Yaoicon from a Reader’s Perspective

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Over the last few days, Z.A. Maxfield has been filling you in on some of the things she’s been doing during her stay in San Francisco and at Yaoicon.  Now, it’s my turn as a reader and first time visitor to the con.  I didn’t stay at the hotel and so only managed to get to Friday evening and Saturday, but that was plenty of time for me to get to grips with Yaoicon and what it’s all about.

Friday: The opening ceremony

Amid much excitement the 10th Yaoicon began with the official opening ceremony on Friday evening.  This was just an opportunity to unveil the fabulous Yaoicon banner and to introduce the invited VIPs to us plebs in the audience.

First up was guest of honour Ayano Yamane who looked fabulous in a gorgeous black dress.  She produces the very popular Crimson Spell and Finders Yaoi manga series.  She spoke about how pleased she was to be back at Yaoicon for another visit.  The second guest was  Hinako Takanaga who has produced the Little Butterfly Yaoi manga series amongst others, she was also pleased to be able to meet her fans and be part of the con.  Other guests included two rather bewildered Japanese men, Ryoutarou Okiayu and Hidenoru Kiuchi who are responsible for the voice acting on several popular Yaoi anime and other Japanese series and seemed completely overwhelmed by the whole experience.  As well as guests from Japan, there was also the lovely Lynn Flewelling who writes the fantasy series Nightrunner which follows a gay man who falls in love with his charge.  I was lucky to spend some time with Lynn later in the evening where she proved to be a friendly and gracious lady.

Saturday

My main focus of the day was to attend three of the panels and to spend some time soaking up the atmosphere, browsing in the dealer’s room and checking out the fan art.

Panels:

Ayano Yamane

During the day there are a number of panels, or talks, or question and answer sessions timetabled.  These range from an opportunity to listen to your favourite authors talk about their work, to some fun sessions such as BDSM 101 (which I didn’t go to).

The first panel I went to was run by Clare London and Felicitas Ivey on the subject of going pro and bridging the gap between fan fic and original fic.  This was a relaxed, informal talk chock full of great advice for would be authors and those who are just starting on the road to m/m writing.

The second panel I attended was called Japanese High school 101 and was designed to help those of us who are frankly quite bewildered by the differences between the cultures in the school settings often seen in Yaoi.  During this session I found out all sorts of useful information, such as the fact that Japanese boys often sit in each other’s laps, that students don’t tend to venture onto the roof for romantic liaisons and other information such as when the Japanese school year runs.

My final panel of the day was a question and answer session on writing m/m and fantasy fiction run by Ginn Hale, Astrid Amara, Lynn Flewelling and Marie Sexton, where the topics ranged from world building vs character, how to structure your dialogue and whether it’s better to plan or to ‘pants’ your writing.  Alongside this each of the authors gave us an insight as to how they became published authors and the differences in the way they approach writing. Fascinating.

Atmosphere

Cosplay is a big thing at Yaoicon with many, many of the attendees dressing up as their favourite manga or Japanese fictional character.  Here’s some pictures, taken by Tam (who was completely shameless at asking people for their photos taking) of some of the better costumes.

Even the m/m authors  got in on the act with Clare London sporting either a bright blue or pink wig, Ginn Hale having a pair of funky steampunkerish goggles on her head and Ariel Tachna wearing a very flattering ‘arabian nights’ type costume.

Alongside the attendees were various nubile young men who were dressed as ‘Bishie Boys’ and spent the day strutting their stuff, looking sulky and posing for photos.  Here’s one.  Isn’t he delightful (and, yes, Tam took this photo too, and I really don’t think it matters that you can’t see his face, lol).

Dealer’s Room

ZAM has already told you a bit about the dealer’s room which was a marketplace for books, featuring stalls by Torquere Books, Dreamspinner Press and Blind Eye Books as well as the smaller SL Publishing.  The dealer’s room was just a wonderful place to browse, chat and max up your credit card!

