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October 3, 2012

10 Things About CatalystCon

We recently attended the inaugural CatalystCon conference in Long Beach, CA. Our event recaps are always really long because we always have a lot of feelings (so you might wanna go grab a snack now, before you start reading). However this time we're happy to report that we have a lot of great feelings about CatalystCon!

Disclaimer: We are friends with the CatalystCon creator/organizer and served as staff for the event, so we may be totally biased in our review. However, this is not a sponsored post and all of our opinions are (as always) 100% true.  We're typically very hard to please and don't just give away praise easily. We rarely rave about anything, so when we say that we have nothing but praise for CatalystCon, you can trust that that really means something.

1. The Backstory 

The creator of CatalystCon, Dee Dennis, co-organized the MOMENTUM Conference in Washington, D.C. the past two years. We attended both MOMENTUM conferences and really liked them, so we were excited when Dee decided to bring CatalystCon to the west coast and were more than happy to help with whatever she needed. We actually helped her sort through session submissions over bellinis and nutella one weekend (the only way to work as far as we're concerned), and from that moment on we were official CatalystCon "staff". Dee is so passionate about what she does, and we had a chance to see firsthand how much hard work she put into making CatalystCon a success, so we're really happy that we got the chance to be a part of it.

2. The Hotel

The conference took place at the Hilton Long Beach & Executive Meeting Center in Long Beach, California. After having stayed at the Hilton New York just last month for BlogHer12 and being... well... less than satisfied... we weren't sure what to expect from the CatalystCon hotel. We have to say we were pleasantly surprised. The Long Beach Hilton totally kicked the New York Hilton's ass! The hotel staff even made sure that every bartender in the place knew how to make a proper French martini.
Bartender: "She said she's not coming back next year if we don't make it perfectly."
The restaurant food was good, but nothing to write home about, but the bar had Corona and the breakfast buffet had bacon, which is all we really require. And although the bar was somewhat understaffed some nights, the bartenders were really nice and tried their best. One of them even gave those of us waiting in line for drinks permission to say the word "dildo" as much as we wanted, and although none of us were actually discussing dildos at that moment we still appreciated the courtesy.

The hotel pool was actually kinda hilarious - the shallow end was 2.5 feet deep, and the "deep" end was three feet. Swim with caution! No diving!
Lilith: Okay, you were on the swim team, let's see some backstroke or butterfly or something.

Jezebel: I can't, I'll scrape my arms on the bottom of the pool.

3. The Sessions

There were so many great sessions at CatalystCon that one of the most common "complaints" we've been hearing is that it was too hard to choose what to attend. At one point jessica drake tweeted that she wished she could clone herself. (And we agree... jessica drake should totally clone herself.) Because we were staff, we didn't get to attend sessions at every time period, but we did get to as many as we could and they were all excellent. And we heard amazing feedback (in person, on Twitter and via the CatalystCon attendee surveys that we've been helping Dee compile) on a lot of other sessions that we're totally bummed to have missed. Also, both of the Keynote Plenaries were amazing!

The Opening Keynote: Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism and Acceptance
Panelists: Lynn Comella (moderator), Megan Andelloux, Maggie Mayhem, Marty Klein, and Francisco Ramirez

Summary: Battles over sex education, reproductive rights, gay marriage, obscenity, pornography and other forms of adult entertainment and expression have played a central role in the 2012 election season. Sex is always a political issue, but it becomes even more so in challenging economic times, both dividing and uniting individuals. The Opening Keynote panel at CatalystCon tackles these issues head on as speakers address ongoing debates over sexuality at the local, national and global levels. What are the stakes and how can we spark change in productive and meaningful ways?
Best Quotes: "The most pressing matter in sex is that we're not talking about it" - Maggie Mayhem
"I started going to barbecues just to reach out: 'You know what would go well with this carne asada? Reproductive rights!'" - Francisco Ramirez
(You can find more quotes and comments about this keynote here)

Sex Education: Out of the Classroom, Into the Streets!
Speakers: Carol Queen, Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence, jessica drake, Ava Mir-Ausziehen, Sex Nerd Sandra Daugherty
Summary: We can’t count on school, church or family to teach people what they’ll need to know about sexuality, especially pleasure-based sex, queer sex, fetish and fantasy, even safer sex. Basically, formal sex education fails many of us! But all kinds of sexperts, experts, sex professionals and sex enthusiasts are pitching in to help; this panel will explore some of the many ways diverse sex education is being conducted today. From podcasts to websites, adult ed classes in sex shops to alternative centers, there are many, many ways to gain new perspectives and erotic skills.

