|ScaperCon: 2001 Report|
Read Mary's report from this great fan gathering...
By Mary Wood
Or perhaps I should say, "The Convention Formerly Known as ScaperCon." You see, Henson Company is trying to trademark the word "Scaper." According to the rumor mill, a major reason for this is to prevent ScaperCon from using the Scaper name and thus try to eliminate an ounce or two of competition for the fans' merchandise and convention dollars. From a standpoint of blind business sense, I can see where Henson would perceive a competitive threat, seeing a non-Henson related group (read: Henson does not make a direct profit from ScaperCon) put together a quite popular national convention for Farscape fans.
Of course, if someone from Henson ever went to a ScaperCon, he/she would probably have a pretty good laugh over the notion that it is "competition."
In fact, that is exactly what I would like to do; turn back the clock and this time bring a representative from Henson Legal Department to ScaperCon 2001 with me. Yes Mr. or Ms. legal rep, you are the special guest here! Oh, I'm sure plenty of other FarscapeWorld readers will be tagging along with us. Dani for one, to make sure I'm not being a complete embarrassment to this site that bears his name. Those faithful readers who have been bugging me, "Where the hezmana are your con reports?" A Farscape actor here, a cynical man there, and perhaps even the one or two folks who say how much they hate our articles yet read them anyway. All are welcome to jump in my time machine and join us – you and I, Mr. or Ms. Henson legal rep! I'm sure you'll have many questions along the way and I'll do my best to answer them, although I must admit that this is my first ScaperCon and I am not an "old timer" myself. How then am I qualified to show you around this universe? Well my legal rep friend, because as in the dark as I am sometimes regarding things Scaperish, I'm guessing your blindfold is even tighter than mine. Now, let's just turn the old clock back here and visit a few key moments of ScaperCon 2001…
"What is a ScaperCon anyway?"
Excellent first question! I've heard from a number of different sources and as near as I can tell, the birth of ScaperCon went something like this:
Jane: "Hey Dick, let's hop on Chat and the Bulletin Board, see if there are any other Scapers in our area and have a party at my place!"
Dick: "Great idea Jane! But why stop there? If we invite everyone from all over the world, it can be a really, really, huge Scaper party."
Jane: "Well, ok, but I'll need extra toilet paper for the bathroom…"
And thus was born ScaperCon. Dick and Jane became the non-profit "Blue Lady Productions" and the party was moved out of Jane's living room and into the world of more spacious hotels (not to mention stocked with a near limitless supply of toilet paper). Just one, really, really, huge Scaper party.
"I understand 'non' and I understand 'profit,' but I am having trouble putting them together. I was unaware it was possible to have something Farscape related and not make money from it."
Yes, it is hard to believe here in the land of capitalism, and for all we know, Blue Lady Productions is really just a front for a major drug ring. But until we see more evidence to that effect, I see no reason not to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe them when they say that they only collect enough money to cover equipment, space, and guest costs.
And when I say "guest costs," you'll notice there are no Farscape cast or crew on the guest list. BLP has not illegally snatched your stars for their own evil purposes. Now, we all live in the free Western World and I see little reason that if she wanted to, Claudia Black couldn't choose to spend her week's vacation in Cincinnati at the very same hotel on the very same weekend that ScaperCon is being held. But considering that Claudia probably has other activities on her "to do" list that carry less risk of making her feel like the new primate display at the zoo, we as rational fans don't go to ScaperCon expecting her or any other familiar TV faces to be there.
"If there isn't an actor there to sign a picture, what fun could we possibly have? And why are we arriving on Wednesday if the convention is only Saturday and Sunday?"
Because like I said, it's just a really, really, huge Scaper party! What is a Scaper? Well, truth be told, when you say to me, "A bunch of hardcore fans of a specific scifi TV show who met in internet chat rooms and message boards," I get an image of a room full of greasy, 30-something, virgin males, skin untouched by the sun, wandering about quietly staring at the floor and muttering to themselves because they've never interacted with live people outside of a chat room or the imaginary world of Farscape before.
As you can see, that image is way, way off.
