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Awesome Con returns next weekend with plenty of queer content

Pride Alley, John Barrowman, cast of original ‘Karate Kid’ among highlights



Awesome Con, gay news, Washington Blade
Revelers at last year’s Awesome Con in Washington. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Awesome Con is back to indulge the inner-geeks of people in the D.C. area at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mt Vernon Pl., N.W.) next weekend (April 26-28). 

The sixth annual Comic Con will join together fans of comic books, TV shows, movies and games for three days of exhibits, panels, celebrity meet and greets, photo-ops and much more. 

Whether it’s your first time attending the convention or you’re a repeat con attendee, Awesome Con is curated with you in mind (details at 

Ron Brister, vice president of Left Field Media, says his organization, which produces conventions across the country including Awesome Con, does analysis to see what fans would be interested in seeing. The result is a mix of currently popular movies and TV shows and old favorites that bring the nostalgia. 

This year “Riverdale” stars Cole Sprouse (Jughead Jones) and KJ Apa (Archie Andrews) will headline a panel and meet and greet for fans. The wildly popular TV series is a darker reimagining of the classic Archie Comics with plenty of LGBTQ representation in its characters Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) and Kevin Keller (Casey Cott).

Jon Bernthal (“Punisher,” “The Walking Dead”),  Zach Callison, the voice of Steven on the hit cartoon “Steven Universe,” Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor on “Doctor Who,” Milo Ventimiglia (“This is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Stark Trek: Discovery”) and comedian/singer“Weird Al” Yankovic will also make appearances. 

The nostalgic con additions include reunions of the 1985 teen flick “Weird Science” with Kelly LeBrock, Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith, TV comedy “The Office” with Creed Bratton, Kate Flannery and Oscar Nunez, ‘90s film “Karate Kid”with Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, and Martin Kove, 1987 fantasy film “Princess Bride” with Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon and Wallace Shawn, the cast of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” including Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis and Wil Wheaton and Kevin Sorbo from the’90s series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.”

DC and Warner Bros. have also partnered with Awesome Con to celebrate Batman’s 80th anniversary. Attendees will be able to view the iconic Bat suits from Michael Keaton to Ben Affleck and other movie props. Brister says it’s the type of exhibit you can usually only see somewhere like the Museum of Modern Art but it will be on view for con attendees at no additional cost. 

There will also be plenty of LGBTQ content to geek out on. 

The biggest gay celebrity to appear at Awesome Con this year will be con favorite John Barrowman. Fans grew to love him on shows such as “Torchwood,” “Doctor Who” and “Arrow” but his passion for conventions and his fans earned him a special place at Awesome Con. For the third year in a row, Barrowman will return to give a panel talk, meet and greet and photo-op. 

The actor has become known for strutting out in heels or elaborate cosplay for his panels and taking outrageous pictures with fans. His vibrant personality is something Brister says is always on. 

“John Barrowman is a funny guy. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, he does a number of our events. He’s a bit of a good luck charm,” Brister says. “Some celebrities don’t have that kind of energy level because the character may be high energy on the show that you love but in reality the actors may not be that person you want them to be when you meet them. John Barrowman is 100 percent that person you want him to be when you meet him so that’s why he’s been coming back year after year.”

British actor Tom Payne, who is straight, will be at the convention. Payne is best known for portraying openly gay character Jesus on “The Walking Dead.”

Awesome Con has partnered with New York City-based nonprofit organization Geeks Out, Flame Con and the Washington Blade to bring LGBTQ content creators and con-goers together in Pride Alley. The section will be located in the Exhibit Hall which is open to attendees each day of the convention. 

Brister says that creators who identify as LGBTQ will be indicated on the program guide, mobile app and on their tables. 

Pride Alley is important to include, especially for teenagers and young adults, according to Brister. 

One of the goals of Pride Alley is to “make sure that younger audiences that are identifying that way and haven’t found their place in the world yet, have these examples of people who are working in these industries, who are out and working on some of the biggest books that DC and Marvel have to offer or they’re working on their own creative properties being published,” Brister says. 

“Hopefully the community at large sees this as a super positive experience,” Brister adds.

Pride Alley artists include Rage Gear Studios, Simon Graves, Marta Mickelsen, Yinz, among others. Attendees can also drop in on Pride Alley panels such as Gender in SFF Fiction: Women & Nonbinary Authors, Exploring Gay and Lesbian Comic Creators, We ARE Gaymers! Be Proud, Crossplay 101, Marvel’s LGBT Legacy, among others. 

For those who want to delve into the science fiction world, Awesome Con and Smithsonian Magazine have teamed up to bring back Future Con which will have programming such as Putting the Pop Culture in STEM Education and Science Fiction to Fact: The Voyage of Biometrics. National Geographic, the National Science Foundation, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum are just a few science exhibitors that will be tabling the Exhibitors Hall. 

