JemCon 2006: Outrageous in Orlando
(from the memory of Liz Pemberton)
JemCon 2006 was sponsored by Wasabi Anime, an Orlando anime club to which JemCon 2006 coordinator Kristian Allen belonged. Kristian was working on the Universal Orlando “Fear Factor Live” shows at the time.
JemCon 2006 hit the ground running very soon after JemCon 2005, with its own website as an offshoot of the Wasabi Anime site. The 2005 site was essentially just a registration and information page, rather than the all-purpose community page that jemcon.org became in 2007, and it also had “2005” in the URL, so we chose to let it go away. Jemandfriends.org was still around, and even though it was a separate entity, not officially involved with JemCon, that was where most of the conversation and community stuff took place.
I arranged to room with Karina Magalong, who had been the publicity coordinator for JemCon 2005, but had been unable to attend the event. I flew to Orlando late in the evening on Thursday, and had to take a multi-hotel shuttle from the airport. We dropped people off at the big Disney hotels, and then some other big, fancy hotels, and the driver tried to drop me off at one of them until I confirmed the full name and address, at which he was kind of taken aback. But I got to the correct hotel anyway, around 10:30 at night. It was on the main drag of Orlando, amidst fast food and souvenir shops. It had sort of a safari theme, I believe – big stylized giraffe statues amid the ‘80’s-style palm fronds. It was also under construction, with ripped-up hallways and a lot of the public spaces cordoned off, so JemCon got a big discount and we got big guest room discounts, which was how we were able to afford to be in Orlando itself, rather than a distant suburb. (For the record, distant suburbs are also awesome. You do what you need to do to have the best event you can!)
One thing to know to really set the stage for JemCon 2006 was that it was held in late June. In Florida. If you’ve never been to Florida in late June, imagine how the air on your face feels as you sit in a hot tub. Or imagine a greenhouse in full sunlight while the watering system is switched on, with all the windows sealed tight. Being outside was like walking through jello. You will see pictures of me just looking hideous, wearing camisoles and baring my arms, which you will never, ever see again, because it was so very humid and hot.
The reason JemCon 2006 was held in Florida in June was that, again, it made it much more affordable, because people much prefer the milder, less humid temperatures in the winter, and prices go to premium rates then. In summer, things are relatively cheap. It was also following the lead set by JemCon 2005, held in July and winning the “less yucky” climate prize only by virtue of being 10 degrees cooler…at 96 Fahrenheit.
Anyway, on Friday, Karina and I and Ric Conlon hung out during the day, helping here and there. Kimmy Turkel conferred with me about the fashion, which was still only a prototype. She wanted advice on how to construct the side cutouts. I kind of punted, since it was already Friday, and suggested using white felt diamonds to mimic cutouts, so she went with that. Then in the evening we went to the Hard Rock Café at Universal Orlando. There were about a dozen of us, including special guests Samantha Newark and Patricia Alice Albrecht, and it was Samantha’s birthday!
Something that I noted in passing then was that we were seated under a case that contained five wild late 90’s shirts. Further inspection revealed that they belonged to Orlando hometown heroes *NSYNC. This is a much bigger deal for me now, in 2016, than it was then, although the shirts themselves are hideous in any age. Sadly, I only managed to catch a corner of that case in a photo. Other Florida stars featured included Maroon 5. Everyone was excited, and I was just over the moon to get to be AT JemCon, instead of running it. Also, the nachos were surprisingly good.
Speaking of which, before discussing Saturday in detail, I want to say that I had a LOT of fun at JemCon 2006. Like, amazing amounts of fun. This has been true at every single JemCon, with a few side incidents that were less fun at a few JemCons, but which were also largely stupid personal stuff and not related to the convention per se. I think it would be weird and unfair for me to declare a favorite/”best” JemCon. They have all been awesome for their own unique reasons. Every JemCon is my favorite.
If anything, I do have a least favorite, and it was my own, in 2005, but only because I was so busy and stressed that I couldn’t relax and enjoy it, or even be there for all of it – what I was there for and did experience was wonderful. Anyway, that last bit is relevant to what I’m about to say, which is that because I was not running it and could relax and hang out and attend it, in contrast to what had immediately come before it, JemCon 2006 was sort of, kind of, unofficially my “Most Relaxed and Fun” JemCon. Put that on a plaque!
So, that said, Saturday had vendors and displays and classes/panels, all in a big room with a classroom off to the side. The vendors were Austin and his friend Tanya, who had a huge selection of Jem stuff and other dolls and toys; and Kimmy and Jem, who had collaborated to do clothes and repaints/re-roots for all sorts of custom dolls, many of them made from Barbies.
Austin and I had been trading/selling stuff back and forth online, and we got along really well. He went to Walgreen’s and bought fans for their booth and for my table, and a giant calculator, and at the end of the convention, he gave them to me. How I fit 2 fans in my luggage I will never know – maybe carry-on limits weren’t in place yet? Anyway, those fans became my office desk fan and kitchen fan, respectively, and both conked out in quick succession circa 2014. (They were replaced by the clip-on fan I bought for college in 1987, still going strong.) RIP, cheap drugstore JemCon fans.
