Equicon/1976

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Convention
Name: Equicon
Dates: April 16-18, 1976
Frequency:
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Type: or-profit, celebrity guests of honor
Focus: Science Fiction, Star Trek, films
Organization:
Founder: Bjo Trimble
Founding Date:
URL:
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Equicon 1976 took place April 16-18, 1976.

the cover of the convention program book, artist is "Rosey" Rosenthal

Membership were $10 until Apr. 10, 1976; $15 after April 10 and at door; $6 non-attending.

The Equicon in 1976 was chaired by Bjo Trimble, the Costume Parade by David Gerrold, the Celebrity Coordinator was D.C. Fontana, and many others.

Guests

This con took place the same weekend as Boston Star Trek, which meant that some of the scheduled guests of honor were double-booked and did not attend.

The Fan Guest of Honor was Shirley Maiewski.

Listed in the program book were 35 guests (30 male, 5 female).

Jon Abbott | Forrest J. Ackerman | John Agar | Kirk Alyn | Rick Baker | William Bast | Robert A. Bloch | Tom & Ellis Burman | Eddie Henriques | Bob Burns | William Campbell | Robert Clarke | John Dwyer | June Foray | Frank Kelly Freas | David Gerrold | Doug Grindstaff | Walter M. (Matt) Jefferies | Greg Jein | Robert Klein | Shirley Maiewski | Arlene Martel | Mike Minor | George Pal | Radames Pera | Fred B. Phillips | Dr. Donald A. Reed | Jeff Rice | Marc Richards | Jay Robinson | Gene Roddenberry | Majel Barrett Roddenberry | Jim Rugg | Frank Saletri | Theodore Sturgeon | William Tuttle | Michael Westmore | Grace Lee Whitney | Zocchi the Magician

"and, of course, many, many surprises...." (one of them being Leonard Nimoy)

Awards

Signe Landon won best artist and Deborah Lynn Collin won the 3rd prize, Star Trek art show for her "Anthropomorphism" cartoon.[1]

Con Charity

Profits from Equicon went to the Sofia Salvin School for Handicapped Children, and the Motion Picture Actor's Country Home in memory of Gene L. Coon.[2]

"What Do You Do With a Drunken Vulcan?"

Kandy Fong performed her Star Trek slideshow, What Do You Do With a Drunken Vulcan?, at Equicon 1976. [3]

The Commercial, The Reporting

From the program book:
The television commercial for Equicon:Filmcon was a result of many hours of hard work by many willing volunteers. None of us realized how effective a mere 30-second commercial would be (it's all we could afford!) not even KTLA, but the info phone started ringing 10 seconds after the commercial was shown the first time, and is probably still ringing as you read this!
KTLA, the television station that aired the commercial, also filmed a pre-con segment about Equicon. There is an outdoor, pre-con photo in the program book of the bridge set being constructed, along with Stan Chambers, a reporter for KTLA. The caption:
"THERE'S GOT TO BE A REASON WHY ALL THESE NUTS BOTHER TO DO THIS..." -- Stan Chambers of KTLA Channel 5, with his crew, trying to interview us for a news feature. He'd ask fans why they thought Start Trek was so popular & get variations on the same answer. He also asked one fan why she was working so hard on the bridge set & got the totally honest answer: "I was roped into it!" His interview somehow made our antics more acceptable to the confused neighbors, too.

Futuristic Fashion Show

This was the third year for Bjo Trimble's Futuristic Fashion Show.

See: 1976 Futuristic Fashion Folio.

See: International Costumers Gallery: Equicon 1976, Archived version

Concom

  • CHAIRMAN: Bjo Trimble
  • AWARDS: Frances Evans
  • CONTESTS: Todd Herrick
  • TREASURER: Stepehn Goldi
  • GO-FER PATROL: Jeri Bethel
  • EXHIBIT ROOM: Rick Schwartz
  • FAN SECURITY: Martin LeVita
  • PROJECTIONIST: Chuck Spero
  • INFORMATION BOOTH: Bob Evans
  • COSTUME PARADE: David Gerrold
  • COMPUTER SERVICES: Hal 10,000
  • MEDIA INTERMEDIARY: Beth Slick
  • BANQUET COORDINATION: Pat Wall
  • FILM PROGRAMMING: Bob Greenberg
  • AT-CON REGISTRATION: Dona Kerns
  • PRESS & PUBLICITY: Helen Bautista
  • CELEBRITY COORDINATOR: D. C. Fontana
  • PREREGISTRATION: Cliveden Chew Haas
  • SALES ROOM ADMINISTRATOR: Bruce Pelz
  • ROOM-MATE SERVICE & CAR POOL: Holly Burt
  • BRIDGE SET: CONSTRUCTION: Woody Hendricks
  • ELECTRONICS: Lee Worthington
  • FASHION SHOW COORDINATOR: Kathleen Sky Goldin
  • COORDINATOR & HOTEL LIAISON: John Griffin Trimble
  • CORRESPONDING SECRETARIES: Mary Ann Cappa & Sharon Rassmussen

