New York Star Trek '76

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Star Trek Convention
Name: New York Star Trek '76
Dates: Jan 23-25, 1976
Frequency:
Location: at the New York Hilton at the Rockefeller Center in New York City
Type: for profit
Focus: Star Trek
Organization:
Founder: Lisa Boynton, president of Telos IV, Inc.
Founding Date:
URL:
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Caption for this negative and mocking 1976 article from the UK paper, "The Guardian," "Trekkie with antennae; embarrassing to the SF straights," an example of the worst of mundane and fansplaining reporting about fans. This article mentions the "New York Star Trek '76" con.

New York Star Trek '76 was a for-profit Star Trek con, the second one staged by Lisa Boynton. The first Boynton con was Star Trek Chicago.

In con reports, fans dubbed it "Disastercon," "Riotcon," and "Heartbreak Hotel."

This con, unlike the New York Star Trek conventions, was for profit and paid its guests to attend, making it more difficult for fan run conventions to compete with. This convention and its predecessor, Star Trek Chicago, were hailed by many fans as the end of the era of fan run conventions with actor guests.

The convention was scheduled a few weeks after Al Schuster's 1976 Star Trek convention and a few weeks before the Committee con also in New York. The timing was not accidental and cut into both convention's attendance. The organizer's focus on profits also rankled many fans:
"We were at the Commodore Hotel collating the hand-our bags for our February Con (Washington's Birthday weekend every year) while monitoring coverage on the news of the badly run BoyntonCon across town. Boynton was the first one to pay the stars to come -- and ruined it for everyone ever after."[1]

DisasterCon

New York Star Trek '76 was over-sold, and by many fans' accounts, a chaotic convention.

An estimated 20,000 to 50,000 fans showed up. A fan wrote that:
...in fannish circles has the name DISASTERCON. You may have heard of the con. It's the one Lisa Boyndon [sic] had run where 30,000 people showed up, and some 10,000 more were turned away because the hotel was too full. I was both a dealer and a security officer at that convention. Ever since then, everybody is talking about what kind of animals New Yorkers are. [2]

Similar Disasters

Speaking of Disasters: Did William Shatner Get a Pie in the Face?

From a fan in A Piece of the Action:
On stage, William Shatner had a pie thrown at him! (It missed!). [3]
From a fan in Warped Space:
Erin O. Mercy is a community name— the only prerequisite to writing an Erin O. Mercy story is that it must be well-written, funny, and end with someone getting hit in the face with a custard pie. Oh, and we had the idea before someone actually did hit Bill Shatner with a pie at the January 23-25, 1976 New York City con -- but we were innocent! [4]

Some Press Articles

Gallery of Flyers and Program Books

Click to see larger images

Fanwork Commentaries

A Fanzine Parody

A fanzine was published with cartoons illustrating the two disastrous conventions organized by Lisa Boynton. The zine, The New York and Chicago Strektaculars! is 27-pages in comic book about a gofer behind the scenes at two large "Strektacular" cons.

The narration and art are by Phil Foglio, with lyrics by Ann Passovoy and "ritzy lettering" by Doug Rice.

It is listed in Menagerie #10: "Phil Foglio reports in cartoons from behind the scenes at two of the biggest disasters Trek cons ever-Chicago 1975 and New York 1976. See even more than you bargained for."

The comic lists the following con report: "The New York Report, New York, 1976. "Live Coverage of the 1976 New York Star Trek Convention, with P. Foglio, the What Newz team."

And there's a sequence in which Lisa Boynton is named. (She authorized quiet polite wakeup calls for guests and loud raucous ones for the concom.) It ends with this section: "All in favor of this being the last Star Trek con we cover, say Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" "Aye!" [5]

Filks

Several filk songs were inspired by the event:
"...there are a pair of Disastercon songs, about the Chicago and New York (ESPECIALLY the New York) Star Trek conventions early in the history of the Dorsai Irregulars/Klingon Diplomatic Corps."[6]

Comments by a Fan Who Was Involved in Both of the Boynton Cons

Sharon Ferraro was the head of gofers at the first Boynton con. In early 1976, she had an explanation for her fellow fans regarding the problems of the first con in Chicago, and her decision to volunteer for the New York Con.

Dear Warped Spacers, Hi again fellow travelers, I know it's been a long time since you heard from me, but, though I am sorely tempted, I shall not go into the gory details justifying my repeated procrastination.

