Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Return Of The Froth: Garth in Detroit For JemCon!

Greetings Frothy Friends! It’s been long overdue, but I’m finally creating a new post for this blog after getting….ahem….slightly obsessed with TV this past year as documented in sister blog TV Garth. But I’m back to share the details of a recent trip to Detroit, MI for the Annual JemCon which is a convention for fans of the Truly Outrageous 80’s cartoon series and doll line! The road trip took place between Friday Sept. 25th and Sunday Sept. 27th, 2009!

We planned the adventure as a group of four (me, Mr. A, Chantal & Marsha.) The first day of the trip, though, it was only me, Mr. A and Chantal. (Marsha would join us via Greyhound the next morning.) So without further ado, this is my Frothy Pop Travelogue!

Friday Sept. 25, 2009!

Here we have Chantal & Mr. A during one of our pit stops near London, Ontario. (I picked up a newspaper, Pat Benatar CD, and saw a DVD of Madonna’s film Swept Away in the clearance bin!)


Entering Windsor and getting closer to our destination!


The impressive Ambassador Bridge!


We crossed the border and headed towards Romulus, MI which is where our hotel (The Metropolitan) and the JemCon were located!


Here we are getting settled into the hotel. Mr. A got into the spirit by wearing his Jem shirt, while Chantal got comfy on the couch!


The first night of the JemCon involved trivia contests using questions related to both the dolls and TV series! To my shock, the special guests were there participating and Mr. A sat next to Patricia Alice Albrecht without even realizing who she was! (She was the speaking voice of Pizzazz on the Jem series, and here she is sandwiched between Chantal and I during a break from the trivia!)


Since we were near Detroit, we figured we should go into town to check out their gay bars and looked up some locations. We went in search of liquor to pre-drink, and found ourselves at the fine establishment below! I was excited to see Hostess snack cakes and fruit pies, but then got the shock of my life when I turned to pay and saw the clerks behind a GIGANTIC sheet of bulletproof glass. Like, imagine throwing your cupcakes, chips and pies onto a glass lazy susan which spins towards the clerks for them to ring the stuff in. You then pay by slipping money under the tiny crack under another bullet proof window. I’d heard the jokes about wearing your bullet proof vest when visiting Detroit, but this was the first time in my life I’d experienced a convenience store with that kind of extreme protection. Everyone seemed to look weary and suspicious of us, and I even worried that saying “thank you” would “out” us as Canadians.


Below is the montage of my “bulletproof” snack purchases! The fruit pies were especially exciting, since they are RARE in Canada. In fact, I didn’t even see them during a trip to Buffalo, NY earlier this year. And orange cupcakes??? Orange ya glad I got to try them?


The first bar we visited was Adam’s Apple. The pic on the right illustrates the delicious beverage we downed in the parking lot before going in! Adam’s Apple was noisy, crowded and had a very mixed clientele, quite unlike the bars in Toronto. The Apple seemed to have a wide cross section of different men and women, while the strains of Beyonce's Halo (Dave Aude Mix) blared over the sound system. (Mr. A scowled, “What is this?” I replied, “It’s Beyonce!” Mr. A’s reply: “That’s why I can’t stand it.” Heh…)

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Hitting the bars becomes a bit more literal in Detroit, as you can tell by the pic below, taken outside of Adam’s Apple.


We left Adam’s Apple fairly quickly, since it was too crowded, but we wanted to grab another pre-drink, so we headed to the Beer-Wine-Lotto store pictured below. At first I thought I saw a guy on his hands and knees throwing up in the parking lot. Upon closer inspection, he was one of the store’s employees checking on a hose that was being fed into the lot’s manhole. (Believe me, I’m not even trying for innuendo with that one.) When we went into the store we asked a larger sized guy in a tank top (again behind bulletproof glass) if they had any liquor. He replied they didn’t, so we thanked him and left. Mr. A & I were walking out first, but Chantal trailed us and got to hear two thugs enlightened young men call us “faggots” apparently not realizing that she was also with us. Upon hearing that, and seeing two more larger sized guys pop up wearing tank tops (or the more politically incorrect “wife beater” shirts) I was feeling like the area was sketchier than an artists’ convention. (My totally judgmental side was all “OMG……we’ve been called fags in a questionable area with Fat Tony and his two brothers holding the fort at Beer-Wine-Lotto!!!”) I suppose you could say I felt a-Lotto fear when we were in this neighbourhood.


