Escapade

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Convention
Name: Escapade
Dates: 1991 to present
Frequency: once a year
Location: Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Ventura, Los Angeles
Type: slash relaxacon/fan con
Focus: slash fandom
Organization:
Founder: Megan Kent and Charlotte C Hill
Founding Date: 1991
URL: http://escapadecon.net


Subpages for Escapade:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Contents

cover 20th Anniversary Program Guide (2010)

Escapade is a slash con (a type of fan convention) held annually in southern California since 1991.[1]

Merryish, quoted by elynross:

Maybe Escapade as a whole could carry a warning: "This convention contains graphic depictions and/or discussions of sex, violence, maiming, mutilation, torture, love, fetishism, fluffybunnyism, sesquipedalianism, betrayal, death, bondage, bonding, brutality, mortality, immortality, immorality, amorality, and the occasional use of harsh language. Blindfolds available upon request, and also cucumber sandwiches. [2]

History

In the late '80s, fancons on the west coast were tending towards stodgy and dull. So at the Starsky & Hutch 15th anniversary convention, Megan Kent and Charlotte C Hill, two younger fans, decided to start their own con of the young and cool and hip, fixing issues that they saw with other cons (for example, the Dealers' Room is only open a couple of days so that dealers have a chance to enjoy the convention, too). In the first years, there were male strippers for Friday night entertainment. One attendee remembers:
"Pairs of male strippers were hired for the Friday night entertainment for the first five years or so. The very first year, they were so clueless about what was actually wanted from them that one exasperated fan finally strode out into the dance area, got all up in their face, and explained in sharp and pithy tones exactly what they were supposed to be dramatizing -- hint: not sexytiems with the attendees. Both dancers stopped dead and stared, and after a moment one blurted, "uh, you know we're not gay, right?" Chorused answer basically amounted to "we don't care! You're strippers, pretend!"

Someone at that first con later made buttons for attendees that said "Escapade 1991: We embarrassed professional strippers."

In later years the con organizers were careful to explain more clearly and specifically what they were looking for. I remember one pair of dancers who were thoroughly tickled and very happy to dance a whole storyline of a window washer falling in lust through the bathroom window of a showering guy, coming in through the window, sexytiems ensue."[3]
Convention panels were consciously chosen to skewer the fannish sacred cows of the day. The program from Escapade '91 can be found as a PDF at Fanlore.

Panels are still chosen to encourage a range of opinions, but there are fewer sacred cows now, plus, most fans have vastly more opportunity to talk about fannish issues than we did in 1990. Also, many of Megan's innovations have, over the years, been incorporated into other newer cons, such as con.txt and others, making it harder for Escapade to stay on the cutting edge.

Vidding and Escapade

From the beginning, vids were an important part of Escapade -- possibly the fact it was a vid show, as opposed to a vid contest (which was more common at cons of the time) made it more collaborative for vidders. Soon, a vid review panel (first an hour, then two, then more) followed the vid show. Then for years, in an effort both to get vidders more feedback, and to encourage non-vidder to think about vids, vid feedback forms were handed out before the show. By the late '90s, the Escapade vid show was *the* place to show vids; full of cutting edge work, in an audience that expected good work. Months before the con, vidders asked each other, what are you bringing to Escapade?

In 2002, vidders, many who were women who'd grown up vidding for Escapade, created Vividcon; around that time, putting vids up on the web became easier to do; between those two outlets, Escapade gradually became a less important venue for vids.

Vid show playlists for some of the years can be found on the Escapade subpages.

A Typical Escapade Weekend

1994 flyer from On the Double #28, also in Concupiscence #3
cover of 1996 program guide

The convention typically features 2.5 days of fan-run panels; a dealer's room where attendees can purchase and sell zines, fanart, and other goodies; a vidshow on Saturday night; an art show of fan-created artworks, and an art auction on Sunday during which any piece of art receiving two or more bids is auctioned off, often to benefit the official convention charity. Some years, the vidshow is preceded by a filk performance of slashy filk songs. The con usually also features a party on Friday night and a Dead Dog Party on Sunday afternoon.

