Cherry City ComicCon Turns Refund Request Into PR Disaster

Cosplayer Sharon Givens posing with her homemade costume and props from the Fallout series

Cosplayer Sharon Givens of Saskatchewan, Canada posing with her homemade costume and props from the Fallout series. Cosplayers from all over the world enjoy creating costumes of favorite characters to show off at conventions and events. Photo used by permission

“Hi. I would like a refund.” she wrote. “Due to recent interaction from the organizer of this event I don’t feel it would be a safe place for female cosplayers. Thank you for understanding.”

Throw a large crowd into a room and there’s bound to be a few assholes in the bunch. Ones who have to be told that cosplay doesn’t equal consent.  That if a person attends a comic convention or entertainment expo, and they just happen to wear a tight and/or revealing costume, that doesn’t automatically give others license to touch or otherwise harass them.

To counter this and keep events fun for everyone, many of the event organisers have adopted policies designed to stamp out harassment.  Mileage may vary depending on how these policies are designed, how they’re enforced, and by who. If someone has a  concern and asks for a refund in advance, event organisers should give one. No muss, no fuss.

Chana W. an event ticket holder, noticed on Sunday that the  Facebook page for the upcoming Cherry City Comicon in Salem,  Oregon* had uploaded 9 pictures of adult female cosplayers for every 1 male. She asked about it. The reply from event organiser  Mark Martin was that she should “Feel free to create a Sexy Men of Cosplay page”.

At the same time another ticket holder was voicing concerns of her own about the photos. Jennifer’s opinion was that if these were the costumes Mark was encouraging, the event may not be as family friendly as their other promotional material would suggest.

Jennifer's comments

Belle Chere, pictured, states “”Please let it be known that I am not associated with this convention in ANY way, shape, or form. They posted my image to their page without my knowledge. Please also let it be known that I would NEVER wear Goblin Queen to a family-friendly convention. Goblin Queen is a DragonCon costume ONLY due to the nearly 21+ environment. Also, from what I’ve been hearing so far this year, conventions severely need to pick up their PR game. The way a few conventions are handling genuine customer concerns is atrocious.”

When Chana (not Jennifer) privately messaged Mark for a refund she was expecting a response of “We’re sorry to see you go. Here is your money back” or maybe “We’d be glad to refund your money. May we also ask the details of your concern or negative experience, so we can address them?”

Instead Mark seemed to confuse Chana and Jennifer as one person “Because obviously,” writes blogger Stacy H sarcastically, “there’s no difference between a woman who would speak out about a gender disparity, and a woman who is concerned that scantily-clad cosplayers might not be as family friendly as she likes.”

Mark copy and pasted Chana’s request for a refund onto his personal Facebook timeline, calling her “bat-shit crazy”:

Mark Martin commenting on a customer's request for refund

“Mark made a post to his personal account about the message received and someone took screenshots and shared it. ” claimed a Cherry City Comicon organiser who identified themselves as “Cassie”, the vendor co-ordinator. “Me being a females [sic] and being the one who chose most of the pictures I find the sexist bit quite amusing.”

Samantha C., who operates Maddening Designs and is listed as a vendor at the event, isn’t amused. “I met Chana W. about 2 years ago when I first started vending. She is well known around the Comic con, Steampunk shows, and Masquerade events. She is highly respected, and a huge supporter of the arts and local charities. For her to get offended and to not want to be involved in CCCC says a lot.”

According to several Facebook users following the event page Mark posted the screenshot of his quote of Chana’s refund request and his “bat-shit” rebuke to the event’s Facebook page.  Some supporters joined event organizers, including Mark’s wife Alexandra, in shaming Chana:


Many cosplayers and convention enthusiasts felt differently. “Someone asks for a refund and then they get berated on Facebook because they don’t feel safe?” asked Christina M.  “How is that anything near ethical.”

Black Mariah, a cast member of the podcast Fangirls: Dames of the Roundtable, stated “a bunch of females in Dallas saw this public shaming of a female cosplayer in Salem Or[egon], who just asked for her money back because she didn’t feel safe! Why does he need to publically shame anyone? The comments afterwards are appalling!”

Mark Martin talking about himself in the third person to defend his actions through one of his sockpuppet accounts

Mark Martin talking about himself in the third person to defend his actions through one of his sockpuppet accounts

Lezlie D. seems to agree. “This makes me extremely sad. Just because they have all of these policies in place doesn’t mean it’ll be safe. I cosplayed as Michonne (comic book version) at comic con and despite their similar policies guys still thought it was okay to touch me and fuck with me because I was dressed as her. …If you’re an event coordinator and that’s how you respond to someone whose saying she feels unsafe, I’m very worried for the people who do encounter real danger at the event. ”

Vendors reactions are mixed, though the general sentiment was that they were unimpressed with Mark’s handling of events but were hoping for a fun, family friendly event enjoyed by all.

