ICON (US SF Convention)
|Science Fiction Convention|
|Dates:||1975 - present|
|Location:||Iowa, United States|
|Founder:||Joe Haldeman, Gay Haldeman, Mike Miller|
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This con was held in January.
A gathering of Beauty and the Beast (TV) fans held a mini-con in conjunction with it.
1989: Con Report
The Beauty and the Beast convention which was held in conjunction with the ICON convention was a success! We had approx. 100 persons in attendance from the club. Icon attendance (which includes us B&tB people) hit a new high. The normal ICON attendees were all impressed with how well the 'Beast' people fit in.
We helped double the art show in size from the previous year, also making this the largest art show we've ever had. Vickey Macky, a fanclub member had the honor of being the artist selling the most art in terms of dollars. She also sold a painting to Roy Dotrice. I will mention that it was an oil of his character Father, sitting at the chess board. Very nice. We had a very small con-suite which was open in the evenings for members to congregate and talk about the show, or watch second season episodes. There were munchies available galore. We also had several of the B&tB zines available for members to peruse.
The weather couldn't have co-operated much better. We had a brilliant sun storm all weekend, with temperatures reaching the low 40's on Sunday. I got to put faces to quite a few names, and that was great! I know that many of you expressed appreciation for being given the opportunity to meet and make new friends that could talk 'Beast' with you. We had members from the Las Vegas club in attendance. They brought with them their porcelain dolls of Vincent, Catherine, and Father. I got to watch them create one and it was impressive. The clothes on these dolls are straight from the series, as far as I could tell. Vicky Macky who is doing a graphic arts comic of B&tB came, with plenty of artwork for us to admire in the art show. Jeanne Cloud from the letterzine Once Upon a Time...Is Now was there. She is one of those people who's presence automatically guarantees success. You know, the one's who can turn a dull party into a lively one just by walking into the room. Jeanne, especially, is able to enliven any discussion with her thoughts on the subject of B&tB. These people helped to make the convention even more successful. It was neat!
Roy was just a joy. He was a bit pushed and pulled around by me in order to make the schedule we had set up for him. But he still found time to judge the art show, and sign autographs. His panels were just fabulous. Roy is a great speaker, and tells stories with a flair.Everyone who came had an opportunity to talk to him for at least a moment, or to just shake his hand. Even Icon's club mommy, Gaye Haldeman, and founding father, Joe Haldeman (who is a well known SF&F writer) were impressed. Gaye told me afterwards at the dead dog party, "Having Roy here at Icon, was like a breath of fresh air". 
FRIDAY: As we approached the designated room our hearts were warmed to see a large banner proclaiming "Father's Chamber" in beautiful, bold letters. Yep, we were definitely in the right place. The door was open in welcome and we stepped inside. It was wonderful! We were surrounded by a bevy of Beast fans! There were people there we knew only from letters, artwork, fan fiction, etc. and now we would be able to put names to faces at last. Deb Hense, president of the International B&B Fan Club was there and immediately made us welcome, urging us to "come on in" and join in the fun, which we promptly did. A B&B tape played on the VCR while small discussion groups were dispersed here and there deep in beastly conversations. We stayed as long as we could prop open the old eyelids, but finally had to give in and bid goodnight with promises of meeting the next day; the day Roy Dotrice would arrive.
SATURDAY: The first place we hit after registration was the Huxter's Room, where you can usually buy just about anything even remotely connected to science fiction or fantasy. But, alas, there was a definite deficit of B&B material. We scarfed up the few zines and a couple couple of other things available, then headed for the Art Show. WOW! Surprisingly, there was quite a bit of really outstanding B&B artwork displayed; from pen and ink pencil sketches, and oils, several different handicrafts/ including some dolls which were beautifully and lovingly made. There was as much if not more quality B&B artwork at ICON as there had been at a much larger convention we'd attended a few months earlier in Denver. Very impressive.
Next on the agenda was a panel discussion in which Roy Dotrice would make his first appearance at the con. Jeanne and I got our seats early on the first row and waited in excited anticipation/ cameras ready. When Mr. Dotrice arrived it was to a warm welcome of applause and a flurry of blinding flashbulbs. He looked positively wonderful in a dark navy blue/ double breasted suit complete with shiny brass buttons, every bit the English gentleman one envisions. It's always startling to me to see how very striking celebrities are "in person". The old adage "they never look as good in real life as they do on the screen" is just simply not true. Not only does Roy Dotrice appear much younger and more handsome than the character of Father, but he seems to exude gentility and warmth, immediately setting those around him at ease, whether it be two or two hundred.
The topic of the panel discussion was the transition of literary science fiction and fantasy works from the written page to the screen. I could sense at first Mr. Dotrice was somewhat uneasy, admitting he knew very little about these particular genres, but he soon warmed to the subject, frequently adding a good dose of humor as he did so. Watching the other panelists (a well-known science fiction writer and a college professor) it was obvious halfway through the discussion that they were almost as taken with Mr. Dotrice as we were, along with a great many people in the audience who were not necessarily B&B fans. I bet some of them are now. I'm telling you, the man is charming! All too soon the panel came to a close and Deb was leading Mr. Dotrice out the door for a breather before his talk, which was scheduled to take place an hour later. Having other B&B fans around to talk to helps pass the time and before we knew it, it was time for Roy to return, this time alone.
