Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sakura-Con Day 3: Sweet & Goth Loli, cross-dressing fencers & Kyudo Archery explained! (Plus bigger breasts & I win a prize!)

On to day three of Sakura-Con! After the first two days I was lagging pretty bad, and also I had been trying to blog, with a variety of speeds from dial up to limited broadband since we started. I had uploaded some pictures and took others on the way and uploaded them to an online account to use in the blogs. Here you can see me, working away until 4:00 am and past to get the blog post done. Yes, I may not spend as MUCH time seeing stuff as before but I still work as hard as I can.

Day three was a NEW outfit, a combination of the Bustier and virginal thong bought in Port Angeles at a Hello Kitty store (amazing the things you can get there!), and a skirt that had arrived between going to the doctors’ appointment (insert slow somber music) and going to Sakura-con. It was sent as a random present by a reader, and it sure came in handy, a perfect match. But first I demanded that people see that YES, I did shave all places (TAKE a picture!). I had other pictures with my legs spread but I chose the ‘virginal and chaste’ look here rather than the ‘town slut’ look. I also took pictures of the back, showing the thong, and the ribbon tying me in but choose to go with STYLE instead. Also, thanks to Linda forgetting my white push-up strapless bra, I was natural, but thanks to the WONDER CREAM, I was perky and natural! Seriously, I had the cream all the girls want at 11-13, you literally rub it on (of course in my case, a little lower than the breasts), and your breasts get bigger. SWEET!

And here I am, all dressed up and ready to rock and roll with my elbow length lace and ribbon arm warmers. The plan was to see some of the exhibit hall and get gifts and then to go to some of the panels on during the day, particularly the one on Kyudo: Japanese Archery. It has the super tall bows and a very different grip system; but also see the goth lolita fashion show.

The exhibition hall (of sellers) was sort of both GOOD and bad, as I had found out on Amazon that the manga about the crossdressing fencer Le Chevalier d’Eon went to volume six, however volume 4 was totally missing. I had 1 and 2, and I returned to try and find volume four.

Le Chevalier d’Eon is a real person, and a spy for the French in the 17th/18th century. He or She spent several years as a Lady in Waiting in the Russian Court, but also several years as a guy in another assignment. But what is known and well recorded even in steel plate is that as a fencer, this person was unbeatable. And could win even with all the petticoats. However, after too many trips to different Royal courts as different genders, the job as spy was over; but d’Eon continued to switch genders, and teach fencing. Eventually, not knowing the gender of d’Eon, the King ruled that d’Eon could not publicly duel or fence while wearing petticoats. At the death of d’Eon, the King’s physician examined the body and the person was buried, it is still unclear whether d’Eon was male, female, ambiguous genitalia, or had an intersex condition. They are the one great fencer that is sort of NOT talked about in fencing as the guys don’t want to claim a cross dresser and the women fencers aren’t sure if d’Eon WAS a female, ergo in the west, d’Eon is rather obscure. In JAPAN, they made an anime about him, where his twin sister (who is a better fencer than he) possesses him and gender changes him for a time for the good of the King! The manga looks like it has d’Eon as male (maybe, still unclear) who dresses as a female, or a female who dressed as a male usually, returns to female clothes to protect the King with her/his blade.

Okay, history lesson over! Volume 4 was no where to be seen, however, as we went to another manga shop, the person was putting out boxes of $2 manga, which is like putting out a box of catnip to a cat (or me!). And then they had just updated and tripled the size of the $5 manga (sadly, I could not get to it quickly due to narrow aisles and a rush) but I quickly blew much of my ‘gift’ money. On the rounds I spotted, followed and asked for a picture of this girl in a wonderful corset and costume. The Corset is covered in skulls! That’s right, you don’t have to be a GUY to be a fetching pirate anymore! We arrived at the place I wanted to buy gifts only to find all things but one sold out! Ahhhh! He told me to email him at his warehouse which I will do today to see if he has certain cool items, which I can’t say or ruin the surprise.

