I first met the authors of Fangasm, Lynn and Kathy, in Chicago. In the year since then, we have forged a friendship built on a mutual love for this show, but also one built upon respect for one another’s work, and I am quite sure they are sick of hearing me say thank you a gabjillion times. We had discussed the idea of me acting as their photographer at a few conventions (see their posts on Vegas) and when the Denver convention came up, and they would not be attending but I was attending, and oh my Chuck – here I am, writing this for them. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.
I have attended two Salute to Supernatural conventions prior to Denver, first in Chicago in 2014 and then in Las Vegas in 2015. Upon entering the hotel in Denver, I was immediately struck by the smallness of the location; I wondered how this would go, given the number of fans about to descend upon the site.
The small venue of the Marriott Tech Center in Denver was absolutely wonderful. It was cozy. It was welcoming. Seriously, the entirety of the hotel staff was unbelievably friendly and helpful – the entire weekend. They brought an enthusiasm to their job that only heightened my own enthusiasm and excitement for the weekend.
Additionally, I must give some serious applause to the staff from Creation. Yes, the venue was small, but they handled it like true professionals. The lines were short and moved quickly, whether that be a photo op line, or the line that became multiple lines that became a maze for autographs inside the main theater. Although this was my third convention, I still had questions, and the volunteers were nice. I mean, they were so nice, even excited, when answering my questions and directing me as to where to go next. These volunteers work some crazy-long hours, and to still greet us with warm, enthusiastic smiles on Sunday evening in the autograph lines, well, that just speaks to the level of professionalism set forth by Creation. This venue may have been small, but everyone from Creation made it feel like home.
And isn’t that who we are? We are the SPNFamily, so attending a Supernatural convention should feel like that – like we are at home, or at least at a family reunion. Friday morning I was headed down to the lobby. As the elevator doors opened, I was met by a woman ready to board the elevator with her cart of luggage. I couldn’t actually see her face, but I could see that she was wearing some sort of SPN shirt. She peeked around the cart and said, “Hi Family member.” Yes, yes indeed. We are all members of this Family, and these conventions are our family reunions.
And as all family reunions can be, this weekend, this convention is all about Entertainment.
A real bang for your buck. Worth every penny. Money well spent. You can insert any cliché here. Any one of them is an accurate statement about the value of attending a Salute to Supernatural convention. This is entertainment at the highest level.
The convention began on Friday with our favorite host, Richard Speight, Jr. appearing on stage in a leather jacket… hang on, I just need a moment to soak in that image one more time.
Anyway, I digress.
Richard took to the stage and quickly began to profess his undying love for the Friday People. Fully sharing in the love fest was Louden Swain, with lead singer Rob Benedict. As hard as it is for them to stop telling us how much they love the Friday people, it was time to get down to business and explain the Rules and Regulations to us. With each new city, Richard and Rob and the band come up with new ways to explain these rules and regulations… take a moment to think about that. These guys take something as basic and mundane as the Rules & Regulations, and they find new ways to repeat it, new ways to make it entertaining, new ways to make us laugh until we cry. In this case, they ran with the idea that Colorado has embraced their new marijuana laws, and they gave us a hazy, crazy, Pink Floyd-esque version of the Rules & Regulations.
I was so swept up in their kaleidesope of euphemisms that I actually put down my camera for a few minutes and just laughed. Really laughed.
And with that, the tone was set for the weekend. Jokes and hilarity and laughter would ensue, in large doses. I’m pretty sure all of the celebrity panelists had something to say about Colorado’s marijuana laws, or how altitude affected one’s alcohol consumption, or at the very least, made the ability to breathe a little harder. Trust me, guys, we don’t need altitude issues to make it harder for us to breathe.
Case in point: Gil McKinney was our first panelist on Friday. He came on stage wearing a brown jacket with the collar flipped up, and oh my, did anyone breathe at that moment? He did finally take off the jacket (jacket off) to reveal a typical Winchester blue plaid shirt.
Seriously, just stop. Ok, not really.
