200703280117It started when Glenn Hauman (him again!) wrote the following about last weekend’s I-Con:

Friday night, while I was escorting a number of actresses from the annual Destinies Mystery Guest show at I-Con, we were forced to go through a crowd of LARPers to exit the building.

The smell was, shall we say, pungent. And that’s being polite. I’ve smelled better rotten meat and curdled milk. The comments between us after we could breathe again were savage.

Now, the case of Black Plague we had earlier this year rendered our sense of smell inoperable which sounds great (we also lost our sense of taste, which was not great) — especially for our trip to NYCC. We thought this was the best-smelling big con we’d ever been to before we remembered that we couldn’t smell anything anyway. Because you know, at some point in our con-going years we’ve all wandered into the Waft of Death. The WoD is not exclusive to comicons — It also is scented at concerts, post offices, the VA. But it seems to happen very often at nerd-esque gatherings.

Well, along comes Mike Chary at Howling Curmudgeons to say stinky is peachy:

No, you idiot, attractive women are not laughing at them because of their hygiene. They are laughing at them because they are stupid, shallow actressses who don’t realize they are at a crowded con with limited ventilation, and are not used to being in such a place, and their guide, a stupid, shallow columnist, doesn’t realize that like all crowded venues with limited ventilation (rock concerts, sporting events, gyms, night clubs) such a circumstance will result in some body ordor issues regardless of the deodorants used. Especially on the second day of a con with people engaged in the physical activity of live action role-playing. Your complaint is like coming in with a group of actresses to half-time of a high school basketball game and complaining about the odor in the locker room.

200703280122Mike, I hate to tell you this, but those girls were laughing because the LARPers smelled. What’s this about “SECOND DAY”. That meant SECOND SHOWER OF THE CON! Esp. if you’re going to go LARPing around in body armor. Yes yes, we know inside armor it gets stinky and moldy — that’s why those hygiene-loving Spartans didn’t wear armor!* — that is why you shower often, and douse yourself with Polo before a joust. Come on now, that’s just common sense. So the moral of the story is: clean up your spoor!

As for the speculation over the odor in a high school girl’s locker room, it smells like heaven and everyone knows that.

[LARPing photo taken from the Maine Adventure Society website, on our family compound, and The Beat has LARPEd with some of those chaps and they smelled okay, even after a brisk campaign.]

*Actually they did but that wouldn’t have been as hot.


  1. There’s a word for stinky con funk — “FENCH” — which is a combination of fan (or the geeky-centric plural “fen”) and stench.

    And it ain’t just comic book conventions or stinky larpers who malodorously reek, but just about every fannish convention has its share of smelly folk. I recall one anime convention that has actively promoted a sort-of “Got Soap?” campaign.

    Yeah, everybody sweats and gets stinky after a while — especially the cosplayers in 100-degree Texas heat — but most conventioneers are savvy enough to shower at least once a day. They’re not the problem — nope, it’s the stinkers you see walking around on Sunday with the same ratty nerdy-themed t-shirt they were wearing earlier on Friday, scratching their greasy hair because they haven’t touched bathwater all weekend.

    We’ve found one good temporarily solution to the fench problem – Vick’s Vaporub. Just dab a little bit below the nostrils for temporarily relief — it completely deadens the sense of smell for a short period of time. Gives you enough time to wade through the huge pile of stinky fans until you can reach open air.

  2. At UK cons the pungent ones were called “Anaraks.” Don’t know if they still are.

    I didn’t find as much of a hygiene problem at I-Con as Glenn did, but then we may have travelled in different circles.

  3. What’s particularly nasty is when a fan who hasn’t showere is wearing leather in summer san diego heat… the leather soaks it all up and results in a very pungent…musk…or funk – take your pick.

  4. To add a further clarification to this whole thing, the incident that Glenn described (which actually only involved one actress, and her manager, but one is a number), occurred only about 7 hours into the first night of the convention, on a cool evening, in a well-ventilated, spacious Student Union building. So any stench generated by the LARPers had nothing to do with the external temperature, the enclosed space, or the length of the convention.