If you're a fan of w00tstock, you know about Liz Smith. She's their "Dungeon Master," (that's "Dammit Liz" to you) clearly the strong, organized, feminine presence wrangling the show's producers Paul & Storm, Adam Savage and Wil Wheaton.
But she's not the only girl in the geek performance community. Through creating the perfect environment backstage at w00tstock shows for nerd celebrities, she's had the opportunity to meet other geeky women who she can relate to.
"I was totally obsessed with 'Star Wars' when I was younger, to the point that I scared people," Smith said. So meeting w00tstock guests like Bonnie Burton, who has made a living out of being obsessed with "Star Wars" helped Smith realize that the geek community is not a boys-only club.
Even so, the prospect of attending the first Geek Girl Con in Seattle, Washington last weekend was one Smith held skepticism about.
"I have to admit I was a little nervous, thinking it would be very, I don’t know, all about feminism and us-versus-them, that sort of thing. Especially since I’m not big into ‘we need to make our own group in order to set us aside from the majority’ just because we’re girls," she said.
It was a reservation many Geek Girl Con attendees she met shared as they lined up for the kickoff concert - featuring musicians like The Doubleclicks, Marian Call and Molly Lewis - but one that was relieved fairly quickly.
"Not only was it a celebration of female characters and women working in the industry but it had this great sense of community," Smith said. And, she said, judging by the long lines, convention organizers were not prepared for such enthusiasm.
Saturday and Sunday passes for the convention were sold out each day within one or two hours after doors opened.
"They were not ready for the demand of so many people coming out. I think it was something like 1500 (attendees) which is really good for their first year as a con. Even talking to the vendors and celebrities who came out to sell autographs, everyone thought they did really well. Considering it’s a small group, they were passionate," she said.
It was a panel-centric convention, with panelists like Jane Espenson, Gail Simone, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Amy Berg and Bonnie Burton emphasizing strong, capable female characters in science fiction, comics, games and pop culture. Over-sexed, stripper-clad female characters were barely mentioned, Smith said.
The positive vibe of the panels "reinforced that we have these common interests, that we’re all fans of science fiction and doctor who and video games and tabletop gaming and technology, all this stuff that makes us all geeks," she said about the convention's debut.
"It didn’t feel like it was all about girls. (The attendance) was about 70 to 30 percent girls to guys. The sense of community was really created with this group. Everyone is excited for next year’s convention and the type of guests that they’re going to be able to have at that," she said.
Smith even got to have a mini w00tstock reunion, since convention guests Amy Berg, Molly Lewis, Bonnie Burton and Marian Call are alumna of the traveling "Nerd Church."
"A lot of people felt like they were part of this really special thing in its first year."
Did you go to Geek Girl Con? What did you think?
I went, and thought it was awesome, too. I've always been scared of going to cons, because I wasn't geeky enough about any one thing. A little geek about a lot of things, really.
I was also scared of the us v them factor, and the overt, angry feminism, and it was truly wonderful to have none of that. Just a bunch of nerds roaming around seattle in corsets and storm trooper outfits, and purple latex gloves. Hella.
I got to go on Sunday and felt the same way! What an amazing group of people with similar interests all hanging out and having a great time! I'm so glad I decided to go and can't wait until the next one!
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