San Fransico, California. October 30th – November 1st, 2009.
Reporter(s): Kuroi


Yaoi-con. Just the name might send a few shudders down your spine, and not necessarily the good kind. These days, the word yaoi tends to conjure up images of screaming underage fangirls, the kind that tend to give fandoms, not to mention fans in general, a bad name. However, if one was in the area and decided to drop by the hotel where Yaoi-con was taking place, the San Francisco Airport / San Mateo Marriott, he or she would be in for a treat.

Yaoi-con, as it should be, is an 18+ convention. This isn’t to say that everything that goes on at the convention necessarily needs that rating, but since yaoi, by nature, is something that should only be legally known to those 18 or older, and is sold at the convention, that restriction makes things a lot easier on the staff and merchants. Another area that benefits from this age restriction is the attitude of the attendees. I’ll admit that there are probably screaming, unannounced-glomping yaoi fangirls over 18, but for the most part, those types of fans tend to be underage. That doesn’t mean the attendees are any less friendly or appreciative to see that other people are fans of the same series, character, or pairing that they are, it just means that they’re more polite about it.
The official programming at Yaoi-con shows how small of a convention it is. The panels are pretty much the same ones you see at every convention, save maybe a few unique ones, and the anime showings, which are set up in two rooms, are either the tried and true yaoi anime, like Sensitive Pornograph, or mainstream anime with lots of fangirls, like Code Geass. The dealer’s room is split into two small rooms : one is filled with doujinshi, many imported fresh from Japan, and the other with your usual merchandise, but with a definite slant towards series with heavily- supported yaoi pairings or yaoi itself. Artist’s Alley is much the same, but with one change: the section that most artists have tucked away at other cons, the one in the back of the sample binder with the cover labeled “do not turn if under 18″, is the section displayed out on the table, some much more explicit than others. There is a swap meet on the first day, where buyers can find rare merch they may not be able to find anywhere else. Yaoi-con usually gets a well-known BL mangaka as their guest of honor, and while this year’s guest was Minami Haruka (whom I will admit I was a bit excited to see), the swine flu scare sadly prevented her from showing up.


Yaoi-con
 also offersmany cosplay-related events . Yaoi-con’smasquerade, with skits definitely written specifically for the convention, is always a laugh, with even the judges getting into the spirit of the event. Yaoi-con also offers a butler cafe, where butlers serve up light meals and specialty drinks with some “special” service as well. Last on the list are the bishounen related events. Bishounen bingo and the Bishie Auction are usually ticketed events, meaning they fill up quickly. In these events, guys (yes, actual guys!) choose a character – their own creations, or one from a fandom – and auction themselves off, with the proceeds going to charity. However, having never attended the actual auction, I don’t know exactly what “buying” one of the bishounen entitles you to…

Even outside the official convention programming, Yaoi-con is overflowing with amazing cosplays. As one of the last cons of the season, Yaoi-con is a favorite to show off costumes that there might not have been room for at an earlier con, and being a fairly small con where most of the attendees have only three degrees of separation from any other attendee, cosplay groups are huge. br>

In general, Yaoi-con is a very relaxed con that is nowhere near as terrifying as the name would suggest. Couples don’t make out or molest each other in the hallways under the excuse that it’s an 18+ con; you only have to see as much guy-on-guy action as you want to expose yourself to. – Many people attend only to see friends they won’t for a long while. Overall, the entire convention has a very friendly, relaxed feel that everyone can enjoy, provided they’re over 18.