I was first introduced to this concept by a former boss of mine. He loaned me the book Geek Love. Though I never was able to finish that book, I know it started with a performer at a sideshow circus who called himself a geek. He worked in a pit and bit the heads off live chickens.
Checking the definition in my doorstop of a dictionary, I find that “geek” means carnival performer who performs morbid acts as well as “any strange or eccentric person.” It traces back geck meaning fool.
I recently picked up the Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits. Researching the band, I found that front man Alice Cooper was accused of biting the head off a chicken at a rock and roll festival in 1969. The sources I read say he probably didn’t actually do it (no true geek there), but he was fine with the publicity.
I’m not entirely sure how geek (the chicken killer) became geek (the guy with the Alice Cooper action figures, yes there are plenty). My hunch is it started with computers. After all, geeks are nerds with some social skills.
I have no future intentions to harm chickens. I only relish my pop culture fanaticism and all that it compels me to ogle.