The Location: The Hilton, Birmingham, UK. (I can already hear your pretty little American accents placing undue emphasis on the ‘-ham’ and it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.)
The Event: Starfury L7 – an event for fans of The L Word and, unsurprisingly, the seventh of its kind.
The Guests: Kate Moennig (Shane McCutcheon), Leisha Hailey (Alice Pieszecki) and Mei Melançon (Jamie Chen – yes, I was as underwhelmed by this one as you are but she’s kinda adorbs IRL).
We were originally promised Clementine Ford (Molly), Janina Gavankar (Papi) and Lauren Lee Smith (Lara), but due to “last-minute scheduling conflicts,” we were told upon arrival that we wouldn’t be seeing any of ’em.
Here’s the thing about lesbians: they are very serious about promises.
If you promise a hoard of lesbians six guests and only procure three, bitches are gonna be PISSED. While standing in queues and taking lifts (elevators to you guys, right?), I overheard lots of FEELINGS about this but let’s be real: as long as the ladies got their Shane and Alice fix they’d probably get over it.
The AWOL actors all sent their apologies. Janina Gavankar even sent us a YouTube video of her covering Love Lockdown by Kanye West whilst dressed in bandages. Um…thanks?
Anyhow. The conference.
If you’re unfamiliar with how these things work, I’ll briefly walk you through it:
1) Arrive at Birmingham International Airport from your far-off destination, a little bedraggled and with coffee all down your shirt.
2) Confused and disoriented, follow the slew of converse -wearing, shaven-haired ladies who are striding purposefully in the opposite direction. (Stereotypes are sometimes useful, you guys!)
3) Hop on a mini bus to The Hilton and try to ignore the super awkward silence that’s happening . . . I thought women liked to talk?
5) Drink a bottle of wine.
6) Adorn oneself in a pair of heels and a mini-dress for the Opening Ceremony. I mean it’s not called a “ceremony” for nothing, is it?
7) Arrive at the OPENING CEREMONY and discover yes, it is called a “ceremony” for nothing.
It’s like the Olympics, only it’s in a hotel function room and it smells like stale beer. Being overdressed is a really awkward feeling you guys so at this point you’re probably going to want to buy another drink. Do not buy a drink in that room. £9.95 for a double vodka and coke? If you’re a student like me (I don’t graduate for another 18 hours, get off my back) and you’re used to paying £1.00 for the equivalent, I’d highly recommend going to your room and sneaking some of the good stuff back down in a water bottle. I’m always keeping it classy.
Mr. Sean Harry, the convention organiser extraordinaire, takes the stage and starts waxing poetic about women and “the community” and the “beautiful” actresses. He said “beautiful” a borderline creepy amount – I was creeped – before welcoming said beautiful ladies to the stage.
Mei Melançon was first to say her piece, and boy was her face red! If you were to look up “uncomfortable” in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure her speech would be there. And by speech I mean two lines. I’m paraphrasing but it went a lot like “Hi…erm…nice to see you…bye.” It was cuter than I’ve made it sound and she has a very enjoyable face. Leisha was bubbly and smiley and said she was excited to meet us all. Back atcha, lady. And finally, there was Kate. Oh, Kate. I was never a Shane fan but I think you all know what I mean when I say “hnnnnggg!” Wearing a quirky hat and some skinny jeans, Moennig was the picture of loveliness, all sexy and sultry with her deep, slowly-uttered words. I mean I’d go into more detail about the content of her speech, but I’m superficial.
The Ceremony was followed by a “disco.” Hey Sean, the 1970s called, it wants its word back. The music was pretty standard: Pink, Madonna, current chart hits.
Oh, and Betty.
Yep. That song.
The one that describes “the way that we live.”
I cringed on behalf of you all, don’t worry. Little did I know the FACEPALM! factor of the weekend would only increase from here. Turns out, when lesbians hear that song, they move FAST. It was a stampede for the dance floor and probably 75% of the crowd knew all of the words. I’ve seen it all now, I really have.
