|Dates:||1983 through 1989|
|Location:||Oak Brook, IL, USA|
|Type:||fan con, fan-run, with featured guests|
|Organization:||Scorpio, fan club|
|Founder:||Cherry Steffey, Nancy Kolar|
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Scorpio was a series of fan-run conventions held in Oak Brook, IL, USA; it was named after the spaceship in the fourth series of Blake's 7. British actors and the creator/writer/directors of British shows were the featured attraction of the convention - Blake's 7, Robin of Sherwood, The Professionals. It was also where the Zen Award winners were announced.
Boutique conventions, they were noted for their personal touch and the ability of attendees to make meaningful contact with the guests - you could find your favorite actor hanging out at the bar or sitting in the lobby of the convention hotel, playing Trivial Pursuit with your friends and swapping stories.
Scorpio I- 1983
Scorpio II - 1984
Scorpio II was held on August 10-12,1984.
Guests included Paul Darrow (Avon), Michael Keating (Villa), Brian Croucher (second season Travis) and Terry Nation (Creator of Blake's Seven).
Terry Nation talks about this con in Having scrambled British SF TV expectations, Terry Nation considers reshaping fan conventions.
print flyer for the 1984 con
online flyer for the 1984 con, posted to net.sf-lovers
from Return of the 7 #1, a poem about Scorpio
Scorpio II - 1984: Con Report by Paul Darrow: "My Kind of Town"
Frank Sinatra's song praises Chicago and its people and I must agree with him.
The town, of course, its its people and, if the fans who attended the convention are typical, I'm with you Frank! I could not have been received more courteously, more kindly or more enthusiastically by anyone. The convention could not have been run more efficiently and I cannot envisage having a happier time. A time that rekindled my own enthusiasm for, *B7*, and my pleasure in having created a character who has caused me to acquire so many new friends.
Cherry Steffey, who organised it all, her helpers, everyone, cannot be sufficiently praised or thanked. If every convention is like this, I might give up acting and make a career out of visiting them!
To be serious for a moment. If, as Terry Nation seems convinced, *B7*, is shown in the US, then we may have a resurgence of interest in the programme that will reward your patience and loyalty. A loyalty that must be strained from time to time, but for which I shall always be grateful.
The knowledge of, and interest in, our programme expressed by our American friends, is vast and encouraging and I only hope that all of you who read this will be able to attend a similar gathering so that you may know the enjoyment that I experienced. Terry sends greetings to you all and assured me that Avon Lives! I would not dare disbelieve him!Whatever happens, I shall not forget Chicago or the people who became my friends there. And I have a strong feeling that they will not allow anyone to forget, 'Blake's Seven'! I know you won't either and, to misquote another of Frank's songs I hope it won't be long before, 'Ole Brown Eyes is back'! 
Scorpio II - 1984: Con Reports
I was looking forward to seeing Chicago when I attended Scorpio II but as usual, one gets carried away with fannish activities so in the end I saw very little of the city. However, I did get a chance to meet many Horizon members and make many new friends. I would like to extend many thanks to all the people who helped me and Horizon at the convention. Scorpio II was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel which is located in Oakhook, a suburb located about 30 minutes outside downtown Chicago. The hotel is in the middle of a beautiful grass green estate which also contained a large shopping mall, which was handy for those little forgotten items that one needs for a last minute fancy dress entry.
The hotel was large and beautiful, with 2 swimming pools, one indoor and one outdoor, which Michael Keating and Brian Croucher certainly took full advantage of. All 4 invited guests made it to the convention, Brian Croucher, Paul Darrow, Michael Keating & Terry Nation (in alphabetical orderll) and seemed to have a wonderful time. Because the convention was catering for just under 300 people, the guests were able to mingle and get to meet many people in an unpressured way. They often had meals with convention goers and all their panels were well attended. They were witty and charming, as usual, and went out of their way to make this convention special for us. Brian especially was a revelation to us as this was his first convention and he wasn't sure what to expect from us, so he threw caution to the winds!
I also got to see most of the panels and in fact participated in two of them -'The Alternative story in fiction' - which was for readers and writers of Alternative style B7 stories, and I also helped present 'An Introduction to Sapphire & Steel panel, which I greatly enjoyed. The emphasis of the con, however, was on B7 and all the American clubs were well represented as well as having a couple of Australian and N.Z. fans attending, which gave it a truly international flavour.
The dealers room was packed with zines and pictures and it was well attended. I wasn't running a Horizon table this convention, but due to the kindness of the Scorpio Club we were able to sell zines on their club table. Since this was a personal visit for me, I was able to get a chance to meet people I had only written to for years and renew acquaintances. I also got to see some of the programme for a change! There was a well attended video room which had a large variety of programmes to see. The art show was across the hall, with a good choice of paintings and sketches on display. There was a large range of artistic skills on display, including B7 fourth series cast cloth dolls with finely detailed costumes. The guests judged the show and seemed very impressed.The guests really had a great time, particularly during the auction when they took over the auctioneering and proceeded to sell anything B7 related; including Paul's and Terry's ties (Brian's idea), Michael's cycling bag (Brian's idea), and Brian's spare hats (Brian's idea - you have to keep an eye on him at conventions - he isn't safe!!) The highlight of the auction, though, was Paul modelling Avon's silver studded belt, it was the male equivalent of the belly dance. The true revelation was Michael auctioneering - he was superb. Everyone had a great time throughout the convention and I think all the convention attendees were happy to see the guests enjoying themselves so much, which I think is the whole point of a good convention. 
