New York Star Trek '76

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Star Trek Convention
Name: New York Star Trek '76 (also known as 'Disastercon' aka 'Riotcon')
Dates: Jan 23-25, 1976
Location: at the New York Hilton at the Rockefeller Center in New York City
Type: for profit
Focus: Star Trek
Founder: Lisa Boynton
Founding Date:
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New York Star Trek '76 was a for-profit Star Trek con. It was over-sold, and by many fans' accounts, a chaotic convention. An estimated 20,000 to 50,000 fans showed up.

The convention was scheduled a few weeks after Al Schuster's 1976 Star Trek convention and a few weeks before the Committee con also in New York. The timing was not accidental and cut into both convention's attendance. The organizer's focus on profits also rankled many fans:
"We were at the Commodore Hotel collating the hand-our bags for our February Con (Washington's Birthday weekend every year) while monitoring coverage on the news of the badly run BoyntonCon across town. Boynton was the first one to pay the stars to come -- and ruined it for everyone ever after."[1]

The conflict was featured in an article published by the Lakeland Ledger on Feb 22, 1976. See gallery below.

A Fanzine

A fanzine was published with cartoons illustrating the two disastrous conventions organized by Lisa Boynton. The zine, The New York and Chicago Strektaculars! is 27-pages in comic book about a gofer behind the scenes at two large "Strektacular" cons.

The narration and art are by Phil Foglio, with lyrics by Ann Passovoy and "ritzy lettering" by Doug Rice.

It is listed in Menagerie #10: "Phil Foglio reports in cartoons from behind the scenes at two of the biggest disasters Trek cons ever-Chicago 1975 and New York 1976. See even more than you bargained for."

The comic lists the following con report: "The New York Report, New York, 1976. "Live Coverage of the 1976 New York Star Trek Convention, with P. Foglio, the What Newz team."

And there's a sequence in which Lisa Boynton is named. (She authorized quiet polite wakeup calls for guests and loud raucous ones for the concom.) It ends with this section: "All in favor of this being the last Star Trek con we cover, say Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" [2]


Several filk songs were inspired by the event:
"...there are a pair of Disastercon songs, about the Chicago and New York (ESPECIALLY the New York) Star Trek conventions early in the history of the Dorsai Irregulars/Klingon Diplomatic Corps."[3]

Convention Reports

[1] Read a PDF article about tickets being oversold and the New York State Attorney General's investigation, from The Utica Daily Press, January 27, 1976
The prevailing mood of this con was Anger. There were huge crowds (estimated from 20,000 to 30,000) with inadequate crowd control provided people fainting, shoved against large plate glass windows. Both police and fire departments had to be called in to help with the situation. There were no program books or schedules for members, and the schedule as posted was rarely followed. Press coverage was enormous, but inadequate arrangements made for them....television coverage was also enormous, but mostly unfavorable. There were many more members than could possibly be accomodated in the ballroom to see the guests....the stars agreed to do a third show at 11 p.m. to ease the situation. Irate ticket holders, unable to see anything, were full of complaints and demands for the return of their money. The Attorney General of New York has ordered an investigation into the causes of lack of space and charges of overselling. Lincoln Enterprises had a table in the dealers room, a most unusual sight for a ST con. Susan Sackett (secretary to Gene Roddenberry) was a guest, marking only her second such appearance. On stage, William Shatner had a pie thrown at him! (It missed!). [4]
The New York Star Trek convention in January 1976, attracted a fantastic crowd of 50,000. Many more were left outside of the convention hotel, which was filled to capacity. A hot seller at this convention was the Star Trek Star Fleet technical manual. The manual contained detailed drawings of Star Trek equipment and vehicles. Another book sold at the convention was Star Trek Lives by Lichtenberg, Marshak, and Winston which is the story of the Trekkies themselves. Model kits of the ship were popular, too. [5]
I was at Disastercon aka Riotcon the ....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 was there. And yes, humor saved the day. I admit I can no longer remember if I actually was in the room, but I was 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. I learned to do shtick, to get the hostile, or angry, or simply thosefolks on my side, get them to understand why we were asking them to move back. It helped. It worked. It's why for years I was able to act as a security-type person when I'm not the expected face of security at a con. [6]
I'm reminded of one of the early Star Trek conventions in New York. The organizer sold about 10 times as many memberships as the convention facilities could accommodate, and then absconded with the money. But at least they really had booked the hotel and the guests and things. It came to be known as "RiotCon. [7]
Lisa's New York Con, or "Heartbreak Hotel" -- I had the opportunity to attend the Star Trek Convention run by Ms. Lisa Boynton at the New York Hilton Hotel on January 23-25, 1976.

All our favorite people from the crew of the Enterprise were there with the exception of our beloved "Chekov" (Walter Koenig) and "Nurse Chapel" (Majel Barrett). Even "Spock's" father, Mark Lenard, put in an appearance. It was a dynamite feeling to see all of our good friends together again, especially on the model of the bridge of the Enterprise. Those who were fortunate enough to get in had a wonderful time. Regretfully, to the dismay of many fans, the convention tickets were oversold. Many fans who had tickets had to be turned away because of the lack of room in the auditorium and dealers room. Even though extra appearances were made by the stars, it still did not afford everyone a chance to see them. This is a condition I hope will not happen at future conventions. The success of conventions and fan clubs depends on the fans, and fandom good will should not be taken advantage of. Despite the unhappy mass of people, the Helpers did a fine job and kept their cool in the face of insurmountable problems. The one deplorable occurrence happened on stage to Bill Shatner during one of his appearances. Some unthinking person threw a lemon meringue pie in Bill's face. I wonder if the pie thrower realizes he could have caused Bill a serious injury? Some jokes really are not funny!! In spite of the "sticky" situation, Our Gallant Captain came through smiling.

The highlight of the convention was lunch with George at Rockefeller Center, during which we watched the ice skaters doing "their thing" in the outside rink. Now, if we can only get George to laugh a little less conspicuously, we just might be able to sneak him in and out of places without being immediately recognized. Only teasing, George, you know we love you as you are. [8]


Click to see larger images


  1. Fern Marder email correspondence with Morgan Dawn dated October 15, 2013, quoted with permission.
  2. Two Star Trek cons in NYC in 1975? posted in rec.arts.sf.fandom Feb 2007; reference link.
  3. Filk songs about SPECIFIC CONVENTIONS? dated Nov 8, 2004; reference link.
  4. From A Piece of the Action #36.
  5. Star Trek TV and Movie Tie-Ins by James A. Lely (1979); reference link.
  6. HE HEDGEHOG BLOG dated May 24, 2008; reference link.
  7. Subject: Re: Buffy fans conned dated June 21, 2005; reference link.
  8. from At the Helm #3
  9. reference link; reference link.
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