“Hey Robert, great to have you back. What’ll you have?” Lawrence says as I grab a seat at the bar while I take a break from shooting video at BABSCon, the Bay Area Brony Spectacular, a three-day gathering of people of all gender identifications who are obsessed with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
I never expected to be a regular at the 3SIXTY Bar in the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, Calif., near SFO, but here I am. It’s the place where everybody knows my name—kind of.
Lawrence calls me Robert because that’s the name on my credit card. I call him Lawrence because that’s what’s on his nametag, but I’m free to call him Larry.
This is my second time at BABScon at the SFO Hyatt.
I’ve also run around the Hyatt’s lobby as Klingon Santa during a Trek con and ducked riot cops when Trump spoke here, so I should have seen this coming.
I finish off my Old Fashioned and contemplate getting another one when Bolt the Super Pony calls.
John de Lancie is ready to be interviewed right now.
Fortunately, he’s in a conference room across the hall from the 3SIXTY.
As one of fandom’s favorite villains—known for his roles as Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Discord in My Little Pony, de Lancie is in high demand on the convention circuit.
“The first time I went to a convention like this was a Star Trek convention close to 35 years ago,” de Lancie said while twirling an airplane bottle of high-end whiskey in his hand. When de Lancie arrived at the Florida convention center in a hot and humid June all those years ago, everyone was dressed up.
“It was like Halloween,” he said.
“Understand that 35 years ago people weren’t really doing this stuff,” he continued. “Well, now when I see a Star Trek convention or Cutie Pie Twilight Sparkle unicorn walking through the lobby, it doesn’t do anything for me.”
De Lancie does wonder what the bellboy or the people working in the lobby are thinking, however.
“I’m rather amused,” he said. “Of course, they’re in that business.
“There have been hotels that really run with it and have done a fantastic job,” he continued. “I went to one recently that they made the elevators look like ‘Beam me up Scotty’-type stuff.
[Related Content: Read about Bob's first trip to BABSCon here!]
“When the hotels get behind it and people enjoy it on the staff level, that’s a lot of fun. That helps for everything," de Lancie concluded. "It also just says, ‘We participate.’ We’re not just going to the zoo.”
He must be doing something right, as de Lancie is already booked for Star Trek Las Vegas Aug. 1-5, 2018, at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.
After the interview, I return to the 3SIXTY. I notice a Rainbow Dash doll above the beer taps. The bar also has a list of special Brony cocktails made just for BABSCon. The Brony drinks all have far too much Malibu and Chartreuse in them. I ask Lawrence for another Old Fashioned instead.
Every month in “Shattering Conventions,” author Bob Calhoun crashes a new tradeshow, convention or conference looking for a way to fit in—even when he doesn't always belong. Calhoun is the author of "Shattering Conventions: Commerce, Cosplay and Conflict on the Expo Floor." You can follow him on Twitter at @bob_calhoun.