Al Schuster

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Name: Al Schuster
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Al Schuster was a Star Trek fan, turned for-profit promoter.

He was active in the 1970s and most known for being a member of the original The Committee, and for his procon series of cons, the Schuster Star Trek Conventions.

An illo of Al Schuster, from the first issue of At the Helm: "The Schuster Syndrome."

Schuster: Video Interview

See Al Schuster, along with Harlan Ellison, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, and Walter Koenig discuss cons, the "cult" of Star Trek, fan exploitation, violence in Star Trek, and a whole lot more.

Fan Comments

In the Beginning, there was Al Schuster, and the Committee. And the two would be split, and briefly each would offer up a different event, before Schuster would reign alone as the King of New York. His Heir Apparent was a man named John Townsley, who inherited the multitudes which Schuster and the Committee had grown.

Conventions in the Schuster era were notable only for the masses of pilgrims who came willingly to each one. Al Schuster was a promoter, an entrepreneur who staged "shows" much like today's Creation Cons. There was no "programming" to speak of, nothing past 5PM except Costume Call, no panels, no use of fannish talent. There were only the actor guests, but for those of us who had never had an opportunity to get up close and personal with any of our beloved Trek idols, that was enough. And we knew no different kind of convention experience.

New York wasn't the only venue for Schuster. He staged smaller cons in Washington, DC, in Philadelphia (at the hotel later known for the "Legionnaire's Disease"), and in other cities farther removed from me. At these "smaller" cons, the guest list would be shorter and the con would last only two days. And the reign of Schuster was only for a few years, although it seemed longer at the time. But it was John Townsley who put on the Show of All Shows – Bi-Centennial Ten – which was in 1976, only three years after Schuster started with the Committee in 1973.[1]
"Well, to put it quite bluntly... I don't like Al Schuster. I know what's really been going on, the con game he's been pulling. And when I first heard about 'Al Schuster's Fourth Annual International STAR TREK Convention', I said,"Okay, that's it!" I decided I wanted to "stick it to him" at his own con, in a way that was not illegal, not immoral, and nobody would get hurt." [2]

References

  1. from Reminisce With Me/The Big New York Cons, Part II
  2. The interviewee was "Warlock." He states that he decided to enter the costume contest as a female character. His entry card read: "Barbra Wheadon...New York City...as Dracona, the vampire queen of Ka-Lahn" -- from The Conning of a Con (OR THE "OH MY GOD THE MUGATU WANTS TO PLAY GAMES!" Syndrome)