Spain and China show up late and get glomped by Italy and Japan. Italy cuddles on Germany's lap. France gets down on bended knee and proposes marriage to England.

Slowly, the non-Hetalia fans file out of the room.

After the panel, some of the Hetalia enthusiasts sit on the floor in the main hallway and play spin the bottle with a toy gun. They crawl across the circle to kiss each other on the cheek or, more daringly, the mouth.

Jessica Chelmecki, 18, traveled from Chicago to show off her Soul Eater costume.
Jessica Chelmecki, 18, traveled from Chicago to show off her Soul Eater costume.
St. Louisans Kayla Georgiafandis, 25, and Catherine Kruta, 23.
St. Louisans Kayla Georgiafandis, 25, and Catherine Kruta, 23.

Amelie Belcher, an artist from Austin, Texas, instructs her panel in the fine art of drawing yaoi manga. "I love anatomy so much," she says. "Especially the muscles. Guys will look at a picture of a girl and go, 'Oh my god, that's hot.' But they're less likely to spend money unless it's really sick. Girls are more likely to buy it because it's harder to find yaoi. So the market is much better for my male work."

Abraham tells her panel the story of how she started up Yaoi Press in Las Vegas five years ago and how she now publishes 45 titles, which have been translated into four different languages. She gets the best response, though, when she attempts to make a penis shadow puppet on the wall and recites this ditty: "Semes come from Mars/Ukes come from Venus/Anal sex is easier/With a self-lubricating penis." (Translation: semes are the dominant lovers and ukes are the submissive. The rest is self-explanatory.)

Things are quieter in the manga library where Sarah Hayes and a fellow volunteer named Anna watch newcomers check in. The registration desk is staffed by Sarah's mother, Julie, cos-playing as Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter books. (Julie read a few Harry Potter fan-fictions at Friday night's Yaoi Bedtime Stories and Sleepover that made her daughter blush.)

"I saw Pleasure Dome — I have it back here, on the eighteen-plus shelf — as a staff pick at Borders," Anna volunteers.

"It was a staff pick?" Sarah asks incredulously. Pleasure Dome is a hardcore anthology of manga shorts that includes, among many other things, rape, father-son incest and graphic depictions of the Kama Sutra. But that's not why Anna and Sarah are so surprised.

"There aren't a lot of people obsessed with anime," Anna says. "In high school there were a lot of people, but I had nobody to hang out with. I've been called a freak, a loser. It doesn't bother me, but football fans paint their faces and scream, too, and nobody calls them losers. Everybody likes football. We're left out in the dust."

"We're one of the last groups you're able to bully," Sarah agrees.

The conversation gradually segues to Sarah's latest passion: Obama White House slash. "When I found out about [chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel, how he sends dead fish to people he hates and cheesecake to people he likes, I totally fell in love," she gushes. "I've been writing lots of fan fic with a vampire Rahm. A popular pairing is Rahm/Obama, but there's also Rahm/[press secretary] Robert Gibbs and Rahm/Joe Biden. That takes place on a train, because Biden likes trains."

"Wait till Obama hears about this," Anna says.

"Rahm has a lot of really ugly ties," Sarah continues. "I was going to send him a gift box of nicer ties. But there's a fine line between appreciation and being creepy."


The atmosphere at Bishie Con resembles a teenage sleepover at 3 a.m. On Friday night, a group gathers in the third-floor hallway, next to the elevator, and serenades everyone who walks by with a rendition of "Happy Birthday" in full harmony.

"We're bored," they explain.

In the elevator, Mary, the one whose mother endured less than a minute of yaoi, giggles happily. "This is the best con I've ever been to!" She pauses and considers. "Well, maybe the second best. Tokyo in Tulsa was pretty awesome."

The seminal event of Bishie Con is not the "Happy Birthday" singers — or even the raucous game of Yaoi Checkers, where players leapfrog over their opponents and getting "kinged" means getting handcuffed to a partner.

Nor is it the late-night Yaoi Hentaipalooza where Yamila Abraham explains the significance of the corncob in yaoi lore. (It was used to rape the uke character in a particularly graphic manga called My Sexual Harassment.)

It's not even Friday night's Wonderland Host Party, where everyone samples instant coffee and pretends to be characters in the manga and anime series Ouran High School Host Club. Mikhail Lynn presides as the Queen of Hearts, resplendent in one of the con's best costumes: a white frock coat with an enormous collar over a red silk shirt with matching cravat and tulle petticoat.

No, the main event is Saturday night's drag show, where the Lynns unveil their next project, mysteriously referred to throughout the weekend as "The Cosmic Egg Roll."

The lights, already dim, grow dimmer. The Columbia Pictures logo appears on the screen. And then, a familiar beat: The Ghostbusters theme song.

Ghostbusters, it turns out, has great yaoi potential, at least when edited by Mikhail and Katrina. The Ghostbusters exchange lots of soulful glances. Ernie Hudson tells Harold Ramis, "That's an awfully big Twinkie" three times. (In the original movie, he only says it once.)

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