Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Viva Las Vegas!

I just got back from Las Vegas yesterday and this past weekend was probably one of the most life changing ones I have had since Ladyfest Glasgow in 2001, I spent that weekend with my good friend Holly. 11 years later we decided to hot foot away again, granted this time was a lot further, but oh my god, it was good.

Here follows the edited version (if I talk about it too much it wont stop) and if you want the full version, just ask me!

The time we went mental in the desert!

I had my first official shift at Lush then had to run to the train station to get a train to London. I arrived around midnight and headed to Holly's flat we go to bed thinking we are actually gonnna sleep, as if!
Our flight is early but it went without a hitch. Holly tells me she is going to get drunk on the plane, I tell her I don't drink on planes. But my headset doesn't work and I just bought some headphones but can't watch any films so get offered a cocktail as compensation (Americans call any drink that is a spirit with a mixer a cocktail!!) I add cranapple to it so it IS a cocktail! It slightly makes up for not being able to watch MIBIII. I get drunk dead quick, but soon sober up. Holly ate beef stew, I had some pasta pesto tomato thing. We both got this weird chick pea thing and a brownie, we got extra brownie as some people didn't eat theirs!

We play a trivia quiz (that was made for Anglophiles) and decided that making a Paul Rudd zine is the best idea we have ever had!
Then on to the next flight which is the killer! Smaller plane, no food, no screen and as we have been travelling back in time, our eyes have had like 20 hours of daylight, argh!! thank god for that super tasty smoothie I had at Charlotte or I would have been dead.

We get to Vegas and realise our hotel is so close to the airport it's stupid. We walk to McDonalds for what feels like forever, it's soooo hot, the desert is like a flame, I'm wearing entirely black and the streets smell like shit.
We are staying at Hard Rock Hotel, as that's where the con is. this place is crazy. The view from our room is so good, our beds are so comfy and the shower is so big, so I get in it then go to bed. I feel like a star!

We wake up early and laze in our comfy bed, we still don't know what signings we got in for! The pool isn't open yet so no poolside breakfast, head to Mr Lucky's which is a diner in the hotel. Get seated in a booth and have pancakes and OJ for breakfast, living the dream!
We set off for the strip, we're both wearing cardigans, because we're British then realise after 20 seconds outside we're in the desert and it's freakin' hot so off they come. We walk to the strip without actually knowing where we are going, feels like it takes forever and we are walking on the non shady side of the street!

We eventually make it to the strip through a mall. I'm beginning to learn that everywhere that's inside in Vegas has air con and moody lighting and a slot machine! The strip is as a mental as everyone says. Everything is huge, the pavements (side walks!) are so clean, like a movie set. The whole place screams money, it's grand and gross, and tacky but not in the cheap way we love but in a bad 80s way. It's hard to remember that it is essentially a row of hotels!
We get our photo taken with some Elvis' on the street.

Buy some tat in the first shop we see and complain about the lack of tat shops. Eat a snack in the kinda shade, tat shop some more and die from the heat. Then we realise we can get a bus downtown so we do that.
We see soo many good sites, but decided to stay on til the end (mostly because I want to go past the stop Freemont Street and 4th so I can sing that PATD lyric!).
HOLY FUCK downtown is where it's at. East Freemont is the Vegas we imagined! cheap and tacky, like a great seaside town with added glitz and glam and signs, so many GOOD signs!

Tat shop some more, go and play some slots (we don't understand it at all!) whilst Holly eats deep fried Oreos. We wander but have to get back on the bus as we are too hot.

We have a couple of stop offs on the way back. Check out Stratosphere. A hotel that is sooooo big that you can jump off it for fun and has a ride on the top, as if! Look at some chapels, see a couple leaving one, cute. Stop off at Bonanza 'World's biggest gift shop'!!!
Back on the bus and stop off at Circus Circus hotel just to take pictures. This is possibly the best place ever!
It has a casino in it sure, but also an old school arcade. We also caught a show. in the middle of the casino they have a stage for circus acts, we saw some trapeze and a lady doing silks, all for free!