“Simply put the lack of professionalism on the part of Mark pisses me off,”   The Warrior Inkeeper responded.  “I’ve spent a lot of money prepping for this con so, I’ve got a right to be angry should this cause attendance to dwindle.” But, he adds, “It is stupid and immature on both parties and not a proper reflection of the geek community as a whole. We are all better than this.”

Maddening Design

A painting by Maddening Design artist Samantha C. Used by permission.

Jeremy K. of The Coin Jam noted that Mark “does not reflect our views.” While he looks forward to being a vendor at the event and having a great time with others in attendance,  Jeremy feels that Chana “maintained her professionalism and tact in asking for her refund.”

“I understand there are people that will offend you or get on your nerves like most professions” adds Samantha  C. “but the way things were handled wasn’t professional. The more negativity I see the more I feel like I’m wasting my time and money.”

Publishers at Living Dead Magazine agree. “Running a large event can be very stressful and everyone is going to have an opinion and a demand. It is your job as the creator and owner to stay professional, respectful, and understanding to your consumers. If you aren’t, and it is done especially in a public forum, there are going to be strong reactions” wrote Deanna Vuleta in a statement about the events. “I personally as the owner of Portland League of Geekery and Living Dead Magazine feel for the owner and the stress he must be going through but I don’t agree with his reactions. We support the cosplay community wholeheartedly. I will advise my managers to back out of the convention, this year at the least.”

Ulfgar Props “will no longer be attending the convention due to the way the convention handled their business.”

Cherry City Derby Girls informed this blog that “Cherry City Derby Girls has declined participation as a vendor at ComicCon this year. CCDG supports the empowerment of women and we are a family friendly organization.”

Cassie is unmoved. “[Mark's] feelings were hurt, obviously, and he may not have handed it in the correct manner but sharing the image is petty.”

“I feel sorry for the person who requested the refund.” Cassie added. “She is going to be internet famous now and it was her wrongful actions that started this.”

*CherryCity ComicCon in Salem, Oregon, the subject of this article, is not to be confused with Cherry Capital Comic Con, now in it’s 6th year in Northern Michigan. The two are unrelated save for their similar sounding names

UPDATE 1: At 8:30pm PST Mark Martin issued the following statement:

I would like to publicly apologize for the remarks made on my account earlier. I was angry over a situation and wrongfully took it out on someone. I understand what I did was wrong and have definitely learned a valuable lesson. I don’t want my actions to reflect the event. I know they have, at this point, but we are 2 separate entities and I hope that moving forward my bad behavior won‘t have further effect on the event. Cherry City Comic Con has always been publicized as a family-friendly event and there is a zero tolerance harassment policy in place. I broke the rules and I am sorry. I have messaged the person I made fun of and apologized to them also and I truly hope they can accept my apology as well.

Chana W. responds:

His private apology sent to me personally still doesn’t address the original concern. It was about his feelings and how he was affected. As for this one on his public page it comes across the same. I think at this point it’s simply damage control. However the effort is appreciated, it’s a start towards understanding.

UPDATE 2:  Following the apology,  Mark Martin is denying that someone named Cassie exists and is libelously accusing this blog of “creative journalism”:


When we contacted CCCC for this article the preamble of the conversation made it clear that what was about to follow was an interview for publication. It was only when we asked for a name that their expectations changed, and only for that response:

cassieThough Mark Martin has used, and continues to use, fictitious or borrowed identities (commonly called sockpuppets or catfish) such as “BigDaddy Thestickerpro Stickers” and “Devon Marie” in efforts to appear to be a third party speaking on Mark’s behalf, he also has supporters like  “Kassie Acrylic” and “Will Vertigo Thompson” arguing that he did nothing wrong with many of the same talking points. We were therefore willing to give Cherry City Comic Con the benefit of the doubt that the name of the representative given by CCCC during the interview was an authentic identity and not an effort by CCCC to deceive us.

92 thoughts on “Cherry City ComicCon Turns Refund Request Into PR Disaster”

  1. I am in total agreement with Nondi. I myself have told my husband if we’re ever back in the Oregon area, that is one con I am NOT attending.
    My father has worked volunteer/staffing with Orycon and Gamestorm basically since their conception, and he’d agree, too that everything that has happened was a very BIG no-no.

  2. All I can say is wow. I am a local and native Salem resident. I am saddened to see such venom from so many sides.
    I work and live in Salem and have have for many years enjoyed the diversity of our many cultures. I would calmly suggest all sides search for an agreement on how to prevent this from happening again. This has an opportunity to set a new standard, it is our choice as to high or low. I would ask that mark be removed from his position and from access to the event , as for Chana a written / or public oppology from mark, and invited to share her concerns about the event. Then as a community set a NEW standard that can be shared and implemented with other events. Because this has far reaching effects beside just the cccc. Salem has a economy that thrives on our many cultures. If we want to bring up a cosplay culture we need to nurture it in a healty way and not fan destructive flames that are war of words and post high school drama. We are adults regardless of our varied backgrounds. We need to set a model in which out children can be proud of and foster understanding. Have a nice day, and enjoy the sun shine while you can.

