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There were a few smaller conference rooms, staffed by bored-looking girls with laptops in front of them, where yaoi anime episodes ran around the clock. I took in a few. One was called The Basketball Which Kuroko Plays. After about 15 minutes of tone-deaf dialogue and basketball sequences, I started getting antsy: When are these pert teenage boys going to start fucking each other? The sex never came. Later, I learned that due to Japan's increasingly strict censorship laws, down-and-dirty yaoi porn has become harder to find. "Most sex scenes never show that much," Weston said.
Then again, I also attended a panel called "Futanari, Shemale, and Traps! Oh My," which was nothing but some dude showing off his online collection of manga drawings of hermaphroditic Asian women. They all had massive, throbbing cocks. Here, I learned that a trap is when manga artists draw a feminine-looking character who turns out to have a penis, which is sometimes not obvious at first glance. Gotcha! "Geez, even if you shoot so much inside, it's not like I'll get pregnant," went a particularly memorable quote bubble.
"Hand check!" the moderator barked. Everybody raised their hands. I squinted.
"You, in the back, you didn't raise your hands," the moderator said, and threw a lollipop at me. I tried to catch it, but it was too high. Everybody laughed and looked back at me. Then I realized — duh — that the hand check was a joke about verifying that nobody in the room was masturbating.
There is, mercifully, also a bar attached to the Ramada Inn. It is called Andrew's Alley, and as the night wore on, I opened a tab in there and sneaked in for beers every 45 minutes or so. At the bar, I met Mark, a middle-aged veteran who works at a Game Stop in Overland Park. He used to run the anime club at Johnson County Community College and is now getting a degree at DeVry. He helpfully explained and contextualized many of the confusing sights I had witnessed during my time at Ahn!Con. He said he was straight — I believe him, though it's not easy to build a case for your own heterosexuality when you've shelled out $35 to attend a convention celebrating cartoon teenagers engaging in male-on-male sex.
"I just try to support anything anime-related," Mark told me. "The more anime out there, the better."
A young woman with neon-blue hair and black-and-white checkered paint across her mouth sidled up and ordered a water.
"You're not here for the convention, are you?" she asked.
I flashed the badge dangling around my neck. "Am so."
"Huh," she said. "You look like a total normie."
"You do," Mark agreed. He had changed out of his Vocaloid costume and into his Saturday-night outfit: black button-up shirt, slicked hair, lots of shiny rings on his fingers. "You look like an ordinary man doing business, chasing the American dream."
"I suppose there's some truth to that," I said.