Friday, August 5, 2022

Trying Something New At Leaky Con 2022


I'm still easing back into a full work schedule, so what better way than with MORE FUN CON COVERAGE?

John and I weren't even planning to attend Leaky Con this year, but they surprised us with Press passes - when we didn't even apply - and it's right here in Orlando. Can't say no to that! So we dropped in both Saturday and Sunday to do a little filming *and* flash portraits, as y'all requested.

Leaky Con is like no other con; it's tiny, super niche, and filled with the friendliest, most welcoming Harry Potter fans you could hope for. (They kicked off with an onstage announcement emphasizing their support for trans rights and all people, and happily that was reflected in the crowd.) The vibe is super relaxed, and with so little to do or see, nearly everyone is there to socialize and have fun.

In fact this was the perfect test run for John's latest build, which allows us to film and take flash photos at the same time. By attaching a flash to the opposite end of his camera gimble, John can carry a flash in either hand along with the video rig, while I carry the DSLR. This lets us switch seamlessly from John taking video to me taking flash portraits, zero downtime.

Plus we look EXTRA profesh with all this gear, ha.
(Except John is trying to... twerk?... here, so not THAT profesh.)

Mixing portraits with video is a new adventure for us, and I love not having to choose between the two. Hopefully we captured the best of both worlds?

Tell you what, let's find out:

Eh? Eh?

This took us FOREVER, it's so, so much work. But dang, it pretty.

But wait, I have more to tell you!

I have to say most of the good things about Leaky come from the people attending it, as the con organization itself was... a bit rocky. Basic info like vendor hall hours was impossible to find, last-minute e-mails with vital Press info went out at midnight the night before, there were no bag checks or the promised Covid policies, and worst of all, the cosplay contest was so poorly run that many applicants left feeling snubbed. This is an expensive event (starting at $70 per day), so I was surprised how many attendees and vendors had not-great things to say about it. 

Despite all that, I really adored our time at Leaky. As Press John and I are used to getting a little extra attention, but this was different. Here, people genuinely wanted to chat. We had so many great conversations - several in character, hee - and with lots of folks I want to be friends with IRL. This is a perfect first con for newbies; if you choose to go alone I promise you'll find friends to hang with in no time.

Leaky has shifted to an older fan base; I'd say at least half of attendees were 35+, with only a handful of kids or pre-teens. (So different from Leaky 2014!) Still plenty of laughter and groups goofing around, but the older crowd - and lack of crowds - gives it a quieter, more relaxed vibe.

You'll recognize a lot of regulars from the Central Florida Slug Club here! I love these folks; so talented and kind. When Benny (Salazar Slytherin) realized who I was from my card, he BEAMED and asked for a photo with me. A lot of these folks know Epbot from our coverage of past Un-Celebrations and Dressed To The 9 3/4s, so even when they didn't know us, they often knew the Epbot logo.

In fact this Death Eater found us again later, waving my card, and told me our own Death Eater costumes had been one of their references! So cool!

Another good thing: Leaky Con has the best free photo backdrops, with never much of a wait:

I asked a nearby mom if we could borrow her daughter for this photo. :D

I loooove this one of my friend (and fellow FoE) Traci:


Traci's cosplaying a 1970's Lily Evans! Here she is at the other super awesome backdrop:

One of my favorite interactions of the weekend was with Pop Culture Postman:

After we filmed this dapper gent (that was me throwing letters at him in the video, haha) he presented me with that black envelope he's holding, beautifully sealed with a shimmering wax dark mark:

I thought the envelopes were just props, so it didn't occur to me to try opening it 'til we'd left for the night. And ohhhhh my goodness, y'all. Inside was an in-universe themed letter from Borgin & Burkes!

Note the hilarious "correction" on the forth line. :D

The next day the Postman delivered a letter to John from the Daily Prophet, equally well themed, plus a bonus non-Wizarding World letter from, get this, Vault-Tec Industries.

