Supernatural Comes to the East Coast at NJCon – Friday and Saturday 2016
I guess you can tell that things have been busy around here – between family and holiday stuff and finishing up the new book, I didn’t manage to find time to write up my NJCon adventures until now. I think that’s a record, but I can’t promise it will stand for too long…. At any rate, here’s my recap of NJCon. Take a little break from Black Friday shopping and peruse the pretty pictures. And stay tuned for part two later today!
Finally, a con I can drive to! It was gorgeous weather and my GPS took me through scenic Pennsylvania countryside with beautiful fall foliage and past pastures with Shetland ponies and lots of antique stores, so I was in a really good mood by the time I got to the hotel. Which was a good thing, because New Jersey is such a weird state (no left turns, everything’s a complicated jug handle or a traffic circle that’s totally not working) that my GPS couldn’t even FIND the hotel. Luckily the friendly staff at Barnes and Noble could, so I made it in plenty of time to set up in the vendor room.
Like every other aspect of Supernatural cons, the vendors who regularly do these cons have become a sort of surrogate family too. Everyone watches out for each other, helps each other set up, lends out tape and markers and scissors and whatever else is needed. Shout out to my fellow vendors!
Thursday was a lot of people coming by to find out what ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ and ‘Fan Phenomena Supernatural’ were all about, or coming by to tell us that they had already read them and enjoyed them. Which makes my day every time. I had a lovely late snack with my friend and fellow fangirl, Hansi, who is also the director and producer of the upcoming web series, ‘Squee! The Fangirl Project’. I’m co-writer and associate producer of this celebration of fangirling, so needless to say I’m ridiculously excited about it – the first cut looks amazing!
Friday kicked off with Richard and Rob and Louden Swain, and rules and regulations which now include no live streaming.
Then it was time for the first panel – Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster. Kim and Briana were as irreverently adorable as ever. They managed to talk about periods, but they also managed to make me a little teary eyed talking about how much they love meeting fans and being recognized, even if it’s at the vet where Kim had taken her clumsy cat who fell off the roof.
Vet tech with bad timing: Are you Jody Mills??
I also love how tuned into fandom they both are.
Fan asks a question about on set pranks.
Kim and Briana in unison: DRINK!
They both agreed their best prank was of Jensen, when Kim went off script during filming and announced that Jody had a date. Jensen being Jensen, he just rolled with it and kept going, asking ‘with who?’
And then Briana (as Donna) walked in and they just let it play out, as Jensen stayed in character and reacted as Dean – a moment which made the gag reel.
Kim: And the director just kept filming because Jensen will go with anything – and he did!
Jensen has apparently decided that he’s met his match in Briana as far as being hard to break, so he and Jared work extra hard at it. During the scene where Sam and Dean grill Donna about New!Doug, Jensen eventually just started making hip thrusts as a suggestion, determined to crack her up. Again, gag reel moment.
My favorite moment? The one where Kim starts to tear up.
Kim: I grew up being the caretaker, I’m used to taking care of other people. I didn’t count on BEING taken care of. That’s what this fandom has done for me.
Favorite Briana moment?
Briana: Donna has taught me to keep being myself, keep doing what you were meant to be on this planet for. Don’t give up.
Julian Richings was up next, and was his usual irrepressible self. He’s become a huge karaoke fan. In fact, he quipped that the big Chicago Cubs celebration wasn’t all that crazy.
Julian: It’s like karaoke on Friday!
He’s also a big Dean fan.
Julian: If I wasn’t Death, I’d be Dean’s number one fan. I’d walk along beside him and try to walk like him. (bowlegged stalks across the stage) Because it’s kinda a thing, isn’t it? And I like it.
And he thinks Osric is the cutest. Also me too.
He also loves the character he plays on Supernatural, and that Death has some humanity and is not just evil. And a lot of respect for Sam and Dean.
Julian: But my favorite part of Supernatural is the opportunity to meet all of you!
Jason Manns kicked off his panel with a beautiful rendition of Wagon Wheel helped out by Rob and Rich, with gorgeous harmonies.
Someone suggested he could play the Alpha Werewolf on Supernatural, and Jason paused to consider it.
Jason: Well, I’m big and I’m hairy, so I guess it’s perfect.
Also Jason: Though I think that anyone who could be on Supernatural would want to wear plaid and have a 6 pack like the Winchesters. Both kinds of 6 pack.
For those who hadn’t heard it before, Jason also told the story of how he met Jensen when he first came to LA and was invited to a party. It happened to be at Jensen’s house that he shared with a few roommates, and they ended up jamming, and that was that.
Jason: Hey I’m new here, so hello new best friend.
In case you didn’t know, Jason is hilarious. I love his dry sense of humor. At the time, Jensen had just done the pilot for Supernatural and nobody thought it would get picked up. Then it did, and nobody thought it would get renewed. Then it did and nobody thought it would go past two seasons…. Annnnd now we’re on Season 12.
Jason ended his quoncert with some new Station Breaks, with Rob and Billy. So much great music at this con!
