"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com – brought to you by Absolut, Avion, Fireball, Pama, Red Stag and 2 Gingers – is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
Kevin Gilmore is a self proclaimed geek. And nerd. Hence, his gig at 42 Lounge – a gamer "geek" bar Downtown – is a dream job for the 35-year-old Milwaukeean.
Gillmore has worked at 42 Lounge, 326 E. Mason St., since it opened last year. He was so certain he wanted the job that he spent four hours creating a resume that resembled a Dungeons & Dragons character sheet. It worked.
"I got a call back within 15 minutes of submitting my resume," says Gilmore.
Over the years, the connotation of geeks and nerds has changed. During a recent visit, we chatted with Gilmore about the evolving definition and perceptions of geeks and nerds as well as marriage, booze, the new Doctor Who and, of course, gaming.
OnMilwaukee.com: What kind of games are you into?
Kevin Gilmore: I’m a big tabletop gamer. We all grew up with tabletop board games like Risk and Monopoly. Right now, the European-style games are at their peak. Games like Settlers of Catan, various card games like Saboteur.
OMC: Do you prefer tabletop games over video games?
KG: I do. In general, these games are less adversarial and less about destroying someone else and more about economic victories.
When you gather people around to play a tabletop there’s a lot more conversation among people. I find it more social. You’re not tied to a screen.
OMC: What’s the longest you ever spent playing a game?
KG: 36 hours. Not straight, we took naps and turns guarding the board from the other players.
OMC: How did you find out about the job opening at 42 Lounge?
KG: A friend of mine saw they were hiring on Facebook and, jokingly, said, "You’re a big nerd, why don’t you apply?" And so I did.
OMC: Are you at all offended by the words "geek" or "nerd?"
KG: I wholly embrace them. You can’t run from the truth. And now, geeks and nerds are on this incredible pop culture crescendo. We should enjoy it while we can.
OMC: What do you think about the new Doctor Who?
KG: I love Peter Capaldi. I have been a fan of his for a very long time. I have had some passionate debates with other Whovians, but I think he’s going to be fantastic.
OMC: I notice you're wearing a wedding ring. Is your partner a geek?
KG: No. It’s a mixed marriage. My wife has no idea why I am so obsessed with comic books and games at the age of 35. She has taken a hard line against my obsession with what she calls my "star things."
OMC: Did you grow up a geek?
KG: I suppose. I was always into comics.
OMC: What are some of your favorite comics?
KG: I buy mostly independent titles. My current favorite is "Chew."
OMC: What’s your favorite drink to make?
KG: My favorite to make here is the Cutlass. It’s the best one we have on the menu – a bourbon sour that’s made with Maker’s Mark, fresh lemon juice, ginger and simple syrup. It’s a new take on a classic cocktail.
Originally, we created it for a promotion for a movie that I don’t remember. The movie had something to do with pirates. It didn’t do well in the box office, but we got a good drink out of it.
OMC: What’s your favorite drink to drink?
KG: Currently, I’m a sucker for whiskey, ginger beer and a solid squeeze of lime.
OMC: Did you grow up in Milwaukee?
KG: I did. I went to Pius High School. I live Downtown now. I leave the city every few years but it keeps sucking me back.
OMC: What are your thoughts on the Safe House?
KG: It’s an institution. I pop in there once or twice a year.
OMC: Would you agree it attracts a similar demographic as 42 Lounge?
KG: Yes. Before there was a place that catered specifically to gamers and comic nerds, it was the fun place to go. And now we split time. During the conventions, they get ‘em one night, we get ‘em one night. It’s one of the few joints in Milwaukee that has not changed in decades, and that’s part of its charm.
OMC: Did you go to Gen Con when it was in Milwaukee?
KG: Yes, and I miss it. I wish we had the hotel space to get it back. At this point, it’s gotten too big (in Indianapolis) for my preferences. You spend more time standing in line than getting involved.
OMC: Do you think non-gamers would feel comfortable here?
KG: Absolutely. People come in and will say, "Oh I thought it was a geek bar, but no one’s doing anything super geeky." We’re still just a Milwaukee bar with a very good mix of people.
OMC: What are some promotions or regular events you have here?
KG: We had a System Administrators Night. We had drink specials for anyone who worked as an admin and a contest for biggest system admin horror story. Someone wrote their story in code.
Thursdays we have Rock Band – that’s become very popular – and on Tuesday I host a Trivia Night. We also have movies on Mondays – usually horror, science fiction or superheroes.
OMC: What games do you have here and are they free?
KG: We have two PS4s, an Xbox One, Xbox 360 and a Wii behind the bar. They are all free for customers to play.
OMC: Do you control how long people play? Is there a waiting list to play?
KG: No, we haven’t needed that. People usually share pretty well. They sit down, play for a while, then get up to get some drinks, hob nob for a while.
OMC: What is the age demographic here?
KG: Mostly mid twenties and early thirties. And then a smattering of forties and even some really old schoolers who say things like, "I was around when D&D first came out."
OMC: Is there a difference between a nerd and geek?
KG: It’s a perennial argument here and everyone will have a different answer.
OMC: There’s a stereotype that geeks and nerds don’t drink or drink way less. Has this been your experience?
KG: Not at all. And I invite anyone who thinks this to come out with us on one of our Ren Faire trips. Bring your drinking horn.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.