By: Jazmine Martin
There are very few conventions in the state of Texas that can say, ‘We cover all of nerdom and still have a homey, atmosphere’. All-Con Dallas is that convention, a four day con that hosts over 300+ panels spanning all aspects of fandoms, hobbies, careers, and more.
This was my first time attending All-Con, simply due to the con dates conflicting with another major con that occurs about the same time. Thankfully, March 12 – 15 proved to be a window for me to go adventuring in the All-Con territory.
Day 1, I wasn’t able to explore as much due to running back and forth to school for final projects. But, Day 2 I finally had a chance to sample all that this con had to offer. First up, of course, was the Speed Social. From what the program and long time attendees had to say, this event was created as another creative way to get people talking to potential, new friends while at the con. The Speed Social takes place every friday and saturday night with a theme for participants to follow in conversation. The night I attended was Star Wars themed, I knew very little about the fandom beyond the film adaptations, plus that “one” we pretend never happened. But, to my surprise, I hardly encountered anyone who tried to yank my Nerd Card from me. Awesome, right? No pressure to find that soul mate with all those droids you’ve been looking for. However, if meeting new faces really isn’t your thing, there was still the Dating Game panel for cosplayers to hop-in and snag a date the following night.
Later in the day, I attended the panel of some my huge inspirations for getting into the film industry. Doug Jones was present and all smiles when he arrived to a roaring crowd. Reaching a height of 6”3, he was amazing to watch climbing up to the stage. The two moderators for the panel asked Doug if he had any tricks he could do. Doug smiled and said, “ I’m not a contortionist, but I can put my ankle behind my head. Do y’all wanna see?”, he started to climb onto the table, guests wiped out their phones, as he proceeded to put his ankle behind his head. After that, he simply stayed on the table, talking with us about his career, leaps from Mac the Moon in the long running McDonald’s commercials of the 80s, to his more recent roles that included: Abe Sapien and the Angel of Death of the HellBoy films and short lived, cartoon series; The Faun and Creepy Eye-Hand Creature from Pan’s Labyrinth; The Humanoid Cockroach terrorizing the NYC in Mimic and, surprise, surprise, the Silver Surfer from the Fantastic Four sequel.
Doug made it clear that being a creature actor that didn’t complain about wearing make-up applications for several hours at a time made you noticeable. But, the real signature of his talents is his ability to move well in any fantasy creature Del Toro was able to convince him into. He also touched on a few independent works he was able to work on as well as announce his guest appearance coming to Arrow as a villain and the current internet buzz of the Del Toro remake, Crimson Peak. At the close, the moderator’s final question to Mr. Jones was about a ‘dream’ role he could see himself in. Doug answered “ I would love to be in a Nosferatu reboot. It would just make my career, and then I could retire. Or really, keep looking for more work, because who wants to sit home all day.”
The next panel I migrated to was the Archer gathering put on by Tim Bell. It started off with the host, in full Kreiger garb, asking who knew the show. The majority raised hands and the host proceed on to the game planned for the panel. For those who don’t know the show, here’s my mini synopsis: Archer is an adult cartoon show that airs on FX wednesday nights at 8/9c. The show is a spoof and homeage to the spy films of the 70s including a couple nods to Miami Vice in season 5 and a plethora of James Bonds references between seasons 1-3. The main character is Sterling Archer, a self titled “Greatest Spy in the World” with a mother complex that isn’t helped by working for said mother, Malory Archer under the ISIS (International Secret Intelligence Services) agency. Along for the ever ridiculous ride are other staff members: Lana Kane: Field Agent and Love Interest to Archer and Cyril, Pam Poovey: head of HR and field agent, Cyril Figgis: Comptroller and Field Agent, Charlene/Cheryl Tunt: Secretary, Ray Gillette: Field Agent and Field Analyst, and Dr. Algernop Krieger: A clone of someone infamous and head of the scientific research. You’ll have to watch the series to find out what makes this show so popular,but for now enjoy a photo shoot snap of fans dressed as all the main cast and KGB counter intelligence.
The rest of Day 2 was a blur of dipping in and out of introductory workshops from being an Eco-friendly cosplayer to joining the Furry network. There was plenty to do and see around this con, I’m a little surprised I remembered to eat something.
