Father’s Day Geek Win!

It’s a pretty unholy fusion – geekery and musical theatre were not really meant to be together.

But up in Leicester Square today, it’s been all about Superheroes, Sith Lords, Singers and Pink Drapery as we’ve once again taken up a two-day residence in a West End Live display tent… and proved that Glee isn’t the only thing that can cross that potentially hazardous cultural boundary.

We know the drill – we’ve done this four years running. Armed with a TARDIS, a cut-out of The Doctor and a selection of SF-style helmets and weaponry, we’re there to provide an uber-cool photo op and a chance for the kids to get their hands on (and their head in) a Clone Trooper helm.

But here’s the thing…

It’s not just the kids.

While Mums want a picture of their little’un with Batman, while teen girls squee at even a cardboard Matt Smith, Dad has never outgrown actually being a superhero. Mum will take a goody bag for the kids; Dad will take one for himself as well – and be chuffed as fuck to get a Spider-Man comic. Mum will wander off to watch the cast of Legally Blonde; Dad will stay and tell his kids about Darth Maul.

You know it: it’s always Dad who has to try the Optimus Prime helmet on.

Up at Forbidden Planet, our female customer base is bigger than it’s ever been – we all know there’s a Geek Grrl Revolution going on. But I’ve stood in the back of that tent today and watched a starry-eyed Dad teach his five-year-old correct rifle etiquette with a steampunk-style Annihilator Mk II… and then take a picture that will last him the rest of his life.

It was a tad surreal – but it did underline one thing…

Today is Father’s Day. And it’s been a complete Geek Dad Win!

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West End Grrl

So, what happens when you take the High Altar of Geek and plonk it in the very heart of mainstream, high-culture London?

Aside from a personal visit by the Mayor (who once collected Marvel comics, so he said) and an amazingly rude anchor girl from a national news team (I don’t care if you’re ‘on the telly’ luv, you’re not using my display as a dressing table), a great deal of fun, frolics and photographs.

Yes, Westminster City Council invited Forbidden Planet back to West End Live.

You know I’m intrigued by the nature of geekdom – the marketeer in me labels it the customer-base of my company – but I’m still a fangirl at heart and Forbidden Planet’s people are less statistic and more friend. Not so the milling hordes in Leicester Square last weekend! Busier than even the organisers expected, the shoulder-to-shoulder crush was sightseers, tourists, families, theatre lovers and luvvies; the urban(e) heart of the West End who stand outside my demographic and who don’t give Star Wars so much as a sniff of disdain.

Yet we were busier than we’ve ever been.

Aside from our giant Spidey, we took with us a dressing up box – masks, helmets, hats and props from now-hot comic book culture. Unsurprisingly, the guys wanted to don The Hulk mask-and-hands and roar at camera-wielding girlfriends; unsurprisingly, the Who voice-changer was a massive hit with every kid of ten or younger; unsurprisingly, the Indy hat-and-whip caused much amusement among the ladies. The ‘surprisingly’? The appeal was universal.

Dressing up is one of those things we never grow out of. It breaks our boundaries, transcends the faintly bitter taste of ‘role-play’ and embraces the sweet allure of ‘stage and screen’. With us, once again, were our friends from the UK Garrison – this time clad in a variety of movie-class costumes – and fronting the ‘come-as-you-aren’t’ theme of the FP tent. They epitomised what the packed throng of visitors were teasing at the edges of – the desire to be the legend, the hero, the star.

Returning to my personal mission statement about the new age of geek credibility, it seems that West End Live blurred the ever-fading line between geek and chic even more… On a weekend where the Mayor collects Marvel and the ol’ comic store becomes the new green room, there’s no limit to how cool a geek can get!

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