Written by: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer
From the floor of Comic-Con comes this look at a dating site for the geek set.
Geek love is a strange and wondrous creature, and only the most skilled trackers can find it. Dino Andrade wants to help every geek who’s ever pressed their ear to the earth, Strider-style, hoping to hear the distant footfalls of a special someone.
Andrade is the founder of a website called SoulGeek.com, a dating portal for geeks, cos-players, enthusiasts, fanboys, fangirls and everyone who’s every palmed a d20 or quoted Star Trek with a straight face to win an argument. Andrade, a longtime actor and voice-over talent who counts World of Warcraft and PvP among his credits, has also received the blessing of a geek icon: Battlestar Galactica star Richard Hatch, who manned the SoulGeek booth with Andrade at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
“SoulGeek is a Facebook for geeks,” Hatch told CC2K on the Comic-Con floor. “And ‘geek’ is an expansive term. Geeks run the world!”
Andrade formally launched SoulGeek in July 2007, but his journey to build the site began eight years earlier when his wife, voice actress Mary Kay Bergman, died. South Park fans should well remember her voice, as she originated all of the female roles on the show. Andrade and Bergman were married for 10 years before Bergman’s death in 1999.
After his wife’s death, Andrade entered into what he called four years of oblivion, followed by a nightmarish entrance into the dating scene. Unsatisfied with the choice of dating websites, Andrade came up with SoulGeek.com.
“I didn’t find anything that was a complete dating site,” he told CC2K.
Fortunately, he bumped into his old high school sweetheart and started up a new relationship. Later, the two of them attended a Battlestar Galactica event, where a fellow attendee saw the happy couple and said, “I hope I can find a geek of my own here.”
SoulGeek may not be the first dating site to cater to the geek crowd, but it distinguishes itself by having already amassed almost 18,000 members, and more than that, the site offers geeks remarkably well-targeted search options.
Geeks who take the SoulGeek plunge can answer an array of questions that specifies their interests in a variety of areas, including science-fiction, horror, fantasy, anime, books, Manga, conventions, role-playing games and many others. On the flip side, when a user seeks out potential mates, they can also modify their search with the same level of detail.
The site offers a possible upsell to a $9.95 monthly membership that includes a user blog and the unlimited ability to comment on the site’s forums and other member blogs. The site’s language is quick to point out that other dating sites charge about three times as much for similar access.
But on top of that, SoulGeek offers a goofy personal experience that presents users with loads of inside jokes on every page. Instead of “searching” for singles, members “scan” for them. The site’s homepage is called the “Bridge,” and users engage “hailing frequencies” to get in touch with each other.
In addition, the SoulGeek brass provides users with plenty of support, from FAQs to a full network of gurus who offer advice on everything from relationships to careers to video games to cos-play.
Hatch, meanwhile, maintains a relationship with the site. The former Colonial Vice-President teaches relationship workshops around the country and may even pop up at some of SoulGeek’s many singles nights.
“It can be very hard to be a geek,” Hatch said. “You could be a model walking a runway in Milan or a world-class athlete, but the problem is when you find a relationship and they don’t like science-fiction or fantasy, they’ll walk away.”
Although Andrade can’t guarantee that every relationship will succeed, he does want SoulGeek to help geeks everywhere find love.
“We love geeks and everyone with a great imagination,” he said. “We can’t just turn it off.”
Author: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer
Robert J. Peterson is a writer and web developer living in Los Angeles. A Tennessee native, he graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He’s written for newspapers and websites all over the country, including the Marin Independent Journal, the Telluride Daily Planet, CC2KOnline.com, Offscreen, and Geekscape.net. He co-hosts the podcasts Make It So and Hiram’s Lodge. He’s appeared as a pop-culture guru on the web talk shows Comics on Comics, The Fanbase Press Week In Review, Collider Heroes, ScreenJunkies TV Fights, and Fandom Planet. He’s the founder of California Coldblood Books.