The slime of our childhood was gross, sticky, and sweaty. It smelled bad; it was green; it oozed from trash cans. In the early 2000s, celebrities like Christina Aguilera and Amanda Bynes would stand at the podium at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, awaiting their baptism by embarrassment. Even though getting “slimed” made them look like good sports, the reality was they were still slathered with gross green stuff.
After a long absence from our collective consciousness, slime has resurfaced. It’s brighter and prettier than before; it comes in sparkly containers and leaves gold glitter behind on your hands. It has the look of beautifying make-up, or some special trophy that practically glows. This iteration of slime has been largely credited to a 23-year-old waitress named Karina Garcia, now referred to as the Slime Queen. In 2014, Garcia built a D.I.Y YouTube channel about her own creation and experience with new slime, which primarily attracted adolescent and teen girls.
What was originally her hobby transformed to a show with more than 6 million subscribers. The trend began to crest in 2016 as other slimers followed, and channels began to pop up with increasing momentum. The phenomenon oozed offline as conventions were founded, pulling slime fans and slimers from all around the world. The slime even caused an Elmer’s glue shortage that broke out across America during the later half of 2016. (The material is a key product in making slime.)
Which brought us to Slime Bash, the largest slime convention in the world. Slime Bash sprung from Connecticut-natives Maddie Rae Greenspan and her father Howard Greenspan. As a slimer, Maddie had been frustrated by the lack of glue in stores that she needed for her slime product. Her biggest supporter, Howard, had agreed. He knew his daughter was passionate about her work and anyway, he was a businessman. As the founder and CEO at SCS Direct, a consumer commodity company, Greenspan knew the development and business side of products. So, the best way to get more glue? Create more glue.
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Cactus garden 🌵 🌸 🌵 . . Succulents or flowers? . . Another new slime!! Cactus garden is a cute semi fishbowl with dark/light green and pink fishbowl beads!! It also has so many little cactus fimos and flower sprinkles😍😍 . . Tags: #slime #cactus #slimer #slimee #slimey #slimebash #cacti #fishbowl #fishbowlslime #crunchy #crunchyslime #asmr #asmrslime #satisfying #satisfyingvideo
The father and daughter duo began to sell their adhesive product in 2017. They launched a website and an Instagram page, accumulating a larger audience online. That’s when they realized their need for something bigger. The slime community was growing and, in an attempt to connect the slimers, the 13 year-old brought 100 slime volunteers to build the World’s Largest Slime at the Play Fair 2017 event. The 10,000 gallon pool ended up weighing 13,820 lb., securing Maddie’s name and the new kind of slime in the Guiness Book of World Record. As for Howard? He still works at SCS, but now he has own slime Instagram page.
Maddie’s accomplishment showcased so much demand that she decided to organize the very first slime bash, held May 2018 at Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa in Connecticut. The tickets sold out in 36 hours, attracting over 1,000 attendees. The 2019 event, held this March in Illinois, brought attendees from all over the United States and the world. It would bring approximately 3,500 people over the course of the two-day convention.
The Slime Bash was held 45 minutes outside of Chicago, in a convention center at the Pheasant Run Resort in the small town of St. Charles. There was nothing around the building except a golf course, a hotel, and a Culvers across the street, but the place was packed. We entered the queue behind the Schneiders, a family accompanying their 13-year-old daughter Kendra. Crystal, Kendra’s mother, said she’d been waiting for this since Christmas. “She’ll share slime with her sister’s, but I think it’s nice for her to have her own thing,” she said. “Her older sister does sports and her younger does gymnastics, but she’s always been more creative and it aligns with what she wants to do.” Around them, children gushed about the Instagram celebrities they would meet alongside their internet BFFs.
Crystal wasn’t alone. Parents flooded every corner of Slime Bash, sporting their children’s branded t-shirts, carrying large packs of slime ingredients, struggling under boxes filled with baller bands to distribute to customers and fans alike. The room was completely chaotic. Everyone was headed to the large auditorium split into two sections: the VIP Lane and Slimer Alley. The first featured 30 of the hottest slimers in the industry, while the latter showcased 50 up and coming Insta celebs selling categorized products and merchandise. Colored booths and banners layered the walls; children persistently nudged us out of the way to get to their favorite stars; a teenage girl scrolled through her iPhone X in one hand while destroying a strawberry Frappuccino in the other. Immediately after walking in, we spied a mother fishing around in the trash for a convention map, despite the booth two feet away from her holding new copies.
The slime at the Bash was cleanly packed in small containers, and neatly lined up on each table. We had absentmindedly cut a line to stick our fingers into a plastic jar marked “butter slime.” The goo got everywhere, distorting the surface and sticking heavily to our fingers, causing the older attendant (not a teen) to snatch it away.
The longest lines belonged to slime stars at VIP Lane, who went by their Instagram handles: @parakeetslimes, @slimebynicholejacklyne, and of course, the leader of the weekend, @slimebymaddierae. Parakeet Slimes’ booth was seated directly next to Maddie’s, allowing us to take in the divergent aesthetics. While Maddie’s station was pink and fluffy, the kind of interior you’d find at a cupcake shop, Parakeet’s was subtle and blue. “If Taylor Swift was here at Slime, Parakeet would have a longer line,” Howard Greenspan told us.
