Things to Do

10 Nerdy Things to Do This January in Metro Phoenix

Attendees of Tempe FanCon in 2019.
Attendees of Tempe FanCon in 2019. Benjamin Leatherman
Feel like kicking off the new year by getting into a new hobby? You can do so at any of the nerd-friendly events happening around metro Phoenix this month. Over the next few weeks, locals can get into such geeky pursuits as cosplay and collecting or learn how to become a lapidary, cinephile, or beer snob. Here’s all the info about when and where to go to geek out in January.

Luna Con

This weekend-long micro convention will make its debut from Friday, January 7, to Sunday, January 9, and feature plenty of opportunities to geek out. We’re talking about cosplay, vendors, panels, an artist’s alley, and a costume contest. All that (and a ton more) will happen in and around geek-oriented fashion store Kei Collective, 2303 North 44th Street, starting at 10 a.m. daily. Admission is free.

Grand Canyon Tattoo Convention

Want to hop aboard the “new year, new you” bandwagon without committing to something as arduous or challenging as a major lifestyle change? A new tattoo is a relatively cheap and easy way to practice a little self-care, improve your self-esteem, or get your 2022 off to a badass start. If you’re interested, the ton of talented ink-slingers at the Grand Canyon Tattoo Convention will be happy to help you pick out the perfect piece. Several dozen artists from across the U.S. will be needling tattoo noobs and veterans alike at the three-day event, which runs from Friday, January 7, to Sunday, January 9, at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Phoenix Mesa, 200 North Centennial Way.  Hours are from 2 to 10 p.m. on Friday, noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $25 per day or $50 for the weekend.

click to enlarge CUPCAKE! promoters and DJs Self.Destrukt (left) and Betty Blackheart (right). - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
CUPCAKE! promoters and DJs Self.Destrukt (left) and Betty Blackheart (right).
Benjamin Leatherman

CUPCAKE! 10-Year Anniversary

Fetish freaks and geeks of the Valley, your favorite dance night is making a return, albeit for one night only. Local DJs Betty Blackheart and Self.Destrukt are bringing their infamously lascivious dance night CUPCAKE! back from the dead on Saturday, January 8, at The Rebel Lounge, 2303 East Indian School Road, for it’s 10th anniversary. If you never had the chance to attend the monthly event during its original run from 2012 to 2019 at the now-defunct Rogue Bar in Scottsdale, each CUPCAKE! party offered a unique theme and an “anything goes” atmosphere that mixed libations with libidinous hi-jinks. There were go-go girls, costumes both fetishistic and otherwise, burlesque entertainers, grind artists, DJs spinning industrial rock, and a host of colorful weirdos in attendance. Expect a similarly sinful scene this weekend. Doors open at 8 p.m. and admission is $10.

Flagg Gem And Mineral Show

Geology geeks and lapidary enthusiasts can, um, rock out at this annual event at Mesa Community College, 1833 West Southern Avenue. Local mineral clubs and collectors will showcase their assortment of geodes, rocks, and gems in a tailgate-style setup in MCC’s west parking lot from Friday, January 7, to Sunday, January 9. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Parking and admission are free.
click to enlarge Marvel superhero cosplayers at last year's Fan Fest. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Marvel superhero cosplayers at last year's Fan Fest.
Benjamin Leatherman

Superhero Saturday

Besides their penchant for spandex, secret lairs, and alter egos, most superheros are big into civic-minded behavior or lending a helping hand to their city. True to form, famous caped crusaders (or their cosplay versions, at least) will be in attendance at this outdoor charity event being presented by the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association on Saturday, January 15, at 2200 North Central Avenue. It benefits the Childhelp Children's Center of Phoenix and feature appearances by numerous costumed do-gooders, as well as cosplayers, comic book artists like Gene Ho, famous geek vehicles, and local hero Luis Gonzalez of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Chandler Film Festival 2022

The annual Chandler International Film Festival has everything cinephiles could want, including world premieres, indie flicks, shorts, documentaries, filmmaking and industry workshops, celebrity appearances, Q&A sessions, and after-parties. As is the norm for most film festivals these days, screenings will happen both in-person at the LOOK Dine-In Cinemas, 1 West Chandler Boulevard, and virtually. This year’s event is scheduled for Tuesday, January 18, through Sunday, January 22. Tickets range from $12 for $18 for individual screenings and $220 for an all-access pass.
click to enlarge Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix. - NEW TIMES ARCHIVES
Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix.
New Times archives

Brewsology Beer Festival

When it boils down to it, brewing beer is basically about chemistry. (Mix the right amounts of barley, hops, yeast, and other ingredients to transform sugars into pyruvate and then pyruvate into water and carbon dioxide.) So the Arizona Science Center, 600 East Washington Street, seems like a fitting venue to host an event like the Brewsology Beer Festival on Saturday, January 22. This evening-long mix of science and suds will feature dozens of local and domestic breweries, sample tastings of seasonal beers, and more. Hours are from 7 to 11 p.m. General admission is $50 and VIP tickets are $65.

STAR Pro Wrestling's West Coast Cup 2022

Some of the southwest’s best junior heavyweight pro wrestlers — including EJ Sparks, Prince Magod Ali, Joey Hendrix, Dante King, and El Dragon — are scheduled to compete in this one-night tournament on Saturday, January 29, at The Cages Training Facility, 12325 North Cave Creek Road. Expect plenty of spectacular moves, stunts, and high spots (including some the requisite “flippy shit”) during the fast-paced and action-packed matches. Bell time is at 8 p.m. General admission is $20 and VIP packages are $30 (which feature priority seating, early entry, raffle tickets, and the chance to meet the wrestlers beforehand).
click to enlarge They came as characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
They came as characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
Benjamin Leatherman

Tempe FanCon

Free and family-friendly isn't always Tempe’s style, but the annual FanCon on Saturday, January 29, is a lone exception. The outdoor event at Tempe Public Library, 3500 South Rural Road, will feature artists, authors, a costume contest, and activities for “fans of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Whovians, and Trekkies.” There will also be exhibitors, vendors, panels, live entertainment, and a costume contest. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is free.

Maile Flanagan Signing

Character actress Maile Flanagan has played a variety of roles over the last 24 years, including appearances on Reno 911!, Lab Rats, Grey's Anatomy, and Modern Family. Her most famous credit on her lengthy CV didn't involve an on-screen appearance, though, as Flanagan is best known as the voice of Naruto in the Americanized version of the long-running anime series of the same name. She’s scheduled to make a signing appearance at Toy Temple, 2180 West University Drive in Tempe, from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 29. Autographs and photos will be $30 each.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.