The 10 Things I Noticed Most at Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival


Not quite a concert and not quite a convention, Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival hit Los Angeles last night. It was, shall we say, a unique experience. Like many other male humans on this planet, I have found myself drawn into this fandom by my wife, and it still feels like being on an alien planet at times.

I don’t know that it’s all any less weird to me after last night – but I whipped up a li’l list of the things I think I managed to figure out.

1. Hello Kitty Fans Have More Money to Burn Than You Do.


If you or I were given $255 to spend on luxuries, where would it go? Many of us might buy a Hot Toys or Sideshow figure, or maybe a pair of tickets to Disneyland. At the Supercute Friendship Festival in LA, $255 (plus fees) would buy you ONE V.I.P. ticket, which grants access to the facility an hour early, free food/beer/wine, and photo-ops with costumed characters who are the de facto celebrities. That $125 to get Mark Hamill’s autograph suddenly seems less steep now, doesn’t it?

As press, I was on the VIP last gratis, and there was some very nice gourmet mac and cheese with spicy meatballs. Was it worth $255? Not to me. However, they obviously sold a good many, since the line for said food was long enough that seconds weren’t an option in the time we had.

Regular admission was $40. By comparison, the cheap seats at a WWE Raw taping are $25.

2. The Crowds Are Just Right.


Maybe it’s a function of the high prices, but the crowds were entirely manageable. Anything you wanted to see, you could. All the seats in the arena were empty for people to sit wherever they liked, while the floor had ample spaces to get past others. For the main stage show, we got in the front row with ease the one time we actually tried it.

Unsurprisingly, the attendees were predominantly female. And of all the dudes I saw there as guests, I don’t think a single one was without a beer in his hand.

3. You Pay for the Privilege of Spending More Money.


I know this is kind of a big “duh,” as every arena show there is tries to get you to spend more money once you’re there, but really, the primary lure of Supercute Friendship Festival is exclusive merchandise. To those of us approaching middle age with massive collections of stuff, the term “limited edition” is often meaningless and the need for stuff that’s only available in one location is tempered by years of knowledge that we really won’t care about a lot of it in the years to come. Or if we do, we may find ourselves in a home-office space cluttered to the ceiling with years of accumulation, and you may ask yourself, David Byrne-style, “Well…how did I get here?”

To my wife, in her mid-twenties, you say exclusive and she says “how much?” It’s like if I wanted every exclusive at Comic-Con just because it’s exclusive. At least some of it will keep her warm on cold days, and now she can’t tell me not to beg for Snake Mountain when Mattel makes it. Mercifully, all the stuff was in plentiful supply and easy enough to get. What a concept!


4. 2D Cartoons Don’t Use “Sets,” so Make Some Anyway.


One thing Supercute Friendship Festival has in common with Star Wars Celebration is the preponderance of people-sized dioramas in which to take pictures. For Star Wars, sets and props exist to make this happen, but for Hello Kitty cartoons, which are very simple line drawings, the scenes have to be built from scratch – which allows for built-in convenience when it comes to photo opportunities, as you can create the entire piece around that function.

Wanna be a biker? Hide in a giant shoe? Dream about dessert with a fat puppy? You can do all of these things. Just don’t forget the camera, or more than 50% of what’s on display here will be a complete waste.


5. Hello Kitty Still Does Not Care About Being Weirdly Inappropriate Sometimes.


You know how, in the U.S., companies like Disney won’t do stuff that’s not family friendly, and freak out every time they see a scene of smoking in one of their old movies?

What I love about Sanrio is they do not give a fuck about that. They no full well that they’ve made Hello Kitty sex toys, alcohol and toilet paper. None of that is on display here – in general, the festival showcases just the PG side of things – but that doesn’t mean odd innuendoes don’t sometimes come through. Like the part of the event where you enter Hello Kitty forcefully, between her legs.


However, some of that might just be me showing my age, because…

6. Every Song That Was Once Edgy Can Be Cutified.


Among the tunes sung from the characters on the stages were “Start Me Up,” by the Rolling Stones, which involves sexual arousal and dead men potentially orgasming; and “99 Red Balloons,” by Nena, about nuclear war. You’d never know either by the presentation, but I choose to take it as a subtle hint that Hello Kitty is the harbinger of the apocalypse.

I also think we are not far from the day when a certain NWA tune will be slightly modified to “Hug the Police,” and performed by a giant fluffy kitten in front of children.

7. A Giant Hamburger Came out on Stage for No Apparent Reason.


Even Julia was at a loss to explain this guy. But since their next big character is an egg, it seems more food is on the way. One of the Japanese cartoons being projected included people with pork chops for heads.

8. Global Domination Is at Hand.


One of the final songs performed by Hello Kitty and crew featured the refrain, “The world is ours!”, which felt just a tad less innocuous than prior tunes about happiness and smiling. It should come as no surprise to cat lovers, however, who know that however cute your furry friend is, he or she fully intends to rule the world someday. After a nap.

Given that Hello Kitty is one of the only corporate mascots besides Gene Simmons to appear on everything from baby clothes to coffins, don’t count her out of the globe-conquering game. Unlike Gene, she is still somewhat appealing to rational people.

9. No Matter How Nerdy You Think You Are…


…the male performers in a Hello Kitty stage show have you beat. To quote the late Wally George, they make Pee-wee Herman look like Sylvester Stallone.

10. In the End, It Is All About Positivity.


We can whine about commercialism all we want, but in the end, the fact is we’re wired to like larger-than-life characters and stories, and from the TMNT to the Avengers to Hello Kitty, they will always have their image exploited for profit. So the question is, given that kids of all ages will buy into branded characters no matter what, isn’t it better that it be one who extols friendship and the acceptance of everyone?

Maybe not for me – I’ll still take the raccoon with the huge laser guns and his best friend the violent tree. But I’m long past help. For your innocent little girls, a cat with a bow isn’t the worst direction to go.

If you want more information on the festival, check out the official site.