Now the question came up about, what about Kitty Ears? First off, on the first or second day we got Hair Clip kitty ears ANYONE could wear. And used peer pressure to get Linda to wear them. I think she looks quite fetching, but she refused to wear them outside the hotel room. As for me, I ran out of money on gifts, sadly, but a kind soul (Cheryl) found a place that had SIMPLE white kitty ears, with tufts of white hair. And they were inexpensive. So I agreed for her that I would take them as a gift and wear them. Suddenly, no longer are we getting the SIMPLE white ones but the ones with purple ribbons and all sorts of stuff as she says, “This way it will go with any outfit!”

I was like, “This is very fu-fu!”

And she was, “But it is CUTE!”

So I gave in and here you see me with my pair of slightly over the top kitty ears! But hey, if you can’t go slightly over the top when you are wearing a bridal thong (for the next 12 hours as Linda ‘forgot’ to put any underwear in the change bag – talk about convenient for HER, and also a good thing I have limited feeling), then when can you?

After that I ran into this gorgeous Goth who I asked to take a picture of. She had a lace parasol as well! Afterward we compared clothes and she had the lace gloves from ‘Lip Service’ (as do I!), and the corset was made for her by a corset company here at the Con last year. I stay away from those companies as they use phrases like “Only $120” while my Bustier, thong and thigh highs came to a total of $23. She had some other lip service stuff but the wonderful Indigo dress she bought in Indonesia. Okay, well, I guess I can’t top that!

I then went to see about Kyudo with Cheryl, and as we were early I went to get some pictures at the Lolita fashion show, which I thought would be about girls coming down the runway. It was NOT! It was a power-point presentation of the different stores that sell sweet lolita, goth lolita and punk lolita. BOO!

For those who are somehow in a cave, here is how it goes. Basically, in the same way Betty Paige created the ‘vamp’ look, there is the ‘lolita’ look, which is best displayed in the movie ‘Kamikaze Girls’. It is NOT, as many customs agents thin, about being 10 and underage sex (that is loli-con), it is about wearing things that you WORE at those ages because they were leftovers from earlier historical ages. So a ‘Sweet’ Loli (or Lolita) would wear and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Dress with matching purse and maybe a plushie. I had a picture of some yesterday. I think I also had a picture of a Punk Loli (punky but schoolgirl!). Here is another ‘Sweet Loli’ as she has her basket and her plushie but also an outfit which cost quite a bit. Sweet Loli’s big name for where to buy stuff is Sweet Baby and costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Goth loli’s big brand name is....h.naoto (like, oh, say my bag on the back of my chair!).

So a Goth loli, has both the ‘school girl’ look as well as the ‘goth’ look as this girl does, outside the convention center. She also has an h.naoto bag on her back (from the fall collection I think). You can see why, regarding backpacks, I wanted a BIGGER one for my wheelchair. I don’t do goth loli, as after a certain age, TRYING to look 16 or 17 is kind of creepy, and for me, I just go for ‘everyday goth’ as it were. But a full goth loli in Japan will cost about $500 to START (that neck chocker is $40 for example!).

The whole lolita thing is about having what Thoreau would call a “Life Lived Deliberately” in which you enjoy the ways of the older things: you drink tea, you visit with friends, you walk slowly so as not to disturb the crinoline. You use a parasol to keep off the sun while you walk or picnic in the cemetery. You write a diary, you write letters and have a wax seal.....life lived deliberately. And you come to Sakura-con and get your picture taken.

Meanwhile, being the SHY and retiring sort I approached the guy getting ready for the Kyudo demonstration and asked him if I could hold the bow. I had wanted to in Japan, but there was no chance to go to a dojo. Kyudo is considered a martial art and popular with high schools thus popular in anime but I just liked it from having made bows myself. So he let me use his bow, made of carbon fibre and worth a LOT, and here I am, one cat ear a little tilted but having fun. I could not however PULL the bow as he needed it for demonstration and he promised me to use the students bow AFTER.