Then we carried on walking through a mall and there's a wedding chapel and then a freakin' mini theme park in the back, Adventuredome, with rides and a big ass roller coaster in it! We get there 15 minutes before closing so no time to ride, but Holy shit, best ever!
We reluctantly leave to check out the other hotel's, all the rich fancy ones, with designer shops (we saw art, well the window display in Louis Vuitton that's in conjunction with Yayoi Kusama), big statues, indoor autumnal gardens! (we later learnt we missed the hotel with dolphins inside, mental!).

We drag our feet some more to check out more of the strip. New York New York is a hotel of the New York skyline with a roller coaster round it (too tired to go on it) and Excalibur, a hotel that looks like a fucked up Disney castle.

We decide to head back as our minds are blown and we have blisters!
Lying on our comfy cloud beds we realise we need to eat so drag ourselves off. There is a hardcore gig going on in the venue in our hotel. We think this is mad! I gig of this nature inside a big ass comedy rock hotel. There's lots of punks and scene guys and gals walking round smoking indoors, this freaks our minds and we are walking away when I stop dead in my tracks and say, 'Oh my god it's Mikey Way'. Yeah Mikey Way just walks past to go to the toilet. we're in shock, so that's how this weekend is gonna go.
We go to eat. I'm too tired and excited to eat anything proper so eat a super salty soup and Holly has the largest portion of snack buffalo wings I've ever seen!
back to bed as the con starts tomorrow!!

Due to the fact that we have blisters and are tired and registration for the con starts at 3 means we decide to just go to the Kiss place and hang around the hotel. We have a lazy morning watching E! and head down for a late breakfast. No booth today, get seated by the edge of the casino. I don't think I can face the pancakes again so opt for a boring bagel. I'm spreading on my cream cheese when I look up and see someone strolling through the casino looking lost when I realise who it is. I say to Holly 'Oh my god it's Gerard Way'! He's waiting for someone, next thing you know him, James Dewees, Frank Quitely, Grant Morrison and more are having breakfast a few tables away from us! It's then that I realise this is probably going to be the most mental thing I have ever done!

We compose ourselves before heading out to Kiss golf. This is literally across the road from our hotel and we feel we have to go there for our friend Nickie (who has a Kiss lip tattoo). This place is AMAZING, even for non Kiss fans, so much stuff in the museum (this place is tiny but jam packed) and a gift shop and a wedding chapel, yes a Kiss wedding chapel. We have the best cherry Slushy ever before going to play glow in the dark (UV!) mini golf. The guy running the place is so sweet and keeps giving us free tokens. Then a Gene Simmons-a-like appears and tells us he is officiating a wedding in 10 minutes and it's open to the public, do we want to come watch! HELL YES!

so we stop mid golf to go to a wedding in the Hotter Than Hell chapel, as you do. It turns out the couple are from the UK and renewing their vows. The bride walks down the aisle to I was made for loving you! The ceremony was Kiss themed with the bride being asked if she vows to keep loving her groom as long as Kiss have merchandise (ie forever!). best thing ever!

We carry on with our golf then go and get some rum for the party later!
On our way back we see Grant Morrison being filmed getting in a sports car, we look confused then realise we are pulling confused faces on a camera that is filming Chantel Claret outside the hotel. Then we pass Mikey again in the corridor (this starts to get silly). get to our room to realise we have been locked out. Go and get new key cards, pass Mikey again (stop stalking us dude!) on the beer run.

Then we go to sign up for Morrisoncon!!! get our freebies and get excited!

We relax watching The Kardashians on E! before heading out for pizza. See Mikey AGAIN! take our full stomachs back to our room, get changed and crunked on rum from those red cups they have at every party!

I'd like to point out now I never went to the pool because from Friday onwards it was a non stop pool party and it looked full of idiots!

We get to the venue early cuz we're geeks like that! IT'S TINY!!!it looked big on pictures. but it's small. we get a really expensive beer and sit and wait. A lady called Anita joins us (she turns out to be one rad sweet lady!). It's still quite empty. I go to the toilet, come back and it's busy and everyone is stood by the stage. so we get up. It's starting at 9.

