DC Con is one of the two conventions that are local for me – that I can drive to. I set out early Friday morning down I95 to DC, or rather to Crystal City, where this con is usually held. On the way, I thought a lot about my good friend and co-author of ‘Fangasm’ and several of my other books on fandom and Supernatural, Kathy Larsen. We fell in love with the show together way back when it began, and fell into fan studies as a result, both of us changing the trajectory of our professional careers to focus on what fandom is all about and why it’s so often wonderful. I needed tissues as I drove, the route familiar because of all the days I drove down to Kathy’s house just outside of DC – to work on research, to go to a convention, to just hang out and watch episodes of Supernatural and squee together. I miss those days. I miss my friend.
So I was already emotional before I even got there. Another fandom friend had experienced a great loss shortly before the con, a tragic accident that took her husband’s life. I was looking forward to hugging her and hoping that she’d find solace at the con and being with her fandom family. I remember when my dad passed away seven years ago – I got the news just as I arrived at a Supernatural convention in San Francisco, and while I was in shock for some of it, there was no better or more supportive place to be. I felt cared for, and loved, and consoled, by both my fellow fans and by the actors, who went out of their way to comfort me. I didn’t even tell them, but somehow they knew. It’s the best part of fandom – especially the SPNFamily – the outpouring of love and support when you need it. I’ve felt it myself, and I hope I’ve helped give it to others who’ve needed it.
This con was about that, about an outpouring of love and support — for my friend and fellow Supernatural fan Krista, who has terminal brain cancer. The con and the SNS were dedicated to her, the actors and the fans expressing their love and gratitude, and saying an emotional goodbye. I still find it hard to believe that she won’t still be sitting there in front of me at the cons, video camera rolling. I’m so grateful we all had a chance to show her how much she’s meant to so many of us.
I first met Krista in 2009 when she started going to Supernatural cons. Over the years, I often sat right behind her, my voice sometimes (unfortunately) in her con videos as I laughed too hard or sang too loud. She contributed some of her beautiful photos to Family Don’t End With Blood. We shared some fun times over the many years – trips to the original Starbucks and the fish market in Seattle, where Krista showed she knew how to order a fish.
Fun times in Rome at the only JIB I’ve been able to go to.
Dinners out on con evenings.
Krista was kind enough to emcee the book release party for Family Don’t End With Blood in LA, helping make that night incredibly special.
We’ve shared a lot of fun times. And lots and lots of laughs.
So this con, for me, was about celebrating the people I’ve been on this journey with, both from the start and along the way, and feeling incredibly grateful to have them in my life. It was a reminder of how truly special fandom – and especially this fandom – can be. Forget the stupid polls of which ship is better or the purposely inflammatory posts about how the show should have ended. This is what it’s all about.
I was on my own in the vendor room for most of Friday so I didn’t make it into the theater, which was sad because a lot of awesome people were there – Gil McKinney, David Haydn-Jones, Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster, DJ Qualls, Julian Richings to name a few. Friday night I went to karaoke, which has been reinvigorated by DJ Qualls and his themed nights. This one was ‘The British Are Coming’, and DJ was dressed perfectly on a stage complete with Big Ben, the Yellow Submarine, and even the lanterns for one if by land two if by sea! Some of the fans’ cosplay was perfection too – and some of the performances!
Saturday and Sunday some lovely friends were able to sit at the vendor table for me sometimes, so I was able to catch some panels – including Misha Collins on Saturday. Like most of the actors, Misha wore his green #KristaCon shirt in honor of Krista. Rob gave him a supportive pat when he came onstage, all of them feeling emotional.
Misha to Krista: Thank you for being such a force of joy and optimism over the years.
That is so very very true.
Misha also brought some friends with him – he introduced his friend Dave, who’s from NASA, who he met through all the interactions (some welcomed, some maybe not quite…) GISH has had with them through the years.
Misha told the story of the time a photo of him looking like this started the Mishapocalypse and even William Shatner got on board, and then NASA was like oh well, the Captain is on board, so okay!
He wanted to introduce his friend Bob Garfield too, but Bob wasn’t in the theater. I tweeted him asking where he was and saying Misha and I were looking for him – he replied with an apology for his tardiness and let me know he was enjoying a Bloody Mary and it was fantastic lol
(I’m totally taking credit for their friendship because many years ago Misha said onstage at a con that he wanted to meet Bob and I tweeted it and that led to them meeting and now they’re friends)
When Bob did finish his Bloody Mary and join us, Misha went out into the audience to chat. Awww.
There were of course plenty of random moments since this was another con where they couldn’t talk about Supernatural due to the ongoing SAG strike. Misha said he just got his first pedicure and definitely did not like it.
