A First Timers Guide to Fantasm
How to survive with your sanity, liver, and little else, intact
By: Tom Keeling -aka- Moshes With Ferrets of The Bendovaho Tribe
Well, I guess I should start by telling you a little about myself:
I've been attending cons since 1987. Altanta Fantasy Fair 13 to be
exact. After my first con, I was hooked. AFF led to Dragon Con,
which sort of led me to Magnum Opus Con (MOC), which is where Fantasm takes
over. Interspersed in there is a trip or two to Dixie Trek, various and
sundry 1 and 2 day mini-cons, and a couple of treks to Pennsic. I've
been to every Fantasm so far, and plan to go as long as they'll have me.
I'm also a member of the Bendovaho Tribe. You might've heard of us. If
not, ask someone who's been around for a while, or go here:
http://www.bendovaho.org (good Fantasm pics there too).
So, you've decided to go to Fantasm eh? Congratulations! You are about to embark upon 3 (or 4) days of debauchery, mayhem, and madness. Oh yeah, they've got that whole con thing going on as well.
"What is Fantasm?" I hear you ask. Well, Here's a few things Fantasm is:
Fantasm is more fun than should be allowed by law.
Fantasm is a great place to meet freaks and geeks - you know, people much like yourself.
Three words: con. coction. contest.
Fantasm is still a moderately sized con, so it's a good place to get to know people.
Two more words: Party. Battles.
Fantasm is more free booze than a fraternity party at spring break.
All your Iron Bartender are belong to Fantasm
Fantasm is more scantily clad people than you can shake a stick (and other things) at.
Above all though, Fantasm is a good, safe, fun, and relaxing way to spend a weekend.
"What is Fantasm not?" I also hear you say. Well:
Fantasm is not Dragon Con. We love DC, but if you go to Fantasm expecting
a dealers room ths size of Mt. Vesuvius, and just as hard to navigate, you'll
be disappointed. There's a dealers room to be sure, but it's smaller,
and more...focused...shall we say.
Fantasm is not an elaborate excuse to go and party for 3 days. Wait, yes it is, scratch that.
Fantasm is not a 3-day costumed wierdo convention. Oh, wait, it is actually, but the costumes are generally skimpy and/or naughty - Usually both.
Fantasm attendance is not guaranteed to get you laid. This technically is true, but your chances at Fantasm are higher than average. Hell, bring your S.O. - maybe you'll both get some!
So, now that we know what Fantasm is (and isn't, sort of), let's get down to the nuts and bolts, the logistics, the stuff that'll make your trip to, during, and from Fantasm an experience to remember, for all of the right reasons.
1) PLAN AHEAD - This is probably the most important thing you can do. I know it sounds obvious, but believe me, time is flying by faster than you know it. In the blink of an eye, it'll be the morning you're supposed to leave, and you'll be sitting at a sewing machine, or building a prop, or desperately looking for that last costume piece you SWEAR was in the closet just last week...or waiting for a friend to retrieve his toaster, or find his wallet...the list goes on. This little nugget of advice also extends to more long-term things. Get any tattoos or piercings done far enough in advance of the con weekend so everything is healed up. The last thing you want is to have to leave the con due to an infected Prince Albert, or because the sun over your buttcrack is starting to look suspiciously like an angry orange. A trip to the hospital for a partially ripped-out nipple piercing (partially, if accidentally, removed in a fit of passion), is just embarrassing. Heal up before adventuring!
2) For the love of gods folks, get your cars tuned up! At least have it looked at before leaving, ESPECIALLY if you're traveling more than a couple of hours. Nothing can ruin a weekend quicker than a car breaking down on the way to a con.
3) Speaking of cars, if you're traveling with a group that involves more than 1 car, caravan with your fellow travelers. It's safer, more fun, and helps out in case #2 happens. That's piece of advice #2, not doo-doo.
4) Beg, borrow, or steal a cell phone for the trip if you don't own one. Cell phones are also handy while you're at the con, if you need to run out for supplies.