I bought over $150 of stuff from Austin without denting his inventory. He attended my knockoff class, soaked up the knowledge, and then completely ignored my plea to the attendees not to outbid me on eBay auctions about a week after JemCon. (This was back in the old days when you could see who was bidding, and we all knew each others’ eBay IDs, and oh the fights on jemandfriends.org about outbidding and sniping and “How could you do this to me, you knew I wanted…”) He then sold me most of the lot. My best student!
I displayed all of my Jettas, plus dolls dressed in several of my favorite knockoffs. I also opened my JemCon 2005 fashion and displayed it for the first time. I had done a shoe class in 2005 and I did one again in 2006, featuring my newly-assembled shoe comparison boxes, which I also displayed on my table for drive-by ID’s and ooohing and aahing. I also brought my New Wave waterbed for display. I taught a class on knockoffs, with lots of stuff displayed. I covered the big 3 (Totsy, Creata, and LA Gear) plus a summary of Maxie, Bionic Woman and Dusty shoes, and My Scene Barbie sunglasses, which fit Jem very well and are kind of awesome. There was also a square mold that substituted for 2nd year Flipside glasses nicely. I got a little more orthodox in my Jem line displays circa 2007-2008 and removed all the My Scene glasses from my Jems; I may have to get those out again…
Kristian and some other people brought Jem dolls and playsets to display, including Aja displayed in the Mego Cher “Dragon Lady” dress, which I just loved, and which inspired me to seek out my own Mego Cher fashions, all of which I’ve put on Darci (and “Electric Feathers,” without the actual feathers part, on Jetta.) There was a long panel with Samantha and Patricia, which was recorded and broadcast on Jeff’s KJEM Radio podcast. It may still be online somewhere. It was wonderful – and has continued to be, at each successive JemCon with each new guest – to see them re-unite.
We also had a lot of cosplay going on, with some really great work, shown in my photos.
Before the dancing, we all watched the final episode of Jem, which neither Samantha nor Patricia had seen. Then we essentially took turns dancing on the teeny little stage.
My memory is stubbornly refusing to tell me what happened Sunday, official JemCon-wise. I think we had some morning classes and panels and a closing ceremony around noon, but I couldn’t give you any details. Karina left to go home. Later that afternoon, Ric and I played Florida tourists and went souvenir shopping, up and down the strip, and from the moving car I took bad pictures of various things that caught my eye, including the statue of an anglerfish that served to advertise a restaurant (Salt Island Chophouse and Wave Bar, which Google tells me, tragically, is CLOSED.) We also went to Skull Kingdom, which was a haunted house, and which struck me as very cheap, but maybe that’s just how haunted houses look, what with the main theme being decrepitude and death and stuff. There are walkthrough videos online, so you can see for yourself if it was cheap. Google tells me that it closed 5 months later, so we made it just in time, apparently. Either that or we were jinxing things…OK, Universal and the Hard Rock Café therein are still open.
I had set aside Monday to go to Sea World or whatever other marine-themed things I could find around Orlando, but I was so tired that I didn’t. What a wimp! Old Lady Me would have soldiered on for the precious life experience – or at least “Making half what I did in those halcyon economic days” Me would have soldiered on so as not to waste the money spent on the extra hotel day. I said goodbye to Ric, and then spent the day in bed, watching “Mad Fin Shark Fishing,” which was a catch-and-release tournament, as well as a brand-new show I’d never heard of, called “The World’s Deadliest Catch.” “This sort of thing will never catch on!” I said to myself.
The landmarks of JemCon 2006 were: being held at a hotel, having special guests, having professionally printed badges, and the prevalence of cosplay. It also did the inestimably huge task of keeping JemCon going and shoring up the foundations started by 2005. Many thanks to Kristian and the whole staff!
JemCon 2006 Custom Fashion Prototype
JemCon 2006 Custom Dolls
JemCon 2006 Liz's Shoebox
JemCon 2006 Display Case
JemCon 2006 Displays
JemCon 2006 Playset
JemCon 2006 Liz's Knockoff Class
JemCon 2006 Liz Posing at her Knockoff Class
JemCon 2006 CosPlay
More JemCon 2006 CosPlay
JemCon 2006 CosPlay (Aja and Kimber)
JemCon 2006 Dance Floor
JemCon 2006 Special Guests Patricia and Sam
JemCon 2006 Patricia as Pizzazz
JemCon 2006 Pizzazz Plays Guitar
JemCon 2006 Pizzazz Sings
JemCon 2006 Group Shot
JemCon 2006 Attendees Richard Liz and Karina
JemCon 2006 Attendees Liz Gina and Richard
Check out more pics from JemCon 2016 in the Photo Gallery