Erica Friedman is the driving force behind Yuricon. When she isn’t spreading the gospel of girl-on-girl romance, she’s busy heading her social media company, Yurikon, LLC and her publishing company, ALC Publishing.
Ms. Friedman was gracious enough to offer a chunk of her time for the cause of [our] education.
Note: this interview was originally performed on March 18, 2010 as part of an article series for Anime Dream. All communications were conducted via e-mail.
Anime Herald: What is your role at your convention? What kind of duties are you responsible for?
Erica Friedman: I have been pretty much everything at a convention, from person who puts chairs in rows to con chair. At Yuricon I am the Founder and Chair.
Anime Herald: What types of challenges does a person in your position have to tackle?
Erica Friedman: Aside from the challenges of convincing the world it needed a Yuricon, it falls to the chair to do just about anything and everything to get things organized. Yuricon is a benevolent dictatorship so, depending on the size of my staff, I might be dealing with the hotel, or the guests, or the companies that provide the anime we show, or sponsors or registration or tech or any number of things. I also might be deciding the color of the t-shirts or the logo.
Anime Herald: Are there any aspects of the position that you particularly enjoy? Any downsides?
Erica Friedman: Yes, I very much like being behind the scenes, making sure that people have a good time. Sure, it can be stressful – it is stressful. But when someone tells you that they are having a great time, it’s worth it.
Anime Herald: How did you get your start at your convention? Were you there from the beginning?
Erica Friedman: I started volunteering at events as a kid when my parents were involved with organizations, so I’ve always been around this kind of thing. I created Yuricon, so I’ve been with it from the very beginning. In a sense, Yuricon is whatever I’m doing at the the time.
Anime Herald: How have your duties changed between now and when you first began?
Erica Friedman: Not much, really, because we don’t so the same thing each time, and we don’t do an annual event. We never meant to do more than one and it’s kind of funny that we have done so many. Yuricon has been involved with one-day and three-day events, done a joint event, been run in Tokyo. So I’m still creating and organizing.
Honestly, I don’t like the idea doing the same thing every year. I’d rather do a small event every once in a while than a monster thing over and over and over. In fact, for the next event, we’re looking at more of a conference, rather than a convention.
Anime Herald: Do you have any advice for people who are interested in helping out at a convention?
Erica Friedman: Do it. Every con needs help. But, help out because you want to help, not because the con offers you something. If you’re in it for you, you’re going to be a crappy helper. Be in it to help the con be a great con.
Anime Herald: Do you have any advice for people who are entering the same position as you?
Erica Friedman: Run!
Anime Herald: One can imagine that working an anime convention is an interesting gig. Have you ever encountered any unusual or outstanding situations that you would like to share?
Erica Friedman: So many, I can’t even pick one. (laughs) But I can say this, being in Japan in front of some of the leading Japanese Yuri artists and writer and being asked to define Yuri, was very bizarre.
Anime Herald: What was the convention scene like when you began? Has it changed much between then and now?
Erica Friedman: Obviously the biggest change is the mainstreaming of anime. That’s affected the number and size of conventions – there are just way more conventions and way more people at them. I think it’s a wonderful thing, frankly. I love meeting young people who never lived in a world where anime or manga were hard to find, obscure and for creepy dudes only.
Anime Herald: Finally, do you have anything to say to our readers?
Erica Friedman: Yes, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart – the anime and manga companies and all the people who work at them are working very hard to bring over anime and manga for you to enjoy.
Please do not download or stream anime and manga illegally. You are stealing from so many people – from the original Japanese artists, right down to someone just like you who got their dream job at an anime company. Buy, rent, borrow – but please don’t steal.