#34: Naked with the Nerds

July 16th, 2012

She danced as Princess Leia and as a Super Mario fish, but that wasn’t nerd enough for her.

I met her at a party she and her boyfriend were throwing for a mutual acquaintance. As we sipped keg beer from Solo cups, she spun castles in the clouds of the burlesque troupe she and her friends were planning. It wasn’t nerd burlesque — that exists and she’s a part of it. It was nerdier burlesque.

Doctor Who strip teases. Tim Burton tittie shows. A burlesque based on short-lived cult Fox sci-fi show Firefly by Buffyverse guru and Avengers director Joss Whedon.

“Which Doctor?” I asked about the Doctor Who burlesque. The BBC cult show about an alien who travels through time using a box British cops used to use to make phone calls “regenerates” the lead into a new actor every time the old actor leaves.

“I don’t know,” she said. “We might make that into a running gag.”

The backyard was dark and the crowd waning. I had waited for my roommate to get back from her night shift job before we went to the party. In a way, this was the typical conversation to have over keg beer and Solo cups while sitting in folding chairs in a stranger’s back yard. “So what do you do?” just usually doesn’t yield such interesting results.

“This might confuse my feelings about Captain Reynolds,” I said about the Firefly burlesque.

“That’s the idea,” she replied.

Chicago has “nerdlesques.” And it has a punk burlesque or two. There are a few traditional vaudeville ones. And boylesques. And one where I’m told they dance through the cascade of sparks from when they take power tools to their sheet-metal outfits.

The Super Mario Bros. strip show where the woman with the Solo cup danced as a “Cheep-Cheep” fish was set to end, moving down to New Orleans. Part of the troupe wants to go more pop culture with the next shows — spoofs of popular movies. She and her group want to go full-on into nerd. It makes sense to me.

She was excited as she talked about her plans. Her eyes got wild, her hand gestures vivid and she spoke with passion, with energy, sometimes even with anger about making her castles in the clouds real. This was her dream.

It’ll happen, I know. Ideas and dreams told over keg beer in Solo cups in a stranger’s back yard just sound different when they’re going to come true.

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