Being a fan of Superman doesn't mean you dream of flying.
Mike Reed was terrified as he took his first plane ride to Los Angeles to join the cast of SyFy's Fangasm, which premiered Tuesday.
"Superman is from Krypton and he's invulnerable," said Reed, 22, of Tampa. "I was just a man in a can way up in the air who could die. It was so scary."
Luckily, he arrived safely and spent two months filming the show, where he lived in the house with six other self-professed nerds vying for the chance to become an intern for legendary comics creator Stan Lee's Comikaze convention, which takes place in L.A. in November.
He only has two regrets: rooming with a girl and not trying to meet more ladies in L.A.
"If I could go back, I would definitely have changed my rooming situation," he said. "It was a split-second decision I made because she asked me if I wanted to room with her. It was a huge mistake."
Shortly after arriving at the cast apartment, Reed bunked with castmate Molly McIsaac, and their initial romantic attraction quickly soured.
"I offered to move out of the room at one point but that just never ended up happening," he said. "We didn't like have a shouting match or anything, but you'll be able to see on the show and be able to tell, 'Oh. They did not like each other today.' "
But the good outweighed the bad for Reed, who had worked training people on how to fund-raise for charities such as Save the Children. He'd been promoted in May and was leaving Tampa when he got the call to join the cast of Fangasm.
"I was literally sitting on the bus on the way to Baltimore when I got the call that said, 'Hey. Remember that show you auditioned for two years ago? Want to do it?' "
Reed jumped at the chance. He worked in Baltimore for a month before taking his first flight, to Philadelphia, and then his second, to Los Angeles.
"When I got there, I was most excited to be alive," he laughed. "Then I was excited to have all these new experiences."
Leonardo DiCaprio arrived on a flight around the same time and Reed spied him leaving LAX. The production company held up a printed sign with his name, took him to a private car and helped him with his bags.
"It was all so professional. I thought it was too good for me," he said.
During the show, Reed and his castmates did office work for the convention and lived together while being filmed constantly. There were competitions, like the time the roommates each got to pitch a superhero idea to Lee, but mostly there was a lot of time spent together.
"There was no TV or video games," Reed said. "We just kind of had to be around each other all the time."
The nerdy dynamics made for some comedy. Castmate Andrew Duvall, a Trekkie, did not know how to handle himself in a nightclub — especially when larger ladies seemed to flock to him.
"I never knew a human being could be that awkward," Reed said. "When girls would try to dance with him, he would start looking around like 'Uh-Oh! Help me! What do I do?' It was really amusing to watch."
Reed also spent much of the show on the defensive as the sole D.C. Comics fan among the group.
"I kind of already knew I was going to be the odd man out, everyone else was all about Marvel Comics and superheroes, and then I found out I was the only brother (black guy) there, too," Reed laughed.
The exposure has made him read up on Marvel heroes so he can engage in more informed defenses of the D.C. Universe.
In the end, the roommates had fun, made friends and learned a little more about the nature of fandom.
"You don't think about how you word things until after you've said them, and there are some things I say in the first episode I know sound bad," he said. "I'm a little more worried about how I'll be received in the fan community because I've been a part of it for so many years and know so many people."
Reed, who also runs the cosplay modeling company Cos-Mods, has parlayed his opportunity into a few speaking engagements at upcoming nerd-dom conventions, including Tampa's Shadocon on Oct. 4-6.