Ourcon (Michigan con)

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For the Nebraska con, see Our Con.

Star Trek Convention
Name: Ourcon
Dates: May 4-5, 1975
Frequency: once
Location: Michigan State University
Type: fan-run fan con
Focus: Star Trek: TOS
Organization: sponsored by MSUSTC
Founder:
Founding Date:
URL:
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from 1975 flyer

Ourcon was held May 4-5, 1975 somewhere on the Michigan State University campus.

It was chaired by Lori Chapek-Carleton and the Michigan State University Star Trek Club. Security was provided by Dorsai Irregulars.

By many accounts, it was a bit of a financial and organizational disaster. It was, however, a place for budding romance for others! Gordon Carleton wrote:
"Ourcon" means different things to different people. To some people it means "debt." To me it's the point where I really started caring for Lori Chapek. A few conventions later we were married. Naturally it was a Trekkish wedding. [1]
In Warped Space #7, the main organizer, Lori Chapek, wrote that the con was fun but financially troublesome and asks other fanzines (in exchange for a free ad in Warped Space) to run an announcement that, in part, says:
Ourcon '75 put the MSUSTC heavily into debt. If you wish to donate money to help pull us out of the hole, we can offer you the following deals. Lifetime membership to the MSUSTC (for as long as it and you are in existence) for donations of $5 or more; lifetime membership to the MSUSTC and an Ourcon program book (as long as they last) for donations of $10 or more; and lifetime membership, the program book and a three-issue subscriptions to Warped Space for donations of $15 or more!

Guests of Honor

James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Mark Lenard, David Gerrold, Jeff Maynard & The Andromeda Light Show.

Essay by David Gerrold

From the program book:

STAR TREK is yours. Those of us who had a part in it originally, whether writing, acting, or just behind the scenes technical work, had an incredible enthusiasm for the show. But our efforts are long since finished- or perhaps just temporarily interrupted— and the enthusiasm and love has been passed on to you.

You have taken that enthusiasm and love and amplified it, fed it back and amplified it again and again, until STAR TREK is no longer just a TV show, but a phenomenon. The rewarding thing about the phenomenon is that it is not a studio-produced hype, not the product of some PR man's ad campaign, but an honest, genuine, grass-roots movement.

STAR TREK was a show that promised there will be a future. The fans of TREK are the people who will make that future come to be, because they believe in the dreams. Those of us who write science fiction are always gratified when our dreams are shared, for only in the sharing can they come true. So many people have responded so warmly to my efforts as a writer that it has been overpowering.

I have been told- and I believe that it is true - that I have a responsibility to the fans. So, as long as you continue to invite me to your conventions, then I will oontinue to attend and try to share with you some of the magic, and some of the ways we can make the magic happen again, whether through STAR TREK or through some new drtams of tomorrow.

Live long, live well. -- David Gerrold

The Program Book

It contains 27 pages of ads for zines, bookstores, and clubs. It has many black and white photos of the Star Trek cast, many with humorous captions. The book also lists the con committee, an essay by Walter Koenig, and a shorter essay by David Gerrold.

From a Pictorial Folio

A folio of art (Phil Foglio) and commentary (Paula Smith) was printed in Warped Space #8. Some samples are below.

Con Reports

Our Captain [Nichelle Nichols] wants everyone to know how thrilled she was with the reception she received at OURCON... She was overwhelmed with the warmth and friendliness that everyone exhibited to her, and the interest in our club, The Nichelle Nichols Fan Club. Third Officer Sharon Ferraro hosted what was going to be a panel about the club, but it ended up becoming more of a talkfest! Several times, Captain Nichele spoke to the convention, answering questions from the floor; she also very much enjoyed being one of the judges of the Costume Ball. I also hear that she entertained with a certain sehlat hand puppet for quite some time on Sunday!... The sehlat was sent to her from our club's sehlat specialist, Elizabeth Marshall. Elsewhere on the MSU campus was another Star Trek gathering; the Residence Hall hosted an event called Star Trek Lives!. [2]

Although it's been said time and time again, I think all the people who were and still are uptight about the Con should remember that it was an inexperienced first attempt and for such, it was terrific. I came late into the thing with no prior expectations and was not at all disappointed. The day things like Cons are well-organized is the day they will cease to be fun! How many people can say that they got to chat with the stars so informally? And got to eat and drink with them? And tell them dirty jokes? And by the way, please stop bitching about Lori. She's a president [of [MSUSTC]] ], not a scapegoat, and I doubt that anyone in her position would have made a better Star Fleet Commander. Even Kirk ain't infallible, yet how many mutinies has the Enterprise had? None, ha, 'cause they know they're lucky they're alive with all the casualties of spacedom.

We're alive, too. I know I wouldn't want to have been in her (or his) sandals (boots) for a million quatloos. So let's hear it for Lori, and peace in the Mooyou galaxy. [3]

I have no idea why I was asked to write this; I really didn't get to see much. However, I shall try.

