RoadCon, PHXCon, Fandom & Family

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.  james1a

(One of 4 pages we contributed to the RoadCon journals.  We did quite a bit of role-playing!)

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(Karaoke night at the Route 66 RoadHouse, where the Karaoke guy’s name was Bobby! Look at him!)

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(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)!

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(Mike, always hiding from the camera.  That’s not the LustyFangirls way, Mike!)

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(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.”

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(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!

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(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?

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(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.

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(Jensen can’t stop hoola hooping.  Jared can’t stop laughing.  Photo credit: Vicki @__kaz2y5)

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(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.

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(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.

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(“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

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(Supernatural Fangirls Unite!  #Love)

Houston Con 2015

So what brings a group of 30-40 women from across the Metroplex together for a mad dash one-day road trip to Houston? A Supernatural convention, of course.

A few of my new Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Women of letters friends I met at DallasCon last year decided we could do #HousCon on the cheap, getting GA tickets, leaving early Sunday morning for the 4-hour drive and driving back after the con, avoiding the extra costs of lodging. The GA ticket didn’t work out for some, as the con sold out of them, and by the time I got the CreationEnt email that read “imminent sellout,” it was too late. I did go ahead and snag a preferred ticket, hopeful that someone was going with me. One member of the group even left without a ticket at all, hoping to score one at the con.

It took some logistical jockeying, but we settled on the “east” group meeting in one place, taking one vehicle to pick up the “west” group in Ennis, and it was on to Houston. The trip was half the fun (ok, maybe not half, because J2!). We talked non-stop about Show, how we got into it, how we got hooked on social media and cons and watch parties. Our “director” got everyone to share and kept me from dominating the conversation (and if you know me, that’s saying something).   By the time we got home, we all knew each other just a little bit better. I look forward to seeing this group every time I possibly can. If you haven’t found a Women of Letters group in your area yet, do a Facebook search. I agree with Matt Cohen who said, “When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of ‘Me, too!’ be sure to cherish them. Because those weirdos are your tribe.”

When we arrived at the con, we were greeted by a well-staged Baby. Lots of props and the windows down so you could take good photos. Doesn’t it look like the boys must be standing somewhere nearby?

 

HC2015Right after arriving, we hustled to check in so we could make Colin Ford’s panel. I had been looking unsuccessfully for an autograph ticket for Jensen, so I could have a picture of the shoes my daughter painted for JJ signed by her Daddy. I half-heartedly asked, “I don’t suppose you have any Jensen autos left, do you?” and about fell out when he told me he had ONE last ticket! Score! I’ve framed it for her birthday next month.

I had a revelation when Colin Ford came onstage…hey, isn’t that the guy from Under The Dome? Yeah, I’m up on things. One fan asked if watching Supernatural scared him at the time he played young Sam. He said that Season 1 did scare him; he watched with his mom and kept the lights on. He talked about watching Jared for ways he could incorporate in playing young Sam. ‘After School Special’ was his first on-screen kiss, and his favorite scene to film. Hope he’s not in trouble with the girlfriend he mentioned several times for that fav! He did a great job in his panel, even deflecting an unpopular (bordering on rude) question from a fan, deftly. A very mature, level-headed and diplomatic young man. Not to mention he meets the Supernatural hotness requirement. He’s old enough to say that now.

When we left Colin’s panel, I found out my friend who didn’t have a ticket had been saved by an angel. She stood out front with her sign “Sell my soul for a ticket or pay cash.” It got results! So glad she didn’t miss out.

After a quick run for lunch, we did some shopping (found way more I wanted than I could afford to buy) and took a few pictures around the venue. I was planning to buy Fangasm’s book ‘Fan Phenomena’ while I was there to have the author, Lynn Zubernis, sign my copy, but they were sold out. Guess that will have to wait for Vegas! I did get to talk to Lynn for a few minutes, and found out she was stranded in Houston due to the big storm back East. Hope she enjoyed her extra time off!

In addition to my Women of Letters friends I came with, I also saw several more WoL there, some of my #SPNRoadConUSA friends, and made some new friends in the #SPNFamily. You always come away from cons with new friends. I did miss one of my twitter friends. I tweeted her on Monday that I had looked for but not seen her. She mentioned she was there in a preferred seat, and I told her my seat number. Turns out she was in the row right in front of me. Now I’m making a list of the seat numbers of all my friends before VegasCon!

I didn’t see a lot of cosplay, the contests being over, but the ones I saw were very cute. This family must be raising their boys right. One of them is even named Jensen.

