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What Geeks Want

Mini-industry springs up around seduction

AN INORDINATELY large number of people seem fascinated by how geeks mate. Maybe it's because people who work with computers have been stereotyped as virginal perverts, and nothing intrigues us more than an erotic paradox. Or possibly it's because high-tech work seems so otherworldly that it's hard to reconcile heated eroticism with giant rooms full of chilled servers. Whatever the reason, there's a mini-industry devoted to geek dating, geek love, and of course, geek sex.

Canadian website www.geekculture.com offers "geek erotica" films--gloved hands fondle disk slots and power buttons, then get kinky with hard drive bays and ethernet connections. Other sites, like Nerd Slut and www.geekcheck.com, offer tips for the lovelorn geek and the geeklorn lover.

Of course, ever since Bill Gates became one of the richest bastards on the planet, geeks have been invested with the seductiveness that comes with social and economic power. A whole service sector has sprung up around the idea that geek men are an untapped financial resource for the women who are willing to cater to their sexual and emotional needs. The irrepressible Caity MacPherson's porn site, www.juicymango.com, is home to a series of pictures featuring nude models posing next to tech company signs. The idea, said MacPherson, is to pique geeks' interest--and get them to pony up some cash--by drilling down into their deepest, nerdiest desires.

Massage therapist-cum-fashion consultant Christie McClelland recently launched the nefarious www.geekboyservices.com, where she promises that dorky boys willing to spend 700 bucks on clothes (and 300 bucks on her "services") can learn to dress for chick-scoring success. The idea behind her site is clear: geeky boys have got cash muscle now, so it's time for them to learn how to attract the kinds of superficial, image-conscious girls they've seen on TV.

But is this what geeks really want? Mike Mesnick, the brains behind TechDirt.com, doesn't think so. He launched a geek-driven parody of McClelland's site, called www.geekgirlservices.com, which promises to help women become geekier by taking them shopping at computer superstore Fry's and teaching them how to install the Linux operating system. "I thought [McClelland's site] was lame, and it's scary that people are going to pay this woman $1,000," said Mesnick.

Interestingly, Mesnick has become a kind of cause célèbre among women. The vast majority of the email he has received in response to his parody site "is actually from females, most of whom were offended by the original site and felt the need to apologize to me for it, or to apologize generally for all the women who are trying to change guys."

And Mesnick isn't the only one who has responded scornfully to the idea that geeks need to shed their technoculture in order to be attractive. About nine months ago, a group of bored sysadmins at Spinner.com were so disgusted by the show Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? that they slapped together a website called Who Wants to Marry a Sysadmin? (www.fistfullofunix.com). Chuck Sumner, who currently runs the site, helped put together the vital stats on some sysadmin "bachelors" and "bachelorettes." New bachelors can add their pictures to the site if they correctly answer a series of questions about system administration.

"We got so many responses and pictures that we had a wall of photos at Spinner," said Sumner. "I don't have any plans for the future of the site," he laughs, "although maybe I could add a sysadmin webcam. It could be all images of computers computing."

For the geekishly sexual and proud, there are also some babes at www.unixsex.com, a parody porn site which features images of sysadmins licking and caressing a huge Sun server, along with "bondage" pictures of people tied to server racks with cables.

What sites like these prove is that geeks are already sexual, thank you very much, and they have an attitude about it, too. So what do geeks want? According to Jed Dobson, one of the eligible bachelors at Who Wants to Marry a Sysadmin?, it's simple: "A cute honey who can cuddle up to the sounds of disks spinning."

Annalee Newitz is a surly media nerd who likes to talk dirty about Java objects. She's at [email protected].

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From the December 29, 2000-January 3, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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