Around us were pyramid towers of product, Christmas lights, personalized logos, glitter, and souvenirs. The cloud slime was a favorite of ours, falling between our hands like sand. We caught wind of it from girls sitting in a large section marked off as “Slime Trading Post,” where children eagerly traded their slime. There, a couple of girls stretched their slime between them until it snapped, while a few more practiced tricks for their friends. A mom argued with her daughter, pulling slime out of her hair.
We almost walked through a cardboard slime sign, overwhelmed by the rush to Maddie Rae’s table. Maddie Rae has attracted millions of viewers on YouTube and Instagram, capitalizing off visually appealing content catered to the constantly stressed. While other media like TikTok and Vine tease some kind of narrative, slime doesn’t ask too much of the viewer — it’s just fun and cute, like the pink bakery style case full of branded slime at Maddie’s booth. One of Maddie’s products was a small $14 Chinese take-out box with slime smelling like crab rangoons and sesame noodles. Another looked like macaroni and cheese, but smelled like a mango.
In front of a pink backdrop decorated with “Slime by Maddie Rae” bubbles, Maddie and Howard eagerly posed for photos with her fans. A group of girls followed her with a small camera, recording her every move. “You’ll feel an energy as you walk around the room,” Howard told us. “It’s very apparent and it grows bigger and bigger as the day goes on. They always say this generation doesn’t know how to communicate. Here, though, people can go up to complete strangers and will be like hey do you want to trade slime? I think about Maddie from years ago and how she’s so open now. That’s really not an atypical story around here.”
“I’ve been doing slime for two years,” Maddie said. “This is my two year anniversary of making slime tomorrow, but the Bash is from May of last year. I think it’s really fun, I really don’t think it’s stressful at all.” A group of Maddie’s fans approached, cell phones in hand as they vlogged the experience in real-time. Maddie looked up briefly and waved at the camera, before rushing to help an excited fan with a purchase.
Maddie Rae had other obligations at the Bash. Along with Marisa Gannon (aka star slimer Parakeet), she judged the convention’s Slime Acrobatics Tournament, where contestants showed off the slime tricks they had been practicing all year. Most took the stage with similar routines, twisting slime around their hands and spinning it with serious expressions, while others had more intense performances that included backflips and the splits. Maddie and Marisa wrote scores down on some ripped up cardboard and presented clear trophies with multi-colored slime running down the sides. Winners of each competition were photographed and included in recap coverage of the event on Maddie’s YouTube.
Maddie’s group of fans sat in front of us the entire time, filming and calling her name. At the end of the contest, Maddie and Marisa headed up to the stage to announce the winner. A small blond girl nervously waved as her name was called. Like most contenders, she flipped her slime in circles and stretched it the length of her body. She never fumbled once though, which might have put her ahead of the others. Coordination was key at this show. There was a flurry of photos and a slime trophy handed off. The crowd cleared quickly and the cardboard scores were discarded. The competition was finished, but the fans continued to spin their slime in the Trading Arena.
By far the busiest booth at the convention was Nichole Jacklyne who, at 22 years old, had served as a sort of guide to the young slimers. With 1 million Youtube subscribers and 329k followers on Instagram, Nichole Jacklyne had been overwhelmed all day. She was one of the “it girls,” and she understood, more than anyone, the nature of the fad and its evolution into a legitimate business. “The drama around middle schoolers is inevitable,” she said, nonchalantly waving at some passing fans. “I’ve seen very shy to super crazy outgoing children at these things. I have no idea how they’re doing it, growing up in the online community.”
Yet Jacklyne did it. The star had been on YouTube since she was 13 years old. She had grown up with the internet and understood where the market was headed before it even got there. She had begun with make-up tutorials, transitioning from lifehacks to DIY videos, before graduating to slime around January 2017, when her avid followers started throwing around ideas for the next step. “They were like make slime! You should do this. And I was like what’s a slime shop?” Jacklyne laughed. “I kind of figured it out from there. I’ve been have been doing trial and error since then.”
This was more so a serious business for her, though, and Jacklyne had made it her career, on top of traveling for slime work, finishing college at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, and juggling internships in radio and news. “I’m going to see how long it goes. I’m not just winging it, I have my degree, but I’ve been self-employed for three years now and I don’t want to escape that. You’re constantly innovating new ideas to have more income sources. That’s why I have my slime shop, my channel, and my merch to have things coming in.”
Jacklyne was pretty noticeable in the crowds of younger girls. Taller, older, and maybe a bit more put together, it was obvious how long she had been ingrained in the culture. While a lot of the younger audience at the convention still had many years ahead to decide how much slime and the community would play in their lives, Nichole had already made the choice. There was definitely a balance to be struck between real life and online, and as we talked, it seemed like she’d found it. “It’s not like I have this agreement where I have to do XYZ, but I want to impress my fans,” she said. “I don’t want to be less than they expect. You’re gonna fall flat sometimes. No one’s perfect. It’s gonna happen.”
We told her we didn’t even know what IBF (internet best friend) was until a slimer explained it to us. The whole thing had been a pretty confusing whirlwind. From afar, it had seemed unapproachable to us. A slime convention? It was too online, but not in the way we had thought. It wasn’t just the social media, the likes, and the online battles; it was a community creating together, layered in the complexity of young success, of pursuit, of ambition. We saw friendship, at a distance and close-up. It was both all about slime and not about slime at all.
“This is a thing that will be like Barbies, Play-Doh, it’ll be a thing like this [the Bash] every year,” Jacklyne said. “If we’re still having conventions two years out, we’re going to be here for a while. I think it’s going to be integrated into our culture for a long time.”