Of all of the music, artistic expression, and other specific interest-based scenes at Contraflow, it’s safe to say that Fandom is just as much a lifestyle as punk, metal, or indie scenes. Contraflow New Orleans, 2019 was an amazing union of fans of all ages and walks of life. It is an obsession of certain specific art forms, be it Dungeons and Dragons, LARPS (Live Action Role Play Games), Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, or any of the many other comics and graphic novels. Upon arriving at the airport Hilton in Kenner where this year’s Contraflow took place (since these Fandom devotees cross the Gulf Coast to attend any number of Conventions a year the boards always choose a hotel that is reasonable and all weekend access is $45), we were immediately welcomed by a warm bunch of costumed misfits and others who simply come to enjoy what these conventions are all about. All are accepted and highly encouraged to have a great time.
The events of Friday evening were mostly comprised of a preview glance at the art on auction for charity, and right around the corner, a cocktail party set to satirical rock music and crowds of people dancing in front of humorous images on a large projector screen.
The plethora of comic fans gear up in elaborate costumes and dance together with an air of absolute freedom. To many in attendance, this is a family reunion of sorts. I was reunited with a friend and dance partner from an event several months earlier at Bad Wolf Bay Bar And Grill. At this event, my husband and I cosplayed as the 11th Doctor and River Song. (Cosplay is a Fandom term for extreme costuming to the point of at least near realism. One will not see corsets and boas here! This crowd takes costuming seriously.
Although many stay for the entire weekend, others were not able to arrive until Saturday due to work schedules but still got into the spirit. Contraflow does offer lower prices for one day passes; the dedicated people who make these functions happen are doing so for the pure sake of the event and their love of Fandom so the ticket prices reflect that.
Come Saturday evening, the art auction was in full swing. The Artist Guest Of Honor was an intriguing painter named Oneta Cole. Miss Cole had on display several delightful allegories of various themes. The first set of her paintings on display near the gallery room entrance was an array of entrancing images mounted on small, ready to hang canvasses depicting images of beings animal, human, and of the artist’s own imagining in vivid detail. The latter element resounds in all of Oneta Coles’s work.
The next section on display was a set of Cole’s unique impressionism displaying the remarkable artist’s rendering of creatures of this world as well as those of lore indigenous to the hills, fields, forest, and snow-capped mountains alike, drawing in the mind and eyes of the beholder with a beautiful intensity. In another section, Cole wowed with an epic display of strong figures and archetypes almost coming to life from the canvass.
Another featured artist, Teresa Mathers equally yet in her own distinctive style, boasts paintings of various literary figures as many may have imagined them while reading each subject’s respective piece of literature.
Jeffry Murray dazzled the auction room with a hypnotic set of prismatic and other dimensional optical delights!
Eric Martin supplied a wonderfully new and eccentric take on pop art with portrait style images of about every sort of woman imaginable, embracing and highlighting each one’s ultimate personal beauty.
Bryan Jones offered a glamorous display of ornate jewelry in stunning replication of Celtic, Medieval, and other fashions of cultures past but far from forgotten. The detail was breathtaking.
Other artists who contributed to the charity auction, in line with the convention’s theme had put on display a remarkable, to say the least, display of the ephemeral, the mythical, and folkloric. It seemed that bidders were equally amazed as the artwork was claimed nonstop during my perusal of the delightful images.
After the art auction ended it was time for the costume contest. The contestants and audience members were first greeted by a fun, upbeat band called The Library Bards (a great name).
After the opening music ended, the mood properly set, the contest began, starting with the children’s contest. One precocious little girl recited and sang at least five famous pieces of music and words without missing a beat.
Since my husband and I were in the competition, a man who for the rest of his and our stay knew me as The Archer, was kind enough to photograph The Valhalleans, or rather two members of an elite crime-fighting brigade operating under the code of the ancient Norse Gods “because some things don’t change”.
After the costume contest and a much-needed clothing change, we arrived on the second floor just in time to catch the announcement of the victors of the room party competition.
A couple of other respectable parties were still going. The Harry Potter party still had the lights and décor in place and the butterbeer flowing.
Reportedly, the Potter fans’ self-made butterbeer tasted like a delicious combination of Butterscotch and Amber, going down with the smooth nature of quality liquor.
After the parties wound down, we returned to our room, I with Sophocles ( a cocktail comprised of Le Croix, Pinnacle Whipped Vodka, Creme De Casis, and Raspberry Brandy of my own creation to regroup and reflect on the events of the weekend. It was a good call to stay over Sunday night as I observed when the conventioneers skulked to their cars after a wild, fun-filled weekend!
Anyone and everyone should check out at least one of these amazingly orchestrated and open, loving convention of fans and all-around amazing people!
Margaret Marley Armstrong is an actress as well as a regular contributor of culture and lifestyle content at Big Easy Magazine. You can view more of her work here.