They met at a Def Con hacker convention nine years ago. They had their first date and first kiss at a Def Con convention a couple years later. They got engaged at another Def Con. They got engaged at another Def Con. After being together for nine years in “an emotional marriage,” Vandal and Eris (their hacker nicknames) made their marriage legal at 3PM at the Royale Riviera Wedding Chapel in the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, NV. July 28th, 2010, at Def Con 18. Theirs is a rare, eccentric, romantic and geeky love story, the kind that comes about as often as Haley’s comet, or once a century.
They met at a Def Con hacker convention nine years ago. They had their first date and first kiss at a Def Con convention a couple years later.
They got engaged at another Def Con. After being together for nine years in “an emotional marriage,” Vandal and Eris (their hacker nicknames) made their marriage legal at 3PM at the Royale Riviera Wedding Chapel in the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, NV. July 28th, 2010, at Def Con 18.
Vandal described their relationship. “I love the way we laugh at the same things, often time when they are completely morbid or not meant to be funny. She takes criticism, and does her best to change on that, even if I often don’t do the same. Even being together 9 years, we can still sit, and 6000 miles away, talk for hours as if it’s still in the first year of dating.”
Vandal is a systems administrator, VMWare specialist, and Exchange Administrator. He loves playing with a yo-yo, cultivating salt water fish tanks so his fish can thrive, BBQing and making beer. His favorite color is purple – in case you couldn’t tell by the hair in the wedding photos.
Proof he’s a geek:
Vandal has been going to Def Con since Def Con 2, and most of his friends are hackers or geeks of some variety. He collects various comic books and comic book art, “mostly Joseph Linsner stuff, but it can vary depending on my mood,” he says. He describes himself as an enormous technophile. “I have gotten rid of loads of tech that never really made it just because I had to have it before anyone else.” Apparently he feasts on this stuff. Geek rating: 10 out of 10
Eris is a student in a veterinarian assistant program. She has worked as an retail manager, fetish model, administrative assistant, executive assistant, and a buyer for a machine shop making parts for planes and amusement parks. In her past life, Eris was a paratrooper in the Army at Ft Bragg, NC. She loves to skydive and she loves to read. Anything. It has been said that you might even catch Eris reading the back of a cereal box if that is all there is. Eris is also an animal lover. She has adopted or rescued three cats, a rabbit, and a clown fish.
Proof she’s a geek:
Eris used to play live action role-playing games, specifically, Vampire the Masquerade. She still own pieces of the costumes she wore. She’s been attending Def Con since Def Con 7. She’s a comic geek as well; she squealed when she met Tim Vigil at Comic Con in San Diego two years ago. No ordinary female would do this. Geek rating: 10 out of 10
Their Extraordinary Love Story
by Bebe Zeva
Vandal, a VMWare specialist and systems administrator, collects tech goods, appreciates geek culture, and devotes himself to his wife Eris, a fellow hack enthusiast. But Vandal and Eris are no ordinary couple. They didn’t meet through serendipitous forces of nature. They met through the forces of Def Con, the world’s longest running and largest underground hacking conference in the world.
Their legendary courtship began in 2000, while Eris was dating another hacker. Things didn’t begin heating up between Eris and Vandal until Def Con 9 in 2001 when Eris became single. She found Vandal, followed him around the convention, and pressured him into taking her to an off-site after party at a local biker bar. They kissed – an event that Eris claims only happened after she’d gotten Vandal drunk. But drunk or not, there was no regretful morning-after. “I caught a ride home to Orange County, CA with him that year and we started dating casually. A year later, while we were on a date at an Orbital concert, he asked me to become exclusive with him, to become his girlfriend,” Eris confessed. The couple went on to date for four years, inebriated by each other and not once experiencing an emotional hangover. By 2004, Vandal was ready to propose.
“We were staying at the Tropicana during DefCon 12. I had spent a few weeks before tossing the idea around in my head. We had been together for four years at that point and I still loved being around her. I used to have a two year limit; after two years of dating, anything a person did would start to irritate me. Since she had made it past that point, I realized Eris was pretty special to me and we were incredibly compatible. We liked a lot of the same things, hated most of the same things and accepted the differences. We could sit and talk for hours or just lie on the couch, watch TV, and still be content,” Vandal explained. “So anyways, we were in the room, and playing around and I just asked her.”
Since Vandal was slightly intoxicated at the time, Eris wouldn’t really give an answer until the next day when she could be sure he meant it. But Vandal was sincere, and Eris accepted. On July 28th, 2010, the two were married – the day before DefCon 18 – at the Riviera Hotel and Casino. The choice was obvious.
“Our best friends are from DefCon. Our “family” attends Defcon. It was the one place that has figured so prominently in our entire relationship and where the most number of our friends and “family” would be. Outside of blood family, the people that matter the most to us, including each other, have come from our association with Def Con,” explained Eris.
The wedding colors were purple and green represented by his purple hair, shirt, and hand-made boutineer. The bride wore a green brocade corset over a hand made ivory silk dress with hand made peacock feather fascinators in her hair. All work was done by Vintage Revamped.
The couple was unable to go on an immediate honeymoon due to Vandal’s work in Seoul, but they have plans for an Asian getaway in October. Despite the transpacific distance that often separates this adoring twosome, Eris and Vandal’s love is unfaltering and strong. “We’re a really open couple about a lot of things. We can have a good time just watching the other person enjoy themselves,” Vandal said.
“My best friend makes me laugh and smile everyday, even from thousands of miles away,” Eris professed. “I never felt like half a person until I met him.” Vandal had equally sentimental things to say about his wife. “She’s not afraid to try new things, even if I am, she’ll make sure I go and have a good time, while on that same note, if it’s something I really don’t want to go do, she’ll understand. We share the same sarcasm, leaving people to wonder if we’re joking or if we’re just total jerks, and most of the time we never really let them know which way we are going.”
It’s stories like theirs that spark courageous lovelorn geeks to occasionally venture beyond the digital world and pursue romance.”She’s the perfect compliment to me. She anchors me when I’m out of control and takes care of me when I fall. She encourages me when I decide to move forward and never doubts my intentions. While I don’t believe in destiny or any of that crap, I do think we were made for each other.”
Incidentally, Vandal and Eris also run the DefCon Scavenger hunt, sponsored this year by www.thinkgeek.com. [For more information on the Scavenger hunt check out the facebook page. Or you can find them on Twitter by searching @defconscavhunt.]
If meeting a plethora of like-minded hackers isn’t enough of an incentive to attend next year’s Def Con, consider the prospect of a burgeoning romance, however unlikely. If not for the hacking, then for the love of hackers. Who knows? You could possibly beat the odds like Vandal and Eris and meet your future husband or wife at a hacker convention.
But then again, maybe not. Vandal and Eris just might be one in a million.
Vandal and Eris at the altar.
Some of the men from Def Con 18 in the wedding party.
Celebrating with the girls
Vandal and Eris on their wedding day
A one-in-a-million love story.