Best Quotes: "I'm not trying to teach people to have sex like a porn star" - jessica drake
"Someone I didn't like very much shamed me for being nerdy about my knowledge about condoms" - Sex Nerd Sandra Daugherty
(You can find more quotes and comments about this session here)

How To Be An Ally to Sex Workers in Theory and Practice
Speakers: Dee Dennis, Sabrina Morgan, Tizz Wall
Summary: Are you interested in learning how to be an ally–or a better ally–to sex workers, but frustrated with the lack of a clear path of action? Do you want to build stronger bridges between sex workers and allies? We’ll cover practical ways you can be a stronger ally to sex workers, how to build alliances with intersecting, marginalized, and mainstream communities (as an ally or as a sex worker), as well as how to write about sex work topics with sensitivity and class. You’ll learn what methods work best to make your space, event, or publication a more welcoming place for sex workers. We’ll also discuss the internal barriers that keep many of us from fully stepping up as allies, including the ways in which feminism and sex work intersect–and how those seeming conflicts can make both movements stronger.

Best Quote: "What better time to be an ally? Well, how about 24/7?" - Dee Dennis
(You can find more quotes and comments about this session here)

Media Risks: Who Wins?
Speakers: Dusty Marie, Sherri Saulis, Gram Ponante, Brian Gross, Adella (moderator)
Summary: 2012 has brought a phenomenal amount of media exposure to aspects of sexuality that are usually almost never touched, even by the most liberal of mainstream media outlets. This year alone, the astronomical sales of the book 50 Shades of Grey brought the discussion of kink in the bedroom to the pages of major daily and weekly publications across the US, and around the world. We have found that the media will try to sensationalize anything sex-related to boost their ratings. What is their purpose? Have the media finally seen the light, or is it just an attempt to increase rating, and revenue? Will we ever find a day in our country when the topic of sexuality won’t be seen as shocking, but as part of the lexicon of society? Join seasoned media gurus as they discuss how to use the mainstream media to your advantage, how best to minimize those risks involved with dealing with mainstream media, managing the aftermath, when you should say no and much more.

Best Quote: "Diane Sawyer is not going to do a story about how porn improves your sex life." - Adella
(You can find more quotes and comments about this session here)

The Closing Keynote: Defending Pornography: United States v. John Stagliano 
Panelists: John Stagliano, Constance Penley and Allan Gelbard, Esq.

Summary: Our current political climate brings challenges in defending adult material against both obscenity and intellectual property violations. What can we learn from the most recent legal battles in order to raise successful ones in the future both in the courts and the court of public opinion? Join esteemed panelists Allan Gelbard Esq, John Stagliano and Constance Penley, PhD as they share the first hand knowledge they acquired while successfully defending against United States v John Stagliano as well as other important cases.

Best Quotes: "People are entitled to their own opinions but they are not entitled to their own facts" - Allen Gelbard, Esq.
"Almost everything you do or say or make could be found to be patently offensive somewhere" - Constance Penley
(You can find more quotes and comments about this keynote here)

4. The Sponsors

There were a lot of awesome sponsors at CatalystCon and we are so grateful to each and every one of them for having the good sense to support this conference. We feel like we have to give special shout outs to a few of the sponsors that we had particularly good experiences with. (For the record: this isn't coming from us as official ccon staff, it's coming from us as... well, us).

We're grateful to Tantus for not only sponsoring CatalystCon but also for sponsoring Ducky Doolittle's Dirty Bingo, which was tons of fun. (More on that below.) Tantus' Metis Black also spoke on a panel to rave reviews. And as always it was nice to see the lovely ladies from Wet again.

It was especially great to see Wicked Pictures (and Wicked Sensual Care) there and not just because they brought the awesome jessica drake with them. 

We loved the ad that Wicked designed for the CatalystCon program. From an advertising perspective it was absolutely perfect.They recognized who their audience was at the conference, gave useful information and hit all three of their major points they wanted to hit (their sex ed videos, their traditional erotic films, and their "big name" at the conference that weekend jessica drake). We've seen a lot of really bad advertisements over the years - both in print and in video. So it's always nice to see a company completely understand who their market is and how to reach them in the right way.

We won't name any names, but there was at least one ad in the program that we felt was a total failure. It was confusing, didn't explain their company/product and wasn't designed with the audience of CatalystCon in mind (or maybe it was, who knows, but it didn't reach them that's for sure). We know a lot of people felt the same way. So it was great to see Wicked do it right.

