By now, I’m sure many of you fellow Orange is the New Black fans have already binge-watched most, if not all of the newly released season 3 (ain’t Netflix grand?) BUT, I am finally just settling back into routine here at home after my whirlwind ORANGECON adventure in New York City.
What IS OrangeCon? Well- it was the first ever fan conference for Netflix’s original series- Orange is the New Black. You couldn’t buy tickets, only WIN them, by entering a series of contests that proved you were a huge fan. Only 200 tickets were given away! This was bound to make it an experience never to forget, but to be honest, I had NO idea what to really expect.
When I got the e-mail that I’d been chosen as one of 3 Netflix Stream Team bloggers to fly to NYC and live-blog this event, I nearly fell on my ass. ME?! REALLY?! ME??? I am a HUGE fan of OitNB, but would never be able to travel to NYC on my own to experience something like OrangeCon, so this was… well, it was just beyond amazing.
Flying into New York City on Wednesday, I still really had no clue what I was in for. Orangecon was such a mystery to me. With two little kids at home, I’m used to trying to stick to a schedule to keep everyone sane and to at least give the illusion of getting everything done. That was not the case here! Luckily, I had Wednesday to myself to relax before the big event.
My ride from the airport to the Marriot Marquis in time square was a black caddy with blacked out windows. I AM BEYONCE! If I’d been picked up like that here in VA, everyone would be staring, but it’s the norm in NYC. Once arriving, I was sent up to the 8th floor to check in (what?? weird!) and then up to the 14th floor through a crazy series of
space pods elevators. Walking into a room not destroyed by Legos, K’Nex, and cereal crumbs is always a bit of a shock to me, but I was instantly drawn to my view. MY VIEW! Hellooooooooooo, New York!
Hey- isn’t that the hotel from Home Alone? Why yes. Yes it is. I was also directly above the Scientology building, which liked to flash messages of weirdness through my window all night long. Just to REALLY drive home the fact that I wasn’t in Kansas…er…. Virginia anymore.
And then there was the bed. A giant king sized bed with more pillows than I knew what to do with. None of which would get stolen by crotchfruit or hogged by a certain husband who shall remain nameless
Yes, that’s the stuffed turtle Parker gave me to “remember him by.” D’aawwwwww. But I’m sure y’all don’t care about the bed. What about the sights? What did I do on my first day/night in NYC?? Well… I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that I made a beeline straight for the Disney Store. DON’T YOU JUDGE ME!
How much did I spend at the Disney store? Too much, y’all. Too much.
It was only natural for me to run into the spectacle Orange is the New Black was creating in Times Square- there were women in orange jumpsuits, and SOMEHOW I missed Laura Prepon and Laverne Cox. Ugh. But I did see the mugshot stations. By the time I got back to this area to take my very own mugshot, they were gone. Boooo!
It was then time to scurry back to my room and get ready for “linner” (lunch/dinner) and drinks with my agent (so fancy!) before going to see Aladdin on Broadway. Yes. By myself. I’M A REAL GROWN UP! But when I got back to my room, I was stopped in my tracks. A big heavy package had been delivered for me by the wonderful folks from Netflix. It was filled with some seriously awesome goodies!
Some OitNB candles, a D.O.C hoodie, and a gift card to help feed me. Yay food! Yay candles! I’d seen the candles on Orange’s Facebook page and had always wanted to get my hands on a few. I swear, it’s like Netflix reads my mind.
Off to my linner- and somehow I managed NOT to get lost in the sea of people- but no pictures. I wasn’t sure if asking your literary agent to take a selfie was a normal thing, so I erred on the side of caution (but she was awesome!)- and then Aladdin! Bestill my nostalgic heart!
Funny thing is, when I went to snag Holden the magic carpet towel he wanted, my giant OitNB bag was spotted by the chick behind the counter and wouldn’t you know it- she was going to OrangeCon, too!
No cameras were allowed inside Aladdin, but let me tell you, if you ever go to NYC, you NEED to see this. There was a standing ovation before the intermission. It’s that good. I’m not kidding.
After being taken to… wait for it… A whole new world… I wandered happily back to the hotel- but FIRST- I did what I was told what I MUST do. I got cheesecake to go from Junior’s. It’s said to be the best in the world. I can’t say no to the best cheesecake in the world. I was planning on inhaling it in my room. All alone. Without having to share a single bite. It was to be glorious.
I punched the buttons, and waited for my
space pod elevator, but it never came. Hmmmm. Maybe the drink I had during Aladdin was too strong and I had done something wrong? I’d mindlessly started chatting with two strangers while waiting, and before I knew it, instead of going back to my room to stuff myself full of deliciousness, I was being taken to “The View”- the rotating bar near the top of the hotel. Yes. Rotating.
After ordering some stupidly expensive drink, we chatted for a while- just discussing how different our lives were (they were both successful singles living and working in/around NYC, while I am a stay at home mom/writer/whatever-er). Somehow, they both were impressed by the weird little life I’ve built for myself. LAST CALL! At midnight? Weird. I said I was fine, but they insisted I have another, since I never get out of the house by myself other than to occasionally get my grays covered. The tab came, and they happily paid. Nice people exist, y’all! They really do!
