CatConLA: The Sequel!
by Michelle "Ms. Geek" Klein-Hass
CatConLA is a yearly event that was inspired by the rise of a global Internet cat culture. The second annual CatConLA took place this year, and sure enough, I was back to report on the proceedings. It was back in Downtown LA, at The Reef. Yeah, I had griped a bit about the venue last time, but it seemed like things were better organized this time around. CatConLA took up twice the space in the huge building, occupying not one but two floors. Attendance was up — 15,000 unique visitors, as opposed to 13,000 last year. There were eight food trucks parked in the back of the building, and they were hammered by the crowd. They seemed to be a bit more prepared for the demand this time.
There was a lot of overlap between the primary audience of the event — cat lovers — and other things our audience enjoys like visual storytelling, Asian art and pop culture, and cosplay. There were quite a few comic creators amongst the arts and crafts booths.
Japanese traditional dye work by Asagi. These women use organic Japanese Indigo and wax-resist technique to create art with roots in the Samurai era.
The informal cosplay was also buttressed by a formal costume competition. The Furr-ocious Fashion Face-Off brought the fierce, with an elite group of costumers walking the catwalk in their unique creations.
The event was won by Jeremy Tjhung, who showed that not only women can be crazy about cats, but men too!
Free kitty makeovers could be had at the event, with free “caticures” from nail artists, and equally free kitty eye makeup sponsored by Kat Von D and her brand new line of makeup.
While at Kat Von D’s booth, I ran into Amy Raasch from last year.
Like last year, she was rocking a Batman ’66 era Catwoman outfit, and she was totally jazzed about the fact that her music video/art project KITTY DECIDES had dropped just in time for CatCon.
Celebrity cats like Lil Bub and Nala were there, but the one famous individual who attracted the most interest — and rightfully so — was Julie Newmar, the original Batman ’66 Catwoman. She graciously spent the entire day on Caturday signing autographs and meeting and greeting her fans.
Caturday Night, the Theatre At The Ace Hotel was the site of the CatVideoFest. A collection of cat videos curated by “The Thieving Filmmaker” Will Braden, of Henri Le Chat Noir fame, the festival packed them in for two showings.
But the most important part of the whole event had to do with promoting kitten and cat adoption. A dollar of every ticket was donated to FixNation, a group that supports “Trap, Neuter and Release” programs in communities all over the United States. While TNR is still somewhat controversial among animal care organizations, more and more cat rescue organizations understand that “community cats” (aka feral cats) are a fact of life in human society, and that cat overpopulation can be best addressed by this effort.
The first CatConLA was responsible for something like 50 adoptions. Last year, the adoption area was a room with cats in cages. This year, SPCA-LA and some of the corporate sponsors of CatCon chipped in on a relatively luxurious cat-a-tat called “The Clowder.” This consisted of six private rooms where humans and cats could play together and see if they clicked. The result? This year the number of adoptions rose to 99 after two adoptions finalized off-site were factored in.
I asked Susan Michals, the creator of CatConLA, if there were plans to expand the CatCon event to other locations, since TOKYOPOP's audience is global. “The rest of the world will definitely get some CatCon love in the future, but right meow we can’t reveal our plans. We have been approached by a number of entities and are in negotiations as well.” Finally, I asked her if she considered any cat superstar her favorite. “I don’t play favorites - I love all kitties - superstar or otherwise. Scratch that - I love my own kitty - Miss Kitty Pretty Girl.”
All photos, if not provided by others, are credit (C)2016 Michelle Klein-Hass.