wenchpixie wanted me to talk about why I go to conventions
The first convention I went to was the Senior Partners convention down in Heathrow. To be honest, although I've been a 'genre' fan most of my life, I've always been a little put off by the idea of attending conventions. I bought into the whole uber-geek image and was a little intimidated at the thought of all these people wandering around in Star Trek outfits (or, given that this was going to be an Angel con, vampire teeth). Then, and I make absolutely no apologies for this, I found out that Christian Kane was signed up to go. I was sorely tempted but still didn't book a ticket.
And then I learned that Kane were going to be doing a gig on the Saturday night.
I contacted smileawhile and we bought tickets there and then.
When we got to the con I had absolutely no idea what to expect, and it really didn't help that I hadn't eaten the entire day on Friday and had been window-shopping in central London all day. I got cranky and ill and even though we had cocktail party tickets (perks of having low numbered tickets – even though we bought ours kinda late we were still in the first 150) I curled up in bed and felt like I was dying for the whole of Friday night.
The next day, after I'd eaten, I felt terrible that Denise hadn't gotten to go to the cocktail party because of my stupidity in not eating, and there were people wandering around in chain-mail bikinis and Neo outfits, and everyone seemed to know each other. I was more than a little overwhelmed and I kinda hit the bar pretty early that day.
By lunch, a friend of ours showed up on a fake BBC press pass (she did work for the BBC but in an admin role – she was there because she was friends with Rob who ran the BBC Cult site and he was coming to interview the guests) and she and the cult site guys took Denise and I out on the Beeb's credit card for lunch at the pub down the road. Happily buzzing on JD&Coke, I got chatting to Rob and the other guys from the Beeb and then Chris, Steve and Eric (Griffen – Kane's manager) showed up and sat down at the table opposite us. They said hi to Rob and the three of us (Denise, Gil and I) tried to play it kinda cool and not turn into fangirls (well actually Denise didn't because she was sitting round the corner and hadn't seen them come in…). I had had a fair amount of alcohol by that point, but I swear by the time the boys left the place they were far drunker than I was – and Chris was going back to do a panel with Stephanie Romanov.
Gil, Denise and I left to walk back along to the con hotel and were singing Kane songs quite loudly all the way along the road. It only dawned on me about a day later that the boys and Eric had to have come past us to get there first and probably heard us… ah well.
From about then on, I lost any sense of shyness and started chatting to people in the queues and although there are some people I'd never get tired of smacking (*cough*Heather*cough*) I realised that everyone there was exactly the same as me. We were all there for the same reason and everyone was probably as nervous as I was.
I went to my first signing session that afternoon/evening – Chris had to be back in LA for filming on the Monday and was leaving early Sunday so he had to get through all the attendees that day. (He not only signed something for everyone who wanted an autograph, he also signed the photos that had been taken that morning). He was on his own at the far end of the signing room (the upstairs one in the Thistle at Heathrow for the fellow con goers out there) and yet he was being so damn sweet to everyone. He completely won me over and when he flashed that grin just at me?
The gig was amazing – Gil used her chutzpah to complain there wasn't a press table and the three of us (She, Denise and I) ended up getting to sit at the DJ's table at the front and just off to the side. After the gig, the boys stuck around and did a Q&A since Chris wouldn't be there the next day.
The Sunday, well, Steve and Chris had been scheduled to do a talk in the morning (11ish I think) but with Chris having left it was just Steve. No one really knew him at that point (as witnessed by the fact that it was him that kept getting sent out of the green room to get the beer the night before – the number of times I stood next to him at the bar? See when I think about it now… Ha!) so there wasn't a huge turn out. He was kinda nervous about speaking on his own, and at one point he said he didn't really feel comfortable without a guitar in his hands so the organiser (Sean Harry) went and got his own which the boys had signed and handed it up to Steve. We got a little impromptu set from him (of Eagles songs if I remember right? Denise?) and every time he got asked a question he'd be picking away at the strings. (I found a picture of him playing Sean's guitar - look how happy he is!
