Dragon*Con just keeps getting better and better every year. I always walk away with great memories and this year’s Dragon*Con was no different.
There were some amazing panels this year. The Sanctuary panel, featuring the wonderful Amanda Tapping, Christopher Heyerdahl and Robin Dunne, was so personable it didn’t feel like we were sitting in a ballroom that held hundreds. Doctor Q’s Clockwork Comics panel gave me a whole list of Steampunky comics I want to check out and taught me a thing or two about Steampunk costuming. My favorite panel of the weekend though was probably the Gonzo Quiz Show on Saturday night.
Featuring Paul and Storm, Jonathan Coulton, Doc Hammer, James Urbanik, and Sylvester McCoy (among others), I can honestly say I’ve never laughed that hard for that long. It was filled with so many memorable moments, like Doc Hammer’s rendition of The Beatles “When I’m 64” done in the voice of Doctor Girlfriend, that it would be impossible to choose just one as a favorite. Sylvester McCoy definitely stole the show in the second half with a continuous and impressive display of physical comedy.
Costuming has always been something that has interested me and Dragon*Con attendees bring costuming to a whole new level. WhiteRabite and I have had costuming success in the past with our Farscape DRDs 1812 and One Eye. (Ben Browder LOVED them!) But we wanted something different this year. We wanted something no one had ever done before, or at least, not well. Inspired by the Jim Hensen exhibit we saw at the Museum of Science and Industry in October, the Snowths costumes were born.
All I will say is that those costumes were a lot of hard work. If it weren’t for our combined creativity, talent and ingenuity, WhiteRabite and I could have never pulled them off. The result was a hit! We wore the costumes three times, Thursday night, Saturday night and Monday. Each time we couldn’t take more than a few steps without people asking for our picture or singing “Manah Manah.” It was amazing! And we were worried no one would know who we were! We clearly underestimated the popularity of these Muppets and even ended up making iO9’s list of Coolest Costumes and Props at Dragon*Con 2011.
Small children were the most adorable. They would come up to us very shyly and ask if they could take their picture with us. We tried not to speak much in the costumes except to sing the song, but a nod and open arms was all the kids needed to smile brightly and pose with us. All of the compliments we received really made our day. Even celebrities loved us!
We were walking by the bar in the Marriott (and by “walking” I mean being led hand-in-hand by a handler since we couldn’t see very well) when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, nearly hitting the person in the head with my nose as a familiar voice asked “Can I get my picture with you?” I nodded and got WhiteRabite’s attention so she would stop and pose as well. Then I heard it, the slight squeal from PlayItGrand. I looked over at the man who had his arm around my waist. Our “fan” was none other than Stargate Universe’s David Blue! He said he had seen us on the second floor and came running down because he had to get his picture taken with us! Of course I had to ask if he would mind if we took our picture with HIM. He seemed surprised and I’m not sure why. The next day I stopped by his table at the Walk of Fame, out of costume, and thanked him for making our night. We chatted for a bit about the costumes and how we made them. He was simply wonderful. Those who know me know I wasn’t a fan of SGU. It wasn’t my cup of tea. However, it did make me a fan of David Blue and now that I’ve met him, I can honestly say he’s as great of a guy as you’d imagine!
Felicia Day (The Guild) climbed over her table in the Walk of Fame and Amy Okuda (The Guild) crawled under hers to get their pictures taken with us. Addy Miller, the little girl zombie from The Walking Dead asked to pose for a picture as well. Even the staff members in the Walk of Fame wanted their picture taken with us! Perhaps the most hilarious moment came when we were standing outside the Walk of Fame getting ready to go back up to our room. Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe) walked past us singing “Manah Manah.” Of course we joined in and soon we were dancing and singing with Colonel Young himself while David Blue laughed in the background!
