RoadCon, PHXCon, Fandom & Family
You probably thought this article was going to be a recap of the convention. It’s not. You don’t need me for that! Check out @SPN_Sil’s video playlists, linked on her twitter page, or here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQVHXBjbQ6pPt3k1_CS4bu2XBVWnmLlWL. Seriously, if for no other reason than to see Tina’s (@az_Tina_MK) amazing video of Jensen hoola-hooping across the stage (http://youtu.be/0YEBH5gytmc). No, I’m here to tell you about PHXCon, family, and the SPNFamily.
At the start of Season 10, SPN show-runner Jeremy Carver said, “All of our major characters this year are taking very personal journeys.” This was true for me, as well, and never more so than this past weekend at PhxCon. To fully understand about PhxCon you need a little background, because this story started for me about a year ago when I moved from New Jersey to Arizona, by myself, for a job. I moved to a small town in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t know a single soul. The nature of my job (working out of my home) makes it very difficult to meet people, and I was feeling a little lonely and apprehensive about my choice. Then I discovered the SPN Fandom! A viewer since Day 1, Episode 1, I somehow never discovered the SPNFamily and had NO IDEA conventions existed! So of course I jumped in with both feet, discovered my Twitter soulmates – The LustyFangirls, and never looked back.
Fast forward to last summer when some amazing fans (shout-out to Stacy and DJ!) decided to organize a nationwide road trip for fans from each state to meet-up in locations relevant to Supernatural, and take photos and sign journals for Jensen, Jared, and Misha before passing the journals on to people from the next state. The SPNRoadCon was born and I was in! I volunteered to be the co-manager for the state of Arizona and THIS is where my PhxCon story begins. Through the RoadCon, I met the most wonderful group of people, and although we varied in age and backgrounds, we could all agree on one magical thing – we LOVED Supernatural! Of course, we discovered that we had many shared fandom interests and what was supposed to be a one-time meet-up turned into 3 separate meet-ups, two of which were full weekend road trips. For some in the group, it was the first time away from children, a young mother’s blossoming. For others it was a Girls’ Weekend away, a chance to relax and let our inner screaming Fangirl out, a safe place where we wouldn’t be judged or ridiculed for talking about nothing but Supernatural for days! We ate, we drank, we KARAOKED OUR HEARTS OUT, and even got asked to come back for more. Because even if we butchered a classic rock tune or two, everyone could see how happy we were and how much fun we were having. That much enthusiasm is always contagious.
(One of 4 pages we contributed to the RoadCon journals. We did quite a bit of role-playing!)
(Karaoke night at the Route 66 RoadHouse, where the Karaoke guy’s name was Bobby! Look at him!)
(Our dinner meet-up in Phoenix, where our RoadCon gang continued to grow.)
So in a time when I was feeling very alone in a strange new place, these women became my friends. They became my family. Because that’s what this fandom is all about, right?
When the announcement was made that Creation was hosting a Supernatural convention in Phoenix, there was never a question of who was going. It was an unspoken understanding that of course we were all going, and going together! This was our convention, in our town! I know that each town or city that hosts a convention probably feels this way about their respective conventions, and those people will probably understand completely what I’m about to explain.
Phoenix was a first-time host city after a tiny new branch of the SPNFamily was born. It felt special. It was special. Arrangements were made, rooms were reserved, and plans were hatched. By the time the con rolled around we had also joined and met members of the newly-formed Phoenix chapter of the Women of Letters group. Our little family continued to grow. More plans were made and soon we were ready to invade PhxCon! To make things even better, another member of the LustyFangirls (@Dancing_Adrift) was flying into town to go with us! I had my RoadCon family, my WOL family, and one of my LustyFangirls with me! The Lusty family would grow, too. By the end of the convention, the LustyFangirls would acquire several new honorary members, including Erin (@SPNCrossroad on Twitter, Supernatural Crossroad on Facebook) and the “Supernatural: The Crossroads” podcast boys, Mike, Ryan and Thomas (their show is awesome, check them out)!
(Mike, always hiding from the camera. That’s not the LustyFangirls way, Mike!)
(Erin, enjoying the Crossroads SPN gun show!)
Most of our exploits were shared on Twitter already and you can find most of it posted on my timeline or retweeted by me or anyone mentioned in this article. I won’t go crazy sharing the details. But as soon as we got to the convention and got settled in, it felt like a giant house party. Our house party! The friends and “family” that we’d picked up along the way, as well as the new friends we made at the con, made this convention a special one for me. I have attended 4 conventions now, and each one holds a special place in my heart for specific reasons, but Phoenix was different. I was surrounded by people I knew and loved, building on already amazing memories. We had the time of our lives, with each other, and watching the amazing cast of the show that brought us all together. We even got called onstage during Friday Karaoke to do a horrible rendition of Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young.” Really, it was dreadful. I’m so sorry PHXCon! But regardless of quality, it was a special moment for our little group because in our exploits leading up to the convention karaoke sort of became “our thing.”
(Friday Karaoke, Photo credit: Erin @SPNCrossroad)
All of us had special moments with the guests, as many at cons do, and we will cherish those memories forever. One of the things that makes SPN cons special is the genuine care the guests put into making each person feel special. Somehow, in the 15 seconds you have during a photo op, or the moment you have during an autograph, each guest manages to make you feel like you’re the only person in the room and that you have their undivided attention. I could gush all day about the convention guests. We’ve all heard how wonderful they are and it’s 100% true. All of it.