The little ones can get in on the fun with Awesome Con Jr., an interactive and family-friendly area where children can meet animals, catch a live lightsaber performance, learn spells, watch a Dreamworks screening or participate in the Kids Costume Parade. 

The amount of choices on what to do and who to see is exactly what Awesome Con organizers have been aiming for during their year-long convention preparation. 

“We try to make sure we have fandoms and talent whether it be on the celebrity side, authors or creators that appeals to all demographics, all age groups. We really want Awesome Con to truly have something for everybody,” Brister says. 



Paula Poundstone on comedy, COVID, and worm farming

Beloved comic performs at Birchmere this weekend



Paula Poundstone returns to the Birchmere this weekend. (Photo courtesy Poundstone)

Comedy legend Paula Poundstone is appearing in Alexandria, Va., on Nov. 11 and 12, no matter what wrenches are thrown into her travel plans. 

Set to arrive in Dayton, Ohio last weekend, Poundstone was stuck in a situation eerily similar to the plot of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” After being stuck on a flight from Rochester, N.Y. to Washington, D.C. and missing her connection to Dayton, Poundstone and her promoter flew into Cincinnati with a mother-son duo stuck in a similar situation. The quartet ended up driving to Dayton together while Paula completed a telephone interview with the Washington Blade, making it to Dayton just in time for her 7:30 show. 

Despite her travel troubles, Poundstone was more than happy to discuss her upcoming show in Virginia. The Birchmere Music Hall, the venue for her performance, holds a special place in Poundstone’s heart. 

“The Birchmere was the first job I did after Trump was elected, and I will never forget that experience, I hope, because it was so healing to be with this group of people and to feel free to say what I thought and felt in as comedic a way as I could,” said Poundstone. While she hopes that a healing energy isn’t needed for this show, Poundstone is ready to deliver a fresh and funny show for her fans. 

Her comedy routine has been evolving for 42 years, and despite her recent memory issues, Poundstone finds a way to create a unique experience for each audience, leaving the piece nearly entirely unscripted. She discusses the usual hits, like current events and raising her (now “not fun at all”) children, but also likes to rely on good audience interaction. 

“My favorite part of the night is just talking to the audience.”

Before COVID cancelled her meet and greets, Poundstone had a set of fans attend three shows in a row and come to her after the last one singing praises for both her overall performance and her ability to deliver a constant rotation of fresh content. 

While Paula loves her job, touring leaves her with little to no free time. “All I care about all day long is, you know, finding a wall I can lean on to sleep,” leaving little time for her pre-show routine of MSNBC and writing for her hit podcast, “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone.” 

Aside from her regular performances and podcasts, Poundstone has a unique hobby to help her pass the time. She interviewed a vermicomposter on her podcast not too long ago who introduced her to the world of worm farming. 

After volunteering at her local food bank during the stay at home order, Poundstone saw the amount of food waste being produced and decided to bring home the 20-gallon barrel to open her very own worm farm. She sells the waste created by her worms for $4 a pound, or if you are looking for a personal experience, you can pay $30 for a pound of worm waste, a video of the farming process, and Poundstone will name one of her worms after you.

The worm farm is far from Poundstone’s final goal in life. Since COVID interrupted everyone’s lives, she realized how lucky she is to be in this profession. “People come up to me and tell me how important it is, you know, people say ‘Oh I haven’t laughed that hard in I don’t know when’ you know, and we got a lot of laugh about.” While the tour is still moving along, Poundstone urges fans to attend the performance as masked and as vaccinated as possible, so we don’t get stuck in another new wave. 

Even if worms aren’t your cup of tea, you will have a great time at Paula Poundstone’s tour, this Friday and Saturday at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria. Tickets and additional information can be found at

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Peace Corps group to host comedy show

Hilarious lineup at Kramers of some of the funniest comedians



Grassroots Comedy will partner with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C. to host “Super Spectacular Comedy Show for Cultural Understanding” on Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m. at Kramers (1517 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.).

The event will have a hilarious lineup of some of the funniest comedians in the region with a thing or two to say about cultural understanding.

Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

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D.C. comedians to fuse comedy with Earth Day celebrations

Yes HOMO presents “eco-homo” at St. Vincent Wine



Yes HOMO Comedy will host “Yes Homo! A Queer Centric Comedy Show” on Sunday, April 24 at 4:30 p.m. at St. Vincent Wine. 

This event special, known as eco-homo, will be an Earth Day edition of queer-centric comedy. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the show will begin at 6 p.m. 

Tickets are $10 and proceeds will be donated to an eco-conscious non-profit organization. For more information, visit Eventbrite.

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