For a lot of folks, this weekend meant one thing only: C2E2, Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo—a time for oddballs, freaks and sweaty fan boys to come out of the woodwork and be awestruck at the vast array of events and activities featuring some the top celebs and artists in the graphic novel industry. Shocked that Con Kids could actually party, we decided to check out this year’s kick-off extravaganza at Chinatown’s Reggie’s Rock Club, where C2E2’s “Skeletor’s Evil Plan” was executed in the form of blazing fires, burlesque beauties and a montage of musical acts and monologue mania.
Fantastic Mammals, the opening act, must have been solely promoting their keyboard player, as he stole the stage with his hardcore hand jiving across the keys, legs stomping and head banging—all eyes were on this guy who was not only a finger-funk phenomenon but also a tambourine trickster. Conners in the crowd were dazzled, awkwardly swaying to the broken transitions of FM’s neo-new wave 8-bit sound. However, there were some patrons, including Reggie’s staffers, who were hearing it for what it was: a group of guys struggling to harmonize—but that’s what their fan base seemed to love about them. Irony in the form of gamers turned [wanna-be] guitar gangsters.
Wandering into the crowd, wafts of alcohol-infested B.O. emanated from pony-tailed guys and their spandex-sporting gals. One lady seemed to be proud of her protruding pooch as it jiggled along with the rest of her body. The only visually pleasing thing to do was look down at the floor only to notice the ensemble of matching gym shoes worn by both the male and female geek.
Making way to the front of the crowd, Skeletor swaggered onto the stage—speaking in a mildly effeminate voice—and announced that he was in need of a new “evil companion” to destroy He-Man’s twin sister, She-Ra. What was this–a 12-year-old kiddie show? Surprisingly She-Ra was brought out on stage, bound and [ball] gagged, shortly followed by a pyrotechnic gypsy who pranced and danced around the “Princess of Power.” Though the fire burned bright, illuminating the stage, her flaming fists and wands failed to vanquish the vixen of valor. A spectator might have been lost in the special effects and ritualistic romp had She-Ra’s head gear not have fallen off and ropes loosened—though she did her best to maintain the appearance of danger.
Following Doctor Who up the stairs, our crew ventured to the second-level lounge, which proved quite fruitful. He-Man, Hit Girl, Bane and Nightwing were among the gang of characters assembling for a photo shoot set up by a shutterbug who resembled a ’90s version of Tim Armstrong. Never before did He-Man seem so flamboyant, as his blond hair and massive chest was comparable to that of a guy on the cover of a romance novel—one of our interns froze in a stare of burning desire! Though Marilyn Manson was urged to join in, he was too busy brooding with his strung-out cohort Gothstress. After the shoot with Rancid McCamera, we returned to the show only to notice Skeletor’s “new evil candidate,” Carmen Sandiego—or a shorter, more voluptuous version of the elusive, red-trench coat-sporting spy.
She stepped alluringly about the stage, slowly removing her coat. No longer were people wondering where in the world she was, as all her clothing had fallen to the floor save the signature fedora. This Carmen stared boldly in the face of [possible] embarrassment, with her curves doing a dance of their own. Nothing was left to the imagination save a pair of pasties that resembled small globes. Though her routine was anything but smooth and elusive—like her namesake would suggest—the audience seemed excited and pleasantly surprised to be treated to a striptease so early in the evening.
Next up was supposedly James Kirk—or “Jimmy Kirk” as one of our staffers put it due to his complete lack of sporting the traditional Federation outfit rather an ensemble of cheap shades, white leather jacket and a pair of tight, silver cargo pants accompanied with a Star Wars-like gun holster complete with laser gun—which was backed up by sound effects provided by some unseen switchboard operator. In a half-assed Captain Kirk voice, Jimmy Kirk broke into a rap about how to be “cool” in space not to mention drugs, bestiality and masturbation. Suddenly, a giant tarantula drops from the rafters, legs poking Jimmy in the face. As he struggled with the arachnid of doom, there was some apparent “technical difficulties” from above, leaving Jimmy to maintain the façade of being in danger whilst sustaining his geek-beat rhythm. Ultimately, his act decreased audience engagement mostly because of his long pauses of vogue-ing, probably afraid that the “rhythm was gonna get him.”
Jimmy exited stage right, but Skeletor returned to introduce who we later deemed Metal Mike Mcgee, who drained the audience with his guitar solo. However, his ratty long hair and beard—both hung down to his waist—somehow held everyone’s attention. He strummed the shit out of his guitar, hitting those ballad-like high riffs whilst glaring intently at his hands. You would have thought he was summoning Satan himself. What started as a novelty segment turned into Iron Maiden’s roller coaster from Hell, as Metal Mike dragged it out for a whopping 45 minutes—who does that?? It could be safely assumed that, after his 3rd recapitulation, people applauded in sympathy, hoping he’d catch fire and burn up into the atmosphere.
Taking refuge outside, for some fresh air, we caught other patrons leaving permanently—some groaning on their way out the door. We were determined to stick it out, so we headed back in only to experience the most shocking and childhood-destroying act. Lion-O, “Lord of the Thunder Cats,” was on stage, doing a striptease to the Stray Cats’ “Stray Cats Strut.” Never again would that song nor the cherished cartoon be the same for any of us. Much like Carmen’s number, it all came off! Luckily his Thunder junk remained hidden. They may as well have brought out Tom of Finland after that scarring segment.
Realizing we were among the last few lounge lizards, it was decided that a movie was in order, to erase such a horrible image from our minds. While many comicon-related events are certainly must-sees, this was not one of them. Thank you press passes!