Cosplay and Cocktails for a Cause: The Thrilling Heroics of WhedonCon 2017

Updated: May 24, 2019

Can you believe it’s been almost six months since we partied the weekend away at the Warner Center Marriott last May? We at WhedonCon headquarters thought it might be nice to take a moment to re-live WhedonCon 2017 in all its glory. So, whether you're an attendee eager to recall your greatest moments of the Con or someone who missed out and wants to hear all about our adventures, this is the place for you. WhedonCon is a convention run by the fans for the fans all while raising money for charity. WhedonCon 2017’s benefitting charities included the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center, a nonprofit youth center that provides after school and summer programs (in honor of the late Ron Glass), Newborns in Need, which provides essential baby items to families at local shelters, and My Friend’s Place, an organization dedicated to assisting and inspiring homeless youth to build self-sufficient lives.

On May 19th, hordes of Scoobies, Browncoats, Avengers, and Vampires descended upon the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, California, needin’ some Whedon. The opening ceremonies kicked our Friday off with a bang with announcements from the WhedonCon committee and a few surprise appearances from our celebrity guests. Vendors stocked their shelves and hung their banners, selling an unrivaled combination of Whedonverse toys, buttons, candles, props, stickers, and homemade snacks and crafts that you simply can't find anywhere else.

Despite the hustle and bustle of the Sunnydale Mall vendor’s hall, attendees found time to take in some programming. While some fans sat down to consult Gentleman, Gnarl, Turok-Han, Prince of Lies, and all-around monster expert in Acting Through the Latex with Camden Toy, others immersed in the ‘verse with back-to-back Firefly lineup Become a Big Damn Hero and Speculation on Season 2 of Firefly. The crown jewel of Friday’s panels was Behind the Stunts with stunt coordinator Jeff Pruitt and his wife, Buffy double Sophia Crawford. The talented couple took questions from the audience about the integral roles they played in shaping the first four seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer before screening a highlights reel of Pruitt’s personal behind-the-scenes footage, much to the fans’ delight. The full hour and a half of dailies including bloopers, jokes, and plenty of Joss-isms was available for viewing later in the weekend.

The weekend schedule was packed not only with panels and screenings but also with private meet-and-greets and photo opportunities with our Whedonverse celebrities. Fans who purchased meet-and-greets had the privilege of sitting down with the actor, writer, or artist of their choice to play a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity for an hour. As Friday’s programming wound down, the cast of Manhattan Beach-based store The Comic Bug gave an encore performance of their reading of Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman script, with Wonder Woman cosplayer Jennifer Wagner reprising her role. Next up was Uke Box Heroes, the unstoppable musical team of Dollhouse’s Miracle Laurie and husband Christopher May (who once spent a very memorable afternoon at the Magic Box trying to purchase a Slug-scented candle).

Evening Programming kicked off with the Wolfram & Hart Company Cocktail Party, a private event for fans who enjoy drink tickets and one-on-one time with WhedonCon talent, including Sam Anderson from Angel and Lost, Camden Toy from Buffy and Angel, Georges Jeanty from the Buffy and Firefly stories published by Dark Horse Comics, and Gigi Edgley from Farscape. Fans relished the opportunity to connect with our talented guests in this intimate setting, munching on hors d’oeuvres and sipping on cocktails, no photo table to divide them or camera calling for a pose.

After the cocktail party, the night reached new levels of (tasteful) raunchiness with the debut of “Across the Whedonverse,” a Whedon-centric adults-only “nerdlesque” burlesque put on by the talented ladies of Lusty Kitten Productions, a self-described "body positive, sex positive, gender positive, and queer positive organization." After the Burlesque, fans donned their flowered dresses and tight pants for the Big Damn Shindig, a Firefly-themed party hosted by the unfathomably talented team at Damn Good Shindig with prizes provided by WhedonCon sponsor Loot Crate.

Saturday morning started strong with a deep-dive Q & A with dynamic duo Emmy Award-Winning writer/producer and 2017 Guest of Honor David Fury and four-time Emmy Nominee writer/producer Tim Minear, moderated by Angel’s Mark Lutz. Next up was the Ladies of Whedon panel, featuring powerhouse triumvirate Dollhouse’s Miracle Laurie, Buffy’s Robia LaMorte Scott, and Buffy’s Dagney Kerr. The Whedon Comics panel compared, contrasted, and explored the canonical comic continuations of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly with author Christos Gage and artist Georges Jeanty. Fans able to tear themselves away caught glimpses of the fair, faithful, and fabulous Los Angeles chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence roaming the halls in all their splendor. Later that evening, the drag queen performance troupe hosted a trivia contest and read aloud from adults-only Whedonverse fanfiction.

Other programming highlights from Saturday included a Q & A with Buffy’s Nicholas Brendon, a Q & A with Xena creator Steven L. Sears, Special Effects vs. Digital Effects with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. VFX Supervisor Mark Kolpack and Serenity digital artist Geoffrey Mark, and the Music of the Whedonverse with Buffy and Angel composer George Sarah. In the early evening, The Movie Guys performed their clever and captivating Superhero Roast and Saturday’s full day of Cosplaying activities concluded with a series of character development workshops.

Saturday evening brought us the Women of Whedon cocktail party, which gave ticketholding attendees a chance to bump elbows with Robia LaMorte Scott, Miracle Laurie, Gigi Edgley, and Dagney Kerr over hors d’oeuvres and drinks. The night took a turn for the fantastic with surprise appearances from Nicholas Brendon, Mark Lutz, Camden Toy, and Georges Jeanty, among others. After the cocktail party wound down, attendees and actors alike headed over to Mistress Azrael’s Prom at the Bronze, an effective take on the grungy warehouse nightclub a few blocks away from the good part of town in Sunnydale, complete with 90’s tunes blasting from the speakers. Costumed con-goers had a blast dancing the night away and selecting our Prom Queens.

Sunday morning took flight with the Villain’s Breakfast, which combined cold hearts and hot meals as fans laughed along with Buffy’s Andrew Ferchland and his evil compatriots. Not long after came the one-two punch of a Once More, With Feeling shadow cast followed by an energetic and interactive screening of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

If you weren’t attending panels on Sunday, you might have been grabbing tea with Whedonverse celebs at either of the private tea parties, the morning Companion’s Tea or the Afternoon Tea in the Sunnydale Library. The weekend ended on a high note as bids climbed higher and higher at the Charity Auction, featuring a variety of science fiction and fantasy items, including one-of-a-kind art pieces and treasures from the vault of Whedonverse history. The sprawling and colorful Sunnydale mall closed up shop, and fans said a cheerful and tearful goodbye . . . until next year!

Photos taken by WhedonCon volunteers. For more photos from WhedonCon 2017, check out our Gallery.

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