Misha: It was disgusting! Like a cheese grater! (But afterwards pretty great…)
He also told one of my favorite stories – the time he was feeling all sentimental with his kids, saying he didn’t want them to grow up, and Maison, ever the practical one, had an answer.
Maison: I AM gonna grow up, and then I’m gonna die!
On a more serious note, he was asked why he’s been so invested in trying to help others with Random Acts and GISH. He said that the kindness of strangers when his family was very poor inspired him to want to help too.
His chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood talks about how he feels about the fandom – that book and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done also benefit Random Acts and suicide prevention nonprofits.
He said he started cooking and loved it for his kids – it’s how he shows love.
Hamilton is not his favorite musical right now thanks to his kids, though.
Misha: Because my kids have decided to learn all the lyrics – and sing them constantly.
(It totally could be worse….like the Barney theme song maybe?)
Misha: This is great not to talk about the show – now we can just talk about nothing!
Speaking of Supernatural (not), Misha said he once saw a cardboard cutout of his SPN character in a store and bought it, and the clerk didn’t even notice that he was carrying a version of himself when he checked out! (Must have been the lack of trenchcoat…)
Misha at some point in every panel: I really should not talk about this…
Who would he like an updated Skittles portrait of?
Misha: An older Jensen Ackles?
(Everyone: It would look just the same… lol)
Misha said goodbye and thanked the fans.
And in answer to an earlier question, he answered, talking to Krista and tearing up as he did.
Misha: Who would I like five more minutes with? I’d like five more minutes with you.
What a beautiful, perfect ending to Misha’s panel. We all agree with you, Misha.
I caught some of Ruth Connell’s panel that afternoon.
Ruth: This is an important time. We all need to take care of each other.
That is more true than ever right now, seriously.
A fan asked for acting advice.
Ruth: Everyone who’s an actor does it differently. It’s your own journey – if you love doing it, it’s the best job in the world.
Ruth wrote a beautiful, very personal chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood about her own journey – I always hear it in her gorgeous accent when I read it!
Links at the end of the article to pick up a copy if you haven’t read it yet.
Memorable con moments?
Ruth: The first time I saw a tattoo of my face on someone!
She also had some nice things to say about how awesome fan art is. There’s some gorgeous art of Rowena out there, that’s for sure.
On Saturday afternoon I got a Jared Padalecki photo op for a friend who’s been having a hard time lately and couldn’t make it to the con. She wrote a beautiful chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood also, so when I went up to Jared I reminded him of her and what she wrote and he immediately knew who I was talking about. I asked him to send a message to her and backed away, but those long arms pulled me right back in and he insisted we make a heart with our hands together to send it out to our friend with love from both of us. I was so startled I still have my Creation pass hanging around my neck lol.
Afterwards, I got squished by both Jared and the always adorable Chris Schmelke, proud of themselves for getting “the elusive Lynn” in a photo! Boys.
Saturday night was a special Saturday Night Special – all request in honor of Krista, and full of emotion. It reminded me a little of the SNS when Rob had his stroke and everyone came together in honor of him when he couldn’t be there – this brought fans and cast and musicians together in the same way. It was touching, uplifting, heartwarming and heartbreaking simultaneously.
It was, not to be too sappy about it but it’s just plain true, the best of this SPNFamily.
Louden Swain sang an old favorite, Pop Tart Heart, for Krista, and it was joyous for the rest of us too.
Kim Rhodes joined in – earlier in the day Kim and Briana recorded a special edition of their Wayward Podcast with Krista as their guest, so keep an eye out for that.
Gil McKinney took the stage with his (temporarily) blonde hair to belt out “I’m Just Ken” which I have truly come to love – it’s the perfect song for him and he slays it every time.
Note: Twitter (aka X) doesn’t preview tweets here anymore, but if you click on the link you can watch some concert clips from Gil and Briana and Jensen from the SNS.
Jason Manns came out to sing Hallelujah with Rob and Billy per usual – and somehow, after countless times singing it with them – forgot the key. Which was kinda adorable.
Richard Speight, Jr. also performed a special request just for Krista, wearing his #KristaCon green tee shirt too.
One of the most emotional moments of the night came when Briana Buckmaster took the stage and sang a hauntingly beautiful slow version of Carry On, the unofficial anthem of Supernatural, the perfect song for the brothers coming to the end of their journey and – it’s still hard for me to say this – to celebrate Krista’s journey and the peace she so deserves.
Jensen Ackles came to SNS for Krista, joining the band for Can’t You See playing his beautiful red guitar and wearing a #KristaCon shirt.
At the end of that song, we even got treated to a push-all-that-long-hair-back move. What can I say, I appreciate the little things.
