Dragon Con… How am I even supposed to begin to describe Dragon Con?
As I’ve said before, Dragon Con is something that needs to be experienced. What I forgot to mention is that experience can change year to year if you’re a repeat offender like me. There have been years I’ve waited in line for panels with big name stars, went to a bunch of shows, dressed in about two or three costumes a day, and sacrificed my Saturday night to participate in a contest most of my friends would see on Dragon Con TV. I once had a friend drunkenly tell me that I was having “the genuine con experience” one of the years I did this.
There was also a year I worked with The Extraordinary Contraptions and drove myself insane. It was a lot of fun and an experience I wouldn’t trade, but I was more run ragged in 2012 than I had been in any other year due to late nights and early mornings.
This year though? I decided it was time to be chill.
I went to two tiny panels, one big concert, and one concourse show. I got to be a part of the most fun fan meet up ever. Instead of being in the Saturday night Page to Stage contest, I was a den mom. I FINALLY made it to the Rainbow Flag party and Rocky Horror in the same night after years of not being able to. I sat and got drunk in a friend’s hotel room during the Masquerade and screamed about how creepy Vic Mignogna was being as the host. Mostly though, I just had fun, which is what its all about!
But I’ll expand the highlights for you.
As I mentioned before, I only went to two panels this year. Not even big ones, even though there were a lot of amazing guests this year. Instead, I opted for the Mechs Behind Pacific Rim panel hosted by the Anime/Manga track and the All Things Creepy panel hosted by the Kaleidoscope track.
The Mechs Behind Pacific Rim panel ended up being more of a viewing of Gulliermo Del Toro and Travis Beacham’s influences on the giant robot parts of Pacific Rim. Which was perfectly fine. Panelist Darius Washington knew way more about giant mech anime than I would ever claim to know, so the clips he picked made it a lot easier to see what influenced my favorite film of 2013. However, the room was packed with passionate fans. There could have easily been more discussion about the film and the influences. Plus, it made me sad that we ran out of time before talking about Neon Genesis Evangelion, but at least we had this clip:
The second panel I went to was hosted by the kid programming oriented Kaleidoscope track and was on… well… “All Things Creepy.” Though, really, I think it should have been called “Gravity Falls and some other things.” Because most everyone in that room, including the panelists, were way more passionate about Gravity Falls than anything else. Which was awesome to me because I was only one of two Mabel cosplayers I saw last year and there was a tiny explosion of Gravity Falls this year! The panelists even joked I should have been on the panel because of how knowledgeable I was about the show. The panel went off the rails a tiny bit towards the end after we started talking about RL Stein and other creepiness, but it was still pretty fun. Maybe next year, Kaleidoscope can have a whole panel about Gravity Falls. And if they need more panelists for that, I’m very much available.
Even before deciding to take a more chill year, I wasn’t as impressed with the musical lineup as I was last year. I’m over Voltaire, The Cruxshadows brand of Goth electronica has never appealed to me, I’m not a fan of Abney Park or Professor Elemental (which is kind of a cardinal sin to admit that at my other job), and most of the other bands didn’t have an appeal to me.
Was I gonna miss Blair Crimmins though? Hell no!
Blair Crimmins and the Hookers are a Dixie Jazz/Swing band from Atlanta that I was introduced to through the Artifice Club. I’ve seen them a few times and a Hookers show always feels like going to an old fashioned church revival where the preacher is passing around whiskey with the offering plate. Their Friday night performance at Dragon Con was no exception. The energy was high, the dancing fun and amazing, and the liquor pouring. Well, maybe that last one was just me as I ran for the can can line.
Before I saw Blair Crimmins and the Hookers that evening, I was able to see Curtis Eller and the American Circus down in the Hyatt Concourse. Despite me being at several events he has been to, I had never gotten a chance to see him before. I’m glad I have now! Elastic, energetic, and just a whole bunch of fun, the Circus put on a show that was the right energy boost for midday Friday. I don’t think I laughed as hard all weekend as I did when Eller ran off the tiny concourse stage, ran up the stairs, and down the escalator less than a minute later, all while playing the banjo. I can only imagine what the reaction was like upstairs when this man in suspenders with a banjo came running from the bottom of the Hyatt.
Saturday’s alright for silliness
Saturday is always the most go-go-go day at Con. With the parade in the morning and a ton of daytrippers coming in, Saturday always seems to be the happening day.
And oh, it was.
