Minncon still feels new to me, added years after the first cons were already established. It’s a city I had never been to before Creation decided to do a con there, and that I probably never would have visited otherwise. (Not that I’ve seen a lot of it other than the convention center and the Hyatt…) The weather there is apparently problematic often enough that connecting corridors between buildings are advisable; they’re like human habitrails, and I admit to being glad for them when it was raining. When the weather was nice, I walked outside instead, since it was a lovely walk through a park. The park even had its own version of our beloved Moose – this one was gigantic, and interactive. When you pedal the bike beneath him, the Moose tells you a story. If you pull on the giant rope attached to him, he’ll move his head up and down in a truly impressive manner. I can’t believe nobody got Jared to go do that!
The boys were advertised on the convention center’s sign, which amused me every time I walked past. Everyone knows I don’t like convention centers, so walking back and forth to my hotel every time I needed to charge my phone or change my clothes or put my damn feet up from so much walking wasn’t much fun. On the other hand, at least I had the habitrail for the late night walks. Last year, Misha was mugged at Minncon, and everyone was a bit on edge this year because of that. Luckily, I didn’t hear about any incidents this year.
Richard and Louden Swain kicked off the con, as they do every con (unless they’re filming something, in which case we miss them like crazy) – which includes the band’s incredible music and Rob’s traditional shaker dancing.
Friday morning belonged to the ladies. There were huge cheers as Kim and Briana pondered whether the announcement that Jody and Donna would be back being made at the same time means they will appear on the same episode. We also found out that Kathryn Newton and Briana were supposed to appear in an episode together last season, but shooting schedules didn’t work out, much to their dismay.
They also reminisced about their gag reel moment, when Jody announces she has a date and in walks Donna, much to Dean’s wide eyed surprise. Kim: Wasn’t that much of a stretch…
Briana confided that Jensen once told her that she’s the female version of him. Briana: Nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.
Both women also got serious at times, with Kim answering questions from other parents of children with autism and Briana confiding that “I was a big girl and got made fun of, so I hid behind a big personality.” Their willingness to be real with us is incredibly inspiring to fans (for much more from Kim and Briana, check out our recent interview with them here.)
Ruth Connell’s panel was next. She was so excited by the expansive stage that she felt compelled to do a cartwheel – graceful as always!
On a more serious note, she gave out wristbands for the charity My Hope Chest, and said that the founder of the charity has been overwhelmed by the generosity of the SPN Family. It’s the most donations they have ever received.
Ruth also re enacted her death scene, noting that it was sort of sexy when Misha bit her ear and that she felt that the most beautiful she’s ever looked on the show was dead on the floor! Somehow that seems fitting for Supernatural.
Honestly, I love the affection she has for her character, insisting that Rowena isn’t evil “just misunderstood” and allowing that yes, she does care for Fergus, even though she doesn’t want to.
There was another SPN Family proposal during Travis Aaron Wade’s panel – second time I’ve witnessed that at a con. I love that Supernatural is such an important part of many of our lives that these fans wanted to include the fandom in the most important event in their lives.
And a thank you from one fan to another who helped her get to the con.
There was also a push up competition for charity with all the armed forces members in the audience invited to the stage to participate. They actually got to 50, which made me exhausted just watching it.
Osric Chau was up next, and was as astounded by the gigantic stage as everyone else. Also I’m fairly certain everyone who’s human adores Osric – even police who were initially stopping him to complain about something. When he was stopped by Canadian police while playing Pokemon Go, instead of getting in trouble they ended up asking him for tips on how to play in Canada. Only Os!
Almost everyone gets asked about troublemakers Jared and Jensen; Osric shared that they were particularly naughty on the houseboat set, constantly holding the doors closed so he couldn’t open them.
In the middle of his panel, a fan asked Osric to go to prom with her, prompting a discussion of what he’d wear (maybe a duct tape dress). He then talked about his decision to wear that freaking fabulous dress to the Leo Awards and how his management had told him under no circumstances to wear a dress. So of course he had to wear a dress. And for all the right reasons, because why the hell should it not be okay???
Os: I wanted to normalize wearing a dress.
He made a point and won the award and looked hot as hell, so there!
Osric on what he’s learned from Supernatural: You don’t have to be a super hero to make a difference.
Osric also talked about what good people the SPN cast are. When Gen went into labor, Jared still offered to stay while Osric filmed his coverage. The main stars don’t even have to do that, Osric said, but Jared was willing to even under those circumstances.
