Categories: Event Reviews

What do burlesque boobs, booze, board games and brains have in common?

They were all a part of this past weekend’s Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa Regional Gathering. (My brother always teases me that we had to add “Greater”…otherwise we’d just be lame). ;-/

But Mensa events and people are not at all what most prejudge. (If you have no clue what Mensa is:  it’s a society of the top 2% of IQs in the world).

In keeping with many genius stereotypes, there are plenty of Big Bang Theory-esque “Sheldon”s roaming our halls, missing sarcasm and being socially awkward left and right. We have perhaps the largest percentage of geeks and nerds, to be sure. As a clue to social etiquette, our events even incorporate nametag stickers as a personal space GPS.

But these annual gatherings always remind me that what Mensa offers in abundance is…acceptance.

You can literally sit at anyone’s table – and be welcome.


And that’s a lovely, safe space to learn and play in.

(Now, you might not “get” some of the people you’re eating lunch with! 😉 Or agree with half the dinner conversation – much less on the rules of the game – but that’s a whole ‘nuther story!)

This year’s RG included a wide variety of “tastings” ranging from: Rum, Tequila, wine and cheese, Mai Tais, international pastries and ethnic chips (not all at the same time, of course – and yes, I see the pattern there.)

Entertainment included a perpetual fun game room, liar’s club, the quick wit and physical comedy of the all-female improv troupe, LOLA, the comedian Daniel Kinno and an organized pub crawl, complete with two designated van drivers so all the crawlers had to do was have fun!

Lectures and discussions always run the gamut from hard science to New Age, to business to self-help – and everything in between. This year’s intellectual feast included learning about contagion, sustainable economic systems, life on the space shuttle and recovering broken arrows (lost thermonuclear missiles). There were sessions on astrology, mythology, branding, current events, historical events (Missouri battles in the Civil War), financial and real estate strategies, smoke jumpers, scuba diving deaths in the Mojave Desert (yes, you read that right), Fred & Ginger, e-publishing, a documentary portrait series on child beauty pageant contestants, and of course, as our territory includes Hollywood, screenwriting. 

ShowBiz Mensans Leif Ganvort (from The Amazing Spider-Man) and Alan Rachins (LA Law, Dharma & Greg) shared stories while the Fruit of the Loom leaf, Gene Steichen, tried to figure out if Feng Shui might help his beloved Cubs.

And don’t forget the dominatrix who explained the hormonal connection between pleasure and pain (endorphins and oxytocin) as she passed out sex toys (many stocked in most kitchens) for the audience to consider as kink supplements for the bedroom at home.

Some enjoyed a half-day tour of the Griffith Park observatory while others played werewolf games. The scientific evidence of God was debated followed by a meeting of the atheists club. Skeptics argued the source of irrational beliefs in UFOs and ghosts with those who claimed to have seen both. Did I mention how fascinating and eclectic these events can be?! 😉


And after the kids went to bed, the late night entertainment included a classy burlesque show and striptease by Dizzy Von Damn! and Red Snapper interspersed with the fun vaudeville routine of Mr. Snapper & Mr. Buddy. And while Mensans typically question and analyze everything, they also love to play and participate in order to absorb what they’re discovering.  As such, Mensa-savvy Red Snapper, generous and patient and playful, edutained us with a history of burlesque and regaled us by teaching the crowd a few bump and grind techniques and a few daring volunteers how to sexily remove gloves – and get those tassels to twirl!

For me, perhaps the most intellectually intriguing discussion was lifetime Mensa member and former political consultant, Matt Cooper, who illuminated the scientifically proven physiological differences between the brains of conservatives and liberals. They don’t just think differently – their brains are literally wired differently – and they fire differently. They are not just morally divergent – they are biologically different. And this was fascinating! 😉 He proposed ways how we COULD all “just get along.” If we could all empathize with where one another were each coming from – and allow time for each of our instinctive knee-jerk reactions to subside – then we might actually be able to engage in a rational discussion – and touch one another’s hearts. THAT is something I could use immediately – everyday – and for the rest of my life. Really, really cool. Of course, he postulized that most Mensans would agree 😉 Mr. Spock would be the most logical and perfect political candidate. 😉

I encouraged my Sudoku-whiz boyfriend, Billy, to take the test, teasing that if he didn’t pass, we’d have to break up.  My sarcasm was lost on most Mensans and I endured several unnecessary lectures for that joke (which I’m sure Billy enjoyed witnessing!) I love him dearly, regardless of his IQ score or the numbers in his bank account. Anyone who knows us, knows that. I just wanted him to come play with me. 😉 I hope he had fun (he said he did – but you know men! 😉 And I’m hopeful we can hit the Mensa Mind Games this April in St Louis, where games entering the marketplace are tested and vie for the Mensa seal. I have a couple of game ideas and this would be a great place to learn more about the industry – and play even more!

Be careful what you ask for…

As competitive as we both are, I know I could’ve set myself up for a lifetime of relentless teasing if his score is higher than mine!

I already get enough grief from my family, every time I make a stupid mistake (which sadly, is often!) I get: “And you’re in Mensa?!”





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