So, I kind of like this TV show called Supernatural. You may have noticed. OK, that's a bit of an understatement. When I said 'TV show', what I actually meant was 'way of life'. And when I said 'like', what I actually meant was 'adore with a fervour akin to religious fanaticism'. When I like something, REALLY like something, I tend to go a bit...
Some may call it obsessive, but I just don't like to do things by halves. Unless it's housework, making dinner, getting dressed, reading T&Cs, managing my money, advancing my career...you get the general idea.
And so it was that I found myself at the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham this weekend for Asylum 6 - a Supernatural convention run by Rogue Events.
This was my second convention ever. I had never felt the compulsion before Supernatural. I may have written weekly letters to David Usher in the nineties. I may have seen OK Go play two nights running last time they were in the UK. I may dress up like a whore-clown and dance in the aisles at The Rocky Horror Show. I may know the script of The Doom Generation by heart. I may even have a Legolas action figure (LOL)! But conventions had never been my scene until I took the plunge and went to Asylum 5 last Halloween. To be perfectly honest I was a little scared at first. I stayed on the fringe - went to talks and scoped out the evening entertainment, but I was in denial. I figured if I wasn't queuing for photos and autographs, I could still pretend I was a reasonable person. Most of my friends who like the show draw a line at actually going to a weekend-long meet, so I pretty much bludgeoned someone too nice to say 'no' into coming with me! That person was Jenny.
This time around it looked like I was going to have to strike out on my own. But Jenny managed to get a ticket at the last minute, along with her friend - let's call her D - and D's nine year old son, M, who has elected Dean Winchester as a
On Friday 13th May, after a very pleasant train journey (First Class, baby - it's the only way to go) I checked into the Hilton and went to register. In the queue, a pair of hardcore con regulars and generally rocking chicks from Hamburg (S and N) turned to me and struck up a conversation. We got to the front of the queue and went our separate ways after promising we would meet later on the dance floor. That night we did dance. And how. Truthfully, throwing shapes to Lady Gaga with a nine yr old who can dance me in to a cocked hat is not something I had envisaged when I set out on Friday, but it was fun. After the party, S, N and I stayed in the lounge until 4am drinking Cosmopolitans with the event DJ and another member of the crew. Last bishes (barely) standing. It was the start of something beautiful.
At 7am on Saturday, after two hours sleep, I woke to the realisation that I would have to stand next to Jensen Ackles (AKA the most beautiful man in the universe) and have my photo taken in a couple of hours! Self-sabotage is clearly one of the things I do at full throttle!
Jensen had the first panel of the day, so the main hall was buzzing. The guests were brought on stage to say 'hi' for the opening ceremony and I got my first in-the-flesh glimpse of Jensen and Jared.
The first thing to say about them is that they are tall. Like really, really tall. TV people are supposed to be mini. That's how it works. J2 obviously didn't get that memo. The second thing to say is that they are ridiculously good looking. They are barely the same fucking species as the rest of us. At this point, you're almost hoping they turn out to be complete arseholes because...come ON! But nope. They are also two of the nicest people you could hope to meet. And this is when I swept up the last few crumbs of my dignity and threw them in the nearest bin. My decision to empty my bank account the previous night to buy an extra photo opportunity with Jared suddenly seemed entirely justified and rational.
Jensen alone was funny, sweet, charming and relaxed. He'd just flown in from Scotland and it was his first wedding anniversary weekend which he pointed out he was spending with all of us, making a face which implied that had gone down like a knackered lift in the Ackles' household. I think we all appreciate his dedication. He said lots of words, many of which I couldn't comprehend because I was too busy watching him lick his lips and wriggling in my chair like a child in dire need of a pee.
When asked how he would like Supernatural to end, he amused himself by suggesting Sam and Dean could wake up to discover they'd been stoned off their heads for the past however many years and had actually been playing a video game. When asked who would win a fight between him and Jared, Jensen asked 'have you SEEN the guy?' and did and impression of Jared which involved standing on the back of his chair and pushing his chest out (hello Ackles' treasure trail), then went on to say he would because he would 'kick him right in the nuts.' He also spoke about play-fighting gone wrong, recounting the time he split someone's head on Dark Angel. He claimed never to have slipped on Supernatural, although Cindy Sampson later showed a scar which she claimed she got from Jensen!
Citing 'Hey Jude' and 'A Day In The Life' as two of his favourite Beatles songs, he recalled being excited when their tracks were finally available on i-Tunes, but as he was downloading the back catalogue, Jared came up to him with a CD box set and asked him why he didn't just get them off that! "You couldn't have given this to me, like, two years ago?!"
