April 26-28th, 2003
Holiday Inn - Independence, OH
|Robin Atkins Downe: Machida - "Reptile Boy" (BtVS)|
|Iyari Limon: Slayer in training - Kennedy (BtVS)|
|James C. Leary: Clem the loose skinned demon (BtVS)|
|Andy Hallett: Lorne - the host (AtS)|
|James Marsters: Spike (BtVS)|
This report was written about a week after attending the con. If you're looking for photos, please click on the above link.
For those who are looking for a transcription of all the Q&A's, believe me, they're out there so I'm not going to bother to add them here in my report. Enjoy!
We drove across Pennsylvania on a six hour trek to reach our destination. It was a long drive and would have been extremely boring had it not been for our one passenger's ability to entertain us with on the fly stories about each town that we passed. I now bow down to her fic writing capabilities -- the mind of a fic writer is a strange one! (In a good way, of course).
We pulled into town around 6:30 and went to our room where I immediately called Scarlett (from the We Band of Buggered yahoo group) so that we could get together. About an hour later, Scarlett and Withacy (the board momma) arrived at our room and we went down to the lobby to wait for Crystal (from BAPS) and her husband so that we could go to dinner. Once they arrived, we went to Chi Chi's, it was within walking distance of the hotel. Over at Chi Chi's we met up with Charlie and Theresa (both from BAPS) so we had a pretty big group going for dinner. Dinner was a good time and it was nice to be able to put names to faces.
Most of the day Friday was spent shopping in Strongville at the South Park Mall...yes, that's right, South Park. Crystal lives in Parma so she took us shopping and I think we probably embarrassed her, like the tourists we were, when we insisted on taking pictures of the South Park signs. Hey, it was fun! After our shopping spree we went back to the hotel to get ready for the cocktail party but first we had to register. It was a good thing that they opened registration early since the lines were LONG! If we had registered when we were supposed to, we would have never made the cocktail party at 8.
So...we arrived at the cocktail party at the designated time and James Leary (Clem) and Robin Atkins Downe (Machida) were already there. Iyari Limon (Kennedy) arrived shortly there after. They were all wonderful people who posed for pictures and answered questions. James Leary is a cutie with beautiful blue eyes and a great sense of humor -- not surprising that he's a married man!
After a while, not really sure how long since I wasn't wearing a watch, James Marsters arrived and was immediately swamped. We decided to hang back for quite a while and talk to Joe Motes (the con promoter) instead of getting in line right away to have our time with James. I mean, James is just another guy, granted he's a hot guy, but he's just a guy who puts his pants on the same way as everyone else. Eventually, we decided to get in line since the line never seemed to go down (people were getting their pictures with him and then getting back in line for a second time). By the time I got my chance to pose with him, he seemed really tired but he was still very sweet and funny. Somehow my hand wound up in his and I thanked him for the picture and told him that it was very nice to have met him -- I wasn't nervous at all! Anyway, he held my hand for a few minutes and thanked me for coming. It was really cool!
When the line finally died down, James took a seat at a nearby table and took time to answer questions from fans. I think that this was the best part of the whole con!! It was very impromptu and we learned a lot about his political views and his thoughts on SMG. Now, everything you've ever heard him say about SMG, take it and throw it out the window because he wasn't singing the same tune on Friday night. He didn't have anything bad to say, not really, but if you read between the lines, along with the tone of his voice, you got the idea that he doesn't really respect her much. Someone commented on the fact that SMG said that she didn't like season six because she felt Buffy was out of character...James replied that Sarah didn't know the character then. He said that it is not the actors job to tell the writers what the characters should or should not do, it's the writers job to tell the actors what the characters should or should not do. He also told us that he tried to find a reason for Spike to fall in love with Buffy because Buffy wasn't a very nice person and he searched and searched for a reason but didn't find one until Sarah put on the chicken hat for Doublemeat Palace. It was then that he could have Spike really love Buffy. He also said that they were supposed to spend a lot more time at DmP but that Sarah hated the outfit and the hat and refused to do anymore scenes there. I guess he continued to answer questions for about an hour after the cocktail party ended. It was really nice of him to do that and it was a relaxed atmosphere. By the end there were only about 20 or 30 of us left so it felt like a really intimate moment.