I thought I'd wait till after Worldcon before writing this review, so I'd have something to compare Scorpio II to. NO COMPARISON! Worldcon had none of the warmth and intimacy that Scorpio II did. The size had a lot to do with it - that and the fact that Scorpio II was basically a B7 con. and we had of the men there who were responsible for making it so memorable to us.
Worldcon was just a huge media conglomeration. A lot more fantasy-wizards, dragons and such - and hardly any B7. Some of the dealers I spoke to had heard of it... and a couple had even seen some episodes I I guess you could say that Scorpio II spoiled me, or maybe it could be the niceness of Paul, Mike, Brian and Terry. Also, all the friends I met there.
The first one I met was Paul, and he was terribly gracious, actually introducing himself to ME. It wasn't until the contributors' party that I got up the courage to introduce myself to Mike. He's a bit on the shy side, but ever so sweet. And, I'm sure it's well known by now... he has great legs! Since there weren't too many people around Brian (I think no-one knew what to do with him, as he is so different than you would expect) I decided to see what he was like. He's fabulous. If any of the members get a chance to meet him at a con or something, they should do so. He's wild, funny and totally wonderful. In fact, he should be included now as one of the Honorary Members. Hint, hint. (Ed. - we're way ahead of you, Virginia...)The panels were interesting but I really had nothing to compare them to so will not say too much about them, except that you had to be there. Once we got warmed up they were fun. Brian is terribly interesting and there's a lot more to him than his blue eyes, tee-shirts and jeans. The masquerade was a riot. There was a B7 parody 'Flake's 7' that kept us in hysterics, but I think Vickie Weidner was the highlight - she was dressed as Servalan about 6/7 months after 'Sand' and very pregnant. She was looking for Tarrant and mentioned something about a paternity suit. 
A Blake’s 7 Convention in the U.S. is something new, but I hope that this will only be the beginning. This was a small get together by the standard of many Cons. I’ve been to, but the quality could not have been better. Paul Darrow, Michael Keating, Brian Croucher and Terry Nation were the guests. As usual there were panels and autograph sessions, but what was unusual was the interest that the guests took in each and every person who attended. Paul made a point of speaking to everyone and when he saw me standing in a room full of people he had already met, he came over to me and said "Hi, I don’t think we have met yet.” It was so nice to meet ’Avon* in person. Here in the U.S. we have not had the opportunity to see him in person unlike our English counterparts. He, of course, won the hearts of everyone there and I was surprised at how different he is from ’Avon', which shews what a good actor he is.
Michael Keating was adorable. When he came out for his panel he took pictures of the audience! After receiving a cowboy hat he became Michael "Tex” Keating. Brian Croucher, whom many of us knew very little about, was a hit with his ’’off the wall” T-shirts and sunglasses. Terry Nation was constantly in conversation on all aspects of B7.
The highlight of the Con. was the auction on Saturday night, where the guests acted as auctioneers selling such items as B7 scripts and photos, Anna Brant’s outfit, a black leather belt worn by Avon - and breakfast with the guys. Four lucky girls had breakfast Sunday morning with her favourite fellow.
The Convention ended Sunday afternoon with the presentation of gifts to the guys from the fans. The fans gave a standing ovation to Paul's collective thanks from the guests, to which the guys stood and applauded the fans.This was the end, but only the beginning, a birth of something special. I feel very happy and honoured to have been a small part of it. 
Scorpio III - 1985
Scorpio III was held in the first weekend of July 1985 at the Hyatt Oakbrook Hotel. Guests were Gareth Thomas (Blake), Sally Knyvette (Jenna), Brian Croucher (second season Travis) and Sheelagh Wells (makeup artist, Mrs. Gareth Thomas). It was first American convention appearances for Gareth Thomas and Sheelagh Wells. Images from the convention can be found here.
Scorpio III - 1985: Con Reports
See additional con reports in Avon Club Newsletter #23.
Scorpio IV - 1986
Scorpio IV was held in August 15, 16, 17, 1986. Videotape footage from the Scorpio IV can be found as part of the "S. Hereld Collection of Blake's 7 Fanzines and Fan Fiction" located at the University of Iowa fanzine archives. A flyer was posted at net.sf-lovers and can be seen here.
Some fan photos are here.Scheduled guests:
- Brian Croucher (Travis II, Blake's 7, Borg, "Robots of Death," Doctor Who )
- Paul Darrow (Avon, Blake's 7, Tekkor, "Time Lash," Doctor Who )
- Michael Keating (Vila, Blake's 7, Gaudry, "Sunmakers," Doctor Who)
- Sally Knyvette (Jenna, Blakes' 7)
- Terry Nation (creator Blake's 7, the Daleks of Doctor Who )
- Jacqueline Pearce (Servaian, Blake's 7, Chessene, "The Two Doctors," Doctor Who]
- Janet Lees Price (Klyn, "Blake," Blake's 7) Gareth Thomas (Blake, Blake's 7)
- Sheelagh Wells (Make-up, Blake's 7 and Doctor Who )
a flyer for the 1986 con
Scorpio IV -- 1986: Con Reports
See additional con reports in Avon Club Newsletter #26.
