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Jun 03

Holodiction: Star Trek Convention (7/6/03)

The phrase, “Star Trek Convention” has never had anything but an abhorrent
stigma attached to it. Among the images conjured up by it are hordes of
costumed fanatics, vulcan ear tips, pimply teenage nerds and Klingons in
bathrooms enjoying a conversation in Klingonese over the urinals. That may
be true for American conventions, but the Australian
scene is a bit more subdued. Only a little bit.

This convention saw Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar, TNG), Dominic Keating (Malcolm
Reed, ENT) and John Billingsley (Dr Phlox, ENT) attend. For the uninformed,
the format of a Sydney Trek convention is basically a bunch of Trek actors
give a talk and take questions from the crowd. There may be an auction, and
there are some merchandise sales from a handful of stalls.

It’s a real novelty to see in the flesh the people you see on TV every week.
You get some sort of insight into the real personality of the actors out of
costume and character. Billingsley was on stage first. His real voice is
noticeably higher pitched than his Phlox persona. Other than that, he was
very interesting and had a bundle of funny stories to tell. Keating is a Pom, and he’s quite charismatic. A good
anecdote teller, fairly upfront, occasionally profane :) and very likeable.
A lot more “loose” than his character has been written up in Enterprise where he sometimes seems to have a stick
up his ass. And ironically, he isn’t too fond of pineapple. Crosby’s hour was comparatively
dull. She was a bit insipid, probably the result of being on the
convention circuit for the last 15 or so years, having the same questions
lobbed at her time and again. The high point of her spiel was when someone
asked her how she landed her Playboy photoshoot. There was a few seconds of
silence followed by (she was sucking a lollypop): “Oh er… *lick lick*…
um… are you allowed to ask that? *lick lick* erg… the Ghosts of my
past! *lick lick* okaaay… I can explain that… *lick lick*”.

Ultimately though, they are actors doing their job, and as much as Trekkies
would like to imagine, the actors aren’t hard core Trek fans. Naturally
though, some are, and they tend to be more favoured by the crowds.

Live long and prosper...
So Denise goes, “I can’t do that Vulcan hand sign thing,” and 100 Trekkies immediately give her the three-fingered salute.
(Click here for more photos)

Ah yes, the crowds. The crowds are interesting. Surprisingly to most, unlike
LANs, where the male to female ratio is 20:1 (or worse), the demographic
at trek conventions have a 50-50 split(!). Unfortunately the number of
attractive women there are virtually non-existent. At the risk of
digging myself into a deep hole, one of the things I noticed was that
a very significant percentage of convention attendees had a weight problem.
I’m not talking about a few extra kilos on the side, I’m talking about
gross obesity, to the extent it hinders mobility. Look, I’m not trying
to make fun of fat people here, but I am saying there were an abnormally
large number of them there that day. I don’t think that is by pure coincidence.
People, get out! Stop sitting on the couch! Go do exercise or something!

There’s also something lacking about the general social decorum of some of
these people. A mobile phone went off in this woman’s bag during Keating’s talk.
She’d changed her ringtone so it was her nasally voice repeatedly intoning,
“Answer your bloody phone!” After twenty seconds of scrambling, she eventually
plucked the phone out of her bag… and proceeded to answer the damn
thing. And no, she didn’t whisper, “hey I’ll call you back”, she had a frigging
conversation on it, oblivious to the icy glares people were boring into her.
Then there were people during the Q&A session who just wouldn’t put their hands
down. Sure they’d already had three of their questions answered, but they had
about ten more they wanted to ask – and screw the other people who had more
interesting questions to ask. Look, even though I’d never do it myself, I don’t
mind people dressing up and having a bit of fun, but I mean, there was
something wrong with a few of these people.

It’s also amazing how much money some people were willing to spend. Tickets started
at $100, which isn’t the cheapest. However, the $1000+ and $600 tickets had virtually
sold out. They also held an auction before the guest talks. Through that, the convention
organisers were raping everyone who ended up tendering a bid. The amount of money
being paid for some of the mugs, t-shirts, posters and other memorabilia was quite shocking.
I present to you exhibit A:

Fridge Magnet Auction
You are looking at a fridge magnet that sold for $52. No, it doesn’t polarise your fridge door to make it impervious to projectiles thrown at it

by your 3 year old son.

