Thursday, August 11, 2011

GenCon 2011

Ahh, one of my favorites! GenCon is a fantastic con, a great mix of gaming and cosplay, with some fun after hours activities. This year, like last year, I was working for True Dungeon, and I brought Kelly (2nd year) and my sister Alyssa (1st year) to come work with me. We were also joined by Marilyn (our roomie from last year and returning True Dungeon npc), Matt (Ribbons and Rivets) and on and off by my friend Doug.

Con for us started on Tuesday. Lyssa, Kelly, and I drove up from NC…alllll the way to Indy through Ohio, which is horrendously boring and filled with more corn and 55pmh highways than a state really needs. On our way up, though, we did some brainstorming on my new project (to be discussed in a later post! I will tell you it involves hot girls, costumes, collaboration, and photo awesomeness) We check into our hotel, grab some steak and shake, and mooch wifi in the lobby (side note – why is it that expensive hotels never provide in room wifi? Is it *really* that difficult?)

Wednesday is training for True Dungeon. If you’ve never been to or heard of True Dungeon, imagine giant life sized Zelda puzzle dungeon meets D&D – you have a party of people with different skills that runs through a two hour adventure, trying to solve all the puzzles and beat all the monsters before facing (and hopefully triumphing) over the final boss. They set up a huge maze, full of moving monsters, NPC actors, traps, and clues, and people turn out in droves to participate. It’s incredibly fun, and incredibly challenging. Last year, the final boss was a red dragon, which ate an untold number of parties.

This year, I reprised my role as an elven cleric, with Alyssa joining me (though she was always a different shift), and Kelly and Marilyn were NPC bosses. We helped with some final set up in the dungeon, worked on our lines, and scoped out all the rooms the players would be facing. There was some mild-moderate (okay, pretty severe) panicking when I found out my costume had not arrived yet... Organic Armor shipped it to us, but it was nowhere to be found. And since I have to go on at 9am Thursday, I kinda need the armor ahead of time.

(Fortunately, we found it -- they had delivered it to the room of Jeff Martin, the head of True Dungeon. which is sorta nice, but mostly completely out of line with their package policy and let's not do that again.) 

Also we went to Victoria’s Secret, because elven clerics need bikinis. I have a horrendous time bathing suit shopping but glory be! I found a suit that fits! I put it on hold and we go back to our hotel. (this will be important later)

Thursday morning – I have first shift in the dungeon. I am SUPER NERVOUS. I actually stayed up muttering lines to myself and woke up every hour, on the hour, convinced I was going to oversleep my 3 alarms and miss my shift. My job is to introduce the players to the adventure, and drop some hints about what they need to do. Of course, because I'm an NPC, it's hard to get them to give me the time of the day -- NPCs have feelings too! 

What do we want! Actual hit points! When do we want them? Now! 

Since Lyssa/I and Kelly/Marilyn are all playing the same parts, different shifts, we have a weird time coordinating with each other. But it works out so someone can always get the others food, which is good – you don’t need the final boss to be evil AND extra hungry. But we take turns exploring the dealer room (really huge and really difficult to get through in costume, haha. It felt like it closed really early every day, though) checking out the gaming (I have an awesome picture of me and Lyssa and Marilyn awkwardly playing Dance Central, haha. We didn’t get to jump in on any really long rpgs, like I would have liked, because of the scheduling stuff, but everyone tried out a lot of short demos in the dealer room)

After-hours stuff turned out to be interesting this year – usually one (or two or three) of us was finishing their shift after 12am… so we were crazy late to the parties. BUT WE WENT. Boldly walking in random directions around Indianapolis in outfits a stranger described as “brothel, school girl, chainmail…thingy and Babylonian warrior” (last one was me, ha!) White Wolf throws some low key (well, by the time we got there) but fun parties.

We also made sure to find time to lounge in the hot tub… after a long day at conventions, hot tubs are like the bacta tanks of our time.  And speaking of hot tubs…

So, Friday evening we book it for Victoria’s Secret, because I have to have my bathing suit before we hit up the hot tubs. Except… we’ve just come from the con, so you have me, in my evil-ass Organic Armor succubus bikini and stripper heels – Caitlyn in a very regal barbarian queen outfit, complete with fur cloak – and three assorted guys in nerdy tshirts (and one steampunk Han Solo outfit). Oh, and Matt, who’s in full black leather armor, with a cape. We very calmly walk through a gaggle (a flock?) of tween girls gaping at us and track down my bathing suit. I find the right size top. We go to the register.

