Space-Con (Star Trek and Science Fiction convention)
|Location:||Bay Area, California|
|Focus:||Star Trek and general Science Fiction convention, later much emphasis on Star Wars|
|Founder:||Chuck Weiss and Arian "Sandy" Sarris did the first, Terry Terman took over from there|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Space-Con (the first one was called "The Red Hour Festival" and the later cons were sometimes referred to as "Space... the Final Frontier") was a Star Trek and science fiction convention. After the third one, there was much focus on Star Wars. There were eight of these cons all together.
Space-Con was Northern California's first Star Trek convention.
Space-Con conventions were really big events for the mid 1970's. Each show drew well over 10,000 people. So they were well equipped to entertain that many fans. Memebers of the original Star Trek series were there, they had huge dealers' rooms, pleanty of film rooms so that you could see rare science fiction films on the screen. These were the days before home video, so it was still very rare to see movies other than waiting for them to come on the TV. During these 2 to 3 convention events, there was more than enough to do. 
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, that changed in 1975. One fan group organized themselves and held what their first Star Trek event. They called it "The Red Hour Festival", taking the name from an event in an episode of the show. What they started that day is now recognized as the basis for Star Trek fan events that have followed over the years. This was an event produced by fans for fans. As Chuck Weiss, one of the folks behind the event described it; "This was a time when you could rent a high school for a day without having to worry about liability insurance." San Francisco's Lincoln High School was the perfect place for such an event. A large theater and good-sized cafeteria nearby just right for tables full of Star Trek items to be sold by vendors. And only two blocks away from public transit. 
A documentary movie about this con was released in 2011 and called Back to Space-Con.
The name "'Red Hour Festival" cam from an episode of Star Trek where the residents of Beta III, under the influence of the great Landru, would celebrate a solid hour of lawlessness, debauchery and chaos when the clock would strike the "Red Hour."
- was called "The Red Hour Festival 
- February 22, 1975
- location: at Lincoln High School in San Francisco
Reactions and Reviews: Space-Con 1
There is another long, detailed con report in A Piece of the Action #24.
Other con reports:
The Red Hour Festival” was great fun. Dealers with all kinds of Star Trek and science fiction items to buy, a great carnival with Federation credits that one could trade for Star Trek prizes (a favorite game was the feeding of Vaal - another reference to a Star Trek episode), screenings of several episodes of the show on 16mm on the big screen in the school’s theater, and finally, appearances by some of the cast of the show. James Doohan, who played Scotty; George Takei, who played Sulu; Walter Koenig, who played Chekov; and Arlene Martel, who had appeared as Spock’s bride to be in the fan favorite episode, “Amok Time” - written by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon. But not only did these folks appear on stage and answer questions from the audience, they signed autographs for no extra charge. Somewhere, safely tucked away, I have several Federation credits from that day with each of their autographs. If memory serves, almost 4,000 fans were there.  Another fan disputes the that number, saying 2000 tickets were sold. 
The "red" in Red Hour could have been our bloodshot eyes after the whole ordeal was over. I won't say we didn't have our problems. On the contrary, there were several times when it looked like the whole thing might collapse, and it would have too, if it hadn't been for a few dedicated individuals (like Dick Carroll, who stayed at the school Friday night, when everyone was getting an autograph or two, to hold down the fort until reinforcements could arrive.) The real troupers, however, were the kids. One eight year old girl tended a carnival booth for three hours, took an hour break,.. and came back to work another three hours when we had trouble getting together another shift of workers. This kind of effort was typical of our younger members. But fortunately the minor disasters didn't show and the festival, all-in-all it was a big success. The carnival was a big hit too;. the three most popular 4 games being "Spin The Enterprise", "Throw a Tribble at a Klingon" and "Feed l Vaal". -I understand that the planning committee for Equicon '75 is interested in our bringing the carnival down south for their big convention this May. The concession area was always busy. Kathy and her workers dispensed food and drink to the hungry hordes. We still had a lot of food left over, however. The remaining hero sandwiches were downed with champagne at the Sunday night celebration party, while the unopened cases of candy went back to Willy Wonka for a full refund. The computer war games turned out to be the smoothest running operation going. Except for the 20 minutes when the computer went down, there wasn't a hitch. This attraction, along with the carnival, was something new for Star Trek conversions. And yes, Equicon '75 wants a computer war game, too. (They say that imitation is,the sincerest form of flattery.) I would say that the hardest part of the festival was telling that long line of mothers and children that there was no way they could all get an autograph. Those who were in the last part of the line, begged just for a glimpse of the guest stars, so we wound up herding them in a bunch at a time, just to stare and snap a picture or two. Just so long as they left smiling. I can t tell you the gross or net figures as far as money is concerned; our treasurer, Alice Aho, is better qualified in that area, but in all other respects I'd say that the First Annual Red Hour Festival was a smashing success. The biggest reward was to see all those happy people. Several times throughout the day, people would come up to me and say, "Thank you for putting this on." To many, it was the biggest event of the year, arid all who helped to pull it off deserve to be proud of what they did. As for those who stood on the side lines and didn't do anything (and unfortunately there were many), well, we' ll get you next year!!! 
