Millennium Fandom Bar, Las Vegas, Nevada
So I was talking with Buffy Summers (aka “The Vampire Slayer”), and learned that she didn’t live in Las Vegas. She’s from Southern California, and she was at Millenium Fandom to celebrate her friend Saffron’s birthday. Saffron lived in Las Vegas and was a regular at the bar.
I should acknowledge that “Buffy” and “Saffron” are not their real names. I learned their real names, but they asked we use the names of the characters when we quoted them here -- which was only fair, because they had put real work into their costumes, and they went with the bar’s theme for the night, “Joss Whedonverse Celebration.” Whedon is the writer and director of many beloved movies and TV series. He is perhaps most closely associated with TV show (and movie) Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I loved that our new friend didn’t just dress as Buffy, but as Buffy from a particular episode, “Doublemeat Palace” in which the Buffster works for a local fast food franchise, wearing a Doublemeat uniform and carrying a soda cup with the franchise’s logo. Saffron, a recurring character on another show created by Whedon, Firefly, wore the costume from the “Our Mrs. Reynolds” episode.
Later in the evening, the bar was holding a Whedon trivia quiz that we were told would cover everything from Toy Story to Cabin in the Woods. We left before that started, but while we were there, two different Whedon works played on the TVs around the bar (The Avengers and Serenity, a movie sequel to the Firefly show).
Judging just by the name of the bar, you might think it would be just a Star Wars themed place, but it’s actually a welcoming place for a variety of fans from detective fiction to cartoons to zombies.
When we walked into the bar, we were quickly welcomed by the founder and owner, Alex Pusineri. He was warm and gregarious and happily shared his desire to make the bar a place where people felt at home. He pointed to the people playing a variety of board games around the room and assured us that if we asked, any of the game players would be glad for us to join them. He mentioned that though vaping was allowed, the bar was a non smoking zone. Gambling was also forbidden (a rare thing in this city).
Alex is from France, but obviously delights in all kinds of American popular culture (though Japanese and European pop culture is celebrated as well). We observed Alex greeting almost everyone who entered, often embracing returning guests. He took pictures of everyone who had dressed for the night (it seemed that Firefly ensembles dominated the evening).
The bar was decorated with a icons from many different fandoms: the police call box Tardis from Dr. Who was tucked in the back of the room; a display case housed a tricorder, communicator, and phaser from Star Trek TOS; Captain America’s shield was on the wall along with Superman and Batman symbols; and the golden idol from the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark is in another display case. I was embarrassed in my deficit of nerd knowledge when I had to ask the identity of artifacts from The Fifth Element.
Mindy and I had decided ask different questions at this bar. (We usually ask, “What makes for a good bar?” and “Whether you go or not, what makes for a good church?”) At this bar, we asked, “What’s your favorite bar in fandom?” and “What’s your favorite church in fandom?”
The first person we talked to about this was Linda, one of the bartenders, who said that one thing she enjoys about her job is the chance to dress up for the plethora of theme nights the bar offers. I asked her about favorites, she said she liked the Disney fandom nights, and we weren't surprised that she enjoyed dressing as The Little Mermaid’s Ariel because of her bright, gorgeous, long red hair.
Her favorite fandom bar was one I thought we’d hear repeatedly through the evening, but to our surprise she was the only one who said her favorite was the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine in Star Wars: A New Hope. She said she’d love to serve that variety of alien guests.
As more and more customers came into Millennium Fandom, it took a bit longer to find out what her favorite fandom church was, but she finally decided on the church from the AMC series Preacher. I also enjoyed that show, so we talked about it a bit, especially the amazingly destructive end of the first season. Neither of us had watched more than the first season on Hulu, since neither of us pay for cable, so we’re waiting for the second season to come to the streaming service.
Tyler was the other bartender that evening. I complimented him on his hat, a hideous piece of knitting which the character Jayne wore on Firefly (in the show, the hat was a gift to Jayne from his mother. Tyler had borrowed the hat from birthday girl Saffron.)
I asked his favorite bar, and he admitted that his fandom specialty was gaming, so his favorite bar came from the video game Mass Effect, a place where violence ran rampant. (Not necessarily a place he’d like to work, he added) He also served guests between questions, and took a bit of time to think of a church. He finally came up with the religion of Dungeons and Dragons, telling us that every Thursday night, he joins a D & D group at the bar. The characters in his game group honor “Helm the Watcher,” and throughout the game are likely to call out “Helm help us!”
When I asked Alex the owner our questions, he first spoke of a real life fan bar, the HR Giger Bar in Switzerland, which is based on the artist who designed the creature and ship from the film Alien. Obviously, that bar was an inspiration for this bar, but Linda pointed out that the question called for fictional places. So he changed his answer to the Overlook Hotel Bar from The Shining. (Really, who doesn’t love ghost bartenders?) For a church, he went to his native
We also asked Buffy and Saffron our questions. Buffy went to Firefly for both of her answers, mentioning the bar from the first episode of the series (which she called the “Unification Day Bar”) because it was a good place to observe Browncoats fight. Instead of church, she told us her favorite fandom clergy, Shepherd Book (played by Ron Glass) -- who we agreed was a great character.
Saffron went to Firefly for the bar she liked as well, but her bar choice was the bar from "Jaynestown", the cantina in the town of Canton where the scurrilous character is honored as a hero. For her church, though, she went to the HBO show, Carnivale, which she appreciated for its preacher and revival meeting.
We very much enjoyed our time at the Millenium Fandom. If we lived in Vegas, we would likely be regulars. I might even be found there every Sunday night when people get together to watch the Star Trek show, Discovery, because I’m not about to pay for the CBS streaming service that broadcasts it. And we would certainly be curious what Halloween was like in a bar where people don’t need a special day to dress up and celebrate their favorite characters.