For the first part of the day on Saturday, my focus was the Pacific Rim meet up at the the Hilton. After a brief stop at the hilarious and chaotic RC airship races at the Westin, I put on the Newt costume I had finally finished at the Shakespeare Tavern on Thursday night while working merch for the Contraptions and had worn all day before and grabbed the world’s quickest lunch on my way over. (Sidenote: Bless Caribou Coffee for their Dragon Con specialty drinks and delicious sandwiches.) That was also the trip where I was behind George Lowe making game show announcer voices to the Portal radio music being blasted by Aperture Scientists in the Hilton skybridge. It was as awesome as you think.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the meet up, but it ended up being some of the most fun I had all year! Pretty much everyone at the meet up was from Tumblr, so the in jokes were flying around like crazy. Plus, I have to give it up to Jeni Hellum for coining the term “a Flailing of Newts.”
The costumes were amazing and everyone in them and at the meet up just proved how awesome the Pacific Rim fandom is. We had a Gipsy Danger with the boat from the beginning of the movie! A Knifehead that the Flailing got to worship! A Tendo with a Team Hot Dads shirt! I swear, if the meet up was this awesome this year, what can we do when we time to work on stuff? I’ve already seen promises of more drive suits and I’m looking forward to fixing my Newt sleeves so I have more details and less ink run.
After the meet up, I went back to my hotel room, rinsed off the fine layer of sweat that had formed over my skin, and switched into my Blue costume. I didn’t expect many people to react to that costume since The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is currently running and won’t be in trade for a while. However, I got A LOT of compliments, including one from the artist herself Becky Cloonan on Twitter as well as a retweet from co-writer Shaun Simon. I call that a win.
(Plus, a very attractive Jack Harkness cosplayer looked at me like I was good enough to eat when I was wearing it. Double win.)
Despite being dressed as a comic book character, I did not enter the Page to Stage contest this year. Instead, at the behest of my lovely friend Gretchen, I became a den mom for the first time this year. For those who don’t know, a den mom is the person looking over a group of cosplayers in a contest, making sure they’re taken care of and taking care of any emergency that might pop up. I was the den mom for contestants six through twelve, which included a nervous teenage Storm, an enthusiastic couple dressed a Nightwing and Raven, and an acrobatic Miles Morales.
My den was chill and awesome, and even though they didn’t walk away with any awards, it was an honor getting to watch over them and hang out with them through the night. Especially getting to be intervening den mom when the Raven of my group was too nervous to say hello to emcee George Perez.
After the contest, Dragon Con after dark officially began. With a change into a less constricting top, a quick sandwich run, and a trek to the Sheraton, I finally made it to the Rainbow Flag Party, which is the premiere queer friendly party of the con. The small room size and the Sheraton policy of no outside alcohol put a bit of a damper on the party, but the music and dancing made it all better. Plus, how upset can you be when you’re dancing with a drag king named Sven? Not very.
The next bit after that is blur of ice cream, ‘Get Lucky,’ beer, bourbon, a picture of John Barrowman grabbing my friend’s crotch, and a German Sparkle Party, but we finally made it down to The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Atlanta’s very own Lips Down On Dixie! Well, I think so. We were in the back of a big room, so it was made it hard to see the cast and hear their lines. However, we still piped in with “Asshole!” and “Slut!” in the required places and got to do the Time Warp, so it all worked out in the end. Plus, it made me excited to see the cast at their home theater for my friend’s bachelor party later this month.
The Masquerade; Or, why does Vic Mignogna still get work?
This year was the first year I had watched the Dragon Con Masquerade since 2007. For those who don’t know, the Masquerade is the Sunday night costume contest that is less about costume skill and more about how much you can entertain the judges. It can be fun and I put up with the massive line once, but it’s never really been my thing. But hey, when a friend invites you to watch it with a bunch of people in his room on Dragon Con TV while wearing your pajamas and drinking alcohol, how can you say no?
I’m really glad my friend Christine found the Dragon Con Masquerade drinking game though, because we needed it after some of the stuff that happened.
Oh, there was the typical Masquerade weirdness and silliness. Like the woman who dressed her baby up as Sterling Archer while she was dressed as Lana Kane, the strange alien baby Roombas we quickly drank to forget, or the winner of Best Fantasy who made Dwarf Racist Party Dad come to life in a routine set to Lady Gaga’s ‘Applause’. There was even some awesomeness like the winner who made her Robocop costume out of cardboard and Big Mamma D‘s amazing Ursula costume.
But then… there was Vic.
