Let’s start here: I love Star Trek.
I love Star Trek in ways people who don’t love Star Trek find baffling. I love transporters. I love tractor beams. I love ethical dilemmas about justice, conscience, and what it means to be human. I love the uniforms. I love space flight, exploration, and aliens. God do I ever love aliens. And I have since I made my first communicator badge out of tin foil and begged my parents for Vulcan ears for Halloween. I was 6, and this resulted in my first trip to a comic book store – but more on that another time.
Fast-forward about 20 years, and you arrive at my first-ever Official Star Trek convention (2 weeks ago). Held up in Boston, this was one of the official Creation Events, and played host to a long list of cast members from The Next Generation (TNG), a few from Deep Space Nine (DS9) and a handful of very venerable cast members from The Original Series (TOS). Among other topics, this convention commemorated the 20th anniversary of DS9. The convention had a number of events, including a cosplay contest (which I unfortunately missed), a live auction for rare memorabilia, and most memorably, a series of panels featuring cast members.
Yes, there was cosplay. That’s me in the blue with the skeptical eyebrow.
I’ve been to a few conventions before, but this was a smaller convention both floor and headcount-wise, which I found really awesome. I’m accustomed to cons the size of New York ComiCon and Dragon Con, where you have to spend most of the day in line for a panel and the crowds are sprawling and impersonal. This convention was different – you bumped into the same people a few times in a day, and you could take the time to stop and chat with folks you met. The vendor floor was two large, easily-navigated rooms, with one dedicated mostly to items for celeb autographs. The tables for autographs were in the main great hall, where you could see the actors sitting behind them, and the lines were very reasonable. The panels were held in one VERY large room, so there was plenty of seating.
On Saturday it was cosplay day for my away team, and we had a great time. Only 2 people the whole day recognized my outfit as an officer from the animated series! It was also Pride Day in Boston, and George Takei was the first speaker we went to see. He spoke about pride day, his work in Star Trek, his recent internet fame, and his Broadway-bound musical Allegiance. Allegiance has been selling out for multiple extended runs on the west coast, and I’ve been waiting for it to come to the Great White Way since his YouTube audition for Spiderman years ago. He also gave us a point by point explanation of why Star Trek 6 should be called “Captain Sulu Saves The Day” and how he’d be happy to appear in a new series as, ahem, an admiral. We also caught Brent Spiner and Gates McFadden in a very funny Q&A, including McFadden taking the back panel off of Spiner’s head to satisfy a question, and the two of them answering rapid fire “one-word-answer” questions at the end.
The following day we were treated to more panels with teams of stars. First in the day were Rene Auberjonois and Nana Visitor (which I learned was pronounced more like “manah manah” without the m’s, not like your gramma’s nick name), who were amazing, lively and brilliant. He sang the famous “Le Poisson” number from his role as Chef Louis in The Little Mermaid, and she did “All That Jazz” for us with a little dance! SPOILERS: They spoke about how their friendship grew on set, and how the love scenes between their characters were sometimes strained, both because of the “kissing my brother” feeling and the amount of facial latex they had to cope with.
Levar Burton and Mirina Sirtis were up next, Mirina getting surly with the crowd while Levar balanced out the stage. Levar told stories of how much he enjoyed watching TNG episodes on TV, and what it was like to be on Star Trek as an adult when he had been a fan growing up. Things tensed up a little when one fan put their feet to the fire and asked for a reaction to what he termed the “blatant sexism and racism” in Star Trek: Into Darkness. Levar counted the number of cameras in the room and estimated time-until-youtube for us before answering! He responded by sharing with us his feeling that the movie didn’t have Gene Roddenberry’s spirit in it as much as the older films. Mirina drove home her opinions (though she said she hadn’t seen the movie and likely wouldn’t unless it was in a hotel room or on an airplane) with two broader comments; first she pointedly asked “Could they not find a latino actor to play Khan?” and then she retold the story of the now-infamous J.J. Abrams interview with Jon Stewart in which he said he “didn’t like Star Trek.” Personally I loved Levar’s suggestion that Edward James Olmos would have made a great Khan, and I also love the idea of Alexander Siddig in the role. But there I go being a DS9 fan again, so I digress. (BTW if you haven’t read Alpha Girl’s review of ST:ITD, now’s the time.)
To round out the day the Shat himself arrived to bring it all home, and talked about his life since Star Trek and many of his upcoming projects, including Fan-Addicts (I honestly thought he said “Fan Attics” – which is a show I would totally watch) and some reality TV work. He commented on how his voice is so often spoofed, and how important and difficult the work of an actor really is.
I missed out on Nichelle Nichols‘ panel; I wish I could have seen her in action!
I only met one of the cast members for an autograph, and I’m going to tell you about a thing that happened that doesn’t happen often: I totally failed at keeping it together when I met Auberjonois. He’s my hero on DS9 – my absolute hero. I met him and my normal “pull it together, people are people, and that’s all” reflex just failed to fire. I told him how much I love Odo, how he made the show for me, and how it’s one of the most powerful roles in the show. And I’m sure I was bright pink the whole freaking time. And what did he do for me? He drew me this:
That’s Odo’s bucket. And if you’re a DS9er, then you know exactly how adorable that is.
I donated $20 in exchange, which the con is sending straight to Doctors Without Borders – a very charity very much in line with the Trek style of idealism.
All in all it was much smaller than I’d expected – but I wasn’t expecting the intimacy of the convention. I didn’t expect the cast members to be so up close; I expected the little privacy tents I’m used to seeing at NYCC with a queue a mile long behind it. I didn’t think I’d see them waving or chatting with one another, or that I’d be lucky enough to have a chat with one of them myself. I’d strongly recommend that Trek fans check out Creation Events – I loved what I saw and had a great time. Instead of the impersonal convention I expected, I spent the weekend with a close family of fans celebrating the stories and characters we love.
Till next time Trek fans – see ya ’round the galaxy