L8 Convention in Brighton, UK – Day 1 Report
And here we go again…the recent L8 Convention just ended and I’m delighted to share with you my impressions and memories from another amazing weekend.
You know, I often ask myself, why do I keep going to the UK every year for an L Convention when they are all pretty much the same? Opening ceremony, meet&greet, Q&A’s, autographs, photo shoots, and parties. Some find it boring; others only go if their favorite cast member is announced; and some do not care anymore since the show has ended.
For me, it’s all about the excitement of travelling to a new place, meeting old friends, making new ones, and mingling with the cast members of one of my favorite shows that ultimately changed my life.
L8 Convention was held in Brighton, a wonderful small town by the sea with a lot of delightful places to visit and a gay-friendly atmosphere. One of the guests, Heather Peace, who has been living in Brighton for twelve years, told us that it is a very normal and natural thing to see straight and gay couples, walking along the Brighton pier on a sunny day.
The convention was at the Hilton Metropolitan hotel and even though it’s a much better venue than the Norbreck Castle at Blackpool, there were things that still puzzle me. First of all, I don’t understand why the hotels that are already expensive, have to charge an additional price for the Internet. I had to use it so I was okay paying for it but after trial and error I found out that to turn on the Internet in my hotel room, I had to turn on the main lights first.
Then, there’s the mystery of the British showers. I know it’s not rocket science and maybe I was tired and jetlagged but it took me fifteen minutes to figure out how it worked because I couldn’t understand the structure. But overall, the place was nice, clean, and there was so much more to see in Brighton as opposite to Blackpool and even Birmingham.
And don’t get me started on the garbage bins. They simply don’t have them in the public area. When I was waiting for the train at the Gatwick airport I was told to leave the things I want to throw away anywhere I want and someone will pick them up. How bizarre! Though, I did found a few in the mall before my pockets got full.
The line-up for L8 was amazing. “The L Word” stars included Laurel Holloman, Erin Daniels, Janina Gavankar, Lauren Lee Smith, Kate French, and Clementine Ford. Actually, Janina proved to be very appreciative of her fans because she flew to the UK for just one day. She was filming scenes for her new role in “True Blood” and had to be back on set on Monday. It almost stopped her from going as it did last year when Janina was filming “The Gates” but she said to TPTB that she will go no matter what and she made it, even if it was just for one day.
In addition to “The L Word” guests the Starfury also invited Heather Peace from the British version of the show, “Lip Service” and the stars of “The Real L Word”, Tracy Ryerson and Stamie Karakasidis. The additional guests turned out to be a delightful surprise and the event turned into a celebration of several lesbian shows.
As usual, the convention began with an opening ceremony. One by one, the event organizer, Sean Harry, called the guests to the stage and they came out to greet the audience and say a few words to us. Stamie, who is a stand-up comedian, made a few jokes; Clementine Ford commented on the fact that she walked by the pier and didn’t see any lesbians because they all were here at the convention; Kate French mentioned that it was her first time in England and she was really excited to meet the fans; Laurel said that she was again speechless at the fantastic reception by the fans and wished that JB (that’s right, Laurel said JB, not Jennifer Beals) was here at the convention as well.
I, actually, think that it was Sean’s initial intention to bring TiBette back together at L8 and he was planning to announce Laurel as convention days approached. Alas, Jennifer Beals had to cancel due to being busy doing publicity for her new show “The Chicago Code” and Sean had to announce Laurel as a replacement. Laurel and Jennifer together would rock this convention but in the end, it was still a wonderful event.
As a long-standing tradition at Starfury L events, the Gold Ticket holders attended the Meet&Greet where they had an opportunity to chat with all the guests in more intimate atmosphere. Because there were nine guests, the visits were pretty short but I’m happy to report that our table was visited by all the guests.
Our first guests were Tracy Ryerson and Stamie Karakasidis. Tracy told us that they were asked to return to do the second season but they decided not to because they wouldn’t do sex scenes on camera. So the second season will have new players and will have Whitney and Rose from the previous season. Stamie said that her real job is in real estate and then every other Thursday she performs a stand-up comedy act at the Roxbury Cafe in Beverly Hills (http://www.ourfifteenminutes.com/stamie-k/comedy-90210)
Kate French used her appearance at the convention to visit London for the first time and she came here with her husband. They did some sightseeing together with Clementine Ford and Kate said that she was surprised that Big Ben didn’t look that particularly big.
