“Being queer and being a nerd is a good fit,” said writer Lia Incognita, speaking to a packed courtyard on a glorious summer night. “You love what you love, without shame, and with all your heart.” Then, as if to assure the audience of her own nerd credentials, she translated part of what she had just said into Esperanto.
The event was Queer Nerd, a one-off spoken word performance put together for this year’s Midsumma Festival. Performed at Bar Nancy in Westgarth, the show brought together a selection of writers, poets and story tellers from Melbourne’s queer community to give readings that celebrated nerdery in all its manifold forms.
There was a computer nerd (Ali Lemer), a sci fi nerd (John Richards, one of the writers of new ABC comedy Outland), even a sex nerd (erotic writer Aimee Nichols). Poet Eddy Burger adopted comically stentorian tones to deliver parodies of epic fan fiction and superhero comics. Jules Wilkinson, who as an administrator of the online fan encyclopedia for TV show Supernatural has geek cred to burn, drew gales of laughter with her list of life lessons learned from pop culture.
The overall tone was comic but there was a deep philosophical bent to the readings as well. Lian Low spoke about the pain of being a fan and seeing your idol let you down, while Sally Goldner mused on the seeming incongruity of her dayjob as a community worker and rights activist and her love of the macho theatrics of professional wrestling. John Richards’ piece on science fiction eloquently addressed the conflict between the future we dream and the future we get. Matters of identity and belonging rose repeatedly, the freedom of finding your niche and discovering that it’s full of other people like you.
Although some of the speakers seemed a little shy at first – perhaps not surprisingly when speaking about the personal obsessions that earn the title of nerd – with a highly appreciative crowd, they found their confidence fast. In between readings, comedian Lisa-Skye, although claiming to be a “nerd adjacent” goth rather than a true nerd, kept the audience buoyed with her boisterous style. Lisa-Skye also produced the show, having worked on similar spoken events for previous Midsumma Festivals, including Mommy Dearest, Come As You Are and Femme Fever, and she deserves credit for assembling such a well balanced selection of speakers.
Being a one time only event, you won’t get to see it unless you have an actual working Tardis but any of the speakers are worth catching if you see their name on a line-up. While Queer Nerd may sound like it was aimed at a double niche market, intelligence and wit are universal in appeal and this show had gigawatts of those.
Venue: Bar Nancy
Date: Thursday 2 February
Tickets: Full $15, Concession $12