3 AM Thursday morning. I’ve been awake for 20 hours. The final items are being packed. We have 30 minutes until we need to be on our way to the airport. “Is that everything? Phone chargers? Wallets? Sewing Machine?” With all things accounted for and our fur babies fed and watered, we headed out for the hour drive to the Sunport. Once there we go to check our bags. The first two go through fine, but the third is 7 pounds to heavy.
After taking out my makeup bags and converting a bag of loose fabric into a carry-on, we make it under the weight limit. To recap what we are taking through security; my purse, ODB’s backpack (with laptop and Nintendo DS’s), a bag with about 6 pounds of fabric, and my sewing machine with case. The line is longer than we expected due to a high school band’s field trip to Hawaii, but we make it through with no problems. Now we have to run to the far end of the terminal. Almost everyone has boarded by the time we get there. Fortunately, it was far from a full flight and we still managed to get a whole row to ourselves. Once seated, it does not take long for the lack of sleep to catch up with us and we napped pretty much the entire hour and 15 minutes to Las Vegas. We land right at 6 AM, get our bags and take the airport shuttle to the Excalibur where we will be staying the next four nights.
After hauling our bags across the entire casino floor, we check them at the bell desk. Now, we have to figure out what we are going to do for the next 7 hours until we can check into our room. First things first, coffee. We head upstairs to the food court in hopes of finding caffeine and maybe some food. It was here that the second Starbucks in the hotel graced us with its presence. Fun Fact, Starbucks items in Las Vegas are about $2 more expensive than in Santa Fe. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was working on about 45 minutes of sleep. We sit down with our coffee and kind of zombie out for a bit. We found out through the Press’ WhatApp group that another member of the ClexaCon press was already in town too. They joined us for about 3 hours before heading out to wander the strip. At this point we decided to head over to the Tropicana so that we could figure out where everything was taking place this weekend. (Side note, we got stopped on our way for all of these great deals to KA and a free 3D/2N stay for a timeshare presentation which may be mentioned later on)
We cross the sky bridge, starting to realize how much of a pain commuting hotel to hotel is going to be later on, and get our first view of the Tropicana. With its tall palm trees and fake grass, it pretty much looks like the paradise it claims to be. Once inside you are embraced by a scent. Not the scent of cigarette smoke and alcohol, although that is a present undertone, but by the scent of something tropical. It’s floral but also kind of musky and makes you feel like you could be sitting by the ocean surrounded by tropical blooms, which is by far preferable to the traditional smells of a casino. As we got deeper into the building we finally found signs of ClexaCon. So we knew where we would need to go the next day. We also located how to get to the pool for the ClexaCon pool take over later in the day. By this point is was about 10:30. Our earliest hope for check in was not until 1. With two and a half hours left to kill we decided to check out more of the strip. Because ClexaCon was at the Bally’s last year we did not make it down to this part of the strip so it was all new to us. We tried to locate where we would need to go to get our tickets for KA at the MGM Grand. We also tried to find the theater but took a wrong turn and ended up back outside. This put us right on the strip and I could see the M&M world just down the way. I had never gone inside an M&M world before so I was excited to see this one. We walk in and get to the top of the escalator for the third floor when the fire alarms went as the smell of burnt chocolate filled the air. So we promptly turned around and went back out. We made a few more stops on the strip before heading back to the Excalibur where we would hopefully be able to check in and take a nap before the pool party.
When we got into the check in line there were several queer couples around us, which was a promising start for the weekend. We get to the front of the line and the moment of truth, would our room be ready? It is! We finally make our way to our room, good ol’ 16223. Let me tell you, by this point, a bed has never looked so good. And we had sprung for the king-size room and when you normally sleep on a full-size bed that is just about the most beautiful sight. We only had about an hour to nap, but we took advantage of it. After some sleep put us in better moods we donned our swim suits and made our way back to the Tropicana for the first official event of ClexaCon: the pool take-over. After convincing the pool greeter person to let us in even though we did not have room keys, we arrived just before 3. At this point, the pool patrons looked pretty normal. Fast forward about 15 minutes and it might as well have been Pride. The pool quickly became the gayest thing on the strip. It was a beautiful day, a little cool for swimming, but it was nice in the sun. I only got a little sunburned. We stayed until 4:45 so we would have time to change before the badge pick-up party at The Piranha. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the clubbing scene, but because we were press and speakers, we were able to get through the line pretty quickly. We got a cosmo (ODB’s favorite drink) to share and enjoyed sipping it by the fish tank which, naturally, was filled with piranhas and a few others like two types of puffer fish. However, the nightclub quickly became over crowded and we decided to head back to the strip for some dinner. After dinner, we went back to the room and we were both so exhausted from the days leading up to this day that we both crashed by 9:30.
