How to Hook Up at Comic Con!

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All names have been changed to protect the imaginary.

I’ve always felt there should be way more sex at Comic-Con. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of scantily clad spokesmodels, porn stars, attractive retailers, and a lot of hot (and some not so hot) people in colorful outfits. The enormous San Diego Convention Center drew over 100,000 strange visitors from all over the world last year. Yet with all that pop-culture intensity, there seemed to be a lack of sexual tension. It felt that in that sea of faces no one was trying to get some face.

For those of you who aren’t aware, the boy-girl ratio in San Diego is much closer now than it was in the twentieth century. “You used to be able to count the women in the room on one hand,” reported Sandi Bush, a long-time femme comics fan. Nowadays there are a lot more women in the room than one might expect. With the shift in demographics and the massive attendance it should seem that a little anonymous necking would be inevitable.

So from Broken Frontier’s least qualified staff member, here are some handy tips for what to do when you’re on the prowl at the Nerd Prom.

Part 1 – Packing heat

I went to San Diego one year freshly single and ready to mingle. For the four day trip, I packed three days in advance. When you’re up for some action, it never hurts to be prepared. I would be staying with some friends at a place near San Diego. It wasn’t the optimum for hook-up potential, but it was free .

Aside from the backpack for lugging your rare vintage Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figures around the showroom floor, you might consider bringing a few of these handy items.

Deodorant – “I had to sit on the curb to avoid the smell,” complained Wanda Nucki, a first-time convention-goer near last year’s Thursday morning blocks-long admission line. Seriously - if you’ve probably just driven hours in a cramped SUV, your buddies will thank you too. Take as many damn showers as you can and if you’re not used to it, soap and hot water are highly recommended.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste – A little oral hygiene never hurt anyone. In fact if you plan on trading spit with a cute stranger it’s kind of essential.

Clean clothes – Look, when you’re going to spend the whole weekend dressed as Batroc the Leaper you’re probably going to end up covered in crumbly pizza stains. A little Febreze couldn’t hurt either. See Deodorant above

Part 2 – Where the boys (and girls) are

I was standing next to a young lady next to an information kiosk as the convention center was closing. There was a short break before the night-time activities would begin.

“Which panel are you trying to find?” I was in semi-helpful mode.

“I was just trying to figure out what was going on tonight,” she flirted. Her name was Helen Wheels. She was a voluptuous darling in a tight t-shirt. Neither of us was sure what would happen next.

One of the most important tasks in the hunt for anonymous make-outs is figuring out where to find someone you might want to canoodle.

The Trolley – If you’ve ever tried parking near the convention center you know that the city of San Diego wants to steal as much of your nerd-money as they can. Parking your car at a free lot and taking the trolley is a great alternative that will save you the cash you’ll need to buy that neon light saber (well, at least a down-payment). The great thing about taking the trolley is that fangirls and fanboys are really easy to pick out from the locals. If you see a foxy little geekette dressed like Frodo, you’ll also have an easy conversation starter. Nothing like a little Fellowship of the Flings!

Volunteering – When you’re broke the cheapest way to get into the convention center is to volunteer. If you happen to get paired up with an interesting someone, it’s not like you’ll have anything better to do.

Give Blood – If you’re the selfless type you can meet other givers waiting for the spike. The San DiegoBlood Bank has been running the Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive for decades. They give you donuts and juice when you’re done. Advice: drink a lot of water before you check in or you won’t be able to share your bodily fluids later.

Got Gays? – My friend Gay Tony had some advice on where to meet people in San Diego. If you’re up for a little cruising, you might check out one of the gay-themed panels or parties that take place over the weekend. Unfortunately, the cross-dressing Sailor Moons (you know, the bearded men dressed as Japanese schoolgirls) aren’t always into guys. It’s a complex world.

Late Night Adventures – When hundreds of 40 year old adolescents go to a party with drinks and tunes, the sparks start flying. If you can get yourself into some exclusive mixer, feel free to go to town. As a back-issue dealer named Kenya Digit yelled out to her fellow revelers, “What happens in San Diego stays in San Diego!”

Part 3 – What the whoopee?

Helen seemed like she had nothing better to do so we went to a nearby sandwich shop and split a sub. She was a local, and a big anime fan.

“Hey, I’m staying with friends in Lemon Grove. My buddy’s got some great stuff on DVD!”

If you’re a stereotypical comics geek, you’re probably at least a little socially stunted. If you’re not sure what to say when you’re staring a super-cutie in the eye, start with “hi!” and then use some variation on the following outline.

I) Start a conversation and look for electricity

II) Divide and conquer – Asking your spark out to lunch or dinner can be very sexy. Everyone’s looking for good chow in the Gaslamp district, so it doesn’t hurt to know where the good eats are. Also a nice meal is a great place to explore the sparkage.

II) Trade phone numbers, and/or set up a meet at one of the night time events. Cell phone coverage in the Convention Center is usually touch-and-go, so you’re better off meeting up later.

IV) Play it by ear.

Helen had two tickets to the Masquerade so we went together. Neither of us had been to the show before, so we had no idea what to expect. The seats were pretty full, so we found a nice corner with a good view of the stage. The crowd screamed at the contestants. We were hitting it off.

Part 4 – In case you’re clueless

Here are some additional tips for the especially inept.

Confidence! Confidence! Confidence! – Casual is one thing, but shoe-gazing usually means you can’t make eye contact. That cute girl dressed like Lara Croft will probably have a few other suitors on her trail. If you don’t think you’re worth it, she never will.

Know when to back off – If they scowl, keeps looking at their watch or start running hastily through the aisles, you should probably turn your attentions elsewhere.   

Stop being so creepy! – Lurking near anyone on the convention floor for more than twenty minutes could be considered stalking. If you’re not going to make conversation, just go sign up for a Magic: The Gathering tournament or something. Also, try not to hit on your favorite creators. If you do, you probably don’t know how creepy you are. Ask a friend whether you give people the creeps and maybe they’ll tell you what to do about it.

We left the Masquerade early and heard the sound of the DJ on the mezzanine. We danced on and on and then she told me her mother was going to pick her up soon.

“Wait! How old are you?”

Maybe I shouldn’t continue this story. Mrs. Wheels drove up and Helen went home unsullied. She looked a lot more mature before dinner.

What? I said she went home unsullied.... Stop looking at me that way.

Parting shot

That’s about all the space I have for my helpful guide to the pursuit of temporary happiness at the ultimate pop-culture mecca. There are probably a lot more tips that I could have shared. Hopefully you’ll be able to take these tidbits and turn Comic-Con into the no strings attached funfest that it deserves to be.

Recommended reading: How to Pick Up Girls if You’re a Comic Book Geek, by Rich Koslowski. Besides being a realistic guide to nerd profiling, it’s damned funny. Even if you don’t need any help this is a great read!

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