During his panel, he talked about his “hunky grandsons,” Sam and Dean, although he may have been referring to Jared & Jensen; either way, we get it, Gil, we get it. He also gave an interesting answer to a question about “what would you do if there were no laws for a day?” (I paraphrased that.) Although Gil did say that he would like to speed – safely – I think we were all more struck by the idea that he would take off his pants and just naked stroll through the street, feeling the wind on everything. I have no words for that.
If you missed Gil’s panel, no worries, the entertainment continued with the absolutely adorable Osric Chau. He had previously cosplayed as Sam, walking on stilts to acquire the correct height. That led to a discovery of ‘tall man shoes,’ which Osric proudly wore during his panel. As a short person myself, I do understand the desire to be taller, but really, Osric, we love you just the way you are.
I will talk more about Osric in the next article, but suffice it to say that his smile and his laugh are simply infectious.
The Friday panels may have ended, but the entertainment continued with the Karaoke Kings, Richard Speight Jr. and Matt Cohen, and guests Gil McKinney, Osric Chau, and the always adorbs Rob Benedict. The karaoke party was so much fun! I don’t think I could ever describe it or explain it in a way that would really do it justice. This party is all about Us, this Family, coming together for a night of singing and dancing (and for some, a little bit of drinking) and laughing and booty-bumping one another, for two hours of sheer entertainment. Gil sang “At This Moment” and we all swooned. Gil also teamed with Osric for “Empire State of Mind.” And yes, we all swooned again. Perhaps the most memorable moment came from Richard as he changed the words to an old favorite, “Sweet Caroline,” which is now and shall forevermore be “Sweet Osric Chau.” Appropriate.
As if Friday wasn’t enough bang for your buck, next up is a full day of entertainment on Saturday. The first guest is Sebastian Roche’, or should I say Bond, James Bond?
Or maybe it was Cassiopeia Roche’, the drag queen? Or was it Sebastian, the reggae star? Does it really matter? A panel with Sebastian is pure, unadulterated, uninhibited laugh-till-your-cheeks-hurt Fun. Seriously. No, really, shut the front door, serious entertainment. There really are no words to adequately explain one of his panels. It is truly something that one has to physically experience. Then and only then will you understand what it means when we say, “You’ve been Roche’d.”
Tahmoh Penikett took questions right away in his panel, and the first question involved a marriage proposal – a fan asking Tahmoh to help him with proposing to his girlfriend, which Tahmoh graciously did, right there, on stage. For those two fans, it was an unforgettable moment! Later in his panel, Tahmoh shared a clip from his new series “Rift World Chronicles” available online http://www.cbc.ca/punchline/punchline-originals/riftworld-chronicles-episode-1. Tahmoh wears a gladiator-like wardrobe in this series. Do you need another reason to watch it? He also gave us a glimpse at Gadreel’s dating profile: “Likes long walks on the clouds, has made some mistakes in the past, but he’s learning from them and trying to do better.” More about Tahmoh in the next article, but for now, I’ll just drop in a dreamy picture.
Saturday morning continued with a panel pairing of Gil McKinney and Osric Chau.
As I said earlier, I have been to two previous conventions. I really like that Gil & Osric have a panel together. Their chemistry, their friendship, it is just a beautiful thing. (no shipping intended) They listen as the other answers questions. They laugh and joke with one another. Sometimes they even learn new things about each other, such as which movies make them cry. For Gil, he cried during “Forrest Gump” and “Legend of the Fall” (same, Gil, same) while Osric cried during “Lord of the Rings” and “Inside Out.” Osric was brave enough to admit that he hasn’t seen Forest Gump, so I’ll man up and admit that I haven’t seen Lord of the Rings. Perhaps he and I should get together for a little binge-watching some weekend.
R2M is up next. That’s right, it’s a panel featuring all the glorious beauty and shenanigans of Rob Benedict, Richard Speight Jr. and Matt Cohen. They wasted no time in getting right to their banter, making fun of Matt and his pelvic bone as he jumped off the chair. That led to a discussion of spirit animals, and eventually they were discussing Halloween costumes; Rob said he was home by 9:00 on Halloween… no worries, Rob, a lot of us aren’t out there pulling all-nighters anymore.
