Header design by Cherry Del Rosario

Dragon Con: For Nerds by Nerds

Looking back at ten years of Dragon Con

It’s almost Labor Day, which means it’s time for our favorite convention! Soon over 77,000 fans will descend on Downtown Atlanta to drink, get stuck on the Marriott elevators, show off their butts, go to panels about furry BDSM, stand in line to meet Alan Tudyk, and have the greatest time of their nerd lives at Dragon Con!

Since this is our tenth year attending Dragon Con, we’ve asked long-time attendees to share how the Con has changed over the years, their best Con stories, and their best photos from “Nerdi Gras!”


TRAVIS BROYLES

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

It was probably 2008. Or 2007. When could you still sneak in without having to make badges?

How has Dragon Con changed since your first attendance?

Well, I was stone sober at my first one. So that’s different. Also the game room is in fucking AmericasMart now? What hell on earth is this?

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

I’ve definitely seen a lot more Star Trek Voyager. And because my year peaks on Labor Day weekend now, I’ve let go of any expectations of life being fun outside of then!

What is your best Con story?

So the best one is probably my first year. I found an empty panel room and just sat down and started talking about an MMO with groundbreaking boob physics called BOULDERQUEST. People eventually started coming into the room and sitting down thinking it was legitimate. My friends would ask questions about CROILA THE ENDOWED’s critical path and strangers just nodded along.

So it’s either that or the time I took a bunch of acid and went looking for our car. But we didn’t drive. So I just lost my mind in a parking lot while wearing a fantasy vest.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

Attend a panel.

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con

I attached this to an email when I interviewed at my current job because they were looking for somebody to work on Four Loko social. Now I help run Four Loko social. Thank YOU, Dragon Con!


CHERRY DEL ROSARIO

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

2012

How has dragon con changed since your first attendance?

It’s gotten a lot bigger as far as attendance — I hear Thursdays are the new Fridays.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

For my first Dragon Con, I snuck in. I walked into the Marriott immediately after the parade where they weren’t able to check everyone’s badges due to the flood of people. After that, I only bought Saturday passes because I felt that Saturday was really the only day worth attending. I’ve managed to swing a free weekend pass for last year and this year… so I guess I’m a lot craftier? hahaha

But really, I have a much deeper appreciation for Dragon Con now than I did when I first heard of it. The people are always so down and supportive, no matter what you’re dressed as(or not dressed as). We all know that we’re all here to be giant NERDS and WEIRDOS and that’s fucking ok. In fact, let’s celebrate that shit!!!

What is your best Con story?

The night I lost my friend Eli. A group of us stayed up and partied at the Saturday night rave that starts at midnight. Most of our friends dipped out around 2/3am but Eli and I were feeling the Mad Max vibes and stayed till 4am. I left the ballroom to use the bathroom BUT THEY WEREN’T LETTING ANYONE BACK IN! I guess because the party was almost over and they wanted to start clearing out. It was nearing 5am and I went to text Eli to let him know I was outside BUT THEN MY PHONE DIED. The only one who could help me was ON MOLLY and just told me “everything will be ok” and continued his journey to stare at the Marriott fountain. I stood outside the party waiting and looking for Eli for almost 20 min when he finally walked out looking for me, both of us thinking the other one DIED a horrible Con death. Then we went back to the hotel room, struggled to drunkenly force a twin fitted sheet on a queen sized air mattress and passed out. Ok, NOT the most exciting story but it’s my favorite one :)

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

Hahaha a lot. My top ones are to visit the gaming room, the celebrity alley place and the artists alley.

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con


MAX FISHER

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

2000 or 2002? Somewhere around there. I went with my mom. I remember riding the elevator with a really polite Darth Maul.

How has Dragon Con changed since your first attendance?

It’s just gotten bigger — more attendees & more venues etc. The vibe is very much the same though: For nerds by nerds.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

I think I’ve become more accepting of just letting go and wearing whatever costume I want, regardless of how bootleg it may be. One time I was Club Kid Captain America. I mean, that doesn’t even make sense.

