By John Lister
Contributing Writer, [GAS]
Type the words “sexy” and “geek” into a search engine and, aside from this fine website, you’ll find a wide range of lists. Ranging, that is, from ones which have Alyson Hannigan first and Kari Bryon second to ones which have Kari Byron first and Alyson Hannigan second. But whatever the source, it’s the Americans who usually dominate.
Well, as a proud Brit, it’s my turn to redress the balance with the five finest female geeks from the United Kingdom. (For those ready to shout “sexist”, my sources are putting together a male list, though of course your suggestions are more than welcome.)
For the purposes of this list, what matters is not pure physical attractiveness in itself – which is not to say any of the candidates are victims of the ugly tree by any means – but the extent to which one’s sexiness is enhanced by their geekdom.
5) Roberta Maley
Strictly speaking, this entry should be an asterisk as there is no specific evidence that Ms Maley displays any form of geekery. However, her cult following makes her the very definition of a cult celebrity with a geek audience – and she’s a fine example of how that audience doesn’t always respond to marketing as expected.
Roberta (known to all customers on a first name basis) is Premium Services Director for Spotify. That’s a streaming music service which I’ve raved about here several times – while there’s no downloads, as long as you are online it’s like having infinite credit at iTunes.
The site is funded by users either paying a monthly subscription or hearing an advert every 15 to 20 minutes. To promote the subscription option, Roberta recorded a commercial which played in this slot.
With a voice as smooth and refined as a $100 jar of honey, she soon attracted a cult following bordering just the right side of creepy, including unofficial t-shirts.
There was only one problem: as many online commentators have pointed out, nobody with a preference for XX-chromosomes could possibly see the logic of paying £10 a month to *not* hear Roberta’s sultry tones.
4) Victoria Coren
Originally columnist, Coren is the geek equivalent of a Renaissance woman. These days she is best known as a top-flight poker player, having won the European Poker Tour event in London in 2006, and has just released a memoir which combines her life experiences and the game. She’s also a keen linguist, hosting the show Balderdash and Piffle, which explores the origins of words. Lately she’s also hosted Only Connect, a game show requiring a heady mix of knowledge and logic.
She’s also believed to be the only graduate of Oxford University to write a book about directing her own “tasteful” adult movie.
3) Dr Alice Roberts
A former doctor, Roberts went on to earn a postgraduate qualification in palaeopathology, which involves studying ancient remains of humans and animals to learn history’s lessons about diseases. While still working towards becoming a professor, she also works as a television presenter, hosting a range of shows aimed at bringing branches of science to the public eye in an informative but accessible format.
She also, at one stage, had pink hair. That was awesome.
Unusually for this list, Dobby is a fictional character (albeit portrayed by comedian Isy Suttie who is by no means unattractive or mainstream.) She appears in British sit-com Peep Show where she is clearly the soulmate of lead character Mark (though a combination of misjudgment and events mean they are yet to get together). An unashamed geek, she is the company’s IT troubleshooter with hobbies including MMORPGs and live-action roleplaying (though she has to settle for Laserquest during the winter.)
Many male viewers of Peep Show secretly think Dobby is their ideal woman and wish they dared admit it to their friends. Geeks have no such shame.
1) Josie Long
Long is, without any doubt, the Queen of British geeks. A stand-up comedian, even the most shallow person who judges people solely on conventional beauty finds her adorable, purely on the grounds of an engaging personality.
When she isn’t making fanzines, or blogging about her favorite thrift store, her stand-up work does contain much in the way of conventional jokes or ranting. Instead she goes for sheer quirkiness with much use of pie charts and the odd one-woman play based on the misidentification of Frankenstein as the monster rather than the creator.
Her three most recent live shows were each, in their own way, geek friendly. Kindness and Exuberance was an assault on cynicism. All The Planet’s Wonders was perhaps the first astronomy-based stand-up routine. And Trying Is Good was an homage to the idea of pursuing a hobby for your own enjoyment, regardless of whether society as a whole sees it as worthy.
Most of all, though, Josie Long has taken something she clearly enjoys and excels at and, while making career choices that appear to be based mainly around entertaining herself, turned it into a living. And that’s about as sexy as geek gets.