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AX13 Cosplay - Operational Timeline (our dirty secret)‏

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  1. Hello,
  3. I am Tony, former manager of AX Cosplay 2013. Below is Cosplay's operational timeline detailing how Marc Perez and Allison McKnight mangled and almost ruined AX Masquerade of 2013.
  5. The following is the recorded operational timeline of AX13 Cosplay Department which I began writing in February. I was advised that I should keep such notes by previous AX Cosplay managers due to the politically magnetized nature of our department and our unique responsibilities. I was also inspired to be cautious by the abuse and mistreatment endured by the former manager and assistant manager of AX Cosplay.
  7. As for me, this is my first year as manager of this department but a long time veteran. I did not originally want this role because the inevitable tragedy that has befallen every manager of Cosplay since Marisa Price. When nobody else accepted the role, I stepped up knowing it might be my last.
  10. ============================
  11. October: At the AX staff dinner on the 15th, I was invited to join a short list of candidates for manager of Cosplay, one of oldest and legacy rich (good and bad) departments in AX's history.
  13. - I called the former manager for advice that same hour and was strongly encouraged caution. After Amy Mar and Katie left AX due to excessive meddling that compromised operations in 2012, they hoped SPJA officers would not repeat this mistake. I contacted some of the 2012 staff to secure their return if I was chosen as manager. I did not want to start from scratch.
  15. - When I was eventually selected in late Oct, my primary choice for Assistant Manager (chosen based on experience, expertise and deep operational knowledge of other conventions as well as the cosplay community) was rejected. I was told by my superiors that an Assistant Manager would be assigned to me of their choosing. I was denied the identity of my assigned Assistant Manager or the short list of alternatives by my superiors.
  17. - After our first Skype meeting, Allison McKnight is quoted as to have remarked, “Is this guy autistic or something?!” Her early respect and professionalism was established.
  20. ============================
  21. http://img801.imageshack.us/img801/3843/ounn.jpg
  22. *Picking up Cosplay storage to relabel and rebox and reorganize*
  24. November: After meeting with several of my superiors (Allison McKnight, Mandie Bettencourt and Sarah Kim) of the first time in person, autonomy was implied and that I would have the support of my superiors in any project we committed to. Changes were promised and that I had creative control as long as they were within budget and a noticeable improvement over previous years.
  26. - I was instructed to prepare rules and design additional programs or events for 2013 and to be submitted before the end of the year for review.
  28. - I visited the AX storage to check out all Cosplay Department boxes. The intention was to give them new sturdier containers and study all documentation. I contacted the previous managers (our department has had very few managers in 23 years) for occasional advice. They were very helpful.
  30. - When I inquired as to the progress of my assigned Assistant Manager, the name was divulged with great reluctance. I could not interview my new Assistant Manager but I could arrange a meeting with her after she accepted her role as my Assistant Manager.
  33. ============================
  34. December: Early revised concepts and changes to my Masq format were rejected. An expansion of responsibilities was stated but no details were given. I was asked to come up with ideas on a foundation of nothing.
  36. - I was informed we will no longer have any rooms (we normally had 2 rooms for printing, filing, storage, tech testing, audio recordings, costume judging, meetings with MCs and industry or press, contestant meetings and Cosplay Repair). We are now in an open air "zone" to be called Cosplay Corner that was undefined with no estimation on footage. We no longer had access to any privacy or security and access to electricity was doubtful. Changing rooms was negotiable but could not be promised. Cosplay Department was to become a public attraction. No stage dimensions were given and the location of stage or its technical abilities was unknown.
  38. - New rules, masq format and program schedule for 2013 was to be designed around...literally nothing, unknowns and no budget.
  40. - My assigned secret Assistant Manager backed out. I would eventually meet with her in person at Anime Conji.
  42. - I began screening candidates to rebuild the department to fill in empty positions left open from non-returning veterans.
  44. - Draft staff rosters due to at the end of the month without knowledge of the responsibilities of Cosplay or the skills needed to function.
  46. ============================
  47. http://imageshack.us/a/img203/5827/gbwb.jpg
  48. *First time Cosplay discusses layout. Lots of maybes*
  50. January: Internally drafted rules and format completed in January but my version was rejected again and drastic changes were ordered. Changes were recommended by superiors and were told that the new changes were not negotiable. Discovered SPJA members could and was willing to change Masq rules and format even against our department’s consent. Allison McKnight began using a defense that I would hear many times, “This isn’t me, this is coming from Marc.”
  52. - An estimated budget of about 15,000 is named but not yet secured. Cosplay budget not available for use.
  54. - I was told that judges were no longer to be part of our staff and should be minimized to a single day use only, a few hours preferably. No hotels or perks. They would be downgraded to Crew Badges.
  56. - Judge selection, their management and responsibility would be handled outside of the department by Allison McKnight and Sarah Kim.
  58. - Cosplay sponsors would now be handled outside of the department by Allison McKnight.
  60. - Cosplay/Masq could no longer store its own prizing. They will now be handled outside of the department by a conceptualized “prizing” department which did not yet exist.
