Cross-Posted from WriterSyndrome’s Tumblr, October 2013.
My New York Comic Con experience has been a memorable and fabulous experience in a lot of ways. I’m going to talk about the positives later on, but for now, I have to report something more serious and disgusting. I’m recording it as I remember it with as much detail as possible because I do NOT know who this group of harassers were nor can I remember any distinguishing aspects that would help report them to the New York Comic Con staff. I am relating this story below, however, in hopes that others who have suffered harassment from this group can offer further information so we can track these people down and properly ID them. At the very least, they should NOT be allowed to perpetuate this behavior toward anyone else, and their actions be reported to convention staff.
On Saturday, October 12th, 2013 at approximately 5:30 PM, I was walking through Artist Alley with my friend A, who was dressed as steampunk-version of Death from The Sandman comics. I was dressed in an Asian steampunk outfit (an image can be seen here, taken earlier that day). As you can see in the photo, I was modestly dressed (steampunk!) and carrying my parasol. We had been stopped numerous times for pictures from attendees and interviewed courtesy by another press crew while in the Artist Alley. This is why I didn’t hesitate when a man dressed in a dark T shirt and dark jeans pulled me aside and hurriedly asked for an interview.
My friend A was busy posing for other photographers at the time. I’m noting this in case any other photographer in the room noticed them and possibly took a photo with them in the background.
The creeper interviewer (which will now be known at TCI) was about 5’ 2” – 5’4” tall (we were eye-level with each other), slightly stocky athletic built, short crew cut dark hair, brown eyes and tanned complexion. He had at least three others with him, dressed all in black. One of them carried a full camera with built in sound boom, and one other had a clip board and looked like a production assistant. There was some sort of logo on the cameraman and on the interviewer’s mic (probably some generic “The_____ show” but I couldn’t see clearly).
The following is the conversation we had:
TCI: (hurriedly) Would you like to be interviewed for a show?
Me: For what show?
TCI: A TV show.
Me: What TV show?
TCI: A TV show
(Note: That should have been the first warning, but I was on my guard)
TCI: So, if I were walking in the rain, could I pay you to walk next to me with your umbrella?
Me: Pay me?
TCI: If I paid you?
Me: Then, buy your own umbrella.
TCI: No, I want to buy an umbrella with an Asian girl.
(Warning bell one)
Me: Then no.
TCI: Are you a geisha?
TCI: Can I be a geisha?
(Warning bell two)
Me. No, you can’t.
TCI: Why not?
Me: Because you lack certain things, like style, tact, grace—
TCI: Ah, but do I smell?
Me: Well, I dunno, I’ve only stood next to you for about 20 seconds, so I can’t tell if you do or not. But however—
TCI: Well in my experience, girls who stand next to me longer than 20 seconds get a cream pie.
Me: I would give you a slap in the face.
TCI: (back away) Really? Would you?
(I snap my parasol shut)
TCI: Thanks so much for the interview, bye! (leaves)
The rest of his pathetic crew, hurrying off: (muttering in appeasing tones): Thank you, thank you, thank you very much.
That ended our conversation. I walked away hurriedly in the opposite direction, with my friend A who noticed what was going on out of the corner of her eye but didn’t fully realize what was being said until I stormed off. We walked half an aisle while I explained that I had been creeped upon and was pretty enraged. This was about 5:40 PM and I decided to leave Artist Alley go to the Geeks of Color panel I was moderating. Upon exiting the Alley, deliberately looked for this group in order to snap their photo or ID for a report, but they were no where to be seen.
That was the end of the incident, but I want to warn people about this group, and really really wish I had a camera or phone on hand to record their behavior. It really sickens me to know they are out there, and judging by my interaction with them and their appearance, they seen to have an established method of approaching congoers before hitting them with this harassing behavior, particularly because 1) they knew to dress discreetly and hide any logo they had concerning their production and a way for them to escape notice easily after their filming 2) they obviously targeted me because I am small, female, and Asian, and most likely did not expect me to act as angrily as I did to TCI’s comments.
I am still angry, not as much for their disgusting fetishization and sexist comments towards me, but for the idea that they would CONTINUE this approach and would be targeting young women (a LOT of teenage girls attend this con) and treat them this way for the rest of the con (or any other convention).
If ANYONE out there has more information that they could offer in identifying these individuals, or had a similar experience at their hands, please send me a Fan Mail as soon as possible with the details. We need to act quickly in order to halt this behavior and report these scumbags for their con harassment.
Even if you weren’t at NYCC, please re-blog to get this information out there.
Thanks for your help.
Thank you everyone for signal-boosting this story already.
I got in touch with my friend A and one of their crew actually handed her a card.
Their info is below. I will be reporting them to NYCC staff, but please continue to spread the word in case you had a similar experience from these guys, or you spot them at the convention this Sunday.
If you cannot read the info above,it is below:
Sirius NFL radio
People have since messaged me saying that they experienced similar incidents with this group. I encourage you to report these events to con security if you are on site. I myself will be emailing the show manager Lance Fensterman (@Lfensterman, Lance@REEDpop.com
Linking relevant developments as the story continues—-
Man Banter Harassment Update 2 – Man Banter Harassment Update 2 — Man Banter Confesses that Babchik is Not a Sirius Radio Employee (and thus, He Could be Falsely Impersonating Them at New York Comic Con, and I Write to Sirius Radio)
Asian-American Activist Group 18 Million Rising Petitions against Sirius Radio to Investigate Mike Babchik (Yes, It Turns Out He Works for Sirius After All, But Still Lied to Get into NYCC)
18 Million Rising (http://18millionrising.org/about/) is an Asian-American organization whose mission statement is “to promote APIA civic engagement by leveraging the power of technology and social media.” In response to this incident, they have created a petition to Sirius XM Radio demanding that the company address this incident.
Since 18MR campaign had launched on Wednesday, their petition has gotten 40% of its needed signatures.
You can sign the petition here: http://act.engagementlab.org/sign/18mr_firebabchik/
But Mike Babchik and/or his associates filed a harassment complaint against 18MR to Facebook (hypocrites, much?) and 18MR is now locked out of their Facebook page.
We cannot stand for this behavior! We need to keep boosting the signal, so please re-blog, sign, and support the cause.
Thanks so much everyone!
(For complete backstory, check out the Daily Dot article here: http://www.dailydot.com/fandom/man-banter-new-york-comic-con-cosplay-harassment/)
The comics Industry is listening! Jenna Busch, co-host of “Cocktails with Stan” (the legendary Stan Lee!) and comic industry blogger & insider, interviewed me and NYCC show manager Lance Fensterman about the NYCC harassment incident and about what con attendees and con organizers can do to create safer spaces.
18MR is back online, and they want Sirius XM Radio to address our concerns. However, after emails and phone calls made to no avail, they are reaching out for people to post of Sirius XM’s Facebook and to tweet (@SiriusXM) to demand accountability for their employees.