The age of miracles is not dead. Thanks to the Horizon raffle (and a hefty overdraft) last August found me catching my first-ever flight [from England] on my first-ever overseas holiday to my first-ever Scorpio. Now, unless you've been confined to Cygnus Alpha, you already know, as I did, that Scorpio is a 3 day convention held in Chicago. But once you get there, you discover that (a) Oak Brook isn't 'Chicago1, it's a quiet suburb, and (b) some of us can stretch 3 days to a week, indicating (c) at Scorpio the normal laws of space and time do not apply. I first realised this at lunchtime on Thursday, before the con had officially opened. Entering the hotel restaurant, I had just spotted some of the guests and con committee at a table some distance away, when Paul Darrow noticed me and came over to say hello and to welcome me to the con. An unexpected pleasure, to say the least, (Paul, I think you cured my jetlag!) but proving that you should never underestimate Scorpio magic, or Darrow courtesy.
The con started officially on Friday. This year's guest list was: Paul Darrow, Michael Keating, Jacqueline Pearce, Terry Nation, Scott Fredericks (Carnell in 'Weapon') and Hark Ryan (Nasir in 'Robin of Sherwood') - the last two were totally bemused at finding themselves invited, but joined in the fun and were very welcome 'added attractions'. The opening ceremony was followed by a question-and-answer session, enlivened by some good-natured (I think!) insult humour which became the standard for the weekend. (E.g. Michael to Paul: "Didn't you used to be an actor?" Paul: "How would you know?")
Friday night's main event - which proved to be the highlight of the con - was the Scorpio Cabaret. With Paul as a stylish and enthusiastic Master of Ceremonies, all the B7 guests contributed to the show, and the other, 'amateur' acts were of such a high standard that they did not suffer by comparison. Terry read from Dylan Thomas, and Michael from Shakespeare. Scott performed part of his one-man play, "Mr Yeats Remembers", and Jacqueline read some of her own poetry - highly personal, and a mowing insight to her life. The mood of the evening swung from hysterically funny to thought-provokingly serious many times. Shakespeare would have approved of Michael's performance of Puck's speech from the 'Dream', but I don't know what he'd have made of Michael and Paul trying out the lines in the voices of John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart. There were too many magic moments to quote, but the consensus of audience opinion was that the cabaret alone would have made the con worthwhile. On Saturday we had the auction - later re-named "The Paul and Michael Show" in honour of the principal auctioneers! It was mostly artwork on offer, and actual B7 souvenirs were scarce, but one interesting item was a horned head-dress used in 'Animals1. Michael modelled it for us, probably generating more
entertainment in five minutes than the whole episode ever did. Considerable interest uas also shown in an original 5eries 4 script which was never used - 'Man of Iron' by Paul Darrow. (I'd have liked a chance to read that myself, but couldn't afford to out-bid the buyer's $560 for the privilege.) Coincidentally, late on Saturday evening, Chicago TV broadcast 'Aftermath'. Not many of us watched it 'live' because the auction ran past the programme time, but later the guests went to watch a recording of it in the can suite, while far the rest of us it was shown in the main video room. I must admit that, having just spent several hours being entertained by Paul, Michael and Jacqueline, I found it rather disconcerting suddenly seeing them back 'in character'. (See my earlier comment about the laws of space and timel) It was a fascinating to watch that episode with an audience who had not seen it before. Apart from laughs or gasps at appropriate moments, there was a tense, rapt silence. Uher. the credits rolled after Tarrant's entrance, there were howls of protest and cries of "Oh, no - the BBC did it again!" (No, I didn't tell them what happens next.)
Missing from this year's Scorpio were the individual panels when one guest would answer questions from ill-guests panels on each of the three days, I felt that the formula of 'one question then on to the next guest' inhibited any chance of discussing a subject in detail. What we did have this time were numerous autograph and photo sessions. These were so popular that you had to queue for up to an hour to get in, but it did give all the con attendees a chance to talk to the guests on a one-to-one basis. And it gave you a chance to get to know the other fans, while waiting in the queue. The guests were unfailingly friendly, considerate and welcoming during these sessions, but I couldn't help thinking that meeting those endless lines of people must have been hard work for them. That point was unfortunately emphasised when Jacqueline Pearce collapsed during the final photo session on Sunday, Although not seriously ill, she had to miss the closing ceremony. (Jacqueline, Scorpio is not the BBC - you don't have to work until you drop! Please take it a little easier next time.)