Voice actor Vic Mignogna was the host for the Masquerade this year and the best way I could describe him was “creepy douche.” He tried to pass it off as him being Jim Kirk, but I really don’t think Jim Kirk would ask a six year old girl dressed as Wonder Woman what she’s doing after the show, ask a girl dressed as Miss Martian if she’s an Orion slave girl, or rag on a Beast Boy over and over again. There was some skeevy doucheness during the adult portion of the contest, but really, I’m still in need of brain bleach after the juvenile section. I’ve heard tales of Vic’s behavior from the anime con circuit, but I think he proved it on the Masquerade stage. It’s kind of disappointing too after Dragon Con had finally cut ties with Ed Kramer and started cracking down on harassment to have a host who makes lewd comments about young girls on stage and tries to pass it off as humor.
The Dealer Hall Conundrum
One of the big changes to con this year was moving the dealer hall to the America’s Mart up the street a block from the Hyatt and moving the Walk of Fame to where the dealers used to be in the Marriott. This was pretty great for me personally because 1.) I ended up not spending as much money, and 2.) It felt like it really freed up space in the Marquis level of the Marriott. Sure, it was still crowded, but it didn’t feel as squeeze and push pass as it has been in the past.
When I finally did make it to the dealer hall on Monday, I could see why some of the dealers and attendees were not as happy about it. The place was a large, confusing maze, and it ended up being feast or famine for some of the vendors. Apparently, it was even more crowded on the more high traffic days.
But here’s the conundrum. It’s likely that Dragon Con moved the dealer hall to the America’s Mart to keep the fire marshall happy as the con continues to expand, but like the years with new hotels and renovations, things did not go off quite as well. Vendors will probably request that they be moved back into the hotels, but that will cause the crunch and again, make it hard to move around.
I’m hoping that a solution is reached between the vendors and the con, because personally, I like having space to move downstairs.
There are a lot of things that happen at Con that sometimes cannot be summed up in a certain topic. Sometimes, you got to slot them in with other things. Like…
- Running across the Zombie Walk with characters from The Walking Dead shouting at us that Walkers were coming.
- Getting to see the backstage of the Shakespeare Tavern on Thursday night for Much Ado About Nerdom along with the awesome crowd and Write Club.
- Playing with hoops outside of Big Kahuna on Sunday and having a friend ask me if it was okay if she put me in her spank bank. True story.
- Talking to artist Matt Frank about Pacific Rim and my kaiju plushies from N3rdy Girl Designs. His Gipsy Danger piece is really awesome and I can’t wait to hang the print I got of it on my eventual wall. (And sorry for my print buying faux pas on Monday, sir. I was running on half a brain.)
- I also got Jared P. Foust’s BEAUTIFUL Crimson Typhoon piece.
- Seeing Burn Gorman on Thursday and nearly being on the verge of shouting “HERMANN” at him. I mean, I’m glad I didn’t. That would have been embarrassing.
- Playing Red Dragon Inn and Sentinels of the Multiverse with my friends. Because really, if you don’t have friends to play ridiculous games with, what do you got?
- Shouting “HEY GIRL!” at a Turtle Princess and a Lumpy Space Princess while getting on the escalator and having them shout it right back.
- The dance party and “SPANAKOPITA!” outside of the Sheraton.
- Seeing the ‘I’m On A Blimp’ video during the Masquerade, the amazing ‘Comic Book Shop’ video, and inventing the Dragon Con TV drinking game.
- The waitresses at Hooters being dressed in costume, and my friends dressed as Fred and Daphne playing with my kaiju plushies as we were about to leave.
- The TARDIS Snowdrift from Caribou Coffee.
- The random encounters as I walked back from Trader Vic’s on Sunday evening. I seriously ran into eight people I know from five different things in a span of about ten minutes. Not to mention the Miss Frizzle just casually hanging with Jim Henson I saw during this. Because that’s how Dragon Con works.
- The really cute hotel key cards illustrated by Amanda Conner.
- Even with a brand new fandom and no visual reference, Welcome to Night Vale still managed to make it out. I was particularly fond of the woman with the sign that said “All Hail The Glow Cloud” on one side and “Desert Bluffs Sucks” on the other.
- Having firsthand knowledge that the staff was really cracking down on harassment, even if it was a case of mistaken identity.
- Brodyquest in the elevator. Enough said.
So with Dragon Con 2013 in the books, what’s on the horizon for next year? While many of my friends plan to make the journey to Black Rock City, I’m opting to make the next con even better with my best friend finally coming down for it. Because really, the next Dragon Con is only 355 days away at the time I’m writing this! I better get cracking!
If you’d like to know more about Dragon Con, see highlights from this year’s con or purchase your ticket for next year, visit dragoncon.org for more information.
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