Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Stardust Gene Convention 2010

Warning! This is a long post with lots of photos and mundane details like what I wore, ate, bought, saw, and how little I slept. I may also use the word "awesome" too much. Read at your own risk!

When Mel Odem announced last year that he was going to pursue other interests and next year was Gene's last year I was saddened and dismayed. Gene has been an important part of my life for the past 7 years. I have loved collecting her and especially sewing for her. She has been a creative outlet for me like no other hobby I have ever had. Sewing for her has really been more than a hobby, it has been a passion and sometimes an obsession.

I knew I had to attend the last Gene convention in Philadelphia, June 3-5. Thank you Bert for arranging your schedule so you could be home for the boys. I appreciate it more than you know.

I flew out to Philadelphia Wednesday, June 2. I had to wake up bright and early to catch the 4:15 airport shuttle. I think I got maybe two hours of sleep that night. I was so excited and stressed about missing my 3:00 alarm that I never really went to sleep.

At the airport I met up with Tim and Don, fellow Northwest Gene fans. The flight was long, yet uneventful. We caught a shuttle to the Loews Hotel in downtown Philly. We chatted the whole way about Gene, fabric, movies, and fashions. The other riders on the shuttle probably thought we were nuts! There may have been an incident when we arrived at our hotel where I might have thought the black suitcase in the van was not mine and that a woman who had got out at another hotel before me had taken the wrong suitcase. It is a good thing another passenger thought to look at the name tag on that black suitcase and it may have had my name on it. In my defense, I was super tired, that suitcase wasn't the one that I usually use, and I'm an idiot.

The Loews Hotel was awesome. It is over 30 stories high and located on Market Street, in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. I was in a corner room on the 9th floor. I forgot to take a picture of my room, but it looked a lot like this, but in reverse and without the flowers, grapes, laptop, and briefcase.

I unpacked my suitcases and made my way downstairs where the early-birds were attending a pre-convention cocktail party. I hadn't signed up for it because I wasn't sure when I would be actually arriving at the hotel. I wrote my room sale information up on a white board and picked up my room sale door sign. I talked to a few people, admired the cocktail sheath that I would be getting in my convention package tomorrow and went back to my room.


I had never done room sales before. In Orlando, I rented a table in the sales room and learned the hard way that I couldn't attend workshops and be in the salesroom at the same time. Last year at the "Hollywood Ahoy" convention I take anything with me to sell. Originally, I wasn't even planning on selling my doll clothes at this convention, but then I decided to make sundresses for table gifts and that turned into making a whole bunch of sundresses and sheaths to sell.

As I sat in my room, I was wishing I could be out visiting other room sales. I felt like I was missing out on the fun stuff. I ordered room service and my food and customers arrived. I had a great time talking to everyone. I had a bunch of older fashions on my bed. I called it my "garage sale". People snatched those up fast!

After a while, I closed down my room and visited other room sales on my floor. I think I spent all the money I had just made! Then I reopened my room and sold some more.

I went to bed about midnight. I was exhausted! But wouldn't you know it, I had a horrible time going to sleep! I think my body was still on West Coast time or something.


I awakened Thursday morning rather early considering how little I had slept. While I was standing in the bathroom with wet hair I realized the room didn't have a hairdryer! I called downstairs and they told me it was hanging behind the bathroom door in a black fabric bag. I was so relieved.

I registered for the convention and received my convention package. Inside a large shopping bag was a large empty box, my cocktail sheath, a schedule of the next few days and some other goodies.

I walked two blocks to the Reading Terminal Market. It was awesome. It was just like Pike Place Market in Seattle take away the multi levels, waterfront ambiance, and people throwing salmon and add Amish bakeries and butcher shops and restaurants selling cheese steak sandwiches and they could have been twins. I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to eat so I bought jelly doughnuts at an Amish bakery, yum.

Then it was time for some shopping for me. Macy's was only a few buildings away from my hotel. It was about 10,000 times larger than my local Macy's, I picked up a few great things on sale. I still spent way more money on clothes for Gene than I did on myself.

All the convention sales rooms were opening at noon, so I decided to postpone my sightseeing trip to see the Liberty Bell until the last day. I am glad I did that because people told me that the place was swarming with school children on Thursday. I went shopping in both sales rooms and I may have bought a couple of dolls and other things.

I walked back to the Reading Market and bought a Philly Cheese steak sandwich. It was so huge I saved the other half for the next day. I opened my room for sales for a couple of hours and met some more great people and reconnected with some friends that I had made at the last two conventions.

It was then time for the first big event of the convention. I dressed up in a new blouse that I had just bought at Macy's and a black skirt that had needed that new blouse and went down to the ballroom.

I really don't enjoy mingling with people, I am shy, but when I finally start talking I won't shut up. When they opened the doors to the ballroom I found the table I was assigned to. I had been invited by my friend Jennifer to sit with her and her lovely mother Katherine. The Angelic Dreamz guys were our table hosts and I enjoyed the other people at the table. I gave out my table gifts that night. I had made everyone a sundress out of 9 different fabrics and 3 different styles. I also had 3 Ann Taintor postcard for everyone. They are hilarious!

