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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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11/03/2005 Archived Entry: "Con essay: Yaoi-Con of my Middle Age"

Yaoi-con of my Middle Age
By Ginger Mayerson

EDIT 111005: Here's a link to Lene Taylor's Yaoi-Con podcast, with me! And also special guest Isaac Lew of Digital Manga Publishing. Podcast 14 and I read comics website.

So I decided to go to Yaoi-Con No. 5 and I'm very glad I did.

First, the industry news from Digital Manga Publishing (DMP) and TOKYOPOP:

New books in 2006 from DMP: "Little Butterfly," "Lost Boys," something I didn't catch (see website www.dmpbooks.com), and "Don't Worry Mama." Will be publishing a yaoi art book called "Kiss of Fire." Will be publishing a twice yearly yaoi magazine/anthology called "J-Boy." These were greeted with great enthusiasm by everyone in the room who knew what they were. This group did not include me, alas, but I'm sure I'll love them when I see them.

And don't forget, DMP will be publishing the "Only the Ring Finger Knows" novel next spring. As I understand it, there are two novels, "Only the Ring Finger Knows" and the sequel to that, "My Left Hand Desires You," the title of which Isaac said they might modify a little before its publication in English. No estimates on when the second novel might be published, but, like spring, I have no doubt we shall all see it eventually.

TOKYOPOP: Has a new line of books called the "Blu Line," which gave me the giggles because of "Blue Movies." Anyway, here's the list: "Earthian," "Love Mode," "Hidden Heart," Wild Rock," "Gorgeous Carat," "Loveless," "Shout Out Loud," "Menkuei," and "Man's Best Friend," which is a yaoi manga about a dog becoming a hot guy and making it with his master. I found that kind of interesting, and I'm not especially partial to dogs. There's a website for this line somewhere, but damned if I can find it.

I came home with no review copies. I found the Dealer Room disappointing and I give up on trying to review for Be Beautiful (they just don't want J LHLS reviews, and that's fine with me). DMP had nothing new that was finished, but will be sending me new stuff hot off the press, as usual. Also as usual, it was wonderful to see Isaac and Erica, and very soon I hope to have a link to an I Read Comics interview Lene T did with Isaac at the con. Keep an eye on IReadComics.blogspot.com until I do have a link for you. There's always lots of good stuff there.

Now, about Yaoi-Con...

I liked this con very much. I found it well organized, comfortable and friendly. I stayed at the Westin because the con rate was great, it has a free airport shuttle every 15 minutes, and I'd never stayed at a con hotel for a con. This Westin is a lovely hotel and I've finally slept in a bed worthy of me. They even had a brochure about the bedding in the room, next to the room service menu, from which I ordered a stellar omelet. The Front Desk was lovely, too; seeing a rather tired middle-aged woman whose plane was an hour late due to Bay Area weather, they let me check-in and go up to my room a little before the usual check-in time. This earns them a gold star and a reasonable effort to stay at a Westin whenever possible. The hotel staff were very good-natured about the con. This must be entertaining for them and the Yaoi-Con-goers are a pleasant bunch. Even I thought so, and I'm old and cranky.

As I said, I liked this con, I liked the vibe, the con-goers, and the overall just plain happiness of it. I haven't been to that many cons, but the ones I have been to have had an edge of hostility and paranoia about them. Yaoi-Con confirms that it wasn't just me projecting my hostility and paranoia at Comic-Con, etc., which makes even happier I went. As another lady of a certain age, a Star Trek (among other fandoms) veteran, commented as we watched the costumed attendees scampering hither and thither, this was a younger and somewhat "goofier" crowd than you get at today's Trek conventions. I could not but agree; the attendees of Yaoi-Con couldn't care less what anyone thought of their Temporary Autonomous Zone, and more power to them. Yaoi-Con was also a sweeter smelling con (yes, Comic-Con, I'm looking at you) and a better dressed one, too.

This con was an over-18 con and I liked that because there was a whiff of the maturity and sophistication to it (and the goofiness of freedom), but also because of heightism. I like kids, but I don't like the little bastards crashing into my lower extremities in con crowds. One must take extra care of the hip and knee joints after a certain age. Now, at Yaoi-Con, any crashing into would be above the waist, and as someone who thrived on slam dancing in the mid-70s, I can cope with that kind of body contact. Heh.

The costumes were very impressive, too. I only had a few "Put some clothes on, young woman!" moments the whole time I was there, and nobody looked like they were cold. I think that's a tribute to their metabolisms, because it was rather cold in the hotel common areas and outside, as San Francisco in late October is wont to be. They were all very cute; I really must get a camera for these cons, really I must.

