JemCon 2007: Showtime in Chicago
(from the memory of Liz Pemberton)
2007 was a huge milestone in lots of ways. We acquired www.jemcon.org, and webmistress and artist Tara O’Shea created the JemCon star logo. The convention was held in late September, instead of June/July. It officially ran from Friday night to Sunday mid-afternoon, with scheduled activities. It introduced Jem karaoke. It began doll t-shirts. It began the charity auction. And it was the first JemCon for a whole host of people, including future JemCon coordinators Kett, Shevona, Sean, and Stefan and Rob – so far!
Chicago is only about 8 hours’ drive from Minneapolis, so I was able to drive! (Yes, I know, this makes no sense to all you Easterners, but we do this kind of thing in the Midwest.) I could also have taken one of the hourly commuter flights, but there was a very good reason not to: I was bringing two 30-gallon totes of things to display, plus my luggage, and a lamp, and of course air fare was more expensive than gas and time missed at work.
So on my way out of town, I stopped at the post office to pick up a package. It was Jem stuff, of course. I then drove to a cheap motel in a far suburb to save money for Thursday night. A bunch of people were hanging out in lawn chairs in the parking lot, drinking. I ordered pizza and watched TV. I also got to open up my Jem package, which my Swiss cheese brain is telling me both did and did not contain my Craig Phillips Superstar doll and portions of Lightnin’ Strikes and Music In the Air, like some kind of Schrodinger’s Jem Box. Whatever was in it, it was awesome! (After checking my inventory, the answer is: it was pieces of Lightnin’ Strikes and most of Let’s Rock This Town, with some dark hot pink glasses that were included as LRTT but which looked like Music In the Air to me, though this may have been something with the European distribution. This package came from Stefan, whom I was about to meet for the first time! Further research shows I got Craig in August of 2007 - from Jonas, I believe – so I was still all excited about him. I think I had him in his box and put the new fashion pieces in the box with him, hence the weird memories.)
On Friday, I went to what at the time were my two favorite places in the world, and which still rank in the top 5: the Field Museum of Natural History and the Shedd Aquarium. I drove in and parked somewhere; this was the last time I did that, or will do that, because it then took nearly 3 hours to get out of the city and to the JemCon hotel, having left at 2:00 PM. Traffic was at a complete standstill. I was able to turn off the ignition and read. I have since gone into the city using the elevated trains, and it’s the only way to go. So I was late in getting set up, which was a big deal, because the other new thing that year was the attempt to display the full produced Jem line. I had recruited Shevona, who brought all the rare and expensive things I didn’t have, most notably the second-year fashions and playsets, including all of the 2nd Flips, and Ally Lewis, who loaned individual pieces to finish some of my dolls and the Video Madness sets, and Kimmy Turkel, who loaned me shoes from Runnin’ Like the Wind and We Can Change It for my shoeboxes. I was late, but they were not, and we got everything set up, and it was awesome.
(By the way, when I walked into the hotel lobby to check in, Shevona greeted me by name, which freaked me out a little, as we didn’t have Facebook and see pictures of everybody every day back then.)
We had a catered mixer, and I sat at the same table as our special guest, Christy Marx. She was wearing a bracelet (necklace?) that featured an ammonite fossil. I seem to recall that we discussed Illinois’ state fossil, Tullimonstrum, or the Tully Monster, which I had photographed earlier at the Field Museum.
This year, I roomed with Ric. We had a fun reunion and talked and talked, and he showed me his auction donation, which was a gorgeous doll in Rock Country.
On Saturday, I taught four doll classes. This was insane. They were: Doll ID (differences in dolls based on their factory origins in Hong Kong vs. China vs. “No Location”); “12 Shades of Pink” about shoe identification; “Collector’s Corner” focusing on Darci, Maxie, and Barbie and the Rockers; and “One Jem Too Many” about knockoffs. Doll ID (“bodygeeking”) was me in a room full of nude dolls, referring to their anatomy in a creepy yet clinical way. Shoe Identification involved the lamp, which was an Ott Lamp and gives full-spectrum light for optimum viewing of different colors, such as 85 different pink shoes. It also introduced my then-novel “discovery” of the “Euro” mold, vs. both standard Jem molds and the 2nd-year Flipside shoes. The Collector’s Corner and One Jem Too Many classes involved both heavy-duty displaying and discussion of how these dolls and knockoff lines related to Jem and how their stuff could be used for Jem. I enjoyed all four classes, but man, was that too much work.
