GeekGirlCon 2016: Magical Girls and Crystal Gems

It’s no secret that GeekGirlCon (GGC) in Seattle, WA is one of my all-time favorite conventions. Although it is named in the celebration and empowerment of the female geek, I have found this convention to be one of the most all-encompassing and diverse I have ever attended. You will find a wide range of panels and activities, from the DIY Science Zone, meant to entice the curiosity and thirst for knowledge in our youth, to panels about gender identity and sex positivity. GGC is also the first convention I knew of to include gender neutral bathrooms. Every facet of GGC is there to promote acceptance, growth, and comradery within our community. One of GGC’s biggest core values is the embracement and inclusion of all people. Taken directly from their website:

“GeekGirlCon embraces all types of people. PERIOD. There is no way to list all the subsets of folks that now or in the future will make up the body of GeekGirlCon. ALL: ages, gender, identities, sexual orientations, nationalities, races, creeds, religions, familial statuses, alien species, earth species, system preferences, fandoms, etc, are welcome. Anyone supporting women in geeky pursuits is welcome.”

Ever since I first attended in 2013 I’ve watched the convention grow considerably, but they have never lost their values. In fact, I’d say they’ve only solidified those values and diversified more as their attendance rate has grown.

On Saturday of GGC I arrived with my friend Darcy. This was not only her first GGC, but only the second or third convention she’d ever been to. I was excited to show her around and introduce her to convention life. We arrived around 10am and promptly got in line. By the time we got our badges I had about 10 minutes before my first photoshoot of con. I decided to head over to our agreed meeting place and Darcy wanted to check out the dealer’s hall, we agreed to meet up after my shoot.

My first shoot of GGC was with the Ginger Armadillo Costumes crew. Their cosplays were very lovely, they dressed up as heroines from their favorite childhood novels. The heroines they cosplayed were Alanna from The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce, Lyra Silvertongue from the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman, and Sabriel from the Old Kingdom trilogy by Garth Nix. Unfortunately, they ended up running late and it took them an additional 10 minutes or so to finish putting on their cosplays, so my 10:30 A.M. photo shoot ended up starting at 11 A.M. It’s okay though I know how traffic can be, and getting into cosplay takes time. The wait was totally worth it, we got some fantastic photos in the park.

The shoot wrapped at around 11:45, I quickly grabbed a subway sandwich before heading back into the conference center. Once I got back to the center, it was time for me to meet up with my fellow panelists for the Magical Girls Rock: The Mahou Shoujo Panel. We had been talking online for a month or so leading up to con, but we figured it’d be a good idea to socialize a bit, and go over talking points before our panel began. So, I met up with magical girl academic N’Donna Russel, author/illustrator/vlogger Paige Lavoie, and Fake Geek Girls podcaster Merri Christianson. I’m so glad I got a chance to chat with these amazing ladies before our panel began. We spent the hour before our panel getting to know each other while we admired cosplayers on the first floor.

By 1 P.M. it was time for us to head to our panel room, and when we arrived, people were already lined up for our panel! By 1:15 P.M. the line was already capped and we were at capacity. It was so exciting! I was so thrilled there were so many fellow magical girl enthusiasts to join in discussion with us. I really enjoyed being a part of that panel. It was more campfire/discussion style, where we had a list of questions/topics we wanted to cover, but nothing was rehearsed. Some of our talking points were about what got us into the genre, why we like magical girls, if we think the magical girl genre upholds feminist ideals, and where we think the genre is headed. Several people told me after the panel it felt very organic and that we lead the discussion very well. I’d call it a huge success!

We were at capacity for our magical girl panel!

After the panel, I wanted to finally go check out the dealer’s hall. It was so much bigger this year! They also moved it to a different area of the building, allowing for more vendors, and more space for people to walk around. I spent a good two hours looking at the artist alley alone. The artist alley was so finely cultivated, I’ve always appreciated that GGC works hard to offer a wide range of art styles, and make sure that their artists don’t all have too similar of styles. Everyone’s art was absolutely gorgeous; I actually fell madly in love with a piece of a plus size mermaid by Hannako Lambert. My friend Darcy ended up buying it for me, she said I just had to have it, because it is so me. I love it so much, thank you Darcy!

Beautiful plus size mermaid by Hannako Lambert.

Eventually our feet were ready to call it quits, at around 5pm we left the dealer’s hall, after only tackling about half of it. We did stop by my friend Friday Afternoon Tea’s booth before leaving the hall. I make it a point now to sample her teas and catch up. We also worked out a time to meet up the next day to snag some promo shots for her Kickstarter.