I stayed up late to go to karaoke, which was amazing as always. Two guys did a bit of a strip tease in the middle of their number, much to the delight of the cast (and the rest of us).
Saturday started off with the “Fab Four” – Osric, Ruth, Kim and Briana.
It was early, so we got some Ruth and Kim snuggles at first.
Then things got more energetic. I love when Creation randomly tosses actors into panels together, because it sometimes turns out to be absolutely incendiary – or absolutely hysterical. Or both.
Kim: One of us will answer. One will nod enthusiastically. The other two will make out.
Clearly this panel was both.
Ruth: does a split
Briana: She broke her vagina!
Ruth: Not for the first time.
That became a running joke, which should tell you a lot about how entertaining this panel was. I laughed so much my stomach actually ached.
On a more serious note, Briana talked about the power of the SPN Family and how they inspire the cast to want to do good in the world: You guys are in the press more than any celebrity I know, it’s unheard of.
The way they’re so proud of each other though. I mean, look at it.
You think sometimes that Ruthie Connell is just too cute to be dirty, and then she monologues about wee bangers and sausages for five minutes, followed by a bit about Osric letting her ‘finish first’. Is it hot in here?
Mark Pellegrino kicked off his panel with a wave at Rob.
Mark: Hi, dad.
The best part of Mark’s panel was hearing him gush about Supernatural – he has now become just as addicted to the show as we are and has been binge watching to catch up!
Mark: I’m now on the roller coaster ride with all of you.
He also said he was honored that MIsha came to him to ask for advice on playing Lucifer. He clearly has a great affection for that character and would love to come back to SPN and play him again. As would we all!
Mark also spoke candidly about his own struggle with anxiety, depression and PTSD, and his grief at losing his best friend of thirty years recently to suicide. He is passionate about the SPN Family and about his work with Attitudes in Reverse to challenge the stigma around talking about mental health issues in order to prevent suicide – as am I.
There were multiple Marks onstage on Saturday – Mark Sheppard was on next. He’s snarky and funny for half of the panel, and the other half he’s heartfelt and sincere. I love it when he talks about fandom, because he’s so clearly speaking as an insider, with understanding and appreciation.
Mark: What’s wonderful to me is how this secret world we have, fandom, is such a catalyst for change in the world. We’re astonished at how you guys get behind the change we’re trying to make.
He considers himself a geek right along with us.
Mark: We’re used to being outcasts if we’re geeks, and I think that makes us kinder to each other.
I also love that Mark refuses to let go of Crowley’s crush on Dean, and to insist that their bromance isn’t over until Crowley says it’s over (my phone helpfully corrected my tweet that ‘Dean and I had a bromance’ to ‘Dean and I had a bromine’ which changes the meaning quite a bit. Thanks, phone.
Mark also confided that he’d recently successfully pranked Jared – and that Jensen filmed it. He sat there giggling about it adorably, so of course we were all dying to ask J2 what the hell it was.
Next up was R2M, which Matt kicked off with his traditional chair leap.
He then gave a compelling reason for coming to the Saturday Night Special.
Matt: Rob usually wears a tight tee shirt and tight jeans and it keeps me dreaming for weeks.
Richard: Quit flirting.
Matt: its’ not flirting, it’s true love.
For us too, Matt. For us too.
Matt also got a marriage proposal from a fan – this was a con full of romantic proposals of all kinds!
All three got lots of love.
Fan to Richard: You’re beautiful.
Best misinterpretation award goes to this particular panel, and this fan question:
Fan: If you could poof into any film…
Richard: Poop into any film??
That started a hysterical conversation about pooping in many a classic film, helpfully acted out by all three of them. You can’t make this stuff up.
We ended the panel by all saying I love you to Matt’s dad. Over the years, Matt has shared with us so many touching things about his single parent dad who raised him – so it made me tear up a little getting to do that for him.
Then it was Misha’s turn. He snuck onstage during the R2M panel (through the dead trees that decorate the stage for some disturbing reason) and they all proceeded to do some sort of interpretive dance to welcome him. Which I much appreciated.
As I’ve said many times, I love Misha’s panels. I invariably laugh and am also touched, much like many of the successful guests’ panels at cons. Misha discussed photo ops, and the cast’s willingness to do just about anything for them.
