By V. Paul
April 11, 2003 | Duluth
For last year’s Geek Prom, Ryan Amundson found his entire
geeky attire at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store: Plaid
pants, striped sweater and a button-up shirt.
Then he applied makeup so he looked like he’d been wiping
his nose for 10 years straight. He wanted to look like somebody
who was allergic to everything around him and obsessed over
having an allergen-free environment.
Gina Giacomini sewed her attire from about $4 worth of material.
Thirty minutes before the prom, she added some black and gold
trim to an oversized light blue shirt. Then she found a black
skirt and tights. Viola! Giacomini wore a fab Star Trek outfit
from the 1960s.
For their efforts, Amundson and Giacomini were crowned King
and Queen Geek among the more than 300 people who partied
at the NorShor Theatre.
The Duluthians didn’t win just because of their outlandish
attire. They won because they’re real geeks, not wannabes
or posers. Amundson suffers from allergies and Giacomini calls
herself a true Trekkie.
They’re so proud to be geeks that they’re coming
back Saturday with beefed up geek-wear as guest judges for
the second annual Geek Prom.
“There will be those people who just stand out. You
can tell they spend a lot of time and creativity and effort
in looking geeky. That scores points with me,” Giacomini
said. “Then you see those people who you know they’re
not faking it. That scores a lot of points, if they’re
not afraid to be who they are.”
Geek Prom kicks off at 8 p.m. Saturday in the NorShor Theatre,
211 E. Superior St. Like last year, attendees will be ushered
into the prom in the Grand March. That’s when six judges
will rate their geek-factor. This year’s royalty will
be announced at 11 p.m.
Giacomini and Amundson will share judging duties with George
Kessler, former KBJR-TV Channel 6 meteorologist; Kate Hart,
owner of Sunhillow Books; Amy Abts, a Duluth singer/songwriter;
and Harry Welty, a Duluth School Board member.
“We’ve set ourselves up to have Grade A celebrity
judges,” said Paul Lundgren, the prom’s co-founder.
“I guess we feel a bit challenged to put on a better
show than last year … One of the things we know is the
harder we try, the more we might end up messing things up.”
“Mostly we just need to bring the geeks there, give
them music to dance to and try to stay out of their way.”
Hospital People, a reunited Duluth band, and Manplanet from
the Twin Cities will provide the music.
The point of the evening is for geeks to come as they are
and be who they are. A geek isn’t consumed by vanity
and doesn’t succumb to peer pressure, Amundson said.
Hart says she can tell a geek by watching for out-of-date
clothing and unsure body language. Dressing the part might
take a little extra effort because folks are more used to
dressing to fit in, Giacomini said.
To look like a geek, people have to let their individuality
shine through, she added. That leads to a major marker of
geekiness: what’s on the inside.
“I think the average geek is a little more inquisitive
than the average person sitting in front of the television
watching war coverage brought to you by GE,” Hart said.
Last year’s Geek Prom received plenty of media attention:
articles in newspapers across the country, a mention on CNN
and other TV news shows and features on National Public Radio.
It costs about $3,000 to put on Geek Prom, which is not intended
to be a money-maker, Lundgren said.
Organizing the prom has become mostly a labor of love for
Lundgren, his co-founder Scott Lunt and 10 volunteers of the
“There’s a little geek in all of us. Sometimes
our daily lives don’t allow us to really let that geek
out. This is an occasion when it’s encouraged to look
stupid and dance poorly,” Lundgren said. “It’s
a slow process taking over the world, but the geek shall inherit
the earth. Make no mistake about that.”