SciFi-Fantasy fun: Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’s first comic con features celebrities and more |

SciFi-Fantasy fun: Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’s first comic con features celebrities and more

Autumn Whitney
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino's first-ever SciFi-Fantasy Con takes place Friday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 1.
Courtesy Photo |

What began as a plan between two life-long friends to open a coffee shop turned into the creation of a production company specializing in hosting comic conventions for independent film projects. Joe Cahill and Mark Davis — CEO and CFO of Steam House Entertainment, LLC, respectively — are bringing the company’s SciFi-Fantasy Con to Stateline’s Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for the first time this weekend.

Held Friday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 1, the convention features a mix of panels, workshops, vendors, late-night parties and more.

“Comic con is a great experience we can offer to both the local community and visitors,” said Brandie Warr, communications manager at Hard Rock. “It seemed like something new and unique we could offer to the community. Yes, we’re all about music, but this experience will help us reach all facets.”

The main focus of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’s first-ever comic con is women in SciFi — panels such as Strong Women of SciFi & Fantasy and Special Fx Makeup feature leading actresses discussing how they broke into the industry and the importance of roles both on screen and off.

“We want to show why women characters are important and that they’re not just eye candy,” Cahill said. “The women we brought in aren’t just actresses either; some work behind the scenes and in special effects.”

Tracee Lee Cocco fits the mold: She leads the SciFi Stunts workshop, which walks the audience through television and film stunt set-up.

Other events include The Weapons of SciFi and Ship Wars — the two are set up in a debate format, allowing attendees to participate in a discussion that ends in declaring the genre’s best weapon and starship.

“The panels are something all con-goers like because it’s more than seeing vendors. You get a sense of camaraderie and a chance to sit and talk about your favorite shows,” Davis noted.

In addition to interactive panels and workshops, the SciFi-Fantasy Con includes celebrity appearances (including actors from each of the five “Star Trek” series), vendors — selling everything from anime and comic books to works from artists on commission and steam punk pocket watches — and after-parties.

The weekend-long event kicks off Friday night with an exclusive bash inside Vinyl that features karaoke and celebrity interactions. But comic con isn’t complete without a cosplay contest, so head to the venue on Sunday at 3 p.m. for costume fun (although themed outfits are encouraged throughout the weekend).

Despite the depth of the event, Cahill and Davis had a mere five months to put the weekend together. The time constraint was new to the Steam House duo, who usually prepares for conventions approximately one year in advance.

“We were shocked and amazed at who we could get. Usually these actresses and actors are booked and we have to plan a year out,” Cahill explained.

If all goes well, Cahill and Davis hope to make the event an annual tradition held at Hard Rock. In the meantime, expect the next Steam House comic con to takeover Harveys Lake Tahoe in May 2018.

The SciFi-Fantasy Con is open to all ages, and attire must be family-friendly.

Tickets are priced at $12.50 for a day pass, $20 for the full weekend, and $50 for the VIP experience (which includes entry to the Friday night party). Events are held in either the Graceland Ballroom or Vinyl.

The SciFi-Fantasy Con opens Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday at 9 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. Learn more online and view a complete schedule at

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