Everyone in that room – and there probably wasn't more than 50 of us – was so supportive of him, it was like being in a room of friends.
And that, right there, is when I realised that I would be going to more conventions. Because I was among friends even if I didn't know their names.
Organisationally, Senior Partners was a bit of a nightmare for Starfury because two major guests dropped out due to work commitments (both got signed up to appear on Lost – you can figure out who they were!), ticket sales weren't great, and then it looked as though Chris would have to cancel for filming reasons. It was a small con, and I'm eternally grateful that it was my first, because everyone there – guests and attendees alike – were all determined to make it a success.
The next con I went to was much bigger. Fusion. A BtVS/Firefly con. In fact it was the first time the Firefly cast had done a convention. Nick Brendon was the main guest, Emma Caulfield, Tom Lenk, Nathan Fillion, Jewel Staite, Morena Baccarin, Summer Glau (who thinks my name is pretty – she's told me this about four times now!), Jonathon Woodward, George Hertzberg and loads more people were there. The ticket sales were huge, the place was crowded, and there was less of the 'all friends together' feel. By this point thedothatgirl and acrazywench had been in touch with me (we'd known each other online and Becks, Denise and I had met at a Four Star Mary gig previously) and we all met up and palled around for that weekend.
I do think that had Fusion been my first convention, because it was so big and there were so many people there, that I probably wouldn't have been so keen to go to another.
But it wasn't my first, it was however the first where I attempted to dress up for the theme (I still remember Andrea plaiting my hair in school girl pigtails whilst waiting to go in on the first night. *g*) and I've been itching to really go for it since then. I haven't gone all out.
I will be at Asylum 2.
I tend to go to conventions with a core group of people, and there are regular guests who we've come to know and who have come to know us by sight. I don't go so much for the guests – although they do factor in pretty high – I go mostly because I get to meet friends. I get to catch up with them. I get to get away from the world for a couple of days and just have fun.
And I get to make not-subtle innuendoes to Neil Roberts and watch the man who will happily talk about being strip-searched on a train in Belgium get flustered when asked how many ginger nuts he could fit in his mouth. (Yes, I did ask him that at the Serenity con in Glasgow last year).
Asylum 1 was the first con that I was going to solo, kinda. My usual crowd aren't/weren't that in to SPN and so weren't that interested in going. fresleyforever who I'd met at… White Room? (I think? I'm almost sure it was an Angel con we met at) was going with some of her friends and graciously said that of course I could tag along with her.
I kinda took the decision that I wouldn't become a third wheel around Mary, that I wouldn't be clingy (not that she would have thought that – but I was going through a fiercely independent stage at the time) so I started commenting on the forum and on the LJ community that had been set up for it. I found a group of girls who were all going to be flying from Glasgow and I booked on the same flight as them. We were all supposed to be meeting up in Glasgow on the day before we went down so that we would know each other at the airport, but my sister went into labour (damned inconvenient timing!) and I was babysitting all night (panicking that I hadn't finished packing and that I'd have to leave the kids with her neighbours if my BiL didn't come back in time). I got to the airport, parked in the long-stay car park, got the courtesy bus to the airport and got out and across the road there was wenchpixie - I have no clue how I recognised her, I don't know how she recognised me unless I was giving off the whole "I'm going to a convention!!" vibe, but we hooked up and soon found out that she and I were seasoned con-goers whilst the other girls were noobs.
We took them all under our wings and the girls swear to me that they really didn't mind me giving them all that advice (seriously though – if you ask nicely for a hug you're likely to get it… none of you have seen the Chris-hug picture yet. Well, those of you who've been to my house have, but no one else has – he was hugging me so close he smooshed my face, that's why it's not online).
Once we got there, I just kept on meeting new people and making friends. I honestly cannot explain why, and I don't want to examine it too closely. I am still friends with everyone I met there, and some of those friendships are amongst the strongest in my life.
So why do I go to conventions? Because I get to hang out with my friends and meet new ones. Oh, and getting to hug celebrities isn't exactly a downer!