C2E2 2012 was the first convention I ever hosted a panel discussion at. It was an exhilarating experience, as well as surprisingly less complicated to put together than I’d expected. To anyone who’s ever thought about submitting a panel proposal to a fan convention but decided against it because you think you’re not “A Name” or “important enough,” I say HOGWASH – what I learned from my experience with C2E2 is this: What the convention organizers are looking for, more than anything, are people who are passionate about a con-related topic (which is a pretty open field) and are willing to put the work into giving an audience an engaging presentation. That’s it.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt if you have a following or if you’re able to have “celebrities” or industry/field figures participate on your panel, but it’s not a requirement. If your panel participants are articulate, knowledgeable and know how to work a crowd, you’re 3/4 of the way to building yourself a successful panel discussion.
The idea for this panel came from wanting to explore how geek culture and gender identity intersected, specifically for women, through a relatable lens. Given that I am blessed with an over-abundance of amazingly talented lady friends who come from a variety of artistic and media-related disciplines, exploring how geek interests and gender influenced choices in modes of art and formats of expression felt like the most logical choice. Not to mention, it wasn’t difficult to find participants for the panel. In fact, I had a hell of a time choosing who to ask in the first place!
I was very lucky in the panel that ended up taking shape – everyone came from a different artistic/media field and had varying areas of geeky interests. The 2012 “The Geek Girl and the Artist” panel was described as:
This panel highlights the experiences of six diverse female Chicago-based artists and communicators, ranging from professionals to hobbyists, who share a love of all things geek. The panelists will discuss how geek culture and interests have influenced their development as artists and communicators, and shaped their understanding of gender identity. By examining the panelists’ professional and personal experiences, this panel will explore the ways in which geek culture and gender identity intersect with art and media on a larger scale. A Q&A session will follow discussion with the panelists. This panel will be sponsored by the Chicago Nerd Social Club.
While I acted as moderator, the six speakers were:
Kriss Abigail – A local Chicago photographer, specializing in the national burlesque scene. IRL Drawing upon her love of fantasy and storytelling, Kriss Abigail creates images that play with lights and shadows, showcasing not only the beauty of a dancer but also the drama of the moment. Kriss Abigail likes NOVA marathons, Captain Jack Harkness, slaughtering the Alliance, and puppies. Follow her on Twitter @KrissAbigail520
Sooshe Bhat – a media relations science writer and new media manager. Sooshe has filmed and produced a mini-documentary about environmental racism in Chicago’s minority communities, worked at several major Chicago publications, and learned how to take most of the stuffy jargon out of complex scientific concepts. Her geek interests, outside of science writing, are reading and re-reading classical literature and graphic novels, finding good beer in Chicago, annoying people with her vegetarianism, and mocking hipsters (while secretly wondering if she may be one). Follow her on Twitter @SoosheBot
Jen Dollface – a self-described jackass of all trades who has who has been working in all manners of the arts since childhood, including circus, costumes, fire performance and theatricality. You can see her perform at events like Unbridled at Untitled and the Chicago Full Moon Jams, and check out her crafty goodness at Razorblade Cupcake. She’s also a pretty kick ass Magic player who played the tournament circuit. Follow her on Twitter @JenDollface
Mary Anne Mohanraj – an author of YA, speculative and erotic fiction, as well as one of the founders of the World Fantasy Award-winning and Hugo-nominated magazine, Strange Horizons. Currently a Clinical Assistant Professor of fiction and literature and Associate Director of Asian and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she serves as Executive Director of both DesiLit (www.desilit.org) and the Speculative Literature Foundation (www.speclit.org). She lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with her partner, Kevin, two small children, and a sweet dog.
Dawn Xiana Moon – a lifelong geek who performs with Read My Hips tribal bellydance, works freelance as a web designer, is a singer/songwriter and is also the producer and director of Raks Geek, the bellydance + fire show that broke the internet’s brain with a video of a Wookiee bellydancing to a Klingon band. She’s also part of the podcast, Podcast on the Edge of Forever. Follow her on Twitter @DawnXianaMoon
Erin Tipton – a lighting designer extraordinaire whose love affair with Anne McCaffery’s dragons began at age 8. She’s been a fan of the Doctor since she was tall enough to be able to see the TV from where she was hiding behind the couch, and in her spare time she likes to knit things such as Cthullu ski masks, Jayne hats, and even a crocheted animaguri Totoro doll.
The panel lasted for roughly 60 minutes (give or take – I’m pretty sure we ran over time, but since we were the last panel in the room, we were given some leeway). It’s broken into six segments, but the playlist should flow from one part into the next without too much of a break in between. Footage provided courtesy of Michael Silberman of Great Eye Films.
(I’m working on adding the transcripts to the videos for those with hearing impairments. Transcripts will be in the “About” section, below the video description. I appreciate your patience with this, I’ll post an update as the transcripts go up.)