The freaks were out in full force at the LA Convention Center on Memorial Day and I was one of them, though quickly realizing I wasn't properly attired for the Holy Star Wars Empire. I got there about 9:00am to fully uniformed storm troopers, old Obi Wan Kenobis holding plastic baby dolls, cardboard droids, and a couple of guys dressed as Indiana Jones (wrong movie fellas!)
Once inside I checked out the exhibit hall where they sold everything from custom-made blaster belts to Yoda slippers and gold-handled light sabers. People actually brought empty luggage to fill with their "credit card debt is my friend" purchases and I overheard a Jedi wannabe announce in his walkie-talkie, "TK421 I just saw Jon Heder a.k.a. Napoleon Dynamite walk by."
On a nearby stage actor Charles Ross single-handedly performed the original Star Wars trilogy in 30 minutes, complete with sound effects, soundtrack, and extra commentary, including what Luke Skywalker really said when he pulled off Darth Vader's mask - "Hey, I thought you were a black guy."
After lunch I walked through the R2-D2 Builders' Room where a club of mostly 40-year-old men apparently unable to find anything better to do with $5,000 had constructed their own models of the little droid (that was the average cost to make one. The most expensive was $12,000.) I asked a systems analyst guy from Texas how long it took him to make his. He excitedly reported as he pushed in his glasses, "one year and 10 months." Believe it or not, this club has a membership of 58,00 members in 30 countries.
In another room, as Jabba and his girlfriend made out behind us, a woman held a bible of swatches trying to find the exact color of Queen Amidala's cloak so she could duplicate one for herself, pausing every few minutes to have her picture taken. She was matching that swatch for at least 4 hours. In fact anyone in costume was all too elated to pose for a picture basking in the fame and celebrity they achieved by being- oh let's call it what it is- an obsessed fanatic. I guess people that are willing to go to that length for attention deserve it.
The best picture and laugh of the day came as I walked by the impending Wookie Trivia event. Walking toward me was little miss muffin-top herself, sporting the legendary costume of Return of Jedi beloved by men everywhere - Princess Leia's bronze bikini. This girl's belly (along with other parts of her body) was dancing without even trying. As she passed, all heads turned to see if she'd actually gone through with the whole charade and dispensed with wearing underwear. Yep. She had. The dark maroon loin cloth barely draped across her thighs and revealed there was nothing underneath. I couldn't stop laughing as I followed her down the hall and took a picture with my cellphone. Spasm of horrified laughter.
The whole day was an eye-opening experience, witnessing the congregations of Lucas' devoted worshippers. The next Star Wars convention isn't scheduled yet but I'd probably go again. Not only because I love Star Wars, but I also love a good laugh. I only hope that the woman I saw in line with the long graying pony tail to her butt and stained canvas bag at her side that said Crazy Cat Lady wasn't a premonition of myself in 30 years.