The Fascinating (to Someone, I'm Not Sure Who) Adventures of a Slashcon Newbie
Chapter One: Random Travel Stupidity
It will surprise no one who remotely knows me that I stayed up until three, packing and dubbing a video, when I had to be up at 5 to leave for the airport. Nor will it surprise anyone that I woke up at quarter to six. So. My flight left Indianapolis at 6:35 on Friday morning. I, however, was not on it. I was in fact standing forlornly at the Northwest airlines counter, being informed by the nice lady that yes, I had arrived on time for my flight, but not on time for the new thirty minute advanced boarding rules, which didn't exist at Christmas. Bugger.
(Remember this new rule, kids. There'll be a quiz.)
However, they were very good about putting me on the next available flight, updating my connection in Detroit, and getting me to Baltimore only about an hour and a half later than planned. This proved indicative of the whole stay, actually. Everybody on the airlines, the hotel staff, restaurant staff, my cabbie coming home, etc, was incredibly helpful and idiot-tolerant. Other people apparently had issues with the hotel, but my experience (and I think wolfling's) was nothing but pleasant.
Chapter Two: In the Kingdom of the Geeks, the Extremely Shy Geek Will Still Try Not to Look Like A Dork
Of course, wolfling knew nothing of how helpful and idiot-tolerant Northwest Airlines was being, because I didn't have the hotel's phone number, or know what room Wolf was in, or if she would be in the room, should I even be able to call. So she was expecting me at 10:45 instead of 1:30, and had begun to wonder if I'd been swallowed by the Luggage Carousel of Doom. When I arrived, I checked in to find a note from her at the front desk: "I'm on the mezzanine level with our room key. Come find me..."
Which would have been extremely helpful and idiot-tolerant, if I'd had a clue on earth what she looked like...
Wolfling quite logically points out that I could've just wandered about asking random fen, "Do you know Wolfling? Have you seen Wolfling? I must find her, for she has my room key." That would have worked, for anybody except a painfully-shy-with-strangers person who's never been to a fan con before, and even amongst the happy kingdom of geekage, was afraid of looking like a git. Because there's a difference between geek and a dork. Except on my case.
I registered, then wandered about, not asking anyone if they'd seen Wolfling. Was about to call home to tell them I'd gotten in, but still hadn't found my roommate, when I heard someone taking my name in vain from within the bowels of the Crossovers panel room, revealing to all and sundry that I was seriously considering slashing Giles and the seventh Doctor. (As in, Doctor Who.) And lo, it was Wolfling. And loreleif and Minotaur and several other people whom I've blanked from my memory, though it was a tiny panel. Blankage based purely on the fact that I was still too brainfuzzled and "Whee, I'm at my first con!" to pay attention to anyone except whomever was speaking slowly and carefully to me, maintaining eye contact at all times...
So my first actual panel was half a panel, and we sat about on the floor and discussed the most insane universes we could possibly cross over to slash, and still find believable. Fun was had, and then I got to finally dump off my luggage and see the room.
Random Sidebar #1
The kingsized beds in the Best Western are, besides being quite comfortable, big enough for at least three traditionally fan-sized people, or two of us, and three victoriabitters. Not, unfortunately, that we had three VB's to try this out with.
Chapter Three: I Want Naked Vampires
After some bumming about, receipt of Evil Comics from Evil Comics-Pimping Bitch, loreleif, and eating of McFood (with simultaneous conclusion that the tiny McChairs in the tiny McDonalds are not big enough for human sized McAsses), we checked out the Art Show, which was finally open.
It was gorgeous, no question. You know, naked men. On canvas. With floppy bits hanging out for all to see. And smooshy sweet sleeping-together scenes, and the hotness that is Aragorn... I almost bid on one of versaphile's beautiful SG-1 manips, for a non-slasher friend (it was Jack, solo). The only thing that stopped me was how many people were already interested in it, and how high the bidding had already gone, pre-auction.
I was disappointed, though, that there wasn't a single BtVS/Angel piece in the whole show. T'was all Sentinel, Stargate, LoTR, or non-slash general fantasy things. I'm given to understand that this wasn't the case last year, so it was just a matter of who brought what, who's into what, at the moment. Just my luck, to have the fandoms represented be ones that I either don't watch at all (Sentinel, Stargate) or enjoy but am still ambivalent about slashing (LoTR). I understand. I really do.
But I want my naked vampires! And Watchers! And Xanders! Buffy art people? Make porn for me. Now! Great porn makers? Love Buffy. Now!
Chapter Four: Are We Beginning to See a Pattern Here?
The Dealers' Room at any convention, fan or actor-based, has twice the specific gravity of any known black hole. It's a proven fact. Well, it would be, if any of the scientists testing the theorem had ever come out of the Dealers' Room again.
