Mercedes Lackey - "The Dragoncon Report"

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Title: Mercedes Lackey - "The Dragoncon Report"
Creator: Mercedes Lackey
Date(s): July 1997
Medium: online
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External Links: Mercedes Lackey - "The Dragoncon Report"; archive link
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Mercedes Lackey - "The Dragoncon Report" was written by Mercedes Lackey and posted to several Usenet groups by Matt Roberds on July 9, 1997.

It was preceded by The Last Straw (Mercedes Lackey's rant).

The Con Report Includes

  • body armor
  • watching a Mike Tyson fight at a sports bar
  • Lackey and entourage were ideal clients, according to professional bodyguards
  • much parading
  • hiding under a pile of bodies
  • bad backs
  • an attack by "two men dressed in black convention-costumes"
  • some highly skilled martial arts moves
  • service elevators
  • gophers getting drinks
  • coaxing professionals to eat
  • bodyguards "seamlessly" getting along
  • breach of contract
  • a midnight reading for twenty-five people
  • suspicious characters
  • bird-sitters
  • handcuffs
  • a basketball-sized injury
  • a mysterious blackout
  • a bodyguard having a litter of kittens

Introduction by Matt Roberds

The following was written by Mercedes Lackey. I am posting it for her because she does not have direct Internet access. Yes, I am the same person who posted "The Last Straw" for her, and also the same person who posted the "Events at Dragoncon from a primary source" [1] post written by Pony White, a member of the team here at High Flight. Some of you may have seen me at DragonCon, as I was often with Pony, Mercedes, Larry, and their professional bodyguards, or Mark Shepherd. If you have questions about this post you can get in touch with Mercedes or Larry Dixon via snail mail at...

Excerpts from Lackey's Con Report

As some of you may know, Larry and I have been the subjects of---well, there's no better way to put this---a death threat.

This has been ongoing from January, when we first learned of this and the stated target date of this threat corresponded very closely with the date of DragonCon, which we were scheduled to attend. When the threat became even more serious, I tried to cancel our appearance at that time, and later attempted to do so again, but was talked out of canceling both times.

At the time we scheduled our appearance at the extreme urging of [Dragon*Con co-founder] Ed Kramer we were promised the following: first class air (my back can't take coach seats anymore), a room for Larry and myself, a second room (adjoining and with a connecting door) for our own nonprofessional bodyguard and Mark Shepherd to share---the rooms to be on a limited-access floor, and a speaking fee to cover the expenses of a bird-sitter and the airfare and meals of the bodyguard. This was witnessed by Marilyn Morey, head of the Queen's Own track, and later verified in writing from Ed Kramer.

At the time I attempted to cancel, I was assured that not only would all these things be taken care of, but that we would always be traveling by service passages and freight elevators between panels and would not have to walk out in the open on the street, and that further, a professional protection service would be hired for us. Ed Kramer was also putting a great deal of pressure on Marilyn Morey (at a time when her mother was dying in intensive care) to get us to agree not to cancel. Both because of those assurances and to relieve Marilyn of this pressure, I agreed. I was assured that the room arrangements would definitely be as promised, two adjoining rooms sharing a door on a limited access floor.
When we arrived at DragonCon on Wednesday night, with Mark, Pony White our own guard, and Matt Roberds our gopher, we discovered we had been assigned to two rooms separated by a third room, on a completely open floor at the Westin. Further, the service elevator opened directly across from our room. If anyone wanted to sneak in via the service elevator and get into the room, he could do so virtually without being seen by anyone, and get away without being caught!
On Thursday, the professional bodyguard met with us and just about had a litter of kittens when he saw the room arrangement. We had a panel to attend---and had to walk openly through the city streets to get to it, another touch the professional was not pleased with. Once at the Inforum, we had to parade openly through that building rather than taking service corridors as had been promised, and he was even more annoyed. He set us up at our panel, while Ops was informed that the room arrangement was unacceptable from a security standpoint. Meanwhile, the pro ordered us to send Matt Roberds out on any errands we had---we were NOT to go parading out through the convention except when we had to go to panels, arrive, or leave. We were also not to linger after any panels to talk to people or sign things, as this would make a good place for someone to target us.
We then went through three hours of nightmare, as he explained the kind of setup we HAD TO HAVE for the sake of safety, and the staff tried to arrange it, only to be thwarted time after time because Ed Kramer wasn't around to approve it. Now, we had all been in body armor since 10 that morning; we were tired, overheated, and had nowhere to go to even take the stuff off, and our last meal had been at 11 am. By seven we were miserable. Wearing body-armor is a lot like wearing six girdles, a corset, and some football plates; it pinches and bruises, even if it is perfectly fitted, and it is horribly hot. That's the state we were in, as the clock headed towards 8 pm and our last event of Thursday.

At this point Larry took the phone and told Ed Kramer that his so-called offer was far too little, too late; that he was in breach of contract, and that we were no longer affiliated with DragonCon. We turned in all DragonCon materials and went to our last Queen's Own function of the day. Following this, we spent five minutes on the phone and got exactly what we needed---but out of our own pockets, which we frankly couldn't really afford. We've had devastating losses from a fire that destroyed Larry's studio, and our spare money goes into bird-rehab and supporting an underfunded volunteer fire department. We moved into our new arrangements, and returned for the QO midnight reading.

From then on, we attended QO functions only----functions coordinated and arranged by Marilyn Morey, who made everything run with perfect smoothness. These functions were open to all members of DragonCon, but QO attendees were given preference when---as happened at every one of our panels----there were too many people for the room. The only functions restricted were the midnight readings----they were restricted to 25 people, chosen by random drawing, because that was all the room would hold---and the dinner, which had been by reservation only. Everything else was always open to non-QO attendees.

The professional bodyguards were wonderful, cool and resourceful and a lot of fun to be around. They gave us the accolade of telling us that we were a couple of their best clients, since we always did what they told us to without an argument. Poor Matt deserves another accolade, as he ran back and forth with drinks, food, and packages all three remaining days without a complaint. Pony also deserves high points, fitting seamlessly in with the professionals. The additional security provided by the QO volunteers (we never saw a a single moment of coverage from DragonCon security personel) is also greatly appreciated.

