August 6, 2013

#BlogHer13 - Queen Latifah & my VOTY AWARD.

It's only just sinking in that I was selected as a VOTY winner, for my illustrated story "How To Check For Pinworms". In the educational Humor Category, no less.

You guys know what the Voice of the Year Award is, right? It's only like, the Oscars of the blogosphere. One hundred honorees are selected from 2600 submissions; of those, twelve are awarded the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to read their winning blogposts at the BlogHer Community Keynote. I was one of twelve.

If you blog, this is a Big Deal. It is peer recognition, community celebration, and the chance to wear that fancy dress on a stage all rolled into one. There is no prize money or gifts or even a break on the registration fee; it's just honor, plain and simple.

So there I was, massively hungover and knowing I had to get up on a stage and tell 5000+ fellow bloggers a funny story about bumholes and pinworms, (with drawings). And did I mention that Queen Latifah was emceeing the Awards? 

We were told to meet at 4:30 in "the greenroom" in the backstage area. Although I felt a bit like death, I somehow managed to arrive on time, but the place was deserted. I asked a non-judgmental hotel security guard for guidance.

She took me behind the stage, past a labyrinth of black gear boxes, cables taped to the floor, and a row of five dudes sitting at tables with laptops and fancy tech stuff with blinking lights. It was all very official back there. It would have been intimidating but I was busy concentrating on surviving my hangover, specifically keeping bodily fluids from leaving without permission.

The security guard put me in a curtained off room. It was nice in there; fresh cut flowers and comfy sofas. I gratefully sank into one, thinking, wow, they're really treating us well! I turned inward to try to focus...

I wasn't really nervous about performing my piece; I use it in one of my lectures about Visual Storytelling and I know how to work it. But the timing of the images has to be perfect or the story falls flat. No one had yet communicated to me if I was going to be able to control this myself with a clicky thing.

As I sat quietly fretting about this, a scary lady with a headset pulled back the curtain and barked, "Who are YOU?!?"

Turns out they'd accidentally put me in Queen Latifah's greenroom. Scary Lady kicked me out.

I thought that sofa was a bit too comfy anyways.

The Readers' greenroom looked like this:

I sat there by myself for fifteen minutes. The other eleven readers joined me, plus the hardworking BlogHer organizers. We were lined up in order on the chairs (I was second). Apparently Queen Latifah was stuck in traffic eating pizza so there was a delay. The energy backstage was a mix of nerves and serenity; women hugged one another, did yoga stretches, and silently practiced their speeches. I was given the clicky thing whereupon my worries about timing my slides dissipated.

Suddenly a gorgeous tall woman in a black and white dress breezed into the backstage area, followed by a couple of 'handlers' and a video cameraman. Everything about her screamed DEAL WITH IT. The star had arrived.

She smiled a zillion watts and said (sic), "How yall doin? My name is Laaaaaa....!"

And my brain went into full *holeefuuuuqQUEENLATIFAHisstandingrightinfrontofme* reverb. I couldn't speak. All I could think of was that I had to take a picture for my mom. I crept forward with my iPhone and turned around so QL was behind me.

My intention was to just get her in the background with my selfie in the foreground. But she saw me doing it.

And the rest is photobomb history.

This gif was SubWOW's idea. 

Best hangover cure ever! Armed with a couple of Queen Latifah's sparkles I climbed the stage (without tripping - high-five!) and delivered my story with previously untapped panache. I may have been channeling a mix of Eddie Izzard, Louis CK and Captain Underpants....

Hearing so many people laughing in all the right places was extremely gratifying and I'll never, ever forget it. Afterward, someone mentioned that one person actually couldn't handle the wormy bits and had to walk out. It made me realize how far I'd pushed the limits by winning a VOTY for this story. My pinworms and I trolled the entire audience and all but one made it through.

Doesn't that somehow make it more meaningful?

Thank-you BlogHer, thank-you to the selection committee, and thank-you to everyone who laughed in all the right places, at a story about a little boy with an itchy bum.

Tune in to The Queen Latifah Show.