When Mark Millar (yes, that Mark Millar) emailed and asked if I would be at the San Diego Comic Con, I had to reply with a despondent “No,” followed by the saddest emoticon my keyboard could create. I’m in Eastern Canada, after all – California is quite a hike just to attend a comic book convention, even if it is THE convention.
He followed up by mentioning that if I had been in town, he would have put me on the guest list to attend Universal Studio’s launch party for Kick-Ass 2.
So of course, I did what any sane, rational person would do in the exact same situation: I canceled all my plans, packed a bag, and booked a flight from Toronto to San Diego.
Days later I found myself transported to the sun-drenched, palm tree-lined streets of San Diego, taking pictures out the window of my cab like the dorky tourist I am. And yes, I took pictures of the palm trees. Don’t laugh – it’s exciting for Canadians. If you live north of the border, just seeing one is like meeting a celebrity.
The convention was a blast: packed wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling (literally) with the most amazing, mind-blowing, nerdtastic things that a nerd could hope to see in his or her nerdy lifetime. But after six hours of walking the floor in remorseless high-heels, my feet had about all the abuse they could take; I returned to my hotel room to change for the big party.
Having no idea what the dress code would be for these types of events, I went with a safe bet: straight hair, a little black dress and (ugh, not again) heels. I tried to get myself looking as presentable as possible, knowing that the Universal party was being sponsored by Playboy…and there would no doubt be bunnies serving drinks and milling around during the festivities. I certainly couldn’t compete with that level of hotness, but at least I wouldn’t look like an exhausted blogger who hadn’t slept for two days.
I arrived downtown around 9:30 p.m., expecting to enter a building.
I was mistaken.
The event occupied an entire city block, which had been reserved for the massive outdoor party. Red lights spun. Music blared. People were being turned away at the door by unforgiving bouncers. “No, really – I know (insert celebrity here)! My name must be on the list!” Waiting in line for twenty minutes, I heard this plea maybe a dozen times. If you didn’t have a physical copy of the invitation, photo ID and your name on the guest list, you were brutally rebuffed. The Pentagon probably has more lax security.
I stepped beyond the threshold into A-list heaven, and it was almost too much to take in: an Oscar-style red carpet, a gaggle of photographers, an acrobat spinning on wires, and Playboy bunnies serving a custom Tequila beverage called “The Red Mist” (in honor of Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s character from the original Kick-Ass).
Not to mention a bar that included a massive shark tank. It was hypnotizing…and more than a little overwhelming. I was lost in a sea of a thousand partygoers, with no one to talk to, and no idea where to go.
I texted my friend Ray Plasse, who coincidentally is the father of “Red Mist” himself. Ray greeted me with a warm hug and we struggled to chat over the blaring music. When his son had completed his red carpet duties, I finally got to meet the actor who I’d been enamored with since he made McLovin’ a cultural icon back in 2007.
After a few minutes and a couple pictures it was apparently time to move on. “Come on, dad,” Chris instructed, waving Ray into the exclusive VIP area. Being the gentleman that he is, Ray invited me to tag along. He didn’t have to ask me twice…in I went. Like a giant outdoor living room, the area was furnished with couches and tables, sectioned off from the rest of the festivities by a velvet rope. This is where the real action was going to take place: it was the party within the party. Free booze, free food, and the chance to mingle with the A-listers.
The area was relatively empty when we crossed the rope, but soon afterwards the celebrities started pouring in. And as it turns out, I was no longer welcome. A bouncer grumbled that I had to leave; I had a red wristband (given to me when my ID and guest list status were confirmed) but I lacked the coveted gold band that allowed me to mingle with the rich and famous in the VIP area.
My heart sank, but I was rescued by Chris’s agent, who produced a gold band from his pocket.
That was when things got surreal: Nathan Fillion sitting next to me, drinking and chatting with star-struck groupies; Julie Benz, casually checking her phone no more than an arm’s length away…and me, wondering what the hell I was going to say to these people. What do celebrities talk about? Movies? Politics? Do they just fill their conversations with anecdotes about how amazing it is to be rich and famous and unbelievably attractive?
Despite the intimidation, the night was a success. I mingled with some of my heroes. I got a picture with Mister Millar and comic book legend Dave Gibbons. And, unfortunately, I guzzled one too many of the complimentary beverages (the danger of being in the VIP area, I soon discovered). And I learned something: no one parties like a drunk Bunny. Those girls are a blast.
The evening came to an end. I said my goodbyes, wobbled outside, and searched for a ride back to my hotel. Someone casually mentioned that it would be nearly impossible to catch a cab thanks to the Comic Con – the wait could be hours. As if on cue, a pedicab (a rickshaw being pulled by a man on bicycle) pulled up to the curb, and the driver asked if I needed a lift.
So while the Hollywood elite filed into stretch limousines and exotic cars, about to be whisked away to their palatial palaces, I rode off into the horizon being towed by a rusty 10-speed.
So despite my D-list exit, I spent the night partying with the A-list – and I’ll always have the pictures (and the shiny wristbands) to prove it.
Blake Northcott is an author, Twitter-er, and occasional Slayer of Vampires (only the ones that sparkle).You can follow her on Twitter, or pick up her best-selling Sci-Fi/Superhero books Vs. Reality and Relapse over at Amazon.com.
Blake previously interviewed YouTube sensation ComicBookGirl19 in She Makes Geek Chic and proved cosplay is on the rise with The 5 Hottest Trends of 2012’s Summer Fan Conventions.