2009’s Sexiest Geeks

Wired Magazine has renewed its Sexiest Geeks of the year voting (warning: yesterday it had photoshopped naked people, so possibly NSFW), and let’s face it: that list is crap.

Instead of a list of Geeks Who Are Sexy, the submissions to Wired list People That Geeks Find Sexy—an entirely different category. Most of the men and women on the list aren’t geeks, they just play them on TV! Just because you want to schtupp their geeky alter-egos doesn’t mean they’re eligible for the title, and the list of actresses, models, and porn stars is way off-base. So we have to be stricter in our eligibility: demonstrable geekiness in private life.

But more than that, I’d like to see a list that highlights at least some men and women who are stimulating on more than one level. Men and women who make you feel giddy because they can quote “The Defence of Poesy,” make a Big Daddy or Predator out of household materials, or contribute to the breadth of human knowledge with research in science and history. Sexy geeks are people whose writing or videos make your heart flutter when you see them pop up on the RSS; people you make sure to Tivo even when they just guest-star on Law & Order. People who make geeks look good.

So who would you nominate?

I’ll go first, in alphabetical order.


Kate Beaton
Cartoonist

Kate Beaton writes and draws Hark! A Vagrant (and its collection, Never Learn Anything From History), possibly my favorite webcomic. Ms. Beaton’s expressive faces, simple figures, and great little costumes make history and literature more fun than ever. Who else could so succinctly illustrate the idea of science fiction? And agree with me on the Brontes? And remind us that Watson was actually awesome?

Learning from history geeks: sexy.

Photo © by Christine McAvoy, used with permission.


(Dr.) Kara Cooney
Egyptologist, TV host

Kara Cooney is an Assistant Professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture at UCLA, museum curator, excavator, and author, but you probably know her from her show Out of Egypt, which aired this past summer on the Discovery Channel. Though an expert herself particularly with regard to funerary arts in the ancient world, her series included interviews with dozens of other authorities on the history and culture of Ancient Egypt.

Making the past relevant: sexy.


Jonathan Coulton
Musician, geek icon

Who could forget Jonathan Coulton? The former code monkey has built a successful career on his geeky days. No dummy, JoCo is a Yale grad who now contributes to Popular Science in between warming all our hearts with stories of lonely mad scientists and their cyborg lovers.

Things that make you weak and strange: sexy.


Vin Diesel
Actor, voice actor, D&D veteran

Don’t look at me like that. Vin Diesel has serious geek cred, and I don’t just mean starring in the Riddick franchise and voicing The Iron Giant. Mr. Diesel has been playing D&D for over twenty years (he shopped at my local game shop), and wrote the foreword to 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons and Dragons. He even got a fake belly tattoo of his D&D character for the xXx film. As a bonus, he’s a World of Warcraft player—and by “player” I mean he has it installed in his car.

“I attack the gazebo!”: sexy.


Neil Patrick Harris
Actor, comedian

The star of Dr. Horrible, Starship Troopers, and the nerdiest of them all, Doogie Howser, Neil Patrick Harris is an obvious choice. A magician—he’s on the Board of Directors for Magic Castle—and theater actor, Mr. Harris is a contributor to RiffTraxan avid Muppet & Sesame Street afficionado, obsessed with competitive reality games, and into cryptography and treasure hunts

“I used to be a doctor for pretend!”: sexy.


Grant Imahara
Robotocist, electrical engineer, television host

You can be on TV, you just have to be geeky! Grant Imahara easily fits the bill: the robotocist and animatronics engineer who updated R2-D2 for the prequels is now a co-host of MythBusters, or as I like to think of it, Bill Nye for People Who Love Explosions. I find his segments the most interesting parts of the show, and watching him build those robots makes me wish his book Kickin’ Bot: An Illustrated Guide to Building Combat Robots weren’t out of print.

Making robots out of salvage: sexy.


(Dr.) Olivia Judson
Evolutionary biologist, science writer, author

Olivia Judson’s New York Times column “The Wild Side” is a brilliant, funny, and informative look at evolutionary biology and popular science. She writes with wit and aplomb, and her first book, Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, is no exception. In the role of a sex therapist to the confused (to us, confusing) species of the world, she hilariously explains the evolutionary ideas behind the craziest-sounding sex practices on earth.

Did I mention she was British? Sexy.


Rachel Maddow
TV host and pundit, political scientist

A Rhodes scholar, PhD, and host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow is probably the highest profile geek on this list. She openly uses words like “interwebs” on national television and often closes her show with a Moment of Geek, a news item of scientific interest. Her guests regularly include other noted geeks, like Bill Nye the Science Guy and Bruce Schneier.

Intelligent, wonkish geeks: sexy.


Randall Munroe
Cartoonist, physicist

Synonymous with his webcomic xkcd, Randall Munroe is a perfect geek. A physicist and former NASA contractor, Mr. Munroe has enough academic geek cred to earn his way onto any list. But we all know the real reason: xkcd infuses the simplest drawings with math, science, and whimsy. If you thought a stick figure couldn’t make you tear up, you were wrong. And yes, I have this up on my wall in the office.

Jokes that make you feel smart: sexy.


Corrinne Yu
Game designer, nuclear physicist

Corrinne Yu has the dubious distinction of being the first and only woman technical lead in all of Microsoft Game Studios. She is currently the principal engine programmer on the Halo group, but worked previously on Direct3D, Gearbox, and Ion Storm. If that weren’t enough, Ms. Yu worked on the space shuttle program at Rockwell, designed and conducted accelerator experiments at both LINAC and Brookhaven, and was awarded by the Department of Energy for her nuclear physics research.

Brilliant scientist gamers: sexy.


Obligatory honorable mentions for fear of death from above: Stephen Colbert, Felicia Day, David Tennant, Wil Wheaton, my boyfriend.

Now it’s your turn! Who would you add to the list? Remember, demonstrable geekitude in private life is a must.


Torie Atkinson likes geeks. A lot.

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