The Saturday and Sunday were structured as follows: picture sessions in the morning, guest talks in the afternoon and autograph sessions in the evening (before more raving discos.) Pictures were £15 each per guest, with special rates offered for a combination of guests or for more than one attendee in the picture. I didn’t write these all down because I was hungover from drinking away the aural pain inflicted by Betty. I’m not sure how I feel about the price. It seems pretty expensive on the one hand, but on the other hand it’s a professional photographer, lighting and Kate fucking Moennig and Leisha fucking Hailey, you know? And if you’ve paid £90 for a weekend pass already, £15 is a drop in the ocean. Plus, if Leisha Hailey tells you she likes your outfit, money worries seem super trivial, am I right?
QUESTIONS! YAY! Lesbians have feelings. And feelings breed questions. There were a crap ton of questions asked over the course of the weekend, so for your enjoyment and my own sanity, I’m’a lay it down in the form of a fact file on each guest. Haters to the left.
1) Mei has kissed a girl and she liked it. GASP! Attendees naturally took this statement and ran with it, later tricking her into using female pronouns whilst describing potential partners. Melançon was quick to assure us that she had not just outed herself, however. Make of that what you will.
2) Mei thinks group sex is awkward.
3) Mei has like a billion brothers and sisters.
4) Mei liked playing Jamie because it was interesting to imagine herself as the seducer and contemplate what she’d do in that situation.
5) Mei will not perform the Salt-n-Pepa dance on cue unless accompanied by Leisha Hailey.
6) Mei has an Irish friend named Hayley (I’m grasping for straws because I left my notepad in my room during her session. . . my bad).
7) Mei was welcomed by everyone when she joined the cast, though it was super intimidating because they’re a tight-knit group. They fell out sometimes and they laughed a lot, just like normal people. Cool.
8 ) Mei likes to climb but it bruises her knuckles and that’s just not becoming for a young actress.
9) Mei does not have her own charity and is not Mia Kirshner – this one’s directed at the poor girl that asked her about I Live Here and made everything really awkward for like 5 minutes.
I liked her, she seemed like a cool lady. Thumbs up!
1) Kate Moennig is freaking adorable and definitely not Shane.
2) Kate listens to Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Patti Smith but can also “rap the shit out of Eminem” at Karaoke.
3) If Kate had to spend a day with anyone it would be her Mom (I know, right?) and if she could go anywhere it would be to Tokyo.
4) Kate thinks the finale offered no closure and though she liked the ‘Shenny’ storyline (which was originally Mia Kirshner’s idea and was only brought in after the filming of the ambiguous “you broke my heart” line) she thought Ilene “took that ball and fucking ran with it.” Sounds like standard Ilene Chaiken practice . . .
5) Moennig is currently single but stated she might have found her perfect partner already . . . cryptic!
6) She’s a homey kinda gal and takes pleasure in sweeping her yard, going for hikes and watering the plants.
7) Kate definitely wouldn’t befriend Shane in real life and on the subject of Shane leaving Carmen at the altar she said, “who the fuck does that and doesn’t apologize, then goes off and just lives their life?!” (Our sentiments exactly, am I right?)
8 ) Kate describes Leisha as wildly talented and it was clear, from the whole weekend, that they both have a lot of love for each other.
9) Kate will not act on demand because it “doesn’t work like that” – fair.
10) Despite her heavenly good looks, Kate claims to be “wracked with self-doubt like everyone else.” Really though?
11) It was awkward as fuck to film the first Jenny/Shane kiss and both actors ran in the opposite direction on a number of takes.
12) Kate absolutely does not know who killed Jenny, but it was probably Jenny.
13) You can only date Kate if you show her respect, communicate well, are open and do not bring bullshit. She’s not a one trick pony – she wrote a treatment but sadly doesn’t back up and lost her script.
14) Would she go gay for Shane? “Fuck no!”
1) Leisha wants to see a real dinosaur.
2) Leisha’s favourite place in England is DEFINITELY NOT BLACKPOOL. I hear ya, sister.
3) If she could choose, she’d like to be reincarnated as a straight man.
5) In a potential partner Ms Hailey likes a GSOH and a woman with drive.
6) Leisha will not dance or act on cue.
7) Leisha’s secret fetish is cowboy boots and she likes to watch Sex and The City.
8 ) Her and Nina Garduno have been together for 10 years, are not married and do not want kids. Despite this, she thinks gay parents raise the best children.