Everything went smoothly until the last signing on Saturday night. We had just about finished the signing when we had---as the pros so gracefully put it---an "incident." A half-dozen suspicious characters had been in and out of the room during the signing----watching the security, and NOT waiting to get anything signed. As the last couple of people got autographs, a couple QO staff were breaking things down, and with no one anywhere near the light switches---the lights suddenly went out in the room. It was a very tense moment until the QO staff got the lights back on, most of which, for Larry and me, was spent under a pile of sheltering bodies! Once the lights were on, the pros were taking no chances, they hustled us out and to a safe room. We still do not know who caused the lights to go out, or why they did so.

After we relaxed a little, the two pros, Larry, Pony, a QO volunteer, and myself all went to a sports-bar to watch the Tyson fight---and I finally got the pros to EAT something! They'd spent most of the day being so "on the job" that I don't think they'd gotten more than a bite or two between them, even in restaurants. At last (after three days in body-armor and one near-cardiac-arrest) we finished all the panels on Sunday and took the pros off for a pizza-party with the QO staff. Everybody thought the pros were great, and they had a fabulous time. Both of them came with us as far as our hotel; the first went on home, while the second accompanied us all the way to the jetway to the plane at the airport. He, I am told, returned to the party for a last couple of slices of pizza and a very-well-earned drink.

But it seems that our drama wasn't over yet, because as Pony left the party at about 12:30 pm, he was approached in the Hyatt lobby by two men dressed in black convention-costumes. One asked if he was "Pony", and when he acknowledged that he was, the second man grabbed and held him while the first took a walking-stick and tried to beat him up with it. This was, by the way, in full sight of several witnesses. Fortunately, Pony was still in his body-armor, and he is highly skilled at martial arts. He only took one blow before getting free and damaging both of his attackers; the man who was holding him fled, but he managed to down the one with the stick and handcuffed him to the railing until the police came. His attacker was taken to jail---this is also a matter of public record that can be verified---on assualt charges.

Pony got two cracked ribs, a bruised area about the size of a basketball, but no further damage as the body-armor absorbed most of the blow. We have no further information about his assailant at this time, but it would certainly appear that Pony took the hit that was meant for us, which only the presence of Pony, two professionals and several volunteers saved us from. So much for our being paranoid, and I think we were very lucky to have been in the hands of real pros instead of DragonCon. If it had been left up to Ed Kramer and DragonCon, odds are we'd have been hurt or dead before Sunday.

Fan Comments

Fan Comments to the Post Itself: alt.fandom.cons (1997)

Read at alt.fandom.cons: Mercedes Lackey - "The Dragoncon Report"; archive link first page; archive link second page; archive link third page; archive link fourth page; archive link fifth page

Some topics discussed:

  • the apparent non-existence of any police reports or other proof the attack on Pony White occurred
  • the use of a public con for private events
  • conspiracy theories
  • both Ed Kramer (con chairperson) and Morgan Morey (fan in charge of Queen's Own programming) respond
  • detailed discussion of money and compensation
  • defamation of character, damaging false accusations
  • much more
[Ed Dravecky III]:

A couple of odd notes in this report from Mercedes Lackey. And while I was not at D*C a few things struck me thusly... Oh, btw, I've snipped her post to ribbons to save space but the original should still be on your newsspool to get the full story. Again, I have no connection with any con east of the Mississippi.

[snipped]

This sounds like Lackey is accusing Kramer of using Morey's mental state against her. This would not only require Kramer to be a heartless bastard (which he, in my experience, is not) and for him to know (somehow) the medical condition of Morey's mother. It sounds like Lackey is using this cheap shot at Kramer to gain sympathy for her position even though Lackey was the one (as she states) trying to get out of her previous commitment. Very odd.

[snipped]

> > We had a panel to attend---and had to walk openly through the city streets to get to it, another touch the professional was not pleased with.

I am shocked--shocked--to read that there are no taxis to be hired in the entire Atlanta area! And to read that the Inforum is not a hotel! And that Lackey used the word "parade" twice in this paragraph in reference to her walking amongst the members of the convention!

> > We were also not to linger after any panels to talk to people or sign things, as this would make a good place for someone to target us.

Gee, sounds like a lot of fun for the Lackey fans.

> > The only functions restricted were the midnight readings----they were restricted to 25 people, chosen by random drawing, because that was all the room would hold---and the dinner, which had been by reservation only. Everything else was always open to non-QO attendees.

Did I read this paragraph correctly? There was a reading by an author popular enough to induce D*C to fly her and several companions across the country, put her up in a hotel room, and pay a "speaking fee" AND hire professional bodyguards...and it was put in a room that can hold 25 people? The hell?!? I'm trying to imagine a function space SMALL enough to hold only 25 fans. What would you use that for the rest of the day, panels on "Why I Loved 'Earth 2'?" or "Douglas Adams' 'Mostly Harmless': The Best of the Hitchhiker Books"? My mind is currently boggled.

[snipped]

> > After we relaxed a little, the two pros, Larry, Pony, a QO volunteer, and myself all went to a sports-bar to watch the Tyson fight---and I finally got the pros to EAT something!

Pretend you're a famous person. You're worried about security and (gasp!) walking a block or three of the streets of Atlanta while surrounded by security. You feel hungry so you...leave the convention center! go to a public bar! with a fight on the tube! and distract your bodyguards! Nifty.

> > But it seems that our drama wasn't over yet, because as Pony left the party at about 12:30 pm, he was approached in the Hyatt lobby by two men dressed in black convention-costumes.

It looks like "drama" is the correct word here. And I know that Southern fandom is supposedly different from other areas, but when were we assigned official "convention-costumes"? And with the nature of the injuries to Pony, is this a case for real names on badges? (Oh, great, not THAT debate, too!)

[snipped]

> > If it had been left up to Ed Kramer and DragonCon, odds are we'd have been hurt or dead before Sunday.

Am I missing something in this very "dramatic" accounting? D*C hired bodyguards, made very special accomodations for Lackey, screwed up the hotel thing a bit [by] changing hotels in the middle of an 18,000 person con seems to invite screwing things up, and got her safely to the jet without incident. It sounds like everything was okay until Pony (who is not Lackey but probably should have been on the plane with her if he was in fact her "non-professional" bodyguard) got attacked.

