August: Conventions, Musicians, Burlesque, and Renfest Begins!

August was one convention and event filled month which managed to keep me so busy I couldn’t write about it until now! The first weekend of the month was the Broads by the Bayside burlesque show, followed by Shore Leave in Hunt Valley. Though the entire MAIM crew was not involved in the burlesque show, there were a few familiar faces. I met a few new awesome girls and had a blast doing the show. We didn’t do many photos, but we got this one little group picture before the show started.

Burlesque Group Shot

The next day it was on to Shore Leave. After my Star Trek burlesque show with a bunch of the ladies from MAIM and the people of TrekOff, I decided to check it out. Of course, I had poorly planned my little jaunt—because it was a last minute decision. All I knew was I was going to go check it out, see some friends, and more than likely buy some stuff.

Oh yeah, I also planned to be dressed as Deanna Troi while doing all of this because, hey, why not?

Please accept my cruddy cell phone picture in my apartment in lieu of professional photos. I hope I'll get that cosplay shot done one of these days.....

Please accept my cruddy cell phone picture in my apartment in lieu of professional photos. I hope I’ll get that cosplay shot done one of these days…..

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any of the celebrity guest panels because the con was sold out of day passes. Why was the con sold out of day passes, you ask? Simple….

William Shatner.

Though it would have been nerdily cool to go to Shatner’s panel and meet him, it was not in the cards for me. I did, however, have some close encounters of the nerdiest kind with a few other guests. The actor who played Data in Next Generation actually passed right by me when I was outside with a friend and we exchanged hellos, which was pretty cool. Amanda Tapping from SG-1 fame also walked right past me in the hall. I had not even realized until after one of my friends started geeking out that it was her.

I typically don’t get that excited about actors and actresses and am oblivious to guests at conventions for the most part. It was cool to be so close to people I had always just seen on TV but I came to realize I just don’t get as excited as most people seem to.

Since, as I was saying, the con was essentially sold out, I couldn’t go to any panels or signings. But this wasn’t a big loss to me. I enjoyed going just for the people watching and to check out all the cool stuff for sale.

My favorite discovery of the day was Ishta Arts, and with good reason. Check out this gorgeous piece I got from them:

Compass Necklace

Gorgeous. I think I will be investing in more of her pieces.

My cosplay got a lot of compliments from people. Unfortunately, I still have yet to do a proper shoot as Deanna Troi, but hopefully one day soon it will happen…..one day…..

The following weekend was the one of my annual must-go-to events, Otakon. This year’s Otakon was the 20th anniversary, so banners were all over the convention center.

Otakon Banner. Photo by Kelley Nymph

Otakon Banner. Photo by Kelley Nymph

It’s pretty amazing how big Otakon has become. It started as a small convention in a hotel in Pennsylvania, and grew to the largest fan run convention in the USA, and is definitely one of the most popular cons on the East Coast. I’ve gone every year since 1999, the year it debuted at the Baltimore Convention Center. The only year I missed the con was when I was in Japan in 2009. Growing up I always saved all year long for Otakon. It was the highlight of my year, and not much has changed in that regard. Otakon is certainly the highlight of my summer every year.

I always make big plans for cosplay each year…..unfortunately I also tend to procrastinate each year, so my Friday cosplay was very last minute and randomly thrown together. I usually try to stick mainly to anime characters if I’m going to cosplay at Otakon but I broke my own rules this year and did a Game of Thrones cosplay; rather A Song of Ice and Fire cosplay, since this character has never really been on the HBO series.

The character? Lyanna Stark.

For those of you who have not read the books—first of all you should, because they are incredible—Lyanna is a character who is mentioned frequently, but she has been long dead by the beginning of the first book (Game of Thrones) so we never actually meet her character. Even so, I love how she is described. She seemed like a strong woman who fought for what she believed in and loved deeply. As I have been reading the books I’ve really grown to admire her character. I also touched upon some elements brought up in the story which lead me to a plot theory which is pretty accepted by the internet community. (Warning, spoilers if you click here to see what I am referencing!)

Since her character has never really been portrayed in the show, this was a cosplay I could take a lot of liberties with, but I also had a feeling that no one would recognize the role I was portraying. In the fan art I found online, I saw Lyanna was depicted wearing blue typically, and the fondness she had for the blue winter roses often showed up in various depictions of the character. Playing on this, I made a hairpiece of blue roses and wore a blue renaissance like dress. For the most part, no one realized who I was.

My last minute Lyanna Stark

My last minute Lyanna Stark

But then….

