Anime Matsuri 2015
- Before submitting my application to be in the 2015 Jfashion show, I had zero contact with Anime Matsuri or the Leighs. After several months had passed and I started seeing photos around Facebook from various rehearsals, I figured I simply didn't make the cut and I had already moved on to making other plans for that part of my summer. About four weeks before Matsuri, I got a message from a friend in the show telling me to add Deneice on Facebook so that she could put me to a private group for the models and staff that would be working on the Metamorphose portion of the show.
- I was super confused and checked my email/spam box for some sort of indication that I'd gotten in to the show and just missed it, but there was nothing there. When I sent Deneice a private message and asked her for more details about things like when rehearsals would be and what I needed to bring, she told me that she would ask John to resend my acceptance email and that all of my questions would either be answered with that or at the first rehearsal on the Thursday before the con (which was way too late for me to hash out some of the things I worried about, like buying new shoes if I needed to).
- Two weeks pass and I received nothing, during which time I was scrambling to rearrange my work and vacation schedule (plus attempting to coordinate with other models who apparently knew about as much as I did). At one point I was directed to an organizer who told me that I should just bring several backup shoes just in case, because they didn't have the outfit choices from Meta yet and there was no way of knowing what would be appropriate. Those outfit selections never arrived, and I ended up way overpacking (which was a pain to deal with all weekend because I was sharing a small room with three people).
- When I messaged Deneice again (about two weeks before the con), she simply said that John had been busy and that all important info would be posted in the group...it wasn't, and I would later find out that what little was posted there was incorrect. With regard to wigs, we were even told that "Most natural hair will do, but we are to bring a natural colored wig just in case." I don't know about the other models, but I had no idea that Lockshop would be providing wigs until the Thursday rehearsal.
- At the Thursday rehearsal, there was a lot of sitting around and doing nothing, which at first was kinda fun because a lot of us got to take photos together and talk for the first time in person...but after several hours of it, there was a lot of anxiety in the room. By the time 4 o' clock had rolled around the Meta group had rehearsed probably a total of 3 or 4 times, which didn't freak me out too much at the time since our part was fairly simple but it was still a lot of time to waste doing nothing.
- Since the stage wasn't ready, we didn't rehearse there at all on Thursday and after the two hour break the Meta group ended up practicing a bit more in cramped hallway next to the fitting room (because there wasn't enough room in there for more than one group to be rehearsing their part at once). As you can imagine, practicing on stage for the first time (which happened just a couple of hours before the show on Friday) was very jarring because the spacing was so different to what we had been rehearsing. After some more sitting around, there was talk about ending the rehearsal before we had even been fitted or told what we were going to wear. There was some panic from the models, and the organizers reluctantly gave the designers the okay to show us our outfits and let us try them on. Come to find out, Metamorpose did not have specific coordinates selected for each model ahead of time (and I didn't get the impression they had ever been given the opportunity to do so), so we were each selected for a predetermined outfit on the spot. Lockshop wigs were also chosen for each of the models at this time, though deciding wig and makeup styling was put off until the next day. Changing in a room full of strangers was a little unsettling, and I really wish I'd worn cuter underwear.
- After the rehearsal let out, I went with my group to get dinner at the hotel restaurant where the Japanese guests followed soon after. It seemed like they were having a decent time even though I couldn't hear any of the conversation, but almost every person at the table either had a beer or a glass of wine so that probably had something to do with it. After dinner, I ended up popping in to the pre-con lolita party for about 15 minutes after almost everyone had left. The Japanese guests made a brief appearance not long after I showed up, but they weren't being handled very well because the group actually left Midori behind once they were ready to leave (she was chatting with attendees). It took them several minutes to notice she was gone before someone came back and got her.
