With nothing to do for over and hour before my friends could pick me up and with a bubbling concoction of simultaneous judgement and hope in my heart, I made a last minute decision to attend a Geek Speed Dating session at Rhode Island Comic Con.
It’s one part exactly what you think: me, judgemental af, wondering who exactly attends speed dating at a comic convention.
The other part? My eternal hope that it’s someone hot.
I’ve walked and talked with friends who join me at conventions or let me crash on their couches about the concept of ‘con hot,’ which is any person who in normal circumstances might not get a second glance, but in the context of a comic convention seems appealing. Part of this appeal comes from the comparison against the socially awkward & uncomfortable stereotypical nerds & dweebs who attend comic conventions, while the other part comes from knowing that someone who’s con hot is often (at least) semi-attractive but also into nerdy shit and not afraid to show it. I, in particular, ogle hot guy cosplayers, dreaming of a partner who will go to conventions with me1I live for a man who will call me ‘imzadi’, who I can make costumes for, and do nerdy shit with.
Anyway, back to Geek Speed Dating. I gauged the line, saw two acceptably hot dudes, said fuck it, and went in. I’d seen their (or a similar) booth & presence at a few conventions in the past, and joked about attending a session at New York Comic Con in 2017 but never did. Fortunately (or unfortunately, you decide after reading this post), RICC had minimal programming, I felt hot, and I convinced myself that maybe at the very least I could promote the workshop I was holding later that night.
However, both the men attending and the set up of Geek Speed Dating left me wanting.
Even though the owner Pat has been doing this for 4 years, the company felt unpolished at best and disorganized at worst. Everyone who was affiliated with the company was super nice, but it’s tough for me to avoid looking at companies (specifically in a convention setting) without branding. Some background: I’ve been cosplaying since 2012, and in my early years I attempted several times to create a brand for myself so I could go pro. It never happened and I was making myself miserable trying to turn a profit from a hobby that I wanted to be fun. But Geek Speed Dating is a company that already makes money with a national & international2mostly in Canada presence. And yet: directions were confusing, the pitch felt weak, and several attendees (including me!) were disheartened once it ended.
There are 3-4 speed dating sessions per day, each about an hour long. 1-2 of these are LGBTQ+ (whatever that means), the rest are straight. As someone who is cis/straight passing (aka looks femme, has a vulva, and loves dick), I thought my best bet would be one of the straight sessions. These sessions occur in panel rooms and are usually advertised alongside other programming during the convention. Geek Speed Dating also has a table to field sign-ups with an additional team of 3-4 employees who walk the show floor looking for sign-ups. But you don’t have to sign up ahead of time, especially if you’re a “lady,” you can just walk in as the session is getting started.
“Ladies” are free, while men pay $20 to attend. Ah, misandry, my one true love.
I definitely would not pay to attend a session and I honestly enjoy the idea of men paying to attempt to date me. I know my value,3-Agent Peggy Carter I know how hot I am, and I have certain standards I won’t acquiesce. While I and the other femme folk headed in, the Men waited outside to (as I later found out) get a spiel about how they shouldn’t go into this thinking they were going to find someone to marry but just trying to make friends. I wish that had been said to the people in my room because, as much as I might have ignored it, it would be better to walk away with new friends than zero anything. Instead, we femme “ladies” (and femme-presenting folks) weren’t supposed to give out our names or phone numbers because in the internet age it’s too easy to get stalked. The founder did have a response mechanism if someone made you feel uncomfortable but no one in my session used it.
While I remained seated, the men would rotate through every 2 minutes as alerted by a ten second countdown. Each person was supposed to write down which number was attached to a badge on the person they were chatting with as well as notes, which is frankly impossible without any time between the two-minute dates. The ratio leaned heavier on the men’s side of things, so some dudes got breaks between a few of their dates while I talked & listened nonstop for almost an hour. Once everyone had met everyone, men went to a table on one side of the room & women went to another. Each table had blank paper, and we were instructed to write down the number on our badge in the corner of the paper and that was it. We then switched tables and found the badge numbers of people we were interested in; on these sheets we wrote our badge number, name, and phone numbers.
This setup was less than advanced, technologically, and honestly pretty confusing.
It would have been easier with a pre-set form since multiple people fucked up this step. At the end, we all went back to find the sheet with our badge number at the top and got to take home those phone numbers. There are advantages and disadvantages to getting phone numbers immediately at the close of the event, especially for the two folks who got no numbers, even after attending all FIVE events that weekend. On the other hand, getting someone’s number immediately means you can hang out more during the convention. Since a lot of folks travel to conventions this might be the easiest way for you to hang out.
Would I do Geek Speed Dating again? That depends. Am I at a convention with nothing else to do (and definitely not sober), sure.
But I’d like to see improvements from the company.
The introduction at the beginning needs to feel more practiced and less kinkshamey (even if unintentional, it was not great to hear examples of “if a guy wants to smell your armpits or celebrate International Women’s Day,4aka get pegged we’ll kick him out for being creepy”), and I’d honestly feel better if that intro wasn’t delivered by a white/straight/cis man. Something along the lines:
“Hi I’m ___, I’ve been working with Geek Speed Dating for ___, and in that time (these wonderful things have happened). Your safety is our main concern, so if you ever feel uncomfortable, here are the things you can do: ___. The most important thing to do is have fun, and take as many notes as you can, because even if you don’t end up wanting to date any of these guys, you may end up with a new friend.”
There are also some quick fixes like PRINTED FORMS, oh my god that’s such an easy fix. Not to mention that we live in the digital age, so a website and better social media presence would reassure potential attendees that this is, in fact, a legitimate business. And hey, if you’re looking for someone to design that website, give me a call! I have a lot of ideas.
In the meantime, I’ll stick to tinder.
If you’re into geeky & sexy stuff, and will be in New York City October 7th, I’m hosting Geeky Sex Trivia at The Way Station and you can win sex toys!