Closet Con

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Convention
Name: Closet Con
Dates: 1987-present
Frequency: irregular; there have been ten so far
Location: Leicester, UK
Type: fan con
Focus: slash
Organization: Village Press
Founder: Rosemary W
Founding Date: 1987
URL: Convention Website[1]
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Closet Con is a small fan-run slash convention held in the UK; though held irregularly, it may be the longest running slash con. Its primary focus is K/S and Star Trek fandom, but the convention organizers stress that they will include "Highlander, Sentinel and as many fandoms as we can cram in. Please let us know what you want to see in the Closet Con programme."[2]

The convention lists the following activities: "There will be video, music video, discussions, panels, entertainment, a special fan guest (or maybe two) extensive sales tables and our welcoming afternoon tea on Friday. As this is a charity event, (any surplus funds will be donated) we shall be trying to raise as much for our charities as we can. Our famous dress-up dinner will take place on Saturday evening (included in the Con price)."

2014

Closet Con was scheduled for 26th - 28th September 2014 in Northampton, UK but was canceled due to low participation.

2010

Promotion for Closet Con Ten (2010) included an email from founder Rosemary, which states, in part:

"as so many people are new to us, I thought I ought to explain a bit about it. CLOSET is a K/S con which started in 1987 and since then we have run 9 of them, 7 at Beaumont Hall of Residence Leicester University, Leicester UK. This will be number 10! . . . We are the longest running slash convention. We called it CLOSET because wanted to be discreet; people often had jobs and contacts that called for privacy. At the University we are known as Media Writers!" [3]

Other planned events announced:

Panels

  • Would you read K/S if it didn't have any sex in it?
  • How did you find K/S?
  • What is your reading history - stayed with K/S for ever and ever or moved away. Why - for both?
  • How do you like it - sex of course - slash of course - K/S of course or whatever
  • What makes your ovaries dance? If it's not Nimoy is it Spock?
  • Pink Slash Flamingos ... or not? The panel takes a last look at Denny and Alan (Boston Legal), Kirk and Spock. The Flamingos get married but is it slash?

Competitions:

  • The Bare Chest Game
  • Spot the Missing Scene

The fanzine library will be made available and there will be showings of Star Trek episodes, the Star Trek: Reboot, and gay/lesbian themed films.

There was also some discussion as to whether this would be the last Closet Con.

The art auction raised 800 pounds for charity. Caren Parnes' art brought in 180 pounds alone. The funds were split 3 ways between Breast Cancer Care, Macmillan Nurses and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

2008

ClosetCon 9 was held in July 18th - 20th 2008.

2007

From an announcement in a 2007 The K/S Press:

  • JULY 18th - 20th 2008, We had so much fun at Closet 8 we decided to do it again! Our venue is Beaumont Hall of Residence Leicester University, a lovely old house set in stunning botanical gardens. here will be talks, panels, discussions, music videos, viewing rooms, competitions, raffles, zines to buy, hopefully a guest and anything else we can dream up. Closet is mainly K/S but all fandoms are very welcome and the programme will cater for everyone. All proceeds go to our charities. Accommodation is in the modern guest rooms next to the Hall. Package includes all meals from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. (No more hunting for something to eat when you’d rather be at the con!) Friday afternoon features our welcoming afternoon tea with theme cakes. Saturday features our dress-up dinner. The convention package price will be something in the region of £190 (not including registration). Prices will be confirmed at the beginning of 2008. Registration £35.00 Closet is an enormously friendly con. Come by yourself or bring a friend (or more!)"

2006

The eighth ClosetCon 8 was held July 21-23, 2006 at Leicester University nine years after the previous one. The Fan Guest of Honor was Killa.

From a fan's convention report: "The original Closet Con was a purely K/S based fan con, but over the years they have widened their fandom fun to cover most other fandoms. Sentinel, Stargate, SGA were all obviously popular (couldn't find another Ozzie, unfortunately *bah*) and it was good to see a few of the Brit Sentinel fans (waves to Marion) who are always fun to be around. We had the usual discussions that inevitably happen at fan cons; writing, characterisation, fandom survival etc, and while they are always wonderful to sit through, I don't think anyone involved believed we'd come to any real conclusions other than we all have very different ideas about fandom! LOL! I was suckered into watching 'Boston Legal' by L, and now I'm haunted by slashy visions of Bill Shatner and James Spader as Denny Crane and Alan Shore in bed together. I think I should be either ashamed or afraid, or possibly both, but the visions won't go away...:) I remembered just how much I loved K/S way back, and how I used to devour those old zines. Some of the zines now look terribly dated, but hell, so do I:) Watched songvids until our eyes bled, talked smut until we were hoarse, and laughed until it hurt, so all in all, a good con!"[4]

1997

The seventh con was at Leicester University - guests Jenna Sinclair, Sheila Clark, Valerie Piacentini. There was a nine-year gap between this one and the next one in 2006.

1995

The sixth con was at Leicester University - guest Jenna Sinclair.

