You would think by now as many cons as I've been to, they've gotten very routine and boring. How many of the guests are the same, and the panels are just the same old rehashed questions and stories. Yeah, you would think that. However, this year's Salute to Supernatural in New Jersey ended up being the total opposite. It was one of the best weekends I've had yet at a "Supernatural" con.
Out of the four New Jersey cons that have happened in the history of the show, I’ve been to three of them. Sadly, I had to miss last year because of a family commitment. After attending this year’s event, I’m amazed how much this con has grown. It’s become bigger than ever, and a lot of the people I first met in Cherry Hill in 2009 (Misha’s first con) are still coming. Plus more. A lot more.
Here is my roundup is everything I didn’t cover in the previous reports. This will read part detailed report, part personal travel log, just to keep it different. There's two panel reports left, the 50 Shades of Matt Cohen and Richard Speight Jr. panel, and three veteran genre actors that showed off not only their genius, but how underneath it all how they’re very naughty little boys. Plus, you get to meet the new Winchester Family Business unpaid intern.
The Unpaid Intern
When two tickets came available at last minute, one Gold and one Silver, and summer stir craziness was setting in for my teenage daughter to the point where she was gazing at her little brother with homicidal tendencies, the decision to take a trip was a no brainer. The conversation went a little like this:
"Julia, do you want to go to New Jersey con-"
Yeah, not a lot of arm twisting. This wouldn't be her first con. No, at her first con in San Francsico, she made an impression during the Jared and Jensen Q&A. She asked Jared what he did on bad hair days. "Do I have bad hair days?" he asked. "According to season three you do." Jensen's infamous reaction of shaking his hand with a "Wow she burned you" look as the audience groaned and Jared sat speechless still makes the rounds on Youtube. Her second con was Nashville last year. That's the one where she got to go all weekend while Mom ended up in the hospital. She made her impression there by asking Misha during his Q&A session what was it like to hug cupid.
Thanks to my work schedule, we would travel on Friday and go to the con Saturday and Sunday. On the way there, before we even left Ohio, a technical issue came up on the Winchester Family Business that only I could easily fix. I was driving. I handed my laptop and cellphone (with Wifi hotspot) to my daughter and talked her through fixing the issue. After all, she just took a digital media course in middle school so she’s actually heard of HTML. By the time we were halfway through Pennsylvania, I now officially had an unpaid intern who knew how to mass upload 90 photos into an article.
Since she was the one getting the Gold ticket (am I a great Mom or what?) part of her unpaid intern duties was to take all the photographs of the panels and breakfast. That earned her two photo ops, one with Jared and one with Misha. Suddenly, indentured servant didn’t sound so bad to her. All the photographs I’ve shared in these reports were taken by her. She also got her very own replication of Dean's amulet (Geez, can I be an intern?) While she was thrilled by that, I was more thrilled by my little souvenir...
Speaking of the Impala, one of Julia's photo taking duties was to get pictures of the amazing Impala that a fan brought to the con and kept parked outside near the ballroom entrance. Of course I had to get one myself. She needed to show off her potential as car show model! Unfortunately, she closed her eyes, ruining any potential for her portfolio there.
Here's an awesome front angle taken by Julia. They even got the Kansas license plate!
50 Shades of...Adult Content Warning!!
Considering Richard Speight Jr. and Matt Cohen haven’t been on “Supernatural” since season five, you would have thought the joint panels they give at every con now (since they’re the permanent Karaoke hosts) would be stale and they’d have nothing to talk about. Every time I see them, they manage to find a way to amuse the crowd. Oh yes, the theme has turned a bit raunchy of late, but they're still massively entertaining. This year, thanks to an inside joke, they found their topic of inspiration. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce “50 Shades of Matt and Richard.”
Nothing like taking a theme and completely running with it to the point where even if the core joke grew stale fast, there were so many twists and turns they took with it we were rolling in the aisles every time they said “50 Shades of (fill in the blank)”. The inspiration comes from the Twilight fan fiction turned into trashy novel, “50 Shades of Grey.” Someone in the private meet and greet dared ask Matt if he had read it. No, but that didn’t stop him from prefacing every sentence and answer with “50 Shades of...” When he went to escort a latecomer to her seat (a tradition at a Matt and Richard panel), somehow a copy of “50 Shades of Grey” made it’s way into Matt’s hands, then Richard's. Now Richard had some outloud reading material!
