Out of all the conventions we have visited, nothing prepared us for a new addition to an adult lifestyle convention: Cosplay.
For the first time ever, Sexpo hosted their own cosplay event, hosted by Lucie Bee and Jimmy (aka the winning geek from the 2011 season of reality show, Beauty & The Geek). Presented in four heats over three days with the grand final held on Sunday the crowds grew in size with each show as people in the main hall gathered to see what all this talk of ‘cosplay’ was about.
It certainly wasn’t the usual crowd you see at more geek culture focused conventions like OZCC and Supanova, there were a lot of well dressed middle aged couples looking to spice up their weekend, curious Asian tourists, cashed up upper middle class bogans, tradies wearing their cleanest ‘Tap Out’ singlets and a conspicuous lack of teenagers or children.
That was probably for the best, seeing as every one of the five shows started out with a very adult bang! Lucie Bee leapt out on stage in various skimpy costumes and wowed the crowd with a very hot routine that starts off burlesque and then goes all the way, as long as the audience cheered loud enough.
I don’t recall seeing one show end early though, everyone who watched was spellbound by the performance which usually involved her dance partner who cosplayed either a Jedi knight or Batman with gusto. As fun as he was to watch he could only be a foil to Lucie’s crazed antics, whipping the crowd into a frenzy by the time her entire costume is flung onto the stage floor.
The heady pace of the show never let up with a loud and confident supergeek Jimmy rushing out on stage to usher in the cosplay competition proper, it would only be moments later before Lucie is back on stage (with her costume put back on in record time) to co-host the next part of the show.
One by one, cosplayers would be trotted out to pose and answer a few questions. Much like the routine at a more family friendly convention, where it differs is in the questions asked, for example ‘what makes your costume so sexy?’ , ‘Whats your favourite pick-up line?’ among a few of the more cheeky queries. There were no awkward moments though as the obviously prepared entrants played along and kept the audience laughing with their spirited replies.
The other big divergence from the competitions we’re used to, even the smaller ones we help run like Popcon have a judging panel made up of well known propmakers or cosplayers. At Sexpo, it fell to the crowd and to a certain extent Lucie Bee to decide who took home the crown. Each contestant would step up and the gathered fans would cheer, after everyone had their turn the hosts would decide which cosplayer had been the most popular and hand them $500 in cold hard cash.
Now while a fantastic idea in theory and a bold move by the organisers, in practice this meant that a lot of the entrants and fans walked away confused about whether the winner had been chosen as fairly as possible. I heard many conversations about whether their favourite had got a louder cheer or not and there seemed to be a lot of potential for disgruntled cosplayers with one or two swearing that no, THEY had the loudest cheers.
Another was upset that the method of judging had changed since the Friday heats where apparently it had been more of a traditional method, even Lucie Bee herself admitted it was a work in progress and there are always going to be teething problems.
We hope that the next comp moves to a slightly more proven method of judging, or even a hybrid like the final where the two who got arguably the loudest response from the crowd were stood aside. Lucie Bee and Jimmy then conferred and returned to the front of the stage with the big winner announcement…Vandolly!!
It was quite a shock for some of the more seasoned cosplay fans in the crowd and showed how much emphasis Sexpo places on the ‘play’ part of ‘cosplay’ as she shimmied, sashayed and showed off all the attributes that they are looking for in a winner. Still no-one was more shocked than she was at getting the giant cheque on the final day.
We talked to her recently about her big day in the spotlight…..
How much confidence did you have going into the cosplay comp?
Well said Vandolly, we can’t agree more!
Anyway it wasn’t all just cosplay and well choreographed stripteases, in fact once you left the show hall and moved into the main pavilion which housed all the stalls you would be hardpressed to spot any cosplayers at all. You might find a few hovering around Lucie Bee’s hangout corner though, it was set up with a PS4 hooked up to a flatscreen, some surprisingly comfortable cushions, a bunch of tempting merchandise including showbags, prints, a sex toy modelled on her vagina and occasionally a quick game of Dungeons and Dragons played out right there on the floor!
A couple may wander into the cafe area, or you might even think you spot a few charging varying amounts for photos with them. Those lovely ladies aren’t cosplayers though, you will find they are actually pornstars in town to meet fans and pose for pics and sign prints. Given how much some celebrities charge for the same at conventions we were pleasantly surprised by the low rates they asked for. Some even posed with fans for free at a section roped off with that just in mind. It was sponsored by Sexpo itself and some really big names meant that at times the queue was so long that navigating that entire area was quickly given up on.
Split into two halls, with one concentrating on stalls and the other containing the main stage, a few dozen more stalls and a giant penis that you could literally climb inside and be taken for a ‘ride’ in. The queue for that was far too long to consider seriously but ride goers seemed happy enough when they climbed out of the thing. The first hall also had a small seminar theatre which ran different talks, we caught one which appeared to be largely commercial in function, a doctor discussing the benefits of using her clinic for minor cosmetic procedures.
There had been lots of others though including on giving advice on the world of internet dating and a couple of panels discussing everything from sex holidays to swinging.
There was also a laptorium with some pretty aggressive hard working girls outside doing their best to convince you that your life would be infinitely better with just one more lapdance in it. While tempting (and we saw couples lining up at the nearby ATM to get the cash for one) we decided to stay ‘professional’ for the duration.
The male strip dance revue shows, pole dancing classes and bondage theatre also tempted many a passing punter but we stuck to window shopping from the many stalls, from sex toy show bags to garden gnomes engaged in coitus to VR headsets to artists drawing erotic portraits of you for a modest fee to artists painting even larger portraits using their own penis as a brush. Sexpo really had it all!
There will be three more this year in different cities around the country with the next one heading down to Melbourne. Vandolly, the winner of this events first cosplay competition will help MC with Lucie Bee and we’re sure anyone who makes the trip will not be disappointed.
For those who like a little bit of geek culture mixed in with a largely adult themed experience then we can’t recommend this enough. We hope that over time more and more cosplayers realise this IS a valid space for them and how high the rewards are (hell, even just entering the comp gives you FREE entry which given the ticket prices is a huge coup) and the numbers and quality of the cosplay gets better and better.
We will be at the next Sydney event, if we can swing it we may even fly down to Melbourne to see how the southerners do it! We really hope to see more of you guys out there too, preferably in most daring outrageous costume you have!