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 both – but 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.
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.
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?
Socialize Wisely (or: Don’t Hit On The Guests)
Trying to make friends on the con floor is a mug’s game. Especially if the person you want to talk to is a cosplayer, a vendor or guest.
Straight talk: for a lot of people, cons are work. If they’re sitting at a booth or they’re at a table at Artist’s Alley, it means they’ve spent money and they’re trying to recoup it. They’re there predominantly to market themselves and sell their products – even when the product is themselves. Interacting with fans and/or making new friends is a secondary interest.
Now, to be sure, there are plenty of celebrities, pros, amateurs and everything in between who are incredibly generous with their time and will quite happily chat with you. Just keep in mind though: time spent talking to you is time not spent making back their table fees, and there will be plenty of attendees who will not come up to spend their money if they see that their favorite pro/artist/whatever is busy. Even if your intentions are among the purest, even if all you want to do is network, the likelyhood is that at the end of the day, you’re going to be a vaguely blurry memory in a sea of faces that they saw that day. The best practice here is keep it short and sweet and not to hog their time and attention.
This is especially true if the person you’re talking to is a woman you’re interested in. Women working at cons, especially comic pros, have any number of stories of dealing with amorous creepers who think that cons are the perfect time to hit on them. Now, in fairness, you may think that you’re not being creepy. From her perspective however, she’s cornered by someone she doesn’t know who won’t take the hint that it’s time for them to go bother somebody else and she has no real method of extracting herself from the interaction. This does not make for an effective way of picking up girls at the comic-con.
The same applies to the cosplayers, by the way. Yes, they want attention – that’s part of the appeal of cosplay after all. The fact that they’re enjoying the attention people are paying them however, does not mean that they’re there looking to get laid or find a boyfriend or appreciate being hit on. By all means, take their photo (with their permission) or get your photo taken with them (ditto) but as with the guests and vendors, keep it polite, simple and short.
Now keep in mind: I said “making friends on the con floor is a mug’s game”. Want to network with the pros or maybe flirt a little with the people you’ve met?
Simple: Find the con bar. Every convention has one: the default bar where all the guests and pros go to unwind after the convention shuts down for the evening. This is the time to chat people up and make new connections; you’re not interfering with their work and you’re not inadvertently trapping them at their table. The con bar is where the action is; this is where the deals are really made, the friendships are forged and the scandalous hook-ups happen. Play your cards right and you could be the blind-item on Bleeding Cool.
Dial Back The Geekiness
Yes. You heard me. Tone your levels of nerd back a notch or two.
Now, before you start yelling at me for missing the point of fan conventions, allow me to explain.
Yes, conventions are places for geeks to come together and revel in their nerdery with neither fear nor shame. And yes, you should be celebrating your geeky interests with your fellow travelers.
That being said: there is an unfortunate tendency – predominantly in poorly socialized male geeks – to go a little overboard, especially when talking to attractive women who may also have similar interests. When a male nerd meets a female geek – or at least a woman who is geek-curious – they tend to try to impress her by proving they’re an Alpha Nerd. They will attempt to demonstrate the breadth and depth of their nerdery like the tail of a spectacularly geeky peacock adorned with glittering Battlestar Galactica-branded plumage. He thinks that he’s winning her over by showing what an involved fan he is. She thinks that he’s acting like an asshole beating her over the head with the implied message of “You’re not a real fan like I am!”
Then there’s the ritual mocking of her perceived stereotypical fandom, since any female at a con has to be there for Firefly, My Little Pony, Twilight, Jem or anime in general and girls love it when you give ’em shit for the stuff they like, right guys? Right? Right?
Step back a little. Enjoy the fact that you’re both fans without trying to one-up everyone. Express interest in their fandom even if it’s antithetical to yours. And, critically, talk about things besides your geeky interests. Yes, you do have your geekiness in common, but even amongst your nerdy peers, having absolutely no life outside of your hobbies is not appealing.
Speaking of Conventions…
While we’re on the subject, I’m going to be a guest at AggieCon in College Station, Texas on March 23-25th. I’ll be part of a few panels, so if you’re in the area, be sure to come by!