Fanlore Live!: 2009 Escapade Panel Notes: MaryAllice
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|Title:||Fanlore Live!: 2009 Escapade Panel Notes: MaryAllice|
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Notes by Charlotte Hill
I got involved in all of fandom in Madison, WI during graduate school (late 1970s/early 1980s). At that time they had a fairly active student community centering around the campus center, where I saw convention flyers. The con that caught my eye had some of the Doctor Who actors appearing in St. Louis. I had seen Dr. Who as a child when my father was stationed in England, so I saw some eps with the First Doctor and just loved him. I was heartbroken when the Second Doctor came over, then fell in love with him. This was right around the time PBS was syndicating some of the Tom Baker ep, and I saw a flyer for this con. I managed to get in contact with someone else interested in going to share gas money, and we drove from Madison to St. Louis. This was my first big media con. (Around 200 people, plus the actors)
I met a whole bunch of other people from Madison who were fans as well, so we formed a group called The Whovian High Order of Mid-Wisconsin (WHO). We had meetings and watched fuzzy, 5th-generation vids we got from friends here or in Britain. We organized and worked at the local PBS station to bring in money and pimp our friends into watching the show, contribute to the station, and get more eps shown. This was where I first got interested in Blake's 7. Again, 5th-generation video where you could barely recognize the characters, but the voices were different.
We went to various cons that the Blake's 7 actors and Doctor Who actors were at (this is all pre-Creation, they were fan-run conventions). These were basically events that the PBS stations put on, "an afternoon with the actors" and we did the legwork to help them prepare the events. We organized security, publicity, etc.
We discovered that Louise Jameson was in the area (she played Leela on Dr. Who). So we organized events for her and for some of the other actors, both in Madison and working at cons in the surrounding mid-west (this is in the early 1980s).
A friend I had met at that point was John Manza, "The Voice of Doom" because he had a deep-set voice; he lives back in Madison, after living for years in New York. Because he met a lot of Doctor Who actors at various cons he helped run, he still has a lot of connections to the actors of that era.
The first really big, fan-run Dr. Who cons were huge, on the order of 5,000 people and run like a rock star-type thing, professional security and rope lines. It was the beginning of conventions-for-profit. They'd have like 30 guests, which was unprecedented at the time; they made good money 2 years, then lost money, and then Creation stepped in. Creation got the actors under contract for big money, and this was the beginning of actors being unavailable for many fan cons."