Only one man ... nay, one boy could inspire this sort of magically delicious madness. You know who I mean -- dude with the mop of brown hair, a delightful British twang and that scorched scar. As we noted a few weeks back, Portus 2008 -- the national wingding for Harry Potter fans and fetishists – commences tomorrow at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Unfair Park will give you the play-by-play starting tomorrow, but in advance we thought we’d talk to the Minister of Magic herself, Bekki Oliveri, about a litany of convention and Potter-related topics. This way you can better co-exist with the muggles descending upon Dallas tomorrow.
Is this the first Portus?
This is actually the fifth event, and one of the characteristics of our events is we kind of change names as we move locations. But it’s all produced by the same agency.
What does Portus mean?
Portus was chosen because it links to a door. We knew when we chose the name that we were looking at the publication of the last book. As fans, we all know that the books aren’t the only type of fan experience that people enjoy. It’s the community it’s created; it’s all the creative outputs like fan fiction and Wizard Rock and the artwork that comes out of the fan community. We know that’s still part of it. So basically [Portus] was opening the door to the next phase for Harry Potter fans.
What is the objective of Portus?
To celebrate the Harry Potter novels -- the characters of the world -- and also to celebrate reading in general. It brings people of like minds together to have a great time, to share and to learn -- just be a fan community.
Why hold it in Dallas?
We were looking for a Southern location that’s central to the U.S. Dallas is a great city to get to. It’s very easy as a major airline hub. There’s a large number of Harry Potter Texas fans too. We felt it was time to give all of our Texas fans an easy event to get to.
Which house is your favorite and why?
I am a Hufflepuff. That’s just kind of who I am. I think we get a bad rap from people because we don’t get the glory of Gryffindor or the slams of being a Slytherin. But we’re the ones that get the work done. We keep out heads down low, we’re loyal, we’re hard-working. We just get stuff done.
Should Harry have ended up with Hermione?
I don’t really feel strongly one way or the other. You’ll find some people that’ll come to Portus and will feel strongly. For me the relationship aspects have never been the reason I enjoyed the books. I do belong to that group of people who say, “Epilogue! What epilogue?” I prefer to stop reading before the epilogue. It’s not because of what happened, it’s just that I don’t think it’s … I think the story is fine without the epilogue.
Do you like the way the series ended?
I do like the way the series ended. I don’t like the very, very end of the story. I just think the writing quality -- it’s a little bit simplistic compared to the seventh book and the rest of her earlier books. You can tell it was written at a much earlier date. But I like the way everything was wrapped up. Neville is one of my little favorite characters. I like the heroic ending. He really came into his own. I like the fact that it wasn’t an easy thing. It was painful for everyone involved, but they got what they needed to do done.
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Are Harry Potter conventions usurping Star Trek conventions?
There have been more Harry Potter events happening all around the world. They’re not as common as Star Trek events. But we wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for what happened with Star Trek fans. This is actually how I started with conventions, I attended Star Trek conventions when I was in high school and beyond. They’re definitely the ones that got that type of meeting going. I don’t think it’s going to be as widespread, but I think it’s going to continue to grow and expand and we’re going to see more regional events happening.
Is there a special name that Harry Potter fans are called?
Some people call them Potterphiles. I kind of just go with "HP fans" just for short. Aziza [PR director for Portus] is whispering, “Potterheads.” --Spencer Campbell