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I love Tamoh Penikett and he’s very personable and comfortable onstage, but I admit that his panel lost me a little. I didn’t know anything about the other projects that most fan questions were about. Plus, movement around me by people just coming in and/or getting up to line up for J2 was distracting. One funny moment was when a fan asked if he wanted to do other types of acting or if he was a “genre guy.” Tamoh quipped it was not like he was saying “No, no, Mr. Scorsese, I’m a genre guy.”

I didn’t get any pictures worth sharing of the panels, and not just because I’m a terrible photographer. Seems they had trouble with both lighting and sound. It wasn’t bad, but a little hard to hear and impossible to take a decent picture of even the screen due to the lighting. The actors onstage all remarked about how hard it was to hear the questions. I think that the hotel must have been a bit overwhelmed by the scope of the Supernatural family, even though they must be used to staging big events. I also tweeted a suggestion to @creationent that they really should stagger the chairs in every other row to keep tall people from blocking the view of the person directly behind them. Hard enough to see in those amazingly long rooms! No reply from them as yet.

Louden Swain entertained the crowd while, in Richard Speight’s words, we waited for “certain people” to arrive. There were a couple of special guests before the boys came out, though. Richard introduced Sam and Dean from Season 37 – Jared’s and Jensen’s dads! Jared’s dad even wore his beanie, which Jared promptly plucked off his head right after he came out.

And then, finally, it was time for the main event. J2 in the house! A fan greeted them as such; Jensen turned to Jared and said, “That means both of us.” They were both in very good moods on Sunday; perhaps being in their home state and having family around contributed to that. Jared asked who was a first-timer, as he always does, and perhaps 75% of the room raised their hands! Yes, SPNFamily is growing – buy your tickets for DallasCon early! Other highlights of their panel for me were Jensen saying that “Dean doesn’t cry, his face leaks,” Jared saying his favorite Sam is Brother Sam, their slow motion fight scene, and when Jared lost his shoe – and Jensen held him up while he put it back on. When asked if they ever accidentally call each other Sam and Dean (they don’t), Jensen mentioned that an episode made it to air where Dean said Jared instead of Sam. It has been contended that was Provenance (1X19), but the argument continues. They did say that there are many crew people, some directors, and even writers that call them Sam and Dean. Jensen was asked about what role he’d like to play, and he said – for at least the 2nd time – that he’d like to play Indiana Jones. Thus, the #JensenForIndy hashtags, one of which was sent out by Robbie Thompson. One fan asked when they heard the songs for the 200th episode. The first time they heard them was during filming. The director, Philip Sgriccia, wanted to get their honest reactions, so those misty eyes were real. All the fan questions were very intelligent questions, and I know everyone in attendance was grateful for that! As the panel wrapped up, Jared was trying to finish up answering a question. He had just said it was an “awesome episode” when the overhead lights all came on over the stage. Jared said “God agrees.” From backstage, we hear Chuck (Rob Benedict) say “I do agree.” Then, they completed the ritual of trying to give a poor fangirl a nervous breakdown by bringing her onstage and surrounding her for the last question. Oh, for that to be me someday. I have a list of really good questions…and I probably wouldn’t be able to think of one. Better go write those down….

After the panel, we were hurried out of the theater so they could set up for a wedding. The only thing I had left was my “miracle” Jensen autograph. I spent the interim standing in line with various friends who had photo ops, getting into the room and standing aside to stare at the boys. Jensen did lots of dancing in the PO room; watching him was high up on the list of my favorite things at this con. For the autographs, I was third to last in line, so it was quite a wait. Completely worth the wait (and $99) for a few seconds of staring into those beautiful eyes across the table. I told him I was hoping to have a picture of JJ in the shoes, but I know that it’s likely Danneel forgot she said she would tweet one. He said they have been awfully busy moving. I enjoyed the autograph and hopefully my daughter will enjoy her one-of-a-kind present, but honestly I prefer the PO. After all, I’m really paying for the hug.

I filled the rest of my time waiting for my ride home with watching more photo ops. There was a bit of excitement in there when part of the wedding family came in to take a picture with the boys. One of the girls spotted another as she came in the door, squealed and motioned for her to join them. The girl who just entered began running her way – right at the boys. You’ll all be glad to know that the security reaction was instant. A WALL of people formed between that running young teen girl and our boys. Two of the security team literally caught her and lifted her off her feet. Chris Schmelke, the photographer, stepped in to say it was ok, they were going to let the family all take a picture with them. Everyone calmed down, the family got their picture, and Jensen went back to dancing.

Then came the sad part – leaving. Getting back to real life after living in fantasy land for the day is so hard. Was it worth leaving home at 5 AM, driving 8 hours, getting home 20 hours after I left, and sleepwalking through my job on Monday just to see the boys? HELL YEAH! Can’t wait for Vegas.