This is from one of John's favorite video games, Fallout! When the Postman handed it over he said, "Congratulations or my condolences, depending on the news." Heh

The Pop Culture Postman apparently delivers mail from a variety of fandoms - I'm guessing based on what you're wearing? - and I am delighted by this whole concept. It's creative, funny, and gives folks a cool collectible! Ahh-mazing.

Oh, and the Postman's dad, who's the Umbridge behind her desk in our video, won the cosplay contest! We got to walk out with them Sunday night, both great guys.

Two more of my favorite interactions: Gilderoy Lockhard with his nurse from St. Mungo's:

These two stayed hilariously in character most of the time, with Gilderoy asking everyone for a wand ("No wands! That's it, Gilderoy, no mirror time today"), introducing himself ("Very good, show them your book!") or proudly announcing, "Today I feel purple!" They were clearly having the times of their lives, playing along with everyone else in costume.

An alternate portrait of Bellatrix, with MOAR BUBBLES:

Peeves was next to her with a bubble gun, and I've decided I need to buy one of those. Bubbles look SO COOL with flash.

Lemme end with a few more of my favorite shots, since you only see them for a second in the video:

I hope you enjoyed your virtual visit with us to Leaky Con 2022! John and I are excited for Dragon Con in a few more weeks, where we're hoping to continue this combo of video with flash. It adds a lot more work to an already grueling week of coverage, but it's fun trying something new, and I hope y'all will agree it's worth it!

Cosplayers, head over to my Flickr gallery to download your free photos; I've uploaded everything there. And of course feel free to re-post your photos, with credit would be awesome.

Now let's announce some more Squeeginner winners, this time for July!

Oh, and I added a new bracelet to the prize board, which I'm hoping one of you will choose in time for spoopy season:

Remember when I made this? Wow that was a long time ago.

Anyhoo, congrats to Phyllis F. & Lynn H., our winners! Please check your inboxes for a note from John, you two.

The Squeegineer Give-Away is a monthly drawing you can enter for free by e-mail, or by helping support Epbot through Paypal. Check out all the deets here, and don't forget to enter by the end of the month for August!


  1. Wow, the pics are great! (I am at work and can't (well, shouldn't)) view videos. Loved the pop cultur postman and his offerings. People there sound like they're great! Your friend's Lily Evans cosplay was awesome! Who is the character in the last picture? Oh wait - I just realized as I typed this - is it Faukes the Phoenix?

  2. I saw the video on YouTube, and found it absolutely delightful! All your con videos are fun, but this one made me smile and laugh most of the way through - partly due to the fact that I actually recognized most of the characters!

  3. I'm so very glad you had a great time at Leaky Con! Just as a caveat, because the con moves each year, the vibe may be different in different places. I went to Leaky Con in Dallas and did not meet with quite the same convivial atmosphere. I even went in costume, and made an effort to strike up conversations for 2 straight days, and the only people that would chat with me were the vendors, who's paycheck depends on being friendly to potential customers. I enjoyed a few of the panels and guests, but I was a bit sad about the experience overall.

    1. What year was this? I was at Dallas Leaky Con in 2019 and enjoyed it. I’m so sorry you had that experience.

    2. It was 2019, IIRC. I think I was a bit older than most of the crowd, so that might have been part of it. HP is one of my biggest fandoms (I'm sitting under floating candles, next to my very well-stocked potions cupboard as I type), so I was hoping I would find 'my people' there. Oh well! I'm glad you had a good experience, though!

  4. EnchantingenchanterAugust 7, 2022 at 10:57 AM

    I am so sorry this was your experience at a con, and a Leakycon for sure. We were at this con, we are the husband and wife Lockhart / St Mungos team. We LOVE interacting and talking and having fun with friends and attendees! We are older as well and the vibe at this Leakycon was phenomenal... I think it was generally an older crowd and we had so much fun. Please keep doing what you love! There are still people out here that would love to include you and make magical memories with you

  5. Really, really, really, REALLY love the mix of video and portraits!

  6. These photos are truly exquisite! Such a good video!


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