Misha: Is there a photo op we’ve said no to? I don’t think so. BDSM…. Maybe penetration? No, I think maybe… We’ve pretty much given up all hope of retaining our dignity. Wearing a tiara and riding on Jared’s back? Fine…
I think that’s mostly true, though they all do have limits. Fans are pretty good at not bumping up against those most of the time at this point through. The thing is, this cast realizes what some other casts who do cons do not. Photo ops are important. It’s not just the photo (though I love looking at them and some are just priceless) – it’s the experience. It’s a moment when we get to share a few precious words of conversation and, even more important, a moment when the other person sees us. Smiles at us. Hugs us. A moment when the relationship between fan and fanned is not 100% one way. When there’s a reciprocity to it, a mutual valuing and even a mutual affection. This cast really does care, and it comes through every time they smile and open their arms to a fan. And every time they shrug and go ‘sure, we’ll do that’. The unspoken addition to that is ‘we might think this is a bit odd, but we get that it’s important to you, so yes.’
That is such a big thing – something that has set Supernatural cons apart from the start. And it’s down to this cast and their willingness to take down some of that boundary and actually get to know their fans. I still remember when I gave Jared and Jensen and Misha our first book to read. ‘Fandom At The Crossroads’ is a pretty academic book. It’s got plenty of Supernatural cast interviews and convention anecdotes mixed in, but it’s got a lot of heavy duty theorizing too. And it’s for real – we didn’t want to make fandom G rated or gloss over the less utopian aspects of fandom. In other words, we really didn’t know if they’d a) read it or b) like it.
The next time I saw them, Jared pulled me aside to tell me how much he loved it – and how much it helped him to understand fans. And that’s what they wanted to do – already (and this was maybe two years into the cons), they realized that this wasn’t a one way street. It was a two way relationship, and they wanted to understand the people on the ‘other side’. How extraordinary is that?
Anyway, I digress. Sometimes I just feel so lucky that this is the show I fell for and the fandom I decided to research and write books about!
They are also probably the most self deprecating bunch of actors I’ve ever encountered. Misha told a hilarious story about his kids talking about having ‘six packs’ and ‘eight packs’. They then consoled their Dad with “that’s okay Dad, you have a one pack.”
The fact that Misha tells this story with such comfort, able to laugh himself, is a testament to how comfortable he is with the audience of fans. He’s also a pretty damn good role model for the “I Am Enough” message!
He is also quite comfortable sharing the intimate details of his life. Like the evolution of his underwear. Starting with boxers, moving through an unfortunate tighty whitie phase, and then settling on boxer briefs (which made more sense because he has ‘big legs’…) Perhaps the best part of his underwear evolution is that after a pair of orange shorts were mistakenly left in Richard Speight’s trailer and fans sent about a million pairs to Misha, he apparently developed a liking for them. And now wears orange underwear. Which he happily showed us.
Unhappily, that gave him a wedgie. An auto wedgie. Oh Misha.
Also unhappily, someone reminded him of that time at a con when he tried to stop saying ‘um’ (and then of course kept saying it constantly). Poor Misha.
Then there was this moment, between Misha and baby Castiel (yes, that’s his real name). It was kind of surreal.
Misha also talked about the SPN Family, and the incredible community that has formed around this Show. The fan support network that he and Jared and Jensen have started is almost ready to be up and running, so that fans will have a peer support network available whenever they need it. Pretty sure no other cast has done such a thing. Again with the caring.
And then it was Saturday night, and you know what that means!
The Saturday Night Special, as anyone who’s ever read this blog knows, is one of my favorite things about the cons. It’s aptly named, because it really is special – once again, it’s something that Supernatural cast and cons do like no other. For one thing, who else has so many freakishly talented actors?? Seriously, they are all amazing. Several of the chapters in the new book we have coming out next spring that were written by cast members are about the SNS and how the support of the fandom has allowed the cast to do things they were afraid to do – and that has changed them. I feel like I’ve been privileged to watch it happen, as Osric and Matt and Kim and Ruth and so many others dare to take the mic. And now they own that friggen’ stage!
And then there’s Louden Swain. I was talking to a friend about the difference it makes to the cons to have a house band that’s so incredibly talented. From the very first time they played a con as house band, it was clear we couldn’t go back. As Richard said to me after that con, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube! And if anything, the band has only gotten better. On that gigantic Minncon stage, they were true rockstars.