Jensen also revealed he didn't have pin-ups on his bedroom wall as a younger man *collective raised eyebrow*. He talked a lot about golf. And he admitted that his wife had shown him this:
I laughed for about ten minutes imagining that particular journey of discovery and then I wondered what else he's been looking at, and then I laughed a bit more. To his credit - he seemed fairly pleased about the whole thing. He does make the prettiest pony.
After the panel, it was time to have my picture taken with him. I can tell you that staying up all night getting drunk off your ass and then being thrust towards a man so beautiful he makes grown women weep is NOT conducive to photogenicism. He was sweet and polite and I put my hand on him and he didn't have me arrested (result). And then it was over in a heartbeat and I was pushed back out into the light, confused and dazed on wobbly legs like a new born foal.
Next panel was Cindy Sampson, Brock Kelly and Fred Lehne. Fred's opening gambit was a joke involving a penguin taking his car to the garage and going for ice cream while waiting for it to be fixed. Only penguins don't have hands so they have a tough time holding an ice cream, and the penguin ends up with it all over his beak and down his front. He goes back to the garage to get his car and the mechanic tells him it looks like he's blown a seal, to which the penguin replies 'no it's just ice cream'. He then told all the children in the audience to explain it to their parents, and I remembered just how much I love Fred Lehne.
Brock and Cindy are also ridiculously good looking. By this time I was seriously considering having a bag placed over my head permanently. Spending a weekend with these people completely screws your perspective. It's disorientating and depressing catching a glimpse of your own reflection after having your eyeballs adjusted to that much pretty. Brock was quiet and I suspect sharper than people give him credit for. His humour is so dry and his delivery so deadpan I think it gets missed sometimes. But he looks like this:
At one point, Brock revealed he had been to jail for underage drinking and yep! Fred went there! "Anyone else thinking about soap?"
Fred has been to jail in Canada for 'creating mischief'. That's a real thing. It is impossible to explain in words how much I love Canada.
Cindy Sampson is a firecracker. Beautiful, funny, and sharp, she loves what she does ("making out with Jensen Ackles for a living") and her sense of self-awareness and levity were a breath of fresh air. She looked like she might lick Brock at any moment (an entirely appropriate response which I approved of hard.) She and Fred Lehne did snarky banter brilliantly - Fred to Cindy: "I'm gonna smack you so hard" - and were clearly having a blast. Cindy joked about how she'd demanded security because she's seen LisaBraedenMustDie.com! She showed remarkable insight and understanding of the fanbase, the tendency of some fans to shred female characters and the difference between how vitriolic people can be sat at a keyboard and how she is received as an actress and a person. I've never met a Canadian I didn't like and Ms. Sampson shot straight to the top of my list. She was also very taken by M, saying he was adorable and she wanted to take him home, which M seemed to think he would enjoy very much! That's the Dean Winchester attitude right there.
Saturday afternoon was Jared photo op time. What can I tell you about Jared Padalecki? The man is ridiculous. He's not a person, he's a force of nature. A forest fire maybe - burning hot, all consuming and utterly devastating. Yeah - that's actually a damn good analogy.
While Jensen had been perched for his pics, Jared was standing and doling out Padahugs. The girl in line in front of me had him sit so she could pose back to back with him, so when my turn came I waved my arms frantically to gesture him up and launched myself at him. Literally plastered myself to him. He laughed and said I was conducting him like an orchestra. Oh, if only! Some choice words which flashed through my head at this point: Blowing, banging, fiddling, strumming, horn. Just saying...
After I prised my over-heated cheek off his rock hard pecs, I think I mumbled some thanks and managed to remember to retrieve my handbag. Then I walked out of the room and straight into a wall. I shit you not. I'm afraid I missed Mark Shepard and Richard Speight Jnr doing their panels as I had to have a stiff drink and a sit down.
I wish I could remember any of Jared's panel, but honestly I just sat in stunned silence, unable to fathom the cruelty of a world in which I am forced to live without my face buried at his heaving man bosom.
OK, OK - I remember some of it. He referred to himself as 'mooseman'. He also said he really enjoys watching fan videos on Youtube. He recommended visiting California, Texas and New York for anyone going to the US. He said he would love to have kids but he's not ready yet. His work is too demanding and he knows how Misha struggled with being away from his son. He presented his side of his infamous prank war with Misha and the trailer-full of coins. He shampoos, conditions and blow dries his hair. Speaking of which, a rather upfront American girl asked him if his evolving hairstyle was a result of his hair being afraid of his face. He took that with good grace but I could tell he was crying inside. Sam's lack of bangs in latter seasons is as a result of Kripke telling him he needed to look older. He declined to make a moose mating call (the American girl again). He told us his body was now property of his wife (my hands beg to differ).