Lackey was not hurt. Lackey is not dead. Lackey is pissed at Ed Kramer for a variety of reasons both fair and unfair. Maybe now would be a good time for Roland to invite her to MOC?  :>
[Bill Steinen]:

I managed to catch one of her panels and thoroughly enjoyed it. As far as I can tell this whole situation boils down to two things:

1) If the reports of misunderstandings and whatnot with the DragonCon staff are true they need to take a serious look at whatever procedures they have regarding guests with security needs/problems and revise them before next year.

2) If Ms. Lackey is really in danger (and I have no reason to believe she isn't, unfortunately) she should probably curtail her convention appearances until the situation is resolved or cools down a good bit. It was nice of her to come out and take part in the convention, but she won't be doing her fans, herself, or the conventions a favor if she gets injured. At least not unless she does the next durn Serrated Edge book first... :) Seriously, I'd hate to see her putting herself in danger just for something like a con. I'd hate to see her have to pull a Salmon Rushidie, though. What a lousy situation.
[John Tackett]:

Just a note on the "MERCEDES LACKEY REPORT"

As for trying to provide proper security, Ms. Lackey failed to note that my driver/staff, sent to pick up Ms. Lackey and Mr. Dixon, was met at the arrival gate by her security people. Knowing that there had been threats, he refused to leave until Ms. Lackey herself gave the OK. Notice how this incident was not mentioned in her report. We were aware of her problems in transportation and did our best to accomodate them. She never mentioned to anyone on the DC VIP staff that she would like to have a vehicle move here from the hotel to the convention center.Had she done so, we would have accomodated her, as I had to with another guest of the con.(Or at least had a cab hailed at the hotel to take her to the con site, 2 blocks away. I would have reimbursed her, as I did for numerous other guest. But then again, she never contacted VIP/Transportation for assistance.)

Also this attack on Pony... What the hell does it have to do with Ms. Lackey. He could have just been a victim of random crime. It happens!! This is Atlanta.. which according to the FBI has a high crime rate. Nothing said has lead me to believe this was a direct, or indirect, attack toward Ms. Lackey and or her party. BTW, what the hell is a convention costume. Some one please explain that one. There is no "Official D*C dress code!"

As for the private signing. Seems a bit snobness to have a private/closed function at a open to the public con. In a room the con paid for. (Saturday 7PM Conference room 1. Not in the program book.) Glad she likes her fans, but what about those who "just discovered" her work. Perhaps they would enjoy meeting here close up. Just a personal observation.

Also another personal note... Mr. Davies attended the con with 5 broken ribs, yet he did not complain. Dave Prowse had hip surgery just 5 days prior to the con, yet he made it and had a great time.

Just my 2 cents worth

John Tackett, Director Of Transportation - Dragon*Con
[Sphere Publisher]: Of course it wasn't a RANDOM HIT. It was one of these nutty "guardian" people who think that Mercedes and the whole crew are out to destroy the world with evil. These are fans of Mercedes who think that by killing her, they are saving her. Don't you get it? They are nuts. We are dealing with very sick people!
[Tal Greywolf, Lackey's oft-online spokesperson]:

A few observations from the sideline here. First off, I did NOT attend DragonCon. This was not because I did not wish to go, far from it. But RL work and RL moves being what they are, the money was not there for a trip to Atlanta.

That having been said, I am somewhat surprised and appaled at the rather defensive tone being taken by the committee staff of DragonCon concerning what (to my eyes) were very serious breaches of security and a very real lack of respect towards taking the threats against Mercedes Lackey as a real threat. Rather than hearing any kind of apologies, or anything that sounds like 'we're sorry this happened, we are going to take steps that it doesn't happen again to another guest of the con' I'm seeing in these postings both denial and disrespect. Denial that there was a threat to Mercedes Lackey (a threat that I know is a fact) and disrespect for those who attempted to provide some protection to her. Certainly there are legal ramifications that could be pursued, but that is neither my jurisdiction nor those of anyone else here.

What is important to understand is that an individual attended a convention expecting certain levels of protection to be met. They apparently were not from the information I have seem so far. Anyone who had a threat against their life would understandably be upset and angry at the folks running the convention, particularly when said folks had this information months in advance. Either they viewed the request and the threat as being blown out of proportion (that certainly was not the case given the events that occurred) or were merely ignored as being expected of a 'prima dona' (which Mercedes Lackey most certainly is NOT).

To my eyes, the need for a professional bodyguard during the con was evidence that if the con committee would not take the threat seriously, then Mercedes Lackey was well within her rights to have. Our fandom is no longer merely a group of folks with similar interests; there are individuals who have taken lifestyles based on works and try to live that way. And if they threaten another person, those threats should be taken quite seriously.

Given the choice of who to believe here, I must base it on the evidence at hand. So far, given that evidence, I have to say that I take the word of Mercedes Lackey and those in her party over the words posted from the con committee. DragonCon's personnel have not justified their actions in this, nor have they shown that they took the threat to Mercedes Lackey seriously. The results, so far, indicate that they should have, and should be held responsible for those actions.

There will be those who'll probably try to twist around what I have said here, but I speak only for myself. I have been around in fandom for the last 24 years now, having attended many a convention throughout the midwest and south central areas of this country along with the occasional major convention. I have worked conventions in the past from gopher to security myself to projectionist, so I do know how conventions run.

One of these days there WILL be an attack on a professional at a convention. It is only a matter of time. We (meaning those who run the conventions) cannot continue doing business the way it is done now, or was done in the past. Protection for the pros will have to become a necessary part of the business, if anything to protect not only the professional but the convention itself from liability.
[Nick]:

OK -- this whole little soap opera seemed amusing, even by _this_ newsgroup's standards, so I went to the above-mentioned web site and read the two articles. Also searched DejaNews and read a couple of posts my server never got.

All I can say is whoever Mercedes Lackey is [and I haven't had time for much fiction reading the last twenty years or so, so forgive me], I hope her fiction is better edited than the convoluted rant passing for writing posted at the web site noted above, or her account of her problems at D*C posted for her to Usenet.