We hate to pick favorites when there were so many awesome sponsors at CatalystCon, but we really do have to say something extra special about ANEROS. They were possibly our favorite sponsor at any conference we've been to ever. (Those are strong words, considering that you all know how we feel about Jimmy Dean at BlogHer. And yes, we realize how fucking bizarre it is to put Aneros and Jimmy Dean in the same conversation, but that's just how we roll.) Of course, you may have already realized how we feel about Aneros after our "EVI Slutopia" post the other day about the new product that they launched at the conference. (If you haven't read that post yet, go do it now and then come back here. Seriously, we'll wait. Everybody needs to meet Evi.) We were also recently quoted in an article about how much we love them as a company:
"We attend a lot of conferences and have interacted with a lot of sponsors, and we've never been as impressed as we were with Aneros at CatalystCon. The fact they chose CatalystCon for the Evi launch says a lot about them as a company and their dedication to sex positivity and sex education…We've never seen any sponsor treat the conference organizer so well or be so genuinely nice, helpful, and professional and just overall fucking awesome to everyone."
Not only is the Evi a seriously cool product, but the people behind Aneros are just really incredible. We spent a lot of time at CatalystCon hanging out with CT and Malay from Aneros (who are both totally fun) and we have to say we were truly impressed by how much they seemed to really "get it". Aneros has already signed on to sponsor CatalystCon East, which we're super psyched about.

5. The People

So many amazing people came together for CatalystCon. People from all walks of life and all different arenas of sexuality... from sex educators and sexologists to adult film actors and sex workers to writers, advocates and activists.We couldn't possibly name everyone that we met or were impressed with (this recap is getting long enough already) so here is just a sampling of some of the people who really made an impact on us that weekend, in no particular order.
  • jessica drake - jessica impressed just about everyone that she encountered at the conference. For proof, just check out our Love Letter to her on Storify. 
  • Lynn Comella - We're always happy to see Lynn and we totally want her to moderate a panel at our fantasy conference "CabanaCon" (where we all just sit around a pool with cocktails).
  • Carol Queen - Carol Queen is a bonafide sex ed "rockstar". When Dee was working on the press releases for CatalystCon she asked our opinion on which "big names" to use to promote the conference, we said she should just write "Carol Queen, Carol Queen, and Carol Queen".
  • Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence -Fuck Brangelina, Carol Queen and Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence are a real power couple.  Robert spoke several times at the conference and literally blew away everybody - even the AV guy who just happened to be in the room for one of his sessions raved to us about how smart and funny and interesting he was.
  • Francisco Ramirez - We absolutely love Francisco, and not just because he's a fellow New Yorker. When we heard that he might not make it to CatalystCon due to illness we were extremely upset, but he was able to speak at the opening keynote as planned (although unfortunately his Sunday session had to be cancelled). 
  • Adella - Adella runs Fine Ass Marketing and she rocks. Even though she wasn't the official publicist for CatalystCon, she still helped Dee out and even let Dee have all the sponsor swag for the swag bags shipped to her home! We first met her when we went with Dee to help pick up the boxes and we've decided that Dee was totally right when she referred to her as "the best kick ass publicist you'll ever meet."
  • Rachel Kramer Bussel - We had a great conversation with Rachel after the opening plenary about 50 Shades of Grey and whether it might be a "gateway drug" to get people to explore all of the way better erotica that's out there. (Stay tuned for a post about that in our 50 Shades series, which will definitely include some of the erotica collections that Rachel has edited.)
  • Ducky DooLittle - Ducky hosted Dirty Bingo and the "Girl Gasms" class that was part of the Evi by ANEROS launch, and she rocked both of them. She's super knowledgeable and funny and really knows how to connect with people, educate them, and still show everyone a good time.
  • Davis of Sexquire - We get ourselves into so much trouble, it's only a matter of time before we have to hire Davis to be our legal representation!
  • Tizz Wall - We met Tizz for the first time after her session on how to be an ally to sex workers. The session was fantastic and so was she, so we're really glad we got a chance to chat with her one on one. (Or technically it was two on one...whatever, she's awesome.)
  • Therese Shechter - We're big fans of Therese and the film she's working on, so it was great to see her again. More on her and her doc "How to Lose Your Virginity" below.
  • Cunning Minx - We've loved Minx since we first met her a few years ago at BlogHer and realized that we had found one of our "our people" in the crowd of mommy bloggers. It's always great to see her.
  • Megan Andelloux - The first session we attended at the first Momentum conference we attended was one of Megan's, and we immediately knew we were at the perfect conference for us. Now it's pretty typical to hear us saying stuff like this: "I can't remember exactly what the name of the session is, but it's Megan Andelloux...just go. You won't be disappointed." Or as Silver Dreams put it, "I swear, I would listen to this woman talk about moldy bread and find it fascinating."
  • Ariana Rodriguez - Ariana hung out with us on Saturday - first she did an interview with Dee for XBIZ (Have you read it the article? You should, it was awesome) which was probably hard to do with the girl gang being obnoxious in the background. Then she joined us all for Dirty Bingo... it wasn't until after Bingo was over that we thought "oh boy I hope that was all off the record".
  • Monica Jean - Monica from Stockroom hung out with us late on Saturday night and we thought for sure that she hated us because we were sooo loud and obnoxious and didn't shut up and didn't make any sense. The next day we gave her our standard apology and laughed and said "no, you guys were great! You remind me of me and my roommate"... so we just have to assume that her roommate is also awesome.
  • Mo Beasley - We met Mo for the first time at CatalystCon and his positive energy was infectious. (And you know that must be the truth because when do we ever use phrases like that?) He was also super nice about the fact that we had to have his badge reprinted (oops). We can't wait to go and check out one of his UrbanErotika shows in NYC.
  • Robin Mandell - Robin is a total sweetheart who was immediately adopted into the CatalystCon "girl gang" staff. Her session on sex and disabilities got rave reviews, and she also repped for Scarleteen all weekend while we worked to raise money for them with the official conference fundraiser.
  • Maria Falzone - Maria is like our long lost cousin or something. She's loud and in your face and over the top in the best possible way. We've seen her "Sex Rules" show several times now and it absolutely never gets old or any less funny.
  • Everyone else - We met about a zillion more cool people and we just are too brain fried (still!) to possibly list them all. So if we forgot you - sorry! You know we love you. 
And if you still need more evidence that everyone at CatalystCon was awesome...the raffle raised over $1000 for Scarleteen over the weekend!

