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Originally published July 23, 2012 at 8:35 PM | Page modified July 23, 2012 at 8:35 PM

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Geeks and strippers unite at JOYstick! fundraiser

Columnist Nicole Brodeur reports on goings-on at fundraisers for GeekGirlCon, Bellevue Arts Museum and Seattle7Writers.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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This may be the strippiest summer Seattle has seen in years.

"Game of Thrones" burlesque one week, "Whedonesque" (a topless tribute to "Avengers" director Joss Whedon) later this summer.

This past weekend was JOYstick!, a fundraiser to benefit GeekGirlCon, "a celebration of the female geek," to be held here Aug. 11 and 12.

The highlight was when Miss Elaine Yes performed a burlesque number as Samus Aran — the galaxy-saving protagonist of the 1986 Nintendo video game Metroid.

At the end of the game, and underneath all that armor, Aran turned out to be a redhead in a pink bikini.

It was, shall we say, a seminal moment for most of the gamer guys in the audience.

"I was 14," recalled Mike Selinker, president of Lone Shark Games and one of the many geeks who came to see burlesque versions of characters like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, Chell from Portal and even a rapping Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros.

The women in the audience just liked being the controller. So to speak.

"It's very empowering to get naked in front of people," said Jen Manning, of Seattle, a geek girl who works in specialty coffee.

As for what it does for the audience?

"I'm surprised guys could stand up after the first act," said her friend, Kate Baldwin, a systems administrator. "I thought they might need a minute."

Back in black

Remember when the Bellevue Arts Museum had to shut its doors in 2003 because of financial problems?

That distant memory was drowned in Champagne and beaten down with bidding paddles at the museum's annual fundraiser, "Artful Evening," that Saturday night raised $1 million — a 40 percent increase over last year, and double the amount raised just two years ago.

"We're completely in the black," managing director Larry Wright told me. "Over on revenue and under on expenses."

This was hours before the manna from heaven, otherwise known as the "Klorfine Challenge," in which Leonard and Norma Klorfine agreed to match every "raise the paddle" amount — without an upper limit.

Why? Well, devotion to art started early for some like Susan Edelheit, who visited the Art Institute of Chicago as a child.

"To be able to have a museum that has this quality of work so close to my home," she said, "it opens a world for me."

On the other end of the spectrum, former WSU President Sam Smith was raised by a single mother on welfare "and couldn't even spell 'museum.' "

He's since served on the board of the Pilchuck Glass School and become a collector — and a believer.

"We want to make sure that (BAM) moves up to the national stage," he said.

Eating their words

Tara Austen Weaver was raised vegetarian. Never ate a hot dog in her life.

So of course Weaver, author of "The Butcher and the Vegetarian" and the popular Tea&Cookies blog, was pushing hot dogs around the grill at the Seattle7Writers Cookout at Queen Anne Books.

"Someone better check my work," she cracked.

The event helped fill the shelves of the Seattle7's pocket libraries, but was also a chance for people to meet the members of the nonprofit collective, which includes authors Jennie Shortridge (the upcoming "Love Water Memory"), Erica Bauermeister ("Joy for Beginners"), Dave Boling ("Guernica"), Bernadette Pajer (the Professor Bradshaw Mysteries), Randy Sue Coburn ("Owl Island") and Garth Stein ("The Art of Racing in the Rain") who relieved Weaver of grilling duties. Poor girl.

Laurie Frankel has already sold the film rights to her upcoming book, "Goodbye for Now," about a software engineer who invents a way for people to email their dead loved ones.

"It is terrifying and amazing," she said of her book being optioned.

So was "The Art of Racing in the Rain" — right?

"Yeah, we're waiting for a movie," Stein said from behind the grill. "But you can't trust Hollywood, I say."

Names in Bold appears every Tuesday. Reach Nicole Brodeur at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com.

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About Nicole Brodeur's Names in Bold

On Tuesdays, I tell you about my travels through some of the week's social and philanthropic events — not just the ones for the swells, but those for work-a-day folks who care about making this region move and improve.
nbrodeur@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2334

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