The one day Star Trek convention I attended was the Star Trek Archive's Red Hour Festival. I have little idea what it was like, as I was shackled to a dealer's table all day long, selling TCTS and whatever anybody wanted me to get rid of. As I cannot afford a liscense [sic] from Paramount for Star Trek material, I could only trade wallet size Star Trek photos for film clips and whatever else came along. Among the more interesting things I was traded were 5 Star Trek bubble gum cards from the American series. [snipped]
I was stuck in the dealer's room from 8 am to 7 pm, back to back with local monster movie host celebrity Bob Wilkens half the day. (You won't believe the number of people who said I looked like him, even sounded like him; several asked if I was his son.) David Gerrold was selling tribbles, as usual. But eventually [I] made it out to see what I could see of the rest of the con.
I caught the last 15 minutes of AMOK TIME, then waited in the auditorium for two hours for the costume competition; I was afraid of losing a good seat. (There were 2000 people at the Festival; the auditorium only sat 1600. As was, only about 1000 at most showed up for the event.) The last 45 minutes of waiting was filled with a musical performance and singalong, conducted by three young women, a piano, a violin, a bottle of Saurian brandy, and a problematical sound system. I loved the musical interpretations on violin and piano of the various ST themes and songs played, but the vocal portions were barely passable half the time, as the effect was destroyed by the pianist singing too close to the microphone. (And you never blow into a microphone to see if it's working; you tap.) The crowd finally joined into the singalong near the end of the 28 verses to "What Do You Do With a Drunken Vulcan?"Judges for the competition were James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and Arlene Martel (T'Pring). Mr. Doohan and Ms. Martel also did the announcing. There were about 26 contestants, plus a disgruntled Klingon roaming about. Some costumes were good, with a lot of thought and design put in. Others, like a three foot tribble, were for amusement. The winner was a salt creature. All in all, it was relaxing for me, after what I had seen of the rest of the con. (They're threatening to have a three day convention next year.) 
- August 7 & 8, 1976
- location: the Kaiser Auditorium in Oakland (same as Oakland Municipal Auditorium?)
ad for the Federation Earth Band on the back of the 1976 Program Guide
Instructions inside the Space-Con 2 Program Guide for the costume contest, click to read
Reactions and Reviews: Space-Con 2
The next year, in August of 1976, Space-Con 2 was held in Oakland at the Kaiser Auditorium. This was a similar event to that of the previous year, but on a much larger scale. And this time, there would be a larger number of actors from Star Trek attending. Most notably, Deforest Kelley; who played Dr. McCoy; Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock; and William Shatner who played Captain Kirk. With more episodes show on the big screen, other sci-fi movie classics, an even larger dealers room and more, this was a big thing for Star Trek fans. Here were thousands of us, in a place that could hold us all, having a great time, sharing our interest in the show and what it promised for our futures. What was not to be excited about? 