What is your best Con story?

One time I saw a little kid dressed as a pop tart bag. To this day it’s the best costume I’ve ever seen.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

Go to any panels. That just seems like some next level wizardry that I’m not ready to accept. #sorrynotsorry

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con


EDDIE RAY

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

Shit. I have no idea, but I used to only go during the day on Saturdays at first, then I found out there was nudity and parties at nights. Thanks Butch Teal. He was the first person who told me to go at night. Now I go Thursday night, Friday, Saturday and Sunday bitch!

How has Dragon Con changed since your first attendance?

More ass, boobs, and ding dongs are out. Atlanta is hotter now. The temp I mean too. Ya know global warming and all that.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

I have learned to accept everyone as an equal and to love all mankind…… hahahaha I have learned nothing. Changing is for the fitting rooms and I don’t like the clothing in this fucking store.

What is your best Con story?

That time when I paid for parking. It was 30.00 dollars. What crazy times.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

Get a BJ in the bathroom.

Please attach your favorite photo from the Con


ELLAREE YEAGLEY

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

1995 (!!!)

How has Dragon Con changed since your first attendance?

Both scale and scope have broadened dramatically over the past 22 years — I think in mostly positive ways. During my early cons, attendees were overwhelmingly white, male, and straight; the guests and panels reflected that limited demographic, and it wasn’t always a comfortable space for me and my friends. While there’s still (always) important work to be done in terms of welcoming/promoting diversity in geek communities, I recognize how far D*C has come. Also, nobody gives a shit about Todd McFarlane anymore (thank god).

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

Very little, to be honest.

What is your best Con story?

Two years in a row, Techno Destructo from GWAR chased me around the dealers’ room, trying to pinch my ass with his giant wrench-arm. Each time, he shouted something along the lines of, “Yessir, I sure like them redheads!” Years later, I asked him if he remembered me, and he was like, “What the hell are you talking about, Woman? I hate redheads.”

That’s my best “Could Only Have Happened At Dragon Con” story — but my most important Dragon Con story is that I met my spouse there in 2010. So what I’m saying is thank you, Dragon Con, for consistently hosting people who are willing to pinch my ass.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

Poop well. And be honest; neither have you.

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con


ELI BANKS

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

I think it was 2009? Maybe 2010? I’m really not sure, because I have a terrible memory. Largely because of things like Dragon Con. I know I’ve been five times. Or six. And not every year. But most years. Anyway, next question please.

How has Dragon Con changed since your first attendance?

Definitely the size. Just in pure population. I mean when I first went, it was massive. People were already complaining about how much bigger it had gotten, and I was just the new kid, being part of the problem. But now I’M the old one, and I’M telling the kids to get off my Dragon*Lawn. I keep thinking that it’s so big that I wouldn’t notice if it got bigger, but I’ve noticed every year. Now, to be fair, programming has expanded too. I rarely did panels at all my first two years, but this year there’s a ton I want to see.

Other than that I appreciate how much hasn’t changed. I mean my perspective is pretty limited cause I’m like Mr. Target Audience…’s slightly older brother. But as far as I can tell, it still feels very fan-oriented and not all gross and commercialized.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

Look, I don’t need to start getting in to how little I’ve grown as an adult, or as a human being in general. Yeah, I sure am older and more married now, but I can’t say I’ve changed much in many other ways than I was in 2009 or 10 or whenever we decided that was.

What is your best Con story?