I met a number of m/m authors in this room and had a fantastic time putting names to faces and chatting about m/m books.  As well as the m/m stalls there was a whole host of other stalls selling Yaoi, other manga, Japanese sweets such as Pocky, accessories, jewellery and other souvenir stuff.  I managed to avoid spending too much money on the Yaoi manga (mostly because I cleaned out Blind Eye Books, lol) but Kris just could not resist and picked up this haul.

There were lots of other things going on in the day too, such as autograph signing, a carnival and gaming room and a room full of fan art and crafts.  I spent most of the spare time that I had wandering around looking at these rooms, as well as people watching.

Evening Events

There were also events planned for the evenings but as I wasn’t staying at the hotel, I didn’t see them.  On the Saturday night all the ‘Bishie Boys’ are auctioned off for charity and the winner gets to take them to the Yaoi ball!  I’m told that the price for a Bishie Boy can be as high as $2,000!

For me, my over-riding memory of Yaoicon this year will be amazement at all the cosplay stuff, plus how warm, friendly and welcoming all the m/m authors were. I had the opportunity to either have a chat, a drink, coffee or lunch with a number of different authors and all of them were lovely, lovely people.  I managed to quell my inner squeeing for most of the time and only gushed once (at ZAM).

Overall, Yaoicon is well worth a visit – something I’m rather relieved about since I travelled 1000s of miles to get there :).  However,  it was well worth the jetlag and I would love to go again another time.

32 thoughts on “Yaoicon from a Reader’s Perspective

    1. Jenre Post author

      Exactly my thoughts when you unpacked the bag when we got back, Kris :).

      It was fantastic fun and I’m rather sad to be home.

  1. LB Gregg

    M/M authors are warm and wonderful. :)

    Great report. Kris pigged out on goodies I see. She’s going to need another suitcase to bring that loot home!

    Thanks Jenre–wonderful report!

    ~LB who is still miffed that the I <3 LB photo was MISPLACED (not forgotten).

    xo

    1. Jenre Post author

      Hi LB

      I’ve no idea what happened to the photo ;).

      I think Kris was going to leave all her clothes behind so that she could fit in the books ;).

      The m/m authors were just delightful and I was so pleased that no-one tried to punch me for writing a bad review of their book *phew*.

        1. Jenre Post author

          Thanks, Chris :).

          Kris told me that she had deliberately packed light so that she would be able to fit in the books she intended to buy at Yaoicon – and she still needed another bag! That’s impressive :).

  2. Ingrid

    Kris really did pig out! wow.

    Ms Ayano Yamane looks very different from the pic I had in my head. Isn’t that weird?

    Anyway Jen, I am happy to hear the whole experience was worth the travel. The venue was excellent as far as I can tell and imo meeting internet friends is always good.
    The Japanese highschool 101 sounds very interesting. I still have no clue how it works :)

    1. Tam

      To be honest that seminar wasn’t quite what I’d hoped Ingrid. It kind of degenerated into “Should I joint the JET program so I can teach in Japan”.

      But their school year starts in April, then they get a month or more off in the summer, then go in the fall, get some time off around new year, then end up writing exams in March. Almost like year around school.

      Boys and girls never intermingle except on group dates because if you walk with a boy that means you’re dating. LOL Boys are VERY metrosexual, but from the things she stated, it sounded very much like a North American high school, the way kids behave. Oh and they probably do have sex in club rooms. LOL

      1. Jenre Post author

        Tam is right, Ingrid, the High school talk was a bit mixed in quality, but some of the info was interesting.

        The venue was pretty amazing and plenty big enough for the 1000s of people who were there.

  3. Tam

    Okay, I ONLY spent a $100 on books. I think, well, not too much more, I’m sure. I’m of the “don’t ask don’t tell” school of shopping. That’s not bad right? They were cheap AND autographed. Squeeeeee!