  3. Hi guys, I just want to say wow! I’m a news writer for a print publication, and while I consider myself something of a geek, I only ended up on this article through a facebook link, so I’m not really personally familiar with the cosplay scene. However, I couldn’t help but shake my head after reading about the head ache you’ve suffered through while dealing with assumed identities and suddenly retracted comments. I thought I had a hard time of it with sources lying to my face!

    At any rate, this is a well written article, and you should definitely keep up the great work. Everyone receives flak from bitter sources at some point, whether for not telling them that your publication “Is actually read by people” (If it wasn’t, why would we release it?), or for having the shocking temerity for printing provable facts they shared with you on the record.

  4. “I feel sorry for the person who requested the refund. She is getting internet famous and it was her wrongful actions that started this.”

    what wrongful actions were those exactly? She quietly, privately asked for a refund, which she is well within her rights to do. She’s not the one who made a public issue out of it. The organizer did that by sharing her private message publicly and encouraging public ridicule.

  5. It looks to me like someone went through Google looking for the skimpiest female costumer pictures they could find in a biased attempt to make a ‘point’, then posted one completely out of context. For your information, the picture of BelleChere up there was taken at DragonCon, AT NIGHT. In other words, appropriate for the crowd *and* the venue. DragonCon is different from other cons in that regard, and I challenge you to find a ‘revealing’ costume of hers that she wore at a family-friendly convention. You won’t, because she uses tact and concern when choosing when and where to wear any given costume. Shame on whoever is trying to set her up for their own twisted agenda. If you want to accuse her of only wearing skimpy costumes for attention, I’ll direct you to her website; Look at the ratio of revealing to full body costumes. No less than 10 cover practically every inch of skin, 7 show nothing more than you’d see at the beach, leaving only 5 that could be described as ‘skimpy’.

    Do a little research before running your mouth and trying to bring people into your argument who have nothing to do with it.

    1. The pic was published on the Cherry City ComicCon by Mark. It’s one of the things that touched off this shit storm when Jennifer objected to it, like it says in the article.

    2. I think you missed that the family friendly con used Chere’s image, with out her permission, to promote the CCCC. It was on seeing that picture as a promotion that the girl who asked for a refund believed it to not be family friendly… I think. And I may have misunderstood your post, or the article could of been edited after you posted but it seems like you believe the girl who asked for a refund brought this picture in, and not the comiccon.

  6. The people who are going to be internet-famous out of this are the ones running the convention, and the fame is not going to be good. I should actually say “infamous.”

  7. An amusing sidenote to all this:

    The picture in the article, from the con, that seems to be the source of a lot of the issue? It’s of a cosplayer (BelleChere) who isn’t even attending that con. It basically just got lifted off the web and tossed in there.

    Class act, these Cherry City folks, huh?

    1. The picture of her in question was taken at DragonCon… which everyone knows is not a family-friendly event.

  8. I like wizard world. They were nice to me and helped me get a photo after hours when I missed the time available. :P

    1. I think Comic-Con / Wizard World events do have some problems in this regards as well. I know that after the St. Louis Comic-Con I had some friends making the case they were “selling access to harass cosplayers” but I did not really see too much in the way of obvious harassment. I did see some creep-o’s taking pictures of every girl that walked by in a skimpy costume, without permission, and saw some girl doing crazy leg-in-the-air poses to the cheers of several gentlemen old enough to be her father. There was also a girl who had to be escorted out over indecent exposure and supposedly made a huge scene; but I was not present for that so it may be hearsay.

  9. At this point I’m curious as to how the authors of this piece know that the “fictitious identities” they listed belong to Mark, particularly Kassie Acrylic. I haven’t seen the other names on the FB thread, but Kassie’s replies are still there and if they actually came from Mark that would change my opinion about this whole debacle.

    If the remarks that appear to have been made by Kassie were actually made by Mark, then this clearly was not an isolated incident and he clearly is not just a stressed individual who overreacted in a moment of weakness. He is a sociopath, and if Cherry City Comic Con really cares about the safety of their guests they need to fire him immediately and stop him from posting on their page.

    But that kind of conclusion would require more proof than I’m seeing here, which is why I’m asking about it.

      1. Thanks for the tip. It looks like Kassie isn’t actually one of Mark’s aliases, which is a relief to me. What bothered me about her was that she continued to be obnoxious and combative even after Mark apologized. If she turned out to be one of Mark’s other accounts, that would mean that he still felt justified in harassing people and that the only thing he learned from this debacle was to use a better pseudonym… And that would be downright scary. His original behavior was bad enough, but I’m willing to hope that he actually learned from his mistakes and will try to be less of a douchebag in the future.

        1. Yeah, I agree that Kassie is (almost certainly) not actually Mark. Her FB page, which is public, looks real, as well as her boyfriend’s FB page. It would take a long time to build up that kind of pseudonym. I was watching the comment thread on Mark’s apology post and while Kassie did appear very aggressive, she didn’t seem to be affiliated with the con itself (which frankly is probably a good thing for everyone involved)

    1. FWIW, Kassie Acrylic’s facebook page is open, and she appears to be a real (albeit unpleasant) person. I have no idea if she’s affiliated with the con beyond being Mark Martin’s friend or whether she had anything to do with the Cassie posts. It sure would be nice to see an Org chart or something.