She's apparently proud of the fact that she writes only to make money -- I won't comment further on that aspect, I 'spose she's entitled to do whatever she wants for money, it's free country. I just couldn't imagine anyone paying money for writing that bad!

Instead of threats on her life, real or imagined, I should think she'd be in greater fear of Editors everywhere!

YMMV and assume the generous use of Emoticons.
[Doug Berry]:

OK, speaking as a trained sniper and one-time bodyguard, let me say that if Mercedes Lackey had a serious problem with a group trying to kill her she would be dead. No matter how good you and your people are, you can't stop someone from getting close with a .32 and blowing off 8 rounds before you can react.

That said, I have to wonder.. with all I'm reading about this, I can't help but wonder how credible a threat there was. After all, normally when someone is the target of a murder plot, the local police will assign an escort. This is very true when the person is a public figure of any sort. Also, the posted actions taken by the Lackey party showed a rather cavalier attitude.. staying in a room where meanacing persons keep popping in and out? Going to a crowded bar during a heavyweight title fight? These are not the actions of someone who is fearful of her life. I've previously commented on the actions of the so-called bodyguards.. sounds like they didn't take the job seriously.
Ed Kramer, chairperson for Dragon*Con]:

According to our confirmation letter of July 18, 1996:

"Thanks again for accepting our invitation as Special Guests at Dragon Con '97, June 26-29, 1997. As agreed, we will provide you with first class round-trip air transportation to Atlanta International Airport, executive transportation to and from the Hotel, room accommodations and meals at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Convention Memberships, and Banquet Tickets. We will also provide a $1,000 stipend, in advance, to provide for air transportation, meals, and additional expenses for your personal security assistant that will be traveling with you. We will also provide an adjoining hotel room for your personal security assistant. In addition, we will provide additional security personnel (approved in advance by your personal security assistant) to provide for time off-shift."

At the time of this confirmation, the Hyatt Regency Atlanta was our only main convention hotel. It has keyed floors, however, it is located 2.5 blocks from the Inforum Convention Center when the Queen's Own Track would take place. In January, I had a very positive conversation with Misty and Larry's live-in bodyguard (who would share his room with Mark Shepherd). We discussed the distance to the Hyatt and our new hotel, the Westin Peachtree Plaza, which adjoined the Inforum Convention Center via climate controlled walkways. He understood the Westin had no locked floors, and chose that venue for Misty and Larry to stay in as opposed to either walking on the street or waiting for a transport back and forth each day.

In May, I received a phone call from Harlan Ellison with Misty and Larry's concerns and called them personally. At this point, the bodyguard I had spoken to earlier was no longer with them. We discussed that Dragon Con would contract a bodyguard locally for them instead, that would meet them at their room in the morning, and deliver them back there at night. The next day, I received a cancellation note.

I called Morgan Morey, to let her know of the situation -- it was her programming track, our liaison to Queen's Own, and the person that initially arranged for Misty and Larry's appearance to begin with. There was never any pressure put on Morgan by me, however, Misty and Larry's cancellation, according to Morgan, would put a great deal of pressure on her, as many Queen's Own members had already made travel arrangements. Morgan said she had little influence over Misty and Larry's decisions; I told her not to worry and left it at that.

[snipped]

At all times, Dragon Con went far above and beyond what is generally expected from a convention. This is a practice which we try to apply to all aspects of the convention, but especially to our presenters.

A Mr. Pony White of High Flight Personal Security arrived with Misty and Larry on Wednesday in Atlanta. At no time did we, or StarGuard, have any knowledge of another attending security guard. Not that this was a problem, mind you, however our Guest Services staff did not assure adjoining rooms upon check-in at the Westin, as this was no longer necessary given the knowledge at hand. If this had been a known problem at the time, it would have been addressed immediately. Please note that by Wednesday evening, only half of the attendees staying at the convention hotels had arrived, by Thursday morning, all convention hotels would be booked to capacity.

Please note that throughout the convention I carried both a cell phone which rang from my home number and a convention radio. Our Guest Services office (open nearly 24 hours a day) is empowered to handle room change requests like this even without my knowledge or verbal approval (as they did in the case of Clive Barker, also staying at the Westin. In addition, the Westin concierge could have also made this change (or could have called me directly if there had been a problem).

[much about bodyguards and phones calls snipped]

From this point on, we had no clue as to where Misty and Larry were staying, what their arrangements were or how they were to either enter or leave the building (although Mike Dillson, our Director of Security, had arranged a clear passage from the parking deck to the Queen's Own room via back passages). Throughout the remainder of the weekend, all Dragon Con programs and autograph sessions scheduled (outside of Queen's Own) were missed.

We were unaware of the incident involving Pony White until your report and would like to learn more about it, and the fans responsible for such a heinous act. Dragon Con is indeed relieved that Pony is doing okay.

The Hyatt Regency Atlanta, and their Security Staff, are also anxious to learn more about this as well, as they, too, were unaware of the incident which occurred in their lobby. The Atlanta Police Department is presently researching evidence of the incident as well.
[Peter W. Cashman]: I was informed earlier today that, not only does the Hyatt not have a record of this incident, the Atlanta Police don't either. I'd very much like to see a copy of the incident report from either source.
[Ed Kramer, convention chairperson]: I've just received confirmation from the Atlanta Police that no "911"

calls for assistance were made relative to the incident in question. There are only three incidents recorded during this timeframe in the Police zone which the Hyatt Regency Atlanta is located: a motor vehicle stop resulting in an arrest, a trespassing charge, and a theft...

StarGuard's investigation of alleged "assault" researched through Atlanta Police Department Officer John Brown confirms that there is no record or complaint involving a Shawn Loweth (aka "Pony White"). Additionally, there were no arrests, hearings, or releases involving an assault charge originated at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta (or anywhere else in the zone, for that matter) at or near the times in question.

This information is consistent with another APD investigation that we conducted and posted on July 12.

During the time period of the alleged "assault," the Hyatt Regency Atlanta also confirms that they were in employment of two uniformed Atlanta Police Department officers -- neither which has any knowledge of any of the alleged incidents in question..
[Stevens R. Miller]:

I've been in contact with sf and, to a lesser degree, fandom, for most of my life. For the last five years, though, I've also been a sole-practitioner attorney. I have noticed, despite my own personal predisposition not to view people in psychobabbling terms, that there is often a striking correlation among the clients I've had, who later turn out to be, uh..., somewhat eccentric.

