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The Golden Girls show off their young age at the first fans’ convention Lifestyle

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Terry Tan – Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) – Fiction TV shows or comic book rates are usually inspired by fan conventions, rather than a sitcom about four women of a certain age living together in Florida.

But sisters Hillary Vasicek, 37, and Melissa Gluck, 43, took in this weekend inaugural convention “Golden Girls”. on the Chicago Navy Pier to the heart. Both women, who arrived from California, spent Friday in a complex cosplay as the heroes of Dorothy and Blanche. The series has always held a special place for them because of the themes of friendship, family and inclusiveness. Wearing wigs and everything they did before on the Golden Girls cruise only reinforces the convention experience.

“It’s a hilarious expression of respect and gratitude for what you admire. It just makes you feel more part of it, ”said Vasicek, who plans to wear different costumes every day.“ We’ve just met so many people and heard so many stories. It’s like “These are my people”.

For Gluck, meeting with other Golden Girls fans gives her a better appreciation of the show itself. Now I have involved my son and husband in it. “

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Golden-Con: Thank you for being a fan that lasts until Sunday, giving the opportunity to come together to those who loved the NBC sitcom. More than 2,000 participants are expected to gather. The show, which ran from 1985 to 1992, starred Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty and Betty White – the last remaining “Golden Girl”, who died at the age of 99 in December. He was revered for showing their characters who lived in a house in Miami, and for solving problems later in life such as ageism, sex, and LGBTQ rights.

Like any “pro,” there are panels and questions and answers with people filming guests or working behind the scenes. There is a shopping market with kiosks with candles, masks, T-shirts and other goods in the style of “Golden Girls”. Fans can photograph the kitchen, where the “girls” always ate cheesecake, as well as a giant copy of Sofia. Trademark wallet. There are also two separate drag queen bands scheduled to perform the tribute.

Among the guests – actress Bonnie Bartlett, known for her roles in the film “St. Elsewhere ”and“ Boy Meets World ”(both with her husband, actor William Daniels). She is notable for playing Dorothy’s new girlfriend in an episode of the third season. The 92-year-old two-time Amy laureate, however, did not turn up her nose at the idea of ​​a fan convention.

“I ran after Betty Grable and people like that,” Bartlett said. “I was a big fan when I was a kid. So I understand that. My husband doesn’t understand that, but I do. “

Stan Zimmerman, a TV producer whose second job was in his first season, never imagined communicating with fans nearly 40 years later. Being in an industry where popularity is volatile, he doesn’t take it for granted.

“So I’ve seen a trajectory of popularity, but nothing like what’s happening now,” Zimmerman said. “It’s so cool to see young people who obviously weren’t even born when we wrote this, know every line.”

This “Golden Girls” extravaganza was originally supposed to be just an evening of bars. Zach Hudson, who works in social services for the elderly and is an “avid fan”, addressed Brad Balaf, his friend and one of the fans, about the event back in November. Eventually, they planned to book a community center, but then increased interest outside the state and even the United States.

“All we did was make one ad on social media,” Hudson said. “From there it just got worse. So we turned around a bit to welcome as many people as possible. And we’re here now.”

Hudson, Balaf, a nightclub manager, and Balaf’s brother Brendan, who lives in Phoenix and has experience planning events, organized a small army of volunteers and staff. Over the past few months, the entire group has been manipulating its routine work and planning conventions. Hudson tracked down all the talent for the panels. Although they have provided sponsorship, the bulk of Golden-Con’s funding comes from ticket sales.

They believe the interest has also increased because “the Golden Girls devotees were looking for a way out to continue to grieve White. So there is one booth with hundreds of notes where fans can write about their favorite memories related to the show or what it is made for them.

“It’s a chance to pay so much (respect) to the show they loved and to the actresses who made it shine,” said Brad Baloff. “One thing that helps the show stay forever is that it has enough humor that doesn’t depend on the specific situation, political or geographical … It’s just ridiculous.”

___ Follow Terry Tan on Twitter https://twitter.com/ttangAP

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