  10. Hi mods :) Would one of you mind obscuring my last name in the screen shot under ‘Update #3’? Thanks! And thank you for the article and keeping us all updated.

  11. I’m sorry for calling you closed minded Andy…I don’t know you at all and I’m sure you are a FINE human being, but I’ve held my tongue on this and although I totally disagree with Mark’s actions, my point is to not chastise everyone else who is involved with this show…from the organizers all the way down to the atendees…it’s just not a fair judgement to make and thanks to the wonder of social media, this whole con has been made out to be a full fledged Roman orgy which it’s not…I have the utmost confidence that any of the male AND female cosplayers will be as safe as they can be and have a wonderful time…That’s all I’m saying on the subject but I do encourage everyone to put this behind us and come to the show and have a GREAT EXPERIENCE!…and stop by Table 30 for some cool stuff!…

  12. The maintainers of the FB page seem to be deleting some people comments. It’s a shame that the people they’re targeting are the ones speaking against Mark in stern but very thoughtful, polite ways. No doubt it’s Mark doing the deleting. They should really consider hiring someone to do PR for them.

  13. Everyone is reading this “intent” into Mark’s statement that wasn’t there. Mark’s intent was never to shame the woman. As I see, Chana W. could have as just as easily privately messaged Mark expressing her security concern and asked for her refund. Instead, she chose to publically expose her “perceived” lapses in security for an event that has not even occurred as of yet. Was it her intent to destroy the con? I doubt it?
    Could Mark have handled it better? Yes. Could he have chosen better words than “Batshit crazy”? Yes. Could he have chosen worse words? Hell yes, especially if his intent was to shame. See people seem be stuck on this current media trend of shaming. Slut shaming, bully shaming, this shaming that shaming.
    What really happened is, a patron over-reacted to a lack of information on security and publicly called it out. The man running the show felt the need to kill that conversation and quell the fear before it ruined his show. And as a result poorly chose his words in an attempt to protect this event he has worked very hard to put together, not to shame a woman or all of womankind for that matter. People really need to get the sensitivity sticks lodged from their asses.
    This ongoing response from people is clearly an attempt to kill the event for good. I know if I was Mark I would never make an attempt to do this again. It is a part of the ongoing Black Hole that prevents Salem from having any fun, from being cool. Keep it up people and all you are going to do is keep this con or any other event like this from happening ever again. Mark apologized, sincerely. Move on. Let go.

    1. She didn’t do anything in public… he quoted her private contact and then called her a name in a public forum. Both of which are pretty severe lapses in judgement.

      No one is calling for the end of the con that I can see, here or on the FB page. BUT… whether you approve or not there is a very real trend to stop harassment, sexual or otherwise in society in general and, due to its inclusive nature, this sub culture in particular.

      Mean, harassing and rude don’t equal fun or cool.

    2. “PR Nightmare”-lol. Society seeks out something to wine, bitch, cry, scream, and be dramatic over at all times, and he gave them something. This isnt a “PR nightmare” its a small indie comic /pop-culture convention/show. It doesnt have the representation of Salem or Oregon. It will be fun and awesome, but its all his baby, so who cares if he says that? Thats the convention. Its Mark’s. Know that going in. Everyone would do a convention differently and at differnt levels, and without city backing its not a big deal at all, its his and he owns it so media can stuff the drama!

    3. SS – Chana *did* privately message the organization her concerns. Mark was the one to read those concerns (she did NOT message *Mark* directly, he was just the one logged into the official FB page who happened to receive her message.) Mark then turned around and posted Chana’s private message on his own FB page for his friends to ridicule. Chana politely and PRIVATELY went to the event’s officials to voice her concerns and this was how she was treated.

    4. Save Salem,

      Intent is irrelevant, and in most cases not an extenuating circumstance. Saying, “I didn’t intend to run that pedestrian over with my car” does NOT absolve the offence; it is the actual effect on the victim that should determine culpability, and in this case it’s pretty clear what that effect was – on both parties.

  14. So no one is curious as to what the “recent interaction” was that provoked her statement?

    “Hi. I would like a refund.” she wrote. “Due to recent interaction from the organizer of this event I don’t feel it would be a safe place for female cosplayers. Thank you for understanding.”

  15. This is what Oregon is really like. Don’t be fooled by all the advertising being done to sell yuppies and hipsters condos.

    1. I was wondering that too, I can’t find a post of pictures from Sunday on their page. Wanted to check what triggered this to start with.

  16. I probably wont be attending after all this. Its an embarrassment to the city and to girls who want to feel safe.

  17. So, based on their strict “no harassment” policy, shouldn’t Mark be banned from attending due to his behavior and actions?

