Supernatural Charlotte 2023 – AKA Spatula Con!

The Road So Far/ The Road Ahead (aka in my head as Supernatural) con in Charlotte is one of my favorites. It’s an easy ninety minute flight, which I value more and more every single year (and my knee values more every single day) and SO many of my friends planned to be there. It felt a lot like the early days of Supernatural cons, when everyone knew everyone else because there were only a few to go to, so me and my friends were all there at one or the other.

It was clear that this was going to be a fun con because it was also “Spatula Con” – which meant that many fans actually brought spatulas with them, for all kinds of photo fun and shenanigans. (If you’re wondering why, it’s in honor of Jared and Gen’s appearance on Celebrity Family Feud, where the thing they’d bring from the kitchen to the bedroom was – you guessed it – a spatula). Hence, Spatula Con!

It was also gorgeous weather and the con hotel (a brief walk down the hall from the convention center, which made me very very very happy) had a lovely outdoor patio where we could all hang out and eat and drink and be merry. There was a lot of merry at this con!

I was a bit uncertain about how the con itself would go since because of the SAG and WGA strike, the actors can’t talk about any struck work – including the vast majority of their projects. I’m that fan who always has a burning question about the show I love, and is less enthralled by “what’s your favorite color?” type questions, so I wasn’t sure what this would be like. Of course, I should have trusted all these actors – because they can all think on their feet and tell a hilarious story, and that’s pretty much what they did. I laughed my way through most of the panels I saw, and so did the actors!

There inevitably are comments online about drama at every con, but this con was pretty much drama-free for those of us who were there. The fans had fun, the actors had fun, everyone was happy to be able to get together and share some good times and funny stories. The actors were diligent about not breaking any strike rules and the fans were conscientious in helping them do that, and all of that felt pretty damn good.

I didn’t have anyone to help me at the vendor table on a regular basis (shout out to all the friends who hopped in to let me run to the bathroom all weekend!) so I missed the Friday panels, which meant I missed a lot of my favorite people – Gil McKinney, David Haydn Jones, DJ Qualls, Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster – and Nate Torrence (who played Sully in ‘Just My Imagination’) who I REALLY wanted to get to see. I hear his panel was awesome, and just seeing him coming and going, he seems like such a nice guy.

I did make it into the ballroom finally for Misha Collins, since I try to never miss his panel. He and Rob reminisced about some early panels, including for some reason the one when they did the “Eiffel tower”. Don’t ask.

Everyone onstage struggled with the limitations of the strike in trying not to say the names of actual shows, but it’s undeniably difficult.

Misha: We’re organizing a little strike picket for S-P-N and Kripke sent out an organizing thing – but it says the actual name on it!

In case you’re wondering, he was wearing one of his favorite belt buckles, that has a salmon on it. No, it’s not for Sam ‘n Dean…

Instead, Misha told a story of when he and a friend were almost killed in a terrible bike accident that involved a salmon, and also West for some reason called Maison “Sockeye” before she was born.

He also told a story that was a dramatic rendition of popping a pimple. Look, it was hard to have a con where you couldn’t talk about shows!

Misha is never shy about sharing some of his less-than-successful ideas.

Misha: I’m known in my friend circle for having bad ideas…

He reminisced about his very first convention, which was in New Jersey – and which I remember quite well!

Misha: I was absolutely terrified. I’m kinda shy, my castmates know that.

I can attest to the fact that he was really anxious at that convention many years ago. Kathy and I had just met him for the first time and interviewed him in Vancouver a few weeks before (shortly after his first episode of the show aired) and we’d talked about it then too, trying to prepare him a little for what to expect. He arrived in the evening and his handlers brought him to the hotel bar – in the old days, the actors stayed at the same hotel as the rest of us. He looked like a deer in the headlights, then he saw me and Kathy sitting in a corner on a sofa (I think with Richard Speight and maybe Todd Stashwick?). He made a beeline for us – familiar faces! The handler left him there sitting between the two of us to go find him something to eat, and it was a fun night. I’m still touched that he considered us a “safe place” to be and I hope we helped a little bit to get him through that first con. I guess it wasn’t too bad because he’s done a lot of them since!

Anyway,  back to this con…

Misha talked about the moment the annoying voice that has always been in his head shut off – when he discovered meditation. And then… an image of a dolphin jumping into a taxi cab popped in…

A fan asked one of those questions that nobody should every answer seriously – Misha, of course, knows better.

