DSV (Blake's 7 convention)
|Dates:||January 29-31, 1988|
|Location:||Newark Airport Holiday Inn North, Newark, New Jersey|
|Type:||fan with with actor guests|
|Founder:||Laurie Cohen and Deb Walsh|
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DSV One was held in January 1988 in Newark. It was subtitled: A Flight of Fancy.
Videotape footage from the convention can be found as part of the "S. Hereld Collection of Blake's 7 Fanzines and Fan Fiction" located at the University of Iowa fanzine archives.
- The convention played a role in The Blake's 7 Slash Wars
- Actor guests: Paul Darrow, Michael Keating, Terry Nation, Jan Chappell and Janet Lees Price were guests
program book, cover art by Leah Rosenthal
Conventions have their own rules. Things that are reasonable, natural, and just plain necessary during a con may be impossible to relate properly in a mundane context. We've all wrestled with this at some time.
My mission on that occasion was to announce Terry Nation and Jan Chappell before their Q&A panel. Jan had been delayed, so I went up front to mill around with Terry. That gentleman (despite having long transplanted himself to California's sunny climes), took one look, and reached out to glom onto my lapel, with flattering expressions of approval. My mind boggled in mid-compliment, so I don't remember exactly what he said. But whether the sentiment was sincere (I believe it was) or superficially polite , Terry very kindly put me at ease, and incidentally made me feel like Paul's Proverbial Million Bucks. (Terry also volunteered to begin the panel alone, one of the many times the guests contributed to keeping things running smoothly.)
Never was Janet's enthusiasm more appreciable than during the grueling 7 hours of the Auction. All of the guests put on a delightful performance; though undeniably the featured attraction was the return of the Paul & Mike Show. Terry pitched charity items on behalf of an imaginary emergency airlift of medical specialists for Paul's back, till the hysterical crowd was on the verge of mindwiping. Jan Chappell, Sheelagh Wells -- everyone took a turn hawking one item or another, till the loyal buyers were euphoric, exhausted, and blissfully approaching destitution. But it was Janet who after midnight seemed to be just hitting her stride, dashing about fearlessly on that gawdawful collection of peripatetic ice floes we were using as a 'stage.' When the pace began to lag, it was Janet who asked for items of particular interest from the Charity to be put on the block, renewing general interest; Janet cheerfully hustling slow bids along; and impishly informing Paul she was better at it than he or Michael.I have only two notable regrets, now that DSV One is past. I wish I'd made it to one of Sheelagh Wells' makeup workshops. I'm told that in addition to her warm personality, and enviable good looks, she is skilled in such esoteric arts as crafting 'old skin' on top of new, and contriving disgustingly authentic-looking warts with the help of Kellogg's Rice Krispies. I wish I'd seen the blooper reel.
After a somewhat shaky beginning on Thursday evening - staff helper assignments were rather "disorganized" - events at DSV 1 in Newark, NJ, shifted into high gear and from Friday morning to Sunday night, January 29-31, the convention achieved a rapid-fire, fever-pitch level of top-notch efficiency and excitement for the duration, and made everything worthwhile.
Perhaps the best con I have yet attended or worked. I was assigned the art show and auction - not to mention the most activity-filled this tribute to the 10th anniversary of Blake's 7 was in every way a smashing success. The guests themselves seemed to have as much fun as those in attendance, mingling freely and unselfconsciously with fans, eagerly sharing anecdotes about the program and each other.
The guests of honor included: Terry Nation, creator and father-emeritus of B7, who accepted several dinner invitations with fans; Michael Keating, whose casual dress and impish good humor won converts to his cause from all quarters: Paul Darrow. sans his "Avon" reserve, whose easy manner and outgoing enthusiasm and constant dedication to the fans concealed a painful bout with a recent back injury that plagued him the entire weekend. Janet Lees Price. Paul's absolutely enchanting wife, whom some of you may recall as the ill-fated "Klyn" in the final episode "Blake". Jan Chappel. as quiet and reserved as "Cally". except when she hob-nobbed with fans and participated on guest panels, brought her son, Sam, with her; Sheelagh Wells, Gareth Thomas' wife and one-time B7 make-up artist, whose well attended make-up demonstrations had everybody talking, brought one of the notorious B7 "Blooper" videos with her and a taped message from Gareth apologizing for being unable to attend.