I happened to see a whole group of cosplayers as different GOT characters. I actually talked to one for a moment who was dressed as Yigrette. She pointed out that I looked a lot like Lyanna and I admitted that I was actually cosplaying her, but no one had actually recognized me. She was thrilled and ran to go get the rest of the crew (which included a Jon Snow cosplayer) for photos. It started out just as something for us, and it became a huge event within moments of us all lining up. It was probably the highlight of my Friday at the con.

Epic Random GOT meeting was epic.

Epic Random GOT meeting was epic.

One of the cool things I stumbled upon this year was a small “Otakon Museum” set up in the Hilton with mementos from all of the past conventions. By Sunday I even ended up meeting the man who had loaned the display to Otakon, so that was pretty interesting.

A look back where it all began....

A look back where it all began….

Saturday of Otakon I had decided to do my own take on Hell Girl, once again. I opted to do the kimono this year, having done the school girl uniform in the past. I couldn’t begin to tackle creating the kimono she wears in the anime, so I used a real second hand kimono I bought a few years back from a Japanese woman. It actually looked similar enough to the point where I feel the general idea was easy to see. Besides that, I had the hair, red eyes, and the straw doll so I was pretty recognizable.

I decided—for the first time ever in all my visits to Otakon—get my photos done at the Photo Suite. I got some pretty decent shots, and was pleased with the overall experience. The only awkward thing was one of the people in the photo suite asked me to smile……If you’ve ever seen the anime; you know that is just something that doesn’t really happen. My favorite has to be this one, hands down:

Photo by the wonderful people at the Otakon Photo Suite.

Photo by the wonderful people at the Otakon Photo Suite.

I left the con early that night. For one thing, I was dying to take off the superlong wig after wearing it for so many hours in the heat, and the other reason for my early departure was Voltaire was making a special appearance at Club Orpheus that night,

Why, I couldn’t miss that.

I brought along a copy of What is Goth, a humorous look at the subculture written by Voltaire many years ago. I wanted to get it signed and I succeeded in my mission. Apparently this book has been out of print for several years, according to the man who wrote it. He was very surprised to see it.

Voltaire is such an awesome guy, I have been a fan for years and it was so awesome to have the pleasure of seeing him perform in such an intimate venue and to be able to chat with him before and after the show. He’s a lot of fun and constantly joking, which any fan of his music would pretty much expect.

Me and Voltaire! So awesome!!!

Me and Voltaire! So awesome!!!

Sunday of Otakon is always a lot more relaxed. I didn’t even cosplay on Sunday; I just went in regular clothes and hung out with friends. I was very happy to have had some time to hang out with my good friend and fellow cosplayer Christine. We went to college together and did study abroad at the same school in Japan. Christine has actually been teaching English in Japan since we graduated, but she always takes a few weeks around Otakon to come home and visit us and go to the con, of course.

The last day of the con is generally a toned down sort of day, but that’s okay. I spent a lot of time with great friends– some I don’t get to see very often. We also got our water in these awesome glasses when I went to lunch, and felt tempted to run away with them….for obvious reasons.

These are worth paying the iron price.

These are worth paying the iron price.

After the con was over I hear the sad news that Otakon will apparently be moving to DC by 2017. Sad but true, you can read more on the news here, and the statement straight from the con here.

I am personally not pleased with the idea of the move, though I completely understand the reasons for it. Though I know Otakon wasn’t always in Baltimore, it has spent most of its “life” there and brought so much to the city every year. Some people say that it’s a relief that the convention is moving away from “such a dangerous area” but I can’t help but raise my eyebrow at those people. I feel like people who fear the InnerHarbor in Baltimore have never truly been to a city. Yes, there are bad parts of Baltimore. Yes, there is crime in the city. Yes, there are homeless people, beggars, bums, drugs, vermin, and all sorts of bad things.

And guess what—these things exist in EVERY CITY.

DC, where Otakon is set to move to, is really no better. To be honest, DC is worse when it comes to crime. Perhaps it is just the fact that I know the area, but I have never felt in immediate danger at Otakon while it has been held in Baltimore. I have never felt threatened, either. I have felt annoyed with how some of the Convention Center staff has behaved and the ridiculous way they block off certain doors for no apparent reason….

But crime? Fear of bodily harm?

Never.

Luckily we still have a few years left…I plan to make the most of them.

Though there were lots of other awesome things going on, I actually had to quickly began packing and prepping for my move to my new house after Otakon was over. But I made enough time to go to the opening weekend of the Maryland Renfest–as usual. I like this outfit so much I think I may have to use it in a shoot one day… 🙂

Kelley Nymph at MD Renfest opening day 2013

Since I have a season pass, if you come to the Maryland Renaissance Festival this year, you’ll probably see me.

Since I finally got to share all of this with you, I feel a well deserved nap is in order! Good night everyone, and stay tuned for more!

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