Fan: Who’s a better actor, Jared or Jensen?

Misha: Actor (air quotes) is a strong word…

Well played, Misha.

He shared some set stories he’s told before, like the time Jared was pranking him and he kept laughing, until finally Jensen offered to help by suggesting Misha deliver the line to him instead of cross-eyed Jared. But then when he tried that, Jensen made a kissy face (like this) and cracked him up all over again!

Misha: I tried so hard not to laugh, to be like Jim Beaver – you can do anything to that guy’s crotch and he won’t break! I’ve tried!

He also reminisced about his very first acting job.

Misha: They told me I had to hit my mark and I was like, who’s Mark and why do I have to hit him?

Gotta say, I think everyone appreciates that Misha has taken to wearing short sleeved shirts to cons.

I know I do.

At the end of the panel, we all got to celebrate Misha’s birthday!

Ruth Connell brought out a cake and we all got to sing. (Though apparently she jumped the gun a bit and brought it out a wee bit early)

Rob to Ruth: You’re the cake kamikaze!

And then it was Ruth’s turn!

Ruth also told the story of another nickname – ‘Free Pour’ – that she got for spilling the beans in the aftermath of a bit of partying on holiday with Rob.  Oops.

Ruth talked about dealing with her own doubts and fears, and how she ended up here.

Ruth: I think everyone has doubt and fear. I was 27 before I got any help professionally and it’s the best thing I ever did.

My psychologist self agrees.

Ruth: The first thing I remember when I’m in the think of it is, this won’t last forever.

The chapter she wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood details her own journey through doubt and fear, and it’s incredibly inspiring.

Dinner on the lovely patio of the hotel restaurant was absolutely lovely, a bunch of us all gathered together. Some were people I know well, some were people I just met for the first time, but all of us have Supernatural in common.

What a treat just to hang out and talk SPN! I have a ton of photos with friends for a change, which is awesome – here’s one I don’t think anyone would mind me sharing.

(The only stress of the evening was whether or not our Door Dasher would get there before we had to head over to the Saturday Night Special! – Luckily they did)

And then it was SNS time! There were rumors bouncing around that Jensen might sing, but that would be unusual when it wasn’t announced – though several people did say to “expect a surprise”.

So the anticipation was high and it was a great show.

Gil McKinney sang ‘I’m Just Ken’ and it was perfection!

JoJo Fleites channeled their inner Freddy Mercury again for ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and brought the hosue down, jumping off stage into the audience like the rockstar they are.


Briana Buckmaster was also incredible, as she always is at SNS.


We got the treat of having Richard Speight, Jr. perform too – Copperhead Road is one of my favorites, especially when Richard and the band really get down.


And the surprise did not disappoint, even if it wasn’t Jensen Ackles – we got Mark Sheppard back on drums after all this time of missing him at SNS!!!!!  I got surprisingly emotional when he walked onstage and sat down to play, remembering the early days of SNS when Mark was such an integral part of it. And the shows where Mark and Norton would play double drums – fucking amazing!!

He looked like he was almost as happy as I was about him being back.

Jason Manns joined Rob and Billy for the traditional singalong of Hallelujah (the fans sing the chorus  and they sing the gorgeous harmonies).

The fandom held our lights up for ‘Amazing’, which Rob dedicated to his friend and mine, Krista, with lots of love.

The encore was joyous, Briana and Gil and JoJo and Richard and Jason and surprise guest Hayden Lee all joining in for Up On Cripple Creek.

Another awesome show!

Louden Swain take a well deserved bow.

And then it was Sunday… J2 Day!

Jared and Jensen came onstage for the gold panel and Jared immediately had some appreciation for Jensen in short sleeves.

Jared: Welcome to the gun show!

Mmm. Thanks.

They started joking around and laughing with each other almost immediately, and I probably sat there with a smile on my face the entire half hour.

Jensen: Can we not do math? It’s morning!

Jared announced that he was donating the shirt he was wearing in support of Misha’s work to de-mine Ukraine – the shirt he wore at the last Supernatural comic con panel (though he couldn’t say that since they can’t talk about the show). Jensen questioned why he didn’t want to keep it, saying it was a really nice shirt – and checking out the tag to make sure.