What many people didn’t know beforehand was that Rob was dealing with a lot of stress that night – not only had his phone broken, but his guitar had too! I scurried around and tried to help find a replacement but the band, like the professionals they are, carried on. That’s who they are.
We even had a fittingly out of this world host to introduce them – Captain Kirk himself! William Shatner joined Misha onstage, both of them gushing about how much they love Louden Swain. I’m not sure you can have a more high profile introduction!
Louden Swain kicked off with one of my favorites, Eskimo – a great singalong song. And we got some new Swain too!
Then Matt Cohen gave us some Beastie Boys to start the party. I remember when he was hesitant to get up and sing – now look at him!
Kim Rhodes channeled her inner Debbie Harry and killed it with Blondie.
Overwhelmed by the emotion of it, she gave us all the finger and then tried to leave the stage.
But Rob was having none of it. He knew how important this was to her, how difficult it had been, how far she’d come. He called her back and whispered to her that she needed to stay there for a minute and just savor it. That’s what a family member would do. Someone who loves you and cares about you enough to call after you and tell you what you need when you’re too emotional to see it. That’s just it – this cast? They’re a family. Every bit as much as we in the fandom are.
Kim: I flip off, because otherwise I’d cry sometimes.
This guy is a big part of the family too. Who do you think makes sure those photo ops go so smoothly and end up being something to cherish? Oh, and Chris Schmelke can play a mean bass too – in his past life, that’s what he did. Have I mentioned the talent in this group is ridiculous?
Then we had Ruth Connell come out and channel another classic female singer – Nancy Sinatra. Ruth and her incredible boots did an amazing rendition of ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’. She may not show it as overtly as Kim, but Ruth also had to confront her own fears to get up and sing. And now she’s sounding better than Nancy herself, and putting all her incredible grace into the dance moves to go with it.
Osric and Briana reminded us that ‘Family is all that we’ve got’ and then Briana reminded us that she has a freaking incredible voice and a natural talent for performing.
Fan: And then Briana started singing. I think I’m having some sort of religious experience.
Understandable. She’s that good.
It’s next to impossible to get a decent photo of Mark Sheppard on drums and Richard Speight on bass, but the two of them are the force behind the SNS and they quietly back up the band both musically and emotionally. I love watching Mark drum – he so clearly LOVES it. The absolute joy on his face when he plays makes him look about ten years old, and it’s adorable. And damn, he can play. Richard too is a talented musician. Next time, more singing, Rich!
I was half anticipating and half dreading the moment that the band would play my favorite song – She Waits. I am always emotional, every single time I hear it, because Rob sings it with so much genuine emotion. But this time, Rob’s mom, about whom the song is written, was in the audience. And that just made it so much more emotional.
In that gigantic hall, with Rob’s voice breaking with emotion, he sang for us and he sang for her, and the audience responded with lights held high and I’m guessing lots of tears. I stood with my friend Max and we sang it together, as we always try to. It was an incredible moment. If you ever doubt that the Saturday Night Special is an emotional experience, here’s the proof.
They followed that with the triumphant fuck you ‘Momma’s Jam’, which was rendered emotional as well by Rob’s ‘Momma’ being right there.
Rob: This is for anybody who has ever been cheated on or dumped. Fuck ‘em.
Needless to say, there was a lot of energy in the house for that one! (Though I always want Matt Cohen to be there dancing on a chair…)
And then there was Purple Rain. The best fandom in the world (that would be the SPNFamily) had provided thousands of purple glow sticks, so when the song started we all broke them to light them up. Everyone was on their feet swaying back and forth, the gigantic hall suffused with purple lights. It was amazing. Rob and the band and the cast singing backup were clearly floored, and that made it all the better. Here we were in Minneapolis, the home of Prince, paying homage to him and to Louden Swain and Supernatural too. It was an amazing moment.
Mark Pellegrino, who had been watching from the audience, came onstage for the encore intro, hugging Rob – a Lucifer and God hug, if you will.
Rob then performed a hauntingly beautiful acoustic version of ‘Fare Thee Well’, a song that was already gorgeous but is now so much more emotional having been on Supernatural and in Robbie Thompson’s final episode. (sniffles) You could have heard a pin drop in that cavernous hall.
And that was only Friday and Saturday! Stay tuned for more from J3 – Jared, Jensen and Jeff – on Sunday at Minncon!
Big thanks to photo editors @mamaprior and @arkine13!
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