I use the term affectionately, believe me. Because I am one! But nerds in great density are a special kind of difficult - you get obnoxiousness, one-up-manship and snobbery combined with the challenge of pungent body odour. The latter isn't really anyone's fault I guess, as there's not much else you can do in a full superhero costume on a hot March day in Brisbane except sweat.
This year, however, I decided to go due to the lure of some Battlestar Galactica actors - namely Katee Sackoff ('Starbuck') and Tahmoh Penikett ('Helo'). I loved this show with all my heart and wanted to hear them speak, answer fan questions and maybe get an autograph. My usual con collegue being overseas, I convinced my darling other half to accompany me. Him being a bit of a BSG fan himself, this wasn't too hard.
I warned him there would be crowds and lining up. But neither of us was prepared for what faced us there yesterday morning.
My original plan was to get there about half an hour after the doors opened. I had my comfy sneakers on and a backpack with two bottles of water. I knew that at 10am, people would have begun lining up a few hours beforehand, and was hoping that the doors would have had a chance to clear. This turned out to be a complete fantasy. We walked from the Valley train station towards the RNA Showgrounds, where the event was behind held - only to spot a line outside the Jubilee Hotel. C freaked out. "Is that the goddamn line??" "Can't be," was my insistence - but lo and behold, it was. It was at least a kilometre long, stretching from the entrance on the corner of Gregory Tce down Constance St around the corner of St Paul's Tce, and into a small lane behind the hotel.
While we were standing there bewildered (at this point too overwhelmed to take much notice of costumes) a guy dressed as an Umbrella Corporation goon from Resident Evil came along and told us all that this was the prepaid ticket line. Was he kidding?? He told us to go around the block the other way (ie. down Alexandria St) and find the end of the purchase tickets line. So off we trotted - only to find that the line extended all the way down Gregory Tce, and couldn't see the end of it because it wrapped around the corner into Brookes St. CRAZY. By this time it was nearly 11am and the BSG seminar with Katee and Tahmoh was about to start. There were still hundreds, possibly a thousand people lined up outside. What the heck was going on? I really didn't want to stand in that hot sun for long.
At this point C suggested we go sit down, get something to drink and eat, and reassess. I made him a bargain - I'd buy him some brunch and we'd come back at 12pm to see how the lines were. We walked back to the valley and went for breakfast at a lovely place in the mall called Cosmo's. I'm sure it's a local institution because the food was amazing.
Back to the RNA Showgrounds again and this time the line wasn't too bad. I was about to faint in the hot sun after 20 mins, but luckily a savvy ice cream truck vendor had set up shop right next to us so C went and got us ice blocks, and we chatted with the kids in front of us in line.
I'm not sure what time we managed to get in, but it was crazy packed. So packed that I said to C just to go and make a path, and I would put my hand on his back and I would follow. C is over 6 ft and built like a brick wall so he managed to push his way through the throng and we made our way through to the other building, where the signings and seminars were. Unfortunately, I realised I'd nearly run out of cash (what with breakfast, ice creams and entrance fees) and I was pretty sure the autographs were cash only. So I lined up for the ATM. Then the autograph tickets. And finally for Katee Sackoff. It was a lot of lining up, and whilst I was doing this C went around the stalls in both buildings and poked about. We'd missed the only talk I did want to see, although I would have liked to hear Charisma Carpenter and Clare Grant (Buffy peeps) their seminar was starting whilst I was in the autograph ticket line.
Then the strangest thing happened - I ran into a friend of a friend who was just leaving Tahmoh Penikett's table. He actually ended up getting in line behind me for Katee's autograph too. We had a chat, he introduced me to his baby boy (who brings a baby to a con? what a nightmare) and told me how much he hates Supanova. I could only concur at that point. It had been a long day of standing and waiting, without even the highlight of being able to hear the invited celebs talk. It was at this point a volunteer came down the line and said that Katee had gone to meet her obligations for fan photos (you could pay $40 to have your pic taken, posed, with a star), and would be back in half an hour. Swallowing a groan, I resigned myself to more waiting, because at that point I couldn't bail - ticket and glossy photo in hand, I couldn't go home without that signature!
And then there was the other reason - the autograph was really for my con friend, who loves BSG (and Starbuck) as much as me. She suggested it as the perfect birthday present and I had to agree. C was getting quite cranky at me by now, as his nerd-tolerance level was nearly breached. He cheered up though when he noticed the girl in front of us had a Richard Castle ("Castle") tote bag, and then I told him about the guy I'd seen dressed as Jayne from "Firefly" earlier.
So we waited, and then Katee was back! Another 10 mins and we were at the front of the line. Whilst creeping closer however I managed to take a few sneaky pics of her and the other actors nearby. Poor Clare Grant was sitting there for quite a while with nobody asking for autographs, as was Colin Baker. The biggest line by far was for Tom Felton. He seemed nice, chatting to people and smiling, but he really wasn't close enough for me to take a pic. I wasn't sure what the policy on photos was when getting autographs, but as I didn't see anyone else in front of me ask for one, I was content with my sneaky pics.
It is worth noting at this point I wasn't nervous. Not even one little bit. The first time I'd properly met a celebrity was Sean Astin at the same con a few years ago, and I remember feeling like I was about to be executed, I was that nervous. I have no idea what has changed since then, but I was totally relaxed about it. Have I matured? Maybe. But then again at the time I met Sean I was a complete and total Lord of the Rings obsessed fangirl. The year after that we met Summer Glau, and I was similarly about to lose my shit when we got her autograph.
We stepped up and said hello. Katee was looking gorgeous in a simple black top, and her smile is just amazing. I remember that her American accent really stood out and I honestly can't even remember much of what was said but I did ask her to make the autograph out to my friend's name, and to put Happy Birthday on it. She had done this, then had just written the "K" in her signature when she stopped. Tahmoh was getting up from the seat next to her. She grabbed her water bottle lid and threw it at him hard. It hit him in the back, and he immediately turned around and ran over. "Stop writing! Stop signing that now!" he ordered her, then proceeded to tickle her in the ribs. She laughed mischievously, then he let her go and walked away. Meanwhile, I'm standing there with my jaw on the floor. Did that really just happen? And how freaking cute was that? C mentioned to me later he thinks that they're in LUUURRRVVE, but to me it seemed more like sibling pranks.
Anyway, Katee then signed the rest of her name, handed me the photo and we wished her the best. I think I said something about enjoying the rest of her time in Australia.
Then, clutching the precious glossy photo, we made our way back to the main building and had a glance around the stalls. C showed me some cool Predator stuff he had his eye on, and I just wished for the 50th time that day that I understood comics and anime. We ended up at Kings Comics, and I bought Serenity: Better Days, whilst he bought Predators (movie tie-in comic).
And then we went home. My feet hurt a lot. I am not sorry we went, because I achieved my goals, but I have agreed with my other half that any future trips to this event will have to be planned with military precision. And I think if we are going to be bothered to go again, it would have to be to see someone amazing that we both love - like Nathan Fillion (omg can you imagine?) and we would line up early.
I would also like to make a note about the costumes. I have to give cosplayers some props. These guys do amazing things. The outfits are just fantastic - and they all look like they are having such a great time. Sure, I have no idea who you're supposed to be, but you all looked amazing!