Taking his seat on stage, Richard asked for a page number. 369 was the first one. “I felt subconscious and embarrassed by my lack of clothing. I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage....” Suddenly I’m remembering that I brought my 14 year old with me to this con, and now she gets to hear slutty and suggestive fan fiction as though it’s story time. I visualized me trying to explain in the car how adults normally don’t act like this. Come the next page though, page 121 (fans obviously knew what happened on that page), I quickly realized I was going to have to explain a lot more than that. Me and every other parent of a minor in that room that got to watch Matt Cohen with their children re-enact the graphic sex scene on stage that Richard read word for word.
Why don’t you watch the You Tube video? Warning, it’s soft porn.
After that, Richard and Matt probably realized they might have caused some problems when 11 and 12 year olds started asking questions. Like an 11 year old asked what it was like on the set. “A clean, wholesome environment,” Richard said. Matt tried to express how wonderful Jensen’s lips were, but after being reminded of the age of the person asking the question, he went to his stock answer. “It was 50 shades of awesome.”
So, the panel straightened up after that, right? You haven’t been to one of these cons lately. There was Matt’s impersonation of Jensen’s pouty face. A low battery indicator suddenly flashed on the screen, saying “No Stamina.” Then Matt was asked to demonstrate pick up lines. So both he and Richard got into character, pretending to be strangers in a bar, and Matt wasn’t exactly wooing the tough cookie Richard. My favorite retort was Richard asking Matt, “Weren’t you in “Smallville?” These two decided that their lines weren’t good enough (they really weren’t) so they brought the girl who started all this up on stage and found a guy in the audience to say a pickup line to her. You think the guy remembered there were kids in the audience. Heavens no. Among the quiet hush and the baited breath of the entire audience, the guy said to this girl...
“Can I ask you a question? Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?”
The entire audience groaned then cheered, and I knew I’d have to have a long talk with my girl in the car now. Here’s the video on Matt and Richard’s pickup lines for those dying to see it:
Since the panel was already off the rails, it was hopeless at this point. What would be their stripper names if they were in the “Supernatural” cast edition of Magic Mike? Richard, “Danger Bottom.” That actually was his gamer name from Comic-Con. Matt - “The Hebrew Hammer.” Then Richard brought up what they did at LA Con in March (I was there), how to determine your porn name. Your first name is the name of your first pet, your last name is the name of the street you grew up on. Suddenly, he’s getting porn names from various audience members. In one case, someone’s real name was a better porn name than the manufactured one.
In live tweeting this panel, I suddenly had people share their porn names while the panel was going on. I got quite a few, and promised to share. Here they are!
@AmyInSydney - Bo Madison
@Bardicvoice - Dickie Drury
@Ardeospina - Bilbo Butternut
@Kelios - Midnight Cherry
@llZoeyRedbirdII - Gypsy Meadow
@ILoveMyCaptain - Mimi McCabe
@orangecane - Goofy 92nd
@barbiecan - Shandy Sunnyside
@2homeboys - Kitty Linden
@ladybyng19 - Trixie Robinson
@SupportSPN - Lexi Kristin
@StacyGillard - Muffy Slimbridge
@bookdal - Dixie Crystal
@ReaRocks1 - Lilli Parkwood
@cravenhawk - Pepper Valley
@dem0nhunters - Jazzy Hall or Chippy Hall
@IUHobbit - Brandy Oak
@siriuslyyellow - Muppet 4th
My porn name by the way is Winona Aintree. Julia's porn name (when she turns 18!) will be Shadow Blackjack.
They closed the panel with rapid fire questions and answers, trying to get through the rest of the long lines in five minutes. Strangely, they succeeded. Out of all that, the only memorable answer is both of them would be Ariel if they got to be a Disney princess. Good to know.
To think, Sebastian Roche was still to come, along with Mark Sheppard and Mark Pellegrino, who are hardly boy scouts. The X-rated fun continues!
Mark, Mark, and Sebastian
This one actually got off to a decent start. It was Sebastian Roche’s birthday, so Mark Sheppard led everyone in a sing along of “Happy Birthday.” Even Sebastian was singing along. According to Sebastian, he was 25, and he still had all his teeth.
It didn’t take long though for the talk to get very dirty. All three actors were seated on the stage most of the time, except when Mark Sheppard got up to hug traumatized minors who had to hear all their filth.
I did heavily live tweet this one. Why don’t I just share the tweets? They pretty much sum up the whole thing:
- Now @sebroche is doing his Jersey accent. He's making fun of Parsippany. Cab driver told him nothing was there.
- They're complimenting Mark Pellegrino on the fact he is now beardless.
- They're getting the "What is their favorite cuss word?" question. Did you know that F*** is fornication under consent of the king? @sebroche claims that king fact anyway. Me thinks a fact check will come up empty on that one. (Turns out I was wrong! It is true).
