Or at least the Mr. Romance competition.
Word came out last Wednesday that the people behind the Romantic Times convention have pulled the plug on the competition. I'm not going to re-hash their reasons (you can read them here --> http://readersentertainment.com/2011/no-more-mr-romance/ ). It's no secret I'm not happy about this, but I don't think it's for the reason most people who know me (or know of me) think. Okay, that might be a bit of the reason, but it's not the whole reason.
Here's the thing...I love the Romantic Times Convention. I love the scope of it and the parties and meeting authors and, yes, meeting the models. It's all part of this big package to me that screams in orgasmic joy. The powers-that-be at RT are saying that there will still be models there, and I'm sure some of them will be, but I'm going to hazard a guess that for the most part it will be the people who have been there before: CJ Hollenbeck, Jimmy Thomas, Mark Johnson... and maybe a few of the more recent contestants. But odds are there won't be new blood every year. And I don't like that...for a lot of reasons.
We'll start with the obvious one that most people will think I mean--there won't be the opportunity to meet new models. Yes, I like meeting and partying with (and actually talking to) men. Sure, I like talking to men I already know, but meeting new ones is fun. I'll miss that. And if my regular dance partners don't go? Um...the dances are going to be a lot less fun. Sorry to all my girlfriends. Dancing with you is fun, but I like dancing with guys.
Now onto (some of) the other reasons.
First is the opportunity the Mr. Romance competition provided to up and coming models. Many of the guys who competed didn't have connections in the romance industry, and for some, Mr. Romance was their first glance into that world. There are quite a few male models who would love to get into cover modeling but don't have the connections. Mr. Romance was a foot in the door--one that has just been cut off. Considering more than one of the competitors this year alone signed with agents and stock photo companies because of the competition, that means less opportunities for models and fewer options for authors. I don't know about any other author, but I like the increased possibility of having models that fit what my characters actually look like.
But that's not even the biggest issue.
That one is RT itself. As I said, I love this con and Mr. Romance was one thing that made it stand out from all the others. Without it, what makes it special? What makes it different than...RomCom or RWA Nationals or Authors After Dark or (for those of us who write genre romance) DragonCon or World Con or World Fantasy? Every author and reader has to make choices on where their promotional dollar goes, and cons are expensive. As far as registration and promotion goes, RT might be the most expensive. To be fair, someone's going to be most expensive, and it might as well be them. But at a certain point, if RT loses what makes it unique, what is going to encourage authors and readers to spend the extra to attend?
I want to have faith that the powers-that-be have something planned to make RT stand out since they're doing away with the Mr. Romance competition, but I don't know them well enough to say that for certain. The best I can do is hope that something awesome will take its place, because I'd hate to see RT become just another con.