    1. Mark, Alexandra, John Rogers, and Joshua Phillips should all be banned. They can spend the time they planned to be at the con thinking about their mistakes.

      SumoJoe has wandered in here saying he’s in charge of security, but seems not quite sure what happened and is apologizing for other people. He should either step up to actually doing that job–making sure all of these people are very clear they are not to attend the conference–or resign. You can’t let “oh, it’s OK, I’ve known the guy a while” get in the way of enforcing conference policy..

  18. There is a lot to be done in this subculture to deal with this type of harassment. And frankly it isn’t easy when the media we love contributes to it in many passive ways.

    It is an ongoing discussion and one that makes me sad as a PNW convention attendee. Hopefully CCCC will reach out to its area sister convention committees and work to do more than spin control.

    1. Jon, do you honestly think she is trying to bring down the convention or something? There are people there in favor of the comic con, but that doesn’t change the fact that Mark acted inappropriately, and that needs to be addressed. Saying one thing wrong with a con is not saying the whole con is a wash or that they are entirely against the con.

  19. “It was about his feelings and how he was affected.”

    Wait. YOUR feelings about being safe (the fact of being safe or unsafe is never addressed) but HIS feelings are to be discarded as “damage control”.

    [obscene rant deleted]

  20. good grief, what is the deal where people are suddenly feeling unsafe? yeah it’s salem, but we’re not all a bunch of thugs, gangsters, rapists or murderers. i sincerely think this is a bunch of crap in every single way. now all of these female cosplayers are afraid for their lives? what ever. and before you get your lady panties all up your ass crack, i’m a GAY, asian, man so don’t pull your feminist bull with me!

    1. and further more, this is precisely why nerd culture disgusts me. all of this, what happened on facebook, this article and all of the reactions. i used to identify myself as a nerd, and now the term nerd is repugnant to me, and now “cosplayers” has made it to that list.

      1. I’m sure all of nerddom is weeping for this huge loss to the community. Whatever will we do now without a guy who uses ‘feminist’ as a pejorative?

        1. Thank you for proving my point. Why are you so quick to judge? Why do you have so much hatred in your heart? I have not judged anyone here. I commented because I happen to be one of the very few that know exactly what’s going on. I have not turned this into some personal vendetta, I’m not using the events that have transpired as my soap box. “anti-jon” you’re so witty, go spread your hate somewhere else.

          1. First of all, you don’t get to use the phrase “feminist bull” and then whine about hate and being judged.

            And secondly, since my name is Jon, please stop using it to be such an asshole.

      2. It’s not just Salem. Ever since “nerd-culture” has become the thing and cosplayers have been brought into the spotlight with shows like “heroes of cosplay” there’s been a rise in harassment of female cosplayers. More light has been shed on previous harassment as well and it isn’t pretty. There’s a reason for females to be wary.

    2. She’s referring to the sexual harassment female cosplayers often receive while cosplaying at cons. If you don’t believe people deserve to feel safe from harassment at cons, then I can only thank the gods that you’re gay and therefore wont spread your seed into this already idiot-saturated gene pool.

      1. give me a break! every one has the right to feel safe. do you think that only women have the right to be concerned for their safety, and that I other homosexual men and women or even heterosexual men and women don’t ever feel unsafe?! or do gay men not count because we have penises? to assume that her safety is threatened weeks before the event is ridiculous. perhaps she or any of us should never leave our homes. and how dare you make assumptions that me being gay automatically means that i won’t or can’t procreate! by you using the phrase, “spread your seed” automatically confirms my opinion of you and what you are.

        1. To address your point about her “feeling threatened weeks before the event is ridiculous” frankly it isn’t. Mark’s comments clearly demonstrate that it isn’t.

          And even though they were posted on his personal Facebook, as many have pointed out, that doesn’t make her concerns any less justified. If anything it makes them more so… here weeks before the event in question is hostility aplenty demonstrated by no less than 3 (one of the commenters was fairly neutral) attendees and one of them in a position of authority with the event having given out what could be considered sensitive identifiying info.

          More and more national and international Guests of Honor are turning down events and conventions that don’t have anti harassment policies. For a new event such as this one it could be a crippling blow to not handle this correctly. As yet they aren’t doing much more than spin control. The Security Head’s comments lay blame on both sides in a rather backhanded way in his post yesterday and cites this article as “Creative Journalism”.

          The area has a number of great comic cons, anime and sci-fi/fantasy events. It might be nice to see if CCCC can rise above this and take a place among them but currently I don’t see it striving to do so.

      2. and let me just say that i know exactly how this all started. i’m in no way affiliated with this con, nor do i personally know anyone involved in all of this. but i can say that it all boils down to “someone” not liking the type of pictures of cosplayers being posted and eventually the accusation being made that it was a “boys club”. safety being threatened indeed… what ever.

      3. Saying that they are gay because you disagree with their opinion makes you just as bad as them. Otherwise I agree with you fully. Don’t use gay as an insult it makes you look like you are small minded and a bigot.