Program Book

The program book was 36 pages long. The art was by Rosey Rosenthal, Phil Foglio, Bjo Trimble, Grant Canfield, Tim Courtney, William Rostler, Kris Trott, Walt Simonsen, Gail Barton, and Philo Barnhart.

Please note that some of the programming and guests of honor differ from what was planned in the program book and what actually ended up occurring.

There is an ad in the program book for a "Far Out Terrestrial Empire." The fan who was selling this (actually, 10 acres of land northeast of Rawlings, Wyoming for $30 dollars down and $30 per month) promoted it as containing "dear, antelope, & wild horses on property. FREE maps, photographs, information. For sale by owner. Raise Tribbles or Sehlats. Mine Dilithium Crystals. Grown Borgia Plants or Mako Roots. No Klingons."

General

Programming

The panels and talks:

  • Q&A with William Campbell regarding the Motion Picture & TV Fund
  • two Actors' Panels that included a mixture of Kirk Alyn, June Foray, Bob Burns, William Campbell, Arlene Martel, and Majel Barrett
  • two Writers' Panels that included a mixture of William Bast, Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Bloch, David Gerrold, Jeff Rice, and Marc Richards
  • Producer/Director Panel with George Pal and Gene Roddenberry
  • Special Effects Panel with Tim Bear, John Dwyer, Doug Grindstaff, Matt Jeffries, Greg Jein, Robert Klein, Mike Minor and Jim Rugg
  • Robert Clarke: "How to Produce a Film on Very Little Money"
  • Q&A with Grace Lee Whitney
  • a session with Grace Lee Whitney called "singing for your pleasure"
  • Forrest J. Ackerman: "Famous Monsters & Forry Rodan..."
  • a promotional gathering for fans to learn about the upcoming film Logan's Run
  • "Acting in Science Fiction" -- a panel with Frank Saletri, Jay Robinson, John Agar, Radames Pera, Dr. Donald A. Reed, Jayne Sherene Reed
  • a talk by the Burman brothers regarding special make-up effects for the film "The Devil's Rain"
  • there was also a Horta Easter Egg Hunt for the younger attendees

Sample Ads

Photos

Photos from the convention have been shared here.[4]

Con Reports

Equicon returned to Los Angeles and drew between 5,000 and 6,000 Star Trek fans over the Easter weekend. The con had problems getting started on Friday and the hotel registration was running hours behind, but once those hitches were passed, the separate convention floor with its superb facilities was in full swing and the con provided more activities than any one fan could possibly cover in three days.

Breakfast, sandwich, or beverage bars were available in the convention area — a nice touch by the hotel. There were gophers galore and hordes of security people, identified by brocade shoulder sashes... but no identification for dealers who spent much energy trying to explain their way into the dealers room — over and over.

D.C. Fontana outdid herself as Celebrity Coordinator — she lined up as the ST guests Majel Barrett (her Lincoln Enterprises had a dealers table as well), William Campbell (who as President of the Motion Picture Fund accepted a check from Sacramento Valley STAR for a $100 donation), Frank Kelly Freas (whose gorgeous portraits of the ST stars — see his ad elsewhere in this issue — were featured in the art show), David Gerrold (who ran the costume parade). Matt Jeffries, Shirley Maiewski (STW's pride), Arlene Martel, Leonard Nimoy (the con arranged for buses to take members of the con to his play at the Shubert Theater, then he gave an hours' talk at the con on Sunday), Gene Roddenberry (just returned from another string of speaking engagements around the country), Gene Roddenberry Jr. (who charmed the audience at the Futuristic Fashion Show), Jim Rugg, Grace Lee Whitney (making her first appearance at an ST con), and a host of other guests in the SF or fantasy field —including stars, production people, and writers. Grace Lee's enthusiasm was very obvious whether during her Q&A session, panel participation, or at autograph sessions at the STW table, she was delighted to be taking part and meeting the fans. On Sunday night she entertained by singing, appearing with a musical group led by her husband John Dale, The art shwo was consistently good, and the futuristic fashion show outstanding. David Gerrold was the first model and Dorothy Fontana was the last — as "Miss Tricentennial". The exhibits included the best Bridge mockup yet seen at a con, numerous "real" props, some really fine "shadow-boxes" containing scenes from famous SF movies. Lots of extras too: Lou Zocchi's magic show, several rooms set aside for gamers use which were always full, makeup demonstrations, many games and contests with prizes, and a Horta Egg Hunt on Easter morning featuring the Easter Ape.[5]