As we were lining up for autographs we had a brief chat to this woman:
“Yeah, I’ve spent waaay too much money on this hobby,” she said.
“How many conventions have you been to?”
“Heh, all of them. I’m a sucker for these things.”
“Ah, they’re expensive aren’t they?”
“Yep, we’re all idiots for paying this much.”
“Did you buy anything at the auction?”
“Hey! I’m not that much of an idiot!”

Ultimately it was a fairly enjoyable day. Hear the actors, grab a few photos and collect a few autographs. Definitely expensive, but I am a Trekkie after all! Photos from the day here.

This post has 12 comments

1.  Little D

stu, did u buy anything there?

2.  Little D

hey tell me when u have the next one on. i gotta friend who is pretty big on trek too so i can tell her about it next time. personally i think i’d give it a.. pass.

3.  Stu

No, didn’t buy anything – the ticket price was expensive enough. Also, for a Trek convention schedule: http://www.photonpublishing.com.au (it’s the official convention page, although it’s a shockingly maintained site)

4.  anthonyjhicks

I haven’t actually been to a Trek conference, but years back I used to go to the Dr Who conventions at Sydney Uni. Now there’s an interesting and extreme crowd. I swear there was one guy who was convinced he was a timelord. Interesting that pictures show relatively few attendees.. is this due to the price of the tickets or the calibre of the guests? A mixture of both I guess. I know the organisers take a significant risk in running these things, but I think the pricing is wrong for the Aussie market as it excludes all but the hardest core fans. I’ve skipped conferences recently due to the price.. where-as before I wouldn’t have battered an eye lid at paying. Now I’m very selective about who I will pay to see. If it’s not a lead A list character, then I’m not interested. Take for example the recent conference that was canned as no one wanted to pay $100 to see Ansen Mayweather.

5.  anthonyjhicks

Btw Dominic Keating has appeared in a couple of episodes of Buffy, just an extra minor role type.

6.  anthonyjhicks

One more comment, a couple of times I’ve been to a conference and actually seen and met an A-Lister. Now that’s worth every cent, on one occassion I was so majorly buzzed tht it took me a week to come down. Particularly stars from a show you really like.. Heh, I’m talking about Buffy again.

7.  erin

I agree with all your comments, having been to a number of cons in Sydney myself. I was a Voyager fan, so I only went to 3 i think.

The thing you forgot to mention is the insipid people who run the thing. That guy with a terrible sense of humour (who my friend thought looked like RObert Beltran but I thought looked demented), and that couple.

They were really badly organised, overpriced, and some of the other audience members were so dominating. As a young, student pleb I was sitting at the back, and the people in the front row would have a private convo with the guests … very annoying.

But i got to meet Garrett Wang and Robert Picardo which made me a happy fifteen year old (all those years ago)!

8.  Stu

Voyager? *shudder* :).

I would say that the attendance was sparse because of the ticket price. And yes, I agree with you Erin in that the organisational skills of organisers is abysmal. I did go to convention a couple years back which had Garrett, Roxann Dawson and Tim Russ, although I unfortunately didn’t get to see Picardo who was on the following day.

The thing about Australia is that it seems like it’s really hard to get A-list guests out here.

9.  Rodent

I love that last sentence of yours Stu.

10.  Tuggles

Good write up Stu.

Hheeheh… the photo’s didn’t turn out that bad afterall :)

Live long and prosper!

11.  Peter

That’s awesome that you went Stu! I’m jealous as hell, as Susan and I got up at 7am to go. Drove the 40 minutes into the city in the cold, found an amazing spot right near the entrance! Walked into the centre, and followed the “Star Trek Convention” sign on the TV screen. Wandered down the steps, and saw some people outside – I was a little taken back that they were giving out religious paraphernalia tho.

We were a little confused, but walked back upstairs and asked the reception chick where the ST convention was….hmmm….”that was on yesterday Sir”. Doh!! We had somehow convinced ourselves it was on Sunday morning, not Saturday…so, no convention for us :(

Hence my jealousy that you can read a calender…

Good write up mate :)

12.  Sleeper

In comparison I would have to say that the chicks that attend comic conventions are getting hotter and more plentiful.

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