Dr. NerdLove’s Guide to Finding Love at Comic Con

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It’s that time of year again. The weather is turning from “less hot” to “hot”, the flowers are blooming, the weather is insanely unpredictable and young geeks’ thoughts are focused on one thing.

Yup. It’s Con Season again. Which means it’s time to revisit the topic of “how do I get laid at the comic con?”

Now, I’ve talked before about how to pick up girls at comic cons and why it can be a bad idea, and to be perfectly clear, I still stand by this. Fact o’ the matter is, I don’t think fan conventions, whether they be Star Wars/Trek, comic, anime or general science fiction/fantasy should be seen as a place filled with potential girlfriends or boyfriends and I don’t care how many Nerd Speed-Dating events they host.

Look, I know that love1 can, in fact, bloom on the con floor. I’ve got plenty of friends who’ve met their significant others. I’ve also – despite my own advice – pursued hooking up with women at conventions. Some of them went amazingly well. Some of them did not.  One of them is the reason that I cannot talk about due to certain out-of-court settlements that may or may not be the reason why Gianna Michaels and I are not allowed to be at Wizard World events at the same time together.

But the fact of the matter is, going to conventions in hopes of getting laid is rather akin to going to the strip club in hopes of a long and in depth conversation with a Transylvanian stripper about how the original Star Wars is the best and closest explanation of the Tao as you’re going to find2 . This isn’t to say that it can’t happen – ‘cuz hey, I’ve done bothbut the odds are that it’s vanishingly unlikely.

That being said:

Just because that it’s a bad place to try to enkindle a romance to last the ages, it doesn’t mean that you can’t increase your chances… if you know what you’re doing. So let an old con vet – someone who’s been on both sides of the convention experience, as guest, vendor and attendee – give you some tips.

Be Prepared:

Cons are like Nerd Spring Break – culminating with Nerdi Gras in San Diego –  and they should be treated as such. Most of the supplies I recommend stocking up on for spring break apply here… with a couple of additions:

Comfortable walking shoes- You’re going to spend more time on your feet than you expect. This is especially true at the larger cons; the main exhibit hall of the San Diego Convention Center, for example, has 90,000 square feet of exhibit space. That’s literally 17 square miles of con floor. And you are going to be walking and standing all goddamn day because seating space is at a premium. Save your feet.

Bottled water – If you’re planning on getting drinks at the con, you may as well prepare to be thoroughly fucked; one of the universal laws of every con is that the concession stands are insanely overpriced for a cup that’s 80% ice and 10% flat soda. That remaining 10% are your tears after realizing you just paid $4 for this. Water is better for you and – critically – cheaper. Refills are free; just find a water fountain and voila. Also: those water bottles are an excellent way of smuggling vodka or good tequila into the con – which, incidentally, is a great way to make new friends.

Fresh fruit – Yes, I realize who my audience is, but stick with me here. The odds are that during the convention, most of your dining options are going to consist of fast-food, concession stand hot-dogs and pretzels, or whatever you can scrounge from the vending machines next to the ice maker. Not only is this going to play merry hell with your blood-sugar, but the last thing you want is to be talking to the geek of your dreams and realize that you’re about to come down with a sudden case of the meat sweats from all the nitrate-laden crap you’ve been dining on. Some fresh fruit – apples, pears, bananas, will make you feel refreshed. You’ll feel better for eating something that’s actually healthy, plus, they’ll help keep your body in working order by providing a welcome relief from your massive sodium intake… not to mention a little fiber to help deal with some of the less savory aspects of an all junk-food diet.

Hand santizer – Cons are giant bubbling vats of disease, birthing new and evolutionarily superior bacteria that piss all over Ebola on the way to causing real diseases… and you’re about to spend a weekend soaking in it. Nearly everyone I know who goes to conventions regularly speaks in hushed tones about “Con Crud”, that nebulous, protean disease that strikes professional and fan alike, laying dormant in your system until you get home… if you’re lucky. You can safely assume that just about everyone you encounter is an unwitting carrier of con-crud, so a liberal use of anti-bacterial hand-sanitizer will be the just the thing when you’re spending a long weekend in the writhing masses of the great unwashed.