9 comes and goes, still no performance yet! But it's OK someone is Djing top tunes, Elastica, Le tigre ( we dance and a guy sings along to Elastica with us. We later learn he is called Justin and he too is ace!).
It's like 10.15 before Grant, Gerard and James Dewees grace the stage!

Then they are on. James and Gerard behind two keyboards and laptops. Grant with sheets of paper. then there's like 45 minutes of spoken (Glaswegian!!!!) word!! I was trying to follow it as best I could, but my mind was being pretty much blown by that point! It involved apocalypse, superheros, and Las Vegas and lots of Scottish shouting!!
It ends and I think everyone just kinda looks like 'what just happened there' WELCOME TO MORRISONCON!! WELCOME TO LAS FUCKING VEGAS!

What was that. Oh wait and here comes Mikey Way, just shifting some monitors, Mikey the roadie!We wander round and try to gather ourselves, have a sit down when The blow comes on, I bloody love this song (Parentheses) so I run to the dance floor and do that classic Seleena thing, dance on my own whilst everyone watches. Holly joins me and I say I have to go find the DJ. We find the DJ and gush at him (we expected drug music this weekend you see!) turns out he is called Ron and one of the organisers. We love Ron!

Akira the Don comes on stage. After a minute we say he isn't Gene Defcon, he isn't Andrew WK  (and he's British!) so we are not bothered and go back upstairs for a drink. I think I'm drunk as I talk about feelings and shit to Holly for over an hour, we go back to the club and it's almost empty, can't dance the drink off, have to go to bed drunx!

IT'S REX MANNING DAY! we get up early, I feel like shit, a combination of lack of sleep, hangover, dodgy stomach, excitement and nerves!

We head to the convention hall to get a good seat. We see Anita and she joins us in the hall. Get a seat a few rows from the front.
We get the Morrisoncon welcome from Ron, James and Kirsten (the organisers) these guys rule, James has so much pep it is completely infectious, and not in an annoying way.

The first panel I think was a sort of introductory. Grant came on stage and wasn't really sure how this was going to pan out (theme of the weekend!) he spoke about the future, his work and more and brought on some other guests. Darick Robertson (who had literally just woken up I think!) Frank Quitely and Chris Burnham. They spoke briefly about their upcoming work and spoke about Grant and Darick's latest work, Happy! (my information about the panels might be a bit wrong as I am writing this after and I listened to a lot over the weekend!)

This was followed up by the writers panel, with Grant, Robert Kirkman, Jonathon Hickman, Jason Aaron and J.H. Williams III. It was interesting to hear how everyone worked, but I got more excited by the artists panel that followed. With J.H, Frank, Darick, Chris and Jim Lee. We got to hear about their influences, but the best bit was when they all drew. Under a projector so we got to see it live in action and everybodies style varied so much, it was super interesting. like how J.H doesn't even pencil and Jim Lee draws at lightening speed!

It's a lunch break then, but we want to keep our seats/ get better ones so stay in the hall. We score front row next to a lovely lady, Sigourney, all the way from New Zealand! To keep our seats we go out in shifts. Anita comes in saying she just met Gerard in the hall. Holly goes out. I say I'm staying there, trying to play it cool. She comes back having her photo taken with Gerard, he commented on her Bikini Kill shirt. She made me go out and get a photo. I said something stupid like 'looking forward to the panel'.

We went to the little cafe for a snack. Didn't realise Gerard was behind us with Akira. Deciding what we want when Gerard and Akira order their drinks. When Gerard turns round and asks did they cut in line and apologises! I gave him fake shit eye and tell him it's OK (he doesn't have to apologise for the lack of manners Brits have to us!!) Holly tells him we're just being indecisive, I say I'm thinking about whether or not to eat a banana, he says he was thinking that too. I tell him I had one this morning but it was pretty bad. He gets his coffee and a polite admiration from the guy that served him and off he goes. He didn't buy a banana though, he must have taken my advice!