  62. - A revised 4-hour masquerade (3hrs 32min was the exact estimate) was presented but a 2 hour masquerade was advocated with no more than 20 entries with precon in-person screenings (or “tryouts”). Our expert advice was that this was impractical and could not be. Under perfect conditions, the revised format could be streamlined to 190mins (3hrs and 10mins).
  64. - I discovered some cosplayers were being considered as a GoH due to community rumors. When the Cosplay department directly inquired further with Allison McKnight and Sarah Kim, we were told we were not privileged to that information. (We found out anyway due to contacts in the community as well as the other contenders approached and before the contract was signed). My intention was to select judges friendly and familiar to the potential Cosplay GoH so that Alodia would view AX has a fun experience among friends rather than work.
  66. - Nearly half of existing Cosplay staff resigns or refuse to return. Some had non-con related reasons but a few believed Marc Perez was meddling worse than previous years (2011-2012).
  68. ============================
  69. http://imageshack.us/a/img812/1205/ttnw.jpg
  70. *Manager and Assistant Manager revising Masq rules for AX and Conji*
  72. February: New compromised rules were submitted in late February. Some new concepts and changes were protested by the department based on practical experience and some focus testing with a limited number previous AX judges and veteran contestants. The lack of logistical expansion scaled to the expanded undefined tasks and no direct budget control created sincere doubts.
  74. - Sarah Kim informed me of my new department budget and was assured that it was finalized and active.
  76. - Sarah Kim stated judge selections were unresolved at the senior level. Updates were few and lacking detail.
  78. - Cosplay Repair would now function in the open. Walled dressing rooms were in consideration but not guaranteed. Sarah proposed a "wall" of default LACC fabric for the changing rooms due to costs.
  80. - Cosplay responsibilities and Masq format were still being revised by Marc Perez and Allison McKnight.
  82. - Cosplay would be allowed limited contact with sponsors as long as they were “not talking to AX already.” AX sponsor information or listing of were not revealed and were denied when asked.
  84. - Cosplay prizes were confirmed by Allison McKnight to be coming from the Cosplay budget but handled and stored by a still non-existing department. When inquiring as to the health of our budget for uses in prize acquisition or as cash prizes, we were told that our budget was reserved for the 'Cosplay Corner' construction and decorations (and it was implied that the price would be steep). The layout, design and location still did not exist.
  86. - 'Cosplay Corner' was still conceptually undefined aside from “showcasing cosplay”. Stage dimensions, its location or technical ability still undefined and access to electricity was not guaranteed.
  88. - First batch of Masquerade emails inquiring as to the details of AX Masq started coming in.
  90. - AX forums also began to attract unanswerable Masquerade questions and the hungry were left to themselves.
  92. ============================
  93. http://imageshack.us/a/img341/5979/06v3.jpg
  94. *Manager’s retreat; the real meetings are after the official meetings*
  96. March: The Manager's Retreat was a wealth of information as to the health of the organization. The morale of managers as they vented to each other in mutual confidence and the direction of the common consensus did much to define the favored senior officers and the unfavored senior officers.
  98. - Personal walk-through of the LACC.
  100. - First official statistics and square footage of our zone of operations was tabulated on location. Power drops and policies regarding convention electrical service were explained by a convention representative.
  102. - I discovered no manager can spend their budget. All managers must seek permission which has to be approved by both Director and CEO and this was not an immediate process.
  104. - Masq rules go online. The ability to submit applications for Masquerade would now be done through the AX website with JavaScript. The design and execution was given to Taylor Locke (SPJA’s Director of IT). This was not a task he wanted to do but was ordered to.
  106. - Masq had a new requirement for mandatory videos as well as audio for each entry (40 entries is the new maximum for 2013). On-site filming was highly encouraged but we had no assigned room for technical operations. Eventually, Room 510 would be considered Cosplay's Office for all traditional functions combined.
  108. - The new cosplay judge selection compromise was that Cosplay may pick some of the judges but Marc would personally pick the remaining.
  110. - The new masq format compromise was that now entries would be having a scripted interview and banter with the judges at the end of each performance. I was not allowed to increase our show time but was advised to cut the number of entries further to cover potential overrun. When I informed my potential judges of this change, 4 of my 5 primary choices removed their interest with AX. Some of my reserve judges refused to submit to reading an AX crafted script or adhere to a mandatory microphone that would be on for several hours. Marc has yet to name their own judge candidates or reveal to Cosplay their potential short list. It was quoted that Marc Perez wanted judges based on popularity while Cosplay wanted judges based on credibility and expertise. From here, department internal emails would refer to Marc judges as “boobs” and my judges as “brains”.
  112. - First Cosplay layout submitted for Hall A for all participating departments (Cosplay, Table Top, Console Gaming and Arcade)
  113. http://imageshack.us/a/img845/8872/mwi6.jpg
  114. *2nd version of Cosplay layout*
  116. - All AX Cosplay program plans (Orange County Spring Cosplay Gathering, Costume-Themed Dance Competition, revised Pop-Shock Masquerade, revised Chibi Masquerade and a cosplay documentary project) are abandoned (aside from main Masquerade and Cosplay Repair) due to a lack of information or forced ignorance by superiors.
