NYCC 2013

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Sci-fi Speed Dating

10th - 13th October 2013 | Written by Maxxum

Though not exactly sci-fi, the name chosen by Sci-Fi Speed Dating's master of ceremonies, Ryan Glitch, is still apropos when you're sitting across from Princess Leia with a Power Ranger, and a Dragon Ball Super Saiyan in the same room. SSD had been at New York Comic Con in 2012, though it hadn't occurred to me to interview them as I actually wanted to try it, but was prevented from attending due to scheduling conflicts.

SSD was my first stop this year, and I wasn't the only journalist - it seems this has been a bumper year for Ryan who was approached with requests to host events by several other convention representatives even as the sessions were live in some cases. Moreover, Playboy Fragrances was SSD's sponsor at NYCC this year.

Prior to trying a session myself, which I discuss at the end, I spoke with Ryan.

Maxxum: Your name is Ryan Glitch... is that your real name?

Ryan Glitch: Yep, that is my real name, I have a very epic last name.

Did you change that or was it your birth name?

Oh, that's my birth name, that's my old man's name.

So, it's essentially divine providence [you have that name] and are doing sci-fi dating.

Yes, yes it is. I'm very lucky.

Are you married?

Ah, no I was engaged, we just had a difference of opinion on being faithful - she couldn't, I was. So, we just called it quits, that was it.

Was [the relationship] something that came from here?

Yes, actually we had a great three years, we really did. I can't say anything bad about her, she's a good person. She just met somebody else, and that's fine. But we met at my very first speed dating session, and sparks flew. It was a great run.

When did you get the idea for SSD?

I tried it at a convention in the south in 2009. And, it just wasn't any fun. The host was rude to everybody, just trying to mock them. And, it wasn't well balanced, people felt uncomfortable because of the host and the way it was ran - so, I was like, I can do better than this. And, I suggested the idea to Reed Pop who runs New York Comic Con in celebration and they brought me on, and the rest just blew-up.

What are some of the common complaints that you get, obviously in online dating for women the main complaint is guys who are saying are you DTF? So, what do you normally hear from here?

Actually, what I hear from the girls is that most of the men are pretty genuine, they're kinder, and there's no pressure and it's totally anonymous, and they know they can cut loose and be themselves and find good people. The guys enjoy it 'cause, y'know, they get to talk to a bunch of girls.

What's one of the best love stories you've heard coming out of Sci-fi Dating?

Oh, it's a tough one. My friends, Kerri and Matt met at my first session, they are now married. Britney and JC, they met at a session, they're getting married, they have a kid. Heather Lauren, she just got married - she's actually one of my favorite stories because a few years ago the man that she was madly in love with ... he passed away unexpectedly, and she's very young. She met somebody at one of my speed dating sessions and they just got married a couple days ago, that's one of my favorite stories.

Walk me through... I sit down and I'm talking to this person in front of me, at the end of the session let's say things work, how do we communicate afterward?

Well, there's a way to exchange phone numbers at the end anonymously. You will give your number to the people you liked, the people that liked you give you theirs. And, then it's up to you to call the ones you want to call.

What's the longest distance relationship you've seen?

Kerri and Matt, Orlando, Florida to Wisconsin, and they are married.

How do they do that? How do you maintain that kind of connection?

Well, I once dated a girl that was 10 hours away, and we just, y'know if it's worth it you make the time, you talk as much as you can and you send pictures and you just... you've gotta be willing to put the effort in. As far as Kerri and Matt, I don't know how they did that far - that is clear across the country, and they just made it work. And, I was so happy about that.

Do you keep track of how far the average length is between daters, do you normally set people up who are from the same area?

Oh, no we never think about that. It's not a consideration because it would just make some really small sessions. Somebody from Maine, if I'm down in Denver, would y'know, nobody else from Maine so why should I date? So, we just let 'em date everybody and we hope that they develop a strong enough relationship to circumvent the distance.

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So... what does one experience at this event? Sessions are run with aplomb by Ryan and his assistants who at times were rushed as foot-traffic near the room was heavy, and it became difficult to separate speed daters-to-be from the rest of the crowd. The mood outside the panel room is one of nervous anticipation, as people joke about what they'll say to strangers within the three minutes they're given for each speed date once inside. Lines were split by gender outside the hallway leading to the room. People were avoiding eye-contact, but I could see furtive glances being made.

Women are led inside first, followed a few minutes later by the men.

I'd been asked by friends what the people are like... are they skinny/fat, nice/awkward, ugly/hot, etc... the answer is yes, just yes. And, it may surprise some that a few of the people in attendance were in ridiculously good shape, one of whom was appropriately dressed as Kratos from 'God of War'.

My number at the event was #1 (apologies to people reading this who gave me their number and that I did not call. I was the guy with the giant camera and from DC, too far away for the New Yorkers who reached out to me). The event started out awkwardly for me as people asked questions meant to determine whether or not I was a nerd. I had been dressed for interviews with exhibitors, and perhaps hadn't been giving visual nerd cues. I had to show people my camera satchel that has pins from NASA (with the worm font), Battlestar Galatica, and Star Wars fastened to its flap.

Most of my conversations with people covered the things one would expect of people at a comic con... daters generally wanted to know what kind of nerd I was, then expanded subjects from there if we shared interests. But, the commonality was almost irrelevant, the important thing to note was that whether or not one was a comic nerd, or a sci-fi movie geek, practically everyone I'd spoken to had familiarity with the topics across the spectrum. I might talk to 10 people from my online dating site, and I'll be lucky if one of them knows who Super Mario is - here I met a dozen people in 45 minutes who not only knew who he was, people were cosplaying as characters from the series as well.

If you're reading this now thinking meeting someone will be easy then, well... maybe not. Distance can be an important factor... half the people I met responded "Oh, DC?" with a high-pitch at the end when I stated where I live - which to me suggested that I was too far away for them to be interested. Secondly, we may be nerds, but grooming rules still apply. When you're leaning closely to be heard by someone (sessions are loud) you can see when someone didn't wash their face, comb their hair, or brush their teeth. Lastly, don't show up drunk.

At the end, I walked away with seven numbers, about half of the people I'd met - a guy dressed as Sailor Moon had twice that many, so if you're concerned that people will be judgmental about your lifestyle, you need not be so worried. There's a lot to like about SSD, the hardest part is convincing yourself that you won't be too nervous to try it.

Photos by Maxxum