Most of the day Friday and Saturday was spent attending panels where from two to six speakers talked and answered questions. "The panels were arranged by topics - i.e.. actors, writers, producers, special effects, etc. Unfortunately we missed two panels Saturday afternoon when we went to see the play (Leonard Nimoy in Sherlock Holmes (1976 play)Sherlock Holmes]]) It was very well done. Friday night there was a costume parade, anyone who had made a costume could model it. Some wore very good and others, well, ah, left something' to be desired. Many were, of course ST orientated but quite a few were not. The event went on till nearly 11PM, and it was rather interesting to see it featured on the 11PM news that same night. Saturday night there was a fashion show; the costumes were designed by professionals but modelled by volunteers. In general they were very good. After it there was a short performance by Grace Lee Whitney. She's O.K. if you like the hard rock style music. I wish, however, they'd turn the volume down on those electronic speakers. Sunday there was a Horta egg: hunt for the younger generation. Also an unscheduled appearance by Leonard Nimoy. It was mostly a question and answer type session, but interesting. Security was very tight -in a way I feel sorry for him because he has no privacy at all.

There were six of us sharing a room designed for four - two slept on the floor in sleeping bags. I think this was against hotel policy but most groups did it because of the cost - even with six the cost was about $48 night so you can see the prices of the rooms.[6]

Equicon had a problem with guest stars in that there was another convention in Boston the same weekend and most of the Star Trek actors had received their invitations to attend it before they did Equicon's. However, they were fortunate to have Arlene Martell, Grace Lee Whitney, Jay Robinson, Jon Abbott, Majel Barrett and a surprise visit from Leonard Nimoy on Sunday afternoon.

The film line up was good, but there were sounds of dissatisfaction that the films did not run all night with some repeats of the more popular movies. Considering the problems with obtaining Star Trek films, we can thank the committee for being able to obtain what they did of those.

What Equicon lacked with Star Trek actors they made up for in the guests from all areas of the film industry,some of which were: GENE RODDENBERRY, FORREST ACKERMAN, KIRK ALYN, RICK BAKER - make-up specialist, ROBERT BLOCH, BOB BURNS - 'trainer' of
Tracy the gorilla in The Ghost Busters, WILLIAM CAMPBELL, ROBERT CLARK, JOHN DWYER - set director, JUNE FORAY - voice specialist, FRANK KELLY FREAS - artist, DOUG GRINDSTAFF - sound editor for STAR TREK, MATT JEFFRIES, GREG JEIN, MIKE MANOR -
special effects and props specialist, FRED PHILLIPS, DR. DONALD REED - founder and President of the Count Dracula Society and the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, JIM RUGG, THEODORE STURGEON, WILLIAM TUTTLE - makeup artist. MICHAEL
 WESTMORE etc.

The costume competition and Futuristic fashion show were both excellent as usual. The only bad note was at the costume competition where one contestant against the wishes and knowledge of the committee did a skit with a sword and supposedly stabbed another person, at which point his blood (red dye) spilled out over the audience. Needless to say, they were disqualified. One of the judges of the costume competition was Tracy (Bob Burns) in full makeup. The audience loved him!!! On Easter morning there was a Horta Egg Hunt which was presided over by Tracy. His job was to take the eggs away from the big 'kids' and give them to the little ones. There were no arguments with a gorilla wearing a beanie and carrying an Easter basket.

On Saturday night Grace Lee Whitney gave a special performance of her nightclub act - pleasantly surprising everyone with her talent. Hopefully she will be attending some of the upcoming conventions in the Bay Area. See more news about Grace in our news section.

The exhibit room had a full size copy of the bridge set complete with sound effects and flashing lights. The only bad comment heard was that the lights were too large. In any event,it was a tremendous amount of work which showed how much love went into its building. Also in the exhibit room were blown - up photos of scenes from LOGANS RUN which looks very interesting.