Some of those features have been:

1. They use the word "harassment" a great deal.
2. Money is always a problem.
3. Someone is always making undocumented threats against them.
4. Martial arts often find a way to get involved.
5. They frequently use the phrase, "I can't tell you why."
6. The FBI has been notified of something or other.
7. Their friends are gold; everyone else is crud.
8. It's rarely clear what they do for a living.
9. Paying my fee is accompanied by sobbing and epithets.
10. Asymptomatic health problems become acute on demand.
Anyone scoring five-or-more on the above list has always turned out to be another client I deeply regret having taken. If I'd had your "nerd alert" sensor a few years ago, I might have avoided a number of rations of grief I was served. On the other hand, it's been an instructive phase of my life, and I find that the above list--or one somewhat like it--can be a useful guide in evaluating other potential interpersonal contacts. YMMV.
[Stevens R. Miller]:

I've heard from pony today, and just wanted to say that he's ended up > with two fractured ribs for his trouble. And, the guy went to court, > and they let him off with 'time served,' meaning he spent the night in > jail and is now walking the streets again. Where did this arraignment take place? The minutes of the proceedings should be available from the court reporter, for about a hundred bucks. The charges and disposition are in the public record, with the defendant's name, so that info will be free.

I can tell you that in Manhattan, where we have one of the busiest criminal court systems in the world, a physical assault resulting in broken bones would not be disposed at arraignment over the objections of the victim. Other systems, moving at a more relaxed pace, often proceed against the defendant even when the victim refuses to cooperate.

Of course, if all parties agree to a plea bargain, that's the end of the case. Did that happen here? If so, the conviction will still be a part of the public record.
[Kelly Lockhart]:

No incident report from con security, hotel security, the Atlanta Police Department, and a check of 911 calls from that area during that time also showed nothing even remotely connected to the "incident" Misty describes.

Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...
[Ruth Saunders]:

were I in the position of the organisers of a convention who find out that one of my guests was subject to threats bad enough to be taken seriously by law enforcers, I wouldn't be trying to persuade them to come, I'd be trying to persuade them *not* to come! Having said that, losing your headline guest is a major pain in the neck and I can understand why the Dragon*Con organisers would want to avoid that.

Conventions I've been involved with have had a policy of trying to find out if the guests we invite are subject to the attentions of so-called stalkers, mainly so that if said stalkers apply for a membership, we can refuse them. The last convention I was involved with had a written policy that we would try to do this, but the guests wouldn't divulge names - if the guest won't co-operate, what are convention organisers to do? :-)
[Scott Schuler]:

Obviously someone is lying through their teeth. I choose to believe the accounts of Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon, Pony and the rest of the High Fligh staff. I truly find it hard to believe that people are not only questioing the authenticity of Pony White's injuries, but the nature of the threats themselves. Many of the accounts posted here by myself, and others have been distorted beyond recognition. When I start seeing posts from people whom I respect, parroting these distortions as fact, it is time for me to bow out of this news group. No, I am not calling the FBI, The Atlanta Police Department to verify anything. The funny thing is that I don't believe the Dragoncon staff have attempted to either. Furthermore, just as they don't accept the words of myself and other posters, I don't believe theirs.

I will take this one step further, logically, if I made up a ficticious police case number, or mentioned a fake FBI name, you would have no way of knowing the truth. Quid Pro Quo, I have no way of knowing that you have checked with the Hyatt staff, or the Atlanta Police Department.
[Doug Berry]: So the Hyatt staff, the Atlanta PD, and all of Dragoncon are involved in a Conspiracy against Mercedes Lackey... ... The police do not investigate an assult and battery without assigning a case number, and the investigating officer will give the victim his business card. When the incident happens at an event like a convention or trade show, the police will contact the facility manager and the organizers of the event in their search for witnesses. Evidently, the Atlanta PD did none of this.. either they are a collection of Keystone Kops who haven't mastered the most basic of police procedures, or there is something wrong with the story.
[Morgan Morey, Queen's Own contact]:

Regarding the "alleged" attack on Pony White. I, personally, knew nothing about this until Tuesday, 02 July. I have no proof EITHER WAY, and choose not to discuss it. I don't have the facts from either side; all I have is say-so from both, and if there's an investigation into this, then I don't think it should be bandied across the 'Net. Besides, it's NOT my business. Pony is a personal friend, and I regret he was injured. That's all I'm saying on it.

The Bodyguards provided by D*Con were professionals. It was my understanding D*Con only provided ONE Star-Guard, and that Vince was paying the second man from his own pocket. I was TOLD (and this was not confirmed by me; nor will it be, as it's simply none of my business) the second guard was paid for by Misty. I do know that both men were courteous and professional in all their dealins with me and my staff, as well as the fans. Since my room was readily available, it was used as a "staging area". And, yes, it was checked inside and out every time Misty was in there. We didn't enter --- not even ME, whose room it was --- went inside until Vince or John gave the "okay." Security was handled quite well by these two men, and I applaud them for a job well done, and give credit to D*Con for retaining two of the most professional bodyguards I've ever encountered.

And, to squelch a rumor ... No bodyguard quit. Misty did NOT use them as "gofers" --- in fact, we have pictures of Misty serving THEM pizza and cokes. <G>

I'm not here to flame anyone. I'm only here to tell the facts. The "truth," so to speak. The truth *I* know, from my personal observances and experiences. I made up the QOC programming track, scheduled the panels to enhance Misty's convention panels. Sadly, this didn't work the way I'd hoped. I really regret the fact that what was originally scheduled as special "perks" for QOC attendees has been misdirected as a means to isolate Misty from her fans. This was NEVER the intention.

Sigh. My only comment on D*Con is: "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times."

I'll answer questions, but I won't try to justify anything said or done by anyone other than myself. I am responsible for myself, only, and I sincerely hope I've managed to clear up SOME misconceptions --- at least about QOC and my own involvement in D*Con.
[Ed Dravecky III]:

While I commend the QOC for putting up $500 towards Ms. Lackey's appearance, I must question the assertion that tihs is "half" of what it must have cost to bring her to Dragon*Con. Didn't D*C provide multiple first-class airfares, two hotel rooms, a pair of professional bodyguards, per diem for her "non-professional" bodyguard, AND the $1000 "speaking fee"?