6. The Girl Gang

Dee put together a small staff of people to help her run the conference, and we were all fucking awesome if we do say so ourselves. First to arrive was Robin Love, followed by us, Miss Darling, and Silver Dreams. Once we were finally all together and hanging out in Dee's suite (aka "HQ"), we joked that there were enough of us to make up a girl gang, and so that became our nickname for the rest of the weekend.

The Girl Gang ended up having the perfect mix of talents - Robin handled all of the tech stuff and kept us on schedule, Miss Darling handled everything from sex worker outreach to hair and makeup, Silver Dreams kept us focused and kept Dee stress free (massages were involved), and we...well, we're us. Even though we were each so different in some ways, we really all worked together so perfectly. In fact, we still miss the girl gang!

Although none of us really got any sleep the whole time we were in Long Beach, there was something about putting us all in a room together that re-energized us and gave us the strength to keep powering on. (Or maybe it was the sugar rush from all of the Nutella that we ate.) This was probably most clear when we stumbled downstairs for breakfast on Monday morning. We were all so exhausted and quiet the entire elevator ride down, but once we all got at a table together again we revved back up and became our usual hyper, loud, obnoxious selves. Finally, CT from Aneros asked us "don't you ever get tired?"  We realized that although yes, we were extremely tired, when we came together we multiplied in energy and power. The Girl Gang is like... Voltron. (Or Captain Planet if you prefer that analogy.) We're awesome enough as individuals, but when we join together we form a giant super robot powerful enough to defend the galaxy from evil. Or something.

For even more Girl Gang goodness, you can check out the Storify we put together with some of our favorite #girlgang tweets from the weekend. Yes, we're kinda addicted to Storify right now, and we're kinda obsessed with the awesomeness of our own Girl Gang. Deal with it.

Miss Darling doing Dee's hair in the Girl Gang suite

7. The Parties and Special Events

Opening Night
Even though every minute with Dee and the girl gang was like a party, there a lot of fun special events at CatalystCon. The conference started with an Opening Reception that was so great that people actually snuck in. (Read more about that below, you won't even believe it.) First Reid Mihalko did his Social Lubrication activity - think "speed flirting" - and then the one and only Maria Falzone made the whole room laugh with her hilarious SEX RULES show. Like we said before, watching Maria perform never gets old for us.

Dee knows what the attendees really want, so there was a pasta station and bar right outside the ballroom during the entire reception, opening activities, and opening keynote. Then some of us continued drinking afterwards so... yeah, let's just say that a lot of drinking happened over the weekend.

"How to Lose Your Virginity"

We've been supporters of this documentary for awhile so we were really happy to see filmmaker Therese Shechter at CatalystCon hosting a preview screening and Q&A about the doc.
About the film: Virginity loss is a personal milestone in almost every woman’s life, but this process of becoming sexual is defined by myths and dogma, fetishized in our popular culture, and linked to morality and self worth. “How to Lose Your Virginity” deconstructs this virginity construct and advocates for a more nuanced and complex discussion of female sexuality in our culture.
(Quotes and comments from the screening can be found here)

"GirlGasms" Sex Education Workshop with Ducky Doolittle/EVI by ANEROS Launch

On Saturday, the lovely and talented Ducky Doolittle hosted a sex education workshop on kegel fitness and the female orgasm. The workshop was sponsored by Aneros and was also the lauch of the Evi, their new product for women. The class was hilarious and informative at the same time and everyone was totally excited about the Evi. They did a giveaway and miraculously every member of the Girl Gang that was present won one...except for Lilith, but the Aneros crew gave her one anyway later on so she wouldn't feel left out, because they are awesome. Since Robin Love was in charge of handing out the raffle tickets, we joked that she had managed to rig the contest. (Of course, that wasn't possible - she handed out the tickets, but she didn't draw them... but it was still a hilarious coincidence.) We're still hearing great feedback from people about what a cool event and product launch this was.