The talk began with Mr. Dotrice immediately setting the whole audience at ease by making us laugh. In fact, he kept us laughing most of the hour by relating little anecdotes about his career and family life, nothing too personal but endearing nonetheless. At one point early on he jokingly accused all of us of being "sex maniacs" when the subject came up of whether or not Vincent and Catherine should really kiss. There was a bit of lively debate among some members of the audience on this volatile subject, entertaining all of US/ including Mr. Dotrice. There were also serious moments, though, as he talked a little about the show's poor ratings this season, the effect the writers' strike had had, and the competition B&B was up against this year. He also touched on a few upcoming episodes, one in particular in which Father has a substantial role called "The Outsiders". It promises to be a dramatic and, I think, riveting show. As before, the time passed much too quickly and the talk was over almost before we knew it. Mr. Dotrice was spirited away for a look at the art show, then on to dinner with the people who had made his visit with us possible, mainly the fan club members of Cedar Rapids. Though envious, Jeanne and I didn't really begrudge them their time with him. They had all worked very hard (Deb Hense in particular) on behalf of the B&B part of the convention and deserved to reap a few fringe benefits for their efforts. Besides.. .promises were made that we'd all meet again later in "Father's Chambers" for an autograph session and some "real" conversation.
As turned out, we had quite a wait. Mr. Dotrice and the others were running late due to a glitch at the restaurant, then were further held up as Roy was taken to help judge the masquerade contest. Eventually they did arrive and, to our great delight, Mr. Dotrice sat down at the end of the very table Jeanne and I were sitting. Talk about up close and personal! Ismediately Roy began signing autographs and talking to the fans one by one as they came up, giving each individual his total attention as they commented about the show or sane other role of his career. It was especially fun to watch him with the few children who were there as they inched their way forward, vide eyed and a little hesitant. He set them at ease quickly and soon they'd be chatting away, totally unself-conscious. This vent on for almost two hours, but every once in a while there'd be a lull in the line and Mr. Dotrice would turn to Jeanne and me or someone else close-by and strike up a conversation. We talked about a myriad of things concerning the show in quick snatches until, finally, the group had dwindled down to just a few diehards (about fifteen or twenty). By then Mr. Dotrice was feeling the need to get up and stretch a little, and who could blame him? He'd been at it for quite a while. Somehow, and I'm still not sure just how, about four of us ended up at a small table by the pool with Mr. Dotrice. He visibly became more relaxed and open and it was then the real "in depth" talking about the show began in earnest. Mr. Dotrice was very attentive to what ve had to say concerning what we thought was good about the show this season, and what ve thought was bad. He listened to our suggestions about where ve would like to see the series go, about how ve perceived the characters (which isn't always in accordance with how the actors, or even the writers of B&B perceive them, we discovered). We talked about the time slot problem, the poor ratings and why we thought they were poor, where the show could be moved to improve the ratings, and the real popularity of the show versus what was reflected by the Nielson's. In fact, we talked until quite late, between two and two-thirty in the morning. He was genuinely interested in our viewpoints and opinions, as we were in what he had to say. He was able to point things out to us only those "in the business" would know, helping us understand why networks often move in such strange and mysterious ways. By the time we had to regretfully say goodnight, because all of us could have probably gone on for at least a couple more hours,I came away restored in the faith that the people connected with the production of B&B really do care about its fans, from Kim LeMasters, who first conceived the idea for B&B, and Ron Koslow, who created the series, to all the actors, directors, and technicians involved in producing the show for us week after week, giving us so much pleasure and food for thought. In return, I hope Mr. Dotrice left our little group aware of the total commitment the fans have to the show and that any grumbling we may do is done only because we care so very much.
It seemed we wouldn't be able to have our interview with Roy in "Father's Chambers", as we'd previously arranged, due to a lack of privacy. Would we mind if he came to our room instead? WOULD WE MIND? Geeze! If Deb had asked for my firstborn child at that moment, I might have seriously considered it. So, while Deb called Mr. Dotrice's room to confer with him on the matter, Jeanne and I ran around like the proverbial chickens with no heads, getting dressed, spritzing on deodorant and hairspray (hopefully in the appropriate spots), and trying to straighten up the room, which looked like a clothesbomb had gone off. As Deb hung up, she turned around and smiled, "I'll be back with him in about thirty minutes. Do you think you can order up some rolls and coffee or something from room service?" You betcha. Being long standing honor guards of motherhood, Jeanne and I had the room spotless in no time. We can stuff things into drawers and under beds with the best of then. The little traveling coffee pot Joyce had provided gurgled and spewed comfortingly in the comer, the aroma filling the room quickly, giving a sense of warmth and security. The girl from room service arrived and we scrutinized the tray. The croissants looked a little tough from being in a microwave too long, but the danish smelled great. It would do. We were all set. Any time now Deb would be back with Mr. Dotrice. Were we nervous?. Well, maybe just a little, but the conversation we'd had with Roy the evening before helped take the edge off somewhat, thus we weren't reduced to sniveling idiots just yet. We watched as Deb's car pulled into the parking space, then there was a knock on the door.Did I mention how handsome Mr. Dotrice is? We spent the first thirty minutes or so with our guest just relaxing and having a bite of breakfast as we resumed the conversation where we'd left off the night before. Before we realized it, more than an hour had elapsed and we hadn't even begun the interview. Sadly, time was slipping by. Out of necessity our visit became a little more business-like as we settled down to do the interview, printed in its entirety following this report. Just as the tape recorder clicked off after the last question there came an insistent knocking on the door. Deb was back to pick up Mr. Dotrice to take him on to other obligations. In true, warm Dotrice fashion, Roy gave each of us a hug and a "Fatherly" kiss on the cheek, thanking us for the coffee and danish while at the same time we were thanking him for the interview. I experienced a pang of sadness. In the short time we'd come to know Mr. Dotrice, it was as if we'd truly become friends. Whether or not he remembered us two weeks from now didn't really matter. All that really mattered was that he had given us some wonderful memories to cherish for a long time to come.