That evening Jason Manns played a gig. As he had at Asylum 5, he invited the guests in attendance to come up and do a spot, so the limelight was shared with Fred and Richard. Last year's session resulted in Misha Collins singing some Dylan with his father which is genuinely one of the most moving things I've ever seen. Saturday night was also lovely. Richard and his friend and bandmate performed their soon-to-be hit single 'Only Love You When I'm Drunk' and dedicated it to Cindy and Brock. Fred eschewed his usual 'Sympathy For The Devil' for another Stones number - 'Can't Always Get What You Want'. Jason dedicated his rendition of Cohen's 'Hallelujah' to a fan who recently lost her father. And Fred dragged the audience up to dance for the finale which resulted in the stage being stormed.
Cindy later referred to it as 'the best day of her life' with no irony which made me want to hug her. After S, N and I had a quick bop to some classic rock - the highlight being 'Poison' by Alice Cooper - we retired for slightly more sleep than the night before and I dreamt of sweet, sweet Padahugs.
Sunday morning was my J2 photo op. Once again I had to forgo the inclusive breakfast (goddayum, I hate passing up 'free' food), this time because I felt physically sick with anticipation...
OK, I realise that they are just people. Freakishly tall, stupidly attractive people. And I am 31 years old. I should not be reduced to a shaking, jibbering wreck by two actors, but I honestly feared this was a real possibility:
The queue was buzzing as my favourite steward was running up and down it shouting "they're standing up and hugging!" As I entered the photo studio, the UK's answer to Clif Kosterman took one look at me and said "you'll be fine - they're just people!" which probably tells you something about the state I was in. I somehow managed to reach the boys on jelly legs and smished myself between them. That is a whole lot of man. I can honestly tell you without a shadow of a doubt, that being sandwiched between J2 is the nearest thing to Heaven on Earth it is possible to imagine. They are just so damn BIG. And then Jared turned his ridiculous face to me and said "great hair, babe!" Babe. BABE. BABE. It's a fucking miracle I am writing this on a netbook as a free woman and not writing it in my own faeces on the wall of a secure unit. I think it's time for an UNF.
Men are ruined for me. Totally serious. Poor Mr. Pinkwood. Let's take a second to feel bad for him...
Things didn't improve much when we went to get autographs. At the door of the signing room, we were told that Jensen would be taking a five minute break, and on his return, Jared would take one. But when Jensen stood and left, Jared looked up and dashed off after him. I'm not going to lie. This made me squee myself inside out. Their love is so epic. They returned after ten minutes or so and I tried not to drool listening to Jared laughing until I reached the front of the queue to find looking into Ackles' big green eyes isn't any less blindsiding for the third time.
Sunday was also the day the wives rocked up. They were doing photo signings in a room of their own, and by all accounts were received very warmly. Insane jealousy aside, I think it was good of them to make an appearance. However (serious business is about to get serious), part of me wishes that they would take more of a stance. We all know the internet is pretty unforgiving. It must be hard to find yourself a target of genuine bitching and worse because people feel a strange sense of entitlement when it comes to your other half. Jensen and Jared very graciously thanked fans for making the ladies feel welcome, but I can't help but think that if they took a more active role, a lot of the bullshit would go away. Genevieve is a legitimate part of Supernatural having played a main role for two seasons. She should run with that. Do panels, meet fans. Be a personality in her own right. Danneel may not have a direct connection to the show, but she has fans, and there are people who will take an interest purely because of who she is married to. But hey - Jason Manns has forged a pretty solid and loyal fanbase on his connection with Jensen. Come on gals - make like Cindy. Show us what you're made of and stand up for the sistahood!
Talking of Cindy, she and Brock did another panel on Sunday afternoon, the main focus of which was Fred-originated rumour about what had or had not happened between them the night before. Ms. Sampson milked the Mrs. Robinson act to the delight of the audience and Fred who hijacked the mic to ask Brock whether he would say Cindy's ass was more 'spanky' or 'sassy'. And speaking of Cindy's ass, a slight wardrobe malfunction which would have shaken a weaker specimen, had her laughing and promising to hunt down the ecstatic teenaged boy with a camera in the front if she found up-skirt footage on Youtube. She also revealed her favourite on set prank. For the scene with Jensen when Lisa comes downstairs in a nightgown to ask Dean when he's coming to bed, the crew presented her with a blow up doll and a dildo to brandish at him during a take. She confirmed that Danneel dresses Jensen and that she knew for a fact that Gen had dressed Jared that day. I guess that explains the black jeans, Hollowdoll! She said she had dressed Brock, but only because of what had happened the night before.