Dirty Bingo with Ducky Doolittle

Later that evening we went to Dirty Bingo also hosted by Ducky Doolittle - it was a Super Ducky Saturday. For those of you who have never gone to one of Ducky's Dirty Bingo events, you're missing out. You probably don't even know what "Chicken baby!" means, which means you kinda haven't lived. Since Dee is sort of famous (infamous?) for wearing cute pajamas out in public, we all decided to get comfy and enjoy bingo in our PJs too. At Bingo, Robin was in charge of giving out the raffle tickets again and yet again the Girl Gang table kept getting picked for fun games, trivia, and prizes. 
Jezebel: Great job rigging the raffle tickets again Robin!
The official Girl Gang table at Dirty Bingo with Evi by Aneros good luck charm
After Bingo was over we all stayed at the table and kept drinking and laughing until the hotel staff came to clean up the room and move the tables. (Basically the equivalent of closing down the bar.) We can't even remember exactly what was so funny - we were drinking a lot - but we know we laughed so hard that our sides hurt and our voices turned hoarse.

8. The Random Moments

Wherever we go, we have a ton of "only the ESC" kind of experiences... but at CatalystCon, we think we may have had more than ever. That might be due to the fact that the rest of our Girl Gang was just as crazy and hilarious as we are... or the fact that we all went several days with very little sleep and lots of alcohol and Nutella.

The awesomeness started even before the conference did because we arrived in Long Beach on Wednesday to help Dee prepare. The first laugh of the week started at the Long Beach airport. Have you ever been? It's... adorable. We're from New York, so we're used to airports that look like... you know, airports. When we fly into JFK or LaGuardia and it's loud and smelly and crowded and dirty, we know that we're home. So arriving in Long Beach was a trip for us. 
Jezebel: I've never seen an outdoor baggage claim with a concession stand before.
Dee was waiting to pick us up in the baggage claim...area. Can we just tell you one of many reasons why Dee Dennis is our favorite conference organizer of all time? Because who else would ask us for a "grocery list" before we got there, so she could stock her mini-fridge with Corona and limes for us?! Dee's hotel room was connected to a big suite that she dubbed "HQ" and we all had keys to it. The rest of the girl gang all had rooms on that floor, so we were never too far away. One of the things we miss the most after being back is being able to just walk down the hall to hang out with Dee and the girl gang whenever we wanted.

Bellinis in the HQ Suite

We've already requested that the Aneros team join us on our "official" hotel floor at the next CatalystCon.
Jezebel: Dee, CT totally wants to be on the Girl Gang hotel floor next time.
CT: Yeah, I'll just get some earplugs.
Even before the conference officially started it was already the best conference we'd ever been to, because we had such a good time hanging out in HQ with Dee and the girl gang. We barely slept that whole week, so a lot of the conversations are sort of... fuzzy. But the one thing we can remember for sure is that it was always hilarious and tons of fun. We stayed up super late every night, even though we were all exhausted. Even when we said "oh we'll get to bed early this time" we never did. (Lilith literally fell asleep on the floor of HQ every single night... but only for a minute or two, we swear.) We were all so loud and we literally never shut up for even a second, so to everyone staying on our floor who wasn't a part of the gang and probably wanted to kill us the entire time, our apologies.

In fact, we probably should extend an apology to anyone who interacted with us during CatalystCon. We don't usually give people the full ESC experience right away; we try to ease new people in gradually. But the conference was such a crazy whirlwind of excitement and alcohol and sleep deprivation that a lot of people got the total ESC effect all at once. Plus, like we said above, when we merged with the rest of the Girl Gang, it was like ESC to the extreme, which has to be a lot for anyone to take. So we're sorry to anyone we may have traumatized.

Shortly before leaving for CatalystCon, Lilith did a full STD screening (like any good slut should do). The first morning that we were in Long Beach, her phone rang at 6:00 am. It was her doctor, which totally freaked her out because having your doctor call you at 6 in the morning automatically makes you worry that something showed up on the tests. But it was good news - all the tests were negative.
Lilith: Sorry if I woke you. But I don't have any STDs!
Jezebel: That's nice. I'm going back to sleep.
On Friday night, we worked the registration desk, giving attendees their badges and swag bags. One couple - we'll be nice and not name them - we'll just call them Mr. and Mrs. Gate Crasher - showed up and said they weren't registered but wanted to stop by and check it out. We gave them a program to look at but let them know that they couldn't enter the conference area without badges. (We offered to register them on site and get them badges, but they declined.) Eventually they said they would come back the next day and register then, and they left. About a half hour later, we noticed the woman wandering around the conference area, so Lilith went over to her to let her know that she needed to have a badge to be there. It took about twenty more minutes to get a straight answer from her.