- @sebroche is forgetting minors are present. Fill in the blanks when the word "finger" "balls and "ass" are used in the same sentence.
- If Lucifer got out of the cage what would he do to Crowley? Mark P did a lewd gesture and Mark S hugged the 14 yr old who asked.
- @sebroche "Before I say f***, I say please and thank you afterward." Yes, the panel has taken that direction now.
- Just FYI, @sebroche is back on his soap (is that GH?) Mark S. is doing Supernatural and Mark P is doing Revolution.
- Okay, how do I tweet all the really strange noises @sebroche is doing on stage? You just gotta imagine it!
- @Mark_Sheppard was asked about Neil Gaiman wanting him to play Crowley on Good Omens. Mark met him through Dr. Who and would love to.
- What would they do if they were God for a day? Mark P, "There would be a lot of people out there that deserved to be f**ked up."
- They're having a really good (and serious) discussion on stage now about their skills as actors in evolving their characters.
- Mark S got a question at Comic-Con, "So, what's left for you?" from TV Guide. He couldn't believe the question. "I'm 48 years old!"
- About being genre actors @sebroche, "The depth of characters in this genre is amazing." @Mark_Sheppard, "Good luck dating an actor."
- Someone said they loved Mark S. on "The X-Files." @sebroche, "I couldn't get on the X-Files." Mark S, "He took his clothes off."
- Someone has a question for Mark S. "It doesn't matter, Sebastian will answer the question anyway."
- Question to Mark P. about sitting in different positions in the chair while playing Lucifer. He did it that way because it was a way to get through all the takes. Fan - “As long as it wasn’t Jared’s lap." Mark S - “We’d all fit in Jared’s lap.”
- If they could trade bodies and brains with anyone on #SPN? Mark S - "Jim Beaver." Sebastian - "I like me." Mark P - "No comment."
- What are their characters' vision of Heaven? Mark P - "I'm not compatible with any visions of Heaven."
- Question for Mark S - Did you use tongue when you kissed Jim Beaver. "No. He tried. He was digging around like a ferret."
- @sebroche claims Jim Beaver sang "I kissed a guy." Mark S. said Jim has the softest lips. He has all the originals on his phone.
- What would Balthazar's wings look like? Sebastian - "Trojan Magnum." And they would be made of mashed potatoes.
- A question for Mark S. came up about the writing on #Supernatural and #DrWho, aka how hard it is for the (longtime) fans. (The context was the quality has declined). Mark had a message of "Quit whining." The writers are doing a great job with what is 8 seasons of essentially a "buddy movie."
- Mark S thinks "Supernatural" is interesting and moves away from mid center. Things can get stale after 8 yrs. "Anything can happen."
- Between Crowley, Balthazar, and Lucifer who would win. Mark S says Crowley, Mark P says Lucifer. Mark P, "Let's get a bottle of mineral oil and resolve this now!"
- They're out of time. There's more people in line with questions. Sebastian - "The answer is 42." Thanks guys for a great panel!
Other Con Highlights
On Saturday, there was supposed to be a presentation by a Oujia specialist, but he didn’t show. So, they did an impromptu trivia quiz where audience members could answer questions and get prizes. I was sitting there next to my girl typing on my laptop while they started asking trivia questions. Since I have encyclopedic “Supernatural” knowledge (which is why I was asked to write the TV Guide quiz), I was firing off quick answers every time they asked a question. When they asked “Who wrote “Bloodlust?” and the panelists got it wrong (scoff, Jeremy Carver wasn’t there is season two!) I casually said “Sera Gamble.” Next thing I know, my daughter is headed to the stage to collect her prize. She was selected to answer the question after she jumped up and started waving her hands madly while wearing a seal hat. She got a shooter glass and a Supernatural magazine. Inside that Supernatural magazine was a full and totally awesome poster of Bobby. Guess who was doing autographs later?
I bought her the Jim Beaver autograph ticket (she did after all win Mom a shooter glass) and we waited in the long line. Jim's autograph line from earlier in the day was long too, which is great considering his autograph wasn't part of any package and had to be purchased. My daughter didn’t know what to say to him, so I told her about Jim knowing Japanese. He learned it so he could understand those Samurai movies in its native language. My daughter started learning Japanese recently because she loves Anime and wants to watch it in the native language. She gets up to Jim and asks if he knows Japanese. She told him she’s learning it, on her own since they don’t offer it in school. He asked her something in Japanese. She promptly responded back in Japanese for several sentences, holding her hands together in the traditional Japanese greeting. I was so blow away to see Jim’s face light up and his jaw drop in amazement. She really impressed him. He answered back in Japanese and then personally addressed her poster with “Arigato gozainasu!”