5) Speaking of supplies, if you're planning on having a obscene amount of booze at the con (you ARE planning to, aren't you?), get 'em at your local store. You already know where the stores are in your neighborhood, and that'll save you the trouble of driving all over an unfamiliar city, looking for booze. HOWEVER, for the trip, keep any and all alcohol in the TRUNK of the vehicle. The last thing you need is Barney Fife arresting you for having a backseat full of booze...swords...bondage gear...whips...chains...you see where I'm going. Pack it safely away, then take out the toys when it's time to play.
6) Upon arriving, have your room information organized, and be patient with the hotel staff. You're probably the 437th "wierdo" they've checked in that day, and they're probably sick to death of everyone saying "Dude, where's my room?" Have a little patience, and the staff will be truly appreciative.
7) If you've got 40 people staying in 1 room, chances are you'll run out of towels - fast. Bring your own and reuse them. It's environmentally friendly, and it's only for 2 or 3 showers. If they're too oogy to use by the end of the weekend (the towels, not your roomates), burn 'em.
8) Be considerate of your roomates. Don't fart on their pillows, don't stick your crusty-ass toe in their asthma inhaler, don't smoke unless everyone else smokes, don't get butt-ass naked (without permission!), be quiet when you come in at 3am to hump the person you found in the hallway, puke in the toilet, not the tub that your buddy is sleeping in, and above all, don't snore!! Any one of the above offenses are grounds for swift and heinous retribution by said roomates. Don't say I didn't warn ya.
9) Remember to eat periodically, and keep yourself hydrated. Beer dosen't count. Keep a (large) supply of aspirin onhand for those hangover mornings, and remember, McDonalds food is NOT good when you have a hangover. In fact it's barely good when you're sober, but I digress.
10) Get a little sleep. The last thing you want to do is to fall alseep at the wheel on the way home, and wake up to find yourself in the median along I-20, going 75 miles-per-hour. Trust me on this one.
11) Hotels are pretty lenient about checkout times these days, but better to get out of there by the appointed time, than have to pay for another day. Generally noon is checkout time. If I'm not too smashed, I try to at least pile all of my stuff into one corner (preferrably the corner that contains my bags) so in the morning, it's not a treasure hunt to find my socks, underwear, kilt, boots, new toys, etc. If you're too smashed on Saturday night, disregard this and go into panic mode when you wake up at 11:45 with a monstrous hangover the next morning. Ever try to pack whilst puking up everything you ate and/or drank that weekend? Not fun.
12) Caravaning home is always a good idea. Safer after a long weekend of sleep-depriving yourself too. Make frequent stops, and stop to rest if you need to.
Here's a couple of bits of general wisdom. Discuss amongst yourselves...
When attending a party, it's considered rude to walk in, hork a massive amount of alcohol and split. These folks were nice enough to share the party favors, you should be considerate enough to NOT steal a bunch of it for yourself.
If someone comes up to you who looks like he or she might be an organizer of said party, introduce yourself, hang out and be cool. If you're asked to not do something, it's probably for a good reason, so don't do it.
Show a little respect to the folks who've been doing this for a while. The Jonestown Crew, The Dead Pirates, The Bendovaho Tribe - we all know how to and how not to throw a party. We throw those parties because it's what we like to do. Come, party, have a good time, be cool, and everyone will get along famously.
Here's an important bit: if a con organizer tells you to not do something, or asks you to do something, comply fully with their wishes. Nobody can bring your weekend to a screeching halt faster than a con guru.
Above all, have a good time. Be smart, but have FUN, because that's what it's all about. Not the hokey pokey.
Now, just because I've authored this little nugget of wisdom, dosen't mean I haven't broken each and every one of these rules, most of them several times. I'm hoping that this will help you out, that you will learn from my mistakes, miscues, and general boneheaded moves. I've been seeing people post a lot of "What should I do" or "What's it all about" type questions online lately, so I thought I'd toss my 2 cents into the pool of knowledge. Take it for what you will. I also hope you enjoyed reading this. I wanted it to be informative, as well as entertaining. I hope I've succeeded, at least to a degree. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you in April!