Recently I had the opportunity to “sit down” (more like a “virtual sit down”) with Peter Pixie, Master of Ceremonies for many conventions and special events throughout the Midwest. I caught up with him just before we all headed out to Tokyo in Tulsa 2013 in beautiful downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.
If you’ve ever wondered what makes a Master of Ceremonies, particularly Peter Pixie, tick and tock and make an event really sing…well, sit back and enjoy a delightful conversation with someone who is first and foremost a “fan” himself, and who is also funny, quirky, and truly happy to be doing what he’s doing…and quickly becoming one of America’s most beloved MC’s.
Oh, and if you don’t know what the Rule of 6-2-1 is…read on, my friend! It is essential to avoiding the dreaded “Con Funk!”
DC: I have had the privilege of presenting or attending at several events with you over the past year. I think I first met you at Tokyo in Tulsa last year (2012), and just enjoyed watching you enjoy what you do. This year we’ll be at “TnT” again and I look forward to seeing you there again.
Something I would like to key in on right up front is that you truly enjoy what you do. As a professional Master of Ceremonies, doing many events each year…this can be difficult, even grueling, work. What keeps it fresh for you? At the end of the day, or an event, what makes Peter Pixie say, “I’ll do it all over again and love every minute of it?”
Peter Pixie: My drive is that I am a big fan of fans and conventions. If I were to define it, I would say the fans, and the conventions that fans meet up at, are a community. This community is my home. When I am asked to host events, I feel like I am being asked to host a family function where the family is one of the most creative, giving and loving groups of people you will ever meet.
DC: Give us an idea of what your schedule looks like for the rest of the year. Where can fans expect to see and hang out with Peter Pixie?
Tokyo in Tulsa (CONFIRMED) in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Wichita Highland Games & Celtic Festival (CONFIRMED) in Wichita, Kansas
Glitch-Con (CONFIRMED) in Bentonville, Arkansas
ART of Burlesque (CONFIRMED) in Wichita, Kansas
Great Plains Ren Fair Fall (unconfirmed) in Wichita, Kansas
Encounters (CONFIRMED) in Wichita, Kansas
Dragon Ridge Ren Festival (unconfirmed) in Fayetteville, Ark
Green County Comics & Gaming Con (CONFIRMED) in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Octopodicon (CONFIRMED) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
WhoFest (CONFIRMED/SOLD OUT) in Dallas, Texas
Peter Pixie: From an MC perspective, I would say that meeting Star Trek people I grew up watching and working with…after having attended conventions where I was just there as a fan, was very surreal.
Every event I meet cool guests and have cool experiences with them. Caitlin Glass has always been a class act, I love working with her. Oh, and just this weekend, I had breakfast with Chuck Huber and he is really cool.
Over all, though, every event brings me into the path of so many amazing and talented people.
However, the top person I have met, for me, would be Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek and one of the reasons we have such a strong Convention Community today.
DC: Without naming names…what would you say was a most bizarre, or even scary, moment or interaction you’ve had at an event?
Peter Pixie: I’ve been doing conventions in some form for nearly all of my life. It is good to be able to say that I’ve not really had a negative moment directly. The saddest moments are when members of our community pass on.
DC: Agreed. Share with us some favorites: Book, Music, Performer, Food, TV Show, Drink, Muppet, Super hero, Villain, activity to do other than being Peter Pixie at an event?
Book: Stranger in a Strange Land and the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy are both great.
Music: I have very eclectic tastes in music. I love hearing music from nearly all periods of human history. My Pandora station has Bass Hunter, Oingo Boingo, Movie/TV Soundtracks and Prog Rock both from last century as well as this one.
Food: I love Indian food – North and South.
TV Show: Doctor Who.
Drink: I drink Water first and foremost. I rarely drink alcohol due to medication interactions and have been Caffeine free for a couple of years.
Muppet: Kermit, the MC.
Superhero: If Doctor Who is considered a superhero, then it would be Doctor Who. From the DC universe, it would be Booster Gold. In the Marvel Movie Universe it would be Tony Stark.
Villain: This one is more difficult. In Marvel Movie Universe it would be Loki. In DC Universe, I would have to say Lex Luthor in Smallville.
Outside of being Peter Pixie at events, I really do not have much of a hobby. I love to explore the cyber universe as it is full of wonder.
DC: Interesting choices, indeed! And, of course…Kermit! I should have guessed that one. When we were at Anime Fest Wichita (AFW) 9 together, I noticed your son was DJ’ing one of the dances during the weekend. That had to be huge for you! As a matter of fact, I believe, if I’m not mistaken, your entire family works events together at times. Tell me your thoughts about working together as a family and how important this is to you.
Everyone wants to feel like they are a part of a community that accepts them. I do, too. Ever since that day in 1983, I have always felt like I am going home when I go to conventions. -Peter Pixie
Peter Pixie: I have worked with my children at different times. My daughter plays Cello and did so with Troy Baker at AFW and Tokyo in Tulsa 2 years ago. Oh, and it was both of my sons who were DJ’ing at the Anime Fest Wichita Dance, which they have done for a couple of years now.
I LOVE working with my kids. As they are now adults, it changes the dynamic, but one of the best times we ever had was doing Rock Band together at AFW 4 Open Ceremonies.
DC: Your experiences with conventions and special events go way back. How did it all begin and what has led you to where you are now?
Peter Pixie: This is a complicated question to answer. When one has been involved in the Fandom community for as long as I have, you begin to see that there is a collection of things that bring you to the point you are in your life.
