. We often see A.J. being the peacemaker online and that is who she is, a friendly, easy-going person who knows how to get along with everybody. I don’t think I ever saw A.J. without a smile on her face. Nothing fazed her, not Billy Bob and his ominous whistling, not getting locked out of the hostel in the middle of the night for missing curfew due to a certain infamous after-party. She knows how to laugh at things, how to let things roll off her shoulders. She’s blessed with patience and a good nature. Staying up with her all night talking on her last night in Belfast was one of the highlights of the trip. She’s funny, lovely, and a lot of fun to be with. I have to say, when I think of what my perception of what Rupert is like in person, A.J. seems to be very like him. One area where she might differ from him, though, is food. I’m under the impression that Rupert will eat anything you set before him (didn’t he once talk about attending a haggis festival? Does he know what’s IN haggis??). But A.J. is very particular about her food. Oh, and she doesn’t like nipples. Don’t tell me you already knew that.
Karo. Initially, I kept mispronouncing her name as “kay-roh.” I finally learned to pronounce it correctly “car-oh,” and it shouldn’t have taken me so long. I should have associated Karo with “car” from day one because she was our very brave and able driver the whole first day, even if she spent most of the time behind the wheel going, “AHHH!!” and “OOOPS!” But I give her a ton of credit, because I probably would have killed us all ten minutes out of the airport, trying to navigate those Belfast roads where everyone is going the WRONG WAY! She got us through our whole Cherrybomb pilgrimage in one piece; and as for not having any run-ins with local police, well, she just missed it by that much. But good effort though, and it was no help to her that we were all piled into this tiny vehicle like a clown-car at the circus. So it’s not her fault we were pulled over and very nearly ticketed by Belfast’s finest. But thanks to Karo’s blonde good-looks and German driver’s license and the rest of us putting on our best clueless tourist faces, we got out of it. Karo is extremely bright and has a memory like a steel trap. When we were sitting after the screening talking about the movie and making notes for our reports and reviews, Karo remembered details that would have probably slipped past most viewers’ eyes on the fifth, sixth, or one-hundredth viewing. When I could be struggling to remember a bit of dialogue from the movie, Karo would not only remember what was said, she’d remember how many times the character blinked while saying it. But even if she’s meticulous and detail-oriented, she also knows how to let her hair down and have a good time. And I think she just might have left Belfast with Lalor Roddy’s heart.
Which brings us finally to our webmistress Tao. She may initially seem quiet and reserved, but in almost no time she warms up to you and one most certainly warms up to her with her gentle nature and shy but sincere smile. Even if she’s not loud and outspoken, she’s probably one of the fiercest warriors in Rupert’s army. Well, she’d have to be, wouldn’t she? It’s after all thanks to her and her mom that we have this fine bastion of Rupert-worship to come to in the first place. Even if she isn’t yelling the loudest, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t hold on to her convictions. On the contrary, she sticks to her guns and sticks to her beliefs. She’s solid and principled and she’s committed to making ICM the best site it can be. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting her in person, keep in mind that behind her soft voice and downcast eyes beats the heart of a Gryffindor lion. She saw something lacking in the online world of HP cast fansites. She took the initiative and gathered a staff to create a real and active community, where Rupert fans could come to discuss everything and anything under the sun concerning Rupert and even occasionally not concerning Rupert. And once she did, she didn’t rest on her laurels. She and the rest of the staff keep improving the site, keep it a work in progress. So don’t be fooled by her sweet demeanor. There are schemes and plans and plots afoot. Didn’t Malachy tell you? It’s always the quiet ones!