Otherwise known as… The Austin Adventures of Lynn and Kim!
Supernatural fans have long made pilgrimages to Vancouver, where the show is filmed – but there’s another city that’s also a sort of Mecca for the SPNFamily. That city is Austin, Texas, where Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles make their home. Padalecki owns the San Jac Saloon in the heart of the city and Ackles and family own the Family Business Beer Company, a brewery in nearby Dripping Springs. That gives fans two destinations in which to congregate – and this past weekend, they had a good reason to brave the Texas summer heat.
Longtime Supernatural fans Sandra and Tonia organized Paws 4 AKF (@Paws4AKF), a charity fundraiser to benefit Austin Pets Alive (which Jared and Jensen have supported) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (the other charity selected by Jared Padalecki for this fundraiser). The event was held on June 23 at the San Jac Saloon, which attracted Supernatural fans from all over the country to Austin. About 50 fans gathered in ‘Jack’s Place,’ as the upstairs room of the bar is known, to do some good in the world and to enjoy each other’s company. There was a silent auction with plenty of donated items as well as games, a photo op area with props, a Twister board, and a very popular karaoke mic. I brought along copies of Family Don’t End With Blood to donate, and my friend and fellow fangirl and photographer extraordinaire Kim Prior came with me – so now the event had a photographer too! And this article has some pretty pretty pictures.
We also had a few very special canine guests, and since both of us are passionate dog lovers (almost as passionate as we are about Supernatural), that made our night! We were also very excited to be helping out with Austin Pets Alive. Kim spoke with Channing, Ashley and Kristin, the volunteers from Austin Pets Alive, to learn more about their organization. They explained that Austin is the largest no-kill city in the country, and their facility rescues animals who have been abandoned or who are facing euthanasia at other facilities (outside of Austin). For example, they rescued thousands of animals in the wake of last year’s hurricane and subsequent flooding in Houston. All the animals they take in are given medical treatment if needed, and all the animals go through behavior training before being placed up for adoption or in foster care. Austin Pets Alive is largely a staff of volunteers. To learn more about their organization and help them keep doing their important work, please visit their website at https://www.austinpetsalive.org/
Jared also selected the National Suicide Prevention Hotline as the other recipient of the charity donations. As everyone who has read the powerful, inspiring chapter that Jared wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood knows, suicide prevention is something that Padalecki is passionate about and personally invested in. As a psychologist, I feel the same. So, helping with animal rescue and suicide prevention, and hanging out with a bunch of Supernatural fans? And a chance to finally check out Family Business Beer Company? It was a no brainer to head to Austin.
Jack’s Place was perfect for a casual gathering, with comfy couches and armchairs scattered throughout. It was a last minute decision for many of us to head to Austin, so the evening was full of “OMG I didn’t know you were gonna be here” exclamations and lots of enthusiastic hugging as fans ran into old friends or people they knew online and hadn’t yet met in person. Bartender and manager Matt McDonald and his staff kept the drinks flowing and even joined in for some karaoke (after much cajoling from patrons).
In addition to the charity event, the mayor of Austin, Mayor Steve Adler, had agreed to attend – and in appreciation of Ackles and Padalecki’s good citizenship and support of the city, was set to proclaim it “Supernatural Day”. I had arranged a chat with the Mayor, so we had a chance to talk for a few minutes while we waited for the other special guests to arrive. Most fans had no idea that Jensen and Danneel Ackles and Jared and Genevieve Padalecki were also attending, so when they appeared at the door there was more than one OMG from the crowd and possibly a few people struck speechless. Understandably.
The Mayor read the Proclamation that declared it Supernatural Day, all smiles and clearly proud of his city and its two prominent citizens. “This is a cultural city, it’s culturally creative to our core,” the Mayor said. “So to have these two guys here, in a 14th season, about to do a 300th episode, is so much of what this city is about. So we wanted to celebrate with you.”
As Mayor Adler proclaimed June 23 as Supernatural Day, Jared turned around to where Jensen was standing a few feet behind him and reached back while Jensen reached forward so they could fist bump in celebration, both all smiles – as was the entire room.