    3. It isn’t about being murdered… and rape is just the extreme. As a long time female convention goer to sci-fi/fantasy cons I can tell you that there is grounds for fear.

      I have had guys I didn’t know walk up and grab my chest and crotch, attempt to pull me into rooms, grab my hair to try to force me to kiss them etc.

      Almost everyone of those guys walked away funny after they were able to stand again, as they were being escorted away from the event.

      It’s not a bunch of crap nor is it a “get over it” scenario. And your sexuality and race don’t give you a “be a douche canoe for free” card.

      1. Wow. Wytchcat,
        I am seriously sorry that there are individuals who have done this to you. No one, I repeat no one, should ever have to feel unsafe in any environment, especially one in which many of us find so much enjoyment in.
        Gay or Straight, ethnic heritage, or any other distinguishing factor should not allow one to act in a repulsive manner nor should it make them less than so that others may treat them as objects either.

        1. Ah.. there you are, SumoJoe. I was hoping to draw you out. :)

          Those things are long ago occurrences at smaller events. But they do still happen to some. As the parent of a daughter now eager to join the geek community I am very much interested in making cons of all stripes safe for all attendees. And I am aware that is made harder by the stereotypes still rampant in the genres we love.

          I’d like to invite you to contact me if you might. You can find me on Facebook. I have a resource suggestion that you might find of interest. :)

      2. How this was handled by CCCC was not okay in any way at all, but what was never addressed is how this all started and why certain things were said and poorly thought out actions were taken by both parties involved. All who have jumped to conclusions in reply to my comments seemed to have completely missed the point. To you it’s all about men always victimizing and harassing women. I don’t see it as man versus woman, I see it as humans dealing with humans. And if you’re blind to that then I feel sorry for you. I don’t fault anyone here for being ignorant to everything that led up to the incident because it was never made clear.

    4. As a gay Asian man, while you may lack white or het privileges, you still have full-on male privilege. So yes, I can and will pull my feminist logic against on you. It might be moot considering you’ve already shown your inability to use half your brain to understand that your experiences do not negate other people’s, but here goes.

      Case in point: Your inability to understand women cannot even walk alone without fearing assault. How women are taught from prepubescent age that EVERYONE are potential rapists and that it’s somehow our responsibility not to get assaulted, not the perpetrator’s. (Teach men not to rape instead of teaching women not to get raped, please) You may think that since YOU don’t have to worry about being assaulted on the streets simply for existing as a woman then no one can. No, not everyone are assholes or rapists, but a significant portion who do condone rape culture (including you and your blatant victim-blaming) would justify it as much as possible and somehow have people like you protecting their “rights” to be assholes.

      If you don’t want to identify as nerds, go right ahead. A troll’s opinion is not very likely to be considered important to those who do enjoy nerdities, so rest assured, you won’t be missed.

    5. Funny thing about feminism and sexism… being gay doesn’t have anything to do with it.

      If anything, I’ve known gay men wbo harass women and then get their own panties in a bunch when the women can’t see that it’s a “joke.”

      Just because boobs don’t get your drawers tight doesn’t mean you can touch them.

      So yeah. Your gay statement did nothing but point out that you’re still an asshole.

      1. Misogynist, okay. I had no idea you knew me personally. I have a feeling you throw that term around freely to make yourself feel better.

        1. Your own actions brand you as a misogyinist. Your own words show you to be a douche.

          The simple fact is, a woman sent a PRIVATE message to the con asking for a refund. Mark, acting in what I assume is an official capacity since he was posting under his “Mark cherrycitycomiccon” account on FB, made her comments public and encouraged her ridicule and shaming by his friends and family. Her safety or her perceived safety is not the central issue. It’s how she was treated and made to feel ridiculous for not wanting to go to a place where she didn’t feel safe. As a consumer, she has the right to decide if she wants to attend an event. I would hope that you would agree with that statement.

    6. What does your ethnicity or sexual preference have to do with anything?

      The objectifying and degradation of women that feminism is against is not the sole province of the ‘white straight male’, or even ‘straight male’ or even ‘male’. I understand that someone who categorizes themselves as a ‘Gay Asian’ has faced their own trials, but that doesn’t give you permission to be a jerk instead of a decent human being. Just because you feel safe does not make anyone else’s concerns over their own safety not valid. Salem may indeed be a great place, but Chana’s concern, as can be inferred by her polite request for a refund, was with the atmosphere at CCCC, not the city as a whole. Considering the responses of Mark and Cassie to her concerns, not only dismissing them as you have, but responding with attempts to shame and blame Chana both on facebook and in their comments to the press, it looks like Chana was right to be concerned about the atmosphere of the con.

      Part of feeling safe is knowing that if the worst should happen, the organizers would do something about it, rather than shame her for making waves, or blame her for the incident because she was in cosplay. Which is what they are doing to her now. It is also what you are doing to her now.