Eventually, James did leave to go back to his hotel. You could tell that he was exhausted. We then went up to our room to change so that we could head to the Bronze for the dance. By the time we got there it seemed like it was winding down but we did get the chance to dance with James Leary who was a bit buzzed by this point. Afterwards, we went to a couple of room parties with him. The man is a party animal but it's a shame that he can't hold his liquor. Well, I guess I shouldn't say that because the drink that they were giving him (Smoldering Sex Goddess -- I think) was nasty. From what I understand (I don't drink), it was really good going down, tasting like grape juice or something along those lines, but it doesn't hit you until you try to stand up. Poor James. He is extremely funny, even when drunk, and did a beautiful <cough> rendition of "Ice, Ice Baby" and "Every Rose Has it's Thorn". By the time we went to the third room, it had to be close to 3:30 AM. It was a crazy night!! After a while, and several drinks later, James decided that he wanted to go back to his room and asked a small group of us to go with him to hang out. When 4:00 AM rolled around, most of us decided that it was time to go to bed so that we would be able to get up and go to the Q&A's that started at noon. I think James passed out not long after that.
Despite the fact that we had only about 5 hours of sleep, we managed to get up and get ourselves moving, even have breakfast. We stopped at James Leary's room (he was on the same floor as us) to make sure that he was okay. He was up and about but definitely not okay. Poor guy. Anyway, back to the con...we made our way to our seats in the fourth row and the first to go on stage for Q&A was Robin. We didn't see the whole thing but he seemed pretty funny, on the strange side though. After Robin, James Leary took stage and boy was he hurting. He sat the entire time and apologized for being hung over, commenting on the purple death in a cup that he drank the night before. From this point forward I will call the drink the Clem Kicker. He was a trooper despite being green around the edges. Andy Hallett missed his flight so James was on stage for an hour instead of half an hour which was fine by us but probably not so great for him. A young girl asked him why Clem cheated at kitten poker to which he answered...Clem cheated at poker so that he could win and set the kittens free. It was a very cute response. He also told us that if you watch real closely in Life Serial, you can see Clem grab a kitten who decided to jump off the table. The kittens were brought in from the SPCA for that particular episode and that many of them were adopted by the crew. He answered a few questions about his costume, telling us that it was difficult to work with, especially the arms. During Older and Far Away, there is a scene where he picks up a potato chip with his nails...apparently this was a problem because the nails kept falling off the hands. He said that it took quite a few takes for them to finally get it.
After James left the stage, Iyari Limon (her name is pronounced eee-ah-dee) came on for her segment of the Q&A. This was her first con and she seemed really nervous. Someone asked if she had been getting hate mail since many people thought that her character was trying to replace Tara. She said that she was sure she had gotten some but that she hadn't read any yet. When she was told that she was going to be Willow's love interest, Allyson Hannigan told her that people weren't going to be happy about it and also gave her a quick history of Willow/Xander, Willow/Oz and Willow/Tara. Iyari said that as she learned about the relationships, Kennedy learned about them as well. She said that she watched the back episodes so that she could get a feel for what was going on. She also talked about her childhood and how her family is responding to her chosen profession...when she got her first part, no one watched it with her. I think she said that her family was out in the living room watching something else while she sat in her room and taped it. Poor thing. However, she seems like a very strong woman and doesn't seem too upset by the fact that parents aren't happy about what she's doing. Oh yeah...she did say that the character of Kennedy was supposed to be a one time thing but that they kept calling her back. Pretty interesting.
Once Iyari left the stage, they announced that James Marsters would be on in a short while so there was a brief break in the action. The whole room was buzzing with anticipation and excitement. I mean, it's not everyday that you get to see James Marsters live and in person! After what seemed like an eternity, James was announced and the crowd went wild. Unlike the other guests, James does not sit still or stay in one place very long so you'll have to forgive me if I can't seem to remember a whole lot...I was too busy trying to photograph the man using Crystal's digital camera (she was video taping the experience and my camera died -- figures). See, the whole weekend was sort of like a wedding...you plan for it for so long and then when it finally arrives you're so caught up in it that it all seems like a blur when you try to look back on it. Thank goodness for video! Anyway, James took the stage and immediately started accepting questions from the crowd. He talked about Angel and his chances of crossing over. He's had offers from other places but has turned them down since he's not sure what's going on with Angel yet. He has been offered a story arc on Angel (10 eps) but doesn't want that because he can't really do another part if he does Angel since it requires him dying his hair. He wants to be a regular on the show, which to me, makes a lot of sense. However, he said that there isn't money in the budget for another full time cast member. Someone from the crowd said that that was okay, they could kill off Connor. James responded by saying that he'd hate for them to kill off a character just to make room for him but we all assured him that they could kill Connor off and we wouldn't be upset in the least. He was a bit surprised by our reaction.
