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BravoCon slays in its fabulous, tea-spilling Las Vegas debut

Updated November 4, 2023 - 3:18 pm

Fans double-fisted plastic cups of wine before 10 a.m., wore outfits that looked as though they survived an explosion at a sequin factory and shrieked in ways that are usually only associated with bear traps.

BravoCon arrived in Las Vegas on Friday like a fabulous, Botoxed and Ozempiced two-time divorcee with plenty of tea to spill.

The three-day spectacle at Caesars Forum, which continues through Sunday, is an over-the-top celebration of all things Bravo, where fans could see more than 165 cast members from the likes of “The Real Housewives,” “Vanderpump” and “Below Deck” cinematic universes.

Think of it as the cable channel’s version of ComicCon — if, say, most of the “Avengers” actors had slept together at some point and spent their downtime hanging out on the convention floor taking selfies with fans.

“I think it’s a perfect place for BravoCon,” Andy Cohen, a.k.a. the mayor of Bravoland, told us of the convention’s move to Las Vegas from New York. “I know that Vegas is so huge, and you feel like no one convention can, like, run the town, but I’m seeing a lot of big Bravo fans all over, and it’s really gratifying.”

Between 25,000 and 30,000 Bravoholics from all 50 states and abroad were expected over the three days, and they’re exactly the kinds of visitors Las Vegas seeks out given the amount of disposable income it takes to attend.

Three-day passes sold out long ago at $550 and $1,200, plus fees, as did daily passes at $250 and $575. Add-ons included tickets to see Cohen record five shows at Paris Las Vegas ($200-$400 each, plus fees) and the BravoCon After Dark party at Omnia ($449, plus fees).

So what did fans get for their money?

More than 30 panels covered every corner of the Bravosphere. During one for the husbands on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” the cast of “Magic Mike Live” at the Sahara taught Frank Catania, Joe Benigno and Joe Gorga, as well as moderator Jerry O’Connell, some of their dance moves. “We had women just running up to the stage,” Jaclyn Marfuggi Caprio, “Magic Mike Live’s” emcee, said of the hysteria. “They couldn’t contain themselves.”

With “Scandoval” — the scandal in which Tom Sandoval of “Vanderpump Rules” cheated on Ariana Madix with their fellow cast member Rachel Leviss — still fresh in fans’ minds, the atmosphere for that show’s panel was raucous from the start. The crowd was more of what you’d expect at a Wrestlemania, with deafening cheers whenever Madix spoke and a torrent of boos that drowned out Sandoval at every turn.

To his credit, Sandoval showed up to take his lumps — and to sell $110 sweatshirts in the Bravo Bazaar, a collection of more than 50 booths in which “Bravolebrities” with side gigs met fans and hawked their wares.

Elsewhere, attendees could star in their own sassy tagline videos styled like those from “The Real Housewives,” “Vanderpump Rules” and “Winter House,” as well as their own confessional videos.

The Bravoland Museum, meanwhile, is where guests could take photos that re-enacted Teresa Giudice’s iconic “Real Housewives of New Jersey” table flip and pose on replicas of the sets from “Top Chef” and “Watch What Happens Live,” complete with the latter’s Gay Shark costume.

Beneath a protective case, the kind that robbers in movies always smash to steal priceless jewels, were “The Real Housewives of Orange County” star Tamra Judge’s former breast implants.

State Farm created a “Summer House”-inspired lounge, complete with actor Kevin “Jake From State Farm” Miles.

There were even bejeweled Clorox Wipes containers in the underutilized men’s restrooms that were soon overtaken by the female attendees and made co-ed.

BravoCon is such a big deal among fans, Pete Deppeler flew in from Australia to cover it for the Kyle &Jackie O Show on Sydney radio’s KIIS 1065 with what he said was one simple edict: “Please don’t insult anyone with our Aussie humor, which sometimes is a little bit crass.”

For those of you who couldn’t make it to BravoCon, there’s still time to see highlights, thanks to TikTok shows each morning and a daily recap show on Peacock, where some of the biggest panels and wildest moments from the weekend can be seen.

Based on Friday, those may be tough to narrow down. Because as Bravo promos kept reminding visitors, “what happens in Vegas slays in Vegas.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on X.

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