It lived up to its billing as the 'largest Star Trek Convention on the West Coast' -- there were well over 10,000 attendees. The arena of the auditorium was filled several times, and alternate programming of films and science talks and writers' workshops were also well attended. Most of the ST cast members were there: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Mark Lenard, Arlene Martel, and Bruch Hyde were all scheduled speakers; Majel Barrett was also there. Also there were a great number of space and NASA scientists—Gerald A. Soffen, Project Scientist of NASA's Viking Project; Jesco Von Puttkamer, Senior Staff Specialist in the Advanced Program Office of Space Flight; Dr. Kerry Mark Joels, with NASA/Ames Research Center; Andrew Fraknoi, an instructor of astronomy and physics at Canada College, Redwood City, CA, who spoke on "Can the Enterprise fly?;" not to mention Col. Alfred Worden, astronaut, Commander of Apollo XV. I was very pleased to see the interest and respect all of these men were accorded by the ST fen attending the con. Great interest was shown in what they had to say, belying the thought that Trekfen are only interested in Trekkie ideas! The Writer's Workshop on Saturday evening was well attended—speakers were: Theodore Sturgeon, who wrote 2 ST episodes; Robert Silverberg, Hugo and Nebula award winner; Eric Burgess, freelance author, lecturer, and journalist, who writes technical articles for NASA and many other astronautical societies; Frank Catalano, a freelance SF writer and radio personality in California; and myself, of STW, publisher of the fanzine "Alternate Universe 4" and author of the New Voyages story, "Mindsifter." The workshop was set up to help writers with questions about writing and publishing. Most attending were SF oriented, and many helpful suggestions were given by the experienced authors attending. I was able to help with questions about fan writing and fanzine publishing. While the con was very large, most people seemed pleased with what they "got" for their money. As always, there were a few who did not know what to expect, and were upset because they couldn't get the autographs of WS and LN—who were NOT giving ANY—and with good reason. They'd be there yet!! The other stars did have long autograph sessions, under difficult circumstances. Besides the writers at the Workshop, many others gave autographs and talked with the fen: Poul Anderson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Richard Lupoff, Ray Faraday Nelson, and others. This was my first con in an auditorium; it was a bit difficult for people to get back and forth from hotels, etc. The guests were housed in a distant hotel, and therefore were not bothered by Trekkies and over-enthusiastic fans. There was an excellent transportation system set up for them, and they were able to move about their hotel freely. Several mentioned how nice that was. When a con is held in the same hotel, they are trapped in their rooms for most of the time. There were problems--after all, it WAS a convention! The Dealers' Room was isolated on the 3rd floor, with almost no ventilation--IT WAS HOT!! A long line of would-be customers wound up several flights of stairs, and security had to let one in when one left. There was a small fire in an airduct one afternoon, when the room had to be closed for an hour and a half. The Art Show was hard to find, but worth the search. Some beautiful art was displayed—there is great talent in Trekdom! But a word of warning—your writer paid quite a lot for an excellent painting, only to have it stolen from what should have been a very safe place shortly afterwards! Keep your foot on what you buy! A word of praise should be given to the co-chairmen, Jonesy Parrinello and Patricia Lindl. They did yeoman work under difficult circumstances. Jim Parrinello, Commander of the Starfleet Shore Patrol (security) is another who should be mentioned. The San Francisco Bay Area has a lot of ST fen--they had a good con! Footnotes sent in by Bob Whatford: Special thanks should go to Bob Wilkins, who served Master of Ceremonies, and through his weekly TV show, "Creature Features," has consist ently been the source of much ST information over the past year. I found the combine: of a ST con and presentation by NASA scientists a very informative and unique experience. 
Now, these forms had a small box at the bottom which said, "Would you like to be a volunteer worker?" It went or to explain that if you worked eight hours, your ticket money would be refunded. Being the cheapskate I am, I checked the box with a flourish. If I'd only known...
Sandra arrived, and on August 6th, 1976, we found ourselves in Oakland. After checking into the hotel, we walked to the Oakland Municipal Auditorium for the pre-convention meeting. Empty, the place is huge. There seemed no way that they could fill it. At the volunteer center, we were given our assignments for the next day. We were told that from then on, we would be referred to as "gofers". With visions of furry little creatures dancing in my head, I experienced my first second thoughts.
My first job was outside crowd control, and at 7am the next morning, that is exactly what I was doing. The line outside the auditorium at that point was only a half a block long. As time wore on, the line lengthened to wrap all around the huge building. Many people were in costumes and I'm afraid I stared as I herded Vulcans, Andorians, Klingons, and everything else imaginable, into an orderly line.
