A Con, by Any Other Name…

"Hey, I like your... ears. Lemme take a picture!"

Before this weekend, it had been years since I’d been to a convention that didn’t revolve entirely around sex. Adult entertainment conventions, sex-positivity conventions, adult novelty conventions… Sex, sex, sex. So this weekend I was excited to attend New York ComiCon 2012 to see what people do when they gather in massive numbers to talk about and do things that aren’t explicitly tied to the gratification of genitals. What would it be like? Would it feel just like a porn convention, only dialed down on the implants and up on the costumes? Or would it be totally different?

Now, I’ll own up to the fact that I got drunk between work and the convention on Friday, and that my judgment may have thus been slightly impaired. But given that intoxication is often my mode of being at other conventions, as well, perhaps it’s spot on! Or, perhaps when I’m a little tipsy, I think everything is about sex.

Because let me tell you something: ComiCon is about sex. Even when I went back in on Saturday afternoon, I felt the high-frequency vibe of mating calls going on all around me, though they were sometimes hard to distinguish from beneath the layers of latex, body paint, and papier-mache weaponry. But mating calls there were, in abundance, and in an unmistakable enough tenor that I felt instantly at home. Sure, there were fewer porn stars (although Tera Patrick was in attendance), but the pheromones were floating about at possibly a more furious rate than at, say, Exxxotica. And I say possibly more furious because, while porn conventions are overtly about sex and the sale of sexual materials, the sex being sold at them is very one-sided: only the autographing stars and their ilk get to be sexy. The fans get to ogle and sometimes to touch, but they aren’t there to flirt in any meaningful way. Few, and sad, are the fans who come to a porn convention and think that they might meet someone to take home.

But many, and hopefully very lucky, are the fans who go to a comic convention with the hopes of meeting a fellow fan

"Hey, nice... uh... wig!"

with whom they connect. At ComiCon, Wolverine and Rogue might finally get to bang after the Con ends. At porn conventions, nobody gets to go home with Jenna Haze, except her bodyguard. And though more and more porn conventions cater to female fans, by and large the con-goers at AEE every year are straight men who probably won’t end up hooking up after the show ends. ComiCon attendees, however? Let’s just say the bar I went to Saturday night was almost completely filled with superheroes, and some of them were definitely going to go have super-sex when they left.

So I guess what I’m saying is that ComiCon was a lot less one-sided on the who-gets-to-be-sexy scale. And it was great to see, actually. Comic conventions are places where the bigger a nerd you are, the hotter you get to be. If you make a life-sized Alien costume out of electrical tape and plastic bottles (yes I saw one), you aren’t weird: you’re fucking RAD, and that is fucking RAD. I don’t mean this as a jab against fans of anything, but the fact is that a lot of the male attendees at ComiCon looked a lot like the male attendees at porn conventions: a little awkward, a little “uncool,” a little “might have difficulty meeting women.” But ComiCon is THE place to meet women for guys like that–women who enjoy awkward. As opposed to porn stars who tend to abhor men like that, but will play nice to sell an autographed DVD or charge for a photograph. And I love it that at ComiCon, every body type and shape and color and level of ability seemed to get absolutely equal respect and love and attention. I mean EVERY type of person was able to get equally geeky, and that was beautiful to see. (Just FYI, I was unable to geek out as much as I’d have liked, mostly due to not knowing where most of my good costume stuff is since I just moved. Next year…)

"Can you make sure Batman stays out of this photo? Thanks."

But speaking of photographs, I came away with one sense in which porn conventions may be… hm… I’m not sure what the word is… well, porn conventions are surely more up-front about some convention behavior. Namely, the “Hey, you’re hot, let me take your picture” behavior common to both convention types. Just as scantily clad women at porn conventions get quickly surrounded by large-camera toting men and asked to pose for dozens of flashes, so do women in skin-tight costumes at comics conventions. And that’s all well and good–attention is sought, given, and received, and photographic evidence is taken home for people to jerk off to in private. But that’s where the difference occurs: while ostensibly every woman who gets photographed by dozens of grinning dudes with massive zoom lenses knows that these men are attracted to her, I wonder if the women at comic conventions bother to take that attraction, and the photograph they’re posing for, to its logical conclusion. And if they did, if they’d be ok with that. Whereas at a porn convention, nobody makes any attempt to cover up their masturbatory intentions, at ComiCon you might hear someone say, “Wow, what a great slutty-Link outfit! Can I take your picture!” My darlings, the person with the camera may indeed be a Zelda fan, and your Link outfit may be a genius feminized take on the gaming legend, but chances are that said photographer isn’t really looking at your outfit. And hey, that’s fine by me! Just thought I’d mention it in case anyone was unclear about what that photo would be doing in a few hours’ time. For reference, see the photos peppered throughout this post–all were gleaned from a Google Image search of New York ComiCon 2012, and all will be spanked to by somebody. And that’s rad. Just thought… you know. Full disclosure.

"What a beatuifully crafted.... um... Hey, hold that pose!"

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