This is a quick Chicago con update, but I want to give Chicon some love because it’s special. It’s where it all began – the first Creation Supernatural con we went to many years ago (way way back in 2008). I still remember how incredibly excited I was, and how confused about how to get tickets. Kathy and I and two of our friends took turns monitoring (read stalking) Creation’s website, trying to literally have someone online at all times as we waited for tickets to go on sale and bit our nails to the quick. We were thrilled to snag Row B tickets, and guess what? We’re still there today! That first con, the hotel bar had purple nurples and Jensen and Jared didn’t stand up for photo ops and the rule was not only ‘no hugs’ but no touching at all! I remember gingerly inching closer to Jensen as I stood awkwardly next to him, hoping my shoulder might bump his before the photo was taken. Jared ignored the no hugs rule even at that first con and pulled me in, much to my shock (and delight). I think of the way they are in photo ops now, and all the wonderful stories of heartfelt fan encounters that happen, and marvel a little bit at how far we’ve come. From strangers to family, it’s been quite a journey.
To be honest, I missed Richard Speight Jr and his country-twang-ballhat-wearin-jammin-on-guitar portion of the concert. And I missed Gil McKinney singing some song that dripped with so much silky sexiness that it makes one feel weak in the knees. Yes, I missed those guys.
But the Saturday Night Special, at any convention, is always about Stephen and Mike and Billy and Rob. And, as always, they delivered one helluva show in Vancouver this year.
They opened the show with “Reunion,” from their Sky Alive album. Then they played for us a new song, called “Present Time,” from their upcoming album. I don’t know who’s more excited for this new album to be released, the band or the fans. I know a few die-hard Swainers who would argue that they are more excited for its release than the band, that they need this new album like they need air to breathe. Yet as I sat there and listened to the guys play this new song, I am pretty sure they too are pretty excited about this new album and can’t wait to share it with us. And if I haven’t used the word pretty enough, then can I just say the boys of Louden Swain are just so freakin pretty? Yep, pretty. (insert sighs here)
(Side note: there is not an official release date yet. So I guess we’ll all just wait here then.)
Well, actually at Vancon, J2 Day (or at least J1 Day) started the evening before, when Jensen Ackles joined in the Saturday Night Special. I’ve written paeans to Jensen being a rockstar before (maybe even a few times), but I just can’t help it – he is just unbelievably good! He was in a wonderful mood at Vancon, rested and not having had to travel. And his family was with him, so doing the con didn’t mean being away from his daughter, which must have felt pretty utopian. It’s clear how much he enjoys singing with Louden Swain and his fellow cast and musicians too, so the combination made for a very smiley Jensen indeed.
I wrote an article on this year’s Vancouver Supernatural convention for MovieTVTechGeeks that you can check out over there (link at the end), but wanted to add my own more personal moments (and the 5,298 photos I couldn’t include in that article…). Vancouver is one of my favorite places in the whole world. It’s where the Show I love is made, which makes it special already. It’s a gorgeous city that takes my breath away with its beauty every time I come back (especially this time, because the weather was five days of perfection!). And it’s where some of the best experiences I’ve ever had have happened on the set of Supernatural.
I don’t even mind the twelve hours of flying, because once I walk outside and realize where I am, I’m wide awake and smiling, brimming with memories of all the good times. Vancon is one of my favorite cons for another reason too – fangirls. SO MANY FANGIRLS! It was one of the first Creation cons, and there are still many people who came to that first one and have come back every year since, me included. So Vancon means lots and lots of socializing – there’s nothing like being with fellow Supernatural fans to make you feel like life is just plain GOOD.
So where did I leave off in my Minncon adventures?
Saturday night I was invited to speak at the Attitudes in Reverse ‘In Their Shoes’ event, which kicked off the Minneapolis chapter of AIR. If you have not been to one of AIR’s events, let me tell you that it is tremendously powerful and moving to see all those shoes with all their messages – of doubt, sadness, fear, and ultimately of hope. Hope because it is people speaking out, talking about how they feel, reaching out and asking for help even though that’s tremendously hard. I’m inspired by the work that AIR and SPN Survivors are doing to combat the stigma that keeps us from talking about mental health issues and prevents people from getting the help they need. That’s the best way to prevent suicide – and if people can feel comfortable asking for help, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope.
That’s one of the messages of our new book, Family Don’t End With Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Has Changed Lives. It’s a story twelve years in the making, with chapters written by ten Supernatural actors and a dozen Supernatural fans. Every chapter in the book, both those written by fans and those written by the actors, is personal and incredibly powerful. Some of the chapters were hard to write, but every author persevered because the message is so important. We all hope that the book will be an inspiration to others to speak up and be real too, and to ask for the help we all need sometimes to get through the challenges life throws in our way.
Jared Padalecki is one of the actors who wrote a chapter for the book, written with candor and trust, and so inspiring I still can’t read it without tearing up and smiling simultaneously. He came to the AIR event to talk about his own journey – the help he has needed and the hope he has found.
A common thread in all the chapters is how the extraordinary relationship between the Supernatural cast and fandom has been a source of support and inspiration – for both sides. At the AIR event, Jared didn’t leave after he’d had his turn at the mic. Instead, he reached out to a young girl who was crying, crouching down and holding both her hands as he listened to her and helped her feel grounded.