Excerpts from a convention report written by an American guest at the 1995 convention:

Closet is very small, with no more than sixty on its select, by-invitation only attendance list. Each convention, [the con] invites an American K/S author to be the official "guest”…

On Friday we traveled to the convention, which was held in a dormitory complex…. Each con-goer stayed in a single dormitory room in one of about eight dorm buildings grouped around a common green. The programming took place in a building that had dining facilities, a bar, and several meeting rooms. Surprisingly, for a convention as small as Closet, there were usually three tracks of programming going on throughout the weekend, (two video and one live,) in addition to the zine library, where several people immersed themselves for the duration.

I was nervous to begin with, not knowing what English fans would be like, whether they would want to talk with me, whether our mutual love of K/S would translate into common ground. I needn't have worried. Within a short time I was participating in a vigorous K/S conversation seated on the floor of the library with about seven or eight women, all as deranged as the people I usually consort with. I had the mental image of being surrounded by K/Sers, popping my head up from the center of the circle to catch [E]’s eye, waving at her, and then disappearing for the rest of the weekend.

The same enthusiasm, the same loves, the same obsession, that's what I found in our sisters over the sea. I met many familiar names. …. There were two German fans there….. On Friday night, I admired the t-shirt [one of them] was wearing, a long-haired Spock holding a scroll. It was almost photographic in quality. She disappeared for a while, re appeared wearing a different shirt and insisting that I accept Spock as a gift! Unbelievably kind! I shared several wonderful conversations with [them], who are both subscribers to CT, I believe. [K] has an extensive zine collection that's as big as mine, and which includes a German K/S zine I never knew existed.

…Everyone was so happy to be there. Besides the fact that we broke for coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon, you wouldn't have seen much difference between Closet and our own little internal K/Scon that we hold each year at Shore Leave. (Except that having pre-arranged meals in the dining hall was absolute heaven compared with all the scampering we have to do to get food in Baltimore. Really, we've got to find a solution to that problem.)

For the first time at Closet, [the con] organized a five session Writing Workshop, and I conducted two of the sessions. One was on plot and characterization, the other was supposed to be called "Self-Editing." But the transatlantic connection buzzed at the wrong moment, so Eva heard "Stealth Editing," and that's what was printed in the program. Everybody got a good laugh from that. I was concerned that people wouldn't be too interested in discussing such technical details at a con, but was shocked when at least thirty people came to each of the sessions. And there wasn't any English reticence in talking, either. We really got going on each of the subjects, talked about showing not telling, dialogue mechanics, structure, point of view.

There's so much to tell you about, and not enough space to do it. I remember one dinner, talking about the Leslie Fish story in On the Edge 2, where both Kirk and Spock die, (really die,) and describing the scene where McCoy has to call the bridge and tell Scotty, and starting to cry. I remember the wonderful zine auction, where English women starved for K/S paid really high prices for zines that are easy to get in America. Without a question the First Time zines went for the highest prices. I believe a First Time calendar went for 42 pounds, which is about $67…. I remember being buttonholed by two authors at different times and being told the plot of novels they wanted to publish. One is 7/8 written, the other isn't started yet, but it was wonderful to be one of the first to hear these stories. I remember watching wonderful, unique English songtapes that are every bit as good as our American ones, being so impressed with the talent and dedication of the tape makers, and the K/S love displayed in every frame…I remember being called upon…during the last session to say good-bye, and struggling through the tears to adequately convey my thanks for the welcome, the love, the acceptance that had been showered upon me. I felt desolated at the thought that in two years there will be another Closet Con, and I won't be there. How can you connect so intimately with so many people, and then just leave them?”
Another American attendee that same year reported:
”Closet Con was quite a unique experience. First of all, the idyllic setting in an Edwardian College hall amid acres of beautifully landscaped grounds contributed to a feeling of joyful tranquility. There were no crowded, noisy lounges to contend with. We had lovely, paneled meeting rooms in which 20-30 people could come together to talk and be heard.

…the con guest of honor, led three lively, well attended workshops on writing. Her warmth and enthusiasm quickly made her a hit with the British fen. Everyone was soon talking K/S as though we'd all known each other for ages. It was a special treat to meet CT contributor… from Belgium. She speaks English just as well as she writes it, which is excellent.

…the con organizer, did a fabulous job with the programming having at least three or four interesting things going on at once for the whole three days. There were British and American song videos, movies and tv shows that Bill or Leonard were in before and after the series. A zine library was available for quiet reading at all times. Panels include, "True Confessions," "Assemble an Alien" as well as [the] above mentioned [writing] workshops. [The convention organizer] gave an amusing and informative illustrated talk titled, "Tom Cat Kirk-Myth or Reality?" She also led a panel on "Critics and Criticism-Do writers need them and how have things changed?"

One evening, there was an opportunity for an impromptu filking session with [a US] and a few British filkers, The Brits don't seem to do as much filking as we do, But they were absolutely delighted with the filks [we] introduced them to.