Finally one of the sales associates can’t hold back anymore and asks: “Are you guys doing that…larping…thing?”

I scoff. “Larping is for nerds.”

She looks confused, because really, what else are we? I helpfully clarify that we are just avid costumers, which is somehow way cooler. She and the other sales lady take some Organic Armor business cards, and I tell her that most people will probably identify as “cosplayers”. I leave with bathing suit and they have a story about uppity geeks now. Hehehe.

We took about a zillion pictures, which will honestly give you a better idea of what the con was like than my out of order recap, but here’s some highlights:
  •           Running into some absolutely gorgeous costumes including an Aasari (marry me, cosplay girl!) , Danaerys Targaryen, and an awesome queen who just felt like dressing up (she was one of the nicest people and had gorgeous white hair).
  •       True Dungeon was in full swing this year! It looked amazing (underwater themed, with so many cool light/sound effects) and I'm really eager to see what they do next year. 
  •           Ryan Sohmer, of Least I Can Do/Looking for Group/Gutters, gave me an absolute heart attack by giving me a box of books to hand out to passersby… then acting horrified and telling me I was supposed to sell them, after I’d handed out like half a box. OH MY GOD MY LEGS GAVE OUT. He thought it was hysterical.
  •           Photoshoot with Echo Chernik! I’ve been a huge fan of hers and dying to model for her, and we finally got around to it. We nabbed a crazy evil looking helmet and did an impromptu shoot, and I can’t wait to see what she does with it.
  •           Pictures with Matt and the troll. Matt has a tendency to show up and take all of my pictures from cute/interesting to “mildly steamy”, so I’m trying to be this sweet Elven cleric of goodness and light and then I’m suddenly being seduced by this dark knight in front of the cameras and people get way too much amusement out of it! (….admittedly so do I!)

Some anti-highlights (lowlights?):
  •           Gencon rearranged itself! Everything was even more spread out…which meant it took even longer to get anywhere….
  •           I accidentally ripped my chainmail garter during a picture, like a classy bitch.
  •           My younger sister is really cute and I had to grit my teeth every time guys hit on her because I have not yet lost that overprotective big sister instinct.
  •           Shoes… killing… my feet…
  •           Still haven’t actually seen the costume contest, but the costume parade (in the hallway) caused a major traffic jam and it was hard to get pics. 
asAnyway, we drove back Sunday, just in time for Lyssa and I to come down with major con plague (from which we are mostly recuperated). PEOPLE AT CONS, WASH YOUR HANDS. Or I will become the Sanitizing Avenger! 

FetishCon 2011

Warning! This blog post is about a con called FetishCon. Not FluffyBunnyPicnicCon. Do not read ahead if you are easily scandalized. But don’t read ahead if you’re expecting a really steamy description, this is more of “a newbie’s impression of FetishCon”. (Pics from the con are mostly sfw and are here)

Chained Elegance (my chainmail dealer) and I decided to collaborate with Ribbons and Rivets (leather worker) and hit up FetishCon this year. I’ve done some fetish shows with Chained Elegance before, and I think they’re a lot of fun! We normally do pretty well sales-wise, everyone is very friendly, and there’s a lot less “why is that girl wearing such a skimpy outfit” glaring (that I sometimes get at conventions, ren faires, and other such family friendly events) and a lot less "hey that girl is wearing a skimpy outfit let me hit on her awkwardly" (that I also get at cons, faires, and family friendly events.) People at fetish shows are more polite and have this sort of "live and let live" mentality. True story, the most creepy guys I've had to deal with have been at regular cons or events. 

FetishCon is roughly a four day show, so we drive down Wednesday night (after fellow booth girl Ginny gets out of class and Matt gets off of work), get a speeding ticket in some crappy speed trap town on the highway, arrive at 4am, and decide that we’re never starting an 11 hour drive at 6pm EVER AGAIN.

Between Thursday and Friday we manage to get the booth set up, sleep a bit, eat some real food , and pop down briefly to the meet and greet. Tampa, much to my surprise, is actually quite a clean, nice city. Our hotel is within walking distance of the Hyatt, where the con is, so we spent a lot of time trucking it back and forth in high heels.

