(As of 2018)
Fast HP facts: I identify as Ravenpuff, with maybe just a tiny dash of Slytherin that I try to keep in check. My favorite character is Luna Lovegood, whom I share a birthday with (February 13th!), and my OTP is Neville/Luna. My favorite book is the sixth, and my favorite movie is the first. I was born in 1992 and have lived my entire life in New York City.
I first got into Harry Potter when my mom dragged me to see the first movie in 2001. She fell asleep, and I fell in love with the story. I immediately read the first four books, and in 2002 commenced my tradition of rereading them every summer, meaning I've has now read the books fifteen times through. I finally attended a midnight release for the last book, even though it was at some Walmart in the mountains of Pennsylvania, with nary a true fan in sight. I finished the book that very evening, cried as I've never cried before, and I still cry every time I reread the sixth and seventh books.
In 2003, the day before Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out, I stumbled onto MuggleNet. I spent all day on it, and have visited pretty much every day since. I've read every single editorial posted there (and recently reread them over the course of two years), and absolutely idolized the columnists there. I also followed Leaky and the Lexicon for years. I joined the fanfiction scene in 2005 when I wrote my own version of the seventh book, and spent three glorious years writing HP fanfiction. In late 2006 I joined the Leaky Lounge, and for about half a year that dominated my life, before a rather ugly falling out. But in 2007 I also started getting my essays published online, and I've now been published on MuggleNet, Leaky, and the Lexicon. Four years later, I achieved one of my childhood goals when I became a columnist for MuggleNet, heading the "Three Broomsticks."
Beginning in 2008, I've gotten much more involved in the actual real-life fandom outside the Internet. It started with me going to Melissa Anelli's book signing for Harry, A History in Borders. I then attended the live PotterCast 176 that discussed The Tales of Beedle the Bard on December 5, 2008, where I met up with The Group that Shall Not be Named, which I subsequently joined. In the ensuing decade, I became one of the Group’s most active members, and much of my life is given over to activities with the Group and the friends I’ve made through it. Starting at the end of 2013, I led book discussions with the Group, being acknowledged as the member who knows them best. I am now one of the old-timers who reminisces about things that happened "way back when."
I became a huge fan of wizard rock, going to almost all the shows in New York City. I'm a huge fan of The Moaning Myrtles, Swish and Flick, Witherwings, Tonks and the Aurors, and many other bands as well. My passion for the scene – and my always dancing at the front of the audience - earned me the moniker "Wizard Rock's #1 Fanboy."
I even started up a wizard dance troupe - the first of its kind - as the leader of the Dancing Death Eaters. In my capacity as Dark Lord of the Dance, I led the DDEs to perform at myriad concerts and parties. Eventually, I even organized two large wizard rock concerts myself: Avada KedavRock! 2012 and 2014. The latter served as a sort of finale for the DDEs, where we performed every single one of our fourteen dance routines. The DDEs have been on an indefinite hiatus since May 2014, but I do wish to bring them back one day, and in the meantime content myself with teaching the Art of Wizard Dance at conventions.
I played Quidditch with TGTSNBN's altered rules for the Central Park Centaurs, playing the position of Seeker. Whenever the Centaurs weren’t playing, I took over the role of the Snitch. I vexed Seekers to no end, and there has even been an action figure made titled "Irvin the Snitch." I attended notable events of TGTSNBN like Evil Day 2 (where the DDEs debuted), V-V Day (celebrating the last HP movie), and the Triwizard Tournament (where I was part of the winning team, Beauxbatons). I made it to the red carpets of the last three HP movies to get some autographs, and overcame my disdain of the HP movies to see the last one at its midnight release with 130 costumed members of TGTSNBN.
A year and a half after joining the group, I attended my first con, Expeditious 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a very small conference, but it was still one of the best weekends of my life. At the end of April 2011, I attended my second con in Laconia, New Hampshire. It was called Aeternitas 2011, and attended by the rest of TGTSNBN as well. This was, without a doubt, the best weekend of my life. I dressed as seven different characters over the course of four days, and even went swimming in a pool party still in costume. I led my team, the "Hogwarts Professors," to a resounding victory in Family Feud. I gave two academic presentations. I didn't really eat and I slept five and a half hours from Thursday to Sunday. I got a diploma for attending wizard classes and "completing [my] third year at Hogwarts." This diploma now hangs proudly on my wall, though I couldn't tell you where my actual diplomas are.
