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No shame in getting geeky at 2013 Snowdown

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

The Snowdown Follies organizers boast “Never an unsold ticket!” adding that 2,800 people see the show every year. Suzy DiSanto and Jessica Perino, in back, get ready to rehearse their Snowdown Follies number, “Digadigado,” recently at the Henry Strater Theatre.

By Jim Haug Herald staff writer

For anyone embarrassed about collecting glass unicorn figurines or reading comic books well into middle age, it’s time to bust out your Batman action figure from its collector case and wear your “Battlestar Galactica” T-shirt in public.

The 2013 Snowdown is all about getting your geek on.

In its 35th year, the often bawdy winter festival will be celebrating characters such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” as depicted in the 2005 comedy of the same name, but the beer-pong tournament and outhouse-stuffing contest are not going the way of the plastic pocket protector or the slide rule.

Geeky and outrageous are not mutually exclusive. In geek terms, Snowdown 2013 would occupy the intersection between outrageous and nerdiness on a Venn diagram.

During the weeklong festivities that concludes Sunday, everyone is urged to think geek, such as asking “Are you a Trekkie?” during speed dating, which is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Rochester Hotel Bar, 721 E. Second Ave.

Queens in the drag show, 7 p.m. Thursday at El Rancho Bar, might also want to consider nerdy female costumes, such dressing up as Velma from “Scooby Doo” or the feminist bookstore owners from “Portlandia.” Women dressing as guys will undoubtedly have a longer list of male nerds to emulate.

Participants are to be judged on “overall dorkiness,” but organizer Jen LaCroix said anyone with a costume is welcome to participate.

With popular TV shows such as “The Big Bang Theory,” Snowdown organizers want to tap into the cultural moment, the ironic popularity of the nerd, said Dawn James-Staten, president of the event’s board of directors, who is also going by “overlord” as her geek title.

The geek theme also is conducive to creating activities for all age groups, such as making sleds from 100 percent recycled materials or science demonstrations at Durango Discovery Museum.

Plus, the geek theme is good for costumes.

“You always have to dress up (for Snowdown),” said James-Staten, who has two costumes planned, nerdy school girl and Lt. Uhura from “Star Trek.”

As any fan of “Star Trek” or “Battlestar Galactica” might appreciate, science fiction usually contains some biting social commentary. This year’s Follies won’t be any different, said Amber Pedigo, the director.

There will be some satire of Durango’s hot-button topics.

“We’ll definitely be discussing the front-page issues from the last year, maybe even some of the back-page issues, too,” Pedigo said.

If the political issues are too inflaming, pent-up aggression always can be burned off in a relatively mild and nerdy fashion in an assassin game new to Snowdown. No one is shot, but participants could get slapped with a sticker to indicate they’re dead. It’s an adult version of tag.

YPOD Geek Assassin is a weeklong, all-over town contest modeled on a “game that’s all the rage on college campuses,” said RubiStarr Randazzo, an organizer from Young Professionals of Durango.

During the weeklong event, participants must constantly be on guard, but there are safe zones such as the workplace and public restrooms.

One bathroom function going public will be Snowdown’s first ever Pee Pee Boys Pee off at 3 p.m. Friday at White Dragon Tea Room, inside There’s No Place Like Home gift shop, 820 Main Ave.

The Pee Pee Boys are small Chinese clay figures that absorb about 2 ounces of water when submerged for about 15 minutes or so.

When boiling water is poured on top of their heads, the anatomically correct figures spout water as little boys are wont to do, spraying an arc for a few feet.

For the Snowdown contest, participants’ Pee Pee Boys will be judged on two categories of distance and duration.

Michael Thunder, owner of White Dragon, expects contestants to arrive with Pee Pee Boys soaking in coolers of cold water, but he will make them available for anyone who shows up empty-handed.

Thunder said there is a subculture fascinated with the imported Chinese toy. “There are people that are already strategizing, positioning themselves (to win),” he said. “We’ve got all kinds of engineer-heads already involved. We’ve got a 10-year-old that’s been working on this for months.”

When Thunder heard a 65-year-old arguing with the 10-year-old boy over Pee Pee Boys strategy, he thought it would fit in well with this year’s theme.

“It’s in the spirit of the outrageousness of Snowdown,” Thunder said.

jhaug@durangoherald.com.

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