The opening of the Dealer's Room Friday was a re-enactment of all four Jaws movies, with a "Blake's Buying Frenzy" rarely seen in fandom. Many rare photos, novels, and monthlies were grabbed up early on and left all the dealers with enormous smiles on their faces for the remainder of the weekend.
Daily photograph and autograph sessions had fans lining up early and the guest panels were missed by no one. Particularly popular was the "Liars Panel," where all questions thrown to the guests had to be answered with outright false information. Terry, Paul, and Michael are particularly adept at this • and the results were often riotous. Another lively panel was the "Paul and Michael Dramatic Readings" session, in which literary pieces were submitted for the guests to interpret, comically or dramatically, as the selection required. Paul and Michael are especially terrific together, good-humoredly bantering back and forth to everyone's delight (Destiny II should be memorable for us all.)
Late Saturday afternoon, Paul sat with fans during a showing of "Rumours of Death," and afterwards deftly fielded questions about the episode. He later read excerpts from his forthcoming novel about pre-Blake's 7 Avon - now officially to be published later this year by Lyle Stuart. It promises violence, sex, and plenty of dubious background information on Avon and his family; so watch for it. It even has Terry Nation's seal of approval.
The art show auction Saturday night proved the most grueling activity of all, both for the guests, who were auctioneers, and fans, who spent thousands of dollars on art and donated charity items Ninety-four pieces of art alternated with 43 guest-donated B7 collectibles during the arduous bidding process, in what became a marathon auction, lasting from 8:30 p.m. Saturday to 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning.
The highest price paid for any item was $2,450.00 for the original shooting script of "Blake" donated by the episode's director, Mary Ridge - a rare find indeed Another piece, an 18" x 20" one-of-a-kind portrait photo of Avon donated by Paul and Janet, went for $1,000 00 The highest price paid for an art piece was $850 00 for a color rendering of Avon and Blake - by famed fan artist Karen River titled "Avon: Perihelion." it was luckily purchased by an Australian fan who had written a poem for which the piece was originally commissioned.
In spite of bidding that was high and often-times heated, the auction occasionally seemed to drag through the night. As for the guest auctioneers, Sheelagh and Jan gave up early on and went to bed; Michael, who is a dynamic salesman, gave in to fatigue around 1:00 a.m. and quietly departed the proceedings. Terry sat out most of the remaining two hours, watching Paul Darrow "hold court" by himself for the most part, save for an occasional assist from Janet Retaining his title as the hardest-working guest in fandom, Paul stayed to the very end - in spite of his back problems, a sacrifice for which he paid dearly the next day. Auctioning the final piece, Paul flashed his best "Avon" smile and cheerfully took himself and his wife upstairs to their room and a much needed rest. The remaining fans did likewise.
Sunday saw a lively costume contest, skits, and the closing ceremonies, and ended with a staff party given for just the helpers and guests. This was perhaps the nicest part of the convention, because the guests came to thank all those who worked to make the weekend run smoothly. Conversation with them was intimate and more memorable than the crowded panels had been, Terry Nation journeyed from table to table, signing autographs and eventually left for dinner with a group of fans; Jan mingled cheerfully, signed photos, and watched her son's face light up every time one of the fans asked for his autograph. Michael talked film and politics with those who gathered around him, showing himself a much more private and serious man than Vila could ever be. Janet had quite a fan following herself and although few photos of her existed, she often signed her name on her husband's pictures. While her primary attention stayed with the fans, she kept a watchful eye on Paul, who leaned on a podium for support at the far corner of the room, fighting back a fever and obvious back pain. He had refused advice that he rest, insisting on attending the helper party to personally thank all who gave up their Con time to work necessary jobs. That single gesture has earned him my unending respect and that of many others, I'm sure.
Monday morning found both fans and guests checking out of the hotel together Some of the guests headed home, others were chauffeured into NYC for several days* rest, sightseeing, and a night out at "Phantom of the Opera." Paul went to the doctor. Latest word is that his condition seems to be improving and hopefully the problem will only be temporary.A successful convention? Indeed Mutual love for B7 brought everyone - guests and fans alike -together and hopefully will bring them and us back again next year for a DSV 2??? Why not? We can hope, dream, and save our money for just such a possibility.