1. That was awesome. Far more awesome than I expected.
2. My only disappointment was that I didn’t get Jose Conseco’s autograph on my polearm.
We had no idea what to expect. I was convinced that good bad or ugly, this was going to be a memorable experience. Even if it went poorly, I knew I would have an awesome time, in part due to the sheer incredibility of the very existence of the LARP Awards. When I saw who we'd be traveling with, I had no doubts it would be a blast. From Avendale we had John Hauff, Sean (the cook) Stewart, Steve Bock, Fred Watson, Rebecca King, Damien and Trish Buchwald. From other NERO Chapters we had Matt Pearson and Kat from Volta, Steve Wees and Wendy Belalo, and my good buddy Noah Mason. I’m probably leaving some people out.
The days before the LARP awards were filled with dread. I think we were all pretty nervous. Even at the last minute we were still fretting over whether we'd be taken seriously, whether the show would go horribly wrong, whether this was all just some absurd joke at our expense. Personally, I was excited. But then again, I would LOVE to be the next Star-Wars kid. Being the butt of a huge internet joke has always been a dream of mine, and it seemed like it might almost come true this weekend.
There were several groups other than NERO represented at the awards. The other LARPers were tres cool. We met some really fun people from Trumph in Ohio, Bicolline in Quebec, and a ton of people from UCLA's Enigma. There were people from Belegarth, and Dragonsbane (Sweden). We also hung out with our old friend Auri, from Conquest of Mythodea (Germany). I think I'm missing one or two other LARPs (sorry, guys!). We were also joined by the 501st, a group of storm troopers, and a group of Roman Legion actors, who do stuff for the History channel.
On Friday, the NERO crew trekked out to a radio station to meet the band Zolar X. While the band members were playing on the radio (and plugging the LARPies), we hung out with their documentary crew, who were very excited about the whole thing. The radio station was fairly uneventful, but we got our first taste of Zolar X's music and were hooked. For those of you that aren't in-the-know, Zolar X was a glam-rock band from the late 70s. They split up for a bit and recently got back together. According to them, they're a bunch of space elves from Plutonia who are visiting Earth. Google them and check out their awesome outfits and gear.
[As a side nerdy tangent - The members of Zolar X can speak in Plutonian, a language apparently spoken on their home planet. Having written something like four fake languages, so I had to pick their brains about this. My current project, Ancient Brisbanian, currently has a dictionary of 1,200 words, something which took me several months to create. The Plutonian language has about 5,000 words. And the lead singer speaks it pretty well!]
So on Saturday we had some interviews with the production staff. It was relatively slow - the quiet before the storm. Saturday Night's preshow party at Club Avalon was /packed/. Every rumor you've heard about the hotness of California girls is true. The club's terrace overlooked the city, a totally stunning view. After a few overpriced drinks, I danced and went crazy.
Sunday, the day of the awards, was jam-packed. We helped with some of the setup for the show, but spent most of our time hanging out near the theater in costume. TV crews meandered about to interview us and try to figure out what was going on. The general attitude from the public and media was very accepting - Honestly, if a bunch of people in period costumes were to hang out on a city street corner, LA is probably one of the few places they'd fit in. We weren't the only people in costume, people dressed up as Thor and Jack Sparrow blended in with our crowd seamlessly.
Sunday was also the debut of LARP Magazine, with which I was pleasantly surprised. The 28-page magazine is printed in full color. I have two articles in it: It's All About Being There is my take on the Live Action Lifestyle. My second Article is an interview with Rob Ciccolini, who talks about the LARP industry, shares some great anecdotes, and has a number of great LARP tips for novices and veterans alike. But anyway, the LARPies---
When the Red-Carpet walk started, my brain shorted out. The show was about half an hour late in starting, so the staff was scrambling to get stuff underway. Jose Conseco, Debbie Gibson, a number of hot blonde girls I couldn't name if I tried, all posed for photos in front of the LARP awards posters.
There were probably 20 media people there, snapping photos and playing along. As we waited, I spied on people who were waiting on line to get in. One guy was talking on his cell phone - "Honey, something very strange is happening down here. No, I can't explain, just come down here now." Meanwhile, a guy from Quebec in garb was posing for photos with an effervescent model. "I love LARPing!" she said, smiling for the cameras.
It was at that moment that I realized I was on another plane. Worlds were colliding. Something very surreal and hysterical was going on. Our admittedly fringe hobby was being taken seriously. Our credibility was rising.
The red-carpet walk was cut short so they could get the show underway. To our chagrin, many of the LARPers were shuffled through with little media attention. The paparazzi was there to photograph the celebrities, not us, so I didn't find it too surprising. Still though, a few of us did get to see the cameras from the other side.
The show started with a stand-up comedian in an Emperor Palpatine costume. Jedi with glowing lightsabers, led by Obi-Wan, escorted him off the stage. Then, the Battle. LARPers filled the floor, sword fighting back and forth with exaggerated swings and flourish, putting a show for our audience. Zolar X rocked out and everyone cheered.
The host of the show, the beautiful Bobby-Sue Luther, flat-out rocked. She kept everyone's energy really high, and infused everything with an aura of excitement. The first award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, went to the Grandfather of LARPing, Ford Ivey. Ford accepted the award with grace and style, ruminating on the early days of the game, and how it’s changed.
I’ll admit, there were a couple of snags and disappointments, all minor. Adrian Brody had already agreed to be at some other show in some other city, so he didn't actually make it. GWAR, the Trashy Lingerie Girls, and the Kung-Fu-Femmes were sadly absent as well. Even without them, the award show seemed quite full. I stood close to the stage and cheered my ass off (or more accurately, cheered my throat out). One of the UCLA kids, who was dressed in grocery-bag armor, jumped onto the stage and tried to accept an award, but was quickly removed. Some of the winner-envelopes were empty and the winners had to be hand-delivered. My hat goes off to the very well-organized, very patient, and very cool Mitch Meconi, one of the producers from the NERO side. All in all, the show went very well. Far better than I had dreaded.
After the show, we were beat, beat, beaten. I skipped the after show party, had dinner at the IHOP near the hotel, and pretty much went to bed.
So in the end, we did quite well. We got some celebrities to lend us their credibility. We got media attention. More people have now heard of LARPing and perhaps accept it as a mainstream hobby. NERO made some friends. The LARP community got a bit closer. We made enormous progress for our industry and set goals for next year’s award show.
End Evaluation: Success