Kett and I also did a roundtable discussion called JemCon 2008 & Beyond, which was what it sounds like. (I have no specific memory of this, but it’s on the schedule. By that time I was pretty fried, obviously.)
Here’s as good a place as any to mention that I am extremely shy. I can be in charge of stuff, or teach a class, and be very assertive and all of that as long as there is actually something to be doing, and I am a performer [degrees in theater and music, professional singer,] but I have absolutely no people skills and get overwhelmed very easily in large groups – even when I’m not exhausted or stressed out.
In between, I sat at the display table. I did a lot of pre-work on the display for the Video Madness sets. I had bought two old Precious Moments figurine displays from a Hallmark store clearance sale, and finally had a use for them – after spray-painting the sickly pink black, and outlining the platform edges in colored metallic markers. I spent a while arranging the pieces at home, and my cats helped. This display was the public debut of MC Rio, who had an actual function (see photo.)
I had also built a Plexiglas cabinet…sort of. I still have the hardware pieces that didn’t make it on there. I did get the pieces cut, and I taped them together, and the 2nd year Flipsides got some protection. Now I’m wondering where I put those pieces of Plexiglas… [Update: when I was forced out of my home of 12 years in the fall of 2016, I found them in a closet.] Eventually it was time for the charity auction. I have the spreadsheets for every auction, because I volunteered to be the secretary. The items I remember being very popular were a custom doll-sized “JemCon” jacket in lime green satin, made by JemGirl, and bought by Steve for Will, and an awesome set of sweater and kilt outfits for Jerrica, Rio, Kimber, Shana, Aja, and Raya made by Carole Jane’s mother, bought by me. I could go wild with the loot in those days…
After the auction it was time to go get dressed for the karaoke and disco. I made a Limp Lizards dress out of dark green crushed velour, based on this: Mine was considerably longer, and had an added shoulder drape to hide my giant arms. My hair was not this long and not this red, but I was still trying to hide my gray then, so it was on the reddish side of brown. Mostly, I sat in a corner with Ric (JemBoy) and Brian (Riot4Jem) and Luis, talking and watching everything going on. There is a photo in the JemCon 2007 gallery showing me in this dress. It’s pretty horrid. Karaoke was extremely enthusiastic, and what I remember best was that Jansen obtained a very skimpy multicolored wig/headband thing and did an amazing dance to “It’s Only Me and the Music,” thus becoming Dancin’ Jansen.
Christy – originally from the Chicago area - did two great guest panels, and surprised us all by bringing in her brother, Eric Raymond! She also donated a signed Jem Bible and some signed scripts to the auction.
At the very end of Sunday, Clash had us stand in a circle and hold hands to form an electrical circuit, which lit up a cute Valentine heart that beat like a heartbeat. It was very sweet. The schedule says we ended Sunday with a pizza party. I’m sure I was there; the degree to which I was conscious or forming memories is much more questionable…luckily, the JemCon 2007 Gallery on this very website has a lot of photos to tell the rest of the tale. No shots of the pizza party, but you’ve all seen a pizza party.
2nd Onstage and Mexican Dolls
Cosplay Featuring JemGirlie
2007 creata rock star outfits
JemCon 2007 2nd Flips
JemCon 2007 2nd Flips
Liz at Display
MTV Jacket Craig Phillips SuperStar JemCon 2005 Fashion
Music Is Magic and Roadster
Onstage and Rios
Original Outfit Dolls
Field Museum Smiley Coelacanth
Shedd Aquarium Octopus Lobby Lamp
Shedd Aquarium With View of Lake Michigan
Shedd Aquarium Young Giant Pacific Octopus
Check out more pics from JemCon 2007 in the Photo Gallery