Scorpio is special for more reasons than the 'main events'. It's fun living in the same hotel as the guests, sharing a lift with them or having them sit down with you in the restaurant. Among the con attendees, you re-encounter old friends, and make many new ones. You get the I-don't-believe-this moments, like being invited to have dinner with your favourite actor, or playing Trivial Pursuit in the con suite until 4 a.m. (fly thanks to the committee and sponsors for not throwing me out! I wasn't entitled to be there, but I certainly enjoyed the privilege.) And there's the feeling that you're among 'family'. You can't be lonely or homesick at Scorpio, because there isn't anywhere else you'd rather be, or anyone else you'd rather be with. I hope I'll be able to go again. I'm grateful to Horizon for letting me be there this time, and I didn't forget my raffle-winner duties of 'vociferously publicising' the raffle either...On the Thursday before the con opened, when Kathy Hanson and I were having lunch, Fran Buhman of the con committee came to see us - she knew Kathy from previous years, and remarked on my travelling from England. I started to 'follow instructions' and tell her about the raffle but she said, "Yes, I know -Paul was just telling us about it." Does that count as doing my bit for spreading the word? I later heard Paul relaying the story to Scott and Terry. I admit that neither of them is likely to buy tickets for next year's raffle, but I was doing my best! Incidentally, at breakfast on the last day in Chicago, I remember saying to Michael that I'd love to come to another Scorpio, but didn't know if I'd be able to afford it. He gallantly offered to draw my ticket out of the bag in the next raffle, but I suggested that that might not go down well with the other club members. 
FRIDAY - Opening ceremonies mere pretty ordinary, apart from Brian Croucher's hilarious message (he sent an audio tape along, as he couldn't be there himself). "Oh yeah, this show I did. There were these people, uh, and they just kept running. I don't know why. Wait a minute - I think they mere running from ME!" And the costume/cabaret event - how can I describe this - three hours of hysterical insanity? The Twilight Zone ... from a perfectly awful rendition of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" to a mini-Orac being taken for a walk, to Michael's wonderful reading of Puck's final speech in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' to Jackie's intense, self-revealing poetry, to Paul, Michael and Terry dancing with a belly dancer - Paul and Michael with a scarf tied around their heads. Unbelievable. Unfortunately, due to a technical screw-up, the video of this has been lost. It's a crying shame.
SATURDAY - There was a panel with the guests that afternoon - about the only revelation was Paul's admission (grudgingly) that he may have "done some things wrong" in Year 4. He also blamed a lot on the scripts, and "the loss of Cally." AHAH!! The auction that night was fun - but long. I have an immense. admiration for Paul Darrow's sustained energy and enthusiasm as M.C., singing (!), telling very bad jokes and clowning around with Michael and the audience. He was a wonder to watch. You could hardly find Avon in him at all, but then something would come up for auction, like a drawing of Blake called 'The Idealist' and Darrow would snarl, "Blake - the Idealist - HAH!" and SHAZAM! - it was Avon on the stage.SUNDAY - Depression sets in - things are winding down. And yet even more autograph and photo sessions. The Trivial Pursuit final was that afternoon - they played the 5iluer Screen edition, which is tough. Again, the guests were amazing, especially Paul, who must have answered 25 questions straight without even consulting his team! He was constantly leading the team in chanting their motto: "CHEAT TO WIN!" To be fair, Michael and Terry answered a great number of questions as well, but I have to say that Paul must know everything about 98% of all movies EVER made. Then the closing ceremonies - extremely depressing. The usual back patting by the con committee, and speeches by the guests, who seemed genuinely happy to have been there and vowed to return. Then the presentations. The eye opening spectacles therein presented included Paul removing his shirt and Michael his trousers. You never heard so much howling and whistling in your life! 
Scorpio V - 1987
Scorpio V was held Jul. 31-Aug. 2, 1987. Actors from both Blake's 7 and Robin of Sherwood were invited guests: Gareth Thomas, Peter Tuddenham, Sally Knyvette, Michael Keating, Jan Chappell, Michael Praed and Mark Ryan.
Regarding an incident with slash fanworks and "the talent":As I say, everyone out there is paying my wages, and my reason for coming to an amateur con, not a professional one, its my way of saying thank you. Professional cons I've been asked to do, and I've turned them down. I said, no way, I will not do a professional con. Why? people say, because I know that some of the others do; Michael does, Jan does, I won't because those people out there have already paid to see me once already. Now they're paying to see me again. Why the hell should some bastard at the top cream that off? I don't want money for doing this. I want to say thank you. I don't want money, not for this. Why should some bastard up there be creaming it off? That's unfair of them.
I was involved in the deliberations regarding slash zines at Scorpio. It wasn't that Mark stumbled across slash - someone shoved it under his nose (either to autograph or for him to read, I can't remember), so he couldn't simply look the other way. And I don't think it was Robin of Sherwood slash, I think it was Professionals slash, and the actor depicted in the art was Lewis Collins , who was at the time one of Mark's best friends.
It was an actor con; there was no con without the actors. Most had had no exposure to fan fiction at all, so were completely unprepared for slash in any way. They didn't make the distinction of the character being the one depicted - as far as they were concerned, it was them, or their friend, whatever. A lot of the actors we were inviting for Scorpio made comments that led me to think they were homophobic (as in, you say you like another actor, the actor you're talking to immediately cautions, "you know they're gay, right?" as though that will change your mind about liking the other actor).
I can tell you that Mark completely freaked out, but he wasn't the only actor to be uncomfortable with slash. That was what - 1985 or so? It was a very different world then. Thank Ghu it's changed in so many ways!