The art show had some exceptional work shown and the sales table had many very good pieces at reasonable prices. The auction was interrupted abruptly when Leonard Nimoy paid his visit. [7]

First of all I want to say I had a great time. I thought the one in San Diego was fun, but this one was much better. I found out that it makes a difference where you stay. Last year I was fifteen blocks away from the hotel Equicon 75 was held at. But this year I stayed at the same hotel and made many more friends than the year before, went to parties, talked to all hours of the morning to interesting people, and talked to a couple of odd ones, too.

Those of you who have been going to cons for years may be beginning to find them boring; but as this was my second convention I can't say that I was even bored once the whole weekend. There were all sorts of things I wanted to do and see. The only problem I found was that there were usually two and sometimes three things I wanted to do, all scheduled at the same time. For example, I went to see Leonard Nimoy in "Sherlock Holmes" (which I must say I enjoyed thoroughly and thought was very funny), but at the same time was a movie and an actors' panel I wanted to see.

And what of the scheduled events. The first was preregistration, of course, on Thursday, which I was glad to get out of the way before the horrendous lines that began early Friday morning. Then we went to see the only movie I managed to get to see for the entire weekend, Phantom of the Paradise, in which I was disappointed (too little story and too much blood and gore for my taste, but good special effects). That took care of Thursday's activities.

On Friday I went to the opening ceremonies, which consisted of a speech by Bjo Trimble. Then she introduced the Fan Guest of Honor, Shirley Maiewski (who, if you don't know, is very big in the Star Trek Welcommittee), another lady from STW, and Kelly Freas (the noted science fiction artist). A discussion took place about the functions of the Welcommittee, and on Kelly's art. I listened to the first part of the next activity, which was William Campbell on what was done at the Motion Picture and Television Fund, the primary charity Equicon gives its profit to. I didn't stay long, as I wanted to go to the huckster room, and I also wanted to see the next panel (which I missed most of because I was spending money in the huckster room). But I did get back in time to get my picture taken with William Campbell dressed in his Squire of Gothos coat (the coat was given to him at the convention). Next I went to the art show which, like most things, was a bit late opening. There I ran into my friend again, and we looked around at all the great works of art. From there we went to see the writers' panel with Bjo and John Trimble, Dorothy Fontana, Jeff Rice, and Marc Richards. They talked about what they were presently doing. Bjo said that Ballantine is going to publish the Star Trek Concordance in the Fall in the same fashion as the Technical Manual. It will include the three regular seasons and two animated seasons.

Our next panel was one of the more interesting ones, the producers' panel, with Gene Roddenberry and George Pal. They talked about producing motion pictures and the like. Roddenberry also gave a report on the Star Trek movie, which will be included later.

That evening was the Masquerade with David Gerrold as the Master of Ceremonies. To keep us entertained while being late in starting, there was a question and answer period with Grace Lee Whitney. The Masquerade itself had many entries, both of costume and acts, some good, some bad, some very dull. One of the highlights was a sequel to the Klingon magic act from last year's Equicon. Gerrold finally gave up trying to pronounce the names of the weird beings and resorted to calling them "Fred, from the planet Fred." When it was over, we decided to be part of the audience of the radio show Hour 25, which was broadcast live that night from midnight to 2 a.m. from the reconstructed bridge of the Enterprise, with Gerrold and Robert Clarke as guests.

Saturday morning, arriving a bit too early to see Forrest J. Ackerman, we managed to catch most of Charlie X. Then we went to see Ackerman, who gave a report on upcoming science fiction movies, those in production, those being planned, and those being thought over.

The rest of the morning was spent wandering around the hucksters room, the art show, and other exhibits. At 1:30 p.m. we embarked on our trip to the Shubert Theater to see Leonard Nimoy in "Sherlock Holmes," which was fun and very enjoyable, besides very funny. The evening started out with the Futuristic Fashion Show. It was very good, but I don't thinkcostumes from the fashion show should be in the masquerade, and vice versa, which is what happened in a few cases. Some of the costumes were absolutely fabulous, well designed and well made, with a bonus of some of the participants being professionally made up by makeup artists. After the show we took some pictures of the costumes and managed to have out picture taken with Forry Ackerman.

Afterwards we went upstairs to a Kraith party, where we Affirmed the Continuity. It was a lot of fun, and as usual my camera was busy, providing me with a series of very good pictures, even one of Jim Rondeau. [Jim Rondeau interjects: HUH? Now wait a minute — J]. After that party ended some of us went to Doris Beetam's room where we ran into one of the odd people of the convention, one who really thinks she's a Vulcan.

