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Interview: Man-Faye

by Bamboo Dong,
Whether you go to dozens of conventions a year, or just Anime Expo, or even none at all, chances are you've heard of this infamous man. At the very least, you've heard stories about his infamous and hairy rear. Yes, it's the one and only... Man-Faye. It doesn't take a genius to figure out where he got that nickname, or even why he's so well-known. Under those yellow Daisy Dukes though, lies a man that fewer people know about: a friend to thousands of convention goers, and a crusader for equal rights.

Due to popular demand, Anime News Network chased down this golden boy and grilled him about the Man-Faye legacy. We hope it's as fun for you as it was for us.

Let's start with one of the questions everyone's been dying to know: Why did you start doing it?

Yeah, that's the one I get asked most often. It all started almost five years ago when a friend of mine got the import DVDs of Cowboy Bebop. We would meet on a weekly basis and watch Cowboy Bebop. Then we started talking about Anime Expo. My friend started talking about making costumes and who should go as whom. At first I suggested I go as Jet. As a joke, a friend said that no, I was more like Faye. We all laughed, and I sort of forgot about it. Then the summer came along, and I get a call that we are going to Expo in an hour!

So then I feel I NEEDED a costume, and the only one I could make in a hurry was Faye. Plus, I thought it would be funny as hell, if only as an inside joke. But, when I got to Expo, before I knew it, I was being mobbed and asked to pose for pictures! The rest is history.

I assume your costume got quite mixed reviews. Did the negative attention bother you at all?

Not really, I was picked on a lot as a kid, and I learned how to deal with negative attention—namely to own it.

So you've been wearing the costume for five years now?

Well, four Expos, but we got Bebop some time before the first Expo and some time has passed since then, so the origin is five years ago.

Do you have any reason for prolonging the costume? Why keep doing it?

Well, there are a few reasons I still don the golden hot pants. One is the massive swell of fan mail I get. I've gotten quite a few very touching emails about how I inspired people to do everything from wear the racy costume they never had the nerve to wear, to come out of the closet to their parents.

I must admit, being a celebrity is a lot of fun. I never seem to get tired of people screaming my name and lining up to smack my ass. Though, I have had to make a rule: hands only—no paddles, shinai, or other implements.

Have you ever run into any problems with people who flat out hate your costume and try to stop you from doing it?

Yes. I've had a few hate mail incidents, as well as being banned from Anime Expo. Though, they don't seem to have any problem with the girls who wear outfits far more revealing than mine.

Banned from Anime Expo? What's the story behind that?

Yeah, it started Expo '04. For the first day I was fine. Then, ACC staff told me I couldn't wear my costume in their hall, but I tried to fight that obviously unfair ruling.

Why would they tell you that you couldn't wear your costume?

Apparently someone complained about my costume. Later I found out that it was an ACC security person who complained, not a con attendee. Well, that smelled like BS to me, so I began to talk to someone about that.

At first, the security person I was talking to was totally stonewalling me, even going so far as to call the police to arrest me for trespassing, even though I wasn't in the convention center. By this time, our conversation had gotten a bit, well, heated. Several passersby began to take an interest. Before I knew it, I had an unruly mob arrayed around me, chanting for me to be let in.

Well, I could see my MLK moment coming, so I started to talk to the crowd about freedom, equal rights, the American Way, and the true nature of anime, which has also been sort of bastardized and misinterpreted by the American media.

Well, I guess the crowd got loud and rowdy enough for AX to send down a representative to mediate. His name was Chadwick, I believe, and he told me that AX was on my side. However, they had to make concessions to the ACC for the use of their building. I was prepared to give in a little and deal with these people, figuring AX was on my side and we could fight the battle together. I agreed to wear a trench coat over my costume while in the ACC, which I complied with.

Then, that evening, as I was walking back to my hotel, a security person approached me, and held me until AX staff arrived. I was then told that I violated the verbal contract by taking off my coat, which I never did, and that another complaint was filed. These are non-written, non-documented complaints by the way. Because of that, they were taking my badge. I spent about two hours discussing their policy, and wondering why I was being discriminated against. They kept saying that the policy wasn't an issue, only that I violated the verbal agreement to wear my coat.

Well, after hours of debate I was left with no choice but to surrender my badge. I did learn that the meeting area between the ACC and the Hilton was public property and therefore, not con or ACC jurisdiction. So, I remained at AX, on public property, fighting for my rights.

Then AX '05 rolls around. I heard lots of things about new management, better policies, etc. Plus, I had lost a lot of weight and I figured no one would complain now, as I was thin at least, if not hairless. But then, after waiting for three hours in the registration line, right when I get to the tables, five security guards are waiting to prevent me from registering. I asked to talk to Con Ops, but they said no. I asked for a phone number to call Con Ops. They gave me what turned out to be a fax line.

So once again, I was banned, and this time with no complaints and the AX staff clearly responsible for it. So once more I took the public area in front of the con and continued my struggle. This year, the con totally ignored me, only agreeing to meet me on the third day. When we did meet, I was told that the complaint from last year carried over and that any costume was OK, provided no one complained. So I guess complaint from a random person one year will ruin an otherwise perfect costume forever.

You mentioned something about equal rights and what not. Can you go into a bit more detail about this crusade you're fighting, and your viewpoints about the whole thing?

Well, my view is this. If a woman can wear an incredibly revealing outfit, a man should be allowed to as well. I have no doubts that a girl wearing the SAME costume as mine would not have any trouble at all. In fact, I have photos of girls at the con doing just that and not ONE of them had any trouble. What it boils down to is that Anime Expo is enforcing a policy of discrimination against crossplayers.

So you're not just fighting for yourself, you're fighting for all the crossplayers, all the people without perfect bodies, and anyone who wants to express themselves without being discriminated against?