The really sucky thing about it all was the fact that the Scorpio co-chairpersons (and a number of members of the concom) were themselves gay, wrote slash, illustrated slash, published slash, and on Saturday nights, hosted parties with local friends where folks would do "dramatic readings" of bad slash (the campier, the better). They've gotten a bad rap in some circles for being anti-slash, when in fact they most definitely weren't. The decision was made to keep the con going. It definitely wasn't a decision that was made easily.I'll admit that's when I stopped illoing slash stories, having that realization that some actors would not be comfortable with their faces being used in explicit art. For shows popular today, I don't think I'd have the same hesitation, because so many shows have become self-referential about slash.It's a known quantity, in the mainstream, and not so much a discovery that's unpleasant to the actor. But for that group of actors in the mid '80s - yikes! 
cover of a 1987 flyer
Scorpio V -- 1987: Con Reports
I grab a draft beer from the bar, and watch part of the auction from the back of the room. The
The cabaret turns out to be something of a mixed bag. Although some acts are extremely good, a few of them leave me cold. My personal favorites are Gareth Thomas' reading of Rudyard Kipling's If, Peter Tuddenham's standup act, and Michael Keating's recitation of a Blake's 7 poem by Vere Lorrimer. Many of us wonder what happened to Sally Knyvette and Jan Chappell, who are conspicuous in their abscence. After the cabaret, many of us head for the bar until closing time, then some smaller parties upstairs until the wee hours of the morning. The guests are all in hilarious form, and the highlight is Marie Ryan's Robin Hood tunic, which fetches a staggering $2,000! When I leave about midnight, the auction is still going strong.
My interview with Sally Knyvette and Jan Chappell turns out to be more of a press conference, with nearly a dozen people present. Although the two women play very well off each other, I'm not entirely happy with the final result. With that many people, one gets the feeling of "too many cooks", and the result is a less than cohesive final product. After the interview, I talk with Sally privately, in the hopes of my getting a followup during my visit to London in September. She gives me a phone number to reach her, and we make some tentative plans.
One of the highlights of my weekend, as I finally get the opportunity to interview Gareth Thomas. I'm scheduled to do the interview with Mike Macomber, and our photographer, Pat Armenia, and we run upstairs right after the panel so Pat can check the lighting conditions. Gareth arrives shortly after, and we get started. To my surprise, the "unapproachable" actor turns out to be surprisingly candid, and as the interview goes on, Mike and I see a side of Gareth Thomas not yet seen this weekend: a soft spoken, intense man, with very strong opinions. Our conversation takes on a very personal tone, and when Gareth's chaperone arrives to pick him up, he asks for more time, saying, "Couldn't you let me be a human being for just a little while longer?" She gives us another five minutes, and we begin to wind the interview down.
The cabaret turns out to be something of a mixed bag. Although some acts are extremely good, a few of them leave me cold. My personal favorites are Gareth Thomas' reading of Rudyard Kipling's If, Peter Tuddenham's standup act, and Michael Keating's recitation of a Blake's 7 poem by Vere Lorrimer. Many of us wonder what happened to Sally Knyvette and Jan Chappell, who are conspicuous in their abscence. After fte cabaret, many of us head for the bar until closing time, then some smaller parties upstairs until the wee hours of the morning.
[snipped]... I start to say goodbye to the people I've met over the weekend. Although some of them mention DSV in January, I realise that I won't see a lot of them until Scorpio VI next year.... What a wonderful weekend it was, and I hope that those who read this will get some idea of how much I enjoyed it. Only one year until Scoipio VI; it doesn't seem that far away at all. 
Although I've been a fairly regular con-goer for seven or eight years now, my experience has been limited to the Philadelphia/Baltimore/Washington area. With an adequate number of local cons and a limited number of free weekends, I never felt the need to search further afield. A firiend and fellow Blake's 7 addict convinced me to be a little adventurous.
My first impression of Scorpio was Frieirfly with a capital F. People I had never me would ask, "Are you with Scorpio?" and soon we were chattering away like long-lost friends. Before the weekend was over, I was doing the asking as well as the answering, a true phenomenon for someone as reserved as I aih. It was impossible not to respond to the open friendliness of my fellow fans.
Often, at cons, I have been curtly ordered to do something by overzealous, tried and trying security staff when a simple "I'm sorry, but ..." or "Could you please ...?" would have sweetened the exchange considerably. I found little of that curtness at Scorpio. Even the most frantic worker found time for a pleasant (if distracted) smile or word of explanation.
My second impression was one of amazement. I've attended cons where individual fans mingled with the guests, but never on such a grand scale. Perhaps it was the relatively small size of the gathering. A guest luncheon where fans actually got to talk to individual guests, instead of staring at them over a sea of tough roast beef and lumpy mashed potatoes, was quite a revelation. Part of the fun of cons is running into someone unexpected on the elevator to in the dealer's room, not to accost them with demands for pictures and autographs, but simply to exchange "Isn't this fun?" smiles or a few words about the weather. After all, unless your hometown is Los Angeles or New York, the chance of meeting a real celebrity in the grocery store is rather slim. The relaxed atmosphere at Scorpio actually made this possible. I got to meet some of my favorite actors as people for a change, not closely- guarded gods or prisoners of a well-intentioned con committee. They, in turn, seem to enjoy the fans.