Jensen: I’ll buy it!

Jared: I’ll send you the link!


There were some serious moments to the panel. Someone asked how they dealt with bullying and Jensen said both of them had been bullied, and recently his oldest daughter JJ had experienced some bullying too.

They talked about the importance of standing up to bullying but also knowing that hurt people hurt people – both of which are important to remember.

Since they couldn’t talk about the show, they talked about other things – like how it’s going just having time to be dads.

Jared said he watched the kids one day and forget to feed them lunch. Oops.

Jensen said when he watches the kids and they call it babysitting, she protests: It’s not babysitting, he’s your dad!

She’s so right.

Jensen called on a fan who then talked about being inspired by Jared and AKF. Jared gave credit to all who inspire him, gesturing to include Jensen, and Jensen teased the fan by protesting that he called on her and then she lauded Jared lol.

Jensen: No, look, find your inspiration wherever you can find it. If it’s in this… thing… next to me, then all the power to ya.


A fan asked about their amazing hair – and god, both of them had SUCH beautiful hair at this con! Petition for neither of them to EVER cut it again!

Jensen acted out what he does to get that amazing hair – nothing!

Jared said he just uses the hotel shampoo and puts on a beanie (and then the talented Victoria does his hair for cons – all the props to her and why couldn’t she work on the CW those last few years??)

Jensen could talk about his work on Days of Our Lives – he said he appreciates all that he learned being on that soap opera.

They also, for some reason, talked about what instruments they’d play. Piano and…accordion?


Near the end of the panel, a fan told Jared that he had inspired her, getting her through really tough times.

Had anyone done that for him, she wondered?

Jared: Yeah – I’m standing right next to him.

Jensen smiled as he realized what Jared was saying, then grabbed Jared by the shoulders as they left the stage in reassurance and appreciation.

These two have almost as much unspoken communication as Sam and Dean, I swear!

(The answering butt slap is another bit of it).

I was a little worried about panels without show questions, but that was a great one!

Then we got a Mark Sheppard panel in the afternoon!

Mark: It was so special to be back at the SNS. We started it a long time ago and it’s become so special.

I love Mark’s panels because he speaks so eloquently and in such a heartfelt way about the SPN Family. His chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood is all about that.

Mark: The concept of Supernatural is that everyone has things we fight for. And the SPNFamily comes in and supports us.

Mark: If you’re gonna have a massive anxiety attack, this is the safest place you can be.


Of course, there was also plenty of humor in Mark’s panel.

Fan: My name is Hope. Mark: Abandon all that…

A fan wearing a Moose shirt stepped up to the mic.

Mark: Who would have thought one line I said…

One fan was asking everyone who they’d want with them in a zombie apocalypse?

Mark: Jensen would be pretty handy.

Everyone: Mm hmm.

He loves to wander around the audience chatting – including taking a fan’s phone and making someone’s day on the other side of the call.

He stopped to compare tattoos with another fan.

And of course he managed to avoid a lot of questions!

I also caught a bit of the Walker panel with Jake Abel, Keegan Allen and Mitch Pileggi.

Keegan and Jake jointly told the hilarious story of when they went on a “date night” and ate a seafood tower – that turned out not to be cooked!


What food could they happily eat every day?

Mitch: Jack in the Box tacos.

Jake: WHY???

Their panel was hilarious. At one point Jake gave Mitch the camp nickname “Titty Butt” – and unfortunately for Mitch, it kinda stuck.

What three people would they take on a road trip? (The creative questions!)

Keegan: Jared. And Jake, because he’d make fun of everything and then Mitch would be miserable and that would make it even more fun!

Jake: I’d pick Mark Sheppard because he has enough personality for three seats.


Road trip snack?

Jake to Keegan: I’ve got my snack right here!


Drag names?

Jake: Betty Tart.

Keegan: Helena Chocolate.

(And Mitch would still be Titty Butt?)

Keegan shared a story that people always tell him that he looks like Joaquin Phoenix. But then one time he met Joaquin and he was like….


Mitch told an equally funny story of the time his wife was on an elevator at Sutton Place (memories!) with Ian Somerhalder and was so star struck that when she said her husband was working on a show up in Vancouver and Ian asked his name – she couldn’t remember!


And then it was time for the J2 main panel!

The boys leapt onstage along with Rob to kick things off.


