By Jacqueline Monahan
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Xanadu II at the Suncoast Hotel & Casino Ties One On

In its second year of operation, Xanadu, a Sci-fi, fantasy, horror convention, accentuated the “X” in its title, and branched into the fetish world, incorporating bondage demonstrations into its regular programming. Yes, that meant lots of black outfits and latex. Yes, only women were bound (and sometimes gagged) for glory.
Roped into the Fun

The convention kicked off with a VIP party on Friday, March 26, followed by two full days of panels, films, and exhibits. It all started with a restrained young woman (who showed no restraint) as she lay on a glass coffee table, limbs tied together as if she were an exotic appetizer. That was just the party. The next few days introduced weapons demonstrations, author discussions, survival strategies, and costuming advice, but there were frequent sightings of the new kids on the block, the ones wearing corsets, metal accessories, and mile-high heels.

Alien Eatery

This was also apparent in the dealers’ room, where several of the vendors featured provocative photos of females in poses incorporating rope and other forms of restraint. Now, if only they were all invaders from Mars, THAT would have been a perfect tie-in (pardon the pun).

There was plenty for Sci-fi aficionados to do. Panel titles included The Darker Side of Fantasy Creatures, The Zombie Squad (a disaster preparedness presentation), Religion and Science Fiction, Creative Costumery, and an Independent Short Film Festival. Woven throughout was something called “Adult Programming.” Good thing the entire convention was a 21+ affair, erasing the possibility of a minor getting roped into the mix (sorry, can’t help it).

Brenda Dupont and DeDee White Lead a Costume Panel

A Costume Extravaganza took place on Saturday night followed by Xanadu the Show, a variety-type event that featured a comedian, a magician and various other acts that played out well into the night. Costumed participants included a sleek Lara Croft wannabe, a few Victorian/Edwardian replicants, and a cross-dressing guy with huge prosthetic breasts, full-face mask, and an I-Dream-of-Jeannie style ponytail who covered the whole ensemble with a torn white fishnet body stocking. Makes you wonder why he didn’t win, instead of the chesty brunette in black corset and striped steam-punk gown. Well, maybe it doesn’t.

The Alien Warrior Comic

Convention celebs included Oscar-winning special effects wizard Joe Viskocil (Star Wars, Terminator, Aliens, Independence Day) Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Arthur Lampitt, Jr., authors Maxwell Alexander Drake (Genesis of Oblivion Saga series) and John DeChancie (Castle Perilous series, Skyway series) Dani and Eytan Kollin (Prometheus Award nominees) and internationally renowned fantasy artist, Lubov.

Panels, exhibits and film screenings took place on the second floor of the Suncoast Hotel & Casino, inside the Grand Ballroom. A dealers’ room full of vendors sold clothing, jewelry, scale-model space ships, stylized dragon incense burners, and image after image of lassoed ladies (in poster, drawing or video format). A few of the 3-D versions wandered around in outfits that could be described as Cat Woman-meets-Frederick’s-of-Hollywood.

Judging the Contestants

The Independent Short Film festival screened within a mere hour, and kept its promise of featuring short films (most hovered around the six-to-fifteen-minute mark). With names like Super Undead Doctor Roach, (part super-hero, part vermin vigilante featuring scream queen Rachel Grubb (Horror House, Cave Women on Mars), Kill Order (an extermination squad hits too close to home), The Bet (a deadly wager over a bound victim), and The Visionary (artistic talent appreciated through, and despite, one’s eyes), the mini-fest delivered an eclectic variety of cinematic morsels.

Invited Guests

Xanadu Las Vegas made its debut last year at The Plaza Hotel as an ambitious, all encompassing convention (Anime and a full film festival included). Since that time, it has streamlined its offerings, added an alternative component, reduced its registration fee by half (only $20.00 for all activities) and concentrated its efforts on providing crowd-pleasing fare for its attendees.

Whether a third version will pop up next spring is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: Xanadu Las Vegas is a place (and a state of mind) where the unexpected converges with the unusual, so it’s right at home in the neon city that shares its name.

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