Then Jared took the mic and thanked the Mayor and the fans.
Jared: It’s a wonderful strangely flattering experience to come here and see people I’ve seen all over the world – like oh hey, hey! – I speak for both of us when I say we feel so supported, and I’m really grateful for you guys and that we’re raising money for these great causes. We’re humbled and thrilled, and I’m sweating because it’s 100 degrees in here – who owns this place?!”
The crowd laughed as Jared went on to say what a wonderful honor it was to have the Mayor there to celebrate, and then he addressed the fans.
Jared: This is on you guys. This is because of the SPNFamily. We [Jared and Jensen] wear makeup for a living – we’re gonna wear makeup again two weeks from today…
He paused, and looked over to Jensen. “Is it two weeks?”
Jared again expressed his appreciation to Mayor Adler, who had come to the event even though he was on “grandparent duty” that night.
Jensen then took the mic, thanking the Mayor not only for being there, but for also being a part of such a cool city.
Jensen: We truly do love calling this city home, and we’re proud that you’re a part of this with us. And thank you guys [the fans].
He then turned to Jared, and gestured to his friend.
Jensen: And thank you.
Jared cocked his head as if to say, for what?
Jensen: Thank you for this journey that we’ve been on.
Jared nodded, clasping Jensen’s hand and then giving him a slap on the chest to express the emotion of the moment.
Jensen: Here we are, in some random bar, some random city, hanging out with some random guy (points to the Mayor)…
Everyone was laughing, including the Mayor.
Jensen: It’s all pretty awesome, so thank you [to Jared] for being a part of this with me. Now let’s take some photos!
Here’s my little video clip of Jared and Jensen speaking at the event –
He then went into Director!Jensen mode, getting people into position and making sure that photographer Kim had all the shots she needed before moving to the next configuration. Here’s Kim’s recollection of what it’s like to “work with Director!Jensen”:
Kim: I have heard literally everyone from the cast talk about how Jared and Jensen really set the tone for the set, how they are so great to work with, how they are truly so accommodating and kind towards everyone on set. And now here I was, set up to try to take photos under awful lighting conditions, not to mention incredible (self-made) pressure, and so I was completely nervous and panicked and worried to be in this position — to be the photographer that everyone was looking to for the ‘good’ shots.
And then I felt what all the cast members have said.
As Jared, Jensen and Mayor Adler posed for photos, I had my camera pre-set and ready to go, according to the lighting of the room. Within a few seconds of posing, Jared called out to Matt to ask for lights. I am 110% sure the look on my face was one of “oh shit” and I very quietly said to myself, “oh god, please don’t” – because I knew I would have to readjust all my settings if the lighting changed and I’m not super fast at making those changes and I would need a few minutes and… and… and Jensen caught it. He saw my panic-stricken face, he heard my barely spoken out loud plea, and he said, “No. No lights. She’s got it. We’re good.”
I let out the breath I didn’t know I’d been holding, and everyone listened to Jensen.
Jared: Where are we looking? Who are we looking at?
Jensen: [gesturing at me and my camera] Right here in front. And he smiled at me… and honest to god, I actually felt calm.
Jensen just stepped in and stepped up and he became a Director. He gently, subtly guided the poses and the people, switching from my camera to glances around the room for all the other cameras. Then he would switch out the people in the poses, taking care to include the mayor, the event organizers, and pulling up Lynn for a few shots too.
From that point on, I felt a little more relaxed. As Jensen and Jared moved through the crowd, stopping for hugs and selfies with the fans, I followed behind, looking for important or interesting shots. All I had to do was gently touch their arm, and I was immediately met with ‘what do you need?’ and boom, they were holding steady for a shot. And by they, I mean Jared and Jensen, and also Danneel and Gen, as the ladies were just as kind and gracious as their husbands and oh holy shit they just accepted me in this role and I was shaking and dying on the inside and oh my god I can’t thank them enough for treating me with such kindness.