Exactly. I mean, their policy is so bad, there is nothing stopping someone from, say, complaining about a black girl in a revealing outfit, even if the complainer couldn't care less about the outfit, but just didn't like black people. Or, complaining about a person with a facial scar because it bothered them.

What about fan support? Would you say there are more people supporting your cause now that all this has happened?

Absolutely. If AX's plan of banning me was to make me go away, then I'd say that plan severely backfired. I've had many, many people come up and tell me they used to hate me, but now they see what douches AX is being. And now they are die-hard Man-Faye fans.

What's your ultimate goal

My ultimate goal is to be treated just like any other con-goer, to be able to go into all the buildings, enjoy all the events and be an equal citizen of Anime Expo. I mean, Anime Expo is a time when anime geeks from all over the country come together to be part of a community.

Why not just change your costume?

Because changing my costume would be admitting that there is something wrong with it. That is just not the case. I mean, if they really can't stand my costume, they would have to ban every costume like it, which as we know, would effectively ban people cosplaying like, 90% of female characters!

And yeah, AX is a community, and I'm a part of that community, whether AX likes it or not. Honestly, I want the opportunity to fall into the background and be just like every other cosplayer. While battling for cosplay rights is a challenge I gladly accept, it has burdens as well.

So you're going to be sporting the infamous shorts until you win?

Absolutely. And probably for a few years after, at least until the dust settles.

Have you ever thought about suing for sexual discrimination?

I have. But I don't really want to go there. If I sue and win, I'll be doing a lot of damage to AX, and I really don't want to do that. Too many people are having fun for me to fuck with that.

AX is bigger than me and still has many redeeming qualities. Many people attend AX with a near religious fever. I mean, how often can you go to a place where all your favorite fantasy characters come to life? And you can be truly surrounded by like-minded people?

Unless you don't have a perfect body?

Yeah. It's like AX has no idea who anime fans are. There are millions of us, and we come in all shapes and sizes, and all degrees of hairiness. I also feel that they are trying too hard to reach out to families for business. Anime fans know that most anime is rated AT LEAST PG13. But that's another issue. Shit, even the most innocent anime fan is at least familiar with the infamous tentacles.

I hardly think a barely-clad female is more appropriate for young children than a half-naked man though.

Totally. And plus, what kids don't have to deal with Dad's hairy ass? And large Speedo-clad Europeans at the beach?

Do you think a lot of people look up to you?

Amazingly, a lot of people sure seem to. The comments I get on MySpace are so sweet and pure. It makes my heart bubble over. Well, some of the comments. Others are as raunchy as they are awesome.

In the end, what do you want to be remembered for in fandom?

For not being afraid, and letting your love of the character and the genre guide me.

I heard you're going to be a masquerade judge for a convention soon. How do you feel about that?

I'm very excited about that, though I fear I haven't seen enough anime to know where all the costumes are from. I still feel honored that anyone would want me to judge their cosplay contest, and I'm looking forward to Chibi-Pa in Florida.

Now, golden butt aside, what is Man-Faye like in real life? What do you do? What are your hobbies? What's your name.?!

I sort of like keeping my anonymity. It makes me feel like Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent. And in normal life, I'm a pretty regular guy. A bit loud maybe, and a bit annoying to my friends. Other than that, I am an artist trying to build a collection and perhaps get myself into a real art school. I'm into video games, and anime, obviously. Star Wars, original trilogy ONLY. Not those evil fucking prequels or special editions. God, I hate what Star Wars has become, and the sycophantic fanboys still nursing diligently at Lucas' teat even though the milk has long gone sour. He's more CG than man now.

Haha, okay, tangent aside, what do you think is the most memorable moment you've had thus far in your fandom stint?

I'd say it was the second con I went to as Man-Faye, before I was even called Man-Faye. I was walking through the merchant's hall and it was totally crowded. Out of nowhere, someone smacks my ass and I scream, “HEY, WHO JUST SMACKED MY ASS!” That was the FIRST ass-smacking and now it's a fucking tradition. My cheeks will never be the same.

Ever cosplayed as anyone else? Or was Faye the first?

Nope, Faye was the first.

You know, I have to ask, you said you made Faye within the space of an hour or so. Why on earth did you have tight yellow pants lying around?

I had gone to Expo the year before Man-Faye, but I was just dressed like me, which is vaguely anime-esque. I was near K-Mart when I got the call, and I raided the housewife section.

Oh, and another story that's kind of funny. The first day I was Man-Faye, I came home after Expo still in costume. We live pretty close and I didn't get a hotel. I find that I am locked out of the house. I had no pockets and had forgotten my keys. So I have to climb the fence into my garden. And just as I'm scampering up the fence, my protective trench coat flung wide open, my Dad walks into the garden and sees me in that outfit, legs akimbo, climbing the fence. And all I can say is, “Hi, Dad,” to which he grunts and walks away.

Do you wear any kind of underwear under the shorts?

Yes. I wear a thong. It's the only undies that work. After the disturbing nut toe phenomenon of the first version of the costume, I made a point to correct it in the second costume.

Some of your critics have called you names, like an attention-whore, an attention-seeker, and other stuff along those lines? Any comments or rebuttals?

Not really. I am kind of an attention whore. I have a lot of respect for cosplayers that work very hard on their costumes, and it does kind of suck that they don't always get the attention they deserve. That is another reason I updated the costume, to make it a high quality, accurate costume. So far, it's the best Faye costume I've seen. And, oddly enough, I've been the best looking Faye at the last few cons!

Well, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to talk with us, and good luck in your fight!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/individuals and do not necessarily represent the views of Anime News Network or its sponsors.

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