We made our way to Diamond Jim’s Saloon, feeling much more eerie about the whole area (Chantal wanted to leave, I was feeling tense, but Mr. A was still feeling adventurous.) Diamond Jim’s Saloon, though, was a welcome atmosphere after our misadventures outside. (I may as well have heard Madonna sing “And I feel, like I just got home and I feeeeeel!”)


We arrived in time to enjoy “Boys, Bears, and Bitches” pictured on the left, while Chantal jokingly wanted to leave in the pic on the right.

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Chantal settled in, though, with a Diet Coke (she was the Designated Diva….er…Driver that night!) Mr. A and I had some kind of delicious purple alcoholic slushies, as well as drunken jello shots! (During one round of jello shots I lit up with excitement hearing the Benny Benassi remix of Madonna’s latest song Celebration.)


Meeting this Diva was like wrapping ourselves in a warm blanket in contrast to the cold homophobia outside! She told us that she would be performing to Cher’s Real Love which is one of my favourite tracks from the Living Proof album!


A nice Detroit sign I captured inside Diamond Jim’s!


Below is the “cast shot” of the awesome folks from Diamond Jim’s.  I can’t stress enough how welcoming they were to us, making us feel totally comfortable and relaxed. They even made a big deal about us being there all the way from Toronto. (They also talked about their experiences coming down for our Gay Pride Parade, and mentioned local bars they’d visited in Toronto.) The drag performances were great to watch, and it was a total blast! (Plus Mr. A & I got to dance around to the Cahill remix of Mariah Carey’s Obsessed, which was cool!)



Saturday Sept. 26, 2009!


The next morning we were up bright and early to pick up Marsha from the Greyhound terminal in downtown Detroit. On our way, I captured the awesome Motor City sign during our car ride.


Marsha and Mr. A!



Me and Marsha!

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I mapped out the location of Detroit’s NBC affiliate WDIV and they were a minute away from the Greyhound terminal, so I insisted on dragging Marsha & Mr. A there with me to take pics! (They are one of the few Detroit stations I’ve received at my home in Markham via antenna! And, as previously mentioned, I’m a bit of a TV freak!) Click here to read about the complete adventure with WDIV (including getting asked to leave their studios) plus other Detroit TV related events at my TV Garth blog!


Later on, back at JemCon in Romulus, they had an amazing dealer’s display with dolls set up to view and peruse! Below is the classic Jem/Jerrica doll, which I had when I was a kid, but then lost or gave away. (Recently I snagged one off of eBay, which was a lucky find!)


I was drawn to the Jem books that were on display, especially the ones below as the art was very reminiscent of 1970s/1980s Wonder Woman.


Marsha noticed a neat Jem “mini” book that told a story about Jerrica getting made over into a Misfit (apparently in order to go “undercover” to get her Jemstar earrings back!)



Undercover trickery worked as Jerrica gets the earrings!


The panels below are hilarious because Mr. A kept pointing out – to Marsha’s chagrin – how badly Kimber gets treated in the Jemverse, as she’s always in Jem’s shadow. It was Marsha who discovered and pointed out the Kimber slighting in the book panels below!

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After touring the Jemorabilia, we were hungry and discovered a wonderful place called simply Beirut Restaurant. While my friends preferred the salads and other healthy options, I gravitated towards the fish and chips. They were great! The chips especially were good, as they were made from fresh potatoes and not over processed like fast food french fries.

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Happily sipping my Diet Coke with Chantal!

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Cheers to Mr. A (as Brandon) and Marsha.


We returned to JemCon in time for the panel discussion with Patricia Alice Albrecht (speaking voice of Pizzazz), Ellen Bernfeld (singing voice of Pizzazz) and Anne Bryant (songwriter for the Jem series)! They all offered great insights into the process of creating the show, and how it was brought to life.