There was more excitement when we discovered N's raffle ticket for a Jensen coffee lounge was a winner. N had found a little gold coloured Buddah on the airport floor and picked it up. Rubbing its belly after she'd bought the tickets, she told me it was good luck. After she'd found it, she and S had their room upgraded. Then, she said, they met me. I may have had a little tear in my eye at that point. The third charm was an intimate audience with Jensen. Although N was a wreck about meeting him, it turned out to be the perfect experience - especially when Jensen combined his session with Jared's! They could do an episode about this Buddha, I swear! My favorite report from the lounge was that J2 demonstrated Sam and Dean going out Thelma and Louise style by holding hands. I squeed myself back the right way out.
But it wasn't to last because it was time for the closing panel and this happened:
Oh oh oh oh OH OH OH OH...
I was pretty much done for by this point but here are the scant details I remember. Jensen was asked which song he would release as a single if he could. Jensen replied he didn't know and Jared said, "yes you doooooo!" in such a cute way I nearly cried. He said it would be Bonnie Tyler. Or Born This Way by Lady Gaga. Jensen denied this and mentioned hearing a song by Katy Perry in the gym which he'd thought was about Supernatural. Jensen made it clear he was an actor - not a singer except in the shower. Jared seemed to be on board with that and my fragile little mind drifted to its happy place.
There was more drifting when Jared claimed he was losing his voice ("it's my wife's fault"). Presumably he meant she gave him a cold but we were all snickering and biting our fists by the time he realised what he'd said. Whoops mouth!
Jensen once again leapt to the defence of Jared's hair, referring back to the earlier slur about his face being afraid of it. He did an impression of Jared's hair using his fingers, and Jared did a beautiful slo-mo 'just stepped out of a salon' swish.
A pregnant lady asked the boys whether she should call her son Jared or Jensen. They suggested an amalgamation of the two - Jarsen, Jenred etc - and Jared pointed out it'd be easier to buy a Jared name badge at Disneyland. They also suggested Tristan Ross. Awww!
Jared was asked about his favourite Beatles songs. Unsurprisingly, they were the same as Jensen's. Double awww!
Jensen listed Louis CK amongst his favourite stand up comedians and my love for him reached new heights. Jared and he argued as to whether anyone on their list told clean jokes. Jared said yes, so Jensen asked him to think of a clean joke. The closest he could muster involved jizz and was discounted by Jensen. "It just went off in his hand!" Aaaaaand we're back in the happy place!
Someone asked where Jensen and Jared would take Sam and Dean if they met them for a day and what they would ask them or do. Jensen said he would ask for a spin in the Impala and the colt, and said that he would take Dean to a bar, buy him beer and ask him for some stories as his life would be way different to Jensen's life. He told Jared to beat that. Jared promptly responded that he would take Sam to the same bar and they would throw peanuts at Dean and Jensen. Jared also said he would grab Sam by the collar and say, "you look a lot like me!"
The boys recounted some stories of things they were uncomfortable with on set. Jared doesn't much like doing sex scenes. Jensen's tears during his hell scene at the end of the season 3 finale were genuine tears of pain. Poor Jensen :( Neither of them enjoyed the snake in Yellow Fever. Jared didn't like the way it was coming at him from behind (all I could think about was what Freud would say), and Jensen demonstrated how it slithered over his crotch using his mic to represent the snake. Oh, to be that microphone. He also did an energetic impression of Jared's reaction to him being molested by an albino python, which I could have watched him do for literally hours.
Jared drew the line at having an actress playing a zombie actually drool into his mouth because he 'has a thing about spit', to which Jensen replied, "who HASN'T got a thing about spit?!"
The overriding thing I got from the panel was that these guys adore each other and genuinely love and are proud of what they do. Jared DID use the words 'my craft' to describe acting which made me LOL but they are pretty humble and know they are lucky to do what they do. I couldn't help but wonder (woah - that was a bit Sex And The City!) how they will feel when it's all over. Things may have changed over the last six years, but they seem so close that it's not hard to imagine it will be a wrench when they no longer see each other every day for nine months of the year.
It was all over far too quickly and I'm not ashamed to admit their parting words of affectionate thanks made me well up. The thought of going back to reality having been in a fantasist's bubble all weekend was pretty depressing. Not only had Jenny, D, M and I had a brilliant weekend and met loads of fab people, but I made two friends I'll hopefully know for life. N is coming to the Jus In Bello convention with me Rome next year, and we have every intention of visiting each other in Hamburg and London.
And that's why I'm proud of my obsession. A little show that inspires such devotion, creativity and humour and bonds people from all over the world who would never otherwise meet is a very special thing. So, thanks Jared and Jensen, you beautiful, glorious bastards, and see you in Rome!