Kyudo has 500,000 practitioners and the ‘simple’ form has eight steps. Before the event the organizers of the Sakura-con talked to the guy in charge about moving CLOSER when they found out that his bow of a 70 kg pull (about 145 lbs) was going to be discharged INSIDE. Due to having people attending killed is bad form. Kyudo is like ‘super-zen’, as the master of the Dojo had been doing the ONE simple form for five years and felt after another five he would be ‘better’ at it. I talked to him afterward (SURPRISED?) and while the theory is that you can hit the target in the dark, the whole point is that you focus on only ONE thing: the target. That is what you practice.

There are eight steps of which I am only going to talk about four: the first is the stance. You move until your feet are shoulder width apart. This is more than just for balance. It is because each person’s arrows must be custom made for them depending on that distance. Your arm is at one foot, your hand at the other. We will skip the getting the bow ready and bowing and all that and get to the fun stuff: the last three steps (shooting!).

First you pull the bow (Yumi) a third of the way while over your head, but your hands are in the correct position. In Kyudo there is no sighting (that is in your MIND, hence the Zen), there is nothing but the bow. So you pull the string with your thumb, you hold the arrow with the first two fingers and you sight by resting the arrow on your hand holding the yumi (bow).

You then bring the string back to full extension, which is behind your ear and down to your eye level. This is where you concentrate on shooting, for about 3-5 seconds generally. In many cases it is not accuracy but the idea that ‘correct form in shooting makes correct hitting.’ Which is why it is a martial art. As the arrow is released, the yumi (bow) will spin away and end up on the opposite side.

I tried and tried and could not get a picture even in Movie mode of the arrow in flight, it was just TOO FAST. However, the full extension is the release mode, where the arrow is released and as you can see here, the yumi has spun away. The target being shot at is a makiwara, meaning a special design straw target which you shoot at closer range in order that you can focus on technique as your chances of missing are slim. I did ask afterwards and no protective ear or arm gear is used, so for beginners you practice and in a very Japanese answer, “Some students learn very quickly, while others are not so” – meaning some have red ears and burn marks from the string for a LONG time. But that is a steep learning curve having had my ear thwacked ONCE, I still remember it and the “Don’t draw back so far!” (this was the western style bow)

At the end of the questions he bows, everyone applauds, his students bow and then he says to me, ON THE microphone, “Yes, you were promised a bow to draw! If you will come over here.” So I came over and there were some people asking questions and I got into a great conversation with two girls about thongs and this one had just come to the line, “I’ve only ever worn one once! And that was because…” when this very austere Japanese man interrupts and it is my turn. I am the only person allowed to touch the bows besides the students. The bow I am given is shorter and I can pull it, so I ask if I can, and yes, so I pull it to the one third and then down to behind the ear and then say, “and now I would release” and then bring the string in. (don’t release a string with no arrow). They checked to make sure I am pulling with my thumb and it will not slip off.

After I do it a few times the instructor tells me along with another instructor that since the bow was actually made to be drawn from a horse, I should try drawing it across my body. That essentially, being in a wheelchair allows me to do the sport ‘correctly’ – as in more historically correctly than they can. Which is odd, as things are usually adapted to Wheelchairs instead of people in wheelchair being told, “Oh, we have been waiting for you as you are the only one who can do it the RIGHT way!” But I do two of the one third and then full draws and everyone agrees that this is the way I should shoot as it is ‘proper’ and sadly there is no Kyudo club in Victoria. There is one in Seattle and one in Vancouver, so I will have to drop by and start as a beginner when I am in those cities, as I like the sport. Often having an individual style, a style of grace is as or more importance than your accuracy. And I have ALWAYS had an individual style (of course the instructor may just yell, “Don’t shoot like you are driving a forklift McClung!!!”).

Linda had come to the convention center to pick us up and is now convinced that NEXT YEAR (see, Elizabeth the optimist!), she will have a ticket too. She went up a few floors to take pictures and really liked this character, which has both the umbrella AND a skull as well as contacts for red eyes (if you know the character and series please let me know!).