  118. - AX forums and emails continue to show concerns regarding the lack of ability to apply to Masquerade.
  120. ============================
  121. http://imageshack.us/a/img521/2201/24c1.jpg
  122. * Conji Manager’s meeting. We were not all ready for the real thing.*
  124. April: SPJA's Anime Conji 2013 was a memorable milestone among California anime convention history. The schism between upper officers and lower officers that was hinted at the manager's retreat was now evident with trust and discipline becoming a jealous commodity. Among managers, it was clear who the optimists were that only prepare for perfect conditions and the pessimists who prepared to deal with problems. AX Cosplay and Conji Cosplay merged becoming an unofficial division to delegate and oversee 2-4 simultaneous operations and events a day. Conji Cosplay and Conji Masq never got a single bag or box of the promised supplies or equipment. We were fully operating on AX Cosplay supplies that were brought anticipating a high probable chance of logistical failure. So bad and wide were the logistical problems that periodic requests on radios for tape or staplers were heard on Day 1 and 2. Conji’s Cosplay Repair donated all it could to help out other departments.
  126. - Conji's Cosplay experience revitalizes the AX Cosplay Department and provided clear demonstrations of what works and what did not. More than words, the new team saw in person the importance and adaptable function of the Cosplay Department.
  128. - Cosplay judge selections conceded back to Cosplay but they required personal approval by Marc stated my superior.
  130. - Out of 10 judge candidates that were confirmed interested in January, only two were willing to commit by April. Most active cosplayers have already planned out their summer convention schedules or did not wish to be partied with SPJA or a department that did not control or predict its own operations.
  132. - A private alternative classic Masq format was quietly planned to be implemented due to a lack of submissions, lack of budget control, impractical technical demands made on short notice and draining support and good will from the community.
  134. - AX forums, department emails and now personal emails and texts messages are complaining about the lack of ability to apply to Masq. Sarah echoed an order from Allison and Marc that I was ordered to NOT accept private email applicants nor was I allowed to store any Masq information (picture, audio, video files) off SPJA sanctioned databases. I was ordered not to create a supplementary application process on forums or any other avenue.
  136. ============================
  137. http://imageshack.us/a/img841/3425/masqoffice.jpg
  138. *Masq office is up but IX site proves unreliable. *
  140. May: By the start of May we had 2 weeks till prizing requests and tech/equipment requests are due, and 4 weeks till hotel, signs, and final rosters are due. Cosplay is still uncertain as to our operational responsibilities and the amount of technical staff required meet the yet unknown amount of Masq applicants. We were preparing for the 2012 scenario when Marc Perez ordered last year’s Cosplay managers to NOT accept masq applications till June 1st.
  142. - I discovered all department budgets can only be approved by the CEO. Division Managers and Directors merely forwarded the requests above them or attempt to dissuade the expenditure to minimize costs. Cosplay’s $15,000 budget was 100% reserved for photo sets. This left Cosplay Repair and Masquerade precon operations with 0 dollars. It was here where I began spending from my own pocket with no hope of reimbursement.
  144. - The “prizing” department is finally functioning with a named manager and 2 staffers. They are to requisition, procure and store all prizes for the entire AX Entertainment Division.
  146. - Submitted a prize plan that had a prize range for all award categories. My masq award and prize distribution list was rejected and my 2nd revised plan was also rejected by superiors. Masq will now only offer the top 3 Best of Shows prizes. The remaining award categories will be given “left overs” from the prizing department.
  148. - Cosplay Court (named changed, not to be confused with EX's Cosplay Corner) floor layout changed again by Allison with the new "final" version changing our location, shape and footage of operations.
  150. - Cosplay Repair is guaranteed a single, perhaps two, power drops. Sarah says “we will try for more."
  152. - Masquerade submissions go online!
  154. - Masquerade submissions go down after going online the same day. Complaints (some spilling on to AX's Facebook) of many serious bugs that denied submissions, not sending or erasing all data when attempting to submit.
  156. - Cosplay Department was not informed that we would not be receiving the masq submissions which required another two weeks of inquiry before we were allowed see our own masquerade submissions.
  158. - May 15th, “final” floor layout for Cosplay Court was emailed out but then retracted claiming it had errors. The Cosplay Department has no say in its own layout beyond commentary which is often ignored or fought.
  160. - May 20th, Cosplay was able to access and read Masq submission for the first time. Some of the information was incorrect or scrambled (information for one group belonging to a different group).
  162. - 83 different group entries claim they applied to Masq with confirmed emails but AX's new submission program counts less than 39.
  164. - Allison McKnight is annoyed that the Cosplay inventory and supplies were at my residence. They were there to fuel precon Masq operations and filing. McKnight is quoted making her usual callous remarks “What’s he gonna do with that stuff? Sell them off?” Eventually I returned the Cosplay supplies to the SPJA office and bought my own office supplies to continue running precon Cosplay operations.