Of course, there were problems. Who could have predicted the power outage that did its best to destroy the schedule? Or the incredible heat? There were a few rude types, but that's hard to avoid when you put SOOf people in the same place. The food prices were, in my opinion, excessive, but I expected that. I come from farm country. Food prices are higher just about anywhere I travel.I had a good time, and, from an attendee's point of view, that counts for a lot. Perhaps my coworkers said it best; on my return, I was greeted with "You certainly look rested and happy!" Not bad, after averaging three-and-a-half hours' sleep a night for almost a week, huh?
Having missed the last four, I thought it was about time I sampled the delights of a Scorpio convention. From what I'd heard in the past, It sounded as if no self-respecting B7 fan could claim to have LIVED until he or she had attended Scorpio.
This year's Scorpio was the biggest ever - around 500 attendees, which I believe is almost double the previous one. I think it might have been nicer to have a smaller con, if only because of the interminable queues. If there is one thing I hate doing, it is queuing up. An hour or two standing around in a queue seemed quite commonplace - to register, to queue for a seat at the cabaret, for autographs... a right pain. I couldn't avoid queuing for registration, didn't bother for the cabaret - I decided that as one would have to queue up from 7 am till between 9.30 am and 10 am for any chance of a really good seat, I'd just toddle along at the end and sit at the back. I wish I'd taken my binoculars! I still got to see just about everything, although at a very uncomfortable angle, but didn't get any decent cabaret photos, Ah well! As for autographs, as a rule I don't collect them anyway per se (except for getting things for Horizon to give away as prizes, etc.) but the autograph sessions were also to give each person a minute to 'chat' to the guest at the same time, so obviously for Americans who are perhaps never going to get to meet that guest again, ever, a couple of hours in a queue is little enough to pay. I know I am very fortunate, living in London, to be able to pop off to the West End and see 'our' actors live, and have a chat afterwards.
Actually, the only queuing I did was for the 2 Robin Hood men - Michael Praed and Mark Ryan, I wanted Michael's autograph for my younger sister, Deborah, and spent an amusing half hour watching Michael and Mark graciously signing and chatting. They would surreptitiously look at your name badge, and then greet you by name with either "Hi Diane, how are you enjoying the convention?" or "Hi Diane, where are you from?" or something like that. I'd already introduced myself to Mark earlier (he worked with my sister, Sharon when they were in 'Elmer Gantry' together) but I'd never met Michael before. When he asked me where I was from I had to answer "The same place as you, actually," to a roar of laughter from Mark. Well, it had been a long day for them.
So what, did I do for a week? I met a lot of really terrific people. That is what I remember most about it all. I got to finally listen to some panels (I heard everyone at least once). The best of all, I thought, was the Liars Panel - instigated by Terry Nation, it had all the men on stage answering questions from the audience - and they HAD to lie. The more outrageously the better. They were absolutely NOT allowed to tell the truth. Michael Praed seemed to have the most trouble with this panel, as the questions directed to him seemed to be nearest the knuckle; ("Was Maid Marion a virgin?") From this panel Michael Keating emerged with an entire new lifestyle, with lie after after life being woven into to one ludicrous alternate lifestyle; ("Well, I was a plumber, before joining the Royal Marines, and then becoming a secret agent...." I can't remember it exactly, but it was BRILLIANT!)
Feeling a little tired, I decided to have a quick rest on the pool terrace in the afternoon. Blinking in the brilliant sunshine, I spotted an empty chair and headed for it, oblivious to the couple at the far and of the terrace. I was surprised to hear my name called, and more surprised to find it was Sheelagh Wells, my first reminder that the 'cast and crew' were staying at the same hotel. It was nice to have a quiet chat before the official con opening - their schedule was so tight, it was difficult to say more than 'hello' to anyone over the weekend.
Friday was mainly spent on the table - the busiest day. My most often used phrase was "Yes, we did get your membership money, the newsletter's stuck in the post..." The evening brought the Masquerade, which was great. Followed by the auction, which was brilliant. It does make a difference, both to the actual entertainment and to the prices reached when the guests do the auctioneering. Personal items were the most popular - and of course items of clothing had to be personally modelled. The 'sky' lit up with the flashes from umpteen cameras when Michael Keating, Gareth Thomas and Mark Ryan stripped to the waist to put on a shirt. And Mark Ryan looked as if he needed a stiff brandy after realising that a black ROS shirt he was modelling (complete with authentic sweat!) went for a staggering $2,O00!! If I ever get hold of a video or audio of bits of the con, I will be able to repeat for you some wonderful witticisms and fascinating comments, but several months on alas I don't actually remember many. (I knew I should have written this review on the plane home...)
Saturday was the day I'd forked out $22 for 'lunch with the stars' - a veritable gastronomic delight of cold meats, salads, fruit... I managed about 3 mouthfuls [because I was feeling ill]. To add insult to injury, I'd been invited to a small supper with Sheelagh and Gareth, I ate most of it, but my tummy didn't enjoy it much! Supper was followed by the cabaret. It was most enjoyable, particularly when our guests performed, although I'm told that the previous year was much better. I wasn't complaining, though. This was followed by 'some excellent filk-singing, although alas I was feeling too ill to stay for much of it.