If I were running a con (which, thankfully, I am not at the moment) I would be upset if a major guest that cost me (and the fans buying the memberships) quite a bit of money and time decided at the last second to restrict herself to a *private* function room *away* from the main convention that *limited* attendance to 25-35 people.

Perhaps, in the future, Ms. Lackey's fan should host as "Queen's Own Convention" at some secure location and shoulder all the costs themselves. I have no doubt that THIS would prove very instructive to all concerned. I would be VERY interested to read *those* con reports.
[Morgan Morey, responding to Ed Dravecky III]:

[A Mercedes Lackey convention] is already in the works. It was, quite bluntly, my concept from the beginning, and the reason for the first three QOCs. Ed Kramer knew this, and at one time, even offered assistance to me in negotiating with hotels in Orlando. (Under the circumstances, I do not plan to hold him to this offer. <G>) Piggy-backing with Dragon*Con was so I could learn aspects of putting on conventions with which I was unfamiliar --- i.e., setting up programming, workshops, etc. (Previously, I'd worked in registration, set up, con ops and elsewhere in small, local cons.) It was ever my intention to take QOC "out on its own," a fact which was made clear from the beginning when I first spoke with Ed at Oasis in Orlando in 1994, and he suggested a Lackey track of fan programming.

Details for the Lackey convention are still in the planning stages, but this is NOT something which came up after this year's D*Con. It came up about 6 years ago on GEnie, and when the first one fell through, many of us decided we'd wait a few years, then piggy-back with a large con, and learn what we could. Then we'd try again. That's the history of QOC in a nutshell, but never was it intended to be anything more than what it was advertised as --- a place where fans of Misty could meet, enjoy some panels, have fun, etc. In this respect, I consider QOC a success, and hope I can do as well as an independent convention as we have done at D*Con. And, thanks to Ed and D*Con, I have learned a lot.

A Fan's Comment (1997)

From Thoughts on the whole Mercedes Lackey thing (1997):

What Happened at Dragon*Con

In view of the foregoing, it was with mixed feelings that I heard Misty might be attending Dragon*Con in 1997. My advice to Ed Kramer and Pat Henry? "Get EVERYTHING in writing beforehand."

They did, but the results were....well, fascinating.

Misty has apparently received some death-threats from a group of readers based in Virginia, at Virginia Tech, and because of this, she placed some strictures on her attendance at Dragon*Con. The exact text of the original agreement was placed on the newsgroup alt.fandom.cons by Ed, so I won't go deeply into it; she basically insisted that the con pay for, among other things, a bodyguard for her, hotel rooms on a secured floor, etc. A contract was executed. Meanwhile, Dragon*Con presented Misty's evidence regarding the death threat to law enforcement agencies, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; they declined to become involved citing a lack of evidence.

Then, not too long before the convention, and after we had advertised Misty's upcoming appearance in good faith, Ed got a FAX from Misty, cancelling her appearance. In Misty's words, the level of risk to them and to "uninformed fans" nearby was too great.

Some hasty phone calls resulted. One was to Harlan Ellison, who was able to convince Misty not to cancel out and deprive her fans of her appearance at the con (since Dragon*Con had already hosted a Misty-related track of programming for several years, many of her fans had made elaborate and expensive plans to attend). Two cheers for Harlan and Misty.

Ed has already gone into the mechanics of what happened at the convention. A series of misunderstandings caused in part by Misty's release of her "nonprofessional" bodyguard (with whom the original security agreement was struck), rooms that weren't up to Misty's new requirements for security (across from a service elevator that could be used by assassins), etc. A request to have the thronged public areas of the convention center cleared whenever Misty had to walk through was declined by Dragon*Con security. Misty and Larry continued to wear body-armor at all times, though. The convention paid for bodyguard service from StarGuard, a local firm specializing in such operations, and continued to do so even after Misty cancelled her public appearances at the con.

--Yes, in view of all the problems getting "secured" hotel rooms for her and her entourage, Misty elected to turn in her badge and not do public appearances or autographings at the con (only events in her smaller fan-club room). Needless to say, quite a few fans, not knowing that Misty was still appearing at her fan club room, or not knowing that the room wasn't just for club members, were a bit miffed.

Reports have surfaced on alt.fandom.cons that, late on Saturday night, Misty's bring-along "nonprofessional" bodyguard, Pony White (not his real name), was allegedly approached in the Hyatt lobby by two gentlemen wearing all-black "convention costumes" who allegedly started beating him with sticks after asking him if he was Pony White. The report then says that Pony was able to fight off his attackers after suffering only a few bruised ribs through his Kevlar body armor, heroically shackling one to a railing (the other alleged perp made good his escape). The City of Atlanta Police were then called, so the story goes, and supposedly took the mysterious assailant to jail. Whew, judging from these allegations it would seem that Misty's fears of death-threats and such were well-warranted, right?

Not exactly...…

Statements by Pony White the Bodyguard (1997)

From a fan's reposting of a message from Pony White, the bodyguard who encountered the ninjas [2]

The following was written by Pony White, another person here at High Flight, who worked security for Misty and Larry at DragonCon. You can respond to this email address and I will forward it to Pony; you can also reach us by snail-mail at PO Box 8309, Tulsa OK 74101, USA. This article will also be posted on the Firebird web site http://www.usa.net/firebird/ and the Queen's Own/Arrows Online area on AOL. Thank you.