The first thing you'll notice here at ScaperCon is that the women outnumber the men something like 3 to 1. That's a really odd statistic considering the usual demographics of science fiction and that Farscape wasn't created specifically with the intent to capture a female audience. But, the guys here don't seem to mind being outnumbered. Nope. The guys don't seem to mind one bit. The meet and greet aspect is especially fun as we put faces to familiar BBoard and Chat handles. It's kind of like getting to know someone you already know. BethS and DaniRoyer may be on to something as their handles and their real names are the same. Most of us will get to know each other by handle rather than real name, so I really hope your handle isn't something embarrassing like "BobBarr." There's Thinkum, CrystalMoon, Phantom82, XenaJules2, Lyme with her spastic reviews and of course grammykins handing out sweets left and right. I don't see ArtistStudio, but I can hear his suit, so I know he can't be too far away. OboeCrazy drove from her home on the East Coast out to an Invisible Man convention on the West Coast and is now hitting ScaperCon on her way back home. So, we forgive her if she never wants to look at the driver's seat of her car again
Some Scapers are teens, some are grammys, some have musical talent, some of us only wish we did. All of us must be just a little off-center to be so wild about such an off-center TV show, and perhaps most importantly, this crowd is at least as wild and friendly and quick with a hug in real life as we are on the Internet.
Let's hitch a ride now to Dave and Buster's with a couple carloads of Scapers. If you've never been to one, Dave and Buster's is basically a massive combination arcade-restaurant. How much money can you blow on junk food and elaborate arcade games in a couple of hours? Apparently a lot. The highlight of tonight's visit is a 7 Scaper virtual reality robot war. The rest of us watch the battle on a big screen as FearTheMachine kicks everyone's collective ass. His strategy seems to be, "Run full speed at the enemy, ram into him/her, and fire everything you've got in no particular order." Post-battle, FearTheMachine steps out of his virtual reality battle pod claiming that his real strategy was "I couldn't figure out the controls and the damn forward lever kept sticking!" FearTheMachine reminds me a lot of John Crichton.
If you haven't noticed yet, the over-21 Scaper crowd is reasonably aware of the under-21 and under-18 crowd and tries not to corrupt them any more than they already are. That said, the partying goes well into the wee hours of the morning, meeting, greeting, drinking, eating, laughing, playing, and once in a while, the subject of Farscape even works its way into a conversation, but not as often as you'd think at a Scaper convention. Let's pop in on one of those many party clusters shall we?
"Still on top! Still on top!" Yes, that would be the sound of a party cluster that has found its way into AutumnH's room! Lots of laughter, lots of play, and we've got an 8 person Scaper pile going on her full size bed with AutumnH more or less at the head of the bed, presiding over the pile. Again being aware of the minors, we make sure anyone under 18 has left before the conversation and the antics start to push the boundaries of a PG-13 rating. And yes, 8 people with only 2 possible genders means leave your homophobia at home or party elsewhere. If you've had one too many drinks tonight and aren't sure if you'll remember all that is done and said, not to worry. Voy3ger and a few others are taking pictures, Autumn is taking notes and BillGatesVoodoDoll is trying to set up a webcam to broadcast the whole scene to who-knows-where.
"Ok, that was … interesting. But what does any of this have to do with Farscape?"
Well, meeting and greeting with other Scapers really is the primary draw for most of us, but if you really want Farscape related fun and games, there are plenty to be had. Let's start with the new episode on Friday night, "Infinite Possibilities: Daedalus Demands." It's one thing to watch Farscape by yourself or with one friend or significant other. It's another to watch with a dozen Scapers like I did during StarFest. So, watching the latest new episode on a projection screen with roughly 200 stoked Scapers in the room is a sight to behold. Especially when the episode ends with a cliffhanger like that one did! I think our collective scream when "to be continued" flashed on the screen just about took out the foundation of the hotel.
Fast forward to Saturday. I heard rumors that there would be a vendor's room but for the life of me, I can't find one, so let's pop in on the Art room. Hmm, cartoon caricatures of various Farscape characters. Wouldn't it be neat if Farscape did an animated episode someday? Personally, I rather dig the DRD bedroom slippers. Then again, I think that homemade DRD that someone had buzzing about the room during the commercial breaks last night should be in the art room. Fashioned out of a remote control toy truck with a painted bike helmet on top of it, the thing couldn't have been cooler if it was a real DRD!
First up in the main auditorium; a representative from the Cleveland Observatory to do an astrology talk. No, it still has nothing directly to do with Farscape, but it's reasonable to think it would be of interest to science fiction fans. It's of interest to me at least!
Care for some entertainment? How about a ScapeSpeare production put together by Elfore? "Cry havoc and let loose the Vorcs of War!!!" Phantom82 as Stark; "My side, thy side, my side, thy side!" (and with that, Phantom82 is reborn as PhantomStark).
"I'm not too sure about using trademarked Farscape characters for this B-grade parody, and if William Shakespeare were alive today he'd…"
He'd laugh his knickers off because it's all in fun. Loosen up a bit! These fans have dedicated their own time and money just to play around and have a good time with their favorite show. If anything, antics like this are going to get us all whipped up into a mob frenzy over Farscape and make us want to spend even more money on your merchandise, not less. I know what will get your panties out of that wad, a banquet Scaper dinner, complete with Farscape videos and a talent show!