I feel that first and foremost I must make a few statements on the state of affairs of cons and specifically of that group of people in Chicago known as Telos 4 aka The Chicago Strektacular, As most of you know, I was the person who was conned into running the much maligned gofer squad— I was the one who relayed the thrilling news to the gofers that not all of them would be getting full refunds, I was the one who had the job of finding someone to run the dealer's room at the last minute— an area which officially I should have had nothing to do with. It was me with most of the others that got 4-6 hours of sleep a day and multiple sore spots from too many hours on the job— both physically and mentally. I mention this to show that if anyone felt less than kindly towards Telos 4 after the mess was over it was I, Especially after the Wall Street Journal article that reported a 5100,000 profit. My reactions to any mention or the Chicago con was acidic, to say the least.

Since then, because of many reasons— being accepted into the Dorsai, and several other reasons (including the drafting of a model gofer contract— "Burn me once— shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me) I had decided to work with the Tlelos 4 committee on their upcoming NYC con.

So there are two beliefs/rumors that I would like to quash and some additional "inside" info to pass on. First of all the convention did not make $100,000— through bad communications or, perhaps, a try for "good press" after the con, that figure showed up in WS13. The Chicago ST Spectacular LOST $10,000. No shit, gang. Secondly, the Telos 4 people see absolutely no reason to try to elbow in on other cons' territory. They are going to NYC because some of the,committee are familiar with the city. If they throw any other cons, they intend to go to cities that have never seen a Trekcon before. They have no intention of ever going near California!

I agree in spirit with Leslie Fish's remark that "The con was put together by two girls who had never run a con before". Not quite true. I would first of all substitute the word "woman" for girls. They had never run a oon before and because of the scale of their efforts they both shafted and got shafted on truly immense proportions. The kindest thing to say is that it was badly handled in almost every area. If you saw behind the scenes at least. If you were the average attendee— new to cons, drooling over seeing the full cast in the "chorus line" of the cast on stage and buying all sorts of strange nifty goodies in the dealer's room — it was a spectacular if only occasionally disquieting effort. If you had never been to a con before, the Conrad Hilton that weekend was heaven. If you had, there was a lot of room for disappointment. The committee were a group of friends who had never run a con before and who had only at tended one — CurCon.

The Telos 4 group has reformed, cut out the deadwood and leeches from the powers that be and realigned themselves in relation to fandom. The people they want to reach with their cons are the armchair fans— the ones who watch Trek but don't knew about or could care less about fandom. The Telos 4 people plan to have a lot more fan-orientated activity in NYC— included in their plans is a fan hospitality room— where fans can arrange to meet each other and where flyers can be set out for free. They have taken on fannish advisors to help them find their way around fandom. The new committee are people who ARE interested in fandom. They have taken their advisors' word and gone ahead with plans for simple things like the Hospitality room and name badges and such. And they may someday be bringing cons to areas that have never had them. They are even having a Fan Guest of Honor in NYC — Shirley Maiewski.

I suppose what I am trying to say is this: Give the new committee a second chance to not rip off fandom before writing them off completely. As to this type of con (of which there is only this group) escalating celebrity rates— sorry again, but it is the celebrities, their agents and their Guild that is escalating the rates. It is not a case of the committee making the star an offer they can't refuse. The star is making the committee an offer they can't refuse. The stars know they are the drawing cards and it's a seller's market. [7]

Convention Reports

1976

The prevailing mood of this con was Anger. There were huge crowds (estimated from 20,000 to 30,000) with inadequate crowd control provided people fainting, shoved against large plate glass windows. Both police and fire departments had to be called in to help with the situation. There were no program books or schedules for members, and the schedule as posted was rarely followed. Press coverage was enormous, but inadequate arrangements made for them....television coverage was also enormous, but mostly unfavorable. There were many more members than could possibly be accommodated in the ballroom to see the guests....the stars agreed to do a third show at 11 p.m. to ease the situation. Irate ticket holders, unable to see anything, were full of complaints and demands for the return of their money. The Attorney General of New York has ordered an investigation into the causes of lack of space and charges of overselling. Lincoln Enterprises had a table in the dealers room, a most unusual sight for a ST con. Susan Sackett (secretary to Gene Roddenberry) was a guest, marking only her second such appearance. On stage, William Shatner had a pie thrown at him! (It missed!). [8]

Lisa's New York Con, or "Heartbreak Hotel" -- I had the opportunity to attend the Star Trek Convention run by Ms. Lisa Boynton at the New York Hilton Hotel on January 23-25, 1976.