Finally back at my room at the end of a very long day, it was cheesecake time. It was a little worse for the wear, but man. It was so good. I tried to eat the whole thing but I was so full of expensive alcohol that I sadly could not finish it, and there was no fridge in my room. THE SHAME!!!!!
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My head gave my pillow some serious face, but somehow, even without the kids nagging and thieving and just generally being annoying- I was up even EARLIER. Best believe I closed those damn blackout curtains and went back to sleep for another few hours! After that, it was game time.. er…. con time. Only, I didn’t have a belt, mascara, or hairspray. I have no idea how I managed that. I spent the morning running around picking up these supplies and then scurried back to my room to try to get Orange carpet ready.
After taking a cab down to the meat packing district, I hopped out and made a beeline for the VIP check-in. It’s slightly unnerving and yet also totally satisfying to get the “who the fuck does she think she is??” looks from the non-VIP line. I AM BEYONCE!! It’s like being able to walk past some giant bouncers while snottily announcing “I’M WITH THE BAND!” The band being Netflix…
Yeah, I felt pretty special. There, waiting to walk the orange carpet without breaking my face, I met one of the other Stream Team bloggers- Ashley from Spit Up is the New Black. Silence is awesome, but finally having someone to talk to can be a welcome relief (don’t tell my kids!)
Orange carpet time, y’all! And yes, it was really an orange carpet, lined with press and flashbulbs. None of the actors had arrived yet, so we would have to do.
Big surprise- I didn’t fall on my face!
After the orange carpet, we got a chance to preview the entire venue before the fans were let in. It was nothing short of amazing. There was a huge screen and stage set up, showing the art people had submitted to win tickets, and of course, a LONG line of chairs for the actors for the panel that would happen later that night. There was also a chow line, a station to get some “hooch” (vodka! yay!), they even had the shed and the van you see in Orange is the New Black. Oh, and they had bunks set up so you could lay down and have a nice prison nap (not really).
While waiting for the actors to file down the orange carpet and start doing interviews with us “media” types, I started snapping pictures of fans. One looked SO much like Alex/Laura Prepon that I thought it actually WAS her. These fans went ALL OUT.
One station set up was to get a prison tattoo. Barbed wire, chains, lipstick kiss marks, you name it. It was hilarious. I just so happened to ask one fan if I could get a picture of hers when it was done, and guess what? It was the girl working the merch counter at Aladdin!
Once the crowd began to erupt with cheers, I knew it was time to get up-close and personal with the ladies of Litchfield. I literally have SO many pictures that I’m going to stick them in a slideshow for you to peruse!
I also had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Jackie Cruz, aka Flaca (which I may or may not have video of), who is not pictured in the above gallery, but trust me, she looked amazing, and was so sweet. She wants everyone to know that she is also a musician, and that her character’s storyline is going to get kinda sexy this season. Ooohhhhhhhhh!
Panel time, y’all! The 3rd Stream Team blogger, Rick (from RickOnTheRocks.com) grabbed us some hooch and we all sighed with relief as we sat down to hear the actors answer some questions from the moderator (an editor from Marie Claire magazine, I think) and from the fans! I was shocked to learn that the REAL Piper was on the panel (people kept directing questions to her and I kept thinking they just didn’t know Taylor’s real name. Oops! You’ll see here in the following pictures rocking a green dress)
My favorite question was when a fan asked the panel, if their character could have taken ONE item to prison with them, what would it be? Dascha (aka Daya) answered “Daya would have brought condoms…. and so would Daya!” Hmmmm, was this a hinty-hint-hint about her real personal life? I guess we’ll have to see!
It was at that point that Uzo (aka Crazy Eyes) stood up and thanked all the fans for helping to make the show what it is, and then wanted to really go above and beyond. She got the CEO of Netflix on a video-call and asked to make all of the episodes live that night (one day early) and the man agreed!
I wish I could say I went out afterward and partied, but my night after Orangecon looked a little something like this:
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One last look at that beautiful view–
I slept in the next morning, and then wandered around the city for a little while, video-chatting with Parker so he could see the sights (Holden was at school). As I walked back to the hotel to get my stuff and check out, can you guess who I ran into? PENN & FRICKIN’ TELLER. Not even kidding! Right outside my hotel (they have a Broadway show opening there in July)
I wanted to be a fan and get pictures with them, but once I looked up from posting that I was standing next to them all over my social media accounts, they were gone. POOF! No trace of them. MAGIC!!
All in all, it was an amazing experience, not just for my first trip away from the kids, but for ANY trip. I hope I get the opportunity to do it again!
For now? I’m just going to have to sit here, stare at my pictures, and give away a copy of the book the show is based off of- Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black! (I’ve read it. It’s awesome. Don’t expect it to follow the show!)
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