Panels

Escapade panels often touch on hot-button issues, so a glance at Escapade panels from year to year (especially the panels in the "meta" or "multi" track, as opposed to the panels in the single-fandom track) can offer an interesting layered history of things the attendees have deemed worth discussing. Here are a few glimpses into things we've been passionate about in recent years:

In 2000 fans were talking about Cliches in Fandom, attending a two-hour writing workshop and flocking to Minotaur's How To Write Gay Sex, capping the day with BDSM 101, described by one attendee as "a fascinating talk about BDSM by two tops and one new recruited submissive".[4] One panel on pederasty and TPM fandom sparked the creation of the chanslash mailing list.

In 2003, controversial subjects included RPS (which was discussed in a variety of conversations all over the con, not just in the RPS panel), how livejournals and blogs may be changing fandom, and, in "Whose Fandom Is It Anyway," the question of how to handle competing strategies for fannish safety. "Some of us think it’s wisest to keep slash fandom 'hidden' to the extent that we can, to ensure the continuation of our subculture; others think it’s wisest to be 'out,' in hopes of changing copyright law and thereby ensuring the continuation of our subculture."[5]

In 2004, controversial subjects included "RPS and Ethics," which aimed to explore the question of whether writing RPS is inherently unethical.[6] and "Defending Slash: Threats Both Foreign and Domestic:"

We defined domestic threats as threats which come from within fandom, and foreign ones as those which come from outside our community. We listed a lot of each [edited to add: in other words, we brainstormed things which somebody somewhere might consider a threat to the continuation of slash fandom -- I'm not saying that I, or we, necessarily think that any one of these is actually threatening to slash's future]. Domestic ones included: fandom_scruples, absolutism, showing slash to source (e.g. actors or producers), slashing children's books and/or the Bible, RPS, chanslash, psycho fans, and fans who profit off of fandom. Foreign ones included C&D letters, the Patriot Act, gen/het fans who are anti-slash, news stories about slash. [7]

In 2006, the hottest topic was race and fandom, as seen in the panel "The Absence of Color in Black and White Fanfiction:"

"They're in the credits, they're part of the main casts of some of fandom's favorite shows, yet there seems to be a dearth of fan fiction featuring characters of color..."
We began by talking about the challenge of being a part of fandom when white fans say racist things. "I don't have the choice for it not to matter." Another phrase that struck me: "Being the spot in the sea of milk."...We talked about the alienness of brown-skinned folk. For instance, Teal'c, who is not culturally Black, he's an alien who happens to have brown skin. He's literally an alien, but to what extent is alienness a metaphor for color? (Worf, too.)...For that matter, why aren't there any Chinese characters in Firefly, given the history of the 'verse?...Do we assume our futuristic 'verses are worlds where racism is obsolete? [8]

That year's wildcard panel, "Ageism in Fandom," was also widely-attended (by fans of a range of ages!).[9]

In 2007, the question of fannish visibility was still a hot issue -- see "Is Flocked the New Black?:"

Is the flocked post the future of fan communication? Are we returning to the dark ages of closed lists, zines under the table, and “have to know someone”? More and more LJ posts are locked, communities are closed, and groups are invitation only. Is there a way to protect our RL selves (and our fannish selves), yet share our fannish commentary and fic? Where is our new comfort zone? And how do we keep track of all of this?
There have always been many reasons to use pseudonyms and build layers of privacy between the mundane world and the fannish world; there has always been this tension between people who want to “go public” and people who want to stay very private. I’m occupying a somewhat middle ground. I’d like to see slash as accessible as possible to newbies, while still finding some way to keep out troublemakers. [10]

The 2006 "Absence of Color" panel catalyzed a series of conversations within fandom which continued with the 2008 Escapade panel "Identity Politics in Fandom." Other hot topics in 2008 included "OTW: The Best Thing Since Ever, or the End of Days?"

Art Show

The art show at Escapade was run/managed by Shoshanna from the con's second year through 2013. It welcomes, for display and sale, all manner of goodies: artwork, crafts, commercial and promotional items, zines, porn, anything of fannish or associational interest. Items are on display and available for bids for two days, and on Sunday morning the show culminates in a lively (not to say raucous) auction, preceded by a free breakfast (carefully designed to get people out of bed to the auction). The auction typically features lovely ladies in eye-opening ensembles, known as "runners," who run artworks from the stage area out to the audience when bidders want a closer look at some particularly beautiful piece of jewelry or some especially delicious piece of slashy fanart. The show itself tends to be pretty entertaining:

Even before I ever got involved in con art shows myself, I always found auctions to be one of the best parts of a con; they're almost always high-energy and hilarious. And I like to think Escapade's is one of the best! Ever seen three art show staffers demonstrate Batman's utility belt as envisioned by a really creative slash fan with plenty of spare time and some frighteningly good molding tools? Ever seen people frantically passing a dollar bill the length and breadth of the room, laughing hysterically as they try to goad each bidder into topping the previous one? Ever seen an auctioneer totally out one of her biggest kinks in front of pretty much the con's entire membership?[11]

Shoshanna, who ran the art show for more than 20 years, writes:

Before the Internet, just as zines and circuit stories were nearly the only ways fans could circulate and enjoy fanfiction, convention art shows were nearly the only way fans could circulate and enjoy fannish artwork...I was pretty comfortable with working art shows when the Escapade chairs asked me to run theirs. But I had certainly never run one myself. I took what I had learned from other shows, and what I inherited from how things had been done the first year, and then I made a whole bunch of mistakes and learned from them. I developed a set of folks who volunteered for me regularly; some came and went, but some stuck with the art show for years. I still remember fondly the year I came back from a couple hours in panels or lunch or somewhere, to be told by my art show staff that a major problem had arisen in my absence, here is what happened, here is how they solved it, here are all the records of what they did, is that okay? And I was just filled with happiness at how well everyone worked together, how smoothly things had gone, and of course I cracked jokes about how they didn't need me at all.[12]

Later in that same post, she continues:

Fandom was different when I began working con art shows. Technology was different. The whole bloody world was different. Today fan art, like fan fiction, has moved onto the Net, and in doing so it has changed. Fewer and fewer 2-D artists even seem interested in making paper copies of their work (just as, I think, fewer vidders are interested in making DVDs), and some forms of fan art, like animated gifsets, can't be physically displayed the way drawings can. In recent years the Escapade art show has had a high proportion of resales, older art whose original buyers are clearing it out.
On the other hand, silicone creations can't be posted online. The art show has also had an increasing proportion of crafts and three-dimensional artworks: knitted, molded, and carved things that, like big color pictures in the zine era, can be fully displayed and enjoyed only in person. I believe that fan art shows need to change, just as so much else about fandom has changed, to be better adapted to the Internet era, to be better centers of creative community and fun.[13]


People interested in putting items in the art show, or in volunteering as art show staff, should contact NakedBee.

In 2014, the art show added comments and kudos in addition to the standard bidding practices. Small cups were placed near each piece of art, and convention attendees were given small red plastic hearts to be dropped in the cup as kudos similar to AO3's practice. Slips of paper were also available for writing comments and leaving them in the cups.

Official Information

The official convention website is at http://escapadecon.net/. The con also provides updates and a place for congoers to talk to each other on both Livejournal and mailing lists:

Following both the LJ community and the News mailing list is the best way to be sure of catching all the updates.

There is also a FAQ at the Escapede website.

There are hours of videotape of panels and entertainment of Escapade conventions in the 1990s; see Sandy Herrold for more information.

References

  1. FAQ-in-progress, 25 March 2008. (Accessed 12 August 2008)
  2. untitled entry by elynross, quoting Merryish (WebCite link), 19 February 2003. (Accessed 05 April 2012)
  3. comment in the Escapade thread at fail-fandomanon dated Oct 31, 2013; reference link.
  4. Escapade report, Whose Fandom Is It Anyway panel, by Kass; written February 24, 2003, accessed November 25, 2008
  5. Escapade report by Joyce B, accessed November 4, 2009
  6. Con report by Kass; written February 22, 2004, accessed November 25, 2008
  7. Con report, Defending Slash panel by Kass; written February 22, 2004, accessed November 25, 2008
  8. Escapade 2006 con report part 2, by Kass, written February 28, 2006; accessed November 25, 2008
  9. Ageism in fandom & all sorts of related thoughts, by Catalenalemara; written March 12, 2006, accessed November 25, 2008
  10. Is Flocked the new black? Or, “hide everything” versus “be out there", by Catalenalemara, written February 28, 2007, accessed November 28, 2008
  11. See and share objets d'slash at the Escapade Art Show!, accessed January 13, 2012
  12. On the Escapade art show, and on stepping down from it, posted February 28 2013, accessed Feb. 28 2013
  13. On the Escapade art show, and on stepping down from it, posted February 28 2013, accessed Feb. 28 2013
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