By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
After finding pop-culture fame as the original Blue Ranger on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, David Yost was hesitant to join the circuit of conventions that traded on fans’ nostalgia.
“I was really apprehensive,” Yost told me in an interview last week. “I had always had the impression that if you do stuff like that, you’re a washed-up actor.”
But then he allowed himself to be talked into trying one, and right away, he found a new home.
“It’s so much fun now to be part of it and to see what an amazing influence the TV show had on so many people’s lives,” Yost said.
He’ll come to his first Amarillo convention this weekend, taking part in the Yellow City Comic Con, running Friday through Sunday in the Amarillo Civic Center Complex, 401 S. Buchanan St.
“It’s obviously very humbling and rewarding to go to cities all over the world and meet people,” Yost said, “to hear their incredible stories about how they got involved in martial arts, how Power Rangers was their one saving grace.”
For the most part, it was just that for Yost, too.
“Working on Power Rangers (from 1993 to 1996) was the most exciting thing I could have ever asked for,” he said. “I was a new actor in Hollywood – only in town three months before my first auditions.”
But fighting Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd wasn’t Yost’s only battle: The young actor, an Iowa native and graduate of a Christian university, was struggling to come to terms with his sexuality — and the Power Rangers set could be an unforgiving place.
In a 2010 interview, Yost, who was one of the longest-tenured Rangers, said he walked off the set (and subsequently was written out of the show) because he was being harassed about being gay.
“The reason that I walked off is that I was called 'f-----' one too many times,” he said in the interview with No Pink Spandex.
He eventually had a nervous breakdown and left the country for a while: “Going through what I was going through, dealing with my sexuality, trying to get rid of this so-called bad thing that I thought homosexuality was – it really took a toll on me,” he told me.
But since his coming-out interview, Yost said he’s sorry to see the stories of his treatment on the set be blown out of proportion.
“I’ve watched my story grow. People think I was tied to a post and people were yelling 'f-----' at me. It was not like that,” he said. “It was really hard. It was really difficult … But all these bad things that were going on didn’t stop me too much from enjoying what was going on.”
Yost got back into the entertainment industry after he returned from Mexico and now works as a producer on reality programming like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Despite some occasional nerves about talking about his story at cons, Yost said his experience is almost totally positive.
“I do go to some small towns and talk about being gay and … prepare myself because some people might get up and leave, but for the most part, I haven’t had any issues,” he said. “I get religious pamphlets from at least one person a con, but I meet thousands of people, so one out of 1,000 is not bad.
“(At a con) you can be whoever you want to be,” he said. “I think that’s what’s amazing about it. It’s awesome.”
Yost will appear at a 5 p.m. Friday VIP night, then at a 1:30 p.m. panel with co-star David Fielding, who played Zordon, the wise leader of the Rangers.
Tickets are $15 for Friday's early access and dance or for a pass for Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $5 for children ages 5 to 12 (or free for those 4 and younger) or $10 for active fire, police and military (with IDs). VIP packages are $100, including early access to celebrity guests, prime seating in panels and more. A VIP pass for Friday, plus weekend-long regular access, is $30.
For information, visit www.yellowcitycon.com.