This past weekend, Aaron and I took a break from birthday party planning for a few hours and traveled to Charleston, WV to check out the 7th annual ShockaCon! ShockaCon is West Virginia's very own Horror/Sci-Fi convention. Created by Mike Winland (he did our Krampus photos!), this yearly convention brings in a variety of awesome things for the horror enthusiast to see and do. Celebrity guests, performances, speakers, workshops, demonstrations, and many, many vendors are just a sampling of the really cool perks included in the 3-day event.
My family and I had attended the very first ShockaCon, held at The Mound in South Charleston. We had a great time, and when the convention grew to the point where it had to be moved to the Beni Kedem Temple in Charleston, we always tried to go. Unfortunately, we never made it; September is an especially busy month for us. Pt. Pleasant's Mothman Festival, The ScareFest in Lexington, and my son's birthday all fall around the same time as ShockaCon. This year, however, we got lucky! ScareFest and the Mothman Festival were scheduled for the SAME weekend this year and my son had his party on a Sunday. Since we had to miss ScareFest to attend the Mothman Festival and Luke's party was on Sunday, that left us with both a free Saturday AND a horror con void left by the poor timing of ScareFest.
|WV Cryptids and Strange Encounters|
I had met Les O'dell of WV C.A.S.E. back in April at the world premier of Small Town Monsters' movie, The Flatwoods Monster: A Legacy of Fear, and had been following the group's Facebook page for some time. He and his son collect reports of paranormal activity, UFOs, and most importantly, cryptozoological creatures from the Mountain State. The WV C.A.S.E. Facebook page is full of interesting information and stories, so I was really pleased to get the opportunity to hear more.
Their talk did not disappoint---it was an interesting peek into what got them started in this field, their own personal experiences and theories, and plenty of case studies highlighting WV's weird and wonderful creature lore. Les and his son were informative and entertaining.The talk was well-attended and the audience was eager to share their own experiences and get more information. Hopefully, the success of the paranormal aspects of the con will lead to MORE paranormal guests/speakers/events in the future.
Anyway, after WV C.A.S.E. was done presenting, our original plan had been to stay in the lecture room to hear a talk on vampires in cinema. I missed the announcement as to what happened, but that talk was replaced with a special effects makeup demonstration. I appreciate the artistry and the hard work involved in special effects makeup, but lack the patience to ever attempt it on my own. So, we took the next hour to relax in the cafe area with a drink and a snack. We sat on a comfy couch and were entertained by a game show going on at the nearby stage, and also by all the kick-ass costumes we saw walking by us. We had an hour to kill because there was only one more event that we had planned to see while there: Jyoti Amge.
For anyone not familiar with who Jyoti is...she is a 24 year old woman from India who holds the Guinness Book World Record for Smallest Living Female. She is most well-known for playing the part of Ma Petite on Season 4 of American Horror Story: Freak Show.
Aaron and I had seen Jyoti at ScareFest a few years back, but she was on a panel with the other 'freaks' from AHS Freak Show. Therefore, getting to see and hear her just by herself was a real treat. We weren't the only ones who felt that way---Jyoti drew a standing room only sized crowd, and I think its safe to say that not one person in that auditorium was disappointed.
Jyoti is such a beautiful person, both inside and out. Obviously, she's absolutely adorable...she looks like a little living doll, and like many young women, she enjoys fashion, makeup, and having her hair done. She's also a little charmer. She has such a sweet, innocent disposition to her, and when she gets the giggles, which she often does, you can't help but smile. She also has somewhat of a mischievous side and likes to pull pranks and be silly She had a wonderful rapport with her manager, who was hilarious in his own right, and with her interpreter, who was the epitome of beauty and elegance herself. The moderator did a fantastic job keeping the talk going until audience members gained the courage to approach the mike and ask their own questions.
|Jyoti said this was her favorite scene on AHS!|
It's easy to see Jyoti as very child-like. Like I said, she physically looks like a little doll and she's just so positive and upbeat with an infectious giggle that can melt just about anyone's heart...but she has a very serious side. She's currently working on a Master's Degree program in English and among other projects, has a very serious film role coming up. Most importantly...she is a serious social activist! All the money earned from her convention appearances goes back to India to aid victims of violence and sexual assault. Wow. I mean this sincerely: I don't think its possible to be in the same room as Jyoti and not feel inspired, hopeful and in a 100% better mood than when you started.
After Jyoti's talk, we had things to finish up for my son's birthday party the next day, so we did one more lap around the vendors' area and grabbed a few small souvenirs. There really were some beautiful pieces of art and creative crafts being offered in addition to other horror/sci-fi themed merchandise, and we walked away with a Pokemon bath bomb and some pins.
Overall, I was happy with the convention! The two things that had drawn me to this year's festivities (WV C.A.S.E. and Jyoti) turned out wonderful and it was fun to see all the costumes. The collection of Hearses out front was an added bonus, and of course, it's always cool to see the WV Ghostbusters Division and their giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Sadly, there was an announcement on the ShockaCon Facebook page today. Con creator Mike Winland will not be planning a ShockaCon 2019.
I hope that ShockaCon will return in the next few years, but I understand that it takes an enormous amount of time, energy and resources to put on an event of this magnitude and that Winland has some other projects he'd like to devote more time to. I am, glad, however, that I had the opportunity to attend both the first ShockaCon ever...and what hopefully WON'T be the last.
*We only spent a few hours at the convention on Saturday, so this blog is just a glimpse into what my boyfriend and I did while at ShockaCon. However, I wanted to note that there was absolutely so much more to this event than what I've covered here. Please check out the links below for a more complete picture of all that was offered.*