Life Skills for Fanboys:  Grooming

written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2013

Again, this is not meant to be a column to talk down to anyone.  It’s just information that some fanboys need and may be too embarrassed to ask.  If you don’t need this column, then it’s not for you.  For those that do, feel free to read in anonymous way and take the info that you need.

Grooming the Geek

Look, this is something I probably shouldn’t have to tell people, but if you’ve ever walked through a con, you know what I’m talking about.  Certain fans just have standards that are so low for grooming, it makes the rest of us uncomfortable.  I claim no status as a fashion maven.  Hell, as you can see by this picture, I can’t even manage to get my beard trimmed straight.  But there are just some minimums you need to be aware of in public or else someone, somewhere is going to call you out in an embarrassing way.


In America, we shower daily.  Some and probably most Europeans do not.  That’s not only cultural, but partially genetic.  People of Nordic stock tend to have very fine, light body hair and don’t sweat nearly as much.  People with these ancestors can often go several days without showering with few ill effects or smell.

However, most people aren’t Nordic enough to get away with this.  For most of us, especially swarthy Italian/Greek/Latino types, at best we can get away with is an extra 12 to 24 hours depending on the amount of activity involved.  At a con, people are often in tight quarters, sweating in line.  And if you’re overweight, you generally sweat even more.  This all adds up to con stink.

Shower with soap and shampoo, God dammit.  No one wants to smell you.  And don’t just stand under the water, soap up the stinky parts.  Y’know, your junk and your ass crack and your underarms.  Soap up your head, rinse.  Don’t be afraid to soap and rinse again if you’re particularly stinky.  No one is going to flag you for being too clean.

This is a daily activity.  Do not skip it just because you’re late for your D&D tournament or a signing at the Walking Dead table.  You know how much time it takes to shower and get ready in the morning, get up earlier.

*Cosplay Bonus:  And if you spend half the con sweating it up in your Stormtrooper armor, go back to your hotel room, strip down and shower again before you put back on your clothes.  The Empire and those who smell you later, will thank you for it.

Smelling Nice

Deodorant is mandatory.  You may have additional, specially condition that require other things.  I like a little body powder down below.  Keeps things dryer, longer and therefore, better smelling.  Cologne and perfume are optional, but no one is going to flag you for smelling too good, especially at a con.

*Emergency Tip:  So you fucked up and decided to wing it.  Maybe you skipped a shower or brought along your dirty laundry instead of clean clothes by mistake?  Only one thing to do, grab the potpourri spray in the bathroom and spray your clothes with it.  Anything that’s not ass smell is an upgrade.

Hair:  There are a few things in life you don’t skimp on and one of them is a haircut.  Unless you’re going to shave your head, don’t wait until you’re shagged out.  Your look is part of your image and if your image is that of a homeless guy, people will just assume you smell even if you don’t.

Shaving:  Guys, for Christ’s sake, shave.  Only us stinky swarthy types can pull off the badass beard stubble.  But there is an art to it and that does not involve neck beard stubble.  It just looks bad.  Shave your God damned neck at least.  And if you’ve got beard that’s spotty at best, it’s probably a good idea to stay clean shaven until you can grow facial hair that looks like something other than a mistake on your face.

Breath:  Like your body, it’s not permitted to stink.  Brush your teeth after your daily shower.  Again, some people’s genes have worse breath than others.  If you’re one of those people that can knock over a buffalo with a breathy “Hello”, carry some damn mints with you at all times.  No one likes to deal with a fan who smells like someone shit in their mouth.

Other Body Parts:  Take care of yourself.  Trim things.  Wash things.  Be aware of them.  If you’re not going to cut your vampire fingernails, make sure you’re careful not to stab people with them when you shake hands.


Like a lot of you, I think fashion is mostly for shallow, insecure people who need to be adored.  Okay, granted.  That doesn’t mean you can’t know the difference between looking good and looking bad.  For me, it’s not that I have constant desire to look good, I just don’t want to look bad.

Cosplay Bonus II:  A great amount of confidence can pull off almost anything, even if you’re 350 lbs and wearing a thong.  But most fanboys don’t have that kind of confidence and fangirls in particular will sometimes wear a costume, expecting accolades and get furious or embarrassed when people make fun of them.  And while no one deserves to be humiliated, if you’re in a public space, expect a public reaction.  Catcalls and insults are the problem of the people who make them, but horrified gasps and grimaces are your problem cosplayer.  Those are genuine reactions from people who weren’t expecting to see folds of flab sticking out of your Lelu costume.

Wear a costume that suits your body type:  If you’re fat, you probably shouldn’t be wearing the costumes of characters that are meant to be skinny and skintight.

Bad Fat Costumes:  Spiderman, Batman, chainmail bikini girl, belly shirts, Slave Girl Leia, etc.

Good Fat Costumes:  Klingons, the Kingpin, Medieval Maiden in corset and full dress, knights, etc.

And if you’re obese, I mean really obese, then you perhaps ought to skip the costume altogether and spend that money on a personal trainer before you die.  Fans are going to wear t-shirts and jeans.  That’s a staple.  But make sure at least that your t-shirt and jeans fit you.  I cannot tell you how many times fans waddled past my table in a torn or stained t-shirt and/or jeans that were super tight, holding up a huge gut.  Give it up.  Get some relaxed fit jeans and a new Superman t-shirt in XXXXL.

Dress for your Body Type

Body type rules also apply for street clothes.  If you’re overweight, don’t wear form-fitting t-shirts.  In fact, after a certain point, you might consider avoiding t-shirts altogether.  Solid, dark colors will help hide your bulk and make you looks a little less heavier.

Dress for the Weather

If you’re heavy, don’t leave your jacket on during the con all day.  You’ll be drenched in sweat by the time you make the first pass through the comic book dealer area.  Bring something to put your jacket in, like a backpack.

Dress for your Age

I’m looking at you, Bronies.  Look, the older you get, the better people expect you to dress.  You might think a creepy outfit or acting creepy is funny and it would be, to the people that know you.  But the con is not just full of people that know you, there are many more that don’t.  I understand many of you are at a con to relax, but many of you are also there to meet people.  And whether you’re there to hook up or find a new buddy for a LAN game, it can’t hurt your to look presentable.

Dress in Clean Clothes

Yeah, I gotta say it.  Stains on your clothes are bad.  Do you have any idea how bad you look dressed in a Jedi costume with a huge mustard stain on the front?  If you had to think about the answer, then you probably needed to read this.  Stained clothes go in the pile of clothes you wear to paint or do yard work, not to wear in public.

*Emergency Tip:  Buy and carry a Tide stick with you at all times.  The Missus introduced me to this wonderful product.  When you drop food down your front, wipe the food chunks away with the napkin, then use the Tide stick to dab away the stain.  Most times, the stain completely disappears after drying and if it doesn’t, you probably saved your shirt once you wash it later.  The stick will keep you looking like you live in your parents’ basement.

Finally, it’s not about looking like you just stepped out of a clothes catalogue.  It’s just about looking and being clean and well-groomed.  It shows that you have respect for yourself and the rest of us at the con.