It’s all the little moments, you know? Being charmed by Cary Elwes, meeting Hodor, seeing Cruxshadows for the first/last time… Late nights in the game room, early mornings at the Marriott rave. “Rave”? It’s the only rave I’ve ever been to so I don’t know if it deserves quotation marks or not. The point is, it’s hard to pick out one, because everything just becomes this one giant messy memory. Half the time you’re freaking out cause of what you’re seeing or who you’re hearing cause it’s the best gathering of people in the world; the other half you’re dancing and laughing your ass off cause it’s the best weekend-long party in the world. So I’m giving the easy answer: Everything. Also I met Rebecca Mader and she basically said I was extra special because I was the ONLY person to ask her about LOST all weekend. Everybody else wanted to talk about stupid Once Upon A Time. We’re BFF’s and also married now. Hi Bex! ❤

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

Haha, see the parade. I get all excited and stay up all night on Friday and never make it down there!! I swore I would go the one time I actually had a hotel room and I STILL missed it. I could see a corner of it from the 16th floor window, which I counted at the time. But I do wanna see it for real one day…

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con

I mean it’s gotta be me, my (actual) wife, and Hodor. (Sorry Bex! xoxo)


SAM MITCHELL

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

2003. I found out about Dragon Con the same day that I first attended. I didn’t hear about it via word of mouth or advertising, but by casually passing Stromtroopers and wizards milling about on the streets of Downtown Atlanta. I got tickets later that afternoon and by that evening I had had my first random celebrity encounter in the lobby of the Hilton. It was right before Kill Bill had been released in October. David Carradine walked by and when I recognized him he winked and pointed to me.

How has Dragon Con changed since your first attendance?

My impression is that it has grown in size tremendously. I remember being able to breezily walk from panel to panel in the first years that I went. The last one that I attended in 2014 was shoulder-to-shoulder foot traffic.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

I have become a very old man who hates crowds.

What is your best Con story?

There are quite a few. Helping James Callis find the Chief at the Pulse lounge, interviewing a cranky Edward James Olmos and attending one of the best panels that I’ve ever been to featuring Patrick Stewart. It’s always been about my time spent with friends, but one story that stands out is when they witnessed me flailing to get a photograph of Leonard Nimoy.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

Get a happy picture of Leonard Nimoy.

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con


JASON MALLORY

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

2007—I asked them to put “Spike Spiegel” on my badge

How has Dragon Con changed since your first attendance?

Cosplay has turned into a fiercely competitive industry

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

Instead of being a lonely, horny nerd—I’m now a horny nerd attending the Con with the love of my life

What is your best Con story?

Getting to meet and photograph Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner and receiving a warm welcome from them

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

Sleep soundly

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con


JULIAN MODUGNO

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

Um like 2006 I think?

How has dragon con changed since your first attendance?

It’s exactly the same just with way more people.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

I’m gayer than I was before and less interested in drinking myself to oblivion.

What is your best Con story?

One time I circle jerked in the bathroom with a dude I met at the Spectrum Party. He was dressed like a generic fantasy raver and I was dressed like Max from Where the Wild Things Are. We never spoke again.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

How do you even get IN to Dub Your Own Hentai?

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con


DIANA BROWN

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

2001

How has dragon con changed since your first attendance?

It’s 10000x bigger for one! It’s been cool to see it grow. More people dress up. It’s way more acceptable to ask off from work for it.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

I have a lot less money to spend, but I want to buy more expensive things.

What is your best Con story?

My first year there I came face to face Busta Rhymes at the elevator at the Hyatt. He was here for the BET awards. He walked off the elevator, looked around and said “wild.” That same year a guy dressed like Jean-Luc Picard offered me a red pill or a blue pill, that confused me. Was it some kind of Matrix-Star Trex mashup I didn’t get? I saw Kevin Sorbo at the Klingon beauty pageant. One year I spotted a friend from across the lobby at the Marriott. Somehow there was enough room for me to run to her in slow motion, arms outstretched.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

Never been to the bunny hutch party, that’s still on my list!

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con


DANI HERD

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

2006 — I was a senior in high school, and I just went on a Saturday.

How has Dragon Con changed since your first attendance?