All our favorite people from the crew of the Enterprise were there with the exception of our beloved "Chekov" (Walter Koenig) and "Nurse Chapel" (Majel Barrett). Even "Spock's" father, Mark Lenard, put in an appearance. It was a dynamite feeling to see all of our good friends together again, especially on the model of the bridge of the Enterprise.

Those who were fortunate enough to get in had a wonderful time. Regretfully, to the dismay of many fans, the convention tickets were oversold. Many fans who had tickets had to be turned away because of the lack of room in the auditorium and dealers room. Even though extra appearances were made by the stars, it still did not afford everyone a chance to see them. This is a condition I hope will not happen at future conventions. The success of conventions and fan clubs depends on the fans, and fandom good will should not be taken advantage of.

Despite the unhappy mass of people, the Helpers did a fine job and kept their cool in the face of insurmountable problems. The one deplorable occurrence happened on stage to Bill Shatner during one of his appearances. Some unthinking person threw a lemon meringue pie in Bill's face. I wonder if the pie thrower realizes he could have caused Bill a serious injury? Some jokes really are not funny!! In spite of the "sticky" situation, Our Gallant Captain came through smiling.

The highlight of the convention was lunch with George at Rockefeller Center, during which we watched the ice skaters doing "their thing" in the outside rink. Now, if we can only get George to laugh a little less conspicuously, we just might be able to sneak him in and out of places without being immediately recognized. Only teasing, George, you know we love you as you are. [9]

1979

The New York Star Trek convention in January 1976, attracted a fantastic crowd of 50,000. Many more were left outside of the convention hotel, which was filled to capacity.

A hot seller at this convention was the Star Trek Star Fleet technical manual. The manual contained detailed drawings of Star Trek equipment and vehicles. Another book sold at the convention was Star Trek Lives by Lichtenberg, Marshak, and Winston which is the story of the Trekkies themselves. Model kits of the ship were popular, too. [10]

2005

I'm reminded of one of the early Star Trek conventions in New York. The organizer sold about 10 times as many memberships as the convention facilities could accommodate, and then absconded with the money. But at least they really had booked the hotel and the guests and things. It came to be known as "RiotCon. [11]

2008

I was at Disastercon aka Riotcon the ....NY convention run by a wretched greedhead who oversold the memberships when the convention hotel was out of space and hid in her hotel room, refusing to deal with the chaos, and still allowing people to go to any ticket outlet and pay to get in. The hotel was freaked. The attendees were freaked. The guests of honor were kind enough to hang out and do a second stage appearance to appease the angry folks who'd paid lots of money and didn't want to hear "sorry, it's over". (I was also doing front of house security when that guy hit Shatner with a cream pie, but that's another story!) I was there. And yes, humor saved the day. I admit I can no longer remember if I actually was in the room, but I was gofering and I know how bad things were. And I believe it happened (that is, that when the crowd was getting really pissed off, the story goes, that one of the KDC climbed up on a table, or maybe just reached down and yanked off his costume boot and held up his leg to the would-be lynch mob asking, plaintively something that went, "Aw, come on. You gotta trust me. How can you not trust a Klingon wearing toe socks?" It worked. He disarmed the crowd. And we all got out alive. I learned to do shtick, to get the hostile, or angry, or simply thosefolks on my side, get them to understand why we were asking them to move back. It helped. It worked. It's why for years I was able to act as a security-type person when I'm not the expected face of security at a con. [12]

References

  1. Fern Marder email correspondence with Morgan Dawn dated October 15, 2013, quoted with permission.
  2. from an LoC in The Clipper Trade Ship #16 (July 1977)
  3. from A Piece of the Action #36
  4. from Laurie Haldeman in "Warped Space" #15
  5. Two Star Trek cons in NYC in 1975? posted in rec.arts.sf.fandom Feb 2007; reference link.
  6. Filk songs about SPECIFIC CONVENTIONS? dated Nov 8, 2004; reference link.
  7. comments in Warped Space #14
  8. from A Piece of the Action #36
  9. from At the Helm #3
  10. Star Trek TV and Movie Tie-Ins by James A. Lely (1979); reference link.
  11. Subject: Re: Buffy fans conned dated June 21, 2005; reference link.
  12. HE HEDGEHOG BLOG dated May 24, 2008; reference link.