Sunday started off badly with a power failure. The worst place to be during a power failures is in a lift - out of 1000 or so people in the hotel, who got stuck in the lift for half an hour? None other than our very own hero, Blake himself! Poor Gareth coped very well and emerged unscathed though. 'Below deck' in the dealers section, we wandered around with candles, bumping into people sitting around in yet more queues until finally things were back to normal. The Liar's Panel was my favourite event -perhaps I'll be able to get hold of a transcript one day. Only the men took part though - probably just as well!
The ZEN Awards and closing ceremony were on the Sunday, I am proud to announce that the winner of the special ZEN Award for the person who has contributed most to B7 fandom in the US was our own Club President, Pat Thomas. For those of you who don't know, Pat was instrumental in introducing B7 to those who are now in the forefront of B7 fandom in the US, including most of the Scorpio Committee, and she has worked over the past few years for the result we now have - Blake's Seven being broadcast all over the States. I know she was very happy and proud to receive the award. Congratulations also to Horizon member and writer extraordinaire Judith Seaman for winning in the Best Novelette Section.
Most of the 500 were leaving the next day, just the committee, guests and a few dozen sponsors remained -and me, 'cos you can't get an air ticket for less than a week! Luckily for me, most of the people I actually knew were staying on, although most of them tended to spend a great deal of time in the Con Suite (for committee, guests and sponsors only). The guests spent the next couple of days relaxing and being taken on various tours/activities by the sponsors. I spent a very pleasant day at the beach and seeing the sights of Chicago with the Tuddenhams.[...] 
Scorpio VI - 1988
Scorpio 6 was held Aug 5-7, 1988 in Oak Brook, Illinois.
Guests were Clive Mantle, Lewis Collins, Michael Praed, and Sheelagh Wells.
See photos of Lewis Collins at the con here: The official Lewis Collins Fansite - Scorpio Gallery, Archived version
Scorpio VI -- 1988: Con Reports
Scorpio's guest list this year was Terry Nation, Sheelagh Wells, Michael Praed (Robin in "Robin of Sherwood"), Clive Mantle (Little John in "Robin of Sherwood") and Lewis Collins (Bodie in "The Professionals"). The committee explained that for the first time in Scorpio history all the B7 actors who mere invited had to cancel as they had been offered work which unfortunately clashed with the convention.
Although the con didn't officially open until Friday there was a great atmosphere in the hotel on Thursday as many fans had already arrived. I had joined a group sitting in the hotel lobby, chatting and looking at photos from previous cons, when I suddenly realised that the lady knelt on the floor looking through one of the albums was Sheelagh Wells! Sheelagh became an immediate hit with the attendees, being very friendly, and happy to chat whenever she was able. Friday's official opening, which included an audio tape sent by Brian Croucher apologising for not being able to attend (in his own inimitable style), was followed by panels with firstly Terry and Sheelagh, and then Michael, Clive and Lew. At the start of his panel Terry announced: "If you don't ask questions, it's going to be rather a boring hour... ". Needless to say, the questions flooded in, and it wasn't!
During the course of the panel Sheelagh revealed that her favourite type of make-up work was "the blood and gore stuff", that she would love to work on a Stephen King film, and that she also likes working with dancers "as you can paint their whole bodies - well, almost!"
That evening saw the Guest Fund Party which had a 'Roaring 20's Speakeasy' theme, followed by Scorpio's first ever Multi-media Carnival. Gaming booths were set up in the hotel's main ballroom and attendees were supplied tickets to play them. Booths included a 'Tribble Toss', 'Battlestar Galactica Chancery', 'Photon Shoot', 'Pin the Curl on the Blake' and 'Pin the Stud on the Avon', amongst others, my favourite being the 'Bizarro Duck Pond' - which was rigged so that you couldn't lose! There were also face-painters, fortune tellers, a hair-braider and a filk concert as well as a couple of 'boardwalk cutouts' where you stood behind a board, placed your head in one of the holes and had your photo taken as Avon, Vila or Robin Hood. Two of my favourite 'Carnival' moments came when Michael Praed toured the sideshows and 1) tried out the Robin Hood cutout and 2) played on the archery booth (just imagine - Robin Hood using a toy bow, with an arrow complete with suction cup). On both occasions the room lit up with camera flashes.
Saturday began with a showing of the famous B7 blooper video, after which Sheelagh introduced us to Avon's Teddy, who is alive and well and living in Chicago. Later I went to one of the organised autograph sessions. When I met Terry he realised straight away that I was from England and I explained about my trip being due to winning the [Horizon fan club] raffle. It was lovely to be able to meet him, have a quick chat and discover that he is an extremely charming and friendly man. The Art and Charity Auctions were both held that evening (finishing at 2 am!). Some of the artwork on display was breathtaking, & the bids rose accordingly with several items going for over $500 & one reaching $700. The Charity Auction was even more spectacular with the guests acting as auctioneers selling various posters, programme photos and scripts - including a set of the first ever "Doctor Who" Dalek story donated by Terry. Some of the fastest bidding came on 3 rather special lots - kisses from Michael and Clive, and then 5 minutes walk with Michael! Sunday started with another showing of the B7 blooper tape, this time with Sheelagh explaining some of the clips and telling some tales from 'behind the scenes'. This was followed by a B7 slide show narrated by Terry and Sheelagh, a panel with Michael, Clive and Lew, and then the eagerly awaited Liar's Panel. The line up for the Liar's Panel was Terry, Michael, Clive and Lew and it provided a brilliant hour's entertainment. Michael was originally only going to be the moderator, but once there relented and agreed to answer questions as well (at which point one section of the audience repeated last year's question of "Have you ever Maid Marion?" - which still remains unanswered!). Clive and Lew faced the extra problems of a) it being their first ever Liar's Panel, and b) they were eating their lunch on stage at the same time. Both coped well with the various odd questions directed at them, with Clive stealing the show on a number of occasions.