We sit ourselves back down ready for the Music panel. There has been a last minute addition of Akira the Don as moderator, and he kinda ruins it for me, I didn't come halfway across the world to watch a drunken British guy make sexist douche remarks on stage, but everyone else loved him so it could just be Holly and I!

The other guests were great though. Gerard, Grant, Darick, J.H and Jimmy Urine, who was funny as fuck! Highlights of this panel were the discussion of their first gigs, Gerard announcing mid panel he apologises for not shaving that day, which lead to a lot of beard talk, what the future of music will be (apparently listening to plane crashes set to one beat of music!), Grants Poly Styrene impression, and Gerard's answer to Akira's question 'we all got into comics and music to put our things in a warm wet hole am I right'. His answer was something along the lines of ; did you see me at the start of the band, I was so far removed from sex, that was the point. Also when someone asked about Phonogram and it seemed only the question asker (who later that night got in our lift and was telling someone how could they not know!), Akira, myself and Holly knew what it was. The only time we cheered at Akira is when he said Kenickie!

We then made our way for the signing. We had been told it would be intimate and we thought yeah right. I joked with Holly that we might be sat at a table with whoever we were having a signing with. That turned out to be true. They had only allowed an hour for signings, yet I think Gerard and the others signed for at least three hours!!! we got given numbers, I was #39 which meant I had to watch 38 people in front of me have 5-15 minute conversations with Gerard Way. Grant and Frank were also signing in the same room, it was mental just watching  them chat with everyone!
This obviously meant we missed the next three panels, but I didn't care and the last one with everyone in it was cancelled as everyone was signing away!
Anita went before me then my time came (I'm a fan girl and I don't care!).
I was walking over and shook his hand then he started pointing at my arm and saying that's badass. I was all what, he was all your tattoo. I was all confused thinking did he mean my awesome Sunny Buick colourful piece or my first ever shitty one (that I love by the way!) he must have noticed my confusion and said the Prom Queen tattoo. I started to tell him how it was my first tattoo I got when I was 18 and just scrawled prom Queen on a piece of paper with a marker and said tattoo this. Fun fact; Gerard likes shit tattoos!!

Then we sat down and the only speech I had prepared was to thank him for his art and give him some shit I made. So i did that, saying thanks for inspiring me , this probably isn't a fair trade. He was looking at the postcard I gave him saying it was awesome, I started to explain that I can't draw so those aren't comics but a bunch of zines, he was all cool. And that there was something I made for Lindsey as I love her art too. Then he started looking at a patch I made of a Prisoner badge. I was telling him I hand embroidered it and it was iron on. He said it was sick! SICK, who even says that aside from northern teenagers!?! he got up to put it with his pile of other stuff, I said oh you've got quite a collection there!
I didn't know what to say next so I gave him Apocalypse Suite to sign, saying I only brought one thing as I was packing light, he asked how to spell my name. Then I think I just told him he should read Phonogram and tried to explain what it was about but wasn't making much sense but that it has loads of Britpop references and therefore he'll probably like it. I dunno what happened then but I think we both stood up. He asked if I wanted a photo, but I was thinking you must want to say something else and you totally want another photo on your own camera, but instead I just said 'nah yr alright, I got one earlier don't wanna make yo do it again' he looked at me confused. perhaps it was the 'nah yr alright', I said I'm OK, he then asked was there anything I want to ask him, to which I replied I don't think so, I'm really rubbish at this sort of stuff. he said he would be around all evening and tomorrow if I thought of something to ask him. Then we hugged and I kicked myself. I obviously thought of a million things to ask him after. Felt like I was only talking for a minute, but Holly said it was at least five!
An attendee with ace hair asked if I was dancing tonight and that I dance well and that she would have some badass shoes on later.
I left Holly to it and found Anita, who was telling me what she got signed and how he liked her backpack and how she got Mikey to sign her comic with his story in (this happened some time earlier and Mikey seemed well chuffed about that!).