I got to the Con on Saturday morning, after driving (being driven, actually) all the way from Buffalo (NY), to find out - via rumor, naturally- that I had missed The Great Bird or William Shatner, or both, the night before. Oh, well. Then the group I was with got lost. Again, oh, well. When we finally got all straightened out and got our name badges, etc., we were told there was nothing going on for about an hour. (Next time I pull a stunt like this I'm going to come down on the bus the night before, and the hell with school!) Most of the crowd I was with chose to go catch some sleep. I went and found the Dealers' Rooms.

About the only thing I caught on Saturday was a showing of Jeff Maynard's Andromeda Light Show, which was great as usual, (And I think I'd better check my Thesaurus for a synonym of "great.")

Then it was time for the costume call. Ahem. Yes. I heard all about the antics of the Klingon Diplomatic Corps (Corpse?) later from a friend in the audience ... I was backstage in a oostume. Plus the fact that I did not have my glasses on. I went as Amanda ... and so help me God, if anyone had told me that Mark Lenard was going to be there, much less be one of the judges, I would have stayed home. But I was dressed when he walked in. (And my friend wouldn't let me leave.) He told me later that he spent the time from pre-judging until my name and character were called trying to figure out why the costume looked so familiar. So he grinned and waved at me as I came across the stage. I hadn't been plannlng on doing anything silly, despite the urgings of my fellow standers-in-line, until he did. It got him a "Live long and Prosper, my husband," before I all but ran for the wings of the stage. After costume call he was nice enough to pose with me again at someone else's instigation. (I don't do things like that. Really?) Of the other guest stars, I saw each one in the dealers' rooms as I traded film clips for slides- a mutually agreeable deal that seemed to leave us both satisfied.

Mark came in, saw me, and addressed me as Amanda. Walter Koenig looks much better without that mustache. If it weren't for the pictures of him, I wouldn't have recognized Jimmy Doohan by either face or voice. (Yes, I know from the books he really doesn't have a Scottish- or Scotch, if you want to be nasty- accent, but I know by print and by ear are two different kinds of things.)

I happened to see Nichelle Nichols as she was cooing over a little hand puppet. When she kissed its nose somebody nearby cracked, "Better not let David Gerrold see you doing that!" She ended up with my felt-tip pen, which she needed more than me just then.

David Gerrold. Grrr! Rumor has it he was actually human this time, and I know he wouldn't remember the person he snubbed at Boskone in March. Ah, but I remember and I wrote down his little statement. (To quote Browning again; Grrr!) He took the comfortable chair during pre-judging.

My favorite people, over and above even Mark Lenard were the Dorsai Irregulars. Every time I moved I backed up, or bumped, into one of them. One of them got my flash cube to work in the art room. Another explained how they started the group. Beautiful people. I hope that picture comes out- what a bunch of hams. Nice hams.

Thanks to everyone concerned for a wonderful time. I just hope I passed my final I took on the day I got back... 4 hours of sleep isn't much. [4]

The con had already started, I think, when I came dragging in, The halls were nearly deserted and even the dealer's room was radically underpopulated. I learned that most of my party (gofers, sister & co-ed.) had left for dinner and this partially explained the empty halls. The other part of the explanation was the Residence Hall Assosciation's extravaganza "Star Trek Lives" program in another building on campus. Featured were William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan and Gene and Majel Roddenberry. And of course, David Gerrold. As I didn't attend. I'll leave that report to another member. (Volunteers?!?)

My evening was spent forcing down a McDonalds burger and Trek-talking with friends. Later we adjourned to the University Inn, and after a few hurried moments to settle my bags in the right room, rushed over to the gofer's suite. There were friends and talk and fannish activity and later with the appearance of Yang Asprin, most of the Dorsai Irregulars and Yang's guitar, began the filksinging. We sang ourselves hoarse until 4AM.

The next morning, of course, dawned much too early and, though we were functional, none of us were awake until noon. I had been scheduled to be on a panel with Nichelle Nichols (being 3rd Officer in her fan club) and her business manager, Harry Priedenberg. I was there at noon, but they didn't arrive until 20 minutes after. I had an interesting time fielding questions from the floor and happily turned the mike over to Nichelle when she arrived. She said she had woken up around 11:30 and instinct ively reached for the TV switch and it was on NBC. She was jolted awake by the opening strains to "Lorelei Signal".