After his Q&A and before the autograph line, he picked raffle tickets out of a box for a chance to sit at his table at the banquet. Earlier there had also been an auction for a pair of tickets to sit with him as well. The results of said auction? Well, someone paid $6,000 to sit with him. Yes, you see right, that's SIX THOUSAND dollars. The runner up, $5,000, was also given two seats at his table for bidding that high. Can you imagine? That's ELEVEN THOUSAND dollars to sit with James Marsters. It was all for a good cause though, the money went to charity. He was flabbergasted to say the least. He seems like a very humble person and doesn't understand what he's done for people to want to pay that much to be near him. I was not lucky enough to have my ticket picked for any of the tables (James Leary, Iyari Limon, Robin Atkins Downe or Andy Hallett). Bummer.
The autograph line was by row (everything was assigned seating and was very well organized) and since we were row 4 we had some time to knock around for bathroom breaks and the such. Eventually, it was our turn in line. I had bought a photo on Friday for him to sign for ShadowAkiyah so I handed that to the first handler, her name was Emily and we met her Friday night at the cocktail party. Very sweet girl. She passed it on to the next handler who saw my name tag and immediately struck up a conversation with me about Penn State. Apparently she graduated from there as well so it was all good. By the time her and I were done talking, James was waiting patiently for me to get to him. He was laughing because his handler and I were so chatty. I shook his hand and asked him how he was doing and he said he was fine, a little tired. I told him that I could only imagine! We chatted back and forth for quite a bit (even though they wanted us to move quickly) so it was really nice to have some one on one time with James...again.
After we got through the autograph line, we made our way over to the other side of the hotel to get autographs from James Leary. We had promised him the night before that we would -- not that he remembered it or anything. Once we reached his table, we asked him how he was feeling and how he was holding up. He said he wasn't doing too well and immediately excused himself to go to the bathroom. Poor guy. I think we broke Clem! Once we finished getting autographs from him, we headed up to our room to get ready for the banquet which started at 8 pm.
We sat at table 28 or 27, not quite sure since it's all pretty much a blur and James was at table 1. As you can imagine we were as far away from the action as you could possibly get. That's okay, we managed to entertain ourselves just fine. The menu stated that the banquet would be "A feast fit for a Vampire". Well, the food was okay...not the greatest. And I had issues with the dessert, as did Bill (he was with TaraDi's group...they sat with us at the table -- 8 to a table so the 4 of us and the 4 of them). Why do they always have to ruin good chocolate cake by putting walnuts on it??? What if you're allergic to nuts? And what's with the raspberry stuff underneath it? I mean, really!! It would have been a perfectly lovely piece of chocolate cake but they just HAD to ruin it, ya know? Sigh. Getting back on topic here...I think James had a total of 20 minutes for dinner and then was herded around the room to sit at each table for group shots. By the time he hit our table, you could tell the man was exhausted and just wanted his bed. However, he was still sweet and extremely kind and smiled pretty for the camera. Once he finished the rounds, he was whisked away and taken back to his hotel.
Immediately following the banquet, they opened the wall to the where the Karaoke contest was to take place and Andy Hallett was already there holding an impromptu Q&A session since he missed his earlier. The man is a riot!!! Anyway, we had great table seats for that and soon the contest began. 10 people made the cut out of a good many that entered...it was sort of an American Idol type thing. You had to audition to make the top 10. James Leary, Andy and Robin were the judges and in the end there were 4 awards. I have to say that kudos go out to each and every contestant because there's no way I would have been able to get up in front of such a large crowd and sing. To wrap up the event, Leary, Robin and Andy -- along with the convention MC and a few fans -- sang a Backstreet Boys song. It was the most hilarious thing I have ever witnessed in my life! Leary can't dance to save his life and I kept picturing Lorne in full makeup signing BSB. Very funny. That's the only time all weekend that Andy sang for us. Kinda disappointing but you could tell he was tired.
