LeakyCon has been hosted a number of cities over the years, from Portland to Chicago to Orlando. This year, it’s Boston’s turn, the very city where it all began. LeakyCon 10, meant to go back its roots, was hosted at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center. Notable guests that attended the Boston-based show were Chris Rankin, who played Percy Weasley, Luke Youngblood, who you’ll know as Lee Jordan, Stanislav Yanevski, the Triwizard Champion Viktor Krum, Louis Cordice who played the voguish Blaise Zabini, and everyone’s favorite no-maj Jacob Kowalski, AKA Dan Fogler. There were more podcasters under one roof than we could count. There were meet ups galore, with a focus on Hufflepuffs, LGBTQIA+ individuals, Spoonies, and more. The cosplays were as wonderfully creative and high-quality as ever.
The fans are a focal point in making events like LeakyCon come to life. People come to these conventions and really turn them into experiences. Some of the attendees were fans who have followed Harry Potter since the books were introduced in the nineties, others were introduced later, and all are celebrated at this show. One of the shining triumphs of LeakyCon is its commitment to inclusiveness. An obvious and immediate indication were the gender-neutral restrooms. There were panels focusing on trans and non-binary representation, ethnic communities in the Wizarding World, and intersectionality. Other feel-good programming was centered around fan activism, Potterheads over the age of thirty, and my personal favorite, “A Gryffindor's Guide to Surviving Burnout”. This is a show where magical folk have an opportunity to escape their muggle lives and express themselves freely, among friends and people who would accept and welcome them.
Many of you who know us, also know the story of how Savanah and I met. We both ran Etsy shops where we sold handmade clothes and accessories with a Harry Potter influence (read, unlicensed) and I invited her to split a booth with me at a Mischief Management-run convention in the summer of 2015. It was only the second time we had met, and we spent a week together staying in the same hotel room, working the same booth, and going to the same theme parks in Orlando.
I worked regularly at conventions from 2014-2017. Nowadays, Savanah’s full time job has her working in the industry too. You’ll likely never see us wandering aimlessly at a con (not that there’s anything wrong with that, if that’s your style!) This past weekend was one of the few shows where we went with almost no set plans, only to have fun.
In our first panel ever, Savanah and I teamed up with Hayley and Michael Burson, friends and integral members of our podcast Hold My Butterbeer. If you’ve listened to our second episode, you’ll have heard most of what we discussed in our Saturday morning panel at LeakyCon. Our “Harry Potter and the Question of Canon” panel was in the first time slot of the day’s programming. It coincided with some pretty big presentations: a spotlight on the actors in the Wizarding world franchises, an author AMA, and our personal friend Leigh’s popular “Magizoology: An In-Depth Examination of the Care of Magical Creatures” panel. We expected roughly 5-10 people to show up and laughed it off. Imagine our surprise when we had roughly two hundred fellow fans filling the seats and then some, with people standing in the back and side aisles of our room. We received so many great questions and remarks that we appreciated tremendously. We were lucky to have such a warm and welcoming group of people to join the conversation.
We took a break around midday to slip into the hotel’s indoor, heated pool. We planned out the Triwizard Tournament second task shoot the moment we secured our hotel booking. Prior to our trip, Savanah created the designs and we ordered custom printed swimsuits to transform our foursome into gender bent Triwizard Champions. Hayley, Savanah, and I wore Cedric Diggory, Harry Potter, and Viktor Krum, respectively. Michael embroidered swim shorts with the Beauxbatons crest and a tank with Fleur Delacour’s initials in gold.
In the evening, we donned costumes of leather, fur, and shimmery fabrics, and smeared black makeup all over our eyes. As a group cosplay, we embodied The Weird Sisters. You might remember them from the 2005 film “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, as well as in the Harry Potter books, where they are described as both Nymphadora Tonks and Ginny Weasley’s favorite band. They performed at the Yule Ball in Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts. Though their appearance was brief, they made a lasting impression on us.
On the Saturday night of every LeakyCon is the Esther Earl Charity Ball, which you might have heard us refer to as “magic prom” before. It is an essential part of what makes LeakyCon, LeakyCon. They begin taking requests for muggle music, virtually, months in advance and believe us when we promise your lack of dance skills DO NOT MATTER. We decided to forgo traditional dress and let our inner wrock stars have their moment. Michael, in his infinite talents, sewed his sequin-lined wizard robes, weathered a hippogriff shirt, and added that skeleton (based off almost no reference material). He also turned a vest into a triumph of a fur coat for Hayley. I made guitars for our friend Greg and myself out of foam boards, paint, and leftover craft supplies. They met a tragic end; The Weird Sisters just wrocked too hard.
I can’t speak for everyone that attended LeakyCon 10. I do know, however, that I lived out my Goblet of Fire dreams this weekend. There is an intimacy about LeakyCon that I have not found in any other convention thus far— not at comic cons, nor anime, nor sci-fi and fantasy shows. The warmth and the spirit of inclusiveness sets it apart. It also really helps to have friends, both old and new, who attend this show now. On our drive home from Boston, we bought our tickets for Orlando 2020. See you then.