At 13, I was taken to a convention as a surprise by my Big Brother (as I was in the Big Brother/Big Sister organization). It was 1983 and I was a HUGE fan of Science Fiction (mostly British Science Fiction). So, you could say it was falling in love with the show Doctor Who in 1980, or maybe it was that fateful trip to my first event, that marks the beginning.
But as to what led me to where I am now, that would be in large part due to my involvement in the Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast: The Justice League of Denton.
DC: When I hear you at opening ceremonies, you give people a few rules to remember in order to fully enjoy their weekend. One of those “rules” is about avoiding Con-Funk *laughing*. I don’t remember it exactly, but I remember cracking up the first time I heard it, but thinking, “So true!” I remember Abney Park cracking up about it on the front row when you said it at Emerald City Steampunk Expo too. Did you coin that term? What is Con-Funk and how do we avoid it? I think you should write a coffee-table book about avoiding Con-Funk, haha.
Peter Pixie: “Con-Funk” isn’t my term, to be sure. I’m not sure where I heard it, but I was gifted a button that said ‘CON FUNK’ with a ‘no’ slash through it.
Showers are important. Not just to the olfactory sense, but also in a personal sense. I preach 2 very important things at Opening Ceremonies: 6-2-1 & Hydration. If you get 6 hours of sleep, at least 2 meals a day, 1 shower and stay hydrated, you will make better life choices.
At a convention, it is easy to become overwhelmed in the ocean of fun, silliness, creativity and excitement. This can cause us to make poor life choices because we do not always feel this amazing feeling within our lives. Too much of a good thing can be just as harmful as not enough if we are not adequately prepared for the experience.
DC: Well said. Thinking back, can you describe an event or a moment that really touched your heart in a significant way? Something that reminded you that this is a big reason why you do what you do?
Peter Pixie: On the macro level last Anime Festival Wichita closing ceremonies, I asked how many people I was friends with on Facebook. When nearly all of the very large room raised their hands, I was caught off guard. There is something to knowing so many people who care enough about what you do to want to experience more.
On a personal level, every time someone comes up and shares with me their personal story and how I fit within their life, it reminds me that what I do is making a difference in other people’s lives and THAT is why I am so fulfilled in what I do.
DC: And THAT is what will give you longevity in all of this. Most embarrassing moment at an event…what would you say?
Peter Pixie: I find I am only really embarrassed when someone points me out on stage for applause. But it is a good type of embarrassment.
DC: Something that you and I share similar thought patterns on is that people should feel safe, and BE safe, at conventions and other events. Is safety becoming more of an issue for attendees at cons these days? What are some tips to staying safe and healthy at a con? What should someone do if they feel a line has been crossed against them? And, what is your role in helping con-goers maintain safe environments?
Peter Pixie: Safety is paramount for all of the people I work for at each of the events I host. As our community grows, there are issues we do face, of course. There is also the matter of one’s personal feeling of safety, which can differ from ‘convention’ safety.
As stated before, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF physically with 6-2-1 and hydration. This will allow you to make better life choices. Second, have a travel buddy when you can. Look after each other and ensure we are all making good choices.
When in doubt, ask a person’s age sooner than later and decide if they are within your appropriate age to hang with. I know some people may think this an odd thing, but I promise you, if you are 14, you really should ensure you are not about to be a part of an adventure where you may be the cause of someone else getting in trouble.
If you are an adult, understand that at a convention, YOU have a responsibility to those who are not adults in helping them make good choices.
If you ever feel unsafe, or that a line has been crossed, REPORT IT to a Con Staff person. If you feel they did not take it seriously enough, ask for a 2nd Con Staff person to report it too. While one should be enough, I find that sometimes it is a matter of a communication misunderstanding on what has happened and that you feel it was serious.
DC: Good words. Very important and I hope people attending conventions and other events will heed this advice!
You see a lot of different type of people and events each year. Anime, Steampunk, Gaming, etc. What do you see as a common theme or element among all these groups? In all of their differences, what brings them together and why do you think people love these events so much?
Peter Pixie: Everyone wants to feel like they are a part of a community that accepts them. I do, too. Ever since that day in 1983, I have always felt like I am going home when I go to conventions. No matter what you may think of someone’s costume just remember, THEY did their best, and they are a part of your Fandom community, so they deserve your understanding at the very least, and your love in whatever portion you can give.
DC: What’s the big picture for Peter Pixie? Where is all this leading? How do you see yourself making a difference in the world through being a professional MC?
Peter Pixie: I want to continue spreading the idea that being you, no matter who you are, is OK. Sometimes being you may mean needing therapy – something I have had, and proudly say so – and other times it may mean just being OK with yourself even if you are six foot, eight inches with a beard and a tutu.
The new panel I host, It’s Your Life – Host It!, is all about understanding YOU are in the car moving into the future. The wheel is right there, all you have to do is take a hold of it and steer to where you want to go. As an MC, I will continue to offer this message.
DC: Awesome! OK, ramble time… Open mic for Peter Pixie! What does Peter Pixie want to share that perhaps I haven’t asked or covered here yet?
Peter Pixie: Love yourself. If you see things you don’t love about yourself, those are things that need your attention. It may take you some time to get to a point where you do love yourself. Even I have things I still struggle with daily. But I know this is the right thing because whenever you choose not to love yourself, you feel bad.
And, in the end, we all just really want to feel good.
DC: Well, Peter, as always I enjoy spending time with you. I believe you are an extremely hard-working and kind person and I feel events are a better place to be at with you there. Thanks for your time and I look forward to seeing you again soon.
You can learn more about Peter Pixie and contact him at his website:
Facebook: Peter Pixie