Here's a sampling of the conversation:
Lilith: Hi, I'm sorry, you need a badge to be beyond this point.
Mrs. GC: Ohhh. Okay. [doesn't leave]
Lilith: So you can't stay here without a badge.
Mrs. GC: Ohhh. Okay. Okay. It's fine. [still doesn't leave]
Lilith: So I'm afraid you're going to have to either get a badge or leave.
Mrs. GC: Yes. It's fine.
Lilith: Um, so if you're not registered, you need to leave.
Mrs. GC: Ohhh. Okay. We're registered.
Lilith: Oh... okay. I thought your husband had said earlier that you weren't registered.
Mrs. GC: Ohhh. Okay. Yes. It's fine.
Lilith: Do you have a badge?
Mrs. GC: Yes. Yes.
Lilith: So, you're going to need to put it on.
Mrs. GC: Ohhh. Okay. It's fine.

It went on like that for a while until finally she said that her husband must have the badges up in the room. Lilith told her she was going to need to go up to the room and get them from him in order to stay here. We don't know why she bothered to try to give us that song and dance, because we all knew that she wasn't registered. They had just told us a few minutes ago that they weren't registered. But we figured we'd humor her and let her save face. So we watched her walk to the elevators and then we went back to the registration desk.

A little while later we looked up and there she was again! How she was able to sneak by us without us noticing, we'll never know. Maybe she climbed out a window and tiptoed across the ledge to the other side of the hotel, who knows. Lilith went back up to her and the crazy conversation continued...
Lilith: Oh, you're back. Were you able to get your badge from your husband?
Mrs. GC: Yes.
Lilith: So... do you have it?
Mrs. GC: Yes. Yes.
Lilith: You need to be wearing it.
Mrs. GC: Ohh. Okay. Okay.
Lilith: So... can you put it on?
Mrs. GC: Yes. It's fine.
Lilith: Um... okay. Look, I'm sorry, but you really can't be back here without a badge.
Mrs. GC: Ohh. Okay.
Lilith: I thought you said earlier that you weren't registered.
Mrs. GC: Ohh. Okay. It's fine.
Lilith: But you need to be registered. This is a private event.
Mrs. GC: Ohh, no we're registered. It's fine.
(Are you banging your head on the desk yet?) Finally, she claimed that she was registered for Saturday and Sunday, but not for Friday evening. Lilith told her that we'd be happy to upgrade her registration to include tonight for $25 if she'd like. So Lilith walked her back to the registration desk again.
SilverDreams: Weren't you just here a few minutes ago and you said you weren't registered?
Mrs. GC: Oh. Me? What? Oh. No.
SilverDreams: Let me rephrase: YOU were JUST HERE a few minutes ago and you SAID you were NOT registered.
Lilith: She said she thinks she's registered for tomorrow.
Then we checked the badge list for the name she gave me. Obviously it wasn't there. She kept giving us different names, "well, maybe it's under this name... maybe it's under that name... maybe it's under my stage name." We're pretty sure she was just naming literally any names that she could think of and hoping that she would get lucky with one of them. "It might be under Susan...or um, Clarence...Daisy? Maybe it's under Matthew...Tiffany...Smith?"
SilverDreams: She's not registered, they were just here. 
Lilith: I know, but I'm going to keep looking up every name she tells me until she gives up.
Then finally she said, "Well, we registered downstairs."  As in, downstairs in the hotel lobby. I'm sure we've all had that experience where you check into a hotel and they offer you free passes to a sexuality conference along with your room key.
Lilith: Downstairs?

Mrs. GC: Yes. Is that not the same thing?

Lilith: You mean with the hotel? Um... that's different. This is a private conference, it's not part of the hotel registration.

Mrs. GC: Ohh. Okay. [still doesn't leave]

Lilith: I'm sorry, but you're going to have to leave this area.

Mrs. GC: Ohh. Ohh. Okay... [pause] ...but I'm supposed to meet my husband here.

Lilith: That's fine. You can sit right there [pointing towards a sofa just outside the registration area] and wait for your husband.

