Interview: AX PR Head - Chase Wang

by Bamboo Dong, Oct 6th 2005
Chase Wang

Who he is: Anime Expo public relations guru

What he does: Help make AX the roaring success it is

Quotable: "AX consumes an entire year. AX is not just a 4 day convention over a long weekend."




Let's start with the basics. What do you do for Anime Expo?

My name is Chase Wang, I am the outsourced representative for Anime Expo's Public Relations Efforts. The company I am with is named BAM! Marketing, Publicity & Promotions, a Los Angeles based firm which specializes in marketing, media planning/buying, publicity and promotions for entertainment properties.

Is AX the first anime convention you've ever worked with?

Anime Expo has been the very first Anime Convention we have worked with. We've also worked with other companies and conventions such as the E3.

Are you an anime fan otherwise, or is it just your job?

I grew up in Hawaii, where there's a fusion of both American and Asian influences. I grew up both watching and loving animes such as Dragon Ball Z, Gatchaman, etc., so I would say that “yes,” I am definitely a fan. It just is fortunate that I'm able to work with the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Anime and AX.

Have you personally gone to any other cons?

Yes, I've attended many other conventions that are both Anime based and non-Anime based.
But, I have to admit, that of all Anime based conventions, AX is the most amazing and fun! It's also a very unique convention in which I have enjoyed working with and hope to continue to work with.

So I have to ask, what's it like working for the biggest anime convention in the US? What are the biggest hells you have to deal with?

I honestly find it very rewarding! A lot of work goes into the planning process and execution of a convention of this caliber. Having a convention that is so fan-based is so different from many of the other conventions. To me, it has been truly a wonderful experience and a pleasure to work with some of the most creative and amazing young professionals of our time. The biggest hell, to me, is (and probably will always be) finding a balance between fan needs and the laws and regulations of the city and state.

Many fans see one side of the convention—which is what happens during the Expo. However, they don't see a lot of the pre-planning and development of regulations and rules which are put into place to not only follow the laws and regulations of the city/state. But, these rules and regulations are applied to ensure the safety and comfort of all attendees.

Speaking of that, a few weeks ago we posted an interview with Man-Faye. I'm sure you know of him, right? What's Anime Expo's side of the story on it?

Well, Man-Faye has his side. And I would like to thank you for the opportunity for us to clarify some points. Anime Expo encourages all cosplayers/crossplayers to take advantage of the opportunities that are provided at AX to dress up and fulfill their dreams and fantasies of being a anime/manga character. AX does not discriminate based on sex, race, religion, creed or sexual orientation. However, to follow regulations of city and state laws, certain rules are placed into effect during the convention to protect the welfare and experience of all attendees. With that said, the situation for Man-Faye was NOT a unique experience.

According to the rules and regulations (which follow the laws and regulations of the city/state), cosplayers/crossplayers are not allowed to show certain parts of the body. We are still a public event and there are many children that do also attend the convention. I believe the rules that state, "Inappropriate attire is prohibited. Please refrain from exposure of nipples, genitals, or buttocks."

Others at the convention who dressed up in inappropriate attire were informed to change their outfits or to cover up the questionable areas. Man-Faye wasn't the only one who was asked to augment his costume. His incident WAS NOT a unique incident and he WAS NOT targeted because he was a crossplayer.

What about women who wear pasties? Or just double-side duct-tape suspenders over their nipples? I'm aware that state regulation allows such attire, but isn't that equally inappropriate at a family convention?

We support cosplayers and crossplayers alike. However, we need to respect and follow the city laws as much as possible. If the city of Anaheim dictates that pasties/double-sided tape over nipples were inappropriate, we would request that the individuals cover themselves up.
We, at AX, try to provide as much opportunities for cosplayers/crossplayers to dress up as much alike as possible.

Actually, I didn't know that other people were required to change their costumes. Can you give some examples of people who were asked to change? And not to prolong the issue, but why was Man-Faye allowed to wear his costume the first couple of years? This may seem like an ignorant question (as I haven't studied Man-Faye's appearance with much rigor), but was it the genitalia part of the law that he broke, or the buttocks? I ask only because I've seen plenty of women in just thongs with their buttocks hanging out.

Yes, there were incidences in which young women were wearing outfits that fully displayed their buttocks and other costumes in which nipples were seen through. These individuals were informed to change their outfits or to augment their outfits so that it would not be as revealing. In Man-Faye's case, I believe that it is more so sensationalized due to the fact that he is a unique individual and that he is a crossplayer. In his case, I believe he was requested to wear something over his costume to prevent exposure of his buttocks. In addition, I also believe that in some senses his costume had some wardrobe malfunctions at times when he would bend over. In his incident, I believe, he continued to disregard the requests made by AX by continually flashing individuals his buttocks at the convention site. By blatantly disregarding the rules and regulations placed by AX over cosplaying created some problems which needed to be resolved.