      If you are at a place where you, and those who would harass and attack you, know that the officials will do little or nothing about it, both makes an attack more likely and makes that attack worse. If the potential attack itself is not more violent or hands on because the attacker knows he won’t be punished, then the victim is usually attacked twice, once by the initial attacker, and again by a group of organizers who want the incident to disappear, and shame the victim into silence.

      This is not new, nor is it specific to women. I am very thankful that you have not had to deal with this yourself, and I hope that you never do. I do hope that you can one day learn compassion for those who have, and for those who have to watch everything they do because they know the odds are not in their favor, and society is trained to believe that they are at fault for the repugnant acts of others perpetrated upon them.

    7. Being gay doen’t mean you can’t be a misogynist. You don’t get a free pass. And it’s not okay to shame a woman for backing out of something that makes her feel uncomfortable. It’s not okay to shame anyone for backing our of something that makes them uncomfortable, regardless of gender.

  21. Somehow I don’t think it’s Chana who’s going to be “internet famous” for this. Nor were her actions “wrongful.”

  22. If this is the attitude of the organizer, I can see why she would feel unsafe! The organizers, security guards, etc. are there to make you feel safe.instead, this guy just made himself seem like one of those creeps! If that’s how administration is, if there is a problem how would you report it: they’d just think you were crazy and a “party pooper.” Disgusting. I don’t care if the guy apologized. He obviously felt that she was being unreasonable for trying to stay safe. He only apologized because it was affecting his profits. I hope this event flatlines.

    1. I am the head of safety/security of the event. I and my team will take any incident that occurs seriously. Please do not wish bad on the event. Our town definitely needs an outlet for geek culture.

  23. “[…] sharing the image is petty.” No, a grown man publicly mocking a woman who was nothing but polite is petty. And shameful. And absolutely repulsive. ‘He got his feelings hurt’. Oh, boo hoo, what a child.

    “Me being female [...] I find the sexist bit amusing quite”. What an idiot. Just because a woman is on staff doesn’t resolve this Mark guy from being a sexist creep. That’s like saying someone surely isn’t racist after they just spewed the N-word publicly because one of their employees is black. What an absolute joke.

    “[…] it was her wrongful actions that started this.” What a deluded, disgusting woman. I hope someone can shed some light for her on why her response is so moronic and I hope she feels ashamed.

    If you say things publicly, even if it’s on your own personal Facebook, you should be held accountable for those things. If this goes viral and everyone is outraged, there is no one for anyone to blame but Mark. “Sharing it is petty.” Absolutely not. Saying it was petty and everyone should know what kind of a person he is. No one put those words in his mouth but him. Even if Chana did not screencap it herself, which she has said and I believe – if she HAD, I still see zero pettiness in showing the internet what a rude, unprofessional thing this guy did.

    Good on Chana for being infinitely more mature and composed than this degenerate.

  24. Hi,
    Want to clear up the already muddy waters, I never took any screen shots from his page. He was the one that took our original conversation and took screen shots then posted it to CCCC and made fun of my concerns. Cassie needs to be aware that if that is what Mark told her, he’s lying and attempting to make this about something other than the fact that his behavior is creating a hostile environment and one that I didn’t want to partake in.

    1. Hello,
      I’m sorry any of this happened. I do not know the details, so I will not speak on that. As a father I want a safe environment for my son and other people to go to enjoy geek culture and Cosplay. I have many male and female friends that Cosplay and I want them safe. I advocate a movement that had been started I believe last year that Cosplay does not equal consent. And I firmly believe in it.

    2. Chana, my nmae is Mike Akerley and I run a show with a very similar name to the one being addressed here. It is unfortunate, but we are getting some backlash from this unacceptable chain of events. Our show, Cherry Capital Comic Con, is in it’s 6th year and we pride ourselves on the safe, friendly environment we have created. We help run an anti-bullying campaign here and will make a donation in your name for the cause. This is minimalistic I know, but we wanted to extend our apologies for this unfortunate situation. Take care! If you are ever in Northern Michigan, you can check out our show for free!

    3. Chana, his own (not an) apology on the con FB page demonstrates his attitude clearly enough. I am using my own social networking links to rebroadcast this guy’s ethical failings now. And as an almost 20 veteran of the video game industry with friends and associates at all sorts of major publishers, as someone that has worked on Star Wars and DC games, as someone with friends at numerous table-top publishers as well… I will bet my voice is louder than his among any possible future larger sponsors…

    4. Chana please accept my apology. I did not know any of this was going on nor do I know what led to it. I think I posted “wow” to a post at some point because I did not know the context. I know there has been much muddy waters in concern to what has happened. I at one point had to clear up the idea that Mark was part of the safety/security team.
      I do not believe Mark was in any way in the right for what he did. But I do believe that he is a better person than that, or at least that is my hope. I have known him well over 10 years and have never known him to shame someone in geek culture before. If I did not believe that this wasn’t an isolated incident I’d walk away from CCCC. As it is I believe it is isolated and made with some seriously poor choices.
      My son is a young Cosplayer and I have many male and female fiends who cosplay. and I want them all safe because I love them. I truly believe cosplay does not equal consent. I do not believe that the event will be unsafe. And I need to be there to ensure everyone’s safety because I enjoy Geek Culture and Cosplay. Please feel free to contact me on facebook. because I would like to meet you, perhaps at another con. I hope you can forgive my ignorance of what transpired.
      Be well.

