I was fortunate enough to tag along on a "junket" to Manhattan last weekend, during which I attended what has got to be the largest collection of nerds on the East Coast. The 2011 NYC Comic Con may not sound like a seething cauldron of geeky sexuality, but . . . dude . . . it was.
Sexuality and comic books have a long history, of course. The buxom heroines on the covers of the Golden Age comics and science fiction magazines were blatantly pornographic in an era famous for its repressed sexuality. Once upon a time just possessing a comic book could get you on the couch with a die-hard Freudian, answering all sorts of uncomfortable questions about your mother's underwear.
But comics have moved from the lurid to the tolerated to the indulgent to the mainstream over the course of a lifetime, and the modern medium and its cousins have certainly matured, as art and in subject matter. The NY Comic Con had its share of nostalgic and family-friendly fare, of course, but beyond the graphic novels about brain-eating zombies and unlikely superheroes, vampires both dark and sparkly, and some truly lovely books about sword-swinging mice, there's plenty of raw sexuality seething, in the books and amongst the fans.
Consider: the Anime festival was held in conjunction with the Comic Book con. There were literally thousands of cute Asian girls in miniskirts running around looking like Sailor Moon. No less than three Princess Leias, in full faux-bronze bikinis, were in attendance, one with with an anorexic Jabba The Hutt as an escort. There were Ms. Marvel costumes that inspired a lot of male fantasies, and there were Wolverine costumes, too . . . if walking around without a shirt on, chomping a cigar, with plastic knives strapped to your forearms constitutes a costume. Male or female, ugly or hot, the name of the game was fantasy, and that included an awful lot of illicit fantasy.
There was also a lot of hooking up among the fandom. You just can't put that many horny nerds in one place, in costume, without a certain amount of fantasy-laden casual sex happening.
But what the con taught me most about Nerdom at large was that the typical "Big Bang Theory" stereotype of asthmatic geeks too wrapped up in their toys and fictions to interact on a sexual level is, for the most part, just a lot of crap. The extreme examples of the breed might be outside of mainstream sexuality on the surface, but their passion and enthusiasm lends them a confidence that is the essence of attraction.
In other words, if you're enough of a geek to spend $300 on a set of stormtrooper armor, then you're probably passionate enough to put the moves on the cute pink Twi'lek chick you meet in line at the juice bar. Despite the fact that you're actually a computer analyst from Des Moines and she's a customer service rep at an insurance firm in Pennsylvania, for a few brief hours you have the chance to transcend the mundane considerations of your utterly average life, become a lonely stormtrooper on a godforsaken rimworld and an enthusiastic exotic dancer with a couple of extra tentacles sticking out of your head, and indulge in hot clone-on-alien sex at your hotel room while your roomies are standing in line for autographs.
From such illicit (and possibly mentally unhealthy) liaisons, relationships will form, couples will unite, and a whole new generation of nerdlings will be born. But don't think it's sad and pathetic -- it's not. It's as romantic as a dozen red roses or the big box of chocolates. It's not normal, it's not really mainstream, and it's borderline kinky, but horny nerds acting out their cosplay fantasies, no matter what the genre or medium, is as authentically sexual as you could ask for.
Sure, there are plenty of ugly nerds out there. But there are also some breathtakingly beautiful nerds who did not let their outward appearance seduce them to the dark side of popularity and mediocre teen dramas, opting instead to stretch their boundaries with fantasy and good old fashioned obsession. Not every Captain America costume concealed a pencil-necked geek, nor did every pair of tights sag in all the wrong places: there are plenty of hot nerds out there, both boys and girls. And both kinds are plenty horny. Best yet, the hot nerds usually don't realize that they're hot, which makes them more approachable, somehow, than the boring, pretty, popular people.
I have to wonder, at this point, exactly how the institution of the sci-fi/comic/gaming convention plays a role in the mating cycle of the American Nerd, but I do know a few things about it. Organized conventions have been going on since the early 1970s, if not before. Our forefathers cut loose wearing Spock ears and drinking heavily spiked Romulan Ale. I know for a fact that children have been conceived there, and plenty of nerds find their nerdy life-partners at such celebrations. For some, three generations or more of hard core sci-fi geeks have been haunting the same circles, bringing their brainy DNA to the table to mix with other brainy DNA.
That kind of intense concentration of nerdity over time is going to have an effect. Indeed, conventions in the future may become quasi-religious affairs designed to facilitate the strengthening of the sub-species, with plenty of cross-genre pollination to keep things fresh. Mom and Dad into Trek? Then find a nice Steampunk girl, and spend the rest of your life raising your mutant hybrid superchildren in your house full of valuable collectibles. Are you a die-hard Browncoat who can swear in Chinese and knit ugly hats? There's a super hot Asian nerdette out there with a passion for anime who wants to correct your pronunciation back in her room. Soon your hyper-intelligent offspring will be clobbering the competition in spelling bees every week and building fully-functional super-robots on the weekends. And your grandchildren will be ruling the world through custom game consoles and homemade artificial intelligences.
For we are a proud and valiant people, and we really don't mind the stares and the odd looks. We're having hot, kinky costumed nerdsex while the rest of you are still trying to figure out how to bring up the subject of anal to your long term partner.
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