Holly was done, we left Anita in the line for the Jim Lee signing and went to discuss what was said in our room. Holly said she thanked him* She asked him was his first concert really Bruce Springsteen and that she loves Bruce. he said really, she pointed at her Bruce tattoo and said Holy Shit, then he noticed she had a zine with her and said is that a zine (she was still thinking about to give it him or not) and that 'your friend gave me some zines, so you guys make zines'. He put that with his pile of stuff and she was talking about him being a modern day hero and her old heroes and liking riot grrrl and he said 'like L7'! he also liked her Batman watch. She got another photo and a hug * this may not be in the right order and completely correct as it didn't happen to me!

We came back down to hang with Anita. She got all her stuff signed then said she was taking us to dinner! We dropped of our stuff and headed to Hard Rock Cafe. We got our waitress, who introduced herself as Big Deb. She was awesome, like a real life John Waters character (wish we had taken a photo of her!). She told us a story about the time her son brought lots of his college friends to stay '14 hot college boys in their pants walking round my house, oh yeah. I went to bed and started throwing rocks at my husband saying YOU SUCK!'. Anita said we deserve cocktails after today. So we all got one and got the souvenir glasses (which means we get to take our glasses home!). We get a starter and a main AND a dessert that tastes like Reeses Cups. Just want to say onion straws are better than onion rings. Anita blows Holly's mind with tales of seeing Bruce in the early days. Anita is the best. We head back full. Anita to her room to catch up on her sports. us to get ready for a party!

Holly thinks about the day whilst I shower and try not to feel as full. We have a quick drink then take the rest of our rum down in a bottle of coke.
We get to the club and Akira is Djing, he's playing random shitty songs and he's playing them really badly. We just hang around. We see Justin and have the best chat and he tells us he likes The Need and we decide he is super awesome!
We get bored so head over to the other venue to see if the Chantel Claret gig is free. It is but it's also almost over. There's doo woop and synchronised dance moves, I'm enjoying it. But she gets slightly upstaged by a lady in the audience who has THEE BEST dance moves. Throwing herself on her knees, lunges, all the best stuff. Lindsey Way sees this too and tries to dance with her, but this lady dances solo. when the gig is over she goes over to her friends, gets her backpack and leaves. Pure Class! We head back to the Morrisoncon night. But I'm so full by this point I have to lay on a sofa.
we go back in, and eventually dance to something, some Joan Jett, oh then he cuts the song midway, what, a girl next to us says, worst DJ ever!
A lady comes on and does a turn (or two)- Holly's words! the first one involves her eating glass, the second involves stapling dollar bills to herself!
We notice 'The Ways' are here. Gerard is chatting to some fans, Lindsey is having a picture with some fans, I think Mikey might be chatting to Jim Lee. So anyway we decided we want to chat to Lindsey so we do! We just say hey we love your work, she asks our names and shakes our hands, she says she's called Lindsey, Holly says yeah we know and she laughs. We talk about her band, her art, how she needs to form a band with Jessicka Addams. Mikey comes over at some point, says something to her the disappears. She says she needs to sit down. We hover not sure if that means we can sit down too. We chat some more, tells us about making a roast for the Morrisons because they're British. Sigourney joins us we chat some more, she is sooooo lovely. Chantel and Jimmy arrive and we get up to leave, this is their friend time now. I stand up but Chantel says she likes my dress is it Jeremy Scott, I say ' I wish' she then says is it Topshop, i say yes and she gets excited about LA getting a Topshop! I tell her it was in the sale and really cheap! I say we caught the end of her show and it was great but that lady dancing in the crowd was something else! We thank Lindsey for taking time to talk with us and leave.
I don't think we dance much for the rest of the night. I danced to Snoop Dogg Gin and Juice, we chatted with a guy who made a Grant Morrison documentary, he was nice. We left at two and went to bed.

What a long but awesome day!