      1. Joe,
        While I am glad to see someone at the con take responsibility for these actions the “No really, he’s a nice guy” thing is old and getting older every minute. Every dirtbag on the planet has someone that will say they are SUPER SWELL. His actions were not that of a “nice guy”. Telling someone that feels unsafe with someone else that he’s a “nice guy” asks them to ignore their instincts and instead rely on you (a stranger) to tell them who they should trust ( after he’s been frankly heinous). Instead of telling us what a swell fella he is, just get to fixing the problem. Because he might be a sweetheart to you, but his actions are those of a dangerous asshole.

    5. Chana, I don’t know what exactly made you feel unsafe to cosplay/attend this convention- not my business. After reading all of this I don’t need to know to totally understand why someone would feel that way.

      If ANYONE feels unsafe at a con or has concerns before a con please let the staff know. If they don’t know about it they can’t address it. I’ve had several friends tell me about inappropriate behavior at cons (usually involving people trying to be too “friendly” with cosplayers or female comic creators/artists) and it seems like situations like this are popping up on the web more and more. Attendees, creators, security, and organizers have got to do everything they can to see it stop. If this was a con I was running or working with Mark would have been told his services were no longer required. If I found out he was the reason for the safety concerns he would be banned from the con.

      First, you should have been offered a refund. Second, your safety concerns should have been addressed. Third, this should not have been taken publicly by Mark and staff. Lastly, bullying and name calling like that should NEVER happen. It wasn’t just poor judgement or being mean, it was STUPID.

      I feel it was incredibly unprofessional for con organizers (and supporters) to act this way, and though I wish no ill will to the show itself, I do hope the bad P.R. comes back to bite them in the ass.

      Also hope you do find cons you feel safe at, and that you know there are people out there that feel this sort of behavior by cons, guests, and fans should not be tolerated- anywhere.

  25. WOW, I know this woman she is a great person. I’ve attended many events with her. I totally trust her feelings. I had thought about attending this event but definitely would not now. How unprofessional and crass can you get? There will be lots of folks making a decision not to attend. We can take our money elsewhere and will.

  26. Sweet. Victim shaming along with ridicule. She brought it on her self…why didn’t she just lay back and take it amirite? Why do people double down on their assholery instead of just saying ‘oh, yeah, that was totally a mistake. Sorry!’ Won’t be going to this scummy con…

    1. I take that as a personal attack when you say scummy con Andy.. Do you mean that all the people who worked hard and have a lot invested in this con are scummy? The people who have slaved away making art for others to enjoy…are THEY the scummy ones? Maybe the dealers, donatees and volunteers are scummy? Perhaps the entire city of Salem might be accused of being scummy…well…actually I do live here so it wouldn’t be the first time. It is clear that Mark made a mistake, and one that he tried to rectify, but closed minded individuals such as yourself who judge a lot of hardworking individuals by only one person’s actions only add fuel to this fire….so go ahead and stay away from this scummy con…and Salem as well since we all seem to be scummy in your eyes…go let Wizard World and Emerald City bend you over while taking all your money just to get in….then we will see who is really the scummy one…

      1. Wow, Floydman, you really are ignorant of how things work (or are at least supposed to).
        We live in a capitalist society. If we dislike something we “vote” with our wallets, thus ensuring “survival of the fittest”. If even just ONE person has lousy customer service it affects the entire organization because that ONE person is the representation for the ENTIRE organization. By enabling Mark’s behavior, yes, you and all the people who worked on this con are “scummy”.
        By allowing Mark & his cohorts who were in on the whole shaming & name calling debacle to still attend the con, much less be on staff for it, enables their attitude to persist. If I were participating as a staff member in this event I would be asking (screaming) for Mark to step down & NOT attend the con. He represents the attitude of the con, as well as EVERY staff member, vendor, speaker, volunteer, & attendee. By allowing Mark to half heartedly apologize for his unprofessional behavior you are allowing him to piss on all the hard work that you have done.
        This was not an isolated incident. There were TWO women who cancelled their plans to attend the con and asked for a refund. Mark’s apology never even addressed the mother, Jennifer, who felt that it was not an appropriate environment for her children. Instead, he posts a picture of a Cos-player – without her permission, who herself says she would not wear that costume to a family-friendly venue, & then says it is the LEAST (not most, but LEAST) revealing image he could find. He utterly failed to address the VALID concerns of both parties, Jennifer & Chana, & instead lumps them together & publicly ridiculed them. If it truly was a family-friendly con then not only would the language he, as well as his supporters, used not be allowed at the con, but the Cos-play costume used as a reference would not be allowed either.
        Do you understand now why people “have their panties in a wad” over the attitudes represented by you & your fellow con staff?

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