Zines. Zines. Zines. Have I mentioned zines? Slash heaven, for someone who's only ever been to actor cons before, where the zines are sparse, and the slash, if present at all, was hidden discreetly under the tables, and you had to knock three times and say the secret code word of the day before the dealer would let you back there to paw through the boxes. Or at least that was my experience.
So, um, did I buy any of these wonderful, out in the open, menfolk with dueling nekkidnesses (...esssessessessessess...hi, people who were in my room on Sunday night) on the cover, slash zines? Er.
Sentinel. Trek. LoTR. Pros. Starsky and Hutch. Stargate.
It's not that I'm not familiar with some of these fandoms, or that I wouldn't read stories in them. I just wouldn't pay 20$ for a bound volume of stories in them, when I know none of the authors, and am not that desperate for smut that I could ignore the fact that I don't know the canon characters well enough in many cases to judge whether the story's good or not.
There were Buffy zines, but...
Few and far between, and what there was, well... Me being me, I wasn't about to buy a zine that didn't have at least one Spike/Xander story in it. That left out the Giles-centric zines, of which there were several. Just moodiness, I spect -- at another moment, I might have gone for them. There was a Xander-centric, and a Spike-centric zine, both of which had S/X pieces. But one of them contained pieces by not one, but two authors whose work I find...less than palatable -- and that gives me no confidence in the editor's ability to recognise good writing in the case of the other stories. And both zines were created by the same editor. If someone else had bought them, I'd have read them to make up my mind, and might have purchased based on one of the other stories, but given the balance... Nah.
I seriously considered buying Lisa Martin's two S/X novels, and am still thinking about ordering them online, now that I've had the chance to skim through and take a look. I'm a bit leery of what seems to be bitch!Anya (turned Anyanka, but even so...), but I have to give her props for a realistic, non-bitch!Buffy characterization, from what I could see.
So. Buffy zines. I want them. I want ones where I can trust the editors to recognise quality fic, and I want a good variety of pairings, with at least some of my lust-objects represented together.
Unlike the art show, since I can't draw to save my life, this is something I can do something about. Thoughts were thunked. Discussions were discussed. Something might come of it, or not.
This is in no way a complaint about the Art Show or the Dealers' Room -- everything was great -- it's all about what people's tastes are, or have been in the past. And there ain't no use bitchin', when you could be pitchin' in.
I bought muchos magnets and keychains and chocolate dicks and cd's, though. Almost bought Buffy Season 2 on VHS, but held out for the DVD. Good Amy.
Chapter Five: Paneling, 6$ per Square Foot
The first full panel I attended at my first ever slash con was, ironically, one for a show I've never seen a single episode of -- and have only read a few fics, purely for their kink content, since I didn't know the characters from Adam: Queer As Folk.
Wolfling is a fan, so even though I don't have Showtime (or any of the pay channels), I tagged along, and kept my mouth decorously shut, pretending to be a devoted fan who simply had nothing pertinent to say, rather than a Buffy-obsessed Philistine who only knows the names of the US QAF characters because she read abut a season's worth of Television Without Pity recaps, for the sheer snark value.
I think I gained something from the experience, though. Since I knew nothing about the show or the fandom, I could sit back and people-watch, without feeling like I had to get my thoughts out there. I could see the sort of concerns that came up, how the mods handled questions, discussion, etc. And it was enough of a taste of the show to catch my interest. I'm not likely to be pimped into the fandom soon, in terms of writing -- it's not got enough of a non-relationship aspect to it, for me to write relationship fic for it, if that makes sense -- but I wouldn't turn down watching the eps if anyone wants to play them in my direction.
Angel panel was next, in the same room, which was the other reason I tagged along to QAF. The hot and heavy topic of discussion was, "Does anybody like Fred?" Surprisingly, I wasn't the only person who said yes. My take is that it's not Fred who's the problem -- it's a) the lines she's been given that should beling to other characters and b) the way other characters act towards her. Though the Brat Queen pointed out, and I agree, that the bit where she suggested Wes date an apparent grieving mother, was completely insensitive. Not to say insane.
Which is what everyone wants to see, I think. Wants to see insane!Fred, because her Pylea-induced paranoia and trauma was just wiped away far too fast. She needs a PTSD episode, imho. You can't just paint over the scribblings on the wall, and poof, it's gone.
I'm jumping ahead in con-time here, but let's talk panels overall, instead.
Buffy panel: Just as enjoyable as the Angel panel -- may I say that the Brat Queen is a hoot and a half? Without sounding like my grandfather? Wolf and I spent Saturday night after the vid show in long conversation with witchwillow and thebratqueen. It was kind of the pre-Buffy panel Buffy panel -- I can't get enough of talking BtVS/Angel with people who like BtVS/Angel. Whee!
