The fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who united fans from the east coast to Long Island for their first Doctor Who Convention, also known as L.I. Who. A fan club named the Gallifreyan Embassy, established in 1985, hosted the event in the Clarion Hotel and began what is now an annual Doctor Who convention in New York. For 2013, L.I. Who was honored to have the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy as a guest, as well, as Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Daphne Ashbrook (Grace Holloway), Simon Fisher-Becker (Doriam Maldovar), Ian McNeice (Winston Churchill) and Chase Masterson (Vienna Salvatori).
As I pulled into the hotel parking lot I spotted a series of vehicles uniquely designed to resemble the TARDIS with bright blue paint and several cosplayers ready for action. A woman dressed in a toga as Donna from The Fires of Pompeii, a tall, lean man dressed as the Tenth Doctor complete with a long brown trench coat and a person in a banana suit immediately caught my attention. I felt like I was part of community and was immediately surrounded by friends as my husband practically sprinted for the hotel room.
The panels were fun, interactive, creative and surprisingly not limited to just Doctor Who. A series of panels were question and answer with the guest celebrities. One panel was a game show for James Bond trivia, which also celebrated its 50th anniversary recently. Another panel taught fun tips about costume designing and cosplay make up. Everyone laughed until their sides were sore during a panel when we watched Doctor Who related YouTube hits which included a massive amount of fangirling, hilarious music videos and some home video Doctor Who spin-off episodes. My personal favorite event was Karaoke Night. I’ll admit, the D.J. was awful. SO awful. Most of the songs cut out halfway through and then we waited well over an hour for them to figure out the equipment. Luckily, Whovians don’t need equipment to have a mind-blowing awesome Karaoke Night! One woman, cosplaying as Ramona 2, sang a stunning performance of “L’amour est un Oiseau Rebelle” from the famous opera, Carmen. Most Doctor Who fans will know this opera as the song Oswin Oswald plays over the intercom during the episode Asylum of the Daleks. Then another boisterous guy got up and sang a comically operatic version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Since he was singing acapella, the audience provided support by banging on the tables, clapping, waving their sonic screwdrivers instead of lighters and strong back up singing. As I said, this was a community of instant friends and camaraderie.
It was an absolute delight to meet the one and only Sylvester McCoy. My three-year old daughter, who was adamant about taking her Curious George stuffed animal with her, and I got in line for the early signing on Friday night and were excited to meet the Doctor in person. When he saw my daughter, he let her sit up on the table and he played with her and Curious George like a true, fan loving gentleman. He even had the little monkey slap him around a little and allowed for us to take some free pictures of my daughter with him. What a hero!
The cosplayers who attended this events were dedicated and thorough with accessories and attempted accents. One particular Whovian scared the daylights out of me (I’m talking actual hyperventilation) by popping out of nowhere dressed as the Silence. The guy even had the clicking, croaking sound effects that sent chills up my spine as he eerily lifted his misshapen appendages up at me. A competition was held for the best costumes and there were so many competitors they had to line up around the entire ballroom and out the door! Weeping Angels (one even had a changing face for when she got closer), Amys (both young and the older Amy from The Girl Who Waited), a giant blue cat with haunting, glowing green eyes from an episode during Peter Davidson era, Soothsayers from The Fires of Pompeii, and every last Doctor from 1-11 competed. The last contestant rocked the show, dressed as the First Doctor and delivered a beautiful, well rehearsed monologue from the show. He brought down the house, but however he did not win the competition because he was not enrolled in the show. Boo!!! The children cosplayers were also able to gather and do a little parade for everyone to see their adorableness and then finish by taking pictures with the life-sized TARDIS, which was built in Texas and driven up to L.I. Who. My own children participated dressed as a Dalek and as the Eleventh Doctor. One cute boy in a wheelchair was dressed as a red Dalek with the costume built around his chair.
On the final night there was a giant dance party with costumes encouraged. Sure enough, a guy dressed as the Tenth Doctor had a banana, a tie up around his head and aviator shades and most definitely dance the Electric Slide in the front row together with River Song, my friend Carmin, and a family of Cybermen. And who could forget the Weeping Angel dancing with River Song to the Mortal Combat theme? (Yes, I attached the video.) The only event that I wish I had made time for was the game room. I went up just before we left on the last day and I realized how much I had miss out on! They had Doctor Who Monopoly, Doctor Who Scene it and several more games that I can’t wait to try next year.
I am proud to say that I attended the first L.I. Who convention and I am ecstatic to come back next year. In fact, I personally will be planning to go every year until David Tennant comes to New York and signs every item in my suitcase. The people who had callously announced they wouldn’t come because there were not any “big” names (Hah!) really missed out on a great opportunity to meet some fantastic guest celebrities, learn about a show we all love, celebrate like a bunch of wild Whovian animals, and make new friends. This convention was worth the trip! Hope to see you next year!