And hey, speaking of which…

Follow the 5/2/1 Rule

What’s the first thing you think of when you think of “sci-fi convention stereotypes” – besides hordes of people walking around in bad Klingon costumes? If you thought “hot, stinky nerds”, then congratulations, you’re right! I’m not one to trade in stereotypes, but there’s a reason why any con veteran will complain about “nerd funk” and people will make jokes-that-aren’t-really-jokes about spraying down hordes with Febreze.

Yup. This is a thing that happened.

You know what else that tends to be associated with the various cons? Cranky, surly nerds acting like assholes because of low blood sugar and a lack of sleep.

Now I know that conventions are their own little alternate universes where people seem to think that they have gone through a geek chrysalis, emerging as mighty nerd godlings in their Stormtrooper bedecked-Asgard to celebrate the party Eternal while defying your pitiful mortal needs for things like “sleep” or “foods that aren’t covered in nacho cheese product”. I also know that a lot of cons are de-facto 24 hour affairs – anime cons with their late-night video showings and midnight Hentai rooms, scifi/fantasy cons with their Steampunk costume balls and mini-raves, room parties, off-site events and booz-ups – and it’s easy to get caught up in the swing of what seems like a massive party that never seems to end.

But as much fun as you’re having, the cold hard truth is, if you get too caught up in the sway of the cons, you’re going to crash and crash hard.

If you want to avoid this, you should follow the 5/2/1 Rule: at least 5 hours of sleep, 2 meals and 1 shower per day.

Don’t try to skirt this rule by cramming a Red Bull and Slim-Jim breakfast and dousing yourself in Axe to make up for the lack of soap and deodorant; it has been attempted before by better men than you and it didn’t work then either. Overdoing the cologne or body spray is almost as bad as the stale-sweat-and-feet stink that you’ll encounter at conventions. That shower you were thinking of skipping in order to make it to the Venture Brothers panel could well be the oasis of fresh air that helps attract the cuties.

Think of this as your bare minimum for successful human interaction during the con; any less and you poor judgement, sallow skin and shambling like a zombie when you’re trying to chat up that cute woman cosplaying as Faye Valentine. Er… that is a woman, right?


  1. or at least some serious nerdcrushes []
  2. True story! []

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  • 1) If you're a return fan/customer from last year's con, understand that the "vaguely blurry memory in a sea of faces" has been overwritten by a whole year of conventions and regular social interactions having nothing to do with conventions. If they remember you, feel ossim. If they don't, please be understanding.

    2) Just because the guest/vendor isn't behind the table doesn't mean that she won't feel trapped if you, oh, say, corner her in the bar. This is especially true if you have physically cornered her so that you are blocking all exits. Just because it's a crowded room doesn't mean that you are not being creepy by putting her in a situation where she can't escape you.

    (Also, I'm stealing Alpha Nerd for my Thursday post. I was struggling for the right term to use for that one, and it's spot on.)

    • Jeff

      Creepy-first-talk ultimate avoider : Another very useful trick would be to wait until there is almost no place at a restaurant-restobar on site, if someone is interesting you, you have the perfect excuse to approach them and communicate and avoid any creepy things. Of course, if you are giving everything you have to look creepy, you will, but if you hold it, you'll do it well.

      By coming around ask her if there is someone sitting there, you start a conversation. You can sit. Make sure to have a question she can answer or at least give a hint on the answer. Like : Hey do you know if Leonard Nimoy (or other stars name that ARE NOT on the list that INTEREST YOU) will be here ? I heard he may come this year.

      By asking that and having an answer, she will probably talk more than you, since she have to answer you. If there's a chance like Jim Carrey's memes say so, she'll give you an answer longer than your question. By pushing her in that direction, you launch a conversation she is leading. So lets continue with the example, she answer you : Confident : Hmmm… I don't think he'll be here this year, but I'm not sure. Not Confident : Sorry, I don't really know who "star's name" is, but I don't think he's here.

      You instantly launch the "you helped me" part. You thank her. If she know who he is, you present yourself and shake hands. It may look stupid, but as stupid as it may sound, presentation followed by friendly physical contact is keeping her interest rolling in her head. If she doesn't know who he/she is but is still asking herself who he/she is. That is good. because once you present yourself, throught the conversation, you'll be able to make a loop. For example, once you started a conversation, don't wait at the deterioration to show the : I NEED to she you who "star's name" is. Come with me, I'll show you.

