Eroticism at Fan Expo…Yeah, You Read That Right.
Here’s a pick up line you may not have heard…
“Hey, you’re Sailor Moon, right?”
(Apologies if you are, in fact, Sailor Moon.)
I literally watched this happen. Multiple times. And I must admit, it made a hell of a lot of sense; there are a lot of people at Fan Expo to hook up and this opening line or one like it was doubtless responsible for at least a few hook-ups.
Sex is in the air…
At the nerd convention.
Going to Fan Expo is a lot like going to a Jays, Leafs, or Argos game for me: all around are gorgeous women in fan apparel, who clearly share one of your interests…which is awesome. At Fan Expo, this goes a step further: these (in my case) girl-next-door types are all manner of revealing, clever, or funny costumes of characters you may not have realized you had a thing for. (Although, the fetishization of super heroes is nothing new; Wonder Woman was created by a bondage enthusiast, the creator of Superman also released a book of BDSM comics, Super Hero XXX parodies are in high demand, and really, who wouldn’t want to bone Robert Downey Jr?) The costumes run the gamut from sexy Hallowe’en style things, to downright creative and awesome things: I must admit, one of the most attractive costumes I saw was a highly accurate and well-executed Saga costume (she was the prince of the Robot Kingdom, with the TV head). The sexiness came, very nerdily, from the depth of nerd knowledge and obscure but awesome choice for the costume.
So, the sexiness on display caters to all tastes, particularly in the realm of the nerd, where intelligence and mutual nerdiness can be as much of a turn-on as exposed flesh (though there is no shortage of that…particularly given the lengths some go to show off, you have to check yourself upon leaving, so as not to be blatantly checking out everyone you see on the street afterwards-a kind of strip club effect, if you will).
And to clarify, this eroticism is not simply tied to straight male nerds like me, happy to see cleavage everywhere. The high degree of fetishization of Doctor Who and anything even remotely Cumberbatch-y is evident throughout Artist’s Alley, where countless images of popular male characters kissing, or posed staring longlingly have elicited sounds fairly close to orgasm in some who have rushed to buy them. Here you can find talented, professional artists, who can draw (and often just have for sale) images of your sexually perferred characters or actors in whatever situation they are comfortable drawing. (There are countless Mary Jane Watsons, Poison Ivys, and Harley Quinns that invariably cause me to miss a step).
The fiance and I have a number of pin-ups drawn by the incredibly talented Laurie B, who specializes in Disney-ified pin-ups of famous characters (as well as adorable baby versions…her Ghostbusters “Don’t Cross the Streams” is a personal favorite). While not as classy as the busts of busts and vaguely French nude painting of my jazzy uncle’s house (which growing up was my first exposure to erotic or sensual art), they suit our style and tastes just fine.
The term, ‘To Each There Own’ seems a highly fitting moniker for the fest in general.
That being said, as with any event (particularly one attended by a social group not known for their social skills), it can get weird and creepy. Despite the charm of the ‘Hey, you’re Sailor Moon’ line, in this particular instance it was weilded with an attitude of ‘Hey, I haven’t seen you here before.’ A standard pick-up in extraordinary terms, but a pick-up nevertheless. He followed up with, ‘Yeah, I’m Deadpool, from the Marvel Comic’; it was played as a casual exchange between cosplayers, but the clear intent and delivery were more Barney Stinson than Deadpool. He then introduced his friend and asked if the Sailor Moon and her friend were there with anyone.
At least there was no where to buy Jaeger Bombs.
There’s also the very, very creepy photo request; often involving a dude asking to either get of a photo of or with particularly hot cosplayers. This is normally within the acceptable realm of ‘Yeah, kinda gross’ but occasionally crosses the line. The fiance and I got the privilege of overhearing one such request, as a Catwoman and Power Girl were told (after posing for one photo already):
“Yeah, now stand closer together. Now turn in to her slightly. Yeah, just like that. Now, hand on your hip. Yeah. Yeah, that’s good.”
It was like hearing bad dialogue in a film and was uttered by the exact kind of nerd you’d expect to be asking two female Expo attendees to pose his way for a second shot. It was easily the grossest thing I heard all festival (second place goes to jailbait Slave Leia…bad call, 16 year old.)
And then, on the positive side, there’s the BDSM.
Lots of people rock leather at Fan Expo (thanks, The Matrix, Bryan Singer’s X-Men, anime, etc…) in varying degrees of fetish-y ways (some, not at all), but then there’s the ‘costume appropriate, but here’s a window into our sex lives’ way, which I saw on the very first day: a Deadpool had a Twi’lek (the two headed tail dancers from Return of the Jedi) on a leash. While conceivably part of the Star Wars costume, it seemed to me, rather, that these two nerds were getting to let their freak flag fly a bit (and public display is often -pardon the pun- tied up in power play). The cool thing is, that no one really seems to mind. There are grumbles about everything everywhere (guys in Catwoman costumes tend to bare the brunt of it, unfortunately, despite the fact that the dude in the leather catsuit was in better shape than anyone else I saw rocking the costume at the Expo), but it’s ultimately a safe space, of a sort. Particularly for us nerdy folk, who often don’t know how to express ourselves (sexually or otherwise). It’s a cool side effect. For all the creepiness of the photo guy, there’s good stuff like this going on too.
For me, I know the great surprise and win will always be that there are all these attractive people who share the same interests as me (which, of course, makes them more attractive). I was lucky enough to find one to be both my Expo and life companion (though we disagree vehemently about which Trek is best…a deep level nerd argument that is, of course, part of the reason I love her), but it still staggers me just how many people there are looking for -and now, in our ‘nerd is cool’ world- finding either a hook-up, or love, or even just validation that they aren’t alone, that we’re all nerdy freaks together. Growing up in the 90’s, it was kind of drilled into us that nerdy girls weren’t really a thing and that we shouldn’t expect to find a companion who shared those interests…now there are girls walking around in (surprisingly attractive) midriff bearing Halo armour outfits.
And for every in-genuine ‘Hey you’re Sailor Moon’ line, you get an incredibly genuine one, like I heard my first day: a girl tore over to a guy dressed (incredibly randomly) as Charlie Chaplain and declared, “Mr. Chaplain! Your costume is beautiful and perfect and I love you very much.”
I don’t know whether they exchanged any words beyond that, but I’m still humbled and thrilled by the fact that we now live in a world where that genuine burst of loving fandom might have gotten that girl laid.
It’s a good day to be a nerd.
As a sidenote: I know lots of guys want to be like the fast-talking, wise-cracking, badass ninja Deadpool…but when you put on a skintight Morph suit, it is your responsibility as a human to take a good, long, honest look at yourself in the mirror, before adventuring off into the world. It shows EVERYTHING. Please use responsibly.