Mrs. GC: Ohh. Okay. I'm just going to get a drink at the bar first. [Gesturing to the bar within the conference area]

Lilith: [Sigh] Alright.
We watched her as she stood "near" the end of the bar line... slowly drifting backwards, farther way, avoiding eye contact with us. Finally someone else told her to leave again and Lilith went into the ballroom to look for her husband and spotted him right away. (Naturally we were utterly shocked that he wasn't "up in the room" the entire time like his wife said he was.) Lilith told him that no one was allowed back there without a badge and he said "oh okay, no problem, I'm just going to say goodbye." Lilith stood there and waited while he said his goodbyes. Then he came back and said "You're being extremely rude. I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm just trying to say goodbye to my friends and you're standing here like I'm doing something wrong." Of course we agree that it was very rude of Lilith to try to stop him from crashing a conference that he had no intention of paying for. He finished his goodbyes, collected his wife's pocketbook off the table and left. As they exited, he said "we'll be back tomorrow." Spoiler alert: They never came back.

After reenacting the entire "Ohh. Okay. It's fine. Yes." conversation for Dee, complete with voices and body language, she thought Lilith's impression of Mrs. GC was so funny that she made her reenact it for the entire girl gang and other friends about a hundred times. After a while, we were all just randomly saying "Ohh. Okay. It's fine. Yes. Yes. Maybe it's under my stage name" so much that we couldn't control it anymore and it would slip out accidentally. By Monday Lilith had almost completely lost her voice - this was primarily due to the all the laughing and yelling we did all weekend, not to mention the fact that we each got about 2 hours of sleep per night, but we're convinced that doing the voice of Mrs. GC contributed to it.

Seriously, if we were not still semi-anonymous on here we would totally post a video of Lilith doing the Mrs. GC impersonation. (Maybe we'll create a podcast or something.) It's much more hilarious than it seems in this blog entry. Which is very hilarious, we're sure.

Thanks to Dr. Shira Tarrant, CatalystCon had a bunch of awesome student volunteers helping out at the conference. We liked to call them "interns" for some reason. Our hands-down favorite volunteer was Britney. Her name wasn't really Britney, but we mistakenly called her "Britney" for a full day and she never gave us any attitude about it. She was so great that she even stayed late on Sunday to help us pack up afterwards and we "rewarded" her by giving her a bunch of female condoms and lube and notepads that we had left over from the swag bags to give out at her college, and by making her listen to our stupid, loud craziness all night. We have decided that Not-Britney needs to be at every CatalystCon West for as long as she continues to live in the Long Beach area.

Not-Britney wasn't the only person we renamed at ccon. When the AV guy arrived on Friday, Robin said to him "Oh, are you sound?" and he said yes. So from that point forward, his name was "Sound". Finally, we found out that his actual name was Justin, but we still liked calling him Sound (or Sound-Justin or AV Justin).

At one point on Sunday, he was sitting near the registration desk with the Girl Gang talking to Jezebel about football when someone mentioned jessica drake.
Jezebel: Do you know who jessica drake is?

Sound-Justin: Um...well...

Jezebel: Don't even try to pretend, I could tell by the look on your face as soon as her name came up.

Sound-Justin: She's really here?

Jezebel: Yes, she's really here. I met her and talked to her and everything.

Sound-Justin: Is she as beautiful in person as she is in her movies?

Aw. We made sure that he got to go home with a copy of the jessica drake DVD that Wicked was giving out in the Exhibitors Room.

We all thought Not-Britney and Sound-Justin were both so young and adorable, that they'd make a great couple (since we're pretty sure jessica drake is unavailable). If either of you are reading this - get in touch!

So, some of you who hung out with us at CatalystCon may have overheard us talking about how a certain CEO is kind of hot. It's true - he is, but for those of you who did hear us we feel like we should clarify the reason why this was such an...um, hot topic of conversation all week. In the weeks before CatalystCon, Dee had talked to us about him and his company a lot - how she was so impressed with them, how excited she was that they had chosen to be at CatalystCon, and how she was looking forward to introducing us to them. At one point she mentioned in passing, "you guys will love the CEO, he's really nice and smart... and he's hot too."
Lilith: Um... no offense Dee, but I think we probably have different definitions of "hot" than you do.
After we finally did meet him, the conversation went something like this...
Lilith: Okay, wow, I apologize. You were totally right.

Dee: I told you so.
Jezebel: We'll never doubt you again.
She wouldn't let Lilith live it down and teased her for the rest of the weekend. It became kind of a recurring joke among the Girl Gang that we all thought he was hot. It's probably one of those 'you had to be there' jokes, but that's never stopped us before.

So... um...unnamed CEO, if you're reading this, we'd like to issue a formal apology for semi-secretly and totally jokingly objectifying you all weekend. We know that you're also very nice and very smart and very successful and overall an awesome person on the inside too. And for the record he's also the only guy cool enough to be considered an honorary member of the Girl Gang, although we're not sure how thrilled he is about that right about now.

