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Orange County Focus

Countywide : Mensans Show Fun Side of Braininess

August 01, 1992|GEOFF BOUCHER

Considering that the only membership requirement for Mensa is achieving a genius-level score on an intelligence test, it may not be surprising that a whole hour of the Orange County chapter's convention this weekend has been devoted to discussing the works of Chekov.

No, not Russian writer Anton Chekhov, the other one--Ens. Pavel Chekov, the "Star Trek" character portrayed by Friday night's convention speaker, actor Walter Koenig.

"The TV show is real popular with a lot of our members," said convention organizer Steve Pastis. "It should be a lot of fun."

Fun seemed to be the key word Friday, the first day of the annual gathering that drew about 350 of the county's 1,100 Mensa members. Although the concept of a club for brainy types might conjure up images of intellectuals clutching slide rules and history books, some of the events planned at the Fullerton Day's Inn suggest that the group does let its hair down.

There's a seminar on how astrology can help you purchase the correct chocolate for your lover, a no-holds-barred sex forum and a slide show on erotic art. Novelty-music disc jockey Dr. Demento is dropping by tonight for a special appearance, and discussions are planned on comic books, magic tricks and gambling.

On the more cerebral side, experts will speak on the social responsibilities of business, solar energy vehicles, future space travel and virtual reality. One seminar promises to teach attendees to read Greek in 30 minutes, and another offers tips on lucid public speaking.

The offerings are varied to cater to the diverse backgrounds of members, said Helen Geerlings, an eight-year member from Huntington Beach. "Mensans are eclectic and usually eccentric," she said. "A lot of them are people who are odd, and comfortable with it.

"Mensans join Mensa so they can have people they can talk to on the same level, people they don't have to stop and explain what they've just said to," she said.

Chapter Vice President Barbara Podell said the beauty of the convention, which this year honors the 25th anniversary of the Summer of Love, is the diversity of the members attending.

"The only membership requirement is to be able to pass a test," she said. "Members may be successful or unsuccessful, socially a star or a loner. It doesn't say how well you've done in life, or even what you do. It just means you're good at those tests."

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