Next on the schedule was Mark Sheppard. As expected, he didn’t actually answer any questions, well maybe one or two, I guess. In typical fashion, Mark was snarky and sarcastic and completely hilarious as he roamed the room, not answering the fans’ questions. But I dare you to not fall in love with this man when he finds a child in the room. He just completely melts, and it is just heart-warming to watch the very human King of Hell smile at a baby or talk softly to a young child.
It is also important to note a few things here. First, to the lucky fan that planted this seed in Mark’s head, “for funsies,” yes, we will all be waiting to hear that little gem in an upcoming episode! Second, and perhaps because that fan planted that seed, it is probably a good idea to not answer your phone when your son calls you during Mark’s panel, because he will take your phone and put it on speaker for the whole theater to hear while he tells your son that he now owns his soul… ya know, “for funsies.”
Mark’s panel ended with a surprise delivery from Misha Collins. The ever-thoughtful Misha brought dinner.
Misha’s panels are always entertaining, and this one did not disappoint. I think it started with a discussion of female wrestling, with Misha suggesting a wrestling pit to one side of the stage wherein the winner gets to ask the question; this idea in lieu of the new lottery system of asking questions. I think Misha may just want to see female wrestling. He also talked about the costumes that he made for his kids to wear for Halloween this year. Yes, Misha is both sexy and crafty… Vicky is so very lucky to call this Angel her husband.
As if all of these panels and all of these guests were not enough entertainment, now we move on to the Saturday Night Special featuring Louden Swain. I cannot stress it enough – this band is the backbone of the Salute to Supernatural conventions. They are literally on stage for every panel, from the moment it begins on Friday until the last panel ends on Sunday, and they bring us the most amazing concert on Saturday night. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of time they spend in rehearsals, and prep, and writing music and lyrics and silly jingles. They are an #ActualRockBand, and yes, lead singer Rob Benedict is an #ActualRockGod.
Louden Swain shares the stage with celebrity guests such as Gil McKinney, Osric Chau, and Matt Cohen, each of whom sing something spectacular for us. The band also welcomes Mark Sheppard on drums, best-photographer-ever Chris Schmelke on guitar. Our weekend Shaman, Richard Speight Jr., also takes the stage to play guitar and sing a few tunes.
Billy Moran, Michael Borja, and Stephen Norton rarely – if ever – say anything during the convention. They are the Silent Three. But make no mistake, we want them there. We need them there. They may not actually vocalize their support for the celebrities, but their constant presence on stage is nothing short of amazing. Watch as one of the celebrities (usually Richard) makes Billy crack up with laughter. Watch as Stephen never misses a bad pun, one that he follows up with a quick roll on the drums, seemingly perfectly timed – and it is. Watch Michael try his hardest not to laugh, but then he loses it and his little eye crinkles peek through. These three guys are more than just a musical cue. They are three fourth’s of the glue that keeps this convention held together, with energy and enthusiasm and unmatched heart and soul.
Rob Benedict. Lead singer for Louden Swain. Guitarist. Shaker-ist Extraordinaire. He can bring the crowd to their feet with a rockin song like “Mama’s Jam” or he can bring us to tears with “She Waits.” He graciously shares the stage with the celebrity guests, stepping out of the spotlight and allowing them a moment to shine. As a true frontman, he is able to flow from one song to the next with flawless transitions, whether that transition be musical, or a witty jab, or just a quiet calm as he gears up to blow our minds with yet another hard rockin tune. He brings such an energy to the stage. He has so much freakin fun up there. And it is infectious. And I, for one, like this disease.
For many convention-goers, I am sure the highlight is the singing of “Carry On Wayward Son.” And yes, I do really, really enjoy that moment as well. But for me, it is the final song that gets to me. It is watching all of the celebrities join Rob on stage to sing “I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends.” Watching all of these people join him, and sing with him, and smile with him… seeing the friendships on stage… feeling the love and support that they feel for one another… yeah, just try not to cry in that moment.
And no, I don’t have any pictures of this. Because, in that moment, I am awe-struck. I am completely surrounded by people who are my family. I am blanketed by the feeling that yes, I will also get by with a little help from my friends.
And that is worth every penny.
Additional coverage of DenverCon coming soon,
just a mom with a camera.