  166. - 2 days till hotel deadlines, rooming for Masq judges was not anticipated by Sarah Kim or Allison McKnight nor did they originally deem it appropriate to be given hotels for what they thought was a few hours’ worth of work on Day 3 only. Some responsibility concerning Masq judges was returned back to Cosplay.
  168. - Many hundreds of attempts to contact me on zimbra (AX’s email system), personal email, text messages, forum posts, forum PMs, and personal calls about Masquerade. Some needed help with rules clarifications, but a growing number are irate messages. I pleaded patience when I could and offered sincere shame and apologizes to those I could not reasonably appease.
  170. ============================
  171. http://imageshack.us/a/img838/8285/masqoffice2.jpg
  172. *Masq office builds its own database and we personally screen each application and media*
  174. June: By now there should be few changes and what we had at present only required minor tweaks. By June, the AX masquerade submission site was a lost cause and no longer repairable in light of other priorities. The zimbra email system could not handle emails with attachments beyond 10megs. With an audio and video requirement for AX Masq, I requested for aid and expanded technical support from Allison McKnight in both March and May. She claimed zimbra can handle it and that I required more instruction and familiarity. Come June, my department no longer could depend on the help of SPJA and created our own Dropbox, Facebook group, GoogleDocs and Gmail account to coordinate, database and receive the needed large files for AX Masq. Cosplay got reprimanded soon after by Marc Perez, demanding we shut down all operations and traffic not on SPJA sanctioned systems. I snarkingly reminded some of my superiors that technically 1/3 of all departments violate this rule because the woeful limitations of the zimbra email system (good only for texts, horrible for large attachments and databasing). I claimed that I would concede my operations if SPJA can give me an account that can accept 100meg videos and SPJA server space with several gigs of storage. I got no reply. Anime Expo almost lost its Masquerade due to hypocrisy.
  176. - By the end of the first week, Cosplay's operation zone 'Cosplay Court' layout still not finalized. It was not till the 15th that the “final” version of our layout was given. A day later, Sarah phones me saying it’s actually wrong and will require more tweeks. This wrong version would actually be printed in the program guide. By July, our operation zone is simply called “Cosplay”…and name so descriptively vague and of poor imagination that I was now more confused as to what this zone was. This is also not the name I proposed as a replacement for Cosplay Corner.
  178. - Masq has only three confirmed sponsors according to Sarah Kim. This is amateurishly shameful compared to what our own department can do last year alone.
  180. Tony: Now, will you guys be assigning us prizes or will each department build their own prize pool onsite based on relevancy?
  181. Allison: Rachel's team will be assigning prizes based on relevancy.
  183. Tony: If it is assembled before con, will we be able to inspect them beforehand (or at least a camera pic of our prizing)?
  184. Allison: Depends on when the prizes are delivered. Cosplay is getting a number of sponsored prizes that we do not yet have a delivery date.
  186. Tony: During con, will we be able to pick them up whenever we wish or will runners be delivered to their departments/events?
  187. Allison: Prizing staff will be delivering them the day of the event(s).
  189. - By mid-june. Masq prizing is not secured. Only 4 out of 17 categories currently have prizing according to Prizing Department’s Manager.
  191. - Some judges back out for various understandable reasons but a backup list was ready to be activated.
  193. - The Cosplay Office is switched to 514 without my notice. I am becoming accustomed to Allison McKnight not informing Sarah or me about changes in Cosplay’s responsibilities, Masq info or most info relevant to our operational responsibilities, I simply shrugged and sighed. Later that week, Sarah said that I am now at 510 and would remain as such during AX.
  195. - While Sarah confirmed that I had 0 dollars to fund the operational side of America’s “biggest” Masquerade, I wanted to make sure. After some lengthy exchanges with Allison McKnight directly on the subject of my budget, she eventually confirmed that that indeed have zero unreserved dollars. Further, I cannot be reimbursed if my budget was maxed.
  197. - For years, AX Cosplay and cosplay gathering organizers on cosplay.com had an understanding that AX does not control, host or initiate gatherings. Allison McKnight claims Marc Perez wants us to be more protective and create a gathering list and map suitable for the website. Our internal gatherings list was simply a database spreadsheet for gathering organizers to coordinate with each other. Allison McKnight and Sarah also asked me to print out a piece of paper with the gathering lists to be folded into EACH program guide. I got snarky and stated that I am willing to print out 50,000 sheets of paper if I had 10 boxes of 5000 A4 sheets and 100 HP-56 Black Ink cartridges. At this point my Assistant Manager Kelly, becomes irate and texted me her profound disbelief that Allison was asking me to spend $1600 for gathering sheets in which I will not be reimbursed. Eventually Allison conceded.
  199. - Allison McKnight made a new requirement that all cosplay gatherings were to take place inside Hall A in front of the of the proposed photo sets. When I informed her that AX Cosplay does not order cosplay gatherings what to do because we do not manage them, Allison continues to press the issue to vindicate the expensive investment in the photo sets. By the 3rd round of emails, this became a mandatory edict…all gatherings must take place in Entertainment Hall and cosplay gatherings were only allowed to take place in Entertainment Hall (meaning cosplay gatherings are banned outside of photo sets?) Eventually Allison conceded.