Osric Chau was up next, and the panel started with the most heartwarming introduction, during which Richard and Rob gushed about Osric being a big star now that he’s in the new BBC America hit ‘Dirk Gently’. This cast is just so damn proud of each other and so supportive of everyone’s endeavors. There’s none of the jealousy that you might expect among actors – they really are like a family. I may have needed my tissues for a minute there.
Osric, predictably, tried to put the spotlight right back on Rich and Rob, equally proud of them for Kings of Con (which Os is also in). [ETA: Now that I’ve seen it, I have to say that Osric absolutely cracked me up in the second episode, wearing a dress in the back of the elevator and constantly playing on his phone. Hehehe]
The other thing that ties all of them together is a deep love and appreciation for both Supernatural and its fandom. Osric actually has a clause written into his other projects that if Supernatural wants him back for a few days, he can go. How’s that for loyalty to the SPNFamily? [For more on Osric’s new hit show Dirk Gently and his thoughts on Supernatural, check out our interview with him here!]
He told a hysterical story about doing an audition in cosplay. He thought it went well until the casting director told him that they couldn’t pay attention because they were too distracted by his nipple showing.
Also his first week on set, he kept mixing up Jared and Jensen and calling them by the wrong names.
Osric: Why did they have to both be tall white dudes with names that start with J??
Favorite moments? Every time Osric made it clear how much he loves Mark Sheppard. And making fun of the CW’s promos which invariably spoil something that everyone has gone out of their way to keep secret for months.
Oh, and that time he had the flu and slept with Sam and Dean body pillows, waking up periodically to think (nonplussed) ‘Oh, there’s Jared…’
Osric: So essentially I was sleeping with Jared and Jensen.
Os also helped out with a little promo for Richard’s favorite con tee shirts.
Richard: Somehow it seems even dirtier when you say it.
After a raucous karaoke, it was time for Saturday. No sooner had Kim, Briana and Osric taken the stage then my phone froze. I got to hear a few minutes of their panel, during which Kim shipped Donna and Jody and everyone cheered, and then my phone died all together.
I took a few photos, endeavoring to bring it back to life, but to no avail.
Frantic, I ran out of the ballroom and tried to power it down or figure out a way to take out the battery, only to find that with a Samsung S6, that’s not possible. I couldn’t live tweet their panel or Mark’s, and in fact had to leave my vendor table to drive to a Verizon store (no mean feat in New Jersey where left turns do not exist and my GPS never knows where the hell it is).
Me: I’m in the middle of a convention and selling books and live tweeting panels, please help!
Verizon lady: Yeah, it’s broken.
No shit, lady.
So I ended up driving back to the convention with my still-broken phone, which worked intermittently for the rest of the con. Grrrrrr.
Here are a few Mark Sheppard photos generously contributed by someone who wasn’t incapacitated by the technology apocalypse. (Earlier that day my iPad also mysteriously died, taking with it my ability to take paypal sales. So sorry to everyone who was trying to buy a copy of ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ or ‘Fan Phenomena Supernatural’ and couldn’t! Both are available on amazon at the links on this page!)
I got back in the middle of the R2M panel, during which my phone worked sporadically. There was a hilarious back and forth about Rob writing a part for Matt’s wife Mandy Musgrave in Kings of Con.
Matt: When you act all over my wife, it’s a joke?
Apparently he had to watch.
I don’t even remember what was happening here, but I love it whatever it was.
At one point, Rob was challenged to act out Crowley in a bait shop (why? I have no clue). Mark Sheppard happened into the ballroom right then and took the stage to watch – and criticize. It was even funnier because Mark thought Crowley was in a bake shop and couldn’t understand why he’d be buying worms.
Mark: What the f**k would Crowley be doing in a bait shop??
Best part of that? Rob and Rich sitting cross legged on the floor watching Rob squirm under Mark’s gaze.
The take away message Rob would like fans to get from the cons?
Rob: How much love is in this room. Feel the passion and then take that home with you.
Matt made us all high five someone, which started a wave of high fiving all over the ballroom.
Matt: Make a friend today in the SPNFamily.
Favorite story from Richard was about directing ‘Just My Imagination’. The night before filming, he got a call from Jensen, not on his cell but on the set phone. He figured it was Jensen wanting to wish his buddy luck.
Jensen: So what’s this I hear about my head going into a car window??
He also learned very quickly that Jared does not appreciate being called ‘Sam’ on set. He also gave Richard the (perhaps affectionate but nobody is really sure) nickname ‘Speighteen Takes’ after being directed by him.
For more from Richard about his experience directing last year, with lots of behind the scenes insights, check out our interview with him here!
Somebody asked them to talk about what they all liked about each other, which made all of them uncharacteristically serious and warm with each other.
Richard: Matt is the most positive person I’ve ever known.
Rob: Matt makes every situation better.
Rich loves Rob’s ability to be emotionally vulnerable, when he’s acting and especially when he writes music. And Rob loves Richard’s brilliant directing, while Matt loves that both of them are his mentors – they’ve taught him not only how to be an actor and to survive in a business that can be cutthroat, but how to be a husband and father too. Awwww.