I also observed a surprising, to me, number of young men attending Yaoi-Con. 'Can this be,' I asked myself, 'evolution in action?' Have these highly intelligent young men, in pursuit of mates and a way to pass on their genes, discovered the unlimited mating possibilities of the fertile, educated, well-washed, healthy, young, over 18 females in the yaoi fandom? I realize that, over the eons, males have adapted their mating rituals to the situation; any male of any species that can learn to wear tuxedos and dance the waltz is profoundly committed to the species imperative to reproduce. Why not develop a tolerance for yaoi? I mean, they could tell their potential girlfriends that they're too delicate for full-on yaoi, but could read some shonen-ai with her, say, by candle light at her place after she makes them a nice dinner. Furthermore, Digital Manga has a tee-shirt for guys that says "Yaoi -- Do it for the chicks" or words to that effect. Why not? I mean, just the other day some guy over at Dark, but Shining etc was just whining writing about how hard it is to get chicks; could Yaoi-Con become the mating ground of fandom? A place where fanboys will display their vast and potentially annoying knowledge of all things yaoi?

Unfortunately, I voiced a version of this inchoate train of thought to the fabulous Lene T, who promptly rained all over my theory, my eyesight, and my gender-perception by pointing out that many, possibly up to 75 percent, of these beardless youths I was admiring were cross-dressed girls. Well, there went that plan to save humanity.

On Saturday, because I was so late, Lene T and I only did one rather disappointing panel together. It was a panel on the History of Slash. Because I have no shame, I even left for a huge chunk of it. However, when I left the lead moderator of three, was discussing the mid-70s origins of slash, and when I got back, she still hadn't gotten into the 80s. Now, I think it's brave of a maiden of 19 or so summers to get up in front of a room mostly full of older women who've been around the fandom block more than once, and try to talk about something she's only scratched the surface of, but I do think all the moderators could have been more in control of the material and the discussion. There was far too much clowning going on up front, so of course some of the stronger voices in the audience were trying to wrest some kind of structure into the discussion. I mean, that's what fanfic slashers do; they make the mess of canon coherent, they plug plot-holes in their sleep, fer God's sake. Fill of room with them, and they'll clean up whatever chaos, sloppy research, or less than razor-sharp thinking on slash is extant. So, other than a seething and passionate desire to get someone in academia with good grant writing skills and a lot of patience to do a wide-ranging and thorough oral history of slash fanfiction, I didn't get much out of this panel except a couple of teeth marks in my tongue.

After this disappointing (for me) panel, Lene and I strode womanfully over to the Clarion Hotel, which is also very nice, to look at vids for a while before dinner. We never got the name of it, but we waltzed into a very intense anime that had seven good brothers and an eighth bad brother, all of whom seem to be able to astral-plane (I think that's what they were doing), and herds of golden lions and huge golden dragons and the pay-off was one, puny, mumbled "I love you" from hunky guy one to hunky guy two, and they don't even look at each other before hunky guy one walks off. We thought it was kind of pretty, but we sure didn't get it.

Then we had a good dinner at the hotel (very expensive menu, but the hamburger I had and the pizza Lene had were yummy and affordable), and then upstairs to podcast! Yay! Then Lene took off and I had a fabulous shower under the Westin dual showerhead contraption. Then I read a few more pages of the new, deluxe VIZ translation of the "Socrates in Love" novel I brought along. See, I think I'm so tough, but I was getting all misty over this novel. Or maybe I was just very tired when I was reading the tear-jerking-est parts. Anyway, I put the novel aside and struck artful poses in the most fabulous bed on earth until I fell asleep.

The next morning I had another fabulous shower and a fabulous omelet. To kill a little time before the Digital Manga Publishing and TOKYOPOP panels, I thought I'd toddle over to the Clarion and watch a few vids. On that morning, they were song vids. Now, I'm not a big fan of song vids even when I know the fandom, so I was completely lost for the five vids I stuck around for. Yes, I got through five very confusing, somewhat disturbing, but extremely well made song vids before I made a graceful exit. In my role as your, dear readers, cultural emissary, I have these experiences so you don't have to. However, I did get one website, www.WingBoys.com, if you want to see some nice work with your own eyes. My personal cynicism notwithstanding, yaoi song vids are impressive: I salute the creative imagination that inspires them and technical competence that makes the dream come true for all of us. Why, when I was girl, we didn't have yaoi anime, let alone song vids that skimmed off the cream of the smoldering-to-pornographic cartoon moments. All we had was Bugs Bunny sexually harassing Elmer Fudd, and we had to look really hard to see that, too.

Fanboys, I still think your happy hunting grounds for cool chicks is at Yaoi-Con. The entire future of the species might be depending on you. Don't blow it, okay?

Sisters, go to Yaoi-Con at least once. It will make you smile and you can unclench your abs and relax for a day or two.

And last, but certainly not least, a very big thank you to April G and the convention staff for the press pass and a simply wonderful experience.

Respectfully submitted,

Ginger Mayerson

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