9) Her new album (with Uh Huh Her) is like her baby and they’re looking to release it in February.
10) Her funniest memory of The L Word set was in an unaired scene during which she accidentally fell backwards off a bag she was supposed to sit on. Pretty much any scene with Mia Kirshner was unscripted and sometimes they’d get ‘the talk’ from producers for lol-ing too much during filming.
11) If Leisha were to pick her ideal band, from both living and dead musicians, she would not choose Camila Grey. Awkward. She would also not choose Karen O despite Kate’s suggestion.
12) Leisha describes Moennig as “play putty” and a cuddler, who makes great BBQ food and always has good snacks. She also remarked that Kate is good in bed, but “not from experience, you guys. Geez!” Wild!
13) Her partner is a great gift-giver and if she were to choose a different career she’d be a painter and live in France.
14) Leisha definitely didn’t enjoy the big finale and thinks Tasha and Alice might not be together post-season six due to the whole failed false imprisonment spin-off, The Farm.
15) Leisha came out when she was 10 and at camp wearing rainbow suspenders. She fell in love with her bunk leader and was so upset when she saw her kissing a boy that she peed her pants. ADORABLE.
16) If Leisha were to date an L Word character it’d be between Jenny and Bette, but she thinks Jenny might be too freaky. Gee, you think?
AND BREATHE! Are you still with me?
So you’ve had your picture taken with the guests, you’ve listened to their answers and everyone has shared their feelings. What next? Autographs! If you hate queues, I’d skip this. If you’re expecting to regale Kate and Mei with your witty conversation for hours on end, I’d skip this. If you do, however, appreciate that little signature and are prepared to leave your conversation at “Hi, Thanks, Bye” then this is actually kind of fun. I heard a girl fainted though . . . FACEPALM!
My number one feeling about the whole weekend is that, as situations go, it’s pretty awkward. It’s fun and it’s memorable and it’s an eye-opener, but it is SUPER AWKWARD.
The thing is, it’s ok to be into a show. I loved The L Word, pre murder mystery/story-within-a-story, who didn’t? But being around 1000+ women who are even more into it than you are makes it seem, or did to me at least, like a really creepy situation. That being said, I’m still totally ok with doing it again in March when the gorgeous Ms. Jennifer Beals is in attendance. I mean, it’s Jennifer frickin’ Beals. The ticket price is fair for what you get, but with the added extras of photos and food in the exceedingly expensive Hilton, you’re looking at a pretty money-heavy weekend. You’re not going to come out of it with Kate’s number, sorry ladies, but I would definitely recommend it for those of you with an open mind/open wallet. There are tons of single ladies too, so if you’re looking…
And finally, without further ado, a few choice moments to whet your appetite for L8. Honestly, these were just the tip of the iceberg.
Awkward Question of the Weekend Award!
Attendee: Kate, are you gay?
Kate: Your question is so tired man. How about this – I’ll be whatever you want me to be. How’s that?
Awkward Statement of the weekend awards!
1st Place – Attendee (to Leisha Hailey): If I were invisible, I’d watch you undress.
2nd Place – Attendee (to Leisha Hailey): I spoke to Madonna on the radio and she was rude.
(File under “Massive Overshare.”)
3rd Place – Attendee (to Kate and Leisha): I have tortoises named after you both. Kate, you just laid eggs! Oh gosh, I didn’t even mean to tell you that.
(File under “The most I’ve laughed in a long time.” So cute though.)
Awkward T-shirt Slogan Awards!
1st Place – “Yes, your gaydar is working” – as sported by probably the butchest lady I’ve ever seen. I love t-shirt irony.
2nd Place – “I’m a Vagitarian” – this one made me sick in my mouth a bit.
3rd Place – “Shane Lover” – homemade and spotted during a Kate Moennig photoshoot. Awkward turtle!
“Aww” moment of the weekend!
A chick proposed to her chick on the microphone! And the proposed-to chick cried. And Kate and Leisha “aww’d” and congratulated and the whole room melted. Lots of feelings and emotions! No wonder I got my period early.
Convention photos courtesy of Andi Meier at The K Word Dot Net.