The second Daku Con took place in Denver. The 18+ event promised to be everything the family-friendly conventions aren’t. Did it follow through? Yeah, it did.
Over the last couple of years, geek conventions in Colorado took a Disneyesque turn. Sexy cosplays have made celebrities out of otherwise unassuming nerds, leading convention organizers to grapple with safety issues among guests.
With misbehaving incels ruining it for the rest of us, organizers clamped down on risqué costumes rather than eject assholes from the venue. Showing too much thigh? Get turned away at the door. Rocking too much cleavage, even if the cosplay called for it? Bye bye. Even topless dudes (think He-Man or Ace from One Piece) are banned at these family-friendly events, taking nipple censorship to an extreme that would offend Mark Zuckerberg.
It didn’t always used to be this way. Originally, geek conventions were designed for adults – not kids – but today, these events have become massive money makers. Denver Comic Con (now Denver Pop Culture Con), generates a cool $10 million, as it attracts teenagers, kids, and parents from all over the country. But as any first-year business student can tell you, scarcity creates need. And needs create niches to be filled.
Enter Daku Con, a convention for adults, and only adults. The kids will be alright elsewhere.
What’d I Get Myself In To?
This year marked Daku Con’s second outing at the Radisson Hotel in Aurora. The event is like a cross between an anime convention such as Nan Desu Kan and a fetish convention like Kinky Con, though it leans much closer to the nerdy side and less on the dark side, if you will.
Daku Con didn’t provide designated private rooms for group play sessions like one might find at a fetish convention. (Get a room for that, but hey, that’s why Daku Con is held in a hotel, right?) There were, however, plenty of pervy panels introducing folks to submissive aspects behind petplay, or how to dive into the BDSM lifestyle on a budget.
As for the cosplay, many get-ups were geared toward a mature crowd. But not every cosplay came in an R-rated version. Cosplayers roamed about in all sorts of flavors, from scandalous, leathery takes on popular characters to more accurate representations of head-to-toe-covering fare.
If one cosplay dominated this year’s Daku Con, it was, hands-down, Bowsette. If you don’t know what a Bowsette is, she’s basically a weeby wet-dream version of the old Mario villain, gender-bent to a faptastic degree. Other variations on the Bowsette theme included Boosette (from Mario’s ghostly Boo character) and Chompette – including this vinyl interpretation, Chompy, by local cosplayer Filthy Warumono.
Reining the Wild
The first panel I attended was hosted by Mythica von Griffyn of the Netflix bodypainting reality show Skin Wars. She was accompanied on stage by a practically nude model rocking beach-blonde pigtails. So, yeah, this definitely wasn’t Comic Con. As I was reminded when a staff member confronted me while I hid around a corner to charge my phone in one of the convention’s only available outlets. I’m assuming he thought I was secretly beating off to Pigtail Peggy, which is totally fair. I’m thankful the staff kept vigilant for that kind of malarkey.
After browsing through vendor booths selling pornographic furry art and tentacle-laden hentai, I ended up in the lower-back end of the hotel, at the Yokubou Lounge. Here, maids (composed mostly of women, but there were a few dapper fellas, too) hosted a series of improv games which included prizes like candy, comics, and sex toys. At one point, the maids held a tug-of-war contest where players yanked on both ends of a double-ended dildo. Dry, of course.
Mizuki Bingham, a.k.a. Mizuki Million, a local cosplayer, is part of the Yokubou Lounge team. Like most of the maids, she half-attended to work the lounge, half to enjoy the convention during her down time. When I asked what stood out about Daku Con, she said, “It’s a lot more mature, a lot more adult-oriented. We can wear underwear or bras out or even just pasties, so long as the bits are covered.”
Regarding her comfort levels at Daku Con compared to other local conventions, Bingham said, “It’s equivalent to a lot of other conventions. Everyone’s been so nice and friendly here, I haven’t felt threatened or anything like that at all.”
Later in the day, in a room down the hall from the Yokubou Lounge, a “Yummy Yaoi Yummy Yuri” event staged a separate series of improv games. A shirtless Deadpool led Team Yaoi, while the opposing Team Yuri literally had their tits out. Like, three healthy pairs of breasts, the entire time I was there. I’m not certain how those nips slipped by, but staff, moderators, and a judge seemed fine with it. Probably because we were in a room away from the meandering eyes of the normie hotel guests in the lobby.
A second improv segment involved human pole dancing, with one member from each team stripped down to his or her birthday suit as the other team members used them as, well, a human strip pole.
I had to congratulate the member of Team Yaoi who managed to visibly contain his, erm, excitement despite the rotation of twerks that bumped up against him. Maybe being in a room full of spectators helped there.
By the end of Saturday, I heard more anal sex jokes than I’ve ever caught from Sarah Silverman or Whitney Cummings – combined. Things got raunchy during some of the games, but no one ever crossed the line. Attendees respected the difference between naughty and nice, and everyone understood that if we wanted another Daku Con next year, we had to observe the nice part with conviction. After all, the weekend’s cosplay contest winner was Venus in Consentacle, a plushy, loveable octopoid creature that, presumably, receives enthusiastic consent before plumbing into a protagonist’s orifices.
After nightfall, I got myself a drink at the lobby’s bar. There, I met Candace Saults, a stuntwoman who attended to model some chainmail for a friend, but now she was knocking back shots along with the rest of us.
“I love that this is an older crowd,” Saults said. “Honestly, the only thing I’d like to see different is more people.” She did note this was Daku Con’s second year, and newer cons take time to grow.
Daku Con wasn’t all potty humor and phallic references, either. Yummy Yaoi Yummy Yuri’s toplessness was the exception. Pretty much everyone else kept their clothes on (in the convention area anyway; I can’t say the same for the hotel rooms above). The registration table even had free gender-identifying buttons available, for the non-binary and gender non-conforming folks who didn’t want to police pronouns all night.
A good half of the events were the types of tame affairs you’d find at any other con, like Harry Potter trivia, a How to Create a D&D Character workshop, or the movie room that featured fan-favorite titles for old-farts such as myself, flicks like “Space Balls” and “Robinhood: Men in Tights.”
Though, to be fair, the movie room played (censored) hentai films after midnight, but my friends and I were heading home by then.
While on the elevator to leave, a group of hotel guests – unsuspecting guests who weren’t part of the convention – stepped in, wide-eyed and giggling at the colorful chaos writhing in the main lobby.
“Did you know there was going to be a convention here this weekend?” I asked.
“No,” one of them said, grinning.
“Did the hotel tell you before you booked? Any of you?” I asked.
“Nope,” said another tourist.
“Has it bothered you or gotten in your way?”
“Not at all!” she replied. “It’s fine. It’s kinda fun, actually.”
[All photos by Randy Robinson, copyright Premium Source Inc.]