One more note before we begin: my camera is not exactly great at getting shots inside dimly lit convention halls, so any convention photos you see here will be graciously shared thanks to Julie at Carry On. Thanks so much for allowing me to share them here!
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Or if you prefer: Supernatural Mecca. I vowed to myself that I would attend at least one convention there while the show was still filming. I can now cross this off of my bucket list. On August 22, 2013, I made the trek from Minnesota to Canada---my first trip ever outside of the United States. As the saying goes, go big or go home. Oh, sure, I didn't have a Gold ticket this time---nor a Meet and Greet with Jared Padalecki---but I was going on the Location Tour on Monday with Russ Hamilton.
But first, let's take in the journey from rural Minnesota to Vancouver---Supernatural's home.
I think the best way to describe the journey is to put it through the metaphor “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” My trip started with a 3 ½ hour car ride from my little town to the airport. Not much happened on the road, but we did start the trip off right with a Supernatural CD mix. No, I have not douched up my Impala, Dean. Sure, his stereo is CD and not cassette, but still. It kept the energy high as we drove through boring landscape and farmlands. I had no idea I was going to visit a place there that resembled much of my home landscape, but that's for another report!
Everything was boding well. Until we got to the airport that is. I've almost always flown early in the morning so the parking and lines aren't usually that long. Oh no. I went in the afternoon this time, and it was jam packed at MSP. It would start the odyssey that the travel day really became. Driving in circles in dark parking ramps isn't anyone's idea of fun, after all. After that, it was baggage check and TSA. For the record, Crowley's version of Hell with everyone standing in line with their number is very much like going through the TSA. I passed the security check and went on my way to my gate.
Only the sign at the gate was for another flight that was boarding and then deplaned and then boarded again. I have no idea what that was about, but my plane ran late because of it. See that parking lot omen? Yes, the trip was starting to get a bit harrowing. Leaving the Shire harrowing almost.
But then I got onto my plane and into the window seat and found a little screen. I'm a bit like Dean when it comes to flying. I really don't enjoy it. I also always end up on the wing and I always picture those Gremlins William Shatner saw in the Twilight Zone on them---which is not a comforting image as you can imagine. But I had a little screen this time! It allowed me to track the plane as we flew over my home and other states on the way. I may not have been in control, but watching the path made it feel a bit like I was! Maybe next time we see the boys on a plane for any reason they ought to have Dean messing with one.
Once I landed I had to clear customs---and as I was a newbie I was a little nervous. I wasn't invading Canada to do anything nefarious by any means, but I certainly didn't want to answer any of the questions incorrectly! I passed that, too, and ended up finding my way to the Sky Train to get to the Sheraton Wall Centre. Of course I was a bit frazzled by this point---3 hour ride, 3 hour wait, 3 hour flight makes for a cranky Far Away Eyes---and the stupid machine wouldn't take my card. One of the nice train people helped me and I got my ticket---and forgot to totally ask what station to get off at.
Oh yeah. It was a banner travel day by this point, no?
But then Canada welcomed me with their nice and friendly people and some fellow passengers told me what station to get off at and what streets to take. Canada has some of the nicest people I've met in any travels! In my home state, we have something called Minnesota Nice. Having these people help me here was kinda like having a bit of home follow me!
I arrived at the Sheraton Wall Centre finally and headed in to register. I was eager to meet some of my SPN Family. I did have a ticket to exchange with one of them after all, and I was running late! I managed to find the end of the GA weekend line---and lo and behold I heard my name! Someone was looking for “Far Away Eyes!” Looks like the luck had turned back to good. I wasn't going to have to spend forever trying to find them for the exchange. We handled it quickly and then we got our bracelets for the weekend.
Of course I wasn't done with standing lines. If there's one skill we learn at these cons it is how to stand in line. We stand in lines for registration. We stand in lines for photo ops. We stand in lines for autographs. Hell, we'll stand in a line that gets us into another line! I ended up in the line for more autographs/photo ops because I wanted both for Felicia Day. Sad faces were worn by all when they declared they had run out---but would have more the next day! I breathed a huge sigh of relief. After all I had been ecstatic when they announced she'd be there for the convention.
So, I went back to my room and familiarized myself with the TV and crashed. I had made it. Supernatural Mecca was within reach, and I hadn't gotten too lost along the way. The real fun would begin the next day---and boy did it ever!
Friday I went and got in line again---always with the lines at cons! I was first to get my photo op/autograph ticket for Felicia Day and then moseyed on down to the theater area to get in line for GA seating with the same people I had exchanged my extra ticket with. Now that I had the program at hand, I looked it over to see what Friday would bring.
