Girlz just wanna have fun
Local web community takes aim at beauty stereotypes
By Hannah Guzik 02/02/2012
Brittany Oliphant, a 25-year-old with a “Harry Potter” tattoo, isn’t a typical model. For one thing, her spare time pretty much revolves around fantasy novels and computer technology. Which is, according to nerdy-girlz.com, exactly what makes her attractive.
Nerdy Girlz, a Ventura County-based website that offers photos, videos and commentary by genuinely nerdy women, has seen an explosion in popularity in the last year.
“The thing I love most about Nerdy Girlz is that it’s a very diverse site,” said Veronica Wood, who’s featured on the site under the screen name Caprica. “We don’t have models that all look the same.
“The only thing we care about is that you’re nerdy — it doesn’t matter what you look like. Every girl is beautiful in some way.”
Port Hueneme resident Bobby Boulette, a video-game and comic-book fanatic, created the site in 2010 with a few other friends.
“When we first started, it was a bunch of friends and myself, and we all kind of wanted to get into the entertainment field, which is a rough business, as everyone knows, so we decided to band together,” he said.
“We were all nerds ourselves, and so we made this collaboration. As we got bigger, we realized that we had this group of up-and-coming photographers and makeup artists we could use.”
The site gives Boulette, 26, and his friends a chance to test out their photography, videography and writing skills, while connecting with other nerds across the country.
“Growing up, it was hard,” he said. “I was very much an outcast and had very few friends, but the site has been great to me because it’s been very much a social club. It’s a good way to speak freely and know that you’re not going to be judged.”
The site also draws non-nerds who are interested in geeky subjects, such as video games, obscure films, theater, comic books, technology and science-fiction TV shows, Boulette said.
“We have a lot of people that talk to us that aren’t necessarily nerds or geeks, but they’re interested in something, and this is a place where they can ask those questions,” he said. “It’s neat to see them take an interest.”
The site includes articles on comic books, movies, TV, video games and technology, written in nerd speak.
Boulette, who grew up in Oxnard and graduated from Hueneme High School, is now the owner of the site, managing the content and the Nerdy Girlz brand. Lately, he’s been working on side projects, including partnering with WGTR Radio in Chicago to produce a weekly Internet radio show featuring Nerdy Girlz members.
“On the show, we normally talk about big news events and then start branching out into some pretty weird stuff, pretty much any weird subject we’ve heard about,” Boulette said. “Last week we branched out to vegetarian werewolves.”
The site has seen its traffic spike in recent months, with as many as 20,000 page views per week, Boulette said. Most of the traffic is from local viewers, but the site is beginning to gain notoriety in other areas of the country as well, he said.
Boulette and other site members have started attending comic book conventions, such as Comic-Con in San Diego, to market the Nerdy Girlz website. Although the site sells merchandise with the Nerdy Girlz logo, a pig-tailed pinup girl, it doesn’t make much money yet, said Boulette, who also works fulltime as an administrative sales assistant for Perkins Machine Company in Oxnard.
“My whole goal is just for Nerdy Girlz to sustain itself,” he said. “If we start making lots of money, that’s great, but mainly I just want everyone to have a good time, gain connections and networking, and expand their portfolios.”
None of the members get paid to participate in the site or its side projects, but they gain experience that may help them in their careers, Boulette said.
Wood, 23, decided to join the site last year to gain acting experience and make connections, she said. The Ventura resident, a senior at Brooks Institute, hopes to act in films in the future.
“Before I did Nerdy Girlz, I was primarily a theater actress and had only done a few short films,” she said. “I’m hoping Nerdy Girlz will help push me in the right direction.”
Oliphant, a plus-size model who goes by the screen name Moonbow Brite, uses the site to develop her photography skills and advocate for causes she believes in, such as LGBT equal rights and Fat Acceptance, a movement that seeks to end discrimination against overweight people.
“Beauty is in all sizes and shapes and colors, and Nerdy Girlz doesn’t discriminate,” she said. “We have a rainbow of people in every shape, size, ethnicity — and nerdy branch.”
To learn more, visit www.nerdy-girlz.com