The subject of choice there being Bad!Marti and the drug storyline. Why it's awful, and how, if they *had* to use that metaphor, it could've been done better. There were a few dissenting opinions on that -- some people buy the drug metaphor, and their explanations of why were sound. Not agreed with, but believeable.
Also, collective mourning of Giles-lackage, and collective "What the fuck?" over Marti's implication that Willow was supposed to have been raped by Rack, the magical drug pusher. Or magic pusher? Whatever. I repeat: what the fuck? Willow *walked* into that sitiuation with her eyes open.
Interesting. Fun. Nothing I was especially surprised by, and (are we sensing a pattern here) the stories recced are all not in fandoms I'm familiar with, though in many cases I'll read them simply for the kink, to see how well it's done. At some point during the weekend -- I don't think at that panel -- Wolf and I were talking with... TBQ? And undoubtedly witchwillow, because we spent much time having fun with her. About "Company In Hell" and the LOC we'd received where the reader didn't really seem to think fisting was believable/possible/likely/happens on a regular basis. And the reflection was made that aside from the blood/biting/scratching, and occasional leatherbased vamp-kink between the Fanged Four, Buffy fans as a whole seem rather innocent about kink. About more kinky kinks, I guess.
The comment was made quietly during the BDSM panel, that there was another panel, in the DIY room, at three that same day, on DD. Domestic Discipline. Big button-pushing suckerface monster, in some fandoms. I, of course, because I'm perverse (as differentiated from perverted) wanted to go to it, to see what people were saying. Because I've read quite a bit of the back-and-forth argument over this, and I can get behind the bad characterization argument, but I can't get behind the "That's just wrong, no one should do that in real life, and no fic characters whom I like should do that, and you shouldn't write it" argument. That smacks of "My kink is kinky but yours is perverted," and it bugs me. Not only because the consensual version of it is my own fic kink (looks around for expressions of surprise, sees none) but because I see most DD stories as extended scenes, the whole acting as if it *isn't* about sex being part of the deal. Mileage may vary, which is why I was interested to see what people who actually write it had to say about it.
And (see comments about geeks and dorks) of course I didn't go. Because I got this silent impression that it would be a pariah panel, and anyone being seen to flit through the doorway would get things said about them behind their backs. I'm a great flipping coward, I am.
Underage slash panel, surprisingly, was not inundated with Clark-Lex talk. It was very evenly divided between people who write it and people who have issues with it, and the co-moderators were great, both in how they expressed their opinons, and how they kept order. The only bit of weirdness came when a hotel staff member came in and started refilling water glasses, and we all had to shush. I understand not freaking the mundanes, and that it's a delicate subject -- but if we're talking about how it's all about art, how it's just fiction, how there are differences in maturity levels, etc etc etc, why should we be shutting up? Not that I was one of the ones still talking; I respected the moderators' wishes on that -- I just wonder whether the concept of protecting the con by not offending the staff, isn't sort of violating the whole freedom of speech thing we stopped discussing because said staff member was there.
The Blog/LJ panel was probably one of the most enjoyable, though the Buffy/Angel panels are right up there. The thing about the blog panel is, aside from the discussion of who, how, why, what's good about it, what's bad, etc, is that we did one thing that hadn't been done in any of the other panels I attended: went around the room and introduced ourselves. It only took about 5 minutes, and it was one of the largest panels I was in, so I don't think it would be a bad thing to do in other arenas. All of a sudden, people I had been seeing all weekend and had no idea who they were, became zvi_likes_tv and latxcvi and gblvr and devon and indalia and Rowan and Shrift and..... and I wish I'd known who everybody was before four o' clock on Saturday. It was wonderful.
One thing I found interesting about the "are blogs taking the place of list conversation/ killing the list culture" is that some blog/lj users actually said yes -- and it's good! Or rather, they said that they'd been slowly doing less and less list activity already -- and blog/lj connections are giving them things that list culture wasn't providing. victoriabitter suggsted that with the LJ friends list, she's able to avoid the teenyboppers and the elfsquee/hobbitsquick folk and basically, the people onlist who annoy her (insert your peeves here) and create via her own tailored selection of journals to read, her own personal fandom. Not the VB fandom, though I'm sure it's gained many members over this weekend ;-) but "Fandom" as a whole -- Tolkien, Buffy, etc. -- pared down to the parts of it with whom we want to communicate. It might'nt take the place of listlife, but it's something that has other advantages. Having been on fic-only lists all along, I've never been part of that discussion community, so I can't really comment on its loss or not, but I buy in to that idea of extending fandom the way we want to extend it, instead of the way specialized discussion lists force us to channel it. Someone else (Lorelei? Brak?) pointed out that the blog comments feature is almost back to a BBS system -- so it's not so much the crumbling of some fandom institution, as natural recycling, with better technology.