I had my sights set on seeing this annual Ms. Star Wars pageant later that evening. Turns out, it’s more of a gauntlet for any contestant willing to try. The opening was introductions of the entries and their love of Star Wars as the guests were graced a with a catwalk up to the stage. Some were dressed in full Star Wars related costumes, others in their nerdy tees and jeans. The first round consisted of giving a favorite line from any of the films. The winner was the girl who could really speak Wookie. After this round, a contestant was eliminated, but left with a gift of a Mug and goodies inside. The next round had the ladies playing a round of “ Get-Well Soon, Solo” to a pretend Harrison Ford in a cast. The goal was to give the greatest gift a fan could to the injured Mr. Ford. The next round consisted of knowledge testing of the Star Wars-verse, representing major planets and decreeing what could be done if crowned Ms. Star Wars, and finally getting past the guard to the Cantina where Solo was planning the next Rebellion.
In the end, the winner was chosen by the audience as well as judges and crowned Ms. Star Wars for 2015. Thus, ending day 2 before drinks at the bar and dancing in the ballroom.
Day 3, I attend a more hands on workshop that taught the classic dance forms of Go-Go’ing by the Pistolettes. The crowd was small enough for everyone to move closer and get up to try the Mashed Potato, the Watusi, the monkey, and other dances. All while learning the history behind each dance and why it’s still popular today. I, for one, couldn’t really master the Watsui, but still had fun learning.
There was also a drawing for the 501st, Droid Hunt that day as well. When you first arrived to pick up your badge, there was an additional card given to be attached. This card had your badge number and name on the back for when a Storm Trooper or Sand Person or Imperial Guard stopped you for the card. It is then you were entered in the drawing for various prizes ranging from gift cards to photo ops with celebrities at All-Con.
Then there’s United States of Geekdom’s panel, 80s Action Heroes montage with witty commentary. Sitting there with other fellow, Arnold Schwarzenegger fans was entertaining and fun to add our own two cents about Steven Siegel’s pony tail or Swayze’s seemingly strong, roundhouse kicks. Nothing says the early 80s like a pair of bright, hammer pants and an unusual amount of Ninjas for no apparent reason. The cheese was strong with these action heroes of yesteryear.
To worbla or not to worbla was not the question Russ Adams wanted to hear during his workshop panel with co-host Heather Henry. “ Its not that Worbla is bad for anything other than armor, but I prefer not to use it on anything with a cerbo attached. It melts to quickly with constant heat and that’s just not good for an animatronics”.
Russ continues to answer questions from aspiring and current puppeteers that attended the panel while Heather did a live-airbrushing of a model being turned into a Sci-Fi Medusa, gun slinger. It was interesting to hear what goes into making a puppet from start to finish and how to fix any problems with just about any product found around the house. Russ even recanted his experience being on the Jim Hensen’s Creature Shop challenge show that aired on SyFy some years ago. To end my adventure in discovering new corners of the Nerdverse, I attended one other staple of All-Con…The Burlesque show.
Now, I know exactly what you’re probably wondering about now… Was it Nerd/Geek related? Yes! Was this age restricted? Yes! Why has this particular burlesque/nerdlesque show been around for the last six years? I think people actually enjoy seeing Moxxi of the Borderlands series in her true environment? Either way, we were not allowed to take pictures at the show. However, if you happen to google Nerdlesque, I’m sure you’ll get the picture. In truth, its all in good, adult humored fun.
Burlesque has been growing in popularity in Texas, even my first time seeing such a thing was at another four day con, Comicpalooza. In essence, Burlesque was given a name around the 1900s, but has been around since the 1800s in many a form. It was a way for both men and women to express themselves through the story of music and humor. Yes, you read right, men can burlesque too. While my initial worries were along the lines of, “ Am…Am I really ready to see such a thing?” and “ This is just like Magic Mike, right?”, I was blown away by how classy, playful, and downright, impressive these ladies and men were in their performances. Even if they were just waiting to nearly, bare it all on stage.
After the show, the dancers held a few panels that discussed the nature of Burlesque today, how to get started, and the many, many differences between Neo-Burlesque and the original we sometimes associate it with today.
So, All-Con Dallas really is true to the name of an All around Con, I would recommend to anyone new to the convention scene that is curious about nerdy, geeky things in bit sized samples. From there, you could find a more specific styled con for your tastes, say Who Fest, a dedicated con for all your Whovian needs or even Boardgame Geeks Fest, dedicated to all the cards, all the miniatures, and all the Magic you can handle!