By 11am, 1 felt I had earned a break, and hoping to escape the growing heat, trudged into the main arena to see what was happening. There was a section reserved for gofers, and I sat down with a sigh. I had not been there ten minutes when a rather disheveled young lady grabbed me by the arm. "De Kelley's coming out and I need you to help in front of the stage!" With that she was gone.
Sigh... Well, it had to be better than crowd control. I walked up to the front of the stage and crouched with half a dozen other gofers. About five minutes later, the lady was back. Looking us over for a moment, she finally pointed to me and told me to keep an eye on the "mike". Glancing around, I spied a microphone, set up below and slightly away from the stage. Shrugging, I stood up and and walked over to stand guard. Not really sure what was expected of me, I stood beside the mike and stared at the enormous crowd.
DeForest Kelley was introduced and walked out to thunderous applause. Turning sideways for a moment, I studied the man. Tall and lithe, De is a very good looking gentleman. Television just doesn't do him justice, I remember thinking.
"Well, what have we got here?" Curious, I turned to find out what was going on and was startled to find that he was talking to me! I tried to explain that this was the question line, but I was interrupted. "No, speak into the microphone so we all can hear you. Now, what's your name?"
The next five minutes were spent answering De's questions: Who was I; where did I live; did I like the convention so far; etc. He then motioned me over to the foot of the stage. Squatting down, he put his hand over his mike and told me that the speakers were creating a terrible echo, which made it difficult to understand what was being said. Would I help him out? How could I refuse?
Over the next hour we established a routine It was alot of fun, even though I was a bit nervous about speaking with all those people looking on. De thought it was hilarious and gently teased me until I was comfortable doing it. The man is an absolute darling to work with and can charm the birds out of the trees. I was putty in his hands.
As De left stage, I sighed with relief, heartfelt. That was, until the Gofer Captain walked by. "That was great, ah, Terri! The mike is yours, keep up the good work."
Now, John McLaughlin is a really terrific guy, but at the time I could have easily strangled him; Besides, it would not have been nice to cry in front of all those people. So on I went, somewhat reluctantly. As time went on, I found myself loosing much of my nervousness and enjoying the experience more and more. Everyone who followed De turned out to be very nice and pleasant to work with: Jimmy Doohan, George Takei, Bruce Hyde, and Hark Lenard. George turned out to be a special treat, he's as nutty as I am!
It was now almost 6pm and I was famished. I had not been able to leave the microphone for more than five minutes since that morning. De Kelley was due on again in 15 minutes, so I ran out to grab a hotdog and go to the bathroom. I instructed one of the other gofers to watch the microphone and off 1 went.
My hunger and other problems taken care of, I walked back into the main arena and straight into bedlam. De had come out early, and sent half of the squad out looking for me!
"Here I am, Mr. Kelley. I, uh, had to, uh..."
Laughing, "I get the picture, and the name is De."
Always the gentleman! The hour passed more quickly than we wanted. Leonard Nimoy was up next. He was, and is, very nice, very cordial, and gifted with a sly sense of humor. This I learned the hard way. He pulled not one, but two fast ones on me in front of an estimated 12,000 people. The worst thing about it was that I didn't even realize what was going on until it was all over! Let me put it this way: it was funnier than hell to the audience, and very embarrassing to me. Mr. Nimoy did send a message back, though, he said that ours was one of the best stage crews he'd ever worked with. Quite a compliment from such a veteran stage actor!
By then it was after 8pm, and I was tired. The costume contest was next and being the novice I was, I wandered around for a while and then went back to the motel. I was in bed by 11pm and laid watching the news. KTVU, the local Oakland station, was broadcasting a segment on the convention. Suddenly, I shot out of bed. There I was, in living color, mike in hand as I chatted with De Kelley and then George Takei. Somehow, I knew my mother would never believe this.
The next morning, I was in the main arena setting up at 7am. I had been promoted to lieutenant and put in-charge of stage security. Everything went along smoothly. We had a space science panel, astronaut Al Worden, another space panel, and then a STAR TREK panel with Jimmy, Bruce, and George. De was back on stage at noon, followed by Arlene Martell, Mark Lenard, and Ted Sturgeon as a panel on Vulcan matters. Jimmy Doohan was out next, assuring me that NOTHING was worn under HIS kilt.