  201. - By now, my superiors have attempted to assign 7 total tech staff to my Department throughout the season to bolster our traditional 2. Only 3 would commit while the other 4 declined when they were made aware of the daunting Masq format. While I welcomed the help, I did not get to interview them nor view any form of resume to demonstrate competency or character. Predictably, some did not mix well and this was a problem that would not be resolved till Day 2 of AX.
  203. ============================
  204. July: By July 1st, Monday (Day -2) – Calm before the Storm
  206. - The AX Masquerade officially stops allowing application changes and masq submissions after June 29th but due to the short window in which Masq submissions were allowed this year (only 50 days), I still allowed a few through and quietly allowed updates up to the morning of masquerade itself.
  208. - With the successful victory in maintaining the independent integrity of cosplay gatherings away from meddling by my superiors (whom have shown to have little understanding or respect for cosplayers), some morale is restored to the Cosplay staff believing Marc and Allison had limits that they would not cross it. There was sincere hope that the micromanaging was now over and we could continue sculpting and polishing what we had…and we had much to do.
  210. ============================
  211. July 2nd, Tuesday (Day -1) – First cracks
  213. - Our Cosplay Department precon operations cease and are dismantled to be brought to LACC.
  215. - Almost immediately, the tech team does not agree on how videos are to be handled as Sarah Kim (claiming orders from Marc) gave different instructions and intentions then the format my tech team and the contestants has been working on for months. Eventually a compromise was reached and a reminder that the Cosplay Manager/Masq Coordinator has the final artistic word and to we cannot meddle with the contestants media too much else we would corrupt the judging results. All were in agreement that the Masquerade was a contest and showcase of the craft and the maker in equal measure.
  217. ============================
  218. July 3rd, Wednesday (Day 0) – Angels and Demons
  220. - By today, much of the team arrived to a horrific checking in experience. The hotel check list has incorrect name spellings and sometimes the wrong gender (kind of a big deal in gender only rooms). The Radisson had two broken elevators (one was disabled and the other had only one route of 11 and Lobby). The alternative was a service elevator but it was quite small.
  222. - The Cosplay office of 510 had fewer tables than expected. More importantly, we only had 2 black containers delivered to us. The very thing I feared happened as we lost 4 brown and white boxes that were originally stored in my garage for precon use and for safety. Cosplay Repair supplies was 100% gone, half our office supplies were half missing and nearly 10 years of department files was also gone.
  224. - When I went to Con Ops to check out the key to 510, the manager present stated someone already checked out both.
  226. - It was ordered by Allison McKnight to not allow me to have a key to my own office for fear that I may rage quit or sabotage the masquerade. Whenever the room required to be open or closed as night, Sarah had to lock it. She informed me that in an emergency, the 2nd key was secretly kept with another person who could access our room (and thus our equipment) at any time.
  228. - An SPJA superior personally entered Cosplay Office in the evening and stated that David, one of my editors, was the new tech team leader and was to report directly to her. When I entered the room and heard about this, I was appalled as was all Cosplay staff present. I could no longer hide it from my staff…we are being micromanaged to the most extreme meaning of the word…and our superiors not only distrust us, they don’t like us.
  230. - More bad news, a painful phone call claiming that Marc Perez wanted us to reject ALL submitted masq videos and to rerecord (then edit) 40 new videos in 48 hours. This edict is non-negotiable and failure to comply would result in termination. My staff was becoming more directly aware of the contempt and ignorance of the CEO regarding Masquerade operations. We scrambled immediately to come up with a practical and cheap plan to achieve this new task. Later, due to the actions of “hidden angel” on my staff (who I tracked down and hugged), Marc Perez was reprimanded by another superior of sorts for the blanket rejection of all the contestant videos submitted for the AX Masquerade. This information came from a very special guardian angel’s phone call at 1:45am. Dread turned to calm in the Cosplay Office and morale was higher than ever. We know we have strong unnamed allies in the SPJA/AX organization and we have our creative freedom back.
  232. - Immediately I made plans to purchase slightly less than 200 dollars’ worth of essential supplies at a 24hr Walmart only for both the Cosplay Office and Cosplay Repair. I also drove to Riverside and Orange County from 2am to 6am to pick up donated supplies from various cosplay friends for Cosplay Repair.
  234. - That night, one of my masq judges arrived from LAX but had trouble checking in at the Westin. Unable to get help and superiors not answering phones or texts, our masquerade judge would stay up till 6am until I arrived back in LA and gave her my bed at the Radisson.
  236. ============================
  237. July 4th Thursday (Day 1) – That Familiar Feeling
  239. - At 10am, Masq tech team got to work immediately to debrief any masquerade entries that checked in and informed them of potential media changes but added the department will do it for them so they would not have to worry about it.
  241. - We began normal operations; 5 at Cosplay Repair, 2 on set patrols and remainders assisting with office work and tech equipment assistance.