Start of message from Pony White

There have been a lot of rumors flying around about the way things were done at Dragon*Con. This, however, is not a rumor and is coming from Misty and Larry's personal bodyguard. At no point in time did they ever ask or order us to step and fetch for them. She did not make any of us angry, or more to the point, so angry that we walked away. What did occur was that the powers that be in the D*Con H.Q. had no clue as to what a real threat is. They were informed of the situation long in advance (that there was a security threat). There was also a contract that had certain provisions for Misty and Larry appearing at the con. The biggest malfunction, in my opinion, was Ed Kramer, who when advised of the mix-up with the rooms told us to check out of the rooms we were in and go to another hotel. Upon arrival the other hotel had no idea what we were talking about, which left us without rooms or a secure place for us to retire to, for hours. None of us could take a shower, a nap or get anything to eat. It has come to our attention that several other guests of honor have been treated with the same amount of contempt. After going without for several hours the decision was made to cut our losses and arrange things for ourselves. Within the span of fifteen minutes, we had all the agreed upon things in a hotel. This arrangement was handled by one of the bodyguards from Star Guards. *Fifteen minutes*, people! After waiting all day to see it handled like that just goes to show that D*con cares more about the money than the safety and comfort of their guests and fans.

The only stepping and fetching that was done for Misty and Larry was done by Matt and by volunteers. With their help those of us doing the guarding were able to effectively do our jobs. The fans that volunteered to help made the functions that we did attend possible. I think we all owe them a hand as they did a wonderful job. As for Star Guards they were the most professional people we dealt with. They are extremely good at what they do. I would suggest them to anyone needing bodyguards. They made Misty and Larry's well-being the priority. They also treated the fans as people. Not a problem.

Now before any rumor gets started about this I want to let everyone know that I was assaulted in the course of the weekend. Several fans saw this and there is no telling what you might hear. NO, I am not hurt to the point of needing hospitalization. I walked away with badly bruised ribs. Whatever the reason for the attack, they got more than they bargained for. It did end up involving the police, with one person arrested. I will be OK but you need to know about it to clear up the rumors that Misty was being overly paranoid. I have the bruised ribs to prove otherwise.

If there are any questions as to what happened, and you hear something check your sources. Remember that not all people have to play by the rules that the good guys do.

Thank you for your time and interest,

Pony White. [3]

Fan Comments: rec.arts.sf.fandom (1997)

[Alison Scott]: Ed Kramer says that the con doesn't pay appearance money/speaking fees for media guests. I must say I'm surprised by this news...

[Michael P. Kube-McDowell]: Well, now. We've seen from the Mercedes Lackey stuff much of the detail of the deal that D*C worked out with her. Although it didn't include a speaking fee, it did include a lot of careful inducements to encourage her to come, such as transportation for Pony White, an amount of money for parrot-sitting or some such, and so on.
Ed Kramer: I actually did not know of Pony White's existence until Thursday (a day after he arrived); we simply were never told. Misty had a live-in professional body guard. We offered to cover the expenses for him to attend as well. When they parted ways prior to the convention, we offered to take that expense money and hire a local professional bodyguard. Pony White appeared, we think, as their non-professional body who acted as their spokesperson on more than one occasion. He was also the victim of an alleged assault in the Hyatt's atrium lobby resulting in an arrest early Monday morning (which both the Hyatt and the Atlanta Police Department have no record of). Oh, and no parrot-sitting was involved (although I can think of a wonderful Python skit we could integrate right now). [4]

Fan Comments: rec.arts.sf.fandom (1999)

I took The Last Straw at face value as well, until I got the lowdown on D*C. It didn't seem improbable that Lackey had attracted a stalker -- all sorts of people you wouldn't expect have attracted stalkers (Stoney Musgrove had a stalker. Stoney Musgrove!) Nor did it seem completely improbable that a group of people might have fixated on her books to an unpleasant degree; it did happen to Anne Rice, after all.

However, after D*C, it became clear that events had a stink that was altogether familiar to people dealing with kooks on Usenet and off.

"The FBI is investigating, but I can't legally tell you any details" -- except in the case of national security cases, I've never seen an FBI case where you couldn't supply people with the name of the agent in charge of the case. The agent may not *tell* you anything, but you can talk to him or her.

The um, thoroughly paranoid worldview evident in Lackey's D*C report, where rather ordinary events like people wandering in and out of rooms and lights going out are taken as evidence of the Evil Conspiracy of Assassins.

The... I was nice and called it a 'fiction', but let's put it more plainly, the lie that Pony White was attacked by men wearing D*C badges, this lie being used to bolster all of the ridiculous behavior, and to smear Ed Kramer and D*C (not to mention the Hyatt.) I don't recall if it was Harlan Ellison or the Lackey camp that faxed the accusation so widely about the sf world, but Lackey was still maintaining the truth of it at the end of '97, so I suspect no followup apologies were faxed. Once again, the request for nice boring verifiable facts like the number of a police report, or the officer involved, or the docket number were met with silence or anger that the truth should be doubted.

When, the group of people having turned into one stalker, the assertion was made that the stalker had been arrested in kiddie porn charges and thus, implicitly, would no longer be a danger to Misty hurrah hurrah, once again boring boring verifiable things like a name or a docket number were not supplied under request.

The nicest interpretation is that Lackey had attracted to her people who were lying and fueling her paranoia. The nastiest is that she knew they were lies. Either way, despite D*C's detailed investigation -- they went down the level of talking to the Hyatt's physical plant people and determining that the only way the lights could have been turned off in that room was in the room itself or the basement, and if it was the master circuit in the basement they couldn't have been turned back on -- I never heard of apology or acknowledgement of error, and she was still publicly asserting in November the truth of the attack.

People will come to their own conclusions from the facts, but mine was that I didn't believe in her stalkers one bit, and that she was a nasty piece of work. [5]

Fan Comments: rec.arts.sf.fandom (2001)

All quotes are from Whatever happened to the Merc. Lackey stalkers?, comment at rec.arts.sf.fandom, October 7, 2001

In 2001, a fan asked:
[Shane Stezelberger]:

If this is a completely taboo subject, please call me on it.

But I am inordinately curious about the whole Mercedes Lackey soap opera, with the death threats and the alleged fisticuffs and the psycho true believers.

What exactly happened? Did the handcuffing incident at DragonCon actually occur? Was there really a Blacksburg Connection? Is there something intrinsic to her fiction that causes superfans to go nuts, or do all modern heroic fantasy authors suffer similar slings/arrows? *Did* any fans really go nuts?