      From that point, you are at the closest point to have an actual date with that girl. I know how effective this is, because I used it. You're welcome.

  • djteslarose

    Two things,

    1. As an Aggie alum (class 2006), enjoy your time in College Station and make sure you go by Freebirds for a burrito! Aggies are incredibly wonderful people so I know they'll treat you right. 🙂

    2. Feel free to delete this comment if you feel it inappropriate, but I am running some of the evening entertainment for Clockwork Alchemy, a new Steampunk Con in association with Fanime in San Jose, May 24-28th. And yes, we will have those balls, concerts, cabarets, dj'd club nights, room parties, etc. that were described above! (More info at http://www.clockworkalchemy.com) Just want to spread the word to fellow Bay Area nerds!! 1 badge gets you into both Clockwork Alchemy and Fanime and all of CA's evening entertainment is included for free. If you or anyone else is in the area, I hope y'all stop by and say hello. I'll be spinning a couple of sets as well. 🙂

  • fellicity

    Did you just put Firefly in the same category as Twilight and Jem & The Holograms? Just for that, you, sir, would not be on my Con dance card.

  • anon

    people really can't have fun somewhere without thinking about getting laid can they…?

    who the fuck goes to a convention to get LAID? you ain't there for that.

    • Dr. NerdLove

      Going by the number visitors I get via searches for "Get laid at comic con" "screw anime con chicks" "pick up cosplay chicks" and "pick up girls at comic con"… quite a lot.

      • anon

        well yeah haha. I just find it pathetic that's all that seems to be on everyone's mind at every waking moment now *shrugs* there's a time and place for everything. going to a convention just to get LAID is pointless.

        • James

          1 – Best place to meet someone is where you share interests.

          2 – Numbers game. Your highest chance of meeting someone is where there are a LOT of people.

          I'm not so sure about the truth of the second one, but it's still something many people believe even so. Combine those two things and people might actually look at cons as a good place to meet people. I wouldn't go so far as to put it as 'get laid' but different people want different things.

      • Beardy

        Wait. People internet search for how to specifically pick up women at nerd-cons?

        I don't want to live on this planet any more.

        • Yuki

          It almost makes me consider that maybe, just MAYBE, it's a good idea I'm waiting to go to Animazement (anime con) next year when I turn eighteen rather than this year. I mean, sure, it's bound to be fun and all, but maybe with all the stories I've heard about conventions and this particular fact about people seriously going to cons to oogle and get laid, maybe waiting a year isn't such a bad idea.


        • Vince

          While I agree that it kinda saddens me that people are that laser-focused on getting a piece of ass by any means possible, anywhere, anytime, maybe you oughta ease up off the judgment a little, man. Both of you.

          Because the unhealthy mindsets which spawn those kinds of fervent Google searches are the same kinds many people read this blog to try and understand and grow out of. Calling people pathetic for that isn't really much better than the typical jock making fun of the geeks who frequent Doctor Nerdlove in the first place. :/

          • anon

            where did I day only geeks were pathetic losers? I judge EVERYONE equally

          • anon

            "many people read this blog to try and understand and grow out of. "

            by giving them advice on how to achieve it?

        • Paul Rivers

          "Wait. People internet search for how to specifically pick up women at nerd-cons? I don’t want to live on this planet any more."

          Omg! People going to do something they love and hoping to meet a romantic interest? How despicable! (rolls eyes heavily)

          I would, in fact, love to "get laid" with a girl who I meet doing the same thing that I love, that she also loves doing – other than just "prowling to get laid" with absolutely nothing in common other than drinking and bad judgement.

          • anon

            this isn't about finding a RELATIONSHIP. this is about going to cons in hops of just getting some ass and trust me, it's prominent in the con scene.

          • So what?

    • GentlemanJohnny

      From my personal experience, quite a few people do, male and female. However, even if you're not looking to get laid, the con scene is about socializing. Add in the fact that geeks of both sexes can have a hard time finding a good mate who also shares their interest outside of the con scene and some alcohol soaked room parties and you've got a recipe for romance. . .or at least hooking up.