Also, as the ultimate in sweet lolita, living the Rococo life (Rococo is often a word for ‘the sweet lolita life’), here was a girl sitting on a bench. Wow. That is really all I can say but Wow. Also that if any teenagers are out there, go give your Dad a heart attack by telling him that THIS is what you want for your prom dress. Wow. And what is even better is that when the sweet lolita girl turned around, she was a cutie, with her neck choker, her bodice with lace and roses. Yes, hard to buy groceries in, I admit, but to have tea with friends, and to write in your diary, it would be fun (assuming you had the help to get INTO it and out of it again!).

Lets finish with this pair, from another series I have missed. I love the hair, I love the face on the school girl. I love the cheek to cheek. Anything that promotes Yuri (girl/girl pairings) I am for. And there were MANY girl/girl pairs at Sakura-con. Before I left I checked and I had WON a draw where I only HAD two ticket. Yet I was one of the three winners. I used my winning credit for Doujinshi (means book from struggling artist/circle who puts out high quality full color illustrations or story to sell at Con) full color art book!

Actually it was not the end as we headed from there to the international Village where the Japanese Center was with bookstore and all. Cheryl found a volume she was missing and I found my out of print, thought never to have been printed volume 4 of Le Chevalier d’Eon! So now if you want to get me Volumes 3 and 5 off the wish list (HINT!) you don’t have to worry, I have volume 4 ready! After that, we took the ferry and the drive and rolled back to Cheryl’s. Where we slept and then….did some postcards!

That’s right, I did postcards the night before and that night and the next day while waiting for the ferry as I felt, “Elizabeth, everyone has been so nice and the problem is, what have you GIVEN lately?” I was trying to explain to Linda, “I am a giver!” She said that just surviving and writing about Sakura-con might be gift enough for many. I said I know but I wanted to not go 2 weeks without postcards. Last week I couldn’t due to the medical stuff but this week I made SURE that 16 postcards went out in the mail. Not a lot, but it is a start! And I hope this week I can work during the week and have 40+, but I will do what I can do, I want to give back, you know, use letters and postcards to have like a conversation, Rococo style!


Michelle said...

Such a great account of Sakura-Con. It was like I was actually there too!

You are looking fab-yoo-lous, by the way.

Victor Kellar said...

Thanks for this Beth. Your outfit looks great in all its many forms. Thanks so much for your insight into kyodo, something I have an intereste in but have never really done, most of my time has been involved in the hacking slashing kind of play .. speaking of which, thanks for the insight into D'Eon, that was a new one for me and I have some happy research to do

Looks like you are having a blast, I'm so happy for you. My only experience with any kind of convention (asides from tattoo conventions) was a sci fi con I went to with Tanya Huff back in the eraly 80's where I was asked to leave one hall for giggling at the Vulcans speaking Vulcan and was told by Harlan Ellison that I really had no right reading his stories let alone commenting on them ... but he still signed 6 books so no complaints

Queen Slug said...

I am so jealous, looks like you had a wonderful time. I am noticing the lack of bikini pics, but the bow pics more than make up for it. <3

Kathz said...

Thanks for sharing this - I really enjoyed reading it. The pictures of you with the Kyudo bow were particularly good.

Lene Andersen said...

Virginal and chaste? You?? SNORT!!

Loved this post and Linda is right - gift enough! I learned a lot from it and ws especially fascinated by the archery lesson. And looking all virginal, chaste and delicate (snort!) while pulling that bow? Really worked.

Love the cat ears. So festive!

rachelcreative said...

The blog posts are indeed gifts enough as is hearing your excitement and enthusiasm. Great post and photos. Thanks for letting me share this with you.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Okay, I obviously need even LONGER titles to my posts (this was the cut down one too!).

Michelle: Thanks for commenting and great to see you. I am glad it was a good account of Sakura-Con, I didn't do a lot of the panels as just doing the several hundred sellers in the exhibit hall was enough for me for my four hours a day.