We enjoyed a delicious dinner of eggplant and artichoke soup, chicken, and cheesecake. The service was wonderful. The whole evening was great I only have two complaints: The music was way too loud and I couldn't talk to my table mates very well, and I didn't get her

Image Property of Integrity Toys

Image Property of Integrity Toys

I fell in love with the "Blue Avenue" centerpiece as soon as I walked into the ballroom. OMGosh was she gorgeous! I love day wear more than evening wear so she really appealed to me.

Here is a picture of the "Blue Avenue" at our table. OK, here is how the centerpiece dolls work. There are ten people at each table. Everyone is given a number that we keep for the whole convention, my number was 6. Four numbers were pulled out of the bag and those people have the opportunity to purchase the centerpiece dolls. Not one of the numbers was mine! Four people at our table were able to buy "Blue Avenue" I am still eating my heart about the "one that got away. "Blue Avenue" has become the hot doll of the convention. No one wants to sell her and many, many people want to buy her.

Another tradition at the meals is to receive "Swag" This was sitting on my seat.

Image Property of Integrity Toys

This was the first part of a gift set that fit into the large box I received when I registered. The details are exquisite. I was very excited to see what else we would be receiving.

But that is not all! Everyone was surprised with a beautiful "Parfait Zita", WOW!!!!

Image Property of Integrity Toys

Image Property of Integrity Toys

After dinner I sold more out of my room. I was very happy with how my sales went. Everyone I met was so friendly and complimentary that by the time I went to bed, my head was huge! I had a terrible time going to sleep again, I'm not sure if it was because I was still on West Coast time, I drank a diet coke too late, or my big head, but I didn't get to sleep until about 3:30 am.


Friday was a full day for me. I got breakfast at the Reading Terminal Market, and visited the sales rooms again. I may have bought some more dolls and outfits. My first workshop was about eyelashes. I bought the eyelash kit, and learned about all the different ways one can do eyelashes on a doll. My favorite tip for eyelashes though come from a fellow classmate. She told us how she uses a little dental brush to fix Gene's lashes. She passed one around the room and loe and behold it was awesome! It was like a mini mascara wand. That was one of the first things I bought at Walmart when I got home.

Next was lunch in the ballroom. The centerpiece was "Love Madra"

Image Property of Integrity Toys

Image Property of Integrity Toys

I my number was called for her. I really love her, she is beautiful, her outfit is wonderful, and I needed more Madras, but I would have rather had "Blue Avenue".

Lunch was salad, chicken (again), and an apple tart. Mel Odem talked about Madra and how he wanted to create a rival for Gene before he made a man for her. He talked about how he chose her name, and the inspiration for her costume. I loved my new doll even more after Mel's speech.

The next part of our gift set was this

Image Property of Integrity Toys

A beautiful fur muff, shoes, gloves, and jewelry package. But that was not all! After lunch we got another doll! "Moss Rose Ivy" is stunning with black-hair and I love her suit.. We were all getting so spoiled! I was starting to worry about getting all my dolls home.

Image Property of Integrity Toys

Image Property of Integrity Toys

I had two more workshops after lunch. The first one was on making accessories for Gene. We were given the supplies to make a purse, fur, and hat. I didn't get much done. I was too busy talking to my friend Michael that I had met last year in Long Beach. I plan on finishing my things at home. The second workshop was on how to flock hair on a doll. It wasn't a hands-on workshop, but we were able to watch Alain Tremblay flock hair on dolls. It was cool and involved electromagnetic charges, glue, and flocking. We all had fun saying the word flocking a lot. I bought a Trent doll that Alain had flocked in advance. Some people had Alain flock beards, eyebrows, and chest hair. I was happy with my Trent and his "flocken" head the way it was. I finally had me a man doll!

After the workshops I may have done a little more dolly shopping and I may have bought more stuff, maybe.

I was very tired by this time. I went back to my room and relaxed for a while. I ate the other half of my cheese steak sandwich (not bad cold) for dinner.

Friday night was a party in the ballroom. Many people dressed up like their favorite movie star or Gene outfit. I just wore a nice skirt and blouse.

At first I wasn't getting into it. I don't like to mingle and the music was too loud for talking. I got up to wander around and maybe go back to my room and I ran into Diane/Marilyn. Diane and I had gotten to know each other last year on the Queen Mary. She is really nice and I like her name. We ended up going out on the dance floor and dancing with everyone else out there. I was having fun now!

Here are some photos of the event, some of these photos I "borrowed" because I was a little lame in the photography department. I hope you all don't mind.

After dancing until my pointy-toed shoes were killing my feet. I went straight to bed. I finally had no problem going to sleep, Thank goodness!