You know, this is lame, but I don’t know that I have a better answer to this question beyond that Con is getting bigger and bigger. I think Con changes every year for better and for worse. As someone who’s never worked or volunteered for the Con, though, I feel like my perception is too limited to give a strong answer to this question.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

In true nerd fashion, some of my early Dragon Con experiences are wrapped up in a lot of pain and heartache. It’s just been in the past two years that I’ve been able to walk through Con and not have a moment or two of sad ghosts jumping out at me from the corners of the Hyatt. It’s taken years for me to allow Dragon Con to be something that I do just for myself and not for anyone else. Which means: a) I get to do everything I want, making for a pretty bangin’ Con, and 2) I get to have a little annual, scheduled check-in for my self-esteem and self-worth. (Also, I didn’t drink coffee until after college, so now I get to drink all the floofy, themed specialty drinks at the Peachtree Center Caribou, and I LOVE ALL OF THEM.)

What is your best Con story?

Two years ago, I was sitting in line for Rob Paulsen’s panel. All of a sudden, from the front of the line, rang out, in perfect Yakko Warner-fashion, “Helloooooooo, Dragon Con!” And there was Rob Paulsen, greeting the line! It. Was. Awesome.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

Cosplay! One of these days, man.

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con

This photo was taken last year on Thursday night. I met up with my friends Lucas and Kathryn to score a $5 Mai Tai from Trader Vic’s; the ultimate Dragon Con beverage. (Take THAT, Apple Pie!) I’m not sure I’ve ever been so purely happy as I was, tipsily walking through the hotels, getting super excited about seeing awesome costumes, and shouting “I see you, Secret Pizza!” at the Papa John’s tents in the Marriott. We eventually found a room that was marathoning “Stranger Things,” and it was the best night ever.


BEAU BROWN

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

1996

How has Dragon Con changed since your first attendance?

Attendance has grown as well as the much welcome greater diversity of attendees. More of a focus on Dragon Con being a family convention.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

I don’t cosplay anymore, which was a big part of attending in my youth. Dragon Con is a much different experience when you are single, which I no longer am. My experience has totally changed since I now work for the convention as a track director. After the first year of actually running a track I took a long hard look at what I was giving up in order to do the job. My Dragon Con experience was one of the things I held most dear and looked forward to all year having never missed a year since I first attended at 16 years old. I made the call that the experience I created for fans was worth the sacrifice, and I still think it is the right choice even though I miss just being able to enjoy the Con dearly.

What is your best Con story?

That story is only told in person.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

I have never done karaoke.

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con


SARAH MARTIN

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

My first dragon con was 2010

How has Dragon Con changed since your first attendance?

Dragon Con has definitely grown so much since I first attended! There’s so many attendees as well as speakers and vendors.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

I’ve gotten into costumes way more since my first Dragon Con. My first couple of years I didn’t dress up at all. My last few years, I have had a different costume for every day.

What is your best Con story?

Last year, there was a guy blasting music by the pool of the Hyatt. There was a mini dance party happening. Someone set down a piece of wood painted like plank from Ed, Edd, and Eddy. Everyone immediately spread out and made a dance circle around Plank. Everyone was taking turns booty dancing with Plank. My friend got a little too close and knocked Plank over with her ass.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

I have yet to make it to a panel before 12pm. Even the ones around noon are pushing it for me

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con


ZACH COWAN

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

I first attended in 2003

How has dragon con changed since your first attendance?

It has certainly become more crowded, but also more broad. I think in general, the convention business as a whole has grown.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

I spend less time treating it as a party, and more time getting in all the activities it provides exclusively (Non-Stop gaming of all sorts, unique panels, fellowship with special friends).

What is your best Con story?