Jared said yes, they’d had a chance to go out and appreciate Charlotte – they went out and walked around a little and went out to eat on Friday night. It’s a beautiful city!

Once again, the questions were creative and we got a lot of unusual stories, like Jensen telling the story of when he was gifted a drive in a race car. When he got there, it turned out to be a pink sparkly one called Sparkles Glitter Hooves (with a pink unicorn on it) and then they had mechanical difficulties, and let’s just say it did not go well lol.

Jared was amused.

Another story was when Jensen hurt his hand doing something at home, and opened the emergency kit they’d gotten as a crew gift that year looking for gauze – only to find that it contained salt and holy water!

Jared was again amused.

Also when Jensen hurt his hand, his daughter asked “do you want me to hold you?” because that’s what he asks her and awwwwwww.

And believe me, Jensen took many turns being amused too. I love their panels together because they are SO good at making each other laugh!

“Keegan from California” (aka Keegan Allen) asked what they’d done in the past year to make their lives ten percent better.

Jared: Great question, Ian. Ian, right?

Keegan: Keegan. Keegan from California.

Everyone: lol

Because this was Spatula Con, they also debated the best spatulas….which took a turn for the innuendo filled pretty quickly, shocking exactly no one.

It ended with Jared saying “we should do that together”, meaning something like Family Feud, and Jensen interpreting that as the spanking discussion they were just having and responding with a “what now?” expression lol.

Lots of lol in this panel!

The prize for most innovative question goes to the fan who asked them if they’d rather have the other’s butt for their face or face for their butt, which of course descended into hilarity.

Jared: Jensen’s butt grows better facial hair than his face.

Jensen: How would you know?!

Jared:  Uh, do I answer that?

They both cracked up, so I guess good question!


Jensen to Jared: I don’t know if you know this, but I already have a damn fine butt!

Everyone who watched The Boys: Truth.

They had SO much fun with this question, and I laughed so hard I could barely catch my breath to live tweet.

At some point, Jensen asked Jared to do some accents, then started giggling before Jared even started in anticipation of how much he was going to enjoy them. Priceless!

My favorite? Someone asked about Wales Comic Con (which the boys agreed was not actually in Wales) and at Jensen’s request, Jared did a “Wales” accent – which was whale sounds hahahaha!

Jensen: Looks at Norton waiting for the well deserved rim shot.

They are so damn good at setting each other up and then running with it – 18 years of practice!



Fan: Your wives are lucky.

Jared and Jensen: Not sure they’d agree!

The last question over, Jensen and Rob did the last question song, and then there was a surprise.

They were joined by birthday boy Misha Collins!

Misha  immediately went into a schtick about being shy and having stage fright so that Jared and Jensen could console him.


A happy birthday song and a wave from all three, the traditional J2 fistbump, and that ended a great panel.


And the day wasn’t over yet!

We got a little Rob and Ruth for the last panel – how are they so cute?

Rob talking about Ruth doing musicals – look at the adorable expressions on their faces? Awww.

That was a nice way to end the con.

I had to fly out Sunday night, so it was a frantic take-down in the vendor room, grab a quick bite and get a ride to the airport (thanks, Melissa!)

It’s always sad to say goodbye to friends, but I left with so many good con memories, not just with the actors but with all the fellow fans I was so happy to be able to spend time with.

A quick note before I end – tomorrow the SPN Family comes together for a reunion picket to support the SAGAFTRA and WGA strike, with lots of Supernatural actors and writers joining in. It’s been wonderful to watch the fandom support the people who made the show we love, coordinating food and drink and even sunscreen and mist sprayers for the folks who will be out there picketing.

Go SPNFamily!

Also, an important update:  in support of the strike, we’ve decided to move the release date of ‘Supes Ain’t Always Hereos: Inside the Complex Characters and Twisted Psychology of The Boys’ to December 5.

Preorders remain open along with the free original artwork of Soldier Boy and Kimiko that you get with preordering, it just means you won’t actually get the book until December. Just in time for the holidays!  (You can preorder at #WGAStrong #SAGAFTRAStrike

Here’s hoping for a quick – and FAIR – outcome of the strike, and the writers and actors to get the equitable contracts they so deserve!


You can preorder Supes Ain’t Always Heroes


and Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll

Be Peace When You Are Done at:






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