PHXCon was a con of firsts, not only for many of the attendees, but also for the guests. It was the first time Jared and Jensen came early on Saturday to enjoy Louden Swain’s Saturday Night Special concert. Jensen joined in for the cast’s beloved rendition of Seven Bridges Road, Jared popped onstage with him briefly to say hello, and then they disappeared behind the curtain to enjoy the show, as fans themselves. Do I wish Jensen had stayed to sing a bit more? Hell yeah! But I would never begrudge them the opportunity to just relax at a con and see a bit of what we see – that this is one talented group of people!
(Photo courtesy of Richard Speight, Jr. Oh, J2, how we love you!)
PHXCon also marked the first time Creation opened up dance floors at the Saturday night Louden Swain concert. YES! DANCE FLOORS! And you know my party peeps and I were front and center all damn night! Or side and center. The dance areas were small roped off sections to either side of the stage, so it wasn’t quite like a real concert, but it sure felt better than sitting in your chair when you wanted to dance your ass off. Would I have preferred to be right in front of the stage? Yes, of course. But I also understand that not everyone wants to jump around, fist pump (sorry, I’m from Jersey), dance and scream for this event. And not everyone is physically able to do those things. I think Creation found a happy medium, accommodating people who wanted to party and people who wanted or needed to watch from the comfort of their seats. Well done, Creation! This was a very welcome addition!
The rest of the convention was pretty…conventional. It had everything we’ve come to expect from a Supernatural con. Amazing music, hilarious panels, guest shenanigans. Sebastian, anyone?
(Phoenix got Roche’d! Wait, did I call this “conventional?!”)
And it had The Boys, in amazingly good spirits and feeling frisky enough for Jared to do a strip tease and Jensen to hoola hoop across the stage. REPEATEDLY. That man’s hips… Seriously. Have you SEEN the videos?? You could feel the entire audience squirming in their seats… Here’s that video again: http://youtu.be/0YEBH5gytmc. Just because.
(Jensen can’t stop hoola hooping. Jared can’t stop laughing. Photo credit: Vicki @__kaz2y5)
(A little J2 mirroring action. Photo credit: Vicki @__kaz2y5)
But all good things must come to an end and so did PHXCon. The evening closed with The Boys signing autographs, which always takes a few hours. The waiting is a much needed and welcome break at the end of an exhausting weekend. Time to sit, or stand in line. Time to catch up on social media, which frequently has things you might have missed in person at the con. Time to send last minute tweets of your own.
(Live-tweeters hard at work! Photo credit: Stefanie @BadWolfBay87)
The end of a con always brings some sadness. Sadness that it’s over. Sadness that we couldn’t sneak J2 into our suitcases. Sadness at saying goodbye to friends and “family.” And this brings me to my final point. There’s a lot of talk in the SPNFamily about the fandom divide. If the incident involving a fan’s removal from a convention last year is any indication, that divide is real. But here’s the thing. Who we are on social media is not always who we are. There will always be topics that people disagree on and topics that push social and fandom buttons. But put us all in a room, leave names or Twitter handles out of it, and guess what? Most of us will all get along. And if not, well, that’s just like family, too, isn’t it? Trust me, I’ve got some cousins who are real clunkers! Or, you might find yourself unexpectedly bonding with someone you actively argue with on social media. Because no one loves this show for exactly the same reasons. No one interprets its meaning in exactly the same way. But for varying reasons, and to varying degrees, we ALL love or loved this show at one time. That bonds us, whether we want it to or not. My heart breaks for the discord in this family. I am a peacemaker by nature and it hurts me deeply.
During PHXCon I was cautioned by a dear friend to be careful who I was seen associating with because she was worried that I might be targeted by one faction or another. I appreciated the caution, and I did take pause. But it was a brief pause. Then I remembered why I love this show. It’s about family, and perseverance in the face of insurmountable odds and obstacles. And I’ll be damned if our fandom divide isn’t one of those obstacles. I’m a Bro-Fan. I’ll say it. I love those boys and their beautiful relationship. I have an older brother that I would die for, so I can relate. But I also understand the beauty and romance in a story about an Angel of the Lord “falling” to earth for the love of one human. This show is about love and sacrifice, in many forms. Is this divide what we want to be remembered for as a Fandom? We can all love this story equally for our own reasons without being hateful to one another. I can spend all night guiltily reading Wincest fanfic and then spend all weekend with my favorite Destieler, who lovingly cosplayed as several iterations of the Cas character. I’ll even play the Dean to her Cas for pictures. Why? Because I love her for her, not her choice of ship.
(“Gas-N-Sip Steve” and “Dean” necking in the car.)
This is the story I wanted to tell. A story of people who met, became friends, and are now “family” because of this one little thing we all love. We’re a bunch of nerdy fangirls who bonded over our shared nerdiness and had the time of our lives in the process. These are people I will probably always be friends with, and they will hold an extra special place in my heart because they welcomed me with open arms when I was feeling a little lost and alone. How many of us feel that way about the SPNFamily? About the cast and crew? How many of us have stories of hardship and heartache where Supernatural gave us hope and showed us the light at the end of the tunnel? It teaches us that love and family are the strongest forces in the universe. Our differences are what make us unique in this beautiful family. Our differences are what make us the same in this family. We come together at these conventions and cross paths with so many people of different loves, backgrounds, and beliefs and for a few days, we are One. We are the SPNFamily, warts and all. And I love every damn one of you. I’ll see you again in Vegas!
~~Jaimee Mayhem aka RoamingSol
(Supernatural Fangirls Unite! #Love)