The first year I attended, I had very little expectation or understanding of the event. All I knew was that you could share a beer with a Stormtrooper. That Friday night, my party of 6 went down in the lower floors of the Hyatt. We call them The Dregs of Dragon Con. There were a lot of closed doors and it was very quiet, but we were curious about everything. We began to open doors and see what each room had to offer. There were a few discussion panels, and a Mos Eisley party that featured a 3 foot tall dancing Jango Fett, but the real surprise was the unmarked door. When opened, it was dark and candle lit. There were people who were dressed in Victorian garb. They all froze and looked at us. It felt like we interrupted a vampire party. I never knew what was going on there, but my current experience tells me it was a LARP. This was the first impression of the vast mystery of what could be found at the convention, and each year I hope for a similar story. I have found a few.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

I have yet to find my way into a party in one of the Suites in the Marriott, I assume they must be cool.

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con


ARIAN GULICK

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

Right before my senior year of high school. So, like, 1995 I wanna say?

How has Dragon Con changed since your first attendance?

Oh god. It’s just too damn big now. I know I’m in the minority here, but I liked it better back then. It was smaller and more weird shit happened. (see story below) I know everyone loves cosplay but it kinda annoys me. Everyone has huge, intricate costumes and it’s just so damned packed that navigating around someone’s hyper-realistic Final Fantasy Shiva cosplay is a pain in the ass, and you suddenly turn into Hitler if you’re rude to someone that spent 5 months on their costume because they’re blocking your path to the nearest pisser. I kinda hate it now. Also, better guests I suppose, which is kinda cool.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

I am old and cantankerous and the idea of being surrounded by a shit ton of nerds is not something I want to do anymore. So I don’t go. I also like to go to bed earlier. No more raging until dawn or whatever.

What is your best Con story?

Hands down, it’s gotta be my first Con. Anthony Daniels, the voice of C3P0 was one of the guests of honor. He ended up being a judge/emcee/whatever for the Glittterdome fashion show, which was this latex fashion thing. He beat a drag queen with a riding crop while saying shit in his C3P0 voice. This is the sort of weird shit you can’t get at today’s Dragon Con anymore, and if you could you’d have to wait in a goddamn 5 hour long line for it. Lines are the worst.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

Hook up with someone. I know it’s supposed to be nerd fucking city, but I’m too damn weird and socially awkward, so I never did in the 5–6 times that I’ve been.

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con

From two years ago, which will probably be my last Con. I made a shirt that said “Mayor of Fuck City,” wore a pink sash that said “Mayor” on it and a crown.


THEODORE HOLLOT

What year did you first attend Dragon Con?

2005. My friends and I were just wandering around downtown when we saw a line of people trying to get into a hotel. We asked them what was happening, and they told us about Dragon Con. We were content to just walk around outside and stare, but my boy Spenser ran down some access hallway in the back of the building, and some security guy was all “HEY GET BACK HERE!” And we were all “oh my goodness man we’ll go get him and bring him out” and we ran in after him and didn’t leave until like 2am.

How has Dragon Con changed since your first attendance?

It’s way bigger. Maybe it was always big but I just didn’t see all of it, but that first year I went, I hadn’t heard a single thing about it, and now it’s in my face for months. Also, I’ve been seeing more and more superheroes every year, whereas it seemed like it was way more fantasy-based a decade ago.

How have you changed since your first Dragon Con?

I’m a bit less confused by all of it. I get it now, whereas previously I was just all “oh man so many people are dressed like faeries what is happening”

What is your best Con story?

Probably the one with the access hallway. Also, a couple years ago we were going to the burlesque show, and the line was suuuuuper long. We didn’t decide to go until we were almost at the door while walking past, so we just kinda merged into the long long line. Someone started yelling and pointing at us, and we were all “what, dude? I have no idea wha you’re talking about, man.” And we went to the show like nothing happened.

What’s something you still have yet to do at Dragon Con?

I’ve never dressed up, and I’ve never gone for more than one day. I’ll do both one day, but not this year.

Please attach your favorite photo of yourself at the Con

I can’t find it because it’s on my Myspace, but it’s me looking like the cat that got the canary while standing next to some hottie dressed as Bloodrayne.