  243. - Another one of our judges was stranded at the Westin during the afternoon due to Allison McKnight booking them under their alias/cosplay name. As such providing a legal ID did not help the situation. Much phone calling and cross checking with the Westin Check-In eventually revealed the room was already check-in in advance by Allison (which she informed nobody under her) and under the judge’s cosplay name. This was an annoyance to which I was ashamed to be partnered to and thus I profusely apologized to my friend and masq judge for this ignorant mess up.
  245. - I received phone call from a superior asking if Cosplay Repair could stay open longer (we traditionally close it at 6pm). I said no due to lack of supplies and the longer we remain open, the more supplies I would need to daily purchase. The other person quickly understood than moved on to the photo sets. I informed them that we stopped patrols also at 6pm as our public hours are 10am – 6pm (8 hours of volunteer work). I was told we could no longer end operations at 6pm and That I was responsible for them till midnight. From D1 to D3, most of Cosplay’s staff will experience a 14 hour work schedule. Some refused outright and was only willing to do the 8 hour max I promised my general staff would need based on my experience in this department since for many years.
  247. - To treat my staff, I bought 160 tacos from Del Taco which they all appreciated (first meal of the day for some). Later I discovered most of Entertainment staff had yet to eat or had the time to eat. Knowing that my friends and colleagues are working long non-paying hours and are starving by 10pm, I decided to bring excess tacos to every staffer in West Hall I could find (each was limited to one taco).
  249. ============================
  250. https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.n...75273670_n.jpg
  251. https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.n...90909336_n.jpg
  252. *Team is exhausted from two unwanted and forced 14hr shifts on D1 and D2*
  254. July 5th Friday (Day 2) – Eye of the Storm
  256. - Attempting to sleep but failing, I stayed up all night reviewing masq applications and began work on the MC script.
  258. - Around noon, Cosplay Repair ran low on supplies and I had one of my staffer disappear for an hour to drive to Walmart to replenish our check list with my personal funds.
  260. - In the evening, Allison McKnight personally visited the Cosplay Office for a situation report as we were about to have our evening Masq meeting (thus the room had people and was growing). I informed her, as per tradition, we would cease all operations on D3 as all efforts would be focused on the Masquerade itself. Allison stated this was unacceptable and that we must keep Cosplay Repair and Photo Sets manned till with 5 staff in each. The Assistant Manager and I was gob smacked…nothing close to this was ever mentioned since its conception nor was my team skill and size built for such a division of tasks. Further, we move Cosplay Repair backstage to fast emergency repairs during masquerade. I refused immediately which Allison responded by attempting to appeal to my sense of duty and camaraderie with fellow cosplayers. I found it adorable yet partially insulted by this as Allison McKnight did not know or care about cosplayers beyond the spelling of the word ‘costume’ and ‘color’. My compromise was that I could spare one, maybe two max to be on station till midnight during Masquerade. When McKnight left…there was no need to debrief my assembled staff as they heard it already. Once again, my staff was being directly exposed to micromanagement instead of being implied by rumors.
  262. ============================
  263. https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot...78829936_n.jpg
  264. https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.n...22302508_n.jpg
  265. https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot...88834401_n.jpg
  266. https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot...19849384_n.jpg
  267. *All our hard work is vindicated*
  269. July 6th Saturday (Day 3) – Our Finest Hour
  271. - I stayed up all night reviewing and updating masq files from last minute modifications to entirely new performances born from inspired confidence. By 7am, I successfully texted all teams that success fully check-in and survived craftsmanship judging (all you masquerade group leaders know what I am talking about).
  273. - Went through the routine of daily check-ins, media testing and polishing, photo set patrols and Cosplay Repair.
  275. - By noon, I have yet to receive any contact from our 2 MCs and my superiors could not give me any information or denied me information. Traditionally, Cosplay Manager or Masquerade coordinator would interact with them to inform them what to expect and to get a read on their performance and speaking style. I was denied this opportunity even though I asked for their contact info or their handler’s info weeks before AX. I could not brief them and advise them how to avoid the redundancy of the traditional Masq MC narration and the view intro videos. I could only meet them backstage after a show script and entry list was finalized and printed. Both MCs also expressed concern as to how or why we could not contact them sooner but their experience and professionalism quickly adapted once the briefing was delivered.
  277. - Masquerade…we did it! Not only is it done, it performed as I intended it to despite the many interventions to change it, break it or manipulate it, the minimal support from higher ups and the despite attempting to split our expert team during Masq itself. Special thanks to Main Events staff, AV staff, Con Ops staff, the 4 from Access Control’s Weapon Policies and the volunteers that ran both repair and photo sets when could spare only 1 staffer (going to those was considered a “break” from masq). There was a few backstage issues (not enough space or water for 163 contestants with another 100 AX staffers and 30 half time performers).
  279. - Also…our secret project called “Post Award Announcement” went off perfectly. I don’t wish to divulge how this happened to maintain the magic but for a time there as serious doubt as to if we could pull it off due to other priorities and potential micromanagement.