There was a costume contest on Saturday, and I met some lovely cosplayers from Richard’s episode, Just My Imagination. Sparkle and the mermaid!
Weirdly, the phone mysteriously started working again for Misha Collins’ panel. I guess it’s a big Cas fan. The first part of his panel was devoted to what apparently happened during his meet and greet today. Misha took them to the woods ( as he’s wont to do) and somehow set a fire that threatened to get out of hand. This caused some consternation and borderline panic, and as a result Misha smelled like smoke.
Misha to Matt: Do I smell like smoke?
Misha to fans: Do I smell like smoke?
The answer unfortunately was yes, but nobody seemed to mind doing the smelling…
Someone asked what version of Castiel he has most enjoyed playing, since he’s had the opportunity to play quite a few.
Misha: I enjoyed playing Lucifer…and almost making out with Ruth.
Every single person in the ballroom: Understandable.
Early on, Misha asked for the house lights on “so I can see who loves me”. That made everyone happy and all the photos six million times better. Creation, why can’t we have the house lights up all the time??? Pretty please? I mean, look at Misha’s pretty smile in response.
Misha: I can see you!
Everyone: And we can see you!
Misha dropped the very interesting tidbit of information that he’s currently working on an idea for a movie that he thinks will appeal to the SPNFamily. It stars a marginalized character who’s also a hero. Which sounds pretty damn interesting.
He also had fun with trying to make up Castiel’s dating profile using iconic things he’s said.
Misha: ‘I don’t understand that reference’ would definitely be on there.
Also ‘Don’t worry, I learned it all from the pizza man.’
Which I’m sure would set everyone’s mind at ease.
There’s also ‘Take your time, I’ll just wait here’. Which might appeal. Just saying.
Misha to a new fan: Did you expect there to be so much sexual innuendo?
She may have been counting on it, in fact.
He told a story about his first convention, also in New Jersey many years ago. He was so nervous he stayed up the night before trying to catch up on Supernatural episodes. That was right after we had interviewed him for the first time in Vancouver while writing ‘Fangasm’ – in fact, the story of his first con and our chat with Misha the night before is one of the chapters in that book! By his second con, he was already thinking ‘fuck it’ and making up stories about an army of ponies.
Also, never give Misha your phone…
Perhaps my favorite Misha moment was his story about wanting to become an actor, get super famous, and then use that as a force for good. He soon realized that was easier said than done, but by that time he had fallen in love with acting. How awesome is it that eventually he did grab some fame – and has done exactly what he set out to do all those years ago with Random Acts!
He said he doesn’t want the character of Cas to change too much, because he really loves that part of Cas who always wants to do the right thing. And when does he himself feel like a hero? When he’s a good dad.
Near the end of the panel, Misha talked about ‘characters who are expendable…like the Trickster…’
Richard immediately appeared onstage, still gloating about the fact that apparently he and Rob had been pranking Misha with something all day. They refused to tell us, but it must have been pretty epic – so much so that Rob felt the need to keep telling Misha ‘it wasn’t my idea’!
The Saturday Night Special was epic as it somehow always manages to be. Louden Swain played some new music and some older ones that we rarely if ever get to hear – including the very appropriate ‘Election Day’ and ‘Wave’.
Matt Cohen and Osric Chau, who were both extremely nervous about singing onstage at first, now take the stage like veterans and seem to be enjoying themselves as much as we’re enjoying their performances.
Briana sang with Osric – that’s Rob and Os when Briana took the stage, in case you couldn’t tell.
Briana sang Exes and Ohs with that fierceness that is just incredible to behold, with Mark Sheppard on drums. Then Supernatural Executive Producer and director Bob Singer came out and joined in on harmonica. What other show has an EP who comes to the Saturday Night Special and plays?? He then sang ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ and I think everyone was impressed with how much he was enjoying himself and being here with us.
Singer then introduced Rob’s acoustic performance of ‘Fare Thee Well’, talking about that amazing scene he directed and saying such sweet things about Rob’s acting and singing. Rob looked utterly overwhelmed by the impromptu love and I felt almost as overwhelmed just hearing it. Seriously. Awww.
Kim Rhodes sang about “all of our unrequited love for Rob” which was absolutely true, and sounded every bit as angry as Debbie Harry did all those years ago. And then gave him a big kiss.
Jason and Rob sang a hauntingly beautiful version of ‘Hallelujah’, one of my all time favorite songs, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house as we all sang along.
And we even got Richard Speight singing, which is always a treat!
The ballroom was lit up with glow sticks that fans had passed out when Rob and Louden Swain played ‘She Waits’. Mark Sheppard took out his phone to take a picture, and Rob looked overwhelmed with emotion – as most of us were. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to that song without grabbing for the tissues, to be honest.
ETA: Here are some more pics from the Saturday Night Special, including Matt Cohen cheerleading for Mama’s Jam and the first cast kazoo section!
Stay tuned for more from NJCon, including Jensen, Jared and Executive Producer Bob Singer!
Thanks to @mamaprior and @arkine13 for watermarks and edits!
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