After leaving the dealer’s hall we all wanted to sit down. So, we headed to the mainstage to watch the tail end of the costume contest and listen a few songs by nerdcore rapper, Sammus. She was really cool and had a great style about her. In addition to having some great songs about video games, she also rapped from the heart about her struggles with being a black woman, and how people judge her for being too geeky or not geeky enough. She also rapped about being typecast too often. I’m definitely going to check out more of her work.

Cosplay contest winners.
Sammus performing at the mainstage.

Once the concert was done I went with my friends NeuNeu Cosplay, Miss Trista Meioh Cosplay, and Mina P Cosplay to grab a few quick hall shots of their Sailor Moon cosplays. There was an area right by the escalators that had cool blue lighting. I ended up placing them in front of the railing there so they’d be backlit by the blue light, it made for some interesting shots that we all really enjoyed.

Next, I headed to the second floor with Darcy to go relax for a bit at some couches. Which is where we ran into my friend Ellie. We weren’t at the couches long before Darcy began to feel a little overwhelmed, I stayed with Ellie, and Darcy headed to the Introvert Alley on the first floor. Can I just say; I am so glad that more and more conventions are offering spaces for people to go sit in a quiet room if things get to be a bit much. I haven’t needed to use one myself yet, but I am very happy they exist should the need arise. I’m also glad that my friends have a place they can go to when their anxiety starts to flare up.

After hanging out for a bit I decided to go check out the Geek and Kink panel put on by the team behind Incredible Girl. It was an interesting panel, they discussed how a lot more people are into kink than anyone realizes, because they have so many false impressions of what kink is. Incredible Girl is a series being made and produced by an all-female cast and crew, and is about a woman entering the kink community and learning to love and accept herself. Their aim is to have a mainstream television show that serves as a positive influence of the kink community.

The Geek and Kink panelists Teresa Jusino, SexNerdSandra, and Celia Aurora de Blas.

During their panel, they showed a pilot of Incredible Girl that was made in 2011, before its intention was to be about the main character’s journey of self and of the kink community. After the pilot, they also showed a brief snippet from a future episode of a dominatrix working with a deacon, it was a very interesting mix of sex and religion. The deacon in the clip talked about how he comes to a dominatrix to remind himself of his servitude to God and his faith, and being there for his community. The pilot had some moments that came across as very non-consensual. Several of the audience members were quite upset with the panelists for sharing the video with no trigger warnings.

One woman had to leave the room during the first clip and almost didn’t come back. She did make it back, specifically to tell the panelists the negative impact this clip had on her and others in the audience. Several other people agreed that there should have been a warning, especially because earlier in the panel it was so heavily stressed how important consent is. Their saving grace was that the second clip, which portrays the official change of direction the project took, shows consent. The panelists also apologized repeatedly and expressed how it was never their intention to upset anyone or push them into a panic attack. They also stressed they would give proper warning to the audience in the future.

I met up with Darcy after the Geek and Kink panel. Darcy was feeling pretty tired and ready to decompress after a day full of new encounters. I agreed it’d be good to rest up before another full day of con, so we headed out.

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For Sunday, I opted to go to con with my friend and business partner, Winnie. We wanted to pass out flyers for our upcoming Kawaii in Seattle event, KawaiiWeen. Other than that we didn’t have any set plans. I’ve really taken a more laid back approach to cons this past year or so, and I’m loving it.

We arrived at con at about 11:20 A.M. While we were in line for Winnie’s badge I looked over the schedule and noticed there was a crafting with tampons workshop that had started at 11 A.M. So, we decided to swing by there after badge pick up. I’m so glad we stopped by there, the things people created out of tampons were so great! Upon arrival, everyone was getting lined up for a group shot with their “tampon buddies”, I jumped in and snagged a few shots. We stuck around a little longer to talk with people about their buddies, and I took a few more pictures of the work space and people’s creations.

Our next stop of con was the dealer’s hall, since Winnie hadn’t seen it yet. It was around noon at that point and we had an hour and a half to kill before the Steven Universe panel would start. As we were about to head to the dealer’s hall we ran into Darcy and her boyfriend, Benny. They showed us all the cute things they’d just gotten from the dealer’s hall, which included a Sailor Mercury symbol hand towel. Winnie and I both got excited about that and wanted to head to that booth first. Benny and Darcy still had some free time before their next panel and decided to accompany us to that booth. Sadly, the Sailor Moon towel set was a little out of my price range, but I grabbed a card so I can order them later!