Then came time to get prepared for that evening’s Masquerade, where JemCon attendees dress up in Jem-inspired costumes! I dressed up as Jem herself!

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Pizzazz (played by Chantal) is always trying to harass Jem. I guess her songs are better, or something.


Meet our cast: Jem (Garth), unConventional Kimber (Mr. A), Shana (Marsha) and Pizzazz (Chantal).

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Pizzazz is always trying to take Jem out (and I don’t mean on a date!)

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Shana is not impressed with Pizzazz’s grandstanding!

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Inside at the Masquerade, we met plenty of wonderful folks who were also dressed up as their favourite Jem characters! below is Rock N Curl Jem, along with Stormer and I.


Burlesque perfomer Miss Mitzy Cream did an Outrageous performance as Jem! She first came out in the classic pink outfit and changed into the Glitter And Gold outfit (pictured below) all the while dancing and performing to a medley of Jem tunes! To top it all off, she’s from Toronto!!! Check out the Miss Mitzy Cream website for more about her.


Marsha and I were geeking out over meeting and getting to pose with Anne Bryant and Ellen Bernfeld. (In fact, all of the JemCon special guests were incredibly down to earth and mixed and mingled with fans throughout the whole weekend!)


Miss Mitzy Cream changed from Jem into Minx and brought Riot and Rapture with her to represent the Stingers!


I saw Mr. A (as unConventional Kimber) having fun posing for a pic with Ellen Bernfeld. I love the fun energy of the shot below!


I also snagged a picture with the fabulous Ellen (who was not only the singing voice of Pizzazz, but disco artist Menage and she sang a dance version of Wind Beneath My Wings in the mid-1980s before Bette Midler’s take on it!)


Our divatastic group!


Another group shot, and this time note that unConventional Kimber is wearing a new outfit. (The things she does to stand out from Jem….sigh…)


Below is a montage of just some of the awesome people we met during the trip (there were many more great folks we met who don’t appear here, but trust me they were fab too!) In order of pics are Video (Fairy Dust), Shevona, Deb, Ter and the montage closes with unConventional Kimber in a new wig!

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unConventional Kimber hung out with Patricia Alice Albrecht during the night’s festivities.


After an amazing night of dancing, karaoke-ing, and Jem costume wearing, it was time to say “Show’s over Synergy!”

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Though, the night wouldn’t be complete without me taking a gratuitous picture of our hotel’s TV Channel Guide!


Sunday Sept. 27, 2009!

This was our last day at JemCon, and we attended a few panels before heading out. Mr. A had noticed a fan who was sporting a great Jem tattoo and asked for a pic. We got to chatting and found out she and her Mom were from Cleveland. I had to really hold back from going into a TV Garth rant and start rambling “OMG….I’ve picked up TV stations from Cleveland at my house all the way in Markham, Ontario!!!”

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On our way out of Michigan, we stopped for gas and I picked up newspapers (including a Detroit Free Press with a TV magazine inside!) I picked up USA Today specifically because Mariah Carey was on the front and Mr. A is a HUGE fan. I read the article aloud as we drove, and got a big laugh when I read about Mariah and Elle Magazine teaming up to create a mini “magazine” for her new CD. I added:

When asked about the cross promotion, Mariah said “I thought to myself, What the Elle?”


We had a lot of fun, but were all pretty tire-d after our adventures.


“Ahhhhhhhhh” is what I said when we approached the Windsor border!

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I forgot to add this pic to my TV Garth report about Detroit, but on our way back I caught this pic of CBET’s tower in Windsor (taken spontaneously through the back window as we drove through town.)


We needed to fuel up before the long ride back to Toronto, and McDonald’s was the place for us! (Plus we got to use the coupons that Chantal had brought with her!) Note the Bridge To USA right behind the Golden Arches.


And here we have the last montage! It’s all of us in the car during our drive home!

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Thank you to everyone who made JemCon such an amazing success!!!

Click here to see Mr. A’s full Flickr gallery of pictures!

Click here to see Chantal’s videos and blog posts!

Click here for the official JemCon web site!

This is Garth, signing off, one Frothy Pop Treat at a time!