Kind of cool to see everyone all decked out eh? It sort of makes me wish I knew this dinner was going to happen before I got here. I might have packed something fancier than the basic black and traditional Tibetan shirt I wore on the flight here. Then again, I don't know if the smattering of gothic-wear that makes up my going-out wardrobe is any fancier than this. Still, the food is beyond fantastic and everyone's having a good time at our special little banquet. The videos completely rock … especially the Chiana video set to U2's "Mysterious Ways." I'm really embarrassed now that I missed the name of the person who put them together.
On to the talent show, and what better way to start off than OcnGrl recreating Chiana's barroom dance talent from Scratch 'N Sniff? I'm pretty sure the hotel would have a problem with her using real fire, so it's just as well that she's using glow-stick thingies (I believe that's the technical term for them). Either way, she's bringing the house down and just like Chiana's target one-man audience, RedDogJack faints dead away at the end of OcnGrl's routine. Lots of the talent is musical, with OboeCrazy being talked into whipping out the Oboe, Acappella living up to her namesake with a rather humorous opera piece, and DocSandor leading a rock band he put together earlier that afternoon, "Electromagnetic Candy." All this gives BloodWynd the courage to get on stage and do Seal's "Kiss from a Rose." I believe every female at ScaperCon is now madly in love with BloodWynd. Post-banquet, post-talent show, Scifigrrl takes DJ duty and we're left to dance, enjoy the tunes, mingle in the lounge, go seek out more Scaper/kitten/puppy piles…
It's Sunday now and I actually have a little job to do. It seems that DelvianPrince was worried Kitscha (I know I've misspelled that) might not show up to do the FanFic workshop. As he was expressing these worries to a generic group wondering if anyone else currently here might be able to do it, OboeCrazy and I were foolish enough to claim to know something about FanFic. Kitscha (ouch, it hurts knowing I'm misspelling that) did show up, and we did the workshop together since Oboe and I already had a plan of sorts. ValleyOfStags joined the team and, well, it's Sunday now and time to do the workshop. The moral of this story is, if you come to ScaperCon with a skill or claiming to have a skill, be prepared to have it put to work. If you're not interested in FanFic, you might want to check out the trivia contest in the next room.
With the trivia contest and FanFic workshops out of the way, the highlight show today is "PKs of the Uncharted Territories," a musical which very curiously resembles Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance." Put together by OboeCrazy, it's yet another entertainment tour de force which shows just how dangerous – and yet extremely creative – a bunch of musically talented Scapers with a frighteningly low costume budget can be. Topping the requests for next year; a spin off of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I believe it's being considered.
As something of a cool-down, right after the PKs musical, we go to a Q&A with Anna Kaplan. We missed her talk on Saturday, but I hear she's well worth hearing, so we'll check her out now. Anna is a journalist who has done numerous interviews with Farscape cast and crew and has plenty of great stories to tell about Farscape, other shows, and her profession in general. I believe she is second only to OboeCrazy in storytelling.
"Ok, so I suppose Anna saying what a nice guy David Kemper is helps Farscape more than hurts it. And that musical thing was pretty funny, Elnea in dual role of Pilot and Moya, DraYke as Crichton, … VioletteFrost makes a great Zhaan and the Rygel costume was a real kick … And I'm not sure I'll ever get that song out of my head. "I am the very model of a modern Luxan warrior…"
Now you're getting into the spirit! You're not the only one dragged into our little universe either. We seem to have taken over all of the Marriott Cincinnati North this weekend. I was a little worried that we may have scared the hotel staff and other guests, but one of the managers told me that they loved having us – haven't had this much excitement in months! In fact, some of the hotel staff, wanting in on the endless partying, have asked if they can go with us when we all go see "Planet of the Apes" tonight.
On the way to the movie, I say matter-of-factly to BloodWynd, "The cool thing about going to this movie with 150 Scapers is that even if it sucks, we know we'll still have a great time."
Post-movie … turns out I was right!
"Hey, maybe some of the hotel staff will start watching Farscape now! Maybe, ScaperCon is like … a really huge harmless party which is also free publicity for Farscape!"
Well put. You can see my legal rep friend, that ScaperCon is nothing at all like an official convention. I honestly can't see someone choosing one over the other. It's like apples and oranges. So, if you want to meet the cast and crew, blow a paycheck on autographed pictures, and get all the goodies you get at an official convention, go to an official convention. If you just want to attend a really huge party with a really huge group of people you at least have Farscape in common with, go to ScaperCon. If you want both, go to both.
Personally, I'd recommend both.
"Scape . . .err, Whatever 2002" is now set for July 26-28 at the same location; Marriott North, Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information, visit www.bluelady.org.