We got up early on the Sunday for a promise of free breakfast. There was a hangover sketch jam with Chris Burnham. We went down stairs and got free breakfast. I had two cups of tea (chai and earl grey, they don't have normal tea!) some fruit and some pastries and we watch as Chris draws request for people in their program. Request go from drunk Batman, to Wolverine doing blow off a hookers ass (he drew a male ass, he said you never specified if it was male or female) to Wonder Woman stripping to which he instantly replied with a NO. Feminist Burnham, he is ace.

The next panel is a Q&A with Grant where attendees ask him anything. I learnt he uses Gillette 3 razor to shave his head and once shat himself on a plane journey whilst high and didn't even realise! I love anyone with a shitting themselves story. We get some more of Grant's amazing bad impressions (his Alan Moore the previous day was class).
We stuck around for some of the next panel, but it was a comic makers workshop essentially and we don't make comics and were real hungry so went to eat. We gave Anita our Grant signing as she didn't get in and we didn't say anything last time we met him.
we made it back for the next panel. Insider info on the comics business, with Jonathan Hickman and James and Ron the organisers. It was worth it just to hear James bad/good advice about breaking into comics 'Just be nice!' to which Jonathan replied, no be good at what you do!

James stayed on stage for the next one along with Kirsten to discuss some of J.H Williams III's artwork. His art is soooooo good and he is sooooo nice and this was a wonder to see. My favourite part was when he was discussing a sex scene he drew (between two gay women) and how he approached it to make it meaningful and how a gay women told him she bought the comic went to the car, saw that page and cried as it was a great represnetation! Kirsten had tears in her eyes. So good.

Holly and I got excited for the next one as it was some Scot on Scot action as Frank Quitely and Grant looked at some of Franks sketchbooks. There were lots of Bum Heeds, which are what they seem, people with bums for heads and faces on their torsos! and an image that disturbed Grant and Frank can't remember drawing, two people each with a giant arm and some other stuff! Grant also got heated up about the internet in this panel he got proper Scottish. And did a Simon Cowell impression.

The next and last panel was the Invisbles one and all bout the impending apocalypse. It was just Grant and Akira (again!) I was a bit restless at this point, partly him mostly my back. I went and stood up at the back for a bit where I remember Grant saying  (after someone tried to call him a god possibly earlier) that we all die, if he died tomorrow someone would take his place and that we're just here to carry it on, do what we can, all do our little piece. YES!!!
I'm not sure what the final words were, but next thing you know everyone was on stage saying thanks and goodbye.

Next thing I know they are dismantling the room. sad times. We see Gerard again, Anita says we should all have another photo with him. She tells him we just made friends here and we want another picture memory! We thank him and walk Anita out as she has to go and get her plane.

When we come back we decided we should meet Grant again. We get our books signed, have a photo, he asks where we are flying back too. We ask him did he enjoy the weekend. Holly says she has so many feelings, he says that's what it's about. I tell him she's going to cry now and he gives her a reassuring hug.

We catch Frank in the hallway and get him to sign our books and get a photo too. We wander around say bye to our new found friends. Head back to our room and breath! Head down for corn dogs. Go back start to pack but get restless to decide to spend the last of our dollars at the shop outside. As we go down the corridor we see a bunch of people. Grant and his wife Kristen, Possibly Frank and his wife, Akira, Lindsey and Gerard and more. We get emotional, don't think we will be seeing those sights in a corridor anytime soon!
We spend our money and head to bed.

Up early Monday morning. flight to catch. taxi driver says we dress like the Sex Pistols is that how we dress in England?!? Try to process the weekend on the first flight. Get Chicken and biscuits in Charlotte. Get EMO on the next flight. This time Holly's headphone jack is broken, US Airways, do you hate us? she is offered a free drink but doesn't take it. I watch The Avengers, Holly watches it in unison but without sound. We try to sleep. Get a meal of chicken and rice. it isn't great. But we're just sad to be leaving. Tuesday morning we're back in the UK. We're not passing Mikey Way in the corridor. I'm at home. all the cars are small and there isn't a giant guitar on my roof, the only one sat near me at breakfast is my pet cat.
Take me back to Vegas!

All the photos are Holly's if my photos come out I might do a mini photo blog!

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