A Public Apology 27½ Years Overdue

I just wanted to make a note:  I founded Arisia over 25 years ago, filed the original paperwork, and the 501(c)3 application, and chaired the first two conventions in 1990 and 1991.

While it has been a while since I have done anything involved with Arisia (2005, because I decided that it was bad for me on a purely personal (as in in obsessive/addictive behavior) issues.)

However, I am aware that I made numerous errors during my tenure running the con, particularly in the last 6 months as chairman:  I was a legendary asshole during that time, and I believe that some of the organizational issues that Arisia appears to have to this day likely flow from this.

To the degree that Arisia has cultural and organizational issues, and I have been away for 13 years, so I honestly do not know anything about the current organizational culture, I was in at the beginning, and contributed to that.

I am profoundly sorry, and I wish that I had the common sense to realize in mid-1990 that my behavior was destructive and harmful, and do better by the convention and my then staff.

I sincerely apologize to people that I directly or indirectly hurt in the process.

Reader(s) of my blog will know that I have made only one substantive post regarding Arisia, two if you count my obit for Mary Robison,  in the 10+ years that I have been blogging, though I have made a few references indicating my experience in non-profits to rail against the evils that are televangelists, political front groups, and pineapple on pizza.


  1. Quasit says:

    I just wrote a long comment, and I think it got lost.

    The short version: The first Arisia was my first con. I attended every single one of them after that, until the new leadership effectively kicked me out three years ago when the head of Security went berserk over a balloon that was part of my cosplay (ironically, that costume was inspired by something from the old days at Boskone).

    Arisia was wonderful, and I have always been grateful to you for it – and for the time that you stood up to the ConCom when they tried to shut up my friend at a gripe session. Your ninja and chicken inspector costumes also cracked me up.

    But the con simply *changed* in recent years. It went from a fun, open, and welcoming event to judgemental, cliquish, and smug. *That wasn't your fault*.

    This is ALL on the modern leadership. They were hypocritical and corrupt. I only hope that someone starts a new con as fun and friendly as the original Arisia was. I miss that.

  2. Quasit says:

    It was a three-foot white balloon (actually probably a little smaller) on a monofilament that was attached to a card in my back pocket. I was cosplaying as Number Two (with Rover) from The Prisoner. I had worn that costume at the last several Arisias, and in general people loved it; the balloon seemed to follow me magically.

    (I got the idea from a story I heard about the same costume at Boskone a long time ago.)

    Kids in particular found it exciting, and I had some normal white balloons that I offered them – only with their parents permission, of course.

    Anyway, I was walking around in costume when a woman confronted me. She was furious; frankly, I was shaken up by her rage. She said that the balloon was bouncing around too much and annoying people, and it had to stop. I didn't know who she was – she wasn't wearing a badge or anything – and since I had already gone to Security and gotten their approval on the costume, I just got away from her as quickly as I could.

    To shorten the story, she accosted me and screamed at me several more times, never identifying herself. Each time I went back to Security and they told me that they loved the costume (literally "if someone has a problem with your balloon, send them here and we will laugh at them"). Then I was confronted by a furious man – interrupting someone who was taking my picture – who screamed at me that he was Assistant Head of Security, and that my costume was unacceptable.

    Turned out the woman was Head of Security. I popped my balloon and gave up cosplaying. I was dropped as a Program Participant the next year (after more than twenty years as a panelist – and a good one, if I say so myself) "due to past negative interactions". Why a problem with a *costume* would necessitate dropping me as a _panelist_ is beyond me.

    But it had been clear to me for a few years that they were easing me out. I'd heard that they were easing out a lot of older panelists in favor of friends; that tallied with a serious decline I'd noticed in the quality of panelists at Arisia. That's why I started cosplaying and volunteering at the Photo Booth. If I couldn't be a panelist any more, I'd find other ways to occupy myself and have fun.

    Being kicked out added insult to injury, and I was certain that Security had put a big target on my back. There was no way I could feel comfortable there any more. So I stopped going to Arisia in 2018. So did Sebastian, my son, and most of my friends.

    There were other things I'd seen over the past ten years that really troubled me; the guy who'd been running the Green Room for practically forever was kicked out out from the position, and it was given to people that I'm pretty sure were part of the "in group". The quality of the Green Room nosedived after that.

    And the most popular program topic I've ever seen was ended at the con for some of the most racist and sexist reasons I've ever heard, which was painfully ironic for a con that's been so grotesquely smug about how welcoming they are lately.

    I was terribly upset by the whole thing. Arisia was really important to me – probably *too* important. But it was clear that the Arisia I'd loved had died some time ago. So now I'm hoping that some day I'll find another con that has some of that magic.

    Sorry, I didn't mean to go on so long!

  3. That is truly screwed up.

    What was the program item that they canceled? (My guess is "Earth Girls")

    I feel compelled to apologize because that for much of my time working on Arisia, it had an effect on me, and people around me, similar to crack cocaine. (At least I think so, I've never done coke)

  4. Quasit says:

    I'm not comfortable identifying the topic in public, because I don't want to get other people in trouble. But it wasn't Earth Girls, and I'm sure that it wasn't started until well after you stopped going to the con.

    If you want to talk about it, we should probably take it into a private conversation.

    You know, since I commented here I've been thinking about writing up my experiences with Arisia. They stretch over 27 years, and there were some memorable events. It could damn near be a novel!

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