Do you remember when you were small and you’d have a sleep over and beg your parents to rent the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer movie on VHS? Do you remember watching it with all your friends and taking turns being Buffy, somersaulting around a room full of sleeping bags pretending to stake vampires? Do you remember feeling like there were definitely vampires lurking in the darkness outside your house, and that you’d be the next lucky girl within whom the spirit of the slayer would be awakened? Do you remember how you felt when Joss Wedon’s TV spin off began? Do you remember having more posters of Sarah Michelle Gellar on your wall than of David Boreanaz?
I do. I remember all these things and I remember everything afterwards. I remember being in high school and taking the bus the morning after Buffy was on TV and talking about it as if it were real, as if Buffy were a real girl we were going to see at school when we arrived. I remember knowing all the words to the songs in Once More With Feeling. I remember crying through the last episode. I remember mum asking me why I was crying, because she was crying too, and my answer was “she’s a normal girl now!” I remember going to university and writing my first year cinema dissertation on Buffy and getting top marks. I remember quoting Buffy in a law essay about women’s rights and being praised by my lecturer. I remember my mum coming into my room one night during uni and asking me if I wanted to go to a Buffy convention with her.
I screwed up my face, “a convention? Really? Isn’t that sort of…” I trailed off. I knew the word I was about to use would describe me perfectly; “geeky” or “nerdy” or “for losers.”
“Well it’s quite expensive,” mum put her hands on her hips, “but I really want to go, and I want you to come with me.”
I sighed and feigned disinterest “sure ma, whatever.”
The weeks leading up to the convention were stressful. I worried about what I was going to wear. I went shopping and bought a new t-shirt that had flowers on it to wear with my jeans and cowboy boots—which, on the day, would turn out to be a massive understatement, considering the Sunnydale cheerleaders, vampires, demons and slayers wandering around the exhibition hall in full garb.
We were dropped off at the front of the shiny conference hall behind Melbourne’s huge waterfront casino and both of us had a moment of hesitation. Mum looked at me with fear in her eyes as several middle aged witches rushed past us giggling. “It’s not too late to turn around you know,” she whispered to me.
I linked my arm in hers. “We’ve come this far,” I said as I led her through the huge glass double doors leading to the convention, “and besides, Buffy definitely wouldn’t bitch out over a pack of witches.”
Inside was a different story. Groups of die hard Buffy fans swarmed around us in elaborate outfits, and our initial skepticism faded into embarrassment—of our own failure to embrace the Buffyverse. Suddenly, we looked self-conscious and out of place. It was almost as though someone had cast a tabula rasa upon us and we forgot that we were actually slayers or vampires, not ordinary civilian folk.
We strolled around the room gawking at merchandise, and I had an overwhelimg desire to buy a wooden stake, a Buffy Barbie and a book of magic spells. Because, you know, you need that kind of practical stuff in your day to day life. As I was perusing the diverse display of Buffy memorabilia, a Sunnydale cheerleader sidled up next to me. She was quite wide, and her hair was graying. Her wrinkled face smiled at me, “first BuffyCon?” she asked. I nodded and she chuckled.
“Cordy!” she called over her shoulder, and very suddenly mum and I were surrounded by a gaggle of cheerleaders. “We’re veterans,” the woman chuckled as mum cooed at her. “Do you have any questions?” the woman looked at us imploringly.
“Yeah,” mum leant forward into the group, rubbing her hands together as a lascivious expression passed across her face, “when do we get to meet James Masters?” We all dissolved into laughter.
With our new friends we eased up, became more comfortable with our awkward appearance. No one cared, really—except our delusional selves. It seemed that most people were just happy to have some newbies in the fold, and everyone was more interested in knowing what our favourite episodes were, if we thought Buffy and Angel might eventually end up together in some future fantasy, and if we were going to come back next year.
As the day progressed—I did frighteningly well at trivia, we met James Marsters, and our list of friends kept growing—mum and I became reluctant to leave. In the car on the way home, we decided we’d definitely be coming back.
The next year, we went to see James Marster’s band, Ghost Of The Robot, the night before BuffyCon. At the convention we met our old friends, the elderly cheerleaders, and had the pleasure of meeting James Marsters again (who remembered us, or at least claimed to remember us, at which point I almost wee’d my pants), Anthony Stewart Head and David Fury (who may or may not have given my mum a very jovial, incredibly innocent compliment, at which point she almost wee’d her pants).
Again, we were sad to leave at the end of the day, and sadder still to hear that BuffyCon wouldn’t be coming back to Australia the following year. I really enjoyed the peeling off of the second skin that came with the convention, and the sheer happiness that energized the room. The most glorious thing about BuffCon (which is the same glorious thing that binds the characters together on the actual show) was the way in which a myriad of people from various walks of life were bought together under a common denominator—namely, an unnaturally fervent love of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and everything associated with the Whedonverse (next week: On Why Firefly Should Come Back).