I know that many people have complained in the past about various costumes, such as women in the nude except for thongs and pasties, or what not. Is it safe to say that if they bring their concerns up with convention staff or security, those matters will be taken into hand and those individuals would also be required to cover up? I know that personally, I have found many costumes in the past to be offensive, but never knew who to tell.

Well, I believe the best thing for any attendee to do, is to contact security in which they have been trained to evaluate the situation and act upon it if necessary. Once again, the rules and regulations that are followed by AX is to ensure that the convention goes smoothly and is a fun experience for all.

Offensive costumes are taken very seriously at AX. We want to create an environment that is safe for all to enjoy-especially for children and young adults. We are not censoring anyone, nor are we out to target any one person or lifestyle. We want to promote acceptance and tolerance of all, but we must abide by the laws of the city and state. In Man-Faye's case, it would be the decency laws. Decency meaning, not because he is dressed as a woman....but more so of him flashing his buttocks or having wardrobe malfunctions in which other body parts (which are deemed inappropriate) are flashed to other attendees.

So in the past, people who have “gotten away” with more scandalous outfits simply weren't noted by security, or didn't have complaints filed against them, as opposed to AX discriminating in their favor?

I personally cannot comment on that. I've only been with AX for the past two conventions. I have seen AX staffers work diligently to maintain an environment of tolerance and acceptance.

I encourage all those that encounter individuals with inappropriate attire to inform an AX security personnel at the convention.

That's good to hear. Moving on to other things, you said your job public relations? What all does that entail? How many days a year would you say AX-business consumes?

AX consumes an entire year. AX is not just a 4 day convention over a long weekend.
A lot of planning is put into place. A lot of projects are put together. For example, AX2006 is the 15th Year Anniversary of AX. It is going to be an AMAZING convention! Not just because it is the 15th year, but there will be MANY MAJOR surprises that will be in store for all the lucky fans who are able to attend.

What's being planned for it?

HAHA!!! Spoken like a true reporter! I unfortunately can't divulge any of the plans as of yet. But rest assured ... it will be a convention and an experience that attendees will speak of for months down the road!

You can't even leak a teeny hint? Is it guests? Is it a new feature, like this past year's manga library? Is it constant waterfalls of money flowing from every fountain?

Hmmmmm..... Let me think about it .... Uh.... Sorry....my job makes sure that I hold the confidence of my clients and their plans confidential when needed.... hahaha

Fine, fine. Is there any competition at all between AX and Otakon? Does that ever come up at staff meetings?

I don't believe so. I believe both conventions respect the efforts of each other, and both have the similar goal of promoting anime/manga and promoting a lot of fun.

A lot of people are concerned about AX moving to Long Beach in 2007. What are your thoughts? Have you seen the facilities?

I have seen the facilities and I believe that AX will make a pleasurable experience no matter what arena they are in....I truly believe that the fans make the convention and NOT the location. AX does recognize this and that is why we love ALL fans of anime/manga and would not discourage any fan from our doors—as long as they are dressed appropriately and does not endanger the experience of other attendees.

Some fans have questioned having musical guests at anime conventions, saying that they don't belong there. Others have disagreed. What's your personal take on it?

Well everyone enjoys different aspects of the convention, and that is what makes Anime Expo so great! If an attendee is not into a concert or even the Masquerade (one of my personal favorites!) they have other options such as the exhibit hall, the Matsuri Summer Festival, arcades, karaoke, cosplaying, etc.

You don't think though, that musical guests don't belong at an anime convention? People have complained before that anime cons are moving more towards Japanese pop culture, than just anime and manga.

I believe that there is room for everyone, as there should be room for everyone in the diverse anime community. Programming can be diverse as well. People may have complained that anime cons are moving towards Japanese pop culture, but there are also people who enjoy the fact that anime cons have diversified its programming. So I honestly believe that there is something for everyone.

Alright, well I think we're running out of time. Hopefully we'll have some time later in the future to talk a bit more about AX behind the scenes. Thank you so much for your time!

Anytime, Bamboo! I enjoyed speaking with you. If you see Man-Faye, tell him I said hello and that I respect him. I believe it takes a real confident man to wear women's clothing and feel comfortable in them. I encourage him to attend in 2006, but please follow our guidelines. They are there for a reason.

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