All the meals were included in the reasonable weekend cost. They were served in the university dining hall lined with long tables. The Brits called it "institutional food" but it was really pretty good and plentiful. The special Saturday banquet fare was quite elegant, consisting of a large salmon mold, wine and a variety of other dishes.

The final activity of the con was a charity auction of mostly zines, but also a few other things like "jumper" (sweatershirts) dolls, pins, etc. This con was not nearly as commercial as ones we are used to. No one was selling "merchandise" as we know it. A few people brought zines to sell. [J]’s newest novel sold out in less than an hour! A room party after hours provided some of the more "memorable" conversations of the con. Topics ranged from our favorite sexual fantasies to female health concerns. Wine and chocolate fueled the often hilarious, raucous conversation until well 2 a.m.”[5]

1993

The fifth con was held at Leicester University .

  • The title of the con was Enterprise 93 (to avoid any reference to slash)
  • Special guests were Barbara Storey and Vicky Clark, the editors of Nome. There were a number of writers, too. The whole con was about 70 people.
  • Most attendees were from England, some from Scotland, and 4 from Germany.
  • 3 men attended
  • There was a zine auction. Unfortunately some of the owners did not know and/or did not disclose they were selling pirated copies (ex. a pirated version of Daring Attempt 7 was sold for 15 pounds). This did not go over well with some attendees.
  • An original of Courts of Honor went for 53 pounds (more than $ 80)
  • Other zines that were sold: copies of Nome and an original of Mirrors of Mind and Flesh.
  • The zine library had around 150 zines and was located in a room with oak panels and big windows with low window sills overlooking a botanical garden. Most of the zines were K/S, but they had a few Pros and B7.
  • There was a raffle
  • On Saturday there was a dress dinner
  • Songvids were shown - in addition to Star Trek there were several Holmes/Watson vids, along with a tape of Nimoy's and Shatner's 25th anniversary tour
  • Panels included: what makes a good K/S (or slash) story., the Wave Theory, "Tomcat Kirk - fact or fiction" (in which fans tried to prove with many scenes that Kirk is not really interested in all the women he gets in the episodes) and "The role of Spock" (the female qualities in Spock and why so many women identify with him).
  • There was a theme cake with a little marzipan Kirk and Spock, a t-shirt contest, a treasure hunt (based on clues from K/S stories); and a caption contest about a picture of Nimoy and Shatner embracing.
  • The convention charity was an AIDS fund and two other health organizations.

1991

The fourth con was held at Leicester University - guest Kathy Resch.

1990

The third con was held at Leicester University - guest Kathy Resch.

1988

The second con was held at Nottingham University - guest Kate D.

There is a lengthy con report in On the Double #9. Some excerpts: "It is midnight in the University. Soft feed pad along corridors. In small rooms, intense discussions are taking place. In slightly larger rooms, people are crouched over television sets where sometimes outlandish and archaic pictures flicker. In one room marked library" the inmates jump when the door opens and quickly return to their deep, almost trance-like concentration. The atmosphere Is strange, hot house, you can almost see the heat shimmer, yet nobody speaks, for each knows the source of the others' absorption and there is so little time and so much to get through. What is this strange fervour In the halls of academia? Students cramming for finals? Finals, no; fervour, yes. This is the Saturday night of Closet Con '88, our K/S gathering; not so much a con, more a weekend with friends... We move on, talking all the way through dinner (students were never so shrill). We come to the official opening and, with great price, I introduce Kate Daniels, our guest writer from the States. We have been planning and waiting for this all year. Kate does a lovely self-introduction and the audience warms. Now for more fund-raising. The raffles have prizes to make your mouth water (many, many thanks to the kind donors, quite a number from the States. We are very fortunate in having among us the creator of some of the finest music videos in fandom, both K/S and also some of the funniest. We shriek like students again. The evening settles down and the reading marathon begins in the library... Saturday and we are eager and bright. Kate gives her introductory talk... Skillfully, Kate nudges the group into speech. We talk, sometimes shyly, sometimes with passion and sometimes with incredible frankness. What the hell, this is K/S and these are friends. We discuss sexuality, writing, the prevalence of first timers, our own desires, needs and fulfillment. Nobody raises an eyebrow... Now for those of you who have enjoyed the frank festivities at IDICon, all this may seem a little tame, but in this beleaguered isle it's the big time, let me tell you. What I can't tell you adequately is the sense of closeness and heady release that Closet generates. To me, at least, it's magic."

1987

The first con was held at Somerville College Oxford.

Con Reports

There are many, lengthy con reports in The K/S Press.


References

  1. WebCite for Closet Con 10.
  2. Convention Ad for ClosetCon 8 on the Village Press website.
  3. Email forwarded to Yahoo group Zinelist from Rosemary which was reposted, with permission, on various LJ communities.
  4. K9's Closet Con and other musings, dated August 12, 2009.
  5. reports published in Come Together #21, Sept 1995.