Follow-Up on Article about Anime Matsuri

Earlier, I made a blog post about the convention, Anime Matsuri, discussing it’s rather rough history, involving fraud, possible embezzlement, and sexual harassment. I hadn’t done a follow-up, and with so many things taking place, I felt it was appropriate to do so.

As of today, all legal actions being pursued by the convention have been dropped, including their rather idiotic pursuit against Scarfing Scarves. You can see the official statement from John Leigh here.

Since the Boycott Anime Matsuri movement is in full swing and continuing to get more stories and information out there, a lot has happened with the convention losing some pretty key guests. VOLKS, the voice actors from Overwatch, and even Cosplay Deviants have all decided to respectfully decline their presence at the convention. It’ll be interesting to see who else drops attendance as word continues to spread.

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DIY Antler Tutorial

This tutorial was created by Chaos Costumes and teaches you how to make your own antler headpiece for your costumes! 😀 It’s fairly simple and easy to follow!

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DIY Antler Tutorial by Chaos Costumes

Feel free to download if it’s hard to read, as it will be full-size with no problems! Hope this helps! 😀

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Escape Velocity 2018 Costume Competition

The Museum of Science Fiction in Washington D.C. was kind enough to forward on to me a press release of their costume competition being held at their convention called Escape Velocity. It’s being held at the Marriott Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor, Maryland on May 25-27, 2018.

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Escape Velocity 2018, May 25-27, hosted by the Museum of Science Fiction

So why send me a press release? Here’s some quotes on this contest.

“As a celebration of the importance of fashion and costume design to creating rich worlds and expanding our imaginations, the Museum of Science Fiction is holding a costume competition and fashion show. This competition is open to all students, designers, costumers/cosplayers, and artists. People from the United States or abroad may participate.”

“The competition will showcase the best costume designs, hairstyles, make-up, and other accessories in this colorful role-playing program. The event is intended for participants to Inspire! Elevate! and Innovate!”

“The competition will notify finalists who will be invited to present their design implementations at Escape Velocity 2018. When the entry is presented at Escape Velocity 2018, finalists do not need to wear their work (if a model is used, models are not eligible to receive award consideration). Prizes will only be awarded to the finalists. All finalists will receive two Weekend Passes to Escape Velocity 2018.

The competition registration and submission period will be open from September 4, 2017 to April 15, 2018. Finalists will be notified on or about April 30, 2018. Finalist judging will be on Friday, May 25, 2018 at Escape Velocity with the award ceremony on Saturday evening, May 26, 2018.”

There’s 3 categories to enter: Original Contest, Redesign/Interpretation, and Young Adult/High School. It’s free to enter and the prizes?

“All winners will receive a $500 prize and a VIP pass to Escape Velocity 2019 next year.” There’s also a possibility of your design being on display for up to 12 months.

One of the judges is Deborah Landis, PhD, David C. Copley Chair and the Director of the David C. Copley Center of Costume Design at UCLA, School of Theater, Film and Television. Landis was costume designer on such films as Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Three Amigos (to name a few).

So, if this strikes your fancy, once again, you can get competition information and rules here and info on Escape Velocity here.

Good luck to those who participate! 😀

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WigisFashion.com Review

Lately, WigisFahsion.com has been my go to place for ordering cosplay wigs. I’ve yet to try any of their lace front wigs (or lace front in general, honestly), but the two wigs I do have from their site have been ones that I absolutely love.

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Yunie as Zatanna from New 52’s Justice League Dark, photo by Ken Cron

My first wig I ever ordered from them is my Zatanna wig. It’s about mid-back length, decently thick, and honestly looks like real hair. It’s soft and can be cleaned very easily, as well as easily brushed out. I shortened the length of the bangs for myself with some easy styling, and was happily surprised at how adjustable the wig is. The order with shipping was about $40 altogether, which is definitely affordable and I felt it was absolutely worth it.

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Yunie as Dark Phoenix from X-Men, photo by Ken Cron

The second wig I ordered was my current one for my Phoenix and Poison Ivy costumes. It’s exceptionally curly, more so than I thought it’d be from the pictures, and is a very flattering dark red. It’s about waist-length on me and while easy to clean, brushing it out afterwards was not. However, it kept its original styling very well, so I didn’t have to go crazy with pin curling to keep the look of it. The major downfall is the adjustable band is messed up and the slits were sewn shut, so I had to mess around with that to get it to sit comfortably on my head. This wig was also about $40 with shipping included and has stood up quite well with my abusive nature on wigs.