    And really, if you go out dressed like that you WANT people to take your pic. When you’d ask them, they’d get all happy and put down their bags and get into their signature pose. The cos players were LOVIN’ the attention. If you don’t want to be noticed, you don’t have your boobs hanging out. LOL Someone on my site actually recognized the character that the boy with the abs is dressed as. Umm, yeah, whatever, just keep doing it sweetie. :-)

    It was fun and I wish there had been more time to take in more panel sessions, but just not enough time in the day. If it wasn’t so dang far I’d definitely go again. This has made me even more determined to hit Comic Con next summer in Toronto just to see everyone dressed up. :-)

    Meeting all the authors whose books I’ve read was a thrill and I may have gushed, just a tad, as well. Sigh. What can I say, fan-girl. But I miss you all already. *sniff* If people have an interest in yaoi (even mild, I’m not hardcore) and m/m and you live near San Francisco, definitely check it out. It cost me $40 for the day on Saturday and I’d say say worth every penny, even just to see all the costumes.

    1. Jenre Post author

      Hi Tam

      Yep, I think I spent about $100 too, most of that at Blind Eye Books :).

      And you are right, the cosplayers were very outgoing and loved the attention, especially those whose costumes were very tight or revealing. There was one woman in a corset whose bosoms arrived 10 minutes before her body did, lol, and others who were bursting out all over the place to such an extent that I just didn’t know where to look :). My favourite costumes were those who obviously had put a real effort into matching themselves to the original character and those weren’t necessarily the costumes which showed all the skin. I liked the story you told of the two girls who were concerned when you wanted to take a photo of them together because they weren’t from the same fandom! That’s dedication for you :).

  4. Wave

    Jen
    Wonderful report on the con. Although YAOI is not my thing I can see it through your eyes and everyone else who attended and how much you enjoyed all the sessions and the cosplay.

    Thank you so much for doing this – I think all the YAOI fans will live and love the con just reading your report.

  5. LadyM

    I’m sooooo jealous! Especially seeing all that yaoi Kris bought. I want Starfighter and Sherlock Holmes and Finder and… *snif*… I want all of them! Bishies weren’t bad either, I can see. XD

    Thank you for the great report! I’m glad both you and ZAM gave us a piece of Yaoicon atmosphere. ^^

    1. Tam

      A lot of the yaoi was REALLY cheap too LadyM. Most of the books on the larger table were $4 which is nearly 1/3 the price you’d pay for them in the stores here. It was so cheap how could we NOT buy it? LOL I only got one, Yellow Vol. 1 (which is huge) and Jen bought Vol. 2 so we’ll trade off.

      1. Jenre Post author

        Hi Lady M

        Kris could hardly contain herself when she found the Starfighter book :)! There was a lot of great stuff for Yaoi fans, and as Tam said it was really reasonably priced.

  6. Clare London

    It was great to meet you there – and I’m gushing at being mentioned in dispatches LOL!!! I’ve been going for 7 years – some of my friends for the whole 10 – firstly as a fanfic writer and yaoi-fan and then as an original-fiction author as well. I LOVE watching the cosplaying, I love the city, and the whole fun-n-frolic atmosphere of the Con. Though maybe I had to take a few more breaks away from the overwhelming squee this year than before…:)

    Seriously, it’s great to meet people face to face. I wish we’d had more time to chat but at least I met you and the other SBI members (Super Bloggers Inc *hehe*). And I’m sorry you missed the auction on Sat night – those slightly bemused Japanese seiyuu (voice actors, forgive me if the spelling’s wrong) were coaxed up on stage and their company ‘sold’ for the night for a huge amount of $$$. They were very good sports :).

    I’m glad my bewigged head hasn’t popped up in a photo yet *cough*. And I spent way more than $100 on pencilboard art and Jo Chen manga.

    (hubby won’t be reading this website and find me out, will he…?)

    1. Jenre Post author

      Hi Clare

      I’m glad you had fun too or at least you did after your panel and you could relax :).

      I have a picture of you in your pink wig, but I didn’t feel it was fair to post it here, especially as the other bloggers are in the pic too (SBI, lol, I like that). But I may use it for blackmail purposes in the future if I can photoshop the others out ;).