I continued going to HP cons - the follow-up to Aeternitas was cancelled, so TGTSNBN took over, and starting in 2013 threw a biyearly con called MISTI-Con. I have never missed one, always relishing the opportunity to give presentations, lead dance classes, wear more and more elaborate costumes (to the point where I've made a name for myself as a cosplayer), and just engage in all the wonderful silliness that goes on in cons. At MISTI-Con 2015, I added "actor" to my fandom resume, starring in Fan Fiction Theatre (a fan-written play) as a very glittery Edward Cullen. These cons remain the best weekends of my life.
When it was announced that the 2010 Quidditch World Cup would be held in New York City, TGTSNBN scrambled to form a Quidditch team that could play in the International Quidditch Association (IQA). So in September 2010, tryouts were held, and I became one of the NY Badassilisks. I played Beater for the Badassilisks, leading to nicknames like "Dances with Bludgers," "Dancing Death Beater," "The Shirtless Beater," and "The Spooner." I was known for frustrating my opponents with snarky "Gotcha!"s every time I hit them, and for being the bane of opposing Seekers. I competed with the NY Badassilisks in three consecutive World Cups (2010, 2011, 2013) and in many other tournaments besides. In all, I spent three and a half years as a Badassilisk, and was the last of the founding members to leave the team. But I retired in January 2014, dissatisfied with the direction the Quidditch community had gone in (becoming a "serious sport").
In the 2010s, once I was of age, my HP fandom took me on some amazing travels. In 2011, I made my pilgrimage to the Wizarding World for the first time, surviving for two days in the park on no more than butterbeer and pumpkin juice. (I returned twice since then, including once to the Diagon Alley expansion.) In spring 2012, I studied abroad in London for a semester, visiting amazing Potter-y sites like Platform 9¾ and the Studio Tour. I went to Edinburgh for a weekend to see the McGonagall and Riddle tombstones, the building that inspired Hogwarts, and the café where Jo Rowling wrote HP (where I sat down to do some writing of my own).
One of the biggest moments in my fandom came in October 2012, when I got to meet Jo Rowling herself. I camped out for a weekend in order to get tickets (details), surviving tornadoes and Merlin knows what else. I cried upon getting the tickets. There was then a day of non-stop drama over whether the tickets were valid or not (looooong story), where I experienced the entire gamut of human emotion in 24 hours. But it was all worth it for the 30 seconds I got to interact with her, telling her that every good thing in my life I owe to her, and handing her a letter explaining how Harry Potter has shaped my life, and a DVD of the Dancing Death Eaters. BEST 30 SECONDS OF MY LIFE. Now I can say that, in some ways, my life is complete. All my fandom dreams came true.
At the end of 2015, I saw a wonderful off-off-Broadway play about HP called Puffs. Wanting to share the hidden gem with other, I wrote a review of it for Hypable. And it took off like nothing I’d ever seen. Quite by accident, I found myself a theatre critic for Hypable, getting free tickets to see shows and write about them. I branched out into interviewing people like a real journalist. Puffs went from a five-performance gag to a theatrical juggernaut, constantly seeing new levels of unprecedented success for an off-Broadway show. And I experienced the surreal moment of seeing my words blown up on enormous billboards all over NYC.
I returned to London in 2017, to witness the Epilogue from Deathly Hallows at King’s Cross – September 1st, 2017. And in the center of the festivities was the trolley at Platform 9¾. By pure luck, my friends and I were the group that reached the trolley at 11am, which meant we were at the epicenter of the entire celebration – leading the countdown, getting our photos for free, and being splashed all over NBC News. It’s still extraordinary to me that of the countless millions of HP fans in the world, the eight of us were at the center of the Epilogue Day celebration.
Ever since I began writing fanfiction in 2005, I entertained the idea of becoming a writer. In 2016, I took a stab at making that dream a reality – I took all the essays I’d written at MuggleNet about Albus Dumbledore, and tried to mold them into the beginnings of a book. Eventually, I had a completed manuscript, and began the soul-crushing process of trying to get it published. I’d met a publisher – Story Spring – at a con called Leviosa 2016, so I sent it to them. But I also wanted to cast a wide net. Eventually, Story Spring were the ones who offered to publish it, at MISTI-Con 2017. The book – The Life and Lies of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore – will be published July 31, 2018. At age 26, I am achieving my lifelong dream, and it still feels surreal.
My HP fandom slowly bled into other fandoms - I started wearing costumes not from Harry Potter, I started covering theatre and superheroes and Dancing with the Stars for Hypable. But Harry Potter forever remains the cornerstone of my fandom life... and it shows no sign of slowing down!