The Hyatt itself is a really neat hotel; it has this crazy twisted staircase/waterfall/planter box thing going on near the bar (where Photognome and I snapped some shots!) The vendor room, seminars, and art gallery are all up the escalator (tucked out of view of the poor normal people who happened to venture through) The vendor room is pretty packed with all sorts of demonstrations, booths, models, and artists – we were actually right across from a guy doing suspension tying –  and then there was the main stage slash clips 4 you booth, where they had (in no particular order) a diva drag show, some sort of bondage race, sybian demonstrations and super heroines. Apparently the sybian has the power to take girls from 0 to orgasm in about....well, under five minutes, so make of that what you will. I remain mildly skeptical.

Oh! One major highlight of the show -- I got to meet one of my favorite models, Mosh. She's a faaaabulous alt/pinup/fetish model, and I'm just in love with all of her photos. They're very sexy but still elegant at the same time. It was kinda intimidating to talk to her, because she is actually just as gorgeous in real life as she is in photos (unlike the rest of us, hahah) so I had a minor celeb freak out moment and I don't actually know what we talked about. I'm pretty sure my brain was on auto-babble mode... but she was very nice! 

I’m not gonna lie, Ginny and I went kinda nuts over the clothes and shoes. Whatever your feelings about the fetish scene are, you cannot deny that it produces some hot ass clothing. And with all the models and attendees walking around in their latex-y/lingerie’d/corseted best, the atmosphere felt pretty glamorous.

Our booth was pretty dolled up too! Chained Elegance had brought along the lovely ladies of the Succubus Sorority, so our poor mannequins weren’t burdened with too many outfits. They were a lot of fun to have around, and did a great job of showing off the chainmail.

Speaking of which – we have new chainmail buddies! There was another chainmail vendor there, and we were excited to see their stuff. Now, you might be surprised to hear this, because chainmail is a pretty niche hobby and an even more niche market, but chainmail vendors either a) get along famously because they share this random weird hobby and swap tips and ideas, or b) badmouth each other, try to undercut the other’s prices, and start catfights over the most inane things. (We had one vendor try to tell us one time that *he* had invented the chainmail bikini, so we couldn’t make them…what? Really?)  Personally, I don’t understand the latter mindset – it seems so small minded and pointless.

But the good folks at Poly’s Pleasures were wonderful! They have a very different style from us, with a big focus on bright colors and rubber rings, and it was really cool seeing all the gorgeous stuff they’d come up with. Their jewelry was actually probably some of the best I’ve seen in chainmail, because their use of color is just fantastic.  

My one gripe with Fetishcon was the after party – the “Vamps and Vixens” ball at the Castle. First we  heard that the Castle was really cool and they were gonna have a great show. Then, when we showed up to take the shuttle, people returning told us not to bother, the line was around the block, and the place was so jammed it wasn’t fun. Ahh…disappointing. But hey, pool time! Ginny and I had very firm plans to soak our poor abused feet. (The Venn diagram for "hot sexy shoes" and "comfortable to wear for 14 hours at a time shoes" does not have much of an overlap) Naturally, about 5 minutes after we get our toes in the water, a vendor friend texts us to let us know that vendors get in free, hint hint.


So we truck back down to the shuttle, take it over to the Castle, get in line… and are promptly informed that while it’s entirely possible vendors get in free, the door guy doesn’t know for sure, and he can’t let us in. The only guy who can let us in is… the guy in charge of the party. Door boy’s suggestion is that we wait by the re-entry door and hope that Head Party Guy shows up and approves us to come in. Our vendor pal comes out to try and talk to the door guy, but gets the same song and dance. We spend a while waiting by the re-entry door, watching them deal with angry drunk people, but unsurprisingly, the busiest guy at the party doesn’t happen to stroll by and wave us in.

Now don’t get me wrong – I understand that the door guy has to deal with people trying to weasel their way in all night, and that it’s not a fun job. But seriously, you can’t call the head guy, or call a higher up, or do something other than suggest we hope a miracle happens? We paid $700 to attend this show, I’d think that should cover the damn party ticket. We wait around long enough to realize that our feet are absolutely miserable and take a shuttle back to the hotel.

Other than that, though, it was a fun show. Everyone there was really nice, very polite, and we did pretty well for our first show. I think we’ll definitely be back next year…possibly with more comfortable shoes.