  7. Val Kovalin

    Wow, fascinating, Jen. Thanks for sharing! I know practically nothing about yaoi, but it doesn’t sound like that matters. It also sounds like the Yaoi Con is far less expensive than, say, the science fiction World Con. Does the location of Yaoi Con rotate to different parts of the world like the World Con or is it always in San Francisco?

    1. Jenre Post author

      Hi Val

      I’m only a minor fan of Yaoi, especially when compared to some of the hard-core fans at the con, and it didn’t matter. What did matter was just a shared connection and a chance to let your hair down.

      Yaoicon is always at San Francisco and I felt it was a very reasonable price. I got a ‘saver’ advance ticket and paid $45 for the three days – which was entry only but I could have got a discount on the hotel too if I wanted to stay there. I don’t know how that compares to other con prices.

  8. amy lane

    *waves* It was a thrill for me, actually, to hook up with all the folks I’d said ‘Hi’ to on the net… (and that happened so easily… one minute, Mary and I were having breakfast, and the next, we were in company!)

    1. Jenre Post author

      LOL, Amy, we did all rather invade your breakfast table. It was lovely to meet you and Mary too, and to learn that you really do call your eldest child ‘chicken’ :).

  9. TCBlue

    I have no idea regarding what I soent on books and DVDs and whatnot. *grins*

    All I can say with certainty is that it was truly wonderful to meet you, Jen, and Tam and Chris and so many of the authors I read.

    I ran into Mary and Amy in the elevator when they’d just arrived and had a silent squee-moment as I introduced myself. Then I met you guys in the dealer’s room and that was amazing! I just wish I’d been less distracted at the time. And that I’d known you guys weren’t staying at the hotel! (I did look for you lot later, but saw you not at all. :( I’m still pouting over it. *le sigh*)

    I also had the opportunity to meet LJ’s infamous boyloveaddict (who is also known as aurora alexander) and the librarian, who are both wonderfully funny and chatty people. Meeting Rowan McBride and her friend Terri was great, too.

    I can’t even begin to describe the great time I had with the DSP authors, but in all seriousness, meeting you and the SBI (yes, I like that designation) ladies was definitely the highlight of the whole thing!

    ~Tis

    1. Jenre Post author

      Hi TC

      I’m sorry we missed you too! I never thought to say that we were only there for the day on Saturday.

      It was quite funny when we first met because I kept missing you. I’d go to the TQ stall and say ‘have you seen TC Blue?’ and they said ‘You just missed her, she went that way’ and then I’d head in your direction and ask someone else who’d say the same thing! This happened about 4 times, with much vague description of what you looked like before I finally spotted you :). It was worth the chase though because it was really great to meet you and chat about incestuous relationships in m/m books :).

      1. Tam

        Heeeyyyy. You guys claimed it wasn’t incestuous. I just said it was icky. LOL Except with twins, that’s hot. :-P

      2. TCBlue

        *hee* I had no idea I was being hunted. Guess I’m just wiley and stuff. :P

        Now that I’m thinking about it, it makes sense that you’d want to see something other than the inside of the hotel. Especially with as far as you traveled. LOL

        And it wasn’t incest, Tam! Jeez! *sniggers at the twins thing*

        ~Tis

        1. Jenre Post author

          Not as wily as me, cos I eventually caught up with you ;).

          I had a great time sightseeing, so it was more than about the con for me, but it was still great to go to the hotel and meet all these people I’ve only known online.

    2. Libra

      I had the chance to attend a con with Rowan McBride. He and I have plans to attend another one in 2011. Dude’s a *riot* to hang out with! He can go from totally chillin’, laidback to hyper at the drop of a hat. Kept me on my toes all weekend! lol! I wish I’d been able to go to this year’s Yaoi-Con. Here’s to hoping for next year!

      1. Jenre Post author

        Hi Libra

        I met Rowan whilst I was there :). Ze was kind enough to give me a free book for spotting hir stripy hat, and a signed one at that!

        I hope you manage to get to Yaoicon next year. I don’t think I will unless someone wants to cough up the dough to get me there – Wave? LOL, I wish!

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