This was my third convention, so I had an idea what I was getting myself into---but it was my first with Richard Speight Jr. as the MC. I love that he's in charge of introducing the guests because he knows the audience and what will make us laugh and cheer most without making it seem forced. He quickly dubbed the Salute to Supernatural Vancouver Con “Porncouver.” He even brought up a fan dressed like Gabriel in a full Casa Erotica outfit! My only question about “Porncouver” is if Richard regretted calling it that by the end. (See Sebastian Roche).
That meant everyone had a porno name and that we were going to start everything off with a lot of innuendo and silliness.
We started with Rob Benedict and Emily Perkins---or should I say Ski Glenwood and Fergus “Fergie” Brewster? They covered all sorts of fun topics ranging from what they'd look like on the Supernatural Book Covers to how Chuck and Becky would return to the show. They opted for a better option in my book---a spin off for them called “Fan Fiction.” They'd be private investigators with Chuck driving a Volkswagon Bug and Becky driving a Porsche. If anything, it shows that Benedict and Perkins know the tradition of Supernatural breaking the fourth wall well.
I like watching these two on stage together because they have a nice and easy chemistry and they tease each other fondly. It was a delight to see Rob rib Emily about acting with Jared in some of the scenes---especially when she said that Jared had requested a fan to keep cool. Of course Becky's finicky choices from Sam to Chuck to Sam to Garth came up---and Rob made sure to have fun with this. He put on the act of being offended and sad that Becky had managed to move on so easily to Garth. He even said that Becky ought to pray for Chuck to return!
Rob also talked about hanging out with the Psych cast after---according to him---the last taping of the beloved comedy ever. As most of you know, Psych is my second all time favorite show and thinking of it ending made me a bit blue. As for his guest spot on Psych, Rob says that it was hard to jump into the show going for just the comedy elements.
An excellent speculation question emerged concerning Chuck and Charlie. Could Charlie be the new incarnation of Chuck? If so, what about Chuck himself? Rob thinks he could be a normal guy while Charlie takes the role of God over. It's not likely, but the train of thought was an intriguing one none the less. As for playing Chuck, Rob loved playing Chuck in “The End” most as he could really give a shout out in his performance to another beloved TV character---Radar from M*A*S*H. In retrospect, he's totally right about that! (Radar's probably my favorite character on that show, by the way.)
Emily riffed on how awkward it was touching Jared's chest when feeling up Sam---and confirmed that he was indeed very firm. She hoped Jared wouldn't think it too odd if she kept touching him in rehearsal, but that it turned out fine in the end. Rob and Emily then talked about how acting can be a bit challenging in that regard as they have to figure out where to stand or what gestures to use when saying lines---and that sometimes it can be very embarrassing! It was a treat to hear them talk about the craft from a human perspective and not just a clinical approach to telling the story.
It was a delightful way to ease into the convention and a ton of fun to hear what they had to say. However, all too soon Richard Speight Jr or should I say Cuddles Saxxon came out to close out their portion. He did request that Emily show up to karaoke as a “dirty schoolgirl,” and tipped to us fans that she's really the raunchiest of all backstage.
Our second guest, Chad Lindberg or in the style of “Porncouver,” Snowball Blackburn, brought a family flair to the event. After all, it can't all be about porn! With him also came one of the first moments in the convention that made it the family reunion these events tend to be. He brought his parents to the event and often referred to them while on stage. It was an endearing thing for him to do and made him instantly connect with the audience. To me, that's one of the best things about these conventions. We will pay quite a bit to attend these events, but when we strip cost and stardom away, we're left with the fact that these conventions are really a gathering of our SPN Family---that they are indeed reunions either between now old friends within fandom and new joining in person for the first time. What's magical about that aspect, however, is when one of the actors bring their family to it as Chad did here. It means they feel---on some level---the same way we do about these Cons. They're comfortable enough with us to share their family with us---albeit briefly. I could tell from my seat that Chad loved his family, that they loved him, and most of all that they were very proud of him for being at these conventions to talk to us, his SPN Family.
Post Supernatural, Chad has played other characters. He managed to land a role in the latest Patterson movie Alex Cross and said that he ended up being beat up by Tyler Perry for the effort---including bruises! He also had a role in the NBC show The Cape and said that it just didn't take off. He is always stunned by how successful Supernatural truly is. He said that the show's circumstances are extraordinary and that it is an incredible gift that the various actors get to travel the world to talk with us, the fans. It's another moment during his panel that made me mull over how special this fandom truly is and just how lucky we are. Not many fans of other shows get to do what we do and to know that the experience is reciprocated on the other side makes it even more special.
