Monday, December 16, 2013

My Superlative Horror Convention Journey

My first horror convention was Horrorhound in Cincinnati, Ohio one chilly November in 2010. The munchkin next to me conspired with the taller woman next to her to ensure I booked a flight and had enough cash to split a hotel room. It's been a lifelong journey battling social awkwardness and feeling embraced. But their teensy push to come out of my comfort zone even a little bit was well worth it. I knew a few people already through our mutual love of horror and fringe cinema virtually. Meeting for the first time in person was just like seeing a friend in person you hadn't in a really long time. 

Here's what I took from that convention and realized with the following three conventions I've attended in Maryland, Massachusettes, and New Jersey:

I'm in my social element - I'm not one for small talk or approaching strangers unless necessary. But when there's a window, like say, asking a dude enthusiastically where in the world he found/who's selling LP copies of the A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master soundtrack with absolutely no hesitation. I feel like horror cons are such a meeting of the minds for horror fans that we're all a little bit more nicer to each other because judgment is left for outside of the convention center and/or hotel space walls. Our guards don't have to be up. We're not feared to be anti-social, Satan worshippers. Our common interests have been a great conduit for me to be more open to talking to people. And it's been a very successful journey so far.

I like meeting celebrities - I have single-handedly amazed myself with the ease I've had in talking to Robert Englund, Linda Blair, etc. Yes, cons for guests are a capitalist exchange but many of these folks from our favorite horror films really like engaging with the people who stand in line, sometimes for hours, just for an autographed picture. And when it matters, you're happy to support their hustle with a few of your dollars. When it's your first time especially, it's like being a kid on Christmas day. 

Linda Blair & I (2010)
Many vendors have cool stuff - Horror cons also have an added feeling of being at a niche flea market. I see for example a Blade plushie and/or something I know I can't find at the mall more than likely because someone actually made it with their own hands and the consumer in me has to have it. Everyday objects are turned into horror fan chic: electrical plates, pillows, coffee mugs, and even holiday ornaments... 

The nerd in me loves the panels - Panels are at many times like a lecture hall and the class is something like Horror Film Masked Killers 101. Depending on the depth of your knowledge and interest in a particular actor and their character, you may know of everything they discuss, nothing at all, or hear a new story they're telling. Often times funny and equally insightful. I'm a huge Elm Street fan, so with the gold of the documentary Never Sleep Again, it's difficult to ask cast members a really good question which was a major issue for me at Monster Mania in Hunt Valley, MD 2012. I was prepared to go an extra step bolder and ask a question in front of a large audience but I could not think of anything I wanted to know that the documentary didn't cover.

The Ladies of Elm Street panel at Monster Mania 2012
I'm really looking forward to attending more conventions in the future. Yes, Black and brown people are heavily in the minority at horror conventions. Hunt Valley was the most diverse out of the cons I've been to and I was shocked but delighted. It's hard not to notice when you are that minority. A big part of this space is Black people, Black women finding each other and encouraging outings to location-sufficient horror conventions. Whether we're in the crowd or making money at a booth, I would love if the picture way above additionally had my girls Jamie, Latanya, Candice, and local Shelita in them. What seems mundane is usually the most critical in breaking through the invisibility glass. 

I've had the most fun and felt the most socially free at horror conventions, and with sisters popping up professing their love for the genre too, I would be elated to see you there.

If you have any convention stories, please share them!

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