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The Elfcat Report: NAAFA Convention 2005 Friday & Saturday

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Socialist Cat Man
Sep 30, 2005
Friday, August 12

For the morning session, we went to one of the artistic workshops held by a trading card enthusiast. A big spread of pens and paper was available for creating bite-size pieces of self-expression. I usually restrict my artistry to photography, but I indulged in a few feeble attempts myself.

This being Kat's first NAAFA convention, I gave her the run of the workshops and went with her for most of it. After the trading cards, it was time for the vendor fair, where Kat tried on a lot of things and settled on a few.

Vendor Fair Picture ZIP

I had to remind her though, that she had an appointment with Cinder. So she rushed off to that, and I caught the tail end of the Men Who Love Fat Women workshop, which seemed to double as the Fat Men's Forum judging from the flow of conversation. Here are Bill's notes of the session:

Bill Weitze: "I took some notes of suggestions for NAAFA at the subject workshop. (I don't remember who said everything.) Those who were there, please review and add information as needed.

At NAAFA conventions:

- Button swap
- Scrabble (or other word game) tournament
- "Don't talk to me" game
- More mixing, fewer cliques
- Have the men take over the convention for one day, say, Thursday
- More men in the fashion show
- Contest to collect stickers
- Mix up the seating


- If someone has had weight loss surgery, stay their friend. (NAAFA*
members don't always do this.)
- Don't be too judemental.
- Attendees assume that only a few are safe to talk to
- Men should help police the behavior of other men


- A man needs to moderate the a men's board at naafa.org."

The Not So Silent Auction luncheon was a time for some serious fundraising, with various crafts, gift baskets and other great stuff being presented by Diedre. The crowning offer was a dinner out for two with the actress Camryn Mannheim.

For the late afternoon block, we went for Making Friends and Building Community, where a man from the Harvey Milk Democratic Club spoke mainly about the benefits of going to meetings of other groups, sharing notes, and planning joint actions.

Friday evening was the first of the dances. A live band was there. They were heavily emphasizing 50's rock, and while they played splendidly, it was obvious that many there were in the mood for something more modern. A DJ alternated to play hip hop which alleviated the situation. The photographic media love a good dance, and while outside documentarians pulled people aside for serious Q&A sessions (including Kat and I on one of them), inside they were making themselves known.

Friday Picture ZIP

The real stars of the show were San Francisco's very own Big Burlesque troupe, with a few apprentices in tow from the earlier Body Liberator's Camp workshop "Performance to Make Revolution". Cheers went up for an hour as the Fat Bottom Revue Crew strutted their stuff, and Kat opted to add to her convention booty with an official FBR t-shirt.

Kat was hungry afterwards, and Robbie Kassel had told me earlier that Kat was in the local newspaper, so I hiked across the street to 7-11 for some munchies and copies of the San Mateo County Times, in which a local section story indeed started, "Fat is phat, but that's not always the way Kat Rhodes of Fresno saw things." I headed back to the hospitality suite and the adjacent block of couches and easy chairs where we had many pleasant conversations. Eventually we decided we'd better get some sleep for the mischief in store the following morning.

Saturday, August 13

Saturday was the day to leave the confines of the hotel for a while and bring some good cheer to the community. Marilyn had proposed a few mini-actions, and Kat and I chose to go out on the doorknob squad. Marilyn handed us a sheaf of door knocker tags (and raised an eyebrow when I exclaimed, "Tag your knockers!") and off we went into the area around the city library, where I added tags saying "Body Disparagement Free Zone" tags on the common entries of various apartments.

Soon came the time to head for Catamaran Park in Foster City for the Fat Fitness Fest. On the way there Kat felt the urge to partake of some garage sale therapy, and was very pleased with her catch. Once at the park, we were treated to, and participated in, demonstrations of hip-hip dancing, boxing, yoga, burlesque dancing, and of course what's a NAAFA outdoor event without some radical cheerleading? After working up a sweat, some decided to cool down with water balloons.

Fat Fitness Fest Picture ZIP
Fat Fitness Fest Video

By this time Kat was quite tired, so much so that we missed the next block of workshops. We were both curious about "Fat-Positive and Poly Without Drama", but we simply collapsed from all the late night fun and the early morning mischief until it was time for the block after that. We went to the Poetry Reading workshop, a small, cozy gathering where we shared our favorite pieces.

Somewhat rested, Kat went to get a little more rest and work on her makeup and such, while I took a little time out in the hot tub.

There was, concurrent with our convention, another for international young entrepeneurs. One of the coordinators was a large woman herself, and there were a few larger folk who were there on their own. So a few of us explained what our convention was about and told them of the upcoming dance that night.

Saturday night is the time for the Grand Ball Dinner. Everyone was dressed in their finest, and we heard a presentation from Dr. Lene' Whitley-Putz on the state of things in the academic wing of the fat-acceptance movement, which has for some time been exploring the sociology of discrimination and the prospects for alternative health. After that it was time for more dancing.

Saturday Night Dance Picture ZIP

The media, which had swarmed the place the previous night, had originally been banned from Saturday Night, after suspicions were raised about one cameraman. That was investigated and found to be a false alarm, but originally they were to be kept away. Kat and I were a bit disappointed, as we promised one other photographer that he could grab a few shots of us in our ball dress. Others evidently had similar ideas, and in the end a compromise was made in which the media had a limited amount of time and were sent away after that. From that point on it was the music and magic which always seems to pervade when the fat community come together in high spirits.

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