Once the Karaoke contest wrapped up, the dance at the Bronze began. However, this evening, none of the guests attended. I think that they were too pooped out from the night before! We did manage to get back to our room and change for the event, which was of the good because there was no way I was going to dance in heels!! Just imagine being on your feet for two days straight, in heels, now double that and add some blisters. Not a pretty sight!! I guess it was about 2 AM when we finally all hit the wall and left the dance. Nim sacked out immediately while Linda and I tried to watch a movie - not really knowing that it was already 3 AM. Time sure flies at a con!!
The two late nights finally caught up with us and we slept in until 11 which gave us very little time to get ready and head down to Robin's Q&A. Suffice it to say, we totally missed it. From what I understand, it was not all that different from the day before so no big. After Robin was James Leary and he was sooooo much better the second day. Someone asked him how he was feeling and he looked at them and said..."can you tell the difference from yesterday?" He was up walking around the stage and joking around this time. He also didn't look as green as the day before. Thank goodness we didn't really break Clem!! I was worried there for a bit. Iyari followed James and answered quite a few questions about how she felt portraying a gay character. She told us she was fine with it and was very proud to play the first gay latino on television. Again, she's very sweet and nothing like her character.
Now, the big difference between Sunday and Saturday finally took stage after Iyari, Andy Hallett. Let me just say this man is absolutely like his character which makes total sense because Joss based Lorne on Andy. It seems that Andy knew Joss long before Angel and Buffy and used to drag him to these god awful karaoke bars. I won't get into details of his talk since I'm sure it's posted somewhere on the net already, but let it be known that Andy Hallett has got to be the funniest man alive!! His Q&A was more of a tell-all tale. The man cannot stay on topic to save his life but that's really okay since the stories he told were just absolutely amazing. If you ever get the chance to go to a con where Andy is scheduled to appear...by all means GO!!!!! And do ask him about Boo (ROFL) as well as the school bus story!! Funny, funny, funny!!!!
After Andy's monologue, James Marsters took front and center, immediately taking questions from the audience. Again, JM is a very sweet man who blushes just like the rest of us. I say that because he went into a deep blush when we told him about Andy dropping his drawers at a con to show off his tattoo but instead revealed a little TOO much in the process. His reaction was absolutely priceless!!! Anyway, James' Q&A was pretty much the same as the day before EXCEPT he did an excerpt from the Tempest by Shakespeare. OMG. It was...YUM!! He has such a soothing voice, makes you just melt into a pile of goo at your seat. Really.
After the Q&A, we got into the autograph line again. We chatted with the security people and we talked to James' handlers again. Once I got to James, he was all smiles and very polite. I was able to talk to him for an extended bit of time again which was really cool. When Linda reached him, she had him sign her OMWF script and he was like..."I don't have one of these yet, I need to get one." AH HAH!! Say no more!! The four of us went over to the dealers room and bought him one, autographed it for him and then presented it to him. He was touched that we would actually go and do something like that for him. What a neat guy!!
As for the rest of the afternoon, we spent it talking to James Leary and then standing in the horrendous line to get Andy Hallett's autograph. Andy was in a separate room as James Marsters, originally they were supposed to sign together but James had a plane to catch and was on a very tight schedule and Andy had a ton of autographs to do since he wasn't there the day before. He had to sign the Sunday people as well as sign two for the weekend pass holders. By the time we got to him, you could tell he was exhausted but he had music playing and tried to stay up beat. He was very nice and thanked us for coming as he signed our pictures.
All in all, the Cleveland con absolutely ROCKED!! It was my first con and I have to say that it was just incredibly amazing!! The guests were wonderful and down to earth, NOTHING like you'd expect TV stars should or would act, they are just normal people who do a show for a living instead of flipping burgers or filing. I have to say that this is one experience that I won't soon forget.
Looking forward to Chicago!