Thanks, Fab was what I was going for - actually on the third day a woman (and her BOYFRIEND) stopped me and said, "I followed you a bit yesterday because you were cute, but now you are really PRETTY!" (how exactly does one respond to that except with "Er? Duh!?") - so she had her Boyfriend take a picture of me. In fact all the people who took pics of me were girls; all the people who just stared at my breasts from across the hall or room were guys.

Victor: Thanks, I was going to wear it with thong but section N of the 'code of conduct' prohibits that. I really have an interest in Kyudo too, so I was very happy to have a real demonstration, and being in a wheelchair I was in the front row!

Yes, D'Eon was QUITE the character and one of the top 10 fencers ever in foil I think, but is often overlooked because no one can answer "how do you end up as a lady in waiting for YEARS and then be a gentleman of the club, and serve in the navy I think?" But a fencing master, to be sure. Used to give demonstrations in the Royal Courts of Europe, in various garb - what do you say to a top notch fencer who can challenge you to a duel who shows up in petticoats? Nothing! Unless you are the King and then it is just, "No duels in Petticoats!" (I am not sure if this was to stop women from taking up fencing and dueling?).

This was very different than a Sci-Fic Con, and Harlen is a jerk, he hates people, I don't understand how he gets enough royalties to live. Sorry he verbally abused you. There was three theatres showing anime on the big screen, including Porco Rosso, as well as series not released over here yet, and then gaming rooms as well. I just didn't have the energy, to get around and give a full account - it was about 60-70% females to guys, but many families. Designed to be a family event, and seeing a 4 or 5 year old run past dressed as a Pokemon is pretty fun.

Queen Slug: It turned out that Bikini's were expressly forbidden under section N of the code of conduct, sadly! However that did not stop a guy from wearing one, a guy who had not shaved ANY of the body hair including chest hair (though he had a bikini top?). Shudder! There was also Hard Gay! Which is a character in Japan, sort of a 'friendly leather daddy' who is in commercials and talk shows and has a few sayings and gives things away at schools. So seeing a guy in short, short PVC shorts and leather cap and tight PVC top surrounded by children was...um...interesting. They obviously view things with a lot less of the cultural baggage - at least in that area.

Kathz: Thanks, I liked the Kyudo and I think it is a Martial art becuase of the focus on the mind set involved, even in competitions the arrows have three ratings which are 'hit the target', 'grazed target' and the top which is translated 'At one and embedded with target' - which is the ideal. To be at one with the target and then to have your arrow be at one with the target.

Lene: You shouldn't laugh so much, it fooled SOME people, or at least some guys who were dropping off daughters into staring with mouth open, doesn't that make me virginal? Did you get a load of that pink and white dress? Not very efficient for wheelchairs and a bit Fu-fu, but I like the complete dedication it presents.

Yeah, I did have nicely shaved pits and then a really strong arm while pulling that bow, I guess all those fist transfers (transfering by walking on my fists) do give me some strength?

Yes, I now own my own cat ears, as does Linda - do you? Is this a Lene thing, to wear cat ears and confuse the care givers?

RachelCreative: Thank you so much for your generosity and these posts are just a way to have a bit of the convention come back to the people who helped me emotionally and in so many ways see the result (hey, I finally WON something, I NEVER win anything!).

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth,

You are a vision in the white bustier & stockings. Love the black lace arm warmers too. And the kitten ears with ribbons & pearls - so cute. But they should have inter-changeable ribbon - white ribbons or white & black would be perfect with your outfit.

I've so enjoyed reading your account of days 1-3 at Sakura-Con. All the pictures of loli-goths & other characters & their outfits are amazing. The black lace parasol is lovely. The full-on, pink & black outfit is beautiful.

The best is envisioning you in your beautiful white bustier, bow in hand, on a white horse galloping towards the target as you fire off an arrow. I think you might have to ride side-saddle in that outfit? At least make sure you have your matching thong on.


cheryl g said...

You say the ribboned cat ears are fu fu but I say they are kawaii. You really do look cute with them!

Sakuracon was sooo much fun and I am glad I got to spend it with you. I loved seeing all the costumes and talking to the various people.

