In Vancouver, geek culture is experiencing a “golden age”. That’s according to Fairlith Harvey, cofounder and artistic director of Geekenders.
Started up in 2012, Geekenders is a theatrical troupe that puts on burlesque nights, plays, and variety shows for the geek community. Its next event is a burlesque tribute to Doctor Who. Don’t Blink will take place on April 2 at the Rio Theatre. Tickets are $9 at the door.
On April 11, Geekenders will present a variety show inspired by Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Tickets for this event at the WISE Hall are $15. A burlesque show called Star Wars: The Empire Strips Back, a follow-up to Geekenders’ Star Wars: A Nude Hope, is also in the works.
Harvey is an event planner who previously founded a similar company, Geeks After Dark. Her burlesque stage name is Trixie Hobbitses.
The Georgia Straight reached Harvey by phone in the purple living room of her Vancouver home.
What is Geekenders all about?
Geekenders is a project that combines theatre, cabaret-style performance, and parties with geek culture. We work really hard to provide a safe, welcoming space for people, who might feel a little bit socially awkward or just don’t have a lot of spaces to mingle with people who have a lot in common with them, to attend and experience culture that they might not otherwise experience. Musical theatre, burlesque, magic, dancing—all sorts of things.
What can we expect at your next event?
Our next event is a simple burlesque show, actually. It’s at the Rio Theatre on a Wednesday....
We’re doing a two-act burlesque tribute to Doctor Who. There’ll be a burlesque act to represent every single Doctor, including Peter Capaldi, who we’ve now seen in two separate Doctor Who specials. So, that’s really exciting.
Why is Doctor Who deserving of the nerdlesque treatment?
Doctor Who is one of the most iconic pop-culture properties. Almost every geek has a Doctor that they really love. It really represents—to me and, I think, a lot of other geeks—that you don’t have to have superpowers or anything particular to be special and help people and go on adventures. And I think that’s what really appeals to people about that show.
Now you’ll be performing in the show, so which Doctor are you taking on and how will you do it?
I’m going to be Sylvester McCoy, and I think he doesn’t get enough love. So, I’m going to be doing a routine with his little umbrella to a mix between “Time Warp” from Rocky Horror, and Huey Lewis and the News’s “Back in Time”.
What might surprise people about the events you’re putting on?
Well, we work really hard to rehearse and make everything polished. Everything we ever do has a script and rehearsals and a ton of work put into it.
One of the purposes of Geekenders is to provide a space for performers that have never performed before. Not only actors, but also Geekenders is a place that a lot of women make their burlesque debut. We want geeky girls to have a place where they can explore who they are as well.
We put on a lot of full-length theatrical productions. We did a musical burlesque version of Star Wars: A New Hope. Our Han Solo made his theatre debut and his dancing debut, and he’s just one person. We have a ton of people who just want to participate so badly and are becoming actors and performers, just because they find they love it so much.
How would you describe where Vancouver’s geek culture is at right now?
I think we’re in a real golden age of it. I think Vancouver is really unique, because we have so many different, really wonderful kinds of shows going on. There’s not just Geekenders. We’re doing full-length burlesque productions. We’re doing musicals and variety shows and all sorts of things.
But there’s the Critical Hit Show live Dungeons & Dragons comedy experience. There’s the Fictionals’ Minus World Improv show. There’s a bunch of different conventions, like Fan Expo, like Northwest Fan Fest. There’s so many people being so creative in this town when it comes to geek culture. Not every city is lucky enough to have people that are so dedicated to making new kinds of art.