Again, please ignore this if I am being rude. The Blacksburg angle intrigues me.
[Colette Reap added a quote and a link]:

The following excerpt, from an interview with eluki bes shahar, is taken from this website: http://connectionsjournal.com/files/archives/interviews/ekie.html

c - Who is stalking Mercedes Lackey - Christian weirdos or Pagan weirdos? Over-zealous fans?

e - Pseudo-Pagan wackos. It's pretty complicated. She produced a position statement about the stuff once, which is probably still somewhere out on the Net. But as near as I can figure it, the problem goes like this: somewhere out there are a bunch of people who think she was telling the flat-out literal truth about the Guardians of the Path. (Hint: she wasn't.) These people have decided that they themselves are Guardians of the Path. (Hint: they aren't) Next (and here is where I get hopelessly confused) they have decided that poor Misty is the leader of a "young Turks" party in the Guardians who are trying to overthrow the established order (Like she'd be spending all her time writing if she was that powerful a wizard). I'm not sure how they get from there to wanting to do her grievous bodily harm, but at DragonCon in Atlanta last year (which she attended) these people made a serious attempt on her and beat one of her bodyguards up pretty badly. Now she doesn't go to conventions. Period.

<end quote>

As far as I can tell, this interview took place in 1998. [6]
[ David T. Bilek]:

Except that the "attack" on one of her bodyguards ("Pony" White) has been pretty comprehensively demolished. No medical records, no police report, no court records, etc.

The available evidence, when I looked into it a year or two ago, all pointed to Lackey and some associates having some kind of paranoid fantasy. It all may still be around on google... there was a lot of discussion on alt.fandom.cons for one.
[Marilee J. Layman]: Didn't happen. We went quite thoroughly into this at the time, maybe in alt.fandom.cons rather than here, but there was no attempt on her and her bodyguard. I think her paranoia has taken over.
[Rick Keir]:

Read ["The Camel's Back" and "The Last Straw"] and judge for yourself. The letters blame, variously, deranged fans, pagans, former friends, and SCA household members, as well as an unnamed person involved in a custody case who we are told murdered his daughter, tried to kill his ex-wife, stalked Lackey and Dixon, and then committed suicide.

In a weird turn of events, the "Ask Misty" section of the site now asserts that there will be a new Diana Tregarde appearance in "Spirits White as Lightning", despite the people who think the guardians are real.

Go figure.
[Mike Weber]:

I know a number of people who subscribe fully to the Official ML version; some of them were at the DixieTrek and DragonCon where the alleged events allegedly eventuated.

I don't know anyone who actually Saw It; they're all quoting other fans or ML herself.
[Marilee J. Layman]: I suspect eluki is a friend of Misty's and believed what she said. There should be a long thread in DejaGoo about this, where people check police records and hotel security records, etc.

Further Statements by Lackey

Lackey's Statement: "The Camel's Back" (1997)

On November 22, 1997, Lackey wrote a message that stated that because of what they felt were personal threats at Dragon*Con and elsewhere, that they would no longer be attending conventions.

The message was called "The Camel's Back," and by this title, was a companion piece to the January 1997 message by Lackey called The Last Straw.

First of all, Larry and I would like to thank all of you who wrote or e-mailed supportive messages in response to “The Last Straw.” We really appreciated them, and it’s certainly nice to know you’re out there.

As an update, Larry and I will no longer be attending SF conventions, as the organizer of the last convention we attended evidently thought we were simply being hysterical. As a result, we were placed in an unsafe position and one of our people was attacked and hurt. Meanwhile the organizer of that convention denies all responsibility, and went so far as to accuse the person attacked of lying about the attack. Given that treatment, it isn’t worth it to us to take those risks anymore. We’re sorry that the fans have to suffer because of this.

However, it appears that the lunatics in question have found themselves a target nearer to home and are no longer obsessing about us. So for the moment, anyway, we are safe.

This is not to say that some other lunatic won’t come out of the woodwork and begin obessessing about us. The closer we approach to the year 2000, the more lunatics seem to be emerging. What we said in “The Last Straw” still goes; it is all too possible for people to be sucked in by a charistmatic, persuasive person with a good story. Be skeptical, be smart, be careful. We hope that none of you will be, and we will continue to create our FICTIONAL worlds for you to enjoy just as long as you keep reading them! [7] [8]

Lackey's Comments (2005)

In 2005, Lackey posted a question from a fan on her official website:
I'd also like to say that I hope the absolute idiots passing on death threats and such to you get caught and find their sorry butts in jail. I found a website just before and the GIT who was posting on it was saying horrible things about you and Mr. Dixon ­ saying you had staged an attack at some convention or other ­ Dragon*Con, apparently. Of course, being a very temperamental person that I am I immediately started to write a rather . . . defensive email to that person, and sent it to the Git after a close friend of mine (also one of your admirers) edited it for me, as I was not feeling too coherent at the time. Anyway, I just wanted to say that although there are people out there who doubt you, I think the majority of us hang on to your every word. [9]
Lackey's response was:

When it comes to the website you mention, I can only quote a Hungarian saying: "The eagle is not concerned about the gossip of the butterfly."

Or that lovely one that Marion ZImmer Bradley invented for Darkover: "If you listen to dogs barking you will go deaf without learning anything." [10]

Further Reading

References

  1. ^ archive link
  2. ^ Posted by Matt Roberds: "Newsgroups: alt.fandom.cons Date: 1997/07/09 Hello again! A few days ago, I posted this article in alt.books.m-lackey for Pony White, one of Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon's personal bodyguards. A somewhat edited version of this post has already been posted here -- because of this and some discussion on Mercedes' participation in Dragon*Con, I wanted to post the original, unedited version here. Thanks! -- Invisible Death Ninja Hordes vs Pony at Dragoncon!
  3. ^ Invisible Death Ninja Hordes vs Pony at Dragoncon!
  4. ^ comments at dragon con (my review in brief) (July 29, 1997)
  5. ^ Pushy Pros and Plush Ones, comment by Laura Burchard at rec.arts.sf.fandom, October 9, 1999
  6. ^ An Interview with eluki bes shahar
  7. ^ Mercedes Lackey: The Camel's Back, Archived version
  8. ^ The Camel’s Back – Mercedes Lackey, Archived version
  9. ^ Mercedes Lackey - The Official Website, Archived version
  10. ^ Mercedes Lackey - The Official Website, Archived version