Equicon/1981

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Convention
Name: Equicon
Dates: April 17-19, 1981
Frequency:
Location:
Type:
Focus: Science Fiction, Star Trek, films
Organization:
Founder:
Founding Date:
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Equicon '81 took place April 17-19, 1981 at the Sheraton Plaza La Reina Hotel in Los Angeles.

front cover of the 1981 program book

A Failure?

The Trimbles considered it a failure:

first page of the two-sided "Equicon-Fidential", the Saturday, April 18 issue of the con's daily newspaper, edited by Fred Patten, Room 733
We tried again in 1981 and it didn't work for various reasons... [1]
We tried another EQUICON in 1981, and found we'd misjudged the current fan attitudes (and paid over $1000 to the hotel for vandalism!), and we'd misjudged our own committee, which was no longer working for a common goal, but divided into "my people" and "them." We swore "never again," and retired to lick our wounds, withdrawing from the fan convention field. [2]

The Trimbles Offer Up Some History

From the program book:

The EQUICON:FILMCONs have changed, proving once again that we cannot return to the past. The metamorphosis of the old conventions we loved will be better than ever. Here is new growth, new turns of interest today which will replace the nostalgic sighs for the past we have great enthusiasm for the vitality of the new EQUICONS.

A short history: the first EQUICON (held in 1973 over Easter weekend: the Vernal EQUInox) was the largest West Coast Star Trek convention ever. In these early days of ST fandom, the stars of the show were more available to conventions, so every con planned had several Guests Of Honor.

FILMCON was started in 1972: a film-laden convention with many how-to programs on filmmaking. It was an artistic success but - due to huge rental fees on the many films - was a financial failure. The second year was even worse. Unless FILMCON could be supported in some manner, this fine convention concept would die.

By this time the original chairman of EQUICON retired to write professionally, so we ended up "sole Proprietors" of this Star Trek convention. It seemed feasible to combine the two, letting the EQUICON help pay for the large FILMCON expenses while at the same time providing the ST fans with an unusually fine film program. Though the name "EQUICON:FILMCON" was unwieldy, the combining of conventions proved successful.

After one attempt at EQUICON:FILMCONing out of Los Angeles in 1975, it returned to our control. The 1976 convention was not planned as a final one; plans were afoot to have a 1977 EQUICON:FILMCON with a bright newcomer, Mark Hamill, as Guest of Honor. So much for well-laid plans: difficulties with Bjo's health (at that time; vastly improved now!) and the needs of our growing children caused cancellation of our EQUICON:FILMCON plans.

Time passed, with fans nostalgically recalling fine EQUICON:FILMCONs they'd enjoyed or heard about. Though we'd made no plans for more conventions, our teenagers asked us about the EQUICON:FILMCONs they only dimly remembered. In a fit of madness, we decided to Do It Again.'

In the passage of time, several interesting things have happened. Sadly, Star Trek fandom grew, making more demands on the stars' time, their speaking fees grew progressively. EQUICON:FILMCON has consistently supported charities, so has a policy of not paying "appearance" fees; thus it happened that E:F became a Star Trek convention without major ST guests. During this time, EQUICON:FILMCON has been moving steadily away from "big names" into "Interesting Guests" programming, with attendees well satisfied with the film industry's top makeup artists, amaturists [sic], writers and special effects people.

When we tried to trademark EQUICON:FILMCON, only to discover "Filmcon" was in use elsewhere, so technically we could not use it. We subscribe to the "A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME..." theory, so no plan to phase out the use of "Filmcon", reverting to simply EQUICON. We won't drop the CONCEPT of FILMCON; it merely means a shorter, more easily pronounced convention title.

With the stronger emphasis on aerospace, there is more programming utilizing real space talent at this new EQUICON. Suddenly we aren't just a "Star Trek" or a "Film" convention any longer, but a greater, broader event than either!

EQUICON hasn't lost anything, except perhaps its fannish naievity [sic]. EQUICON is emerging from its chrysalis as a more fully-rounded science fiction convention than offered in either "book" or "media" conventions.' we invite you along on our exciting journey in exploration of the fannish potential; of watching Science Fiction and Science Fact merge into our own Future Reality before your very eyes!

