My Worldcon Whirlwind
by Julia Rios
Gentle Reader, if you have come on this scrapbook journey from the very beginning, you have already read a bunch of my words. I'm Julia Rios, writer, editor at Fireside Magazine, and your scrapbook narrator. I'm the one who assembled all these memories and decided to impose a sort of narrative flow on them, and I've been introducing every section. I'm introducing this one, too, in which Initiative members talk about the Sunday of Worldcon 76.
I haven't included my own experiences until now because it seemed weird to interview myself, and I wasn't really sure how to boil the amazing whirlwind that was Worldcon 76 down into one small piece, but here we are. I'm breaking the fourth wall to tell you all about my last day in San Jose.
Earlier in the con, I had hosted the Fireside Magazine reading (where I also got to read an excerpt of my story in A Larger Reality) and the English Language Mexicanx Initiative Group Reading. I had attended panels and readings and parties and meetings, signed books for people, and in one madcap interlude, gone to two different Safeway locations to try to find the cake for Mary Robinette Kowal's book launch. I was so busy, in fact, that I didn't actually manage to eat anything in between lunch on Saturday and lunch on Sunday!
All of Worldcon was glorious, but my biggest day was the last day. Not only was it Hugo Awards day (and I was a finalist for my editing work with two different magazines!), but I was also going to interview Adrian Molina, Ana Ramirez, and Marcela Davison Aviles about the making of Coco. This was a tremendous honor, and also just a tad intimidating. This movie is beloved, an amazing celebration of Mexicanx art and culture, and also it won an Oscar! I knew that the audience was going to be composed of people who felt very personally attached to it, and I hoped I would be able to ask questions that would unlock more layers of awesome insight about it.
In the weeks before the con, I had read interviews, watched the movie several times (and cried every time!), and hunted down all kinds of behind the scenes tidbits. I also went to Disneyland with my mother a few days before Worldcon, and I searched everywhere there for a Coco t-shirt, but in the end I had to settle for a pin.
So Sunday morning, I dressed in a colorful outfit, put on my pin, and set off to meet several writers and some of the Kickstarter backers A Larger Reality who had backed us at the coffee with contributors level.
We talked about the anthology and writing and all sorts of things for an hour, and it was wonderful!
The rest of the morning passed in a rush of handing out books, actually remembering to eat again, and making sure I knew where the Coco panel would be. It seemed like every time I ran into someone, they would ask me if I was nervous about the Hugos, and all I could say was, "I can't even think about them! I'm in Coco space right now!"
I met the panelists in the Green Room before the panel and we all walked down together to the room where people had just finished watching the film. I'm pretty sure I caught at least a few people wiping their eyes, heh.
Adrian and Ana and Marcela had fabulous and intelligent things to say, and the audience was so warm and respectful. When we got to audience Q&A time, every person who spoke from the audience had a really good question! It was like magic! Best of all, along with a ton of supportive and engaged strangers, the audience had several friends I hadn't known before I became a part of the Initiative.
After the panel, it was time to go get ready for Hugo night! I went to my room to change into my formalwear before going to visit Meg Frank, who had promised to do my makeup. I don't wear makeup usually because I am not a gifted visual artist, and I think makeup is art. Meg, however, is VERY gifted in that department, so I was excited to let them work their magic on my face.
Meg's room was a mini makeup party. They were also helping several other people get fancy and sparkly for awards night. As we all got ready, we talked and laughed and complimented each other on how amazing we all looked. I can't imagine a better way to spend the hours right before a big event like the Hugo Ceremony.
Once Meg had turned my face into a beautiful galaxy, AND surprised me with an amazing crystal tiara that they had made just for this occasion, we headed over to the main event!
The Hugo Ceremony was delightful. Not only was John an excellent host, but it felt extra special to see my Initiative familia all around me. Some of us were ushers who handed the awards to winners, the Hugo base itself was designed by two of us, and several more of us were sitting in the audience.
When Sara Felix and Vincent Villafranca talked about how they had designed this year's award base, I felt extra proud to be part of this amazing group.
Of course, it's also an incredible honor to win an award like this. I was so thrilled to be able to receive the physical award designed by Mexicanx artists, which was handed to me by another Mexicanx Initative artist, Tehani Farr, and to stand on the stage with her and Vania Soto, Mariana Palova, and Héctor González. Perhaps my favorite moment of all of Worldcon 76 was getting to thank John and the Mexicanx Initiative in my acceptance speech. By that time I had shared food and drink and late night dances and readings and panels and all sorts of other things with the Initiative familia, and it was such a beautiful feeling to be able to give the Initiative a shoutout on the Hugo stage.
Plus, OMG they all wore amazing outfits!
After the ceremony, Mary Robinette Kowal's fabulous assistant, Alyshondra Meacham found me and asked to pose together for a photo, which is one of the best photos of me on Hugo night! Alyshondra's oufit matched my hair and makeup!
Then it was party time!
By now you know that most of my Initiative friends were super excited to attend George R. R. Martin's famous Hugo Losers Party. I was excited to party with all of them, but first, I had get int he door, and that meant, because I was a winner, being mocked mercilessly - and having to wear a sparkly green leprechaun hat!
I got to the party late, but not too late to see George R. R. Martin give an Alfie Award to John for his work with the Initiative. That was another brilliant moment, and so well deserved.
After dancing, celebrating, posing for tons of pictures and selfies with different people, and saying far too many goodbyes, it was finally time for me to leave Worldcon 76. Someone managed to get one last picture of me with Raquel and Alberto as I was on my way out, and I love that you can see how incredibly happy I was, even though I was exhausted and knew I had to be up in just 4 hours to start my long journey back home.
What a brilliant ending to a thoroughly brilliant Worldcon!