As Malinda mentioned in her Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever. column last friday, AfterEllen.com Editor-in-Chief Sarah Warn and I were invited to speak on a panel at the South of Nowhere Appreciation Conference in Los Angeles this weekend. The conference was designed to get viewers of the show together for the first time to share their experiences, as well as allow the SoN audience to show the cast and creators of the show some love.
South of Nowhere stars Mandy Musgrave, Gabrielle Christian, Maeve Quinlan, Eileen Boylan, Matt Cohen, Quentin Prescott Price, and Valery Ortiz attended, as did former SoN executive producer Nancylee Myatt and SoN writers Paige Bernhardt and Chad Fiveash.
The audience was a rambunctious group of SoN devotees — or more to the point, Spashley devotees. Every time Mandy or Gabrielle entered the conference room (or were even rumored to be within 50 feet of the conference room!) the fans erupted in cheers. And yes, the attendees were almost all female.
The panel that Sarah and I sat on was devoted to SoN's impact on the media and how it fits into the larger context of lesbian representation in pop culture. We were pleasantly surprised by the strong turnout for the panel (it was celebrity-free, so we didn't know how many people it would draw) and audience members had some great questions and suggestions for ways we could increase the Spashley love on AfterEllen.com. Sarah said a lot of insightful things and I mostly just made the occasional wiseass remark. Yep, just another day at the office.
Afterwards, we did a meet and greet, signing autographs and taking pics with devoted AfterEllen readers. Thanks to everyone who came over to say hello!
Conference organizer Gloria Brenes told me, "This was a wonderful experience, not just for me, but for everyone. The charity, the organizations that came to speak, the cast and creators in attendance, and most especially, the fans of the show. The most rewarding part I think for all of us behind the scenes was watching the fans having so much fun and raising money for SIDS Educational Services. In the end, after all the hard work that went into putting this conference together, it was so very worth it. We can't wait to do it again!"
In addition, the event (and auction of SoN swag) benefited SIDS Educational Services (a non-profit organization led by Joani Horchler, mother of Gabrielle Christian), raising about $6,000 for the cause.