At three o'clock, it was George Takei's turn. Three came and went, and no George. By 3:15pm, we were getting a bit frantic and the audience a bit hostile. One of my gofers ran up, he'd just bumped into George in the restroom and he'd be right here. It seems George went out for a jog, and forgot the time. A moment later, a hot, sweaty, and slightly embarrassed George Takei bounded on to the stage. Apologizing, he sat down on the edge.
"Come here, Terri, and talk to me while I cool down."
Gulp! Up I went, as willing as Christians facing the lions. Me talked for about twenty minutes, and the audience, for some reason, loved it. Maybe it was my red face or the way the microphone shook in my hand, I don't know. It was like taking a course in public speaking, a crash course! I have to admit that it was a lot of fun, after I stopped shaking that is.
George departed and Bruce Hyde came on. Bruce has a fantastic voice and had brought his guitar along so that he could sing. It was about this time :hat we had a fire in the Dealer's Room upstairs. As the smoke filtered down into the arena and firemen could be seen running through the hallways, I received a message. It told me what was going on and to make an announcement about the smoke, but not to mention the word "FIRE". Terrific! I waited until Bruce was finished with his song and then interrupted to announce that the smoke visible in the air was simply dust from the air conditioner. I repeated this message about every fifteen minutes, until some-happened to mention that the auditorium did not have air conditioning. Oh God! Anyway, it turned out to be a small fire, but a terrible circulation problem. De followed Mark Lenard at 6pm for his final appearance. He mentioned that he'd like to see me backstage afterwards, but in the commotion of Bill Shatner coming out next, I kind of forgot. That is, until two security guards showed up and announced that they were to 'escort' me back. De Kelley is an absolute darling and that Oakland convention started a friendship with De and his wife, Carolyn, that I will always treasure.
William Shatner was the last to make an appearance. This was the first of many times I worked with him, and I was pleasantly surprised. I've heard some bad things about Bill, but he's always been warm, friendly, and polite with me. I have seen him go out of his way time after time to fulfill a request. A very dynamic speaker, he held the audience in the palm of his hand for an entire hour, and received a standing ovation when he left.
The fashion show was next and for me the day was over. Leaving the arena, I was grabbed by a film crew and interviewed about the convention and STAR TREK. The film was used as part of a documentary on STAR TREK fan activities in the San Francisco Bay area.
So ended SPACE CON #2. All in all, it was a very heady experience. Looking back now, and knowing all that followed, it doesn't seem like much in comparison. It was my first convention, and everything was such an unique experience, so strange and delightful. The atmosphere of togetherness, cooperation, brotherhood, and, yes, love. It's something that can't be described, it must be experienced. While it was an awfully tough way to learn how to speak in front of a crowd, I have never regretted. After all, I had some fine teachers!With one con under my belt, I was hooked! So, it was on to SPACE CON #3! 
- February 11-13, 1977
- location: San Francisco Civic Auditorium
Reactions and Reviews: Space-Con 3
In 1977, the next Space-Con, 3, was to be held in San Francisco at the Civic Auditorium. Over the Presidents Day weekend. Having had so much fun before, I decided to expand my experience by volunteering to help with the event. As a gopher, I got my convention badge for free in return for working for 8 hours over the three days of the con. Traveling from home in Walnut Creek in the East Bay to San Francisco on the Friday before, I took a BART train to the City. Within minutes of boarding, I was chatting with a group of Star Trek fans wearing uniforms from the show... One of my Space-Con 3 duties was the checking of badges as folks came and went at the front doors of the Civic Auditorium. A rather amusing series of moments was provided by author Harlan Ellison (who wrote the original version of another fan favorite episode, “City On The Edge Of Forever). Over the course of the event, Harlan came and went with a series of different women, passing those doors. Space-Con 3 was a great mixture of Star Trek, science fiction and science fact. Convention chairman Terry Terman deserves a great deal of thanks for exposing people to the reality of space. One guest was Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who had served as a consultant to Steven Spielberg for his film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. His panel on UFO’s was something that many people enjoyed. But as much as “Close Encounters” would be a force at the box office that summer, attendees got a glimpse of another giant to be as they were shown a brief clip from another coming film, “Star Wars”. However, no one paid much attention to a kid in the audience who tried to convince them that he was up there on the screen in that clip. Who was he after all? Just another comic book fan, somone named Mark Hamill. 