Breakfast was at the Reading Market again. I was really digging that place. I may have bought a couple more Gene outfits in the sales room and then it was off to my last workshop on shoes. I enjoyed it, and may try making some shoes out of the old AD ribbon shoes that I had thrown in a box a long time ago. I love going to the workshops, but if I was to do the weekend over, would have left myself some more free time for shopping. Then again, what am I saying!? I had no problem spending money in the little time that I had!

The Trent luncheon was next. When I saw the Trent centerpiece, I wanted him. There were only enough Trents for about half the attendees. I decided I would be very happy if I got to buy him, but I wouldn't cry bitter tears in my pillow if I didn't get him like I was still doing about "Blue Avenue". It turned out I was able to buy him and now I had two men dolls! Yeah!

Image Property of Integrity Toys

Everyone received a accessory package for Trent at the luncheon. I like it, I would have loved shoes, since I can't sew shoes. I will have to go shoe shopping for Trent when I get home.

Image Property of Integrity Toys

Image Property of Integrity Toys

The luncheon was held in a different part of the hotel. I am sitting next to the blond woman on the far left just out of the picture. You can't see me, but I looked great!

The vendor's sales room was packed up (thank goodness for my wallet) so I went back down to the contest room, and Gene museum. I also took pictures of the convention collection that I had preordered. I love all of them and was glad I didn't have to worry about getting them home on the plane.

The convention package consisted of a doll for each characture, seven dolls total. How awesome is that?

The final gala celebration dinner for Gene was that night. I dressed in pink and I dressed my "Blue Parasol" in an amethyst beaded ballgown that I had made years ago. I chose this dress for Gene because the color reminded me of stardust, just like the theme of the convention.

The centerpiece was Zita Charles "Azalea". She was lovely, and three people at my table bought her.

Image Property of Integrity Toys

Image Property of Integrity Toys

We also received the rest of our gift package, a wigged Gene. This opens up a whole buch of possibilities! Now I need to go shoe shopping and wig shopping.

Image Property of Integrity Toys

Here is what my boxed set looked like before I deboxed it to fit it in my suitcase.

My doll became the centerpiece at our table after Zita had been boxed up. She looked lovely!

Dinner was soup, chicken (it's a good thing I like chicken) and dessert. We also had cupcakes at our table because it was our host George's birthday. They were better than the other dessert we had.

Our Table Hosts

A commission I made for the convention

It was finally time to reveal the convention doll. We were so excited! Stardust Gene is stunning! Her gown was inspired by a 1954 Charles James gown. I love stuff like that. I even love her long hair. I will not be messing with it.

Image Property of Integrity Toys

Image Property of Integrity Toys

Image Property of Integrity Toys

I took all my swag back to my room and finished packing up my box of dolls to ship home. Then I stood in the shipping line for a long time but I didn't mind because I was yacking it up with anyone who was standing near me.


My flight didn't leave Philidelphia until almost 6:00 pm that night and I wanted to see the Liberty Bell. I didn't eat breakfast at the Reading Market, instead I went to McDonalds. My hotel was only six blocks from the historic sites, but it was already hot and muggy by 10:00 am. I really enjoyed my little tour.

Independence Hall

I was so hot by the time I made it back to the Reading Market for "linner" I really regret not buying a big Amish pickle on Saturday because all the Amish shops were closed. I ran into Diane and we split a cheese steak sandwich and fries. She said I looked like I was melting (I think I really was!) Then we caught a shuttle to the airport. Penny was on the shuttle with us and we chatted about the convention, and dolls the whole way there. The other riders probably thought we were nuts, just like my earlier ride. I might have tried to get the driver to take the wrong black suitcase off the van. No more generic black carry-on suitcases for me! They got me into trouble twice!

This post is already too long, so I won't go into too many details about the flight back to Seattle. US Airways asked 30 people to volunteer to be bumped from the flight so the airplane could carry more fuel. I was tempted, but I wouldn't have gotten my checked suitcase back and it had EVERYTHING I needed to spend the night anywhere. My carry-on was full of dolls and doll clothes. I would have been trying to wear Gene's clothes the next day if I had been bumped. I got lucky and made it on the flight.

My husband picked me up in Oak Harbor at 1:15 am. I was so surprised to walk into a clean house. Thank you boys!

I loved going to the three conventions I was able to go to. It was wonderful being with other Gene lovers, I felt like I was with my people! I hope there will be some kind of get together in the future. I am going to end this post with this wonderful quote I found on the Gene boards the other day-

"Don't be sad it's over, be happy it happened"


MJ said...

This is the Best convention recap I've read, Diane! I loved it so much! BTW, your blog has been one of my favorite links on my blog for the last couple weeks, I hope you don't mind! -Matty

Terri Gold said...

I loved reading your convention experience. It reads very much like mine. I was number 6, too! I did get to your room, didn't I? So many people, so little time.

Daveland said...

Diane - For those of us who couldn't make it, thanks for the detailed account and photos. Glad that there are extremely talented designers like you to keep the new clothes coming!

Terri Gold said...

Hi Diane: I just read through your review again. It was just as much fun the second time around especially because I know you better.
Hope all is well!