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By Regan Kohler
April 3, 2003 | UMD Statesman

The mention of the word "prom" may conjure up memories of popularity-rigged royalty, worry over not having a date, and yet another time for the cool high school students to be celebrated in all their trendy glory. At the second-annual Geek Prom at the NorShor Theater April 12, however, the nerds get their chance to shine.

"They say that the geek shall inherit the earth," said Paul Lundgren, one of the prom's organizers, who came up with the original idea five years ago. He enlisted the help of Scott "Starfire" Lunt, whom he had seen promoting and organizing many successful shows, such as HomeGrown Music Festival. Together, they created an all-nerd committee.

The Geek Prom is aimed toward "Einsteins, pizza faces ... braniacs, space cadets, mathletes ... Trekkies, [and] marching-band members," to name just a few, according to the prom's prospectus. Rather than blow hundreds of dollars on puffy dresses to be worn only once or rented suits with stuffy cummerbunds and the essence of the previous wearer embedded in the fibers, attendees are required to wear only clothes that are out of style or associated with being uncool. Some examples include band uniforms, dental headgear or futuristic costumes. The music to do the African anteater ritual to will be provided by Manplanet and the Hospital People. There is even a crowning of King and Queen Geek, which is said to have a very complicated judging process by six chosen ones.

According to Lunt, the Hospital People's song "We'll be Philosophers" was chosen as last year's spotlight dance, so he and Lundgren thought it would be nice to have it played live at the coronation this year. It has been renamed "Love Theme from Geek Prom."

"It's perfect for a spotlight dance because it's so uncomfortable to dance to," said Lundgren. "It makes for a wonderfully awkward moment. The song is also a real anthem for misfits. It has only two lines, but those two lines say so much. ‘Fear is gone. We'll be philosophers.'"

Lundgren and Lunt chose Manplanet because they thought they had nerd appeal.

"The guys in Manplanet all dress up in primary colors," said Lunt. "They are geek heros."

"And they were singing about robots years before the Flaming Lips were," added Lundgren.

Last year's Geek Prom went over so well that it called for an encore. There were many creative costumes and outrageous activities. One bandleader rode in on a scooter with his wife right up the red carpet, and the entire audience witnessed a "geek streak" consisting of seven naked losers running across the room. The king was said to have won by a landslide, and the queen by one vote. The event was even picked up by well-known media sources, as CNN, the Associated Press, National Public Radio and CBS Radio Network all had features on the prom.

Not much will be different this year. Lunt said they don't want to change much because of how well it went last year. The only major difference will be the new bands and celebrity geek judges.

"The most fun part of this show are the people who come to it and geek out in ways our committees could never plan," said Lundgren. He said he likes the spontaneity best.

"That's why we just try to provide an atmosphere for craziness," said Lunt. "Whatever activities we might try to force would just get in the way of letting all the geeks be themselves." Which is the whole purpose of this postmodern prom.

The Geek Prom's Grand March begins at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the Norshor, Electric Fetus, Robin Goodfellow or Ragstock. Tickets are $15 at the door. Geek fashions can be purchased at Ragstock. Manplanet will play at 10 p.m., followed by the Hospital People. The coronation is at 11 p.m., followed by another set from Manplanet. There is an after-party at Pizza Lucé at 1 a.m. Attendees of both the prom and the party must be at least 21 years old.

There will be a "short bus" shuttle from sponsoring restaurants to the prom from 8-10 p.m. and from midnight until 2 a.m. The Norshor Theater is located at 211 E. Superior St., downtown Duluth.