Conveniently, the hand towel booth was right by Friday Afternoon tea’s booth, so I was able to check in with Friday about our shoot happening later. While sampling some teas, I introduced Winnie to Friday. We chatted about potentially collaborating on future Kawaii in Seattle events once Friday gets her brick and mortar shop open.

While walking the exhibitor hall we ended up running into my friend Tiffany, who was dressed as Peridot from Steven Universe. She was also planning on going to the Steven Universe panel, we decided to go together. Upon checking the time, we realized it was nearly 1 P.M., and it’d be best to go get a seat early. So, we headed back downstairs to the main stage. As we arrived the previous panel was just ending, allowing us to snag front row seats! The 30-minute wait until the panel began passed quickly with good conversation and selfies. We were all excited to spend an hour talking about Steven Universe. Especially because Jennifer Paz, the voice of Lapis Lazuli, would be speaking at the panel!

The panel was everything I had hoped for, and more! We got to hear from Jennifer about how great it is working for the show, and how genuine all the crew is, especially Rebecca Sugar. The panelists touched on how progressive the show is, in how it covers some deep, important topics like gender and sexual identy, and abusive relationships. They also touched on how it’s important not to coddle children or assume they won’t understand things, because they do.

Additionally, some great fan theories were also brought up for the show. Jennifer, bless her, kept saying during the entire panel: “That’s a really great question, keep watching the show!” Because, as we all know, none of the cast and crew can talk about what is happening next. Everyone was understanding of that and just chuckled when she repeated the phrase throughout the Q & A. It was one of those panels where you left feeling really happy and loved within a fandom. Both, by fellow fans and by the show runners. Jennifer was so sweet, she even stopped for photos with a bunch of people, including me!

Me with Jennifer Paz after the Steven Universe panel.

As the panel was ending my buddy Jay (Raging Storm Cosplay) met up with us to hang out for a bit. He was dressed in his party Thranduil cosplay, complete with his own party music via portable speaker. He literally was the traveling party of the con and kept getting stopped for photos on our way back to the exhibitor hall. Since Winnie hadn’t seen any of the artist alley yet, we started there. All the artists were getting a kick out of Jay’s cosplay and his music.

While inside the exhibitor hall we passed out several flyers to artists for KawaiiWeen, letting them know we were still looking for vendors for our first Kawaii in Seattle event. Everyone seemed interested in our creepy cute Halloween event, and we got confirmation from several people that they’d be purchasing a table to vend. We were eager to express our excitement to be putting together another event after the huge success of Seattle Sailor Moon Day 2016. The vendor’s hall closed at 5pm on Sunday, and we ended up staying right until closing to get a chance to see all of it. After that we were all ridiculously hungry so we ran across the street to go get crepes and bring them back to the conference center to eat.

Raging Storm Cosplay as Party King Thranduil.

After eating, I snagged a few photos of Jay lounging on a bench on the second floor. Then, we realized we totally needed to make a quick video again after having so much fun with last year’s. So, we spent some time going through his party playlist but couldn’t decide on a song to use. Then it came to me, why not use a snippet from 2NE1’s song Hello Bitches, it’s so very Thranduil! With that decided, I had him lounge on the bench again, while Tiffany used the flashlight app on her phone to give him a spotlight. Winnie was on music duty, and I filmed our little snippet. I think it turned out hilarious, and the purple lighting at the convention center definitely kicks up the party vibe.

After that quick video it was time for my photoshoot with Friday of Friday Afternoon Tea. She was wanting some promo shots to put up on her Kickstarter that was set to re-launch right after GGC. We found a well-lit lounge area and I grabbed some solo shots along with a few of her and her kid. They turned out very cute. Once our shoot was done it was nearly 7 P.M. and con was just about officially over. So, Winnie and I decided to head out, thus concluding another wonderful GGC.

I am always so impressed with GGC, they have been consistently improving things every year. I loved the layout change this year, with the DIY science zone having more space on the first floor. The new location for the dealer’s hall also allowed them to expand it significantly, to the benefit of all.  I hope that GGC continues to grow and diversify, but always maintains that small con vibe, which it still did this year. I think it will too, because I can tell the people in charge take special care to make everyone feel welcome and loved at their con, and to provide unique content you don’t find at other conventions. GGC will always be one of my favorite conventions, and I can’t wait to attend the next one.

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