GeekGirlCon 2011: Some Presidential Thoughts and Other Things

Erica McGillivray at GeekGirlCon 2011
Me talking at the Women Running Geeky Businesses Panel

I am pretty much beyond biased about how awesome GeekGirlCon was. Along with my staff, I’d worked since August 2010 to make the dream of GeekGirlCon a reality, and I believe that it truly happened. I fought back happy tears all weekend; only to finally cry Sunday evening after reading what Greg Rucka wrote in my Batwoman trade. (Don’t worry, at that point, I was surrounded by people who care and love me and hugged me.)

I still am beyond the moon at how many people showed up. (A rough estimation of 2000 per day.) I can’t believe we sold out. I am still so touched by all the smiles, all the packed panels, all the cosplay, and all the new friends made.

Being the woman in charge is a weird role because in many ways I did not have an actual “job” at the convention. I had a few things I had fixed on my schedule — set-up, meet King 5 news, go to the PR event, host the masquerade with Julia, moderate the Geeky Business Panel, give a ‘thank you’ at the Labyrinth showing, and tear-down — but mostly, I wandered around fixing things. My staff is really awesome, so it was less fixing and more lending a hand, making a decision, or sending someone on a mission.

That said, you know what sucks about being president, I missed all the really awesome panels I wanted to see and I missed meeting many people I wanted to reconnect with or meet for the first time.


Some of my favorite things:

— My mom came to help me out, and I really enjoyed the look on her face (she worked registration) when she realized just how long the registration line was before the doors opened. It was also fun to see her get that proud mom glow when people complimented GeekGirlCon and my work.

— Crossplaying as Sherlock with my lovely Watson. And having lifelong friends not recognize me in costume, not to mention a few GeekGirlCon staff doing a double-take. (I think my mom was a little freaked out.)

— Tiny crossplaying Jack Harkness posing in front of the TARDIS, while mostly annoyed at her blue tooth as her guardian took photos. (I still have blue paint under my fingernails from finishing the inside of the TARDIS the Wednesday before.)

— Getting to play with Tammy’s amazing Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth puppet, hearing Karen Prell talk, and listening the audience get excited every time David Bowie’s area flashed on screen.

— Being dressed up as Wonder Woman while Trina Robbins told me about the Wonder Woman lunchbox from the ’80s she’d found at a thrift shop recently. (Also having multiple friends tell me how they just wanted to have tea with Trina.)

— Chatting with Chase Masterson, who’s all around amazing. I’ve been a die-hard Trekkie since I was 4-years-old.

— Watching an entire audience sing along with Molly Lewis’ song about wanting to have Stephen Fry’s babies literally.

— Getting to finally meet panelist Karen Burrows, whom I’ve known online since 2003. Plus, getting to reconnect with my long-time fangirl friends who live in different parts of the country/in Canada/in England, including Erin, Tania, Bridget (and her partner Joe), Jen, Matt, Anna, Katelyn, Bill, and Lisa.

— Being able to provide people with an experience of a lifetime, and geeky women a safe space to geek out all weekend long.

Some things that did not go as smoothly as I’d hoped:

— I forgot the masquerade prizes in my kitchen. Seriously, they were sitting between my cast iron pan and fruit basket. Plus, I’d sent my partner Jason to search for them at the info booth, and he missed the masquerade completely.

— Registration lines were a little longer than needed to be. Plus, some vendors, panelists, and sponsors waited when they shouldn’t have. (You might’ve seen me walking the line and calling out for them.) I’m just so freaking glad that Seattle had awesome weather.

— Not having transport for people with disabilities or tiny children to get to and from the two locations. I’m not quite sure what could’ve been done, but I’m sure there were some kind of option.

— While this was a known issue before the con started, having to tell a nursing mother that the only available private space was a bathroom. (Why aren’t there more convention having spaces in Seattle with more rooms?)

— Not getting to reconnect with/meet the following people properly: the women from Hello Earth Productions, Jen Van Meter, Sarah Kuhn, Anita Sarkeesian (with whom I had an awesome post-con lunch, book shopping, and ice cream fun time with), and everyone else I didn’t get to say hi to.

Random things you might not know about GeekGirlCon and me:

— 100% of our staff are volunteers. All money made by GeekGirlCon goes directly back into the organization.

— As much as I hated charging for some events, the only way we were able to have a masquerade was by throwing a separately ticketed burlesque show. We also worked in partnership with the EMP to do part of the convention there, including bringing Jane Espenson.

— I’m a completely crazy person, who spent the month prior to GeekGirlCon interviewing for a new job (see GeekGirlCon being a volunteer gig), getting said new job, giving notice and training former coworkers, and, oh, yeah, planning for GeekGirlCon. (I started my new job yesterday.)

— My awesome staff is already emailing me, ready for the next steps. So I’m off to answer some emails that need my attention.

Check out the news story King 5 did about GeekGirlCon:

19 Replies to “GeekGirlCon 2011: Some Presidential Thoughts and Other Things”

  1. You and Tammy and everyone kicked serious ass getting this convention together. Thank you! It was one of the best conventions I’ve gone to in years. I was so delighted and happy to be a part of it. I’ll say hi next year. 🙂

  2. Well, you did a damn good job and the convention rocked – even for us “Geek Boys”. *smile*

    And as the father of the above-mentioned “Tiny crossplaying Jack Harkness”, might I thank you for making a con that was fun for her, her mother, and I. (My daughter is already plotting Jack 2.0. And her River Song outfit. Also, she wants a Snowtrooper outfit just like mine. Ah, geeky kids…….)

  3. So sorry I couldn’t make the cross-country trip for this! I really hope to be an active part of the next one (I’m assuming there WILL be a next one?), and while Seattle is, I’m sure, quite lovely, is there any possibility of having a GGC on the East coast? If so, definitely sign me up!

    1. There will definitely be a GeekGirlCon 2010, and I hope that you can make it out for it. We may have some events on the East Coast next year… Stay tuned.

  4. I said it there, but I want to say it here too. It was an amazing weekend, Erica. You put together a phenomenal con and I’m so honoured to have been part of it. I’m already looking forward to next year.

  5. At an event the size of Bumbershoot (not clear if that’s a Bumbershoot thing or a Seattle Center thing), supposedly there are wheelchairs staffed with volunteers for those in need of them (or for rental, but if you’re on a fixed income, likely just getting con tickets is all you can afford.) for folks who maybe don’t need a wheelchair in their everyday life, but aren’t so mobile as to be able to do the walking, lines, and standing. I’m not sure at what size events need to be before having at least a few volunteers and wheelchairs is an option, but with such a diverse crowd at this con, and so many people with varying disabilities, hopefully it’ll be… soon!

    1. That’s great to know, J. (I’ve always wondered how events that take up the entire Seattle Center like Bumbershoot or Folklife do it.) We’re not quite sure where we’re having it next year, or if we’ll have a distance that con goers will be moving about in. But it’s on our radar.

  6. It was my 4 year old daughters first convention and she loved it. Every night she opens up her yellow GeekGirlCon swag bag and carefully sorts out all the things she got and we talk about everything she saw. She was so happy to see all the cool costumes (even tho I made her wear a sweater over her beloved Robin costume).

    Counting the days until next year!

  7. I think I’ve said everything already, but I am so, so happy that the con was such a success. We’re already pricing up flights for next year. Although you do realise that GGC has spoiled me for other cons? Just sayin’ 😛

    Oh, and I squeed when I realised that the photos from the Geeky Business panel were the ones I took, and the ones from the Masquerade were Lisa’s!

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