After a much needed nights rest, we woke up bright and early Friday morning to grab a bite to eat before getting into our Korrasami cosplays for the first full day of ClexaCon. We made our way back through both casinos and the sky bridge, it was in this moment the we decided to always stay in the host hotel, even if it is more expensive. Being in cosplay is hard even on the con floor let alone on the Las Vegas Strip. We managed to make it to the convention center where the line had already snaked its way through several doorways before actually leading to the entrance of con. Most people went straight, I mean gay-ly forward, for the main panel room (fun fact: all of the main panels were recorded and are posted to ClexaCon’s YouTube channel). We, however, went directly to the vendor hall. Last year there were about 30 vendors, this year there were about 130. While we were very excited about all of the options this would offer, we first needed to purchase tickets for photo ops. Which meant going back out to find the nearest ATM (if you are going to pull cash from an ATM in Vegas, pull all the cash out at once because the fees are ridiculous). Fortunately, there was an ATM at the front of the convention center so we did not have to go far. We came back, purchased our photo ops and began scouting the vendor hall. Now, any experienced con-goer will tell you to check out the entire hall before you make any purchases. This will eliminate pretty much any chance of buyer’s remorse. If you find stuff you think you’ll end up buying, ask for the vendor’s card so you will remember what booths to go back to.
After our initial scan of the vendor hall is was about time to go to our first panel of the con, which happend to be our own panel: Queer and Plus Sized Cosplay. Needless to say, we were a bit nervous. This would be the first panel we’ve ever done and we were not sure if anyone would even show up. We got there about 10 minutes early to make sure we would be able to hook up our PowerPoint and to calm our nerves. About 5 minutes till, we found out that we would have an addition to the panel. Her name is @calicoqueen (you should definitely check her out, she’s really good and has been at this for nearly 10 years). A few moments later, and it was time to start. What followed was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only did people show up to our panel but we actually filled over half of the room. We were able to cover everything we wanted to and we able to bring insight from our collective experiences. Attendees who came in with a lot of questions told us afterwards that we answered all of them through our presentation. It went great, at least I think it did, and people continued to tell us they enjoyed it throughout the rest of the con.
As soon as we finished, we had to rush back to our room to change to we would make it to our timeshare presentation. I would like to take advantage of the public platform to say that I have the most loving, selfless, wonderful fiance in the entire world. They gave up 3 hours of their con to give me the opportunity to cross something off my bucket list. No, it was not to sit through a timeshare presentation, but to finally see a Cirque du Soleil performance in person. I’ll gush about it more in the Day 2 blog, but it was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. After three of the most awkward hours of our lives was over, we went back to the con (well, I went to redeem our ticket vouchers, but quickly caught back up with ODB).
We headed straight to the dealer room and began to make decisions on things we absolutely must have. After getting a few things and having the opportunity to talk to some of the vendors now that things had calmed down some, we realized it was later than we thought and the Trans/NB meet up had already started. So we rushed over and I think the only thing we missed was a conversation about hummus. Even as a mostly cis woman, I still had fun at this meet up, but I’m going to let ODB share their thoughts on it as it had a bigger impact on them.
ODB: The experience really started at the pool party the night before. I had been afraid that ClexaCon would no longer be the haven it had been for me last year since I had recently come out as non-binary and then TransMasculine. This could not have been further from the truth. At the ClexaCon pool take over there were so many post-op trans men proudly splashing around shirtless in the pool. The NonBinary/Trans meetup only continued this inclusive atmosphere. We went around introducing ourselves and sharing why we were attending ClexaCon. When I shared about my Trans journey and the limitations I had from taking T (testosterone) because of a pathological fear of needles, three trans men at least immediately jumped up and began informing me of all the other options that were out there: creams and gels. It was the most accepted I can honestly say that I have ever felt in my entire life. I was in this room where everyone was supportive, everyone had a journey which had brought them to this convention at this meetup and they were so willing to share their knowledge and experience to lift us trans babies up. I can honestly say that it is because of this panel and my experiences resulting from it throughout the weekend at ClexaCon that I immediately went back home and came out to anyone I could, including my father. At work in the new job I started after ClexaCon they offered me a free shirt with the company logo and sent me all the female options. ClexaCon and the people I met there gave me the courage to send an email back asking for the male options. I have anxiety and I spent most of the day with that email in my drafts, but I pressed that send button and the response was overwhelmingly positive. I would never have done anything like that towards coming out even for my own comfort if it were not for this meetup. So, I just have to say if you are a trans identifying individual and you think ClexaCon couldn’t be for you, please attend anyway. It is such an uplifting experience and it will change your life!
I’m back, SkyBerry13. Anyway, after the meet up, ClexaCon was pretty much over for the day. There was a comedy show later in the evening, but we needed to eat and finish up our cosplay which was premiering for the next day. For dinner went to this restaurant called The Lotus of Siam and it was the best Thai food we have ever eaten. It had been recommended to us the night before by our Lyft driver and it did not disappoint. After filling ourselves with delicious food, we headed back to the hotel where another all-nighter began. Hopefully, I have learned my lesson because I never again want to stay up all night working on costumes the day before they need to be worn. The first day of ClexaCon came to a close, but while the sun rose on the new day the sound of a whirring sewing machine could be heard from behind door 16223.