Some Photos

Guests

Forrest J. Ackerman | Eve Brent Ashe | Lynn Bohart | Elizabeth Brooks | Bob Burns | William Campbell | Charles Carr | David B. Barren | John Chambers | Phil Castora | Col. Evan E. Clements | Sandy Cohen | Doug Crepeau | Paula Crist | Sybil Danning | Gerry Davis | Vern Dietsche | Sharman Di Vono | Paul Gentry | Bill George | David Gerrold | Mel Bilden | Willetta Grady | Terry Hardin | Mel Griffin | Evelyn Grippo | Brian Hanish |Ron Harris | Horace Gold | Dick Hoagland | Eric Hoffman | Warren James | Greg Jein | William Kreisler | Stan Kent | Katherine Kurtz | Frank Marshall | IB Melchoir | Sam Merwin | John Naulin | Steve Niell | Ve Neill | Judy Niver | Fred Patten | Capt. Douglass A. Perrenod | Bruce Pivar | Dr. Jerry Pournelle | Dr. Donald A. Reed | William Rostler | Mike Rounds | Steve Rubin | Wayne Schmidt | Nick Seldon | Larry Shaw | Bob Short | Felix Silla | Howard Smith | Bob Staehle | Rick Sternbach | Mark Seteson | Jeff Szalay | Rick Stratton | Dr. Gordon Ting | Kathryn (Katwen) Trimble | George Turner | Jeff Walker | Pat Wall | William Warren | Elizabeth Wollcott | Jodi Woodward

Costuming/Masquerade

from the program book: "Equicon:Filmcon '81 Futuristic Fashion Show Design Contest"

Winners of the "Equicon:Filmcon '81 Futuristic Fashion Show Design Contest" were printed in the program book.

Peter Cooper | Aline Cox |Alys Lyn Mundorf | Christine Dugal | Kathryn Anne Evans | Amy Falkowitz | Willetta M. Grady | Monica Miller | Jon McKenzie | Civi Poth | Karen Schaubelt | Kathy Sanders | Jay E. Smith | Diann Thedford

Denmother Program

From the program book:

Denmothers is a service provided by Equicon for the minors attending. Our purpose is to be available in any capacity for any young person who is having ANY difficulty. Also we will be a contact point for hotel staff and parents.

We are here to make things easier. We will take messages, help out with ANY problem, and try to make sure that this convention is the best ever for you. We are the shoulder to cry on, the people to yell help to, and someone to just talk to.

Every minor registering at the convention will be assigned a Denmother. His/Her name will be at registration and information. If you cannot find your Denmother you may leave a message for him/her at information or call the Babysitting Room (the number will be posted). Your Denmother WILL get the message either way. Remember, Denmothers are not here to cramp your style, just to help make everything go a little easier.

All Denmothers will wear an identifying ribbon. Denmothers will coordinate with ALL minors attending.

"Comet Tales" -- A Participatory Story

From the program book:
How often have you thought that you could write a better story than the one you just read if you had the time or the chance? NOW you can have BOTH! William Kreisler, TV writer and adapter, will present COMET TALES, an audience participation story session each day of the con starting at 10:00 a.m. You will help create a new story each day. On Friday you will create a FANTASY STORY, on Saturday SCIENCE FICTION and on Sunday, HORROR. Don't just observe the creative process, be a part of it!

Wrap-Up

From the program book:
The EQUICON:FILMCON '81 WRAP-UP is your chance to talk to us about future EQUICONS; what you'd like to see; what you'd just as soon not see again; what new ideas you would like to present to the committee. Newcomers will be welcome to join the fun as work or mundane pressures remove experienced committee members from our roster. Complaints, praises, suggestions, requests: all will be treated here with respect.

Video Programming

From the Saturday, April 18 issue of the con's newsletter, edited by Fred Patten, Room 733:

VIDEO PROGRAMMING: The Video Room in 301, after an aggressive self-promotion campaign in the morning, turned out-to be a resounding success on Friday. The largish room came with porting for 10 in comfy sofa and chairs ("No, not the comfy chair!" — Monty Python), and was continually drawing two to three times that as people made themselves comfortable on the floor; joking, discussing the finer points of animation and video fandom, and creating general warm vibes of fun and conviviality. Acquaintance was renewed with a certain renegade Time-Lord as "The Doctor" dropped by (so to speak) for the first-two of five scheduled visits. In [room] 376, many "video-virgins" were introduced to the glories of Gundam, the phantasmagoria (whew!) of Force Five, and other Japanimation shows — dubbed and otherwise. More of the same is scheduled for Saturday: 9:00 a.m. in 376: fantastic credits from 23 different giant-robot SF adventures, worth getting up for! Noon: a feast for Kimba, the White Lion fans. 1:00 p.m.: a Lupin III marathon. And at the significant time of 10:24 p.m.: part 4 of the award-winning (most popular TV animation in Japan) SF epic, Gundam.

