Fanboy/fangirl gatherings tend to be the butt of jokes. These convention-goers are always portrayed on film as hordes of overweight, introverted nerds -- even if the protagonists are among their number, as in "Fanboys." Is that common perception of these people justified, or is it just a stereotype the masses enjoy laughing about?
Aside from the now "mainstream" San Diego and New York Comic-Cons, I had never attended any superfan conferences. So I welcomed the opportunity to attend the Twi-hards' Super Bowl, the 'Breaking Dawn' Convention in Los Angeles. Before each new installment of "The Saga," hundreds of Stephenie Meyer's faithful descend on the City of Angels for three days of vampire revelry.
I've been covering "Twilight" for NextMovie for over a year and, before this weekend, felt like I had a fairly solid understanding of my fellow Twi-hards (despite never actually having hung out with them in person). Did hanging out with them for three days change my opinion? Not completely. But I did learn more than I'd expected to learn, including the answers to these five questions.
1. Did the attendees look like you'd expected?
[caption id="attachment_90870" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Kandi Prickett"][/caption]
If by that you mean almost exclusively female, wearing "Twilight" T-shirts and standing to shed a few pounds? Then yes. But take away the T-shirts and these women wouldn't look any different than shoppers in any American mall. We're the United States -- most of us could stand to exercise more. (See: my costume for the costume contest, right.) I didn't see anyone who looked like a cartoonish super-fan: no one in full-body glitter, wearing vampire teeth or showing off a full back tattoo of the Wolf Pack. I was surprised there weren't more tweens attending, though. But that may have had more to do with the $350 ticket price tag, plus $250-per-night Hyatt Regency hotel room, than the Twi-hards' demographic makeup.
2. Did Twi-hards act like you'd expected?
There wasn't as much high-pitched screaming as I expected. Even when Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner walked onstage, people didn't lose their s*** like it was Beatlemania or anything. The most surprising behavior was how horny these ladies acted -- not toward me or the few other males attending, but toward the actors onstage. Every few minutes, some female voice would scream, "Take off your shirt!" followed by a bevy of agreeing cheers. They were worse than frat boys at a wet T-shirt contest. Of all emotions, I didn't expect to feel emasculated by other Twi-hards' libido.
Also Check Out: Male Twi-Hard's 'Breaking Dawn' Convention Diary posts
3. Did you see some crazy 'Twilight'-themed tattoos?
[caption id="attachment_91347" align="alignleft" width="220" caption="Ryan McKee"][/caption]
Sadly, no. I wanted to put together a gallery of awesome ones, but there is really no easy way to approach women (already put on guard because I'm a lone wolf) and ask them to show me parts of their bodies normally covered by clothing. NextMovie made me a large sign that read "Show Me Your Tats" -- but there was no place for me to hang it except my hotel room (extra creepy), and I couldn't drape it around me while I mingled. The most awesome fan tattoo I saw wasn't even "Twilight"-themed. It was of a black pug dressed as Jack Sparrow.
4. Were there fringe 'Twilight' celebs like the hand model from the book cover?
I fully expected Stephenie Meyer's BYU classmates to be there at booths signing autographs. I figured anyone with any connection to "The Saga" must be trying to cash in on it. But my only odd sighting was Hilly and Hannah Hindi of "The Hillywood Show."
These Internet stars, famous for their video parodies, dressed fancier than the actual celebrities, and they were hosting the event. They even charged $35 to have photos taken with them ("Twilight" actors charged $40). Apparently, hosting these events has become regular gig for Hilly and Hannah, and they're even starting to branch off into hosting "Vampire Diaries" conventions. You'd think actors only make conventions their main gigs after their careers are heading downward, but these girls are locking into it in their early 20s. Either way, I can't wait to see their extended cable reality show, which I'm certain they will make happen in the near future.
5. Did you feel like a freak being there?
Nah, once you're locked into the vibe, arguing obscure "Twilight" trivia for hours seems totally normal. The weird thing is when you're pulled out of it by reality. While the hotel staff does a great job of treating you like any other guest, other guests tend to gawk. I got in the elevator with a twentysomething couple. The dude seemed completely disinterested in his lady, who was having trouble standing without swaying. Finally, she said to him, "I'm sorry I got so drunk, okay? I just had to drink a lot to hang around all these freaking 'Twilight' freaks." So there you go. I was called a freak by a drunk girl on an elevator. But at least I could stand up straight.