Lynn: And can I just say that despite her intermittent panic, Kim kicked it in the ass?
After the requisite posed shots, Jared insisted that we get a photo of the entire group, so we all jammed in together for a few photos. It’s not every celebrity who wants a picture with every fan in the room, but anyone who knows Jared probably wasn’t surprised. Afterwards, the Supernatural actors and their wives stayed to chat with fans and with the volunteers from Austin Pets Alive. It was a small enough group that the foursome felt comfortable enough to mingle, as did the Mayor.
In fact, I’m fairly certain they took a photo with every single fan who asked for one, stopping to chat a bit with anyone who had something to say. At one point, a fan was feeling a bit overcome by the excitement of Jared and Jensen being there and the presence of a bit of a crowd around them, and they made sure to seek her out for a photo in a quieter section of the room.
Jared and Jensen both purchased some Austin Pets Alive merch that Danneel and Gen proudly wore and they donated to the cash jar as well. Gen and Danneel also mingled with the crowd, taking selfies and chatting with fans. (Danneel and I continued the laughter from our phone conversation earlier in the day about not-even-two-year-old Zeppelin somehow managing to post a screenshot of a message from me to Jensen on Danneel’s Instagram – he’s clearly going to be a tech wizard when he grows up!)
Danneel and Jensen introduced me to two Supernatural crew members who were also there, Geoffrey and Dorian. They both seemed to be having a wonderful time in Austin and at the event – and can I just say that Geoff (I think?) kicked butt at karaoke later in the evening?
I hadn’t seen Gen since last year’s Comic Con and Danneel since the New Orleans convention in the fall, so it was wonderful to catch up with both of them and talk books and writing and blogging. I also had a chance to chat with Jared about the benefits of being a “hermit” during hiatus, and with Jensen about the beer I’d tried at his brewery the day before (the Summer Spree, for those who might be interested – a delicious seasonal beer with a watermelon twist). Since we were planning to go back to the brewery for some nighttime shots the next day, I also got some food recommendations from Jensen (the shrimp po boy, which by the way was FABULOUS so thanks Mr. Ackles). Stay tuned for our gorgeous photo-intensive tour of Family Business Beer Company and all our fangirl adventures there.
Before they left, the foursome posed for a selfie with organizer Sandra, with Jensen once again trying to direct while Jared took the picture and all of them ending up laughing together. It was a fun and candid moment, seeing the four friends enjoy each other’s company and be so comfortable among their fans. Jensen playfully stole a pair of shark glasses for his daughter JJ from the photo op table – if you can really call it ‘stealing’ when he loudly announced that he was doing just that.
Kim had a moment too.
Kim: Before they left, I quietly asked Jensen if I could have a selfie too. He smiled and said of course.
Me: So I really suck at selfies, I just don’t know how to do this.
Jensen: (deadpan looks at me) Really? I mean, really?
Me: Well, it’s not an actual camera so…
Jensen: (takes my phone, taps the icon to flip the camera around) First you have to aim it at what you want to actually shoot…
We had a good laugh, and I’ve got a selfie that y’all know Imma keep forever.
Lynn: And now Kim knows how to take a selfie!
Near the end of the evening, Jared climbed up on a table to once again thank everyone for coming and for the good work that the fandom does, clearly touched and grateful. There were goodbye hugs all around, and then the Ackles and Padaleckis headed out and Mayor Adler headed home to be with his grandchildren.
The room full of very happy fans gathered around the mic for a giant group karaoke rendition of ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ and had a few more drinks – then we walked back to our hotel down 6th Street, blocked off to traffic and full of joyous revelers at midnight. It was like a mini Bourbon Street, and the perfect way to cap off a wonderful night. One that made us proud to be Supernatural fans!
Filming starts July 10, according to Jared and Jensen – til then, stay tuned for more of the Austin adventures of Lynn and Kim, including a few trips to Family Business Beer!
–Lynn and Kim
Check out Family Don’t End With Blood at
the links on the home page – each sale
benefits Random Acts and Attitudes