Dorsai Irregulars

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Synonyms: Klingon Diplomatic Corps
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ad for the Dorsai Irregulars, printed in the New York Star Trek '76 program guide
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Dorsai Irregulars (and their "alter egos": the "Klingon Diplomatic Corps") is a group of fans who help run security for cons. Their duties include making sure fans do not crowd celebrity guests and ensuring that fans line up for autographs in a quiet and orderly manner.

From The Hole in the Deck Gang Newsletter #10:
The Dorsai Irregulars are a non-profit volunteer group whose work is in providing security for various conventions. At sf cons, they usually cover the art show and dealer's rooms. At Trek cons, they provide guest security -- escorting the celebrities. Their costumes depend on the convention. For sf cons, they appear as Dorsai Irregulars, based on the series of books by Gordon Dickson.... Their uniform is green... with black trappings, beret, belt pouches, and boots. For Trek cons, they appear as the unflappable Klingon Diplomatic Corps, led by Commander Krass. Uniforms are black pants and turtleneck shirts, the women wear a black tunic dress with a blue glitter inset, and black tights. The men wear a blue glitter tunic and black pants. They are all in full Klingon makeup and carry weapons (settings for stun, maim, and kill). They have appeared in Dorsai garb at several Midwest-based conventions. As Klingons, they have appeared at KWest*Con, OurCon and the ST/sf Spectacular in Chicago.
From "Filk Music and The Dorsai Irregulars by John Hall, DI":
Who Are the Dorsai Irregulars? The Dorsai Irregulars, or DI, are named after the planet Dorsai and its people in Gordon R. Dickson's Childe Cycle books. Since the Dorsai planet was poor in natural resources, its inhabitants traded their services as mercenaries for the interstellar credit they needed to live. In time they became the finest soldiers in known space. The legend is that the Dorsai Irregulars are a group of misfit Dorsai who don't fit the super-soldier mold of the "ideal" Dorsai. They live in a swamp in a remote part of the Dorsai planet and prefer singing, drinking and sleeping late to marching and saluting. They specialize in winning battles by guile and stealth instead of by force of arms. Bob Asprin's filksong, Dorsai Irregulars, says it well:
My uniform's green and my trappings are black,
And my distant ancestors tied Rome in a sack.
I am not regulation, I don't even try.
I'm a pain in the ass to the standard Dorsai.
We are practical jokers, we love dirty tricks.
We make deadly weapons from feathers and sticks.
We will honor a contract and stand by a friend,
But right about there is where our manners end.
That's the shtick. Behind it, the Dorsai Irregulars is an organization of science fiction fans who volunteer their time and talents to provide operations support, site control, auctioneering, and other services to SF conventions. [1]

History

At Torcon 2, the 31st World Science Fiction Convention (or "WorldCon"), held in 1973 in Toronto, the only security force was hired security guards. There was friction between the guards and the fans. The guards did not understand the fannish milieu. One miscreant fan stole one of noted illustrator Kelly Freas's paintings from the Art Show... The story goes that he showed the rental guard at the door a receipt for a piece of much lower value. The guard didn't know any better and let him through.

However it happened, it left a lot of people upset and worried about what was happening in the science fiction fan community.

The story goes that he showed the rental guard at the door a receipt for a piece of much lower value. The guard didn't know any better and let him through.

However it happened, it left a lot of people upset and worried about what was happening in the science fiction fan community.

Fandom was changing. There were large influxes of new fans brought in by Star Trek and other media interests. Conventions were getting bigger. They were no longer the small, clubby get-togethers of the '50s and '60s. Although there were loud outcries that "Fans don't steal from fans", "Fans are Slans", and so on, the fact of the matter was that things had changed. The incident at Torcon convinced one fan, Robert Asprin, of the need for a corps of experienced fans to provide alternative security, crowd control, guest escort and other services to conventions. With a knowledge of the norms and customs of fandom, such a group could, in theory, accomplish its goals without the hostility and conflict caused by a clash of cultures between the mundane world and the fannish.

The first appearance of the Crew Discon II, 1974 Bob was an admirer of the work of Gordon R. Dickson and he asked and received permission from Gordy to use the name "Dorsai Irregulars" for the organization. Next year the WorldCon was Discon II, in Washington D.C. Asprin and six other fans in green uniforms and berets appeared on the masquerade stage and made a light-hearted attempt at some close-order drill. Then Asprin took the mike and announced that the Dorsai Irregulars were available for duty. That was the start of the Dorsai Irregulars. After its initial appearance, contracts flew in. With more work, the need for members also increased and the numbers grew to about 24. Dorsai contracted for security at a variety of SF and media cons and the group's fame, reputation and mythology grew. Since most members were in their early 20s, it was easy to cultivate a gung-ho, go-anywhere style. During this time the Klingon Diplomatic Corps provided an alter ego for the DI.

Eventually Bob Asprin left the group; the Seventies waned, and the paramilitary look was discarded. Around this time the DI also started holding their own small, annual relaxacon, Thing, near St. Patrick's day. [2]

Dorsai Irregulars' Relationship to Klingon Diplomatic Corps

the Klingon Diplomatic Corp at Ourcon, 1975
From its early days, various Irregulars liked to dress in greasepaint and glitz, put on ferocious attitudes and bullwhips, then go perform crowd control. This alter ego to the DI was called the Klingon Diplomatic Corps, or KDC. At Star Trek conventions, KDC crews got crowds to smile and obey cries of "Back, Earther scum!" However, the whole act nearly backfired at New York Star Trek Con (NYStrek) when an unscrupulous organizer badly oversold the hotel... [something that created this scenario]: "How can you distrust a Klingon in Toe Socks? [3]


A Fan Remembers the Toe Socks

"Now, lads, git arround the cahmpfyrre therre, an' I'll tell ye how the grreat Klingon warriorr K'Culain held off a horrde o' Trrekkies wi'nae bu' his toe socks...." [4]
I was at Disastercon aka Riotcon the 1975 NY convention run by a wretched greedhead who oversold the memberships when the convention hotel was out of space and hid in her hotel room, refusing to deal with the chaos, and still allowing people to go to any ticket outlet and pay to get in. The hotel was freaked. The attendees were freaked. The guests of honor were kind enough to hang out and do a second stage appearance to appease the angry folks who'd paid lots of money and didn't want to hear "sorry, it's over'. (I was also doing front of house security when that guy hit Shatner with a cream pie, but that's another story.) I gofering and I know how bad things were. And I believe it happened (that is, that when the crowd was getting really pissed off, the story goes, that one of the KDC climbed up on a table, or maybe just reached down and yanked off his costume boot and held up his leg to the would-be lynch mob asking, plaintively something that went, "Aw, come on. You gotta trust me. How can you not trust a Klingon wearing toe socks?" It worked. He disarmed the crowd. And we all got out alive. [5]

The creative fan in toe socks was Michael Longcor. [6]

External Sources

References

  1. "Filk Music and The Dorsai Irregulars by John Hall, DI", Archived version
  2. Dorsai Irregulars History, Archived version
  3. Dorsai Irregulars History, Archived version
  4. tom smith online: music in every style... except dull
  5. Hedgehog "And I Am Marie of Roumania Hedgehog "And I Am Marie of Roumania," accessed 5.24.2008
  6. Conclave XXV Conclave XXV, accessed October 17, 2011
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