Chad's other big role is in I Spit On Your Grave, a remake of the original 1970s movie. Of all his roles, his mother thought he performed best there---even if she couldn't bear to watch most of it without hiding behind her fan. When asked about Ash, Chad admitted that he wore a plaid shirt, unbuttoned it and turned around to deliver the lines. It got him the part. But the big question with any departed Supernatural character of course is “How would you bring them back?” For Ash, Chad told us he'd love to see Ash come in to the room, guns blazing, kick some ass, say nothing, and leave. It'd be a grand entrance and exit all at once!
What made Chad's panel even more exciting, however, was the fact that he is an actual paranormal investigator. He told us about a hair raising experience while working with the Ghost Adventures. There, he ended up scratched by what he suspects might be an actual demon. It was an unseen being that left scratches not unlike those seen from velociraptors from Jurassic Park. Hearing about it gave me chills---and I wish we could have seen the footage.
I really loved the line of questioning surrounding this topic because it is fascinating. I do believe in some aspects of the paranormal. It was awesome to hear about someone trying to make contact and study the supernatural speak about their experiences. Someone asked about the tools Sam and Dean use on the show, particularly that of salt and if Chad had ever used it in his own paranormal investigations. He said that he had indeed done so, including making a circle with it on the floor around an object he wanted to contain. Pretty cool! Throughout the panel, Chad's spirit phone would go off and he would break away from the panel line to ask if there were any spirits present that would like to communicate. Someone told him about a friend that had committed suicide and Chad's spirit phone went off for that, too. Apparently Chad and the fan both had deceased friends that shared the same name, and it was now possible the two spirits were connecting here between them.
Believe it or not, it certainly made for an intense moment between them and for everyone in the room. At end, when Richard came back out, the spirit phone went off yet again and they both huddled around it. Chad asked the spirit to identify him and who was standing next to him, and over the microphone held up to the phone the spirit identified Richard by name, which made him exclaim that he was creeped out by it. It certainly ended the panel with a bang, leading us into intermission with something to mull over for sure!
When Cuddles Saxxon came back, he introduced DJ Qualls or Bosco Warren. I enjoy Garth's character on Supernatural, but I got in the question line for DJ's other role, Billy from Legit. I wanted to ask him about the gritty black comedy. For those who haven't watched it yet, it stars Jim Jefferies, a comedian from Australia. His character of the same name is friends with DJ's character Billy and his brother Steve---and they get into all sorts of trouble. DJ's character, Billy, suffers from muscular dystrophy, so he is confined to a wheelchair and needs constant care. Jim manages to get Billy evicted from his group home---but that doesn't mean they won't visit from time to time.
Those living at the group home on the show are portrayed by real individuals with Down Syndrome and other handicaps. I wanted to ask DJ about working with these actors on the show, and he responded that he was uncomfortable at first. He knew that he was faking having this disorder and was concerned that they might be offended or cold in response to him. Now he loves working with them and has a lot of fun. DJ was also touched by a fan that had MD. That fan had reached out to him only to die shortly afterwards. His family told DJ that their son laughed hardest while watching the show, showing him how much the character of Billy has impact on others. To continue this great track of conversation, DJ told us that he is thrilled that we Supernatural fans will follow actors to other projects after. In fact, it is viewership by Supernatural fans that saved the show when the ratings increased 250% in the female demographic. It was yet another moment for me that proved that we as a Supernatural Family will support or own.
When it came time to talk about Garth, DJ let the cat out of the bag so to speak, stating that we could tell Jared that Garth will be back at some point in Season 9. For this spoiler phobe, it pleased me that he refused to say more about how that happens! He credited Adam Glass for writing the character so well and giving Garth his voice. He thinks that Bobby would be quiet about Garth taking on some of Bobby's roles, quipping, “He's dead, right?” In all seriousness, though, DJ thinks that Bobby would be immensely proud of Garth for coming so far---and baffled about how he's still alive, too. What I love about DJ when he talks about Garth is how enthusiastic he is about the role and how he has fun with it. He's also aware of fandom, stating that he knows Garth cannot replace Bobby and not to start that rumor again. He knows that Garth is doing what he can, but will never be that.
