“Would you believe MySpace?”
Hello, Philly Geeks and Happy Valentine’s Day. This edition of Philly Geek Spotlight is featuring a nerdy couple, who is known for throwing some awesome events. Our Philly Geek Spotlight is Kevin & Megan Hawkey, aka Riot Nerd! Riot Nerd are the premiere nerdy event planners here in Philly. They have done events based off some of your favorite fandoms; like Stranger Things, The Crow, Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool and much more! Their latest event is the Blade Runner Dance Party on February 15th at Underground Arts!
Megan & Kevin share with us their love story, the birth of Riot Nerd, and how single geeks can find their player two!
How did you two meet?
Kevin: Would you believe MySpace? And I didn’t even have one so she was stalking me through my friend’s page. This was life during social media’s dark ages. We talked a lot on AIM too. Again, when dinosaurs roamed the earth…
Megan: I miss Myspace! Let’s bring back the top 8 and playlist of random songs to force your friends to listen to!
How long have you been together?
Kevin: We met on Black Friday 2008.
How many dates before you realized he/she was the one?
Kevin: I think I was convinced before she was. We had one really classically awful first date where I drank way too much because I was nervous and pretty much acted like an insane person. Luckily she gave me a second chance and the rest is kind of history.
Megan: Still not sure. Just kidding!
What geeky fandoms do you have in common? Any fandom that your significant other that you don’t like?
Kevin: Given what was going on in pop culture at the time we met one of the first things that we really bonded over was The Dark Knight. When the film was re-released theatrically that spring to take advantage of Heath Ledger’s Oscar buzz I literally can’t remember how many times we went to see it.
Since then you can kind of tell some of the things, old and new, that we’ve really enjoyed together by the stuff that we’ve done parties for, like Guardians of the Galaxy, Stranger Things, The Crow, Tank Girl, Blade Runner. And of course 90’s music, everything from Nine Inch Nails to Britney Spears.
There’s stuff I’m into like Anime, Japanese Wrestling and hours long, profanity laden bouts with super hard games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne that I try not to subject Megan to.
Megan’s current guilty pleasure that I kind of don’t understand is bad reality TV (Kardashians, Teen Mom) but we can always come together (or be torn apart) over a good (or bad) Mario Party.
Megan: At the time, we also bonded over NOT wanting to see Twilight. We opted to see Let The Right One In on our first official date/second meeting. Though, we did eventually cave and watch Twilight unfortunately haha.
Tell me how you came up with Riot Nerd?
Kevin: Megan was shooting concerts for a couple of different local music blogs, and while her photography is always great she wasn’t so into the writing aspect of it, so I would ghost write her articles for her and after a while we figured “hey, why not do it ourselves?’
We originally tried to put on shows and parties to promote the blog but the events did ultimately outgrow the website, necessitating the version of Riot Nerd that exists today, where all of our efforts focus on the events.
Megan: I wish we still had time to devote to the blog as well but I unexpectedly found a real passion for putting on events. I decided to throw a couple shows to promote the site but I quickly realized I had more fun planning events than I did working on the blog. Though, I’m pretty sure it’s the opposite for Kev. I do really miss shooting concerts though and I hope to get back at it this Spring/Summer.
What have been some of the best things about being Riot Nerd? What are the challenges?
Kevin: It is incredibly gratifying to see an event come together really well though, like we recently did a Taylor Swift party (shhhhh keep it a secret, but Megan’s a big fan), which was kind of outside of our wheelhouse and something I was fairly skeptical about as our resident old grumpy metal guy. But the kids came out for it, and their enthusiasm was really infectious. I guess it proves that even if the things that you’re weird and nerdy about aren’t necessarily particularly “weird” or “nerdy”, you still deserve a safe space to be the biggest geek you can possibly be about it. And we will provide it.
Megan: Yes I’m a closet Taylor Swift fan! While its certainly not my favorite genre, I do have a weird appreciation of pop music! I think that party in particular really confused a lot of people. Like, why would Riot Nerd be throwing that? That’s not their thing. But, it is! Well, for me anyway! I felt really strongly about throwing an event that was organized and marketed as a celebration of young feminine friendship (aka “squads”). I also felt strongly about throwing an event particularly for young women to come let loose in a safe space with other like-minded people. I also love fandom. I love when people geek out about something, regardless of what it is. And I assure you, there was a LOT of geeking out at that event! Honestly, the comments and enthusiasm about that event before it even happened, really filled me with so much joy every day leading up to it.
One of the best things about being Riot Nerd is getting to meet and work with so many interesting and creative people. I truly love collaborating with people on events.
Throwing events came with a lot of challenges that I never expected. I’d also say a big challenge for me is people having expectations or opinions of what you do. Everyone has an opinion about every event we throw, every graphic we post, every person we hire, every venue we book, every date we choose, etc.
How have you seen the Philly geek scene change since you started?
Kevin: There’s always cool new things popping up. South Street Cinema does a lot of stuff I wish that we could make it out to. The South Street Art Mart looks awesome too. The Century in South Philly is always putting on really great shows as well. It’s impossible to keep up with everything when you work full time and do what we do on top of it. I’m always feel like I’m missing something. I guess that’s better than being bored though.
Megan: There are so many geek themed burlesque shows, movie screenings, art shows, etc that I wish we could attend. It’s hard when you are literally working 24/7, but we try very very hard to attend as many events as we can and support other geeks.
What advice would you give to geeky singles looking for their Player 2?
Kevin: Stay open minded. Geeks can be extremely opinionated and territorial. Let down your guard a little bit and try to see what you don’t have in common with a potential romantic interest as exciting terrain to explore rather than a reason to close yourself off.
Megan: I have to agree with Kev on this.
Also what advice would you give to someone wanting to become a “professional geek?”
Kevin: Hahaha I don’t know if that’s possible, but it’s definitely something I’ll be flattered by and aspire to. Sometimes I have to remind Megan (and myself) that this is supposed to be fun, and about 90% of the time it totally is. But once in a while you definitely kind of have to crack that fun whip. I guess that’s the difference between being a “professional geek” and a “geeky professional”.
Megan: I think it’s really about finding something unique to offer the scene and then just stick with it. Stick with it even if it costs you your sleep, your money, your time, etc. We are definitely not full time professional geeks but every year we find ourselves with a little more success than the year before.
What’s next for Riot Nerd in 2019?
Kevin: Aggressive expansion! Bigger venues and more cities, but definitely trying to stay true to our original aesthetic, with heavy theming. We’re especially excited for our new Blade Runner party at Underground Arts in February, which is going to be our biggest production ever in terms of staging, lighting and effects. Please look forward to it!
Megan: Yes lots more traveling and some bigger venues! I’m so excited to bring events to new cities! I was so afraid of doing that at first. I felt totally out of my element as far as promotion in other areas but so far it’s been doing really well! I can’t wait for that Blade Runner party!!