She’s still on the fan girl high from that and gets all happy every time she sees that signed message. Of course, hugging Jared and Misha in her photo ops didn’t hurt that fan girl high either! Now I have to take her to a con in October so she can get those photos signed and go on the wall with our sandwich photo from San Francisco.
Julia also loved talking to everyone in the autograph lines, guests and other fans. After talking to Sebastian a bit, she didn’t believe he was French. So she came back in line when it was my turn and asked if he was French. He spoke to her in French, and she didn’t know how to answer. Considering that's the one language I’ve studied in my life, I had an answer. “Je ne parle pas Francais.” We then asked him if he knew Japanese. Nope. Ha! She was one up on him there.
Also of note, when she spoke with Jared in the autograph line she told him how much she loved his longer hair. Yes, like mother like daughter. :) Jared was very pleased to hear this and told her he’s fighting to keep it. So on behalf of hair lovers everywhere, hear our plea. PLEASE CW, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF CHUCK, LISTEN TO YOUR TALENT!!!! And us shallow fan girls. Thank you. :)
It’s The Loyal Fans Stupid
Aside from having the thrill of watching my girl have the time of her life this weekend, the best part of my con was the part that keeps me coming back, meeting and talking with other fans. I got to talk with friends that I originally met at the first NJ con and get to catch up with each year, I finally got to meet people that I’ve gotten to know online for a while (like sometime contributors for this site Metamorphic Rocks and Mainegirlwrites), and I met plenty of new fans who were there for the first time. It was very clear no matter who the person was, they were having a great time. The fact that the hotel’s air conditioning wasn’t working, there were water pressure issues (bad for the toilets in the ladies room that resulted in long lines), the food and snack selection was very poor and overpriced (not to mention the lack of convenience stores in the area), and the facility in general wasn’t meant to handle the long lines for photo ops and the large crowd in general (thus to the move to a bigger hotel next year), none of that seemed to deter people’s moods when it came to the con. When it came to “Supernatural,” it was all good.
(A small portion of Jared's photo op line, winding into the guest room area. People were certainly surprised when coming in and out of their rooms.)In all the conversations I had, each fan had hopeful talk about season 8 (and a possible 9 and 10 on Sunday). They were optimistic, because they were anxious to see the show get back on track. No one that I spoke to was happy with season seven. There wasn't huge hate as much as disappointment, especially since it just didn't live up to prior seasons. Don’t take that to be scientific by any means, but I was surprised to see how no one defended the season except for Mark Sheppard during his panel. Despite their displeasure with the season in general, none of these fans either were ready to give up on “Supernatural.” The theme was clear, they were sticking with their show until the end.
That kind of loyalty is exactly why I do cons. It’s uplifting. You don’t get that a lot of times in online conversations. It just proves that what you read online is not necessarily what all other fans are thinking. Just a subset. It’s nice to see the other side. It reminds me why I fell in love with the show in the first place. As a matter of fact, that was a popular topic of discussion. What made us fell in love. It helps us get through the rougher seasons. I’ve said this a thousand times before, and I said it again all weekend. For me, it's two guys, a beautiful car, and the open road. They had me within the first five minutes.
One misc point of mention, a lot of the items me and my daughter had signed at New Jersey con have been donated to the very first Winchester Family Business Charity Auction! That begins in the next month or so. It’ll likely go on for a couple of months. All proceeds will go to our sponsored charities, A Dog’s Life through Support Supernatural and Circle F Horse Rescue. We’ve already received some great donations from Jill, Claudia, and Lynn and Kathy from Fangasm, as well as several things from my personal collection. Stay tuned for details in the next month.
Also worthy of mention, next year Jensen is FINALLY coming to New Jersey! The con moves to the nearby Hanover Marriott May 3-5, 2013. Fans at the con were very, very excited to hear they're finally get their opportunity to meet Jensen after four years. I couldn’t be more happy for this very loyal bunch of people who have showed up every year just because they got to talk and gush about “Supernatural” with those of their kind. Misha Collins, the only headliner who has been all four years, is the NJ king. I hope he comes next year. It wouldn’t be the same without him.
That’s all on NJ con from me! I hope you enjoyed my ramblings of what turned out to be one of the better cons I’ve attended. For all those I ran into this weekend, I’ll see you next year! The same holds for those of you that have decided next year to give NJ a shot. It'll be a worthwhile trip.
For all the latest Supernatural info and article links, follow The Winchester Family Business on Twitter at @WinFamBusiness
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