Not that I want to make a habit out of articles of this type, but now that it's far enough behind to look at somewhat objectively, I find to my amazement that Space-Con 3 was actually as disappointing - no, disappointing is not quite what I mean; boring is what I mean - as I thought it was. It rates an unprecedented five star yawn from the massive ridiculousness of the transporter (nice try kiddies, but a life size transporter without the sparkle is as unimpressive as the one manufactured by Mego for their Barbie-with-pointed-ears doll) to the pomposity of an emcee who reminds me of the giant carrot creature from "Lost in Space." And I am still waiting for someone to tell me why they had to 'beam' this emcee in - a five minute process with the dramatic impact of a handi-wipes commercial - every half hour. Does he not have feet?
The guest stars did their usual speeches answering those questions we all know and love (What's your favorite episode Mr. Sulu,) and the film schedule was, as always, a major disaster area. Ho Hum. Still, mention must be made of Grace Lee Whitney and Bruce Hyde who as 'minor' Star Trek celebrities always put out a little something extra singing for their suppers. Ms. Whitney's acting with three unlikely Captain Kirk's in a scene which supposedly was to have taken place following the conclusion of "The Enemy Within" was something new and welcome, if a bit long. Three separate scenes would have been more enjoyable. Also worth mentioning was the appearance of the Script Writers - whatever their names are - who stood on the stage with their hearts on their sleeves looking quite embarrassed as they tried to satisfy rampant curiosities without revealing a damn thing about the plot of the film. I loved them. But the most non-existent energy level of Space-Con 3 was given its greatest boost by that Prophet of Doom, The Egomaniac of the Century, Harlan Ellison. The fact that Mr, Ellison can get up before a hall packed with hardcore trekkies (and I mean trekkies in the worst sense of the word) and rip the Roddenberry Universe to shreds is an unexcelled act of bravery. If you have the mental agility to keep up with his thought processes and mile-a-minute tongue, and look beyond whether or not you agree with what he's saying to hear what he is actually saying, there is a great deal of entertainment to be had from his particular madness. Ellison is more fun than the U.S. House of Representatives and is definitely more exciting than a Sunday evening spent with Rhoda and Phyllis. He is as cruel, honest and dastardly as everyone says he is. Bravo! One thing for certain is that Mr. Harlan "Gadfly" Ellison will not be the death of the Star Trek convention phenomenon, but poorly planned conventions in quick succession run for love of money rather than love of the love just might.Judging from Space-Cons 2 and 3 and the general decline of convention quality, let's hope the movie gets here in a hurry. God Save the Enterprise! 
Space-Con 4 was held in 1977.
Over 10,000 fans attended the Space-Cons 2, 3, 4 and 6 - in Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. And Paramount? Thanks to budget woes at Desilu (who first produced Star Trek), the series was not copyrighted in its first two seasons. It wasn't until the third season when Paramount stepped in that it took place. The result? Fans could have all of the Star Trek events they wanted, without worrying about licensing. Star Wars? Well, it was copyrighted from the word go. 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm had licensing underway from the start. At "Space-Con (Star Trek and Science Fiction convention)
- location: Kaiser Auditorium in Oakland, CA
Space-Con 7 was July 27-29, 1978
- from the director of Back to Space-Con
- "Back to Space-Con" goes where no one has gone before, Jim Hill Media, accessed 5.11.2011
- Garfield Lane Productions, accessed 5.11.2011
- The Blue Parrot, accessed 5.11.2011
- from A Piece of the Action #24
- from Archives' Log v.2 n.4
- from The Clipper Trade Ship #6
- The Blue Parrot
- a con report by Shirley Maiewski from A Piece of the Action #43
- from a high-school senior, brand-new congoer, and gofer in Captain's Log: Supplemental
- The Blue Parrot
- from Bellerophon v.2 v.4/5