So, all in all, if you’re looking for decently priced costume wigs, I definitely recommend WigisFashion.com as a place to buy from. I’m definitely planning on adding to my wigs some more from their site with various projects I have planned! ❤

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Pennywise from 2017’s It Make-Up Tutorial

This tutorial was created by Ellimacs SFX Makeup, and is relatively easy to follow to get the creepy, clown look for Pennywise!

Hope this helps! 😀

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Anime Matsuri: Trouble in Texas

If you’re following anything about this Texas-based convention and/or the Lolita community, I’m sure you’ve heard most of the stories… Allegations of embezzlement, sexual harassment, overall harassment, and the list goes on. Well, here’s everything I dug up on Anime Matsuri, and we’ll let you decide if this convention is really worth your time and money to attend.

Founded in 2007 by John and Deneice Leigh, Anime Matsuri quickly found success in the Texas anime and Lolita community. The Leighs were named Kawaii Ambassadors for the Japanese Lolita Association for all their involvement in said community. Everything went well and the convention seemed to be on a great path.

In 2012, the first hint of issues came to light. At Delta H Con, a small Texas convention, approximately 200 people showed up to the convention expecting to get in for free. They had been told by the Anime Matsuri founders from The Lady Spade concert that they could get in for free by showing tickets which was not agreed upon by Delta H Con. The smaller convention took a sizeable unexpected loss.

Another troubling story also came out of 2012 from a man named Mike Udompongsuk. He had known the Leighs for quite some time, initially joining their arcade, Planet Zero, which ended up closing due to financial issues. Hoping to help back the idea of a Texas convention with the Leighs, he lent money to Anime Matsuri in 2007 for the event center, but never saw reimbursement. The event center didn’t either, but did claim it was finally paid off in 2013. Mike meanwhile lent more money in 2008 for a car specifically for Anime Matsuri, and once more never saw reimbursement. Still backing his friends, he lent more in 2009, for Miyavi to attend the convention, and even the music company got burned. Finally, in 2012, Mike Udompongsuk left the convention, and it’s still unknown if he ever was finally paid back for everything he helped to financially cover. Other vendors were also not paid, went to court with the convention, and ended up settling outside of it.

John Leigh from Anime Matsuri

In 2013, the World Cosplay Summit was held at Anime Matsuri. While an amazing show, there were allegations of missed payments and prizes, which caused the WCS to look elsewhere for a convention to hold it. Everything has been settled, once again, before any legal action occurred.

Anime Matsuri 2014 also had its issues that came to light. Free Press Houston reported “that abrupt panel cancellations and excessive queues were very common at the convention. Matsuri volunteers complained of cursory and inadequate training, a lack of translators for the Japanese guests, and frequent disruptions to schedules. One volunteer whose job was to chaperone a celebrity guest said her supervisor, whom she had never seen before, had not even checked her identification to see if she actually was who she said she was before allowing her access.” Matt Mercer was unexpectedly made to emcee events and not paid. Caitlin Glass also refused to return after poor guest treatment, along with others.

Screencap of more information sent in to Anime Jam Sessiom

Then there was 2015, which was the cherry on top of this messy cake. Sexual harassment allegations and overall mistreatment of the Lolita community came to light on a massive scale, hitting the news outlets.

Chokelate (real name Nina Reijnders), a German fashion model and maker of wigs popular with the Japanese Lolita community, shared that after John invited Chokelate to Matsuri, he asked for naked pictures. She shared the screen caps openly, and others started sharing their own stories. Another Lolita based in Houston also posted screen caps of unwanted sexual conversations with John in which he pressed her to tell him when she last had an orgasm. In that same post, she claims that while she was at an event with him, he tried to lift up her clothes without permission. When the Houston Press contacted John on this, he sent a statement saying he was “extremely sorry that my attempts at humor have offended some people” and that he had completed a $40 online course on sexual harassment from AJ Novick Group.

But wait, there’s more!

John responds to all of this “As a disclaimer I would like to point out that I joke a lot with my friends or people I consider close. If you are offended by sexual innuendos, dirty talks or comments about boobs and orgasms, you should not be my friend. Online or offline. This means no disrespect and I would suggest not engaging in conversation with me. I act this way with my friends regardless of gender, and as my friend, you should make it perfectly clear that you are uncomfortable with my conversation. I would respect you enough to stop joking.” Anonymous Lolita “N” comes forward about photo turned video shoot where John asked her to simulate oral sex on another male, followed by anonymous staffer “R” coming forward about being ignored until in Lolita, then receiving unwanted attention.