  281. Surprise Wedding Proposal - Anime Expo 2013 Masquerade
  283. ============================
  284. July 7th Sunday (Day 4) – Exit stage left
  286. - Many of us stayed up till 4am; partly to clean up backstage but also have a lengthy masq meeting. We reviewed our week and the masq itself in happy spirits. In the meeting, we were continually told by the veterans on staff and masq veterans of other conventions that what we did was almost impossible; another other masq team would quit (some on the team actually echoed this sentiment as early as February). I could not tell if this was sincere or flattery but I was thankful to hear any support at this hour. I hinted to the team that this was probably my last masq at AX knowing how much Marc and Allison despise me but a successful masq (some even called it smooth…which shocks me) was always my primary goal. If they wanted to hurt me, they would have had to destroy the Masquerade and that almost happened several times. Then we adjourned for Dennys.
  288. - Woke up from my first hours of sleep during con and delegated the usual set patrols and cosplay repair.
  290. - Last night we discovered the amateurishly shameful distribution of prizes (we I only saw and counted in person 30mins before Masq because Allison McKnight ruled that I am not allowed to know and inspect my prizes). The ordering and delivering of the prizes was not up to par with masq standards and caused a 2-3min confusions and traffic jam backstage. It was decided that the contestants could pick them up from our office in 510 on the last day before the left con. In the morning, I had my people to contact friends and in the vendor hall fill my suitcase with whatever freebees they could find. Some who picked up their awards early were appalled and that anger went online fast. Those that came after 2pm received more stuff and we successfully triple the weight and size of the remaining bags. The prizes were still not up to traditional masq standards but it was better than 2 books and a poster.
  292. - When some of the judges heard about this, I received an irate phone call from one of them venting shame and disbelief. I entirely agreed and stated not only does Cosplay no longer handle its own prizes, we are not allowed to and the Prizing Department is allowed only limited access to us by decree of Allison McKnight. They wanted to talk to McKnight, which I wanted to through to the wolves as it was time Allison finally talked to a cosplayer outside of greetings and pleasantries. When I called my Div head, Sarah if she would like to hear the complaint or should I differ to Allison, Sarah stepped up and took the bullet of shame for McKnight. Needless to say, the complaints were harsh but justified based on the traditions and standards set by AX’s existence for over 20 years.
  294. - When the session was over, Sarah reported this to Allison that led to the AX bonus prize announcement on Facebook a few hours later…as if suddenly surprised and shocked that a Best Master Craftsmanship was worth more than 2 outdated books and 1 poster.
  296. - At 5:30pm, I personally came down to Cosplay Repair to sort what was mine and what supplies were lent by various cosplayers in Orange County. Among the things we found was a Cosplay Repair coffee can (or our needle can where were store sharp metal objects). It seemed the public mistaken it as a tip jar. I asked around if anyone solicited for tips and all said no. I took the can to Richard Simental (who has been with AX since 1991 to 2013, unbroken) and he laughed. He stated this was a common mistake over the many years and began sharing similar stories from years past and at other cons. If we cannot return the money than traditionally it goes back to buying supplies for cosplay repair.
  298. - Apparently, Allison told Ian (Program Head) to tell Nick (my guy at Cosplay Repair) to summon me to backstage and await orders. From there Allison arrived with security to escort me off the premise. She stated that if I did not comply than they would physically remove me. I had them follow me back to Cosplay Office where I recalled my team that was spread out and instructed them on clean up. From here, Allison McKnight becomes rude and verbally aggressive, which is witnessed by my staff and would be corroborated by them. As I began to sort was mine and was AX’s McKnight claimed all things in the room related to AX is property of SPJA regardless of source or intention. As such, I left behind all the things I bought for AX and packed what little I had. My staff team packed up and exited with me following them.
  300. ================================================== ====
  302. Marc and Allison’s Case vs Me:
  304. - Chastising of Sarah during Masq -
  305. Although she is my superior on paper, there is a common stage rule in that the Stage Manager is the Dungeon Master/God and what they say goes. We have 7 managers backstage, I included, and we submitted ourselves to Kelly, my Assistant Manager. As part of her training as my successor, I placed two stage manager veterans at her side. This is how it traditionally works at masq and has been for many years. Sarah Kim came late to masq and did know who was in charge. During award ceremony and when Dynasty Warriors group was about to be announced, Sarah suddenly delayed the check that was to be presented to the group when she requested the check to be faced outward. Kelly wanted it to be faced in-ward to prevent the group from seeing the dollar amount before arriving on stage.
  307. My chastising delivery was, “Sarah! [Kelly] is Stage Manager, let her manage.” This can be confirmed by over 10 people that were on the steal ramp on stage right, house left. And with that, Kelly personally delivered the check as she originally wanted and the group leader fainted.
  309. - Prizing -
  310. The AX Prizing Department was an ad hoc impractical idea which equates to unnecessary bureaucracy (my way of saying what arrogant idiot thinks this stuff up? It’s like they are trying to sabotage everyone!) I said as such to Allison McKnight in November with Sarah Kim and Mandie Bettencourt present. One manager would not likely handle or comprehend the diverse relevancy of the many other genres and sub genres of our fandom. He would also not understand how much is enough and what is the public’s expectation of each category per award, per event per department.