After the panel, I returned to the depths of the dealer's room to take a shift behind the STW/boojums Press table. At 2, I was scheduled for a pair of panels. First a fanzine panel, then a... well..you decide...a potluck panel at which 3 or 4 of us were planning to improvise. The fanzine panel got started late, as the ST episodes were running in an adjoining room, but after rounding up. a few strays from the halls we got going and it was downhill froa there. Since it was essentially the same group for both panels, we just ran the two panels end to end and at 3PM erupted into chaotic hilarity. We ran through a dozen or so "How do Vulcans reproduce jokes. (They don't. They buy their babies from the Romulans.) and then launched into the Primer, with impromptu commentary thrown in at odd angles. We managed to keep it up for an hour and the crowd grew as we went on. I'm still not sure if it was because the film room was closed or stragglers, wandering by the open doors, were drawn in by morbid curiosity. David Gerrold, Mark Lenard and Nichelle Nichols replaced us, but as usual, we were supposed to be elsewhere and missed their panel.

Paula Smith, Debbie Goldstein, Carol Lynn and I ran over to Anthony Hall, nearly 4 blocks away in the beginnings of a rainy evening, to find an empty bathroom to commandeer. We all had to put on body makeup for the upcoming Masquerade and needed plenty of time. We four were attending the masquerade as the Klingon Auxiliary Corps (The KAC), assigned by the emperor to aid our noble Diplomatic Corps in promoting a piece..er.. the peace. As a climax, we grabbed the Commander in a rescue carry and carried him unprotestingly off stage. Following us, however were a group that was incredibly creative and hilariously funny. Five HDGansters from Royal Oak came dressed as a convention. Marge Parmenter led them off as a typical con-goer, wearing a T-shirt & jeans, floppy hat and covered from head to toe with buttons, old con badges, and patches. She sang a song to the tune of We're off to see the wizard" and led us on a guided tour of the "con." There was a film room (Patty Peters around round and round with movie film and carrying a mini-projection screen), an art show (Diane Drutowski with a hug cape all hung about inside with green Spock's and lopsided starships), a Dealer's room (Anne Shoupe with a cardboard table festooned with photos of the stars, tribbles, Klingon battle cruisers and assorted trivia,) and the costume show (Terry Williams as a green skinned, green pointed ears, ill fitted uniformed Vulcan science officer and proclaiming that she was sure to win because her costume was so authentic.) They were hilarious, the judge's panel was cracking up and we can all be so proud of the HDG-SUPER!!

Sometime later in the show, after the KDC had dispatched an unfriendly ambassador, someone threw a tribble onstage. Commander Kras reacted instantly, as is proper with such vermin, and stomped it in the time-honored Klingon fashion. He then picked it up and crushed it in his hands just to be sure. Nichelle leaped up from behind the judges table, grabbed the tribble and kicked the Commander in the shin. There will be repercussions of this all the way to the High Command and to the Emperor himself.

At the banquet later, we invited Jimmy & Wende to come to the party later on and he said he'd talk to Wende and see. We, of course, went directly to the sight of to festivities and started in where we had left off last night. (Especially Kathy!) Yang & Co. were already there, the Dew was flowing and singing was bouncing off everyone's eardrums. Also, half hidden in a corner of the room was a film crew from WBGU in Bowling Green filming part of a special for June. (Called "Star Trek; the TV Show that would not die") and talking to fen. About ten minutes after we got there, the phone rang and it was Jimmy calling to say that he & Wende would be down shortly. They arrived, were welcomed and joined in, as much as possible. Filksinging is an art and must be experienced at least twice before anything more than a rudimentary participation is possible. Jimmy followed the songs in Phil's notebook and added a couple of his own. Kathy went for a walk around the pool. The party went on again until 4AM.

The next day was hectic and incredibly disorganized, as last days of cons are wont to be. I missed all the panels again, though I sat through part of Jimmy's panel blowing soap bubbles over the crowd. Just before we had to leave, I managed to get Nichelle's "Uhura for Captain" button to her.

It was a fun, incredibly intimate convention. Because of it's size, I felt I knew nearly everyone or at least half of the people. Admittedly, things weren't run as smoothly as they could have been there were foul-ups aplenty and perhaps they were only a little more obvious because of the small crowds. For a first time con (for that committee anyway), it was run pretty well. There were complaints, but I think the committee learned and if it happens again (RETURN OF THE OURCON?), I can't help but think it can't but help be a much better con. [5]
Why are the larger ST cons running low on attendance recently?... Benecia, I hear, got only about 600, Ourcon got around 700, hardly the 1000+ they were planning on... Have there been too many big cons recently, or have we recidivists heard it all too many times before? You do get sick of the dumb questions and the crowds; there is even -- really! -- a point beyond which you can't get too worked up about seeing George or Jimmy or Gene or whoever again. It's more than about time for a trek relaxacon. [6]

References

  1. from Menagerie #11 (1976)
  2. from Amani #5
  3. comments by Paula Block in Warped Space #7
  4. comments by Karen Klinck in Warped Space #7
  5. comments by Sharon Ferraro in Warped Space #8, also in Menagerie (Star Trek: TOS zine edited by Paula Smith & Sharon Ferraro)|Menagerie]] #6
  6. The Halkan Council #9