I also love to hear anything about the acting process. DJ described what it was like to work with Jared and Jensen that first time. He found it strange when they changed into the Sam and Dean personas---complete with voice and body language. DJ told us that it really threw him out of his own character, trying to figure out why they were acting that way. Now he realizes that they have to alter a bit how they tell the story in their performances while DJ prefers to act in his own voice. He said that it is expected of Jared and Jensen---and most of the typical “leading men” in TV and movies. I think it is a bit unusual in some ways, but in others it makes sense. It's a style.
DJ Qualls is always a treat to see at these cons because he is so self effacing and it is genuine. I always laugh and have a great time hearing him talk about his work on either Supernatural or other shows.
The last guest of the day was Alex Zahara or in Porncouver tradition, Trixie Avondale. You'll recall him from “Criss Angel is a Douchebag” and will be seeing him again in another episode in season 9. Judging from his TV track record of dying 37 times, I'm going to wager right now that his appearance will be a death one. But will it be as gory as his last? Alex told us that to do the death by blades effect he was strapped with 12 fake blood packs that were then triggered to go off at the same time. It was all done in a single take and he was messy with it afterward. The real kicker, however, was a homeless man down the street thought he was actually hurt and shouted in the background while shooting “Anyone gonna help?”
Alex talked a bit about what it's like to work on set with heavy makeup and costume, which intrigued me. One of my big take aways from this Con than any other is wanting to learn even more about how they make my shows, and hearing him talk about being put into costumes was a neat glimpse behind the curtain. For Stargate he was in the chair for 4.5 hours. Richard got into the questioning about this process, joking that he would think it's awesome that he woke up as a lizard. By the end of the week, though, Alex said that he had been a lizard so long that he was ready to be done. After all, to do it he had to be on a liquid diet only. It sounds incredibly grueling!
Alex told us that he grew up in northern Alberta, and spent many winters trapped inside watching genre shows like Star Trek. Hearing him talk about being into that and other genre shows made me like his appearance even more. He understood where we were coming from as fans and why we were passionate about Supernatural and other shows like it. I liked that he was a journeyman in the business, willing to go to any show and do anything in them to tell stories---in those types of shows particularly. Hopefully we'll see him attend more cons---especially if he's going to guest again on the show this coming season!
Ah, but Friday's really only building up to one thing and one thing only. Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, we really know why we go to these Cons on Friday! For Karaoke of course. With Richard and Matt hosting them, it's no wonder these parties have become a major highlight of the event year after year, con after con. This year's theme is a school theme, which meant that Richard came out in an outfit matching Dean's from “After School Special,” and Matt arrived as a cheerleader in a skirt. The icing on the cake, however, was his little red bows on his head. They made the effect picture perfect.
There were so many floating around in different outfits representing school, but the ones that take the cake were two dresses that were printed with diplomas on them for Karaoke. They were emblazoned with “Supernatural University,” and on the hem of the skirt were blanks for signatures from Matt and Richard---and a bonus of having our very own Bardicvoice sign them as Chancellor. By far they were the best outfits.
As for the rocking music? It was fun and loud and crazy, especially up on stage. But there were sadly some important tracks missing from our Supernatural party. No “Eye of the Tiger!” How can this be? No one could reenact Jensen's iconic leg air guitar! What was even sadder was the lack of “Carry on My Wayward Son.” How can one have a Supernatural Karaoke Kings party without this essential? A group of us also had put the request in for the iconic Charlie Bradbury song “Walking on Sunshine.” Alas, it never came up and we were denied our own reenactment of the elevator dance. It was the only low point of the whole party.
The guests that dropped in made up for it, though! We had Emily arrive in her dirty school girl uniform, true to her word. We had someone duet with Rob on a Louden Swain track, which was an amazing performance. Chad showed up and strutted in a pink boa---one I believe he's auctioning off now for charity. We had the naughty but delightful Sebastian Roche crash the party. Ty Olsson popped in. Jim Michaels danced around in the crowd---as did Russ Hamilton. One guest, however, surprised us. The hotel manager from “The Great Escapist” showed up on stage and danced and let his long luscious hair down. All in all it was a fun and crazy time.
One of the great things about this party, though, is seeing the guests appearing mix and mingle freely with the crowd. DJ was standing with some fans to the side chatting. I was lucky enough to catch the group and gracious enough to take their photos with him. It is a real party atmosphere with fun and music and a carefree mood for all. It's one of those events in the Con that I truly never ever want to end and when it did I was sad.
But that didn't mean the fun was ending. Oh no. The fun was merely just beginning. Next report we'll look at Saturday and all the mayhem and excitement---and surprises it brought. Strap in and enjoy the ride of Porncouver 2013!