My celebrity sightings didn’t stop there! I got hugs from Warehouse 13‘s Eddie McClintock (which is starting to become an annual “thing”) and chatted with him about his American Staffordshire Terrier who was a mirror image of our dog Bunny. Of course I had to stop by and say “hi” to Farscape‘s Virginia Hey. She knows me instantly as “Radio’s Mum” and always wants to know how he’s doing. I see her once a year and it’s always a pleasure! I even got William Shatner’s autograph on my copy of Saddle & Bridle! We chatted briefly about reining and showing. He seemed amused to find one fan who was a fan of him as a horseman rather than an actor.
Dragon*Con afforded us with amazing opportunities this year as far as one of our favorite shows, Sanctuary, goes. PlayItGrand did her very first interview ever with Robin Dunne! It is definitely one of the best interviews I have ever seen! She did such a great job. I think you can hear me giggling in the background as Robin ribbed her.
Christopher Heyerdahl, as it turns out, is really not scary in person. He’s very much the opposite! (And very handsome!) I had a chance to interview him and remarked about how his portrayal of John Druitt often freaks me out so much I need to turn on all of the lights in the house if I’m home alone. He seemed very amused by this! He was incredibly charming and witty. He’s so not like any of his characters that it really speaks to his abilities as an actor.
I would have to say though that the highlight of Dragon*Con 2011 for me was Amanda Tapping. I’ve seen Amanda before at Creation’s Chicago Stargate Convention so I already knew how awesome she was. Or at least, I thought I knew! First we had the chance to interview her with our friends at Fandomania and That Sci-Fi Show. If that wasn’t enough, we learned that Amanda loves horseback riding and used to volunteer at a therapeutic riding facility! The great thing about Amanda is that she is the most genuine person you will ever meet. She genuinely cares about everyone she meets and it shows. The interview felt more like a conversation with an old friend than it did an interview, and that was great!
Let me say that I can’t praise Illumina Productions and Craig Damon enough. His pictures are always BEAUTIFUL. His photo op room is always fun and friendly. His staff is helpful and pleasant, and he gets things done on time without rushing you through. You’re given a few moments to say “hello” to the guest and get yourself situated. It’s obvious that Mr. Damon cares about the fan experience. If your eyes are closed or you take a “bad” picture, he takes another one! Illumina Productions was also wonderful about e-mailing out autograph prices for their guests before the convention. Their photo-ops may be a little more pricey than Froggy’s, but let me tell you, honestly…you get what you pay for. I have never been disappointed with my photos or my experience.
When I went for my photo-op with Amanda she recognized me from the interview and greeted me with a friendly hug. Some people have specific poses in mind for their photo-ops and I knew exactly what I wanted to request, if Amanda would be game. I saw on Twitter that Amanda can do something very unusual with her eyes. She can look to the left with her right eye and straight with her left eye at the same time. I’ve never seen anyone else who can do this! Though I doubted hers was “natural” like mine, I had to ask if she’d be willing to do it in the picture.
Me: Can we do that thing where you look to the left and straight at the same time? I’ve never met anyone else who can do it.
Amanda: (Looking surprised) Can you do it?! (very excited, grabs my arms).
Me: Yes! (crosses eyes).
Amanda: Awesome! Yes! Lets do it!
It took her a moment to do it (since my muscles are paralyzed I just look to the left), but the picture was snapped with Amanda making a goofy face and me with an equally goofy and very excited smile. I saw her in the hallway later, in passing, and she ran over to me and excitedly asked if I had seen our photo-op yet. I immediately went to pick it up! On Sunday she signed the picture “to my wonder twin” and we chatted a bit about the picture. I told her how I took a lot of flack in school for unintentionally crossing my eyes. Her handler, who was equally as awesome as Amanda, laughed and asked what Amanda’s excuse was. “I’m just an idiot!” she giggled. I don’t think she realized how that one moment, that one silly picture, made all of the schoolyard teasing I endured worth it. Amanda thought my ability to cross my eyes like that was cool.
Summing up Dragon*Con 2011 in one word is easy. “Memorable.” From the panels to our interviews, the concerts, reunions with old friends and meeting new ones, our costumes and encounters with our favorite guests, everything about this year’s Dragon*Con was truly unforgettable. I can’t even begin to imagine what will happen next year!