Star Trek Conventions

From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search

For the main convention page, see Conventions.

Star Trek programmng first appeared at general science fiction conventions such as FunCon in 1968:
The Statler Hilton, downtown L.A. hosted Chuck Crayne's FunCon and was surely a hallmark in Star Trek history. Not only did the bloopers finally get shown in their entirety before a completely fannish audience, but Roddenberry brought an amazing assortment of props and costumes from the show. He was also giving away packets of film clips. To top if off, a surprise guest was William ("I just want to thank Mr. Roddenberry for hiring me") Shatner. Another plus at the con was a performance of "H.M.S. Trek-A-Star" a clever Trek-oriented play with Jerry Jacks, Poul, Karen and Astrid Anderson.[1]

Contents

The Very First All-Star Trek Con

badge from the 1976 Star Trek convention held at the Commodore Hotel in New York City
cover of early con program from 1968 University of Iowa Digital Library There were about 300 attendees.[1]
Though it's commonly thought that the first 'Star Trek' convention was held in 1972 at a Hilton hotel in Manhattan, according to die-hard 'Trek' historians the first one actually took place in March 1969 at the Newark Public Library. Organized by librarian Sherna Comerford Burley, the low-key, celebrity-free event featured slide shows of 'Trek' aliens, skits and a fan panel to discuss 'The Star Trek Phenomenon.'[2]

The First Major Star Trek Cons

The first major Star Trek convention, Star Trek Lives!, run by Joan Winston and others, was held in New York in 1972 and drew 3,000 people. The 1973 convention drew 6,000, and in 1974, 15,000 people attended and 6,000 more were turned away at the door. These cons vied to have the largest number of professional guest stars.

The 1975 Star Trek Convention was one of transition. First, there was a split in leadership with Devra Langsam becoming chair, stating that this con's association with Al Schuster was finished. This con also promised to limit membership to 8000.

flyer printed in Probe #1

From a flyer in Probe #1: "EVERYTHING'S THE SAME… Except the name. Recently we decided to change our name. So, we dropped the "International" and we are now THE STAR TREK CONVENTION. We're pleased to announce Devra Langsam as our new chairman, as we do it again... ONE MORE TIME!.. WE ARE PLANNING TO LIMIT MEMBERSHIP TO 8,000 SO REGISTER EARLY! Last year's attendance was 15,000….This is to inform you that the committee members of THE STAR TREX CONVENTION, formerly associated with the International Star Trek Convention, hereby state their complete and total disassociation with Mr. Albert Schuster. Any and all future debts he may incur in the name of our Convention will not be paid or honored by us, and he no longer has any authority to incur expenses, arrange contracts, or conduct business in the name of our Convention."

The Rise and Fall of the Star Trek Supercon

The first major Star Trek cons, the ones with celebrity guests, were huge affairs; fun for some, much less so for others. After a number of these monster supercons, attendance began to dwindle. Some people felt this was because the market was saturated, that even the ravenous hunger fans had for these gatherings began to fade. Others pointed to the kind of fans that attended different kinds of cons; many Star Trek fans complained that the large, for-profit cons were so big that they never got to do what they really wanted to, which was to see talk and interact with other fans on a more meaningful level. Some fans complained of cons being overrun by casual fans that asked the same shallow questions over and over again and added little depth to interactions. Some fans resented the hefty prices cons were charging, and they resented the increasing amount of hucksters selling inferior goods and ripping them off.


flyer for the 1976 con at the Commodore
a flyer for the 1975 Star Trek at the Commodore Hotel
Star Trek themed van driven by fans that would appear at West coast Star Trek conventions in the 1970s -- this photo was taken in San Francisco

From an editorial in The Hole in the Deck Gang Newsletter #10 in 1976 regarding the ST con in NYC in February 1976:

Not a whole lot happened at TSTC 5 that never happens at any other supercon; in fact, there was less: fewer stars, fewer crowds, shorter lines, just as many dealers though. Because of this... the con was more friendly, more relaxed. There were more room parties, because fen could make contact in the lessoned mob. Gofers were not run as ragged and hence came nowhere to their collective breaking point. Things ran on time. David Gerrold was human. And a lot of other unexpected things. I suppose the economics, and the Economy, did in the ST con, more than any other cause. The concom never did make any money on any of the cons -- nobody ever does on supercons, not once all the bills are in. The cost of running a con has increased incredibly; the actors, the film distributors, the hotel managers, all figure they want a piece of the con pie, and they charge accordingly. The result is ever larger membership fees and ever more burgeoning attendance counts to pay for the whole schmear. If a fan wants to hold a con these days, she has a choice between a circus and her closet. It's hard to hold attendance 'down' to 5000. The 3rd NY Con went to 17,000, remember? The 4th would have been more than its 8000, save that attendance was limited and that ISTC ran a month before... And so all things come to an end. Some of the best cons are fannish history. Only a few faded programs, an illegible autograph (Eugene who?), a tear-stained hotel bill remain. And some of the landmarks are disappearing. The Commodore, bane of hu-fanity, has been razed. No more will ash trays and water bombs plummet down its roof. With the destruction of the twelfth floor goes the 30-minute wait to change elevators. Lost are the haunts of the leering pilots and Greek-speaking stewardi, the computer reservation system that charged eight days in the bridal suite to your account, the blue plastic lobby furniture. No more will Mr. Gerrold's dulcet voice selling original xeroxed scripts boom over the whining PA system, no more will Devra Langsam trip over curled carpets, no more will Ike Asimov drool over nubile, young trekkies, no more will the committee crud be caught from the drinking water. It is the End of an Era.

Star Trek Fan-Run Conventions

The first media fan-run cons (small, no guest stars, no profit) were ReKWest*Con in July 1975 and August Party in August 1975. While not specifically Star Trek, by default of its time, that show featured heavily.

This first con that would become MediaWest*Con was called T'Con and held in 1978 at the Lansing Hilton Inn. It was organized by Lori Chapek-Carleton and Gordon Carleton, who were zine publishers. The convention was formally re-established as MediaWest*Con in 1981. It also had a strong Star Trek presence.

British Star Trek Conventions

Star Trek conventions in the UK have a long and illustrious past (and present?)

The very, very first British Star Trek convention was held in 1974. Like its American counterpart, which was an afternoon event held at a public library, the very first British Star Trek con was held in a church hall. "I suppose that was the first real convention, People came from the length and breadth of Britain, all for a one day of slide shows, talks, and friendships." [3]

After that first con, fans became quite organized and began a series of conventions, each with its own number. These conventions, voted on by fans two years in advance, lasted until the fifty-first convention which was held in 2001.

For more information, see:

Other European and Australian Cons

[need some info]

Star Trek Cruise Conventions

flyer for the "1st Annual Cruise Convention," (around 1979), printed in Academy Chronicles #6

Another kind of con unique to Star Trek was the cruise convention, for-profit cruises that combined travel and fannish activities. See flyer.

Star Trek Program Covers and Flyers

List of Star Trek Cons

For a list of Star Trek cons, see Category:Star Trek Conventions.

External Resources

References

  1. Alan White's 1968 - Fandom Is Where You Find It, accessed August 26, 2012; WebCite.
  2. See the second slide in the series of Rare snapshots from early Star Trek conventions, Newsweek.com, accessed 15 December 2009
  3. from Jenny and Terry Elson in Star Trek Action Group #100
  4. WebCite for Star Trek Lives! accessed April 16, 2012.
Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
Fanlore
Browse Categories
Help
Shortcuts for Editors
Toolbox