Thought, though, that I didn't have until Monday, as we were all scrambling (slowly) to get ready to drag ourselves to the airport: While I loved the Buffy and Angel panels, we spent all of our time talking about Buffy and Angel. The shows. What we liked about this season. What we disliked. What we hope will happen. What didn't we talk about? Slash.
It freaked me out, because I didn't realize we hadn't. But we hadn't. We hadn't talked about slash in the shows; we hadn't talked about writing slash for the shows. How have the season's current storylines made slashwriting harder or easier, for various pairings? What are the hot pairings now, and what's cooling down because it seems less likely, or less sexy? What about this seeming exodus from BtVS/Angel to other fandoms -- is it just the sparkliness of the new fandoms, or is it the current writing/acting/characterisation, that's making it difficult to write slash for some authors? I think that would be a worthwhile second panel for each show -- I wouldn't want to lose the pure show-discussion; it was great. I just think that next year, we might think about having two Buffy and two Angel panels -- current show developents, and slash in the shows. Or current show and its slashy aspects, since technically it's all supposed to be about slash, and then one on the fanfic writing aspects. I don't think the writing workshop is the same thing -- it's not fandom-specific, and I'm not necessarily talking about getting help with Buffy and Angel slash writing. Just discussing it.
Chapter Six: Vids
I drool. Hell, they've almost pimped me into checking out Sentinel tapes. I want Buffy vids. I want to make them. I have no talent. See the bit about the art show. Someone make good Buffy vids. I command it. (Listens to the silence....) Er, I whine for it?
Chapter Seven: Crackfic, the VB Experience, and it's all James' Fault
Someone who shall remain nameless described victoriabitter to me before I met her as "Very tiny, very young, and very British. She sounds like a female Spike." Er, yes. Except for the Spike part. Because Spike at his drunkest sounds like Derek Jacobi compared to VB in non-drunk, non-hungover, non-sugar-buzzed mode. When I first saw her, she was running up and down the mezzanine in pink footy pj's, shouting that she'd had four strips of peeps, five Cadbury eggs, and she wanted more sugar now. Or something along those lines. I offered her Turkish Delight, not actually on my person. She offered to trade me a zillion Cadbury eggs for it. I don't like Cadbury eggs. Stumped her for a second, until she narrowed her eyes, put her hands on her pj-clad hips, and said, "I draw porn."
On Sunday night, between nine pm and 2 in the morning, VB ate all of my Turkish Delight, and I refuse to be responsible for the fact that black Chuckles are licorice flavoured. It's not my fault she's English (not Scottish) and doesn't know these things. I say she owes us all much porn.
At some point during the night, after at least three Cadbury eggs, herself suggested that we write hobbit porn. We being wolfling, loreleif, Kath, self, and VB. I've never written anything LoTR. My take on the characters is that of someone who's seen the movie once and couldn't get more than a third of the way through the FoTR novel before giving up, years ago. I was politely told that this was crackfic, and I should shut up and start coming up with smutty things for hobbits to do.
We finished said smutty crackfic in the bus station at midnight.
I have written nine-way Fellowship smut in which the line "It does come in pints" features prominently.
I must be punished.
It's all zortified's fault. We've decided this between us. Everything is zortified's fault.
Sounds good to me.
Chapter Eight: Pop Quiz
How long do before your flight leaves do you have to be at the airport?
a) Half an hour
b) Whenever you damn well feel like it
c) After three people pry VB out of bed with a pitchfork, shove things into bags, check out, force the nice hotel lady to take a picture of us which cuts off the top of Wolfling's head, but at least it's in panoramic so we all fit in, and wait for the cab to arrive, after which we debate whose luggage VB would fit into most easily. Because she can hold her breath for an extraordinarily long time, you see, and so depressurisation isn't an issue...
If you chose a, you're sweetly naive.
I took the next flight.
There was going to be a Top Ten Things I Learned At Connexions list, but that somehow turned into Top Ten Things MP, Lorelei, Wolfling, and VB Learned at Connexions, and Lorelei has the list. I'll link to it when it's up. Likewise, crackfic. Likewise, pictures, when I can get my &%^*&^%& scanner to scan them in more than 256 colours.
Have I mentioned I'm tired?
Edited the next morning, to correct 2 a.m. spelling, add people I'd forgotten I'd met, and links to bloggers. (The lj links are a snap, but the blog links required thinking in html at 2 in the morning, and just, no.)