Making Star Wars Love Connections in the 501st Legion

Love is in the air and Valentine’s Day is here again. Aside from the irrational fear we might one day accidentally kiss our sister, Star Wars fans are full of romance just like anyone else! In fact, we’re coming into a golden age for fans. A love of Star Wars crosses every demographic boundary and thanks to powerful female characters in the saga, more and more women are proudly displaying their inner Jedi. As a result, it’s no surprise that fan clubs are becoming the new melting pot where eligible singles meet and make a love connection!

Looks like she got her man

Looks like she got her man

When the 501st Legion began fifteen years ago, its mission was ostensibly to be a social club. My thinking was a community where any member could attend any convention and feel like they had like-minded costumers with whom they could build friendships. Color me surprised that almost immediately it also became a wonderful place for people to meet their soul mate! Same for the Rebel Legion! And don’t get me started about Rebels dating Imperials. I see it every day and somehow it works. Light side, dark side, someone’s buying someone flowers.

I get letters and emails all the time from members of the Legion telling me how they met and got married. I’d say there are now enough stories to fill a season of The Love Boat. Maybe I could pitch a show called “Love Star Destroyer?” Okay, maybe not. I don’t think the words “love” and “destroyer” together conjure up anything warm or fuzzy.

Danielle Feezle met her husband through the Ohio Garrison. They met at the Episode III premiere, became friends and started hanging out at “troops” (Legion events in costume). In June of 2006 the COSI science museum hosted the traveling Smithsonian exhibit, which meant three long days of everyone trooping together. After three full days of seeing each other in costume they began to see each other a little differently. Less than a year later they were married and now have two little girls of their own. They’re still very active in the Ohio Garrison and loving a life of costuming together.

Even Vader thinks women look good in armor!

Even Vader thinks women look good in armor!

Frances Helen Parsons met the man of her dreams in the UK while both of them were costuming. He was an imposing Sev in full Delta Squad armor, she was a Sith in her Ventress costume. Sparks ignited (maybe her Force lightning?) and the two hit it off. Pretty soon it was wedding bells. Frances recalls, “We did have a brilliant moment with the vicar at our pre-marriage counseling sessions — he was talking about the importance of shared hobbies and we just looked at each other and grinned. We really are very lucky.” She says everything is awesome about being married to a fellow Star Wars fan: she loves that they spend so many weekends together on the road to troops and that next year all their holiday budget is going on comic conventions abroad. It takes another Star Wars fan to understand the importance of Celebration Europe and DragonCon. And if that’s not enough, the sparks are still there: “Alex can still make me weak in the knees in his Sev get-up! I do love my man in armor!”

Dating a Sith is always tricky. Wearing armor may help.

Dating a Sith is always tricky. Wearing armor may help.

Angie Crowe tells the story from the Rebel side of things. She was just helping out a fellow costumer, selling some old Jedi boots she was trying to get rid of. A couple months later at the Boo at the Zoo troop she met the guy who bought the boots. As is typical for many troops, changing space was tight, so before she knew it she was checking him out donning Sandtrooper armor for the first time. Angie liked what she saw and soon Christopher was holding information more precious than secret plans to a battle station: Angie’s phone number! “I’m just lucky he decided to give me a call back,” Angie admits. “I mean how many other guys would have let their bride have Stormtroopers at their wedding?!”

Anakin dating Leia? "Nooooo!"

Anakin dating Leia? “Nooooo!”

For Angie and Chris, the best part of being Star Wars fans is finding someone who gets all the funny inside jokes and gets excited over the same things. They’re still having a blast, still trooping, and they always have fun when he wears Anakin and she wears Leia. That always gets a few weird looks when people make the connection!

Girls dig the armor. Guys dig the hair.

Girls dig the armor. Guys dig the hair.

But I guess my favorite love connection in the Legion is the one I experienced myself almost 10 years ago. It was DragonCon 2003 and the Legion was beginning to pick up speed. Without warning the Trooper Groupies appeared. Five girls dressed in white mini-skirts and sporting ball caps bearing TK numbers, the Trooper Groupies posed for pictures with every Stormtrooper at the con and made them all look like studs. It was a good weekend to be a Stormtrooper!

Trooper Groupies: Because even the Empire needs cheerleaders!

Trooper Groupies: Because even the Empire needs cheerleaders!

It was that weekend I met my wife Kathy, who was one of the Trooper Groupies. She sported a cute purple wig and wasn’t shy about cracking wise with the troops. During one of the parties we joked about getting Imperial tattoos. I took out a Sharpie and penned “Legion Forever” on her arm. The next day she was in Slave Leia attire, still sporting the tattoo. I was hooked. The next February I drove up to see her at FarPoint convention in Maryland. When I lent her my 501st letterman jacket to keep warm, she just smiled and asked if this meant we were going steady. Later that year we were being filmed by A&E’s show Wild Weddings in Vegas as Vader walked her down the aisle and Stormtroopers formed a shotgun wedding escort. Now we have Dave Dorman’s Sandtrooper print hanging in our living room and our twin girls dress as little Leias for Celebration.

Footrubs keep the Empire strong

Footrubs keep the Empire strong

So when I think back on the social experiment that was the Stormtrooper club, I’m pretty happy. People are connecting, fans are finding a home where they can meet other fans, kids are getting married with Jeremy Bulloch giving away the bride in actual Fett armor! We even have an unofficial unit called the Joint Ops, celebrating 501st members who get married to one another. And one member, Ryan Glitch, has run the sci-fi speed-dating event at Celebration V, Celebration VI, a dozen other conventions, and even been featured on a TLC show called Geek Love. The results so far? One marriage, 10 engagements, one baby on the way, and 75 couples still dating.

So was the experiment a success? I think it’s pretty clear it was. In an age where the concept of romance has been picked over and studied to death, it’s nice to know that true romance is all about finding someone who truly “gets” you. The lesson here is: if you meet a girl who loves Star Wars as much as you do, do whatever it takes to keep her!

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