One of many inappropriate conversations…

So with the sexual harassment allegations hitting the light, more stories start coming out of the Lolita community of just plain harassment. The best example is Stephanie, also known as Buttcape, and everything she endured. She quickly found herself on the receiving end of John Leigh’s wrath. Stephanie had broken ties with Matsuri after she attended the con as part of the Houston Lolita Community, recruited by Matsuri to help with Lolita tea parties, fashion shows and other programming. The lack of translators, late show times and poor planning, as well as John’s alleged attempts to use the HLC as his personal advertising forum, soured Buttcape on Matsuri and she resigned as a moderator from the HLC Facebook group. When Matsuri 2015 rolled around she decided to try her own hand at organizing an event. Knowing that Matsuri had no activities planned on the Thursday before the convention, she put together Nightfall, a small reception and fashion show at the Crystal Ballroom near the George R. Brown. It was scheduled specifically for the evening so that there would be no overlap with Matsuri programming. According to a long blog by Stephanie, John quickly scheduled a pre-con party at the same time.

At the same time, indie Lolita designer Annika from Pop Princess, along with Elegy Clothing, purchased an Artist Alley table for 2015’s Anime Matsuri. After reading the Artist Alley rules carefully, it appeared that she would be allowed to sell her handmade garments with no restrictions. Being cautious, she emailed to verify that her understanding was correct. After the first terse and unprofessional reply, Deneice and John decided to change the rules after her table purchase to ban indie designers from selling anything larger than accessories to minimize the competition to the Japanese brands in the Dealer’s Room. Annika’s request for a refund was denied until she threatened to go through Paypal for breach of contract. The new rules were never officially announced and many indie designers were unaware of the change until the refund date has passed and it was too late to change travel plans, causing massive headaches and lost revenue.

Shortly after the accusations of sexual harassment involving John started appearing online, he and Deneice flew to Hawaii, where they are hoping to expand Matsuri by holding a convention there. They eventually did, but there’s not been another one since. Previously they’ve also sponsored Lolita events in Germany, looking to bring the Matsuri experience to Europe. At a meet-and-greet in Hawaii, Matsuri waved away the harassment allegations and prominent figures on the anime circuit such as Glass and the Japanese fashion model Minori cut ties with Matsuri and refuse to work with the convention.

In June of 2015, a petition in the Lolita community was made to strip the Leighs of being Ambassadors in multiple languages and detailing the stories already reported. Deneice Leigh remains in her position as a general manager and honorary Kawaii ambassador (America) with the JLA. While she remains in that position, it is unlikely that John Leigh’s power within the JLA, nor his involvement with it, will at all be diminished, even though he stepped down from it. In May 2016, Anime Matsuri announced that the former CEO of Anime Expo, Marc Perez, would join the convention as COO after all the major allegations.

Things seemed to quiet down, with little blips of more stories here and there, up until recently. A Youtuber, and part of the Lolita community, Scarfing Scarves, came out and brought everything to the light once more. Several companies were joining Anime Matsuri for sponsorships and she stated how that seemed like a bad idea given the convention’s history. They attempted to blast her off of Youtube claiming copyright infringement, which was proven false and her videos were returned. Then, on January 4, 2018, Scarfing Scarves was sent a cease and desist over everything, claiming copyright misuse, slander, and demanding a public apology. The community has come together to help her fight back, so we’re all still waiting to see what happens in the future and really hoping for her to update us with a win.

Cease and Desist letter sent to Scarfing Scarves

It all boils down to the fact this convention has a history, both good and bad, and that while it is one of the bigger US conventions, is it worth your money? If it is, that’s your choice… But personally, I’ll look at other prospects without such a dark cloud over them. As for those asking if this is all made up, see for yourself: Houston Press stories are here and here, EGL Livejournal Community is here, Boycott Anime Matsuri is here, Anime Matsuri Expose is here, and finally, the Tale of Buttcape is here.

Sidenote: This was originally published on Anime Jam Session, and brought over here as well.

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Hooded Cloak Sewing Tutorial

This tutorial was created by OnlineFabricStore.net and is a fairly easy tutorial to follow! This cloak creation would be perfect for Raven from Teen Titans! 😀

Hope this helps! 😀

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