      Back when I was doing 6-8 cons a year on the East Coast, I saw this all the time. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it was awful. I've hit on and been hit on to varying degrees of success in varying degrees of sobriety. The vast majority of these were in the fun weekend category. The one serious relationship to come out of a convention for me followed a slightly different arc. We spent some time talking but weren't an item when we left. However, we did exchange contact info. The relationship came after the con over time spent dating, hanging out with each others' friends and the sorts of things normal people do.

      So if you're going to a con looking for a fling, it can happen. If you're looking for a relationship, you might find your next one there but you won't know until they call you the following weekend. If you're looking for anything more, you'll inevitably come across as a creeper. Keep the chat light, know when to walk away and roll the dice.

  • Tea

    THANK YOU for this. I'm a longtime reader, first time commenter, but this is a topic near and dear to me. As a cosplayer who goes to cons almost exclusively for photoshoots and friendmeets, I've also met quite a number of guys who seemed to think that I was also fair game for upskirt shots, creepy following, racy lesbian poses (okay to ask for, politely, NOT okay to push for), touching, lewd suggestions, and rude "compliments". Once a guy randomly butted into a photo and made as if to stroke my cheek. Cosplayers generally appreciate series-related chat, compliments about their costumes, or even about how they look in their costumes, but things get creepy the moment the conversation strays onto individual body parts and how "sexy", "beautiful", whatever the character is.

    And I'd personally amend "dial back your geekiness" to "be aware of how (geekily) you're acting." I've had lots of cool geeky conversations with other congoers (guys and gals alike) about everything from fuckawesome Fallout weaponry to traditional vs nontraditional JRPGs. And I've also had not so cool geeky conversations with people who felt the need to lecture me about the fine mechanics of Pokemon training because clearly I don't know any better (I don't. I also don't care.) or tried to talk with me in-character when I've already broken character and clearly am not interested in playing along. And then try to follow me back to my hotel room like a little lost chick (jesus christ don't follow anyone around con unless you A) first ask to come along or B) are invited. Best way to get security called on you.)

  • Dan

    Well now I'm just thoroughly curious about the Gianna Michaels thing. Though I suppose I will accept there are some things I will never know. Great article!

  • Jules

    Excellent point about hitting on women working tables. I've worked plenty of tables in my time trying to sell my products and networking and building fan bases. I also do so with a wedding ring on, but I don't think some guys notice. Gentlemen, if you insist on hitting on a woman working a table, check to see if she's got a ring. If she does, your advances are not welcome.

    Touching on the giving geek girls shit, I have a fantastic story to go with that. I was walking around at a con a couple years ago, trying to recover from a hangover, when some jackass stops me and says outright "GIRLS DON'T LIKE COMICS!"

    Obviously, this was a very misguided attempt at hitting on me and had I been of sounder mind and body, I would have told him the error of his ways. However, all I could do was furrow my eyebrows and stare at him, filled with contempt and rum sick. After the long, unpleasant silence and death stare, he got the message.

    Lessons learned:
    1. Look out for wedding rings. Lots of women at cons are married. Don't be the rube moron who insists on hitting on a married woman. At best, it shows you're clueless. At worst, it shows you're insidious and disrespectful. Unless she's the sort interested in an open relationship and actively seeking a new beau (a rare occurrence), just back the hell off.

    2. DO NOT let your opening lines with a woman be those of antagonism. There is such a thing as playful banter, but that only works if you've established yourself as someone trying to build a friendly relationship. Otherwise, she's just going to think you are a colossal asshole.

    3. If a woman looks like she's hung over or sick, don't hit on her. You're only going to make her situation worse by making unwanted advances.

  • This times a thousand. (Love this whole blog, by the way, even though almost none of it applies to me).

    Guys: you wouldn't hit on the girl behind the counter at McDonald's, would you? I mean, you might smile and be polite and practice the art of small talk, yes, but you wouldn't hit on someone who's busy working, would you?

    Er…would you?

    Anyway. Same goes for people on con booths. By all means be polite, be charming, heck, even try and be funny: everyone can use the practice, right? But above all?

    BE BRIEF. And try not to be creepy.

    They're at work. You don't want to be 'that skeevy guy' they tweet about during their coffee break.

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  • emote_control

    Wait, what? 90,000 square feet is about 0.003 square miles, not 17. 17 square miles is like 6 square miles shy of the size of the island of Manhattan.