As usual, I didn't get back to my room until about 3:30 a.m., and I think by the end of the con that my roommate probably could have killed me, because no matter how quiet I tried to be everytime I came in, I woke her up. But she was very nice and kept insisting that she didn't mind. I was luckier than some who used the convention's roommate finding service.

Sunday was the last day (sigh). My roommate had to be at the registration desk at 8 a.m., so she got to wake me up instead for a change. I packed most of my stuff and then went wandering to the huckster room for one last fling while I waited for the art auction to open. I wanted to bid on one of Debbie Collin's cartoons (but could not do for reasons beyond my control). They opened late and John Trimble said right off that the auction would last only until 10:30 because of a special event. He wouldn't tell us until they closed the art auction part one (there were three parts all together) that the special event had something to do with the man that used to wear pointed ears. Everyone made a beeline for the main ballroom. And thanks to Dorothy Fontana, Leonard Nimoy appeared for about an hour, answering questions from the crowd. We could only take pictures from our seats, and autographs were out of the question. It was nice to see at least one of the regulars there, as most of the rest of them were at a convention in Boston at the time.

After the surprise event I missed the second part of the art auction, and hence Debbie's pictures, as I had to get ready for the Banquet at 2 p.m. I think I was very lucky to get to sit at Gene Roddenberry's table and talk with him. With respects to the movie he said that within 2 or 3 weeks the story outline for the movie would be chosen from approximately nine that they were down to; that they were negotiating with the actors and that George Takei and DeForest Kelley were about ready to sign, but had no information on the others; that a sound stage has been set aside for the movie at Paramount; that as soon as the story is chosen they will start to work on the sets; and that at present shooting the movie won't begin until October, so that it probably won't be out until late Spring. This is the situation as of Easter, 1976.

After the Banquet I went to the third part of the art auction. I had to pick up my pictures that didn't sell. I found to my disappointment all of Debbie's pictures gone. After the auction ended at 6, we got into line to pay for what we bought and picked up our unsold artwork. That took until 7, an hour later than when I was supposed to leave for Palm Springs. I did finally get on the road at 8:30, and got to Palm Springs around 11 p.m., thus ending a very fun weekend, and I must say I was very sorry to see it end. [8]

As usual, I was a huckster out to suck dry the wallets of every Convention-goer there. But I wasn't chained to my table as much as I have been in the past; either that, or I'm getting used to it. The Dealers' Room did offer a variety of interesting items. There were those who sold film clip packets from Flesh Gordon to Logan's Run (3 months before the movie premiered), and others who sold full frame Star Trek dupes. I managed to pick up some scripts, including 2 from Wild Wild West and one from Lost in Space. (I also picked up three scripts from that 1959 syndicated series of 13 episodes known as World of the Giants, about a 6 inch tall private investigator. One was scripted by Fred Freiberger.) Lincoln Enterprises had a table, and Filmation, too. Filmation was selling specially drawn animation cells. Sales were fair, but not great.

With Equicon, Paramount has stopped issuing Hucksters' licenses. Dealers who had ST merchandise decided to risk being closed down and sold ST items anyway. But no one was closed down. And this is especially odd, since the head of Paramount's Sales and Licensing swept through the hucksters' room Saturday afternoon.

Few people noticed Lou Mindling of Paramount, and he talked to even fewer people. In fact, in checking around with a few dealers afterwards, 'apparently he only talked to me, and at least I have witnesses to prove that. He lectured me on morality while I tried to question him on legal points. He dodged all my questions but one, answering that Paramount had stopped issuing licenses in order to combat black market selling of ST merchandise, which makes little sense to me. But he did not impound what little ST stuff I was hawking, and he did not close me down. We parted on good terms, questions unresolved. [9]

References

  1. Source: Whose Who in Fandom.
  2. Source: Stardate #8 published by the Sacramento fan club in April 1976.
  3. While Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Kandy Fong and Marnie S cites this as 1975, this was in error. "It was at the 1976 convention. I did not attend the 1975 convention in San Diego. I had made an error during the interview cited." -- email to Fanlore gardeners by Kandy Fong, April 28, 2016
  4. WayBack machine link.
  5. comments from Denny Arnold, Paul Driver, Alan Lawson, Michael Liebmann, Shirley Maiewski, Mary Manchester, James Mule, Steve O'Neil, Joyce Thompson, Curtis Young, and Helen Young from A Piece of the Action #39
  6. from STAG #18
  7. from Bellerophon v.2 n.2
  8. from The Clipper Trade Ship #11
  9. Jim Rondeau, from The Clipper Trade Ship #11