Laurel Holloman was our third guest at the table and she looked a little tired. She didn’t even noticed that there were a few familiar people that she met before until she finally looked at us and said, “Holy sh**! You guys are here too.” Laurel told us that she just arrived from Paris this morning where she was looking at some places to hold an art exhibit sometime next year.
After the convention she was going to Italy on Monday, then to Amsterdam and Berlin. If the Paris thing will work out, then she will be painting for the next 12 months and would have to put her acting career on hold. Laurel added that she could film her journey and make a documentary out of it. Some videos of her painting are already on youtube and they will be making more (http://www.youtube.com/user/LaurelHollomanStudio)
Janina Gavankar was very hyper and excited to be at the convention again. She said that she couldn’t make it last year because she was filming another TV show and they wouldn’t let her leave. I joked and said that maybe that’s why “The Gates” was canceled. Janina laughed and replied that it almost happened again because she was filming “True Blood” but she put her foot down and told them that she will go no matter what.
Janina and her mom had such an incredible experience at L5 that she didn’t want to miss all the fun. She was sorry that Jennifer Beals couldn’t make it but was so proud of her for being in “The Chicago Code” that she thinks is a great show. She talks to Jennifer quite often and thinks that JB is brilliant in her new show.
Clementine Ford appeared to be very shy but she opened up a little about her family and her coming out. It was also her first time in London and she enjoyed the sightseeing tour with Kate French. She talked a little about her experience on the soap opera “Young and the Restless” as Mackenzie Browning and that she wished they give her character something more exciting to do.
Mainly she was excited to work with some soap opera legends, like Jeanne Cooper, who was on the show since the beginning and whose character has gone through all the crazy storylines imaginable, including playing her own evil twin. Clementine said she wished they would give her an evil twin. There was not much going on with Mac and she was let go last September.
Clementine also shared with us that she has a few siblings that are gay and when I joked that it won’t be a surprise if her mother Cybil will come out as well, Clementine smiled shyly and said that Cybil tried that already but it wasn’t her thing. Clementine also mentioned that she is still peeved about her interview with Diva, UK-based lesbian magazine that twisted a few things that she said to them and made it look like she came out to them. She said that she was never really in or out, she was just being herself.
Lauren Lee Smith talked to us about her part in a movie she did with Jennifer Beals, “A Night for Dying Tigers”. She read the script and liked it and she knew that Jennifer was attached to it, which made it more appealing. It was a great experience and she really enjoys being in the independent movies.
Lauren is really passionate about movies and gets upset that the Hollywood produces lots of bad movies or makes some remakes of the movies that don’t need to be remade, but good independent movies don’t make it.
Erin Daniels talked to us about her son who is 18 months old and how much she misses him. She said that when she’s not making movies or spending time with her son, she’s sleeping and that’s why she doesn’t have time to be on the Internet. Her twitter account was a fake.
Erin is currently on hiatus but she had done several random films, including an Oscar nominated “A Single Man”. She said that it was amazing to work with Colin Firth and Tom Ford.
Heather Peace was the last one to come to our table and by the time she appeared she had a few drinks and was very excited to be at the convention. Everyone at the last few tables got hugs and kisses from her, including us. Heather talked a little about growing up in Bradford, Yorkshire but she left when she was 17 years old and doesn’t consider it her home anymore.
She’s been living in Brighton for a while and told us where to find the best bars and clubs in town. Two of them were gay clubs “Revenge” and “Dr. Brightons”. She gave us directions but all I remember is that they were somewhere along the pier.
Heather also mentioned that she will appear at the Manchester Pride, as she does every year and that right after the Meet&Greet is over, she will go home to her girlfriend and try to explain why she was drinking when she was supposed to be working. Heather was really funny and friendly and made me feel very excited to get to know her more.
At the end of the convention I had a one-on-one interview with Heather that I will post after my reports.