They then went into Whipping Post and Jensen put his whole heart into it, looking like a rockstar as he belted out that chorus, whipping his long hair back out of his eyes.
Not only does he sound like a rockstar still, but he really looks like one now too!
That smile – he knows he’s got the crowd right where he wants us – and the screams!
Rob then essentially said, where the heck are you going, I sang backup for you, come sing backup for me!
Jensen did his adorable grumpy who me shtick that I have such a soft spot for.
Then he sang backup on Amy beautifully, complete with some swaying hip action.
He even played a little keyboards (or pretended to).
Dayum. Legs for DAYS.
This is my favorite little clip – the fake out, the run to the mic, the twitch of the hips as he sings along.
That smile…he was having so much fun with it, really putting on a great show for his friend.
The band did an emotional rendition of ‘Amazing’ with the entire ballroom filled with lights and everyone supporting the band, Krista and each other.
Then there was an even more emotional encore of ‘Medicated’, another old favorite – with the actors and handlers a kazoo chorus. Jensen had to look skeptical at first, but yep, he had a kazoo in his pocket and played it with enthusiasm!
Rob and Louden Swain sat on the edge of the stage in front of Krista and her family and sang to her.
When I say there was not a dry eye in the house, it’s not an exaggeration.
I stopped taking photos because it felt like a beautiful private moment when the actors and the band came down and hugged Krista goodbye one by one, all of them and all of us tearful. There’s so much talk of ‘parasocial relationships’ in fandom, that fans know everything about the celebrity and they don’t even know the fan exists. This fandom, this SPNFamily, this is not that.
So I got up on Sunday already feeling emotional. It was another beautiful day, full of friendship and lots of love in all directions.
No sooner had Jared and Jensen gotten onstage than they were goofing off and doing a tear-away pants bit – partly because they were both clearly emotional as soon as they saw Krista, Jared in his green #KristaCon shirt.
A fan gave them each a bag of favorite candy – Jensen gleefully threw Jared’s across the room in disapproval while clutching his own. Jared immediately ran over and retrieved them of course.
This was still a con where they couldn’t talk about Supernatural (or any of their other struck work), so they spent a lot of time reminiscing about more personal things, including when they lived together in Vancouver. Somehow that went from a part of a season to no, a whole season, to oh it was seasons four through twelve! (It wasn’t lol)
They also tried to come up with porn names. If Jared’s was Moosetacular…
Jensen: Something something moose knuckle…
Someone asked the important question of did Jared get his knee surgery yet, and Jared answered by making his knee do awful contortions, which made Jensen (and me) gag. Owww!
Jensen: No, he hasn’t. He’s learning to live with it… just like he did with me.
I think it was a pizza question that Jared answered with “extra sausage”?
Jensen quipped: Are we back to porn names?
Jensen told a story I’ve heard before but will never ever get tired of hearing – when Jared had his fanboy moment with Eddie Vedder, so starstruck that he asked him for a cigarette even though he doesn’t smoke. Jared and Jensen re-enacted how Jensen escorted Jared out after the fiasco lol.
Jensen had to calm Jared down when someone didn’t know who Pearl Jam was btw.
Channeling their inner Sam and Dean, they did rock paper scissors for something – and Jensen won!!!
They were both as excited as little boys over this clearly.
This chaos is what happens when someone asked the currently popular question ‘how often do you think about the Roman Empire?’
Their panels are like pure serotonin, I swear. They have so much fun, and it’s contagious.
I especially love when Jared makes Jensen laugh so hard, he throws his head back for a unicorn laugh.
After J2 thanked the fans, we had a few more panels that I caught some of.
I love Jake Abel, and caught a bit of his.
Fan: Were you ever pranked by Jared or Jensen?
Jake: I got farted on…
Someone was asking the guests to play fuck, marry, kill. Somehow that ended with Jake saying he’d F a waffle and Rob Benedict claiming to love French toast…
I’m a big Walker Independence fan so I couldn’t miss Philemon Chambers’ very first convention – he was onstage with Keegan Allen and Mitch Pileggi from Walker. He brought a horse – and was absolutely adorable. I really hope we get to have Philly at a lot more cons!
Keegan: Philly rode this all the way from LA!
Keegan always has some serious things to say too and some wise words.
Keegan: I don’t compare myself to anyone else, but to who I was yesterday.
He also shared that he has an axe tattoo to remind himself that something can feel like a mistake at the time and then turn out to be a lesson.
Another repeated question was would you rather have hands for feet or feet for hands (yes, I do hope the strike ends soon…) The entire panel voted for hands for feet I do believe.
Philly also said he has never been to a concert. His mom was there at the con and their interactions were so sweet – just, awwww.
Keegan: I’m a concert whore. A friend and I snuck into Tower Records once to see Elliott Smith.