- Friday was equally disorganized and there was a lot more sitting around and doing nothing. Apparently the Putumayo models still hadn't been fitted for their outfits yet so a friend of mine was freaking out because she had no idea how to do her hair or makeup...and when they finally did get that sorted out and started getting ready, John came in yelling that Putumayo needed to start rehearsing and got really upset that they weren't ready to go. When Meta finally got to rehearse on stage, it was while the contortionist was warming up right in the middle of the catwalk, so we were having to walk around her as we practiced. The platform stairs that were built for us to step down from as we entered the stage were very steep, and several of our models were in super tall platforms (or in my case shoes that didn't fit quite right), so getting up and down was really scary...but at least they were able to get people to help us during the show at the last minute (bless you, sweet Toshi).
- We only rehearsed a couple of times before they told us to sit in the audience and watch the other groups practice. During this time, a girl in plain clothes that we didn't recognized came over and started speaking to a small group of us very matter-of-factly, saying "Just so you girls know, we know you haven't had anything to eat yet but that's not the staff's responsibility. That's the Jfashion team's job to make sure you guys have sustenance...but our priority is the guests, not you. You are not our priority." She goes on to say that she -might- be able to get us some water or something if we desperately need it, but that's about all she could do...and then she just walked off. At this point in the day none of us had anything to eat because we were banking on snacks and drinks being provided like we had been promised (and we weren't allowed to leave the room to go get anything either)...but I hadn't heard anyone from our group complaining about it at all, and definitely not in a way that would merit being spoken to as if we were ungrateful children. Later when one of the Meta organizers walked by, I mentioned what happened and she got very upset about it. When we pointed out who'd spoken to us, she said that this girl was "a translator and shouldn't have even been speaking to us in the first place", and then apologized profusely for the girl's rude behavior. She then went on to say that the organizers had been mulling over the idea of taking all of the models out to dinner after the show, but we never heard anything more about it (and considering the fact that we got out so late after the show, it's not like we would've been able to get in anywhere anyway). There had been a box of Whataburger hamburgers and fries that appeared on the floor at one point before our stage rehearsal, but I wasn't starving yet and I didn't want to take food from someone who was hungrier than me (and nobody was actually told whether it was okay for models to eat it...but some did anyway and I envied them for it later).
- Not long after, we were ushered back into the fitting room because we were told the seating would start soon. There was a box of assorted hot sandwiches brought into the room and set on the table where the Japanese guests were sitting, but we were told it was okay for the models to eat as well. I was really afraid to eat a gooey grilled cheese sandwich while wearing clothes that belonged to Meta, but my blood sugar was so low I knew I was running the risk of passing out on stage and that would've been bad to say the least. In hindsight, I probably should've told someone that I'm hypoglycemic and that might've gotten them to be more proactive about feeding us in a timely manner...but then again maybe not, considering the way things went.
- During this time, I was receiving angry text messages from my fiance who had been waiting outside of the doors for over three hours hoping to get a good seat. Apparently, there was absolutely no line control out there and people just rushed the doors when they opened. He and my sister-in-law ended up sitting about halfway up the section to the far left of the stage behind someone in a huge cosplay and barely got to see the show.
- After the show was over and everyone finally got a chance to breathe, we got to take a lot of photos and mingle for a bit before changing back into our own clothes (there were more people coming and going from the room now so it was a little more uncomfortable than the first time we did this). That was the only time I was able to interact with any of the Japanese guests that weekend because I didn't have a ticket to the tea party on Sunday.
- During all of this, I think I spoke to John once the entire time. I remember saying hi to him, and him giving me this blank look like he had no idea who I was before saying "hey" and then walking off. In that regard, things could've been way worse and I'm thankful he apparently didn't find me attractive. Seeing the way he interacted with other models though was hard to watch at times, especially when the Putumayo girls weren't ready to rehearse and when the AP girls missed their cue. His knee-jerk reaction to being frustrated seems to be to make whoever is pissing him off feel guilty about it. That, along with all of the other information that has come out in the past couple of days, has led me to the decision that I don't ever want to be in a position where I have to deal with John or Deneice again. I might consider attending Anime Matsuri again someday if they are not involved with the con in any way, but in the mean time I'll be spending my time and money elsewhere.
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