I also loved being able to fill in the wholes in some of my manga series and stock up on pocky!

Yes, let's plan for next year and get Linda to come too. What a great idea!

Neil said...


Ohh, you DO look delicious, Beth dear! But NOT virginal. Sorry.

But to be told that YOU are the best one in the hall suited for the bow... Wow. Just wow.

The cat ears are indeed over the top, and very cute. They're you. This is indeed a lovely gift, sweetie, and I thank you for once again taking us on your trip.

Love and extra hugs for Cheryl and Linda,

FridaWrites said...

Another great outfit! And cool kitty ears. The bow is stunning--we have a good reproduction medieval bow and it's not nearly that tall. Takes 75 lbs force to pull--I can't do it.

yanub said...

Oh, chicky, I am so glad you had a great time. And especially that you found a sport that is better style from a wheelchair than feet. So cool!

I am beat from these past couple of days work and doctory stuff. Gah! But I wanted you to know I am reading.

Raccoon said...

The archery looks fantastic! I think it would be kind of hard for me to hold the bow -- that "lack of thumb" thing going on -- or I would like to try it. A martial art style designed for wheelchairs -- I like it!

Victor, I have it on good authority that that is how Harlan Ellison is towards everybody...

The Lolita sitting on the bench looks absolutely fantastic! Send her down here and I will bring her to Gaskell's, the fancy dress European-style ball that I go to. Seriously, she would fit right in!

mrsmuraki said...

Hey Elizabeth! It's Margaret from LJ lurking over here! ^_^ Just wanted to let you know that the cosplay character with the skull is Suzu from Peacemaker Kurogane:


Elizabeth McClung said...

MrsMuraki: Ahhh, thank you, now I know, I assumed she wasn't just walking around with a skull on her shoulder for no reason, can you identify the two at the end, I keed trying to think everything from Kiddy Grade down but draw a blank - the only think for girl in red is Fooly Cooly?

mrsmuraki said...

Suzu is my favourite character from Peacemaker. (I always love the crazy ones! ^_^) Both the characters at the bottom are from Fooly Cooly. Somebody on eBay is selling some cool Takara dolls of them!


wendryn said...

Wow, the pictures are great! I'm really glad you got to try the bow. I learned Western archery when I was little, so this was really fascinating.

You look very good and I'm really glad you had fun!

JaneB said...

Hey Beth, I've just got back to reading after a week-long visit from my parents (they also brought a virus with them so I was a bit short of resources to keep up my internet stuff as well as the relative entertaining), and what a rollercoaster you've taken whilst I wasn't looking...

Yes, these posts from Sakura-con are DEFINITELY like postcards, each a little gift for the eyes, the mind and the imagination! And the insights into Kyodo are fascinating - I have done Western archery (and got good at the stance quickly because, never mind the cheek guards and wrist/elbow guards, you small-breasted women have it easy! I can see WHY the Amazons were rumoured to cut off their right breasts to help their archery), and would love to take it up again - but horse-mounted archery is JUST up my street, I didn't realise that there was actually a discipline based on that, what a fun idea to add to my wish list...

Victor Kellar said...

Beth and Raccoon: Mr Ellison and I definitely have a love/hate thing going on, I met him years later (of course he didn't remember me) while I was working on a local TV show for which he was being interviewed and he made this big point of telling me how I was the only worthwhile human in the room, besides himself of course .. I think it was because I knew where to get the really good pastrami in Toronto

Baba Yaga said...

Wow. Time well spent! Wonderful stuff.

TJ said...

Wow, what fun! I'm so glad you got to go! How very awesome.

CJF said...

i have a couple of post cards to send you! you have just reminded me!

Kate J said...

Kitty-ears AND archery! This post was definitely for me! That was some bow you were shooting with... hope you get the chance to do some more archery.
Love & peace...

lolita dress said...

I looooove lolita fashion, especially sweet lolita!

Anonymous said...

I'm a straight man but you are awesome! A real inspiration in so many ways and a real cutie! Best wishes to you for the future.