Something you may not know about the ESC is that we kind of share of a brain. And that brain has serious issues. We think we have seriously begun to freak Dee out by the times that we finish each other's sentences or share little "moments" that are too ridiculous to comprehend. Sometimes we just point at each other and no words are exchanged at all. One stupid example: Dee was talking to us about... something (we forget) and she innocently used the term "spice up your life". Lilith turned to Jezebel and said... nothing. She didn't need to.
Lilith: ......

Jezebel: Colors of the world...

Lilith: Spice up your life!

Jezebel: Every boy and every girl...

Dee: What the hell are you talking about?

Lilith: The Spice Girls.

Dee: Why?

Jezebel: Because you said "spice up your life". Duh.
Dee thought we were nuts... but after that kind of thing happened about ten more times over the span of the week, she started to realize the full extent of the ESC's psychic connection. Well, psychic connection and shared knowledge of obscure pop culture references.

We had a blast hanging out with Robin Mandell of Scarleteen over the weekend. Even though she wasn't actually staff, we made her an official member of the Girl Gang anyway. There was sometimes some confusion over which Robin we were talking about (between Robin Mandell and Robin Love)... so we just called whichever one wasn't in the room "other Robin".

Except for the night of Dirty Bingo... that night we called Robin Love "drunk Robin". We kept talking about ordering in food, but then... never did it. We didn't really think about it until we realized that Robin had been drinking on an empty stomach. The joke was that she basically had a grape and a bottle of vodka for dinner - it wasn't really that bad, but dinner probably would have been a good idea for all of us that night. But even after a few too many drinks, she was still totally on top of the schedule.
Robin: "It's time to go to Bingo now. Now. NOW NOW NOW!"
But one thing she wasn't completely on top of was the other Robin. Those of you who know Robin M. personally know that she is blind, so during the conference the girl gang helped her out occasionally by walking with her when she needed a little guidance. (Really mostly just an excuse for us to hang out with her as much as possible.) When Robin got to Dirty Bingo that night, Robin Love escorted her to a seat in  the front of the room...and then came back to the table without her.
Dee: Who is Robin sitting next to? Does she know that woman?

Robin: I don't know.

Dee: So then why is she sitting all the way over there instead of with us?

Robin: That's where she was sitting before.

Dee: Before...? You mean, at the session today... hours ago... in a different room?
Don't worry, we went back to Robin M. and asked her if she wanted to join us and she was happy to... but we all had a big laugh about it. And Drunk Robin was tons of fun in our opinion.

Apparently, we weren't the only ones who went a little crazy the later it got. One night we decided to order room service in the HQ suite. It was the late night menu so our choices were limited, but they had a turkey and cheese sandwich that Lilith decided to order. Dee made the call...
Dee: ... and a turkey and cheese sandwich with nothing on it.

Woman on the phone: You mean... not even turkey or cheese?

Dee: What? No, I want a turkey and cheese sandwich... with nothing on it. No mayo, no tomato....

Lilith: Yeah, I just want two slices of bread.
The CatalystCon fun continued even after the conference was officially over. Dee piled a bunch of us into one car to go to the airport on Monday and we laughed the whole ride there. We were on the same flight home as Dee, but she was in first class (lucky bitch) and we were stuck back in coach, so we didn't board at the same time. As we passed through first class to get to our seats we both exclaimed, "Oh my god! It's Dee Dennis! The world famous organizer of CatalystCon!" Then we did it again after we excited the plane and found her at the baggage claim. "Oh my god! It's Dee Dennis! Can we have your autograph?" When we finally had to go our separate ways, it was really hard to say goodbye.

9. Other Recaps and Coverage

So many great blog posts and articles have been written about CatalystCon and every day we find more. In our recaps we usually have a section to list some of favorites, but since it's been hard to narrow them down (and more appear every day) we thought we'd just direct you to the Press pages of CatalystCon.com, where we've been helping Dee compile all the awesome CatalystCon coverage we've been able to find. (We can't wait to add our own recap to that list!)
  • Press Clippings - articles and blogs about CatalystCon (if you have written about the conference or found a great article about it, please send a link) 
  • Live Coverage - the best tweets from CatalystCon curated via Storify 
  • Also: CatalystCon: A Love Letter - in addition to the official Storify coverage, we also put together a little "love letter" to capture all of the praise that everyone had for the conference in general.

10. CatalystCon East!

Luckily we don't have to wait a full year to experience the awesomeness that is CatalystCon again. Dee and the Girl Gang will be reuniting in March in Washington, D.C. for CatalystCon East! Registration information can be found here. Early bird prices are available until Jan 15, 2013. The Call for Speakers has already been announced - if you're interested in submitting a proposal for a session, the deadline is November 1, 2012. See you there!

1 comment:

Epiphora said...

After a while, we were all just randomly saying "Ohh. Okay. It's fine. Yes. Yes. Maybe it's under my stage name" so much that we couldn't control it anymore

This is where it occurred to me just how much I'm gonna love you guys.