conSENSUAL: Australia’s first Yaoi and Yuri convention

conSENSUAL: Australia’s first Yaoi and Yuri convention

by Egofreaky and Nalini Haynes

conSENSUAL report previously published in Dark Matter issue 7.

conSENSUAL was held on the first weekend of November last year, the same weekend as at least four other events I had planned. Although I was fully booked, this seemed like an important inaugural event that I should attend, so I shuffled things around and went for a few hours on Saturday afternoon.

Held at The Bayview Eden Melbourne, the venue was spacious, well laid-out if lacking in sign-posting and air-conditioned with disability access although held on the first floor. (There were elevators: no back-doors or freight elevators at this venue!)

conSENSUAL is an anime convention with a focus on Yaoi, Yuri, Hentai – basically anime (cartoons) with a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Transsexual (LGBT) focus. Apparently these anime can vary in ratings from PG to R; at conSENSUAL, the lower-rated anime were screened during the day and the higher-level anime after 6pm. The ‘about’ page of conSENSUAL’s website explains what conSENSUAL is and why there was a felt need for this kind of convention.

conSENSUAL: Australia’s first YAOI & Yuri convention
For those aged 18 and over
November 4th-6th, at the Eden: Bayview

Anime, Manga and PopCulture conventions are generally fairly open minded spaces. We get away with a lot of stuff that one wouldn’t normally expect to get away with anywhere else outside of a MardiGras parade. Yet, there’s this insistence that the events have to be family friendly.

The problem is that the conventions are family friendly, but it’s being used as a euphemism in this context. Where “family friendly” should mean everyone’s having a good time and no one’s freaking out, what it tends to mean at the events is “don’t scare the close-minded people that brought their kids because they’re our cash cow”. So whilst you can dress as PowerSkank™ from one of the latest superhero comics, and you can probably get away with some pretty revealing Cosplay from something like Gurren Lagann, the moment there’s even an inkling of homoeroticism, you have to pack it away.

No “Will glomp for cookies”. No “Will Yuri for YAOI”.

No “Will YAOI for wrestling lessons”. No “I <3 Man i fest”.

Actually, you get away with that last one.

But no more will the YAOI & Yuri fanboys and girls be cast aside!

Now we have our own event, where we can watch as much mano-e-mano anime, read the gayest manga, and generally make the kind of comments that would have your 3rd grade religious school teacher rolling in her grave (if she’s dead yet). We have an adults only anime con, and it’s for those out there who like their GBLT on black bread with a bit of mayo on the sides.

conSENSUAL will have the kinds of panels you want to attend, the kind of screenings you’ve wanted to watch but have been too afraid to ask for recommendations, and have the kinds of traders that other cons wouldn’t even think about letting trade. Capping it off will be activity ideas ganked from other cons: Crossplay Competitions, Nightclubs, Slave Auctions and more!

As fans may be aware, there has been some extremely bad conduct at conventions over the years, even the family-friendly conventions. conSENSUAL did not aim to be family-friendly: all participants were required to be 18 or over due to the nature of the event. However, the organising committee took into account the risks concerning a convention of this nature, and posted this code of conduct on their website:

conSENSUAL believes that there’s a lot of diversity in fandom, and it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re welcome to whatever it is that you like (so long as it’s legal). As such, we welcome all fans of YAOI, Yuri, and the general GBLT and otaku scenes provided you’re old enough to get in. And we expect our attendees to behave in the same way. Everyone that comes to conSENSUAL has come to have a good time, do things and be part of events that’d never get a chance of running at a “family friendly” convention, hang out with friends and make new ones, and general enjoy their particular sub-micro-para-niche within otaku fandom. Everyone.

To paraphrase Uncle Ben, with great entertainment comes great responsibility.
So in order to achieve that, in an ironic twist, we have to be pretty intolerant of anyone that tries to bring the good times to a halt.

Due to my other commitments I didn’t have time to partake of many activities at conSENSUAL. I cruised past the large viewing rooms where anime was constantly being shown and I visited the trading room and chatted to the traders and con participants. There were frequent roars next door to the trade room as a Yaori vs. Yuki debate took place: upon entering the room I found it full of people, mostly in costumes, sitting at tables. There was a quiz competition. Obviously the participants were relaxed, enjoying themselves and their friendly rivalry (they had broken up into teams). After this event I attended an anime drawing event where a quiet, self-conscious tutor discussed the basics of anime drawing. I say quiet and self-conscious because he became embarrassed when a few people asked for instructions on making their artwork anatomically correct. He made drawing anime appear almost effortless, an impressive feat.

Pantsless Twister, Terrified Heterosexuals, Birthday Shibari & Pool Parties
November 5th, 2011 Egofreaky

The first day of conSENSUAL went swimmingly! Literally, in fact, as the day concluded with a pool party.

Before that was some amazing rope work, including a fine young lass who’d literally turned 18 today, a bizarre game show courtesy of Anime Ball Z that involved “cock jousting on tentacles”
We’ll be getting photos up when we can, but by all reports people had an excellent time.
A number of SNAFUs with screenings (i.e. the player only playing the German subtitle track…aber die Partei Jungs sind heiß), and a few events being shuffled due to others being way more popular than we expected, but it’s all a learning experience for the first yaoi & yuri convention Australia’s ever had, and we’ve shuffled the timetable for tomorrow to avoid these kinds of clashes, so please ignore the one here on the website and pick up the amended sheet from registration.

Highlights for tomorrow include a talk on sex & politics in Australia by head of the Australian Sex Party, Fiona Patten, a human auction, the legal issues revolving around yaoi in Australia, an introduction to Ero-Guro manga and a closing ceremony with a performance by the amazingly talented Elodie Adams.

Lastly, some sad news with the after party: We didn’t get the numbers for Abode, so we’ll be going to e55 instead. It’s located at 55 Elizabeth.st, Melbourne.

I really wanted to attend a couple of things on Sunday, but in the end my two commitments on Sunday – which included attending the Timeline festival reported on previously – took up so much time that, with travel as well, coming back into the city was not feasible. However, Egofreaky blogged again:

ARGH! MY HANGOVER!

November 8th, 2011 Egofreaky

Day 2 of the con went great!

The legal panel and guest lecture from Fiona Patten were amazing, and filled our panels room to its maximum capacity. Definitely have to ensure they’re in a theatre next year. Speaking of, random games of pantsless twister broke out every time the main events theatre wasn’t in use, so we may have to see what we can do about getting free Twister mats from a toy company.

The closing ceremony, with Elodie Adams performing and doing a cover of Placebo though, that was just amazing, wasn’t it?

And then the after party! So good… but perhaps a bit less to drink next time. Or at least try to get some free ones >_>

Sadly, that’s a wrap for this year folks. We’ll be having an AGM in about a month’s time, using the feedback we got from this year’s event. Information will be posted here and on conSENSUAL’s Facebook if you’d like to know how to get involved for 2012.

For more information visit conSENSUAL’s website

Egofreaky, aka Avi Bernshaw, lays claim to being the Bernard of Of Science & Swords (a SF/Fantasy/Vampire porn bookshop that also sells pop culture tees and LARP weaponry and cohabits with Critical Hit, a gaming store. Located in the Melbourne CBD.)