All the props for your music taste, Keegan!
Mitch had kind words for the fandom.
Mitch: You are all so nice, this is just a great fandom.
Philly: I haven’t had to be “on” while I’m here, I can just be me and you be you. I’ve gotten more gifts than I did on my birthday!
Keegan: I feel so much love here, so it doesn’t burn me out (coming to cons). It fulfills me and we love you. I was just talking to Jared about this.
Fan: I’m a big fan of Keegan.
Philly: Me too!
They also got the Roman Empire question. It turns out Keegan actually does think about the Roman Empire.
Philly (incredulous): Uh, no. It’s Beyonce. I said what I said.
Mitch (to the audience): Do YOU think about the Roman Empire? Oh right, it’s Jared and Jensen…
Philly also talked about being bullied as a kid, and gave a shout out to the teacher who reignited his love of learning after the bullying had turned him off to school.
Mitch and Rob shared a moment before the Walker gang left the stage.
Richard came onstage to kill some time, announcing that it was a not-a-poop-break.
After that significant not-a-poop-break, it was time for the J2 main panel. Jared and Jensen (and Rob) leapt onstage, and then gave each other props.
Once again, the panel was full of stories and reminiscing and lots of laughter.
I will truly never get tired of hearing them talk about all their youthful exploits.
Supernatural ended up having to take a lot of things away from them because they were constantly getting into trouble like the boys they were. They even took away the Impala’s spotlight and horn because they wouldn’t stop playing with them!
They told the whole story of how they met and became friends almost instantly. One of the first things Jared asked his new friend Jensen was “how do you get your eyes so big?”
Ummmm, but good question?
They also talked about their friendship, Jared saying that “this isn’t the first lifetime that we’ve been friends” and Jensen saying that they’ve spent more time with each other than any other human being, but even after hanging out with Jared for 18 years “We never got tired of each other.”
Friendship goals, truly.
Jensen: When we met, there was a pretty fast connection between us.
Jared: I was pretty, he was fast…
We got a surprise visit from Philemon, with hugs from Jared and Jensen.
They also told the story about when the twins were due and out of nowhere Jared asked Jensen if he had his passport.
Jensen was like of course I do, I always do, and Jared was like, do me a favor and check. When he did check, it wasn’t in the place it always was!
So Jensen thought Jared was pranking him and then when he told Jared, Jared thought Jensen was pranking HIM.
Turns out Jensen had left it in another jacket at home. Talk about being attuned to each other!
(Luckily they were able to fly back to Austin with a copy and with some help from their law enforcement pals and made it in time for the birth)
What have they been watching on TV?
Jared still loves watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Jensen has been watching Friends with JJ.
I don’t remember what was happening at this point, but Jared was whispering “I’m scared, stay between us” and Jensen was in protective big brother mode.
Someone asked about their not bucket list, but “fuck it” list, which turned out to be absolutely hilarious with Jared eventually answering if the question was right now by looking at Jensen and Jensen running away, a practiced bit that they can make hilarious every time.
They answered the last question about their Impalas. Jensen said that both of theirs were in the shop for a while but his is now almost done.
Jensen: We joke about just driving together around town…
How many fans would think they were suddenly in the middle of a dream??
They said an extra emotional goodbye at the end of their panel, Jensen giving Jared a fist bump to the chest in addition to their usual.
I didn’t catch the end of the con (as we know it) since I was finishing up in the vendor room, but I also was a bit afraid I would be overcome by the idea that I wouldn’t share the end of a con with Krista again. She was always the one coming by the vendor tables at the end of a long weekend with a bag full of candy to keep us all going. It’s who she is; there are countless examples of the kind of person, friend and fellow fan she is, and I will just miss her so damn much. Cons will not be the same without her, and that’s not just an expression.
I know everyone thinks their fandom is the very best fandom, that their cast and their fans are special, that the relationship between the actors and the fans is unique. But this convention, this weekend, it really was special. I’m not sure the actors from any other show would devote the convention to a fan they have genuinely come to love and call a friend. I’m not sure the joyous memories and the tears and the genuine emotion would have come through the way it did. Our fandom is far from perfect – some days on social media it seems like people spend more time attacking other fans than celebrating the show we love. But this con reminded me of all that’s special about this #SPNFamily, the reason I wrote two books with the cast and the fans about it. Thanks for that, Krista.
You can find Krista’s videos of this con, as has been true for the past 14 years, at her twitter, @kreespa.
Drop by and tell her thanks, because she didn’t just go to this con to enjoy it all, she once again made sure to create a gift for all of us to remember it by.
You can read all about why Supernatural is
so special, with chapters by the actors and
the fans, in Family Don’t End With Blood
and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done –
links on the home page or at…