Programming

  • about the Viking Fund and Mars Lander
  • "The Whole Voyager"
  • Regency Dancing "Under the Direction of Nancy Griffiths and Pat Wood. Everyone welcom, formal dress nice but not required."
  • "Explaining the Secret of 'Time Traveler's' Special FX"
  • "Design and Function of Space Hardware" talk and slides
  • fan talent cabaret
  • Doctor Who scriptwriter talks and slideshows
  • "Building Costumes Without Growing Broke"
  • "The New Star Trek Daily Comic Strip"
  • Fantasy Makeup Demonstration
  • "'Twikki' in Buck Rogers"
  • "Heavy Metal's 'Star Traders' Fumetti"
  • seminar on Fantasy Role Playing
  • "George Takei Talks About Anything He Wants"
  • "History of Manned Space Flight"
  • "Help Save Civilization and Make a Little Money at It!"
  • "The Space Shuttle: What Happened?"
  • "After the Space Shuttle: The Future of the Space Program"
  • a space shuttle skit, by Jim Busby and crew
  • a musical performance of the "World Peace Band"
  • "Exploration of the Solar System in the 1980's"
  • Academy of SF, Fantasy & HOrror Films "Salute to the Count Dracula Society"
  • "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Makeup But Didn't Know Who to Ask"
  • "Costumed Character-Characterization -- how to wear & enjoy costumes without hassling yourself, the hotel or the con-committee"
  • a performance by the L.A. Filkharmonic
  • "Oral Health Issues in Orbital Colonies"
  • "History of Pulp Science Fiction Magazines"
  • "From Idea to Animation"
  • "Bringing SF Literary Standards to Hwd."
  • "Extra-Terrestrials and Starships"
  • "The World Space Foundation's Solar Sail Project"
  • "Futuristic Fashion Show"
  • "How the Solar System Was Won"
  • "Trends in SF Films: Past and for the Future"
  • "The Future of Electronic Games"
  • "Puppets in S.F."

Con Reports

At the Sheraton Plaza La Reina Hotel, the very same hotel in which we are having our WEEKEND, there have been two science fiction conventions within one month, EQUICON and PHANTASMICON. Bjo Trimble, the mother of Trekdom, reached back to the "good old days" and put on another EQUICON. Those of us who have been in fandom for years looked forward to the event with great anticipation. Another Equicon! Back to the good old days of fan run conventions! Hooray! Well it wasn't. It wasn't because Bjo and John didn't try, but things have changed, and not for the better. It's difficult for me to write this article because I think I represent a group of fans who are the cream of the crop. Bill attracts a special kind of fan: intelligent, polite, well-groomed, and in every way the very best in fandom. Try to explain that to a hotel manager who has just had the braille markers removed from the elevators, whose elevator indicator light covers have been stolen, and whose $750 glass table has just been shattered. It is not easy.

I remember appearing on a television show and discussing the extraordinary cooperativeness of Star Trek fans. And what a bunch they were. In an auditorium full of people (12,000) there was hardly any litter, even where food was sold. When the fire-marshal got upset by the crowds, people actually gave up their seats so that the program could continue. I doubt if that could have happened at either EQUICON or PHANTASMICON. What was evident in these recent conventions does warrant comment, because there is a noticeable and an unhealthy change in fandom which is taking place.

Have any of you ever heard of peace-bonds? I'm sure most of you haven't and neither had I, until recently. They are plastic ties which are used to make weapons inoperative. Weapons? What do they have to do with fandom? The conventions are bristling with them. Warriors with realistic guns of all varieties menace people in the elevators, strut down the hallways, and scare the ordinary folks in the hotel out of their mind so I found myself making excuses for the "fun" the fans were having. The runners which Logan's Run spawned bothered people also, but didn't go to the extent these most recent hostile facimilies [sic] have. Star Trek fans are accustomed to gentle solutions, tolerance, the personification of IDIC and acceptance. It's frightening to see fandom changing into a group belligerent people who see the future as a totally hostile environment.

Even those fans who have gone into fantasy seem to have picked periods in which fighting was prevalent and try to emulate the knights in shining armour, bashing each other happily and planning "wars" in which they can shine. True, fiction needs conflict to be exciting, but living that fantasy is something else. Whatever happened to the fans who genuinely believed in making the future a better place and were working toward that goal? Our society has changed and become more aggressive and with it fandom also. How sad. [3]

Meta/Further Reading

References

  1. ^ "Bjo and John Trimble in Conversation with Bristol Starfleet Registry" issue #18 (1987).
  2. ^ from the 1985 Equicon program book
  3. ^ from the essay: Public Image