  312. Even if he did acquire the prizes, the manpower and talent for this assembled department is wasted doing little during con. Historically each department knows what it wants best and it shows. When each department can solicit their own sponsors and prizes, suddenly there is a temporary marketing staff of expert specialist of about 25-30 staffers active year around, always vigilant for opportunities and revert back to managers during con. Currently all sponsorships are required to be handed off to Allison McKnight and several departments have whispered disappointment by many missed opportunities because she was too slow or came off unfavorably.
  314. https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.n...87381710_n.jpg
  315. *Literally, the unaltered prize giveaway from Prizing Department that McKnight claimed would be distributed by relevancy.*
  317. The above pic was what ‘Best Group Craftsmanship’ took home this year. What should be noted was that when another manager came by on the morning of D4 to congratulate our department for your uphill struggle, he noticed his prizes were in our bags. During the pallet “party” (AX’s garage cleaning even), they noted that all their prizes were “robbed” off their pallet by orders of either Allison McKnight or Prizing Department. Shame returned and we hugged. After some talking, he said it was cool and that he wasn't surprised it turned out this way.
  319. Talk is cheap. McKnight claims she got AX lots of prizes and for Cosplay “is getting a number of sponsored prizes.” In ONE hour on Day 4 morning, I ordered two of my guys to gather freebees from vendor friends of the department (we know who are friends are) and we tripled our prize size. In fact, we had enough to build a swag bag for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners when they originally were going to get none. Originally a group presentation bag was getting 4 of the same posters. Someone was obviously not trying or didn't care.
  321. This is what happens when Cosplay handles its OWN prizes, at almost no cost to AX:
  322. https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.n...28554630_n.jpg
  323. https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.n...62539625_n.jpg
  324. https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.n...48086063_n.jpg
  325. https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot...33346890_n.jpg
  326. *This is how we used to do it*
  328. If I might be so bold, Cosplay is one of AX’s most experienced departments in dealing with prizes in large volumes. In 2012, AX Cosplay supplied the Masquerade and the 4 other departments simultaneously. If we must have prizing department, they need to be year-around and on top of their game. They need to know their stuff. This is almost an academic skill. This is hard evidence that we know what we are talking about.
  330. - Stealing -
  331. Cosplay Repair has not solicited tips, implied financial exchange since the conception of Cosplay Repair. The coffee can is where we normally contain large sharp objects for crafting (scissors, knives and blades of various sizes). As the day goes on, we place pins and needles in their as well. The public has occasionally tipped us, often with our protest for the service of repairing costumes and armor for them. The money is normally used to buy more glue, needles, tape, and pins. At the end of the con, we use all the money to buy more supplies before we lock it away for next year (always need superglue and safety pins). This tradition can be verified by the 3 managers before me and every Cosplay staffer since 2007.
  333. Marc’s ignorance of Cosplay’s operations and history (AX’s most famous department) is further evidence of his incompetence to publicly assume based on no evidence or to lie for malicious intent.
  335. ================================================== ===========
  337. Remarks
  340. Taylor Locke – Director of IT, SPJA
  342. - Taylor has been unfairly caught up with the Masq applications and the AX Gathering Lists. I do not fault him with them as he was acting under orders. He would have been better used on other priorities.
  345. Sarah Kim – Division Manager of Interactive Entertainment (current)
  347. - She was formally Mandie’s Assistant but replaced her when she left. Also a cosplayer, Sarah had limited anime masquerade experience so thus was only partially effective countering the bad ideas from above her. As she grew more vocal, the more Allison pulled the leash and threatened termination if Sarah did not comply. This occurred on several occasions. As such, the Division Manager tier, which was supposed to be the last line of defense from upper politics, was compromised and our department took the full force of unchecked ignorance.
  350. Mandie Bettencourt – Division Manager of Interactive Entertainment (previous)
  352. - I did not have much time to know her before her departure. Mandie was curious about things and was concerned that she didn’t know enough. I found her humility refreshing as it was someone I could have taught more about why my department does what it does. She is also a cosplayer (not to be bias but when it comes to my department, knowledge of the craft goes a long way to understanding this community and expectations).
  355. ================================================== ===========
  357. Would I come back?
  359. - I do not expect to return but I wish to warn the next AX Cosplay Manager the hard tax we pay and not one of us has escaped since the mid-90s…no exceptions. This is not a task you give to the inexperienced and if so, they better have a dozen guardian angels like I did who whispered wise advice and aid when I needed it.
  361. - I refuse to work under Marc and Allison as they have proven over a dozen times that they are dangerous to this department’s integrity. If they were removed, I would consider returning with a more experienced staff and former veterans of AX Cosplay Staff from previous years. Some left because of Marc’s creative restrictions.
  363. - I am unworthy to inherit the legacy of AX Cosplay as this year reminded me how much more I needed to learn and grow. However, so long as I have the continued support of the community and the contacts I have made this year...it will be easy for me to top 2013. To be the steward of a department with over 20 years of cosplay history and evolution demands reverence, love for the craft and the people. Any less is a waste and an insult.
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