All too soon it was time for the Closing Ceremonies, which included the prizegiving for the winners of the caption competitions, the Masquerade and the Zen Awards - then the con was officially over. As well as the events I've already mentioned, there were others that ran alongside the main programme including Sheelagh's make-up Workshop, a filk-singing concert and various fan panels. Two video rooms were operating throughout the con. The first was the main video programme showing various British TV programmes including "Star Cops", "The Professionals", "Robin of Sherwood" and "Sapphire and Steel", but (rather surprisingly' no "Blake's 7". The second video room was showing fan-produced videos which included some excellent clips of B7 and "Robin of Sherwood" set to music, i.e. Avon to "Desperado" and Travis to "Big Bad Leroy Brown". The dealer's rooms (there were S of them with a total of 4B tables!) were wonderful T-shirts, posters, calendars, photos, badges, art prints, mugs and loads of zines. Needless to say the weight of my suitcase practically doubled for the return journey.
On Monday I was taken into Chicago by a group of B7 fans from St. Louis and after seeing the sights of the city finished the day off with a tour of Chicago by night (many thanks to Pam, Evelyn, Linda and Mary). Tuesday night was also very memorable as I was able to go into town with Clive Mantle, his girlfriend Zoe and a handful of fans who were still staying at the hotel. We visited the bar in the John Hancock Centre (on the 96th floor!) and then an excellent Blues club - everyone had a marvellous time and it was the perfect ending to my week's stay.I must admit to being rather apprehensive about going to Scorpio - but I needn't have worried. The atmosphere was wonderful, the con very well organised and packed with things to do and see, and the attendees very warm and friendly. I'd like to thank everyone who made my stay so enjoyable with special, thanks to Heather for looking after me and introducing me to so many new friends. Scorpio VI may have been my first U.S. convention, but I'm sure that it won't be my last... 
The six small dealers' rooms had to be visited frequently. New dealers were showing up throughout the weekend while other dealers were constantly finding new merchandise as they unpacked. I bought about 30-40 zines, oodles of photos, books and magazines. It was an orgy of B7 material. My services were even drafted at one time to watch the Horizon table while Pat Thomas (??? I'm assuming that's who she was - it was a madhouse of confusion at that time) attended to other business. Thinking I was working with Pat, the people who'd manned the Horizon table the day before dropped off the cash box, lists of prices and club applications with tons of other instructions. People were so eager to buy things it was difficult to make them wait 'til Pat got back.
The lack of B7 guests (due to work commitments) and indeed B7 videos, was disappointing, but there were a number of other convention highlights! The Carnival was great with all sorts of games! (I discovered that I'm a deadly shot with laser tag gun, but terrible at pin the stud on Avon's jacket game.) You could get designs painted on your face, wander around in costume, eat, have your photo taken with your head stuck through a hole in a canvas painted with Avon or Vila figures. Tickets won while playing the games were redeemable for prizes. I got a nice B7 patch, a photo of Steven Pacey as Tarrant and a photo of Paul Darrow as (amazingly) Paul Darrow.
The Art Auction was only scheduled for two hours, but ran three and a half due to the large amount of superb art. The artists really outdid themselves! I was surprised that bidders weren't identified by the auctioneer which sometimes led to confusion as who had the current or final bid. Also the buyers were not required to identify themselves, but were given a tag so that they could pick up the art the next day. Perhaps the organisers thought this would speed up the processing. But what happens if someone bought several hundreds of dollars worth of art and then decided not to pick it up because they spent more than they should have? The poor artist is out that money and no-one would know who the purchaser was. The only other art auction I've ever attended had people pay as they bought. And if they were going to buy several things and wanted to write only one cheque, well then, the cashier kept their art together with a tally until the end. I realise that this might not have been feasible at this particular show due to the quantity of art, but feel maybe some other method should be developed.
The Charity Auction had several nice things, including kisses and cuddles with Michael Praed and Clive Mantle. Unfortunately, none of the other items were identified or displayed before the auction. Not knowing what 'might' be auctioned, a few people around me spent their money on the art and then left. If the items were known beforehand, the buyer could gauge how much to spend so they wouldn't get caught short. The Charity Auction was such a lively affair that they should consider interspersing these items with the artwork to provide variety and comic relief. (... Ed. - I'd certainly agree about that as I sent several items over for the 10th Anniversary Charity Appeal and some items didn't fetch nearly as much as I'd have expected.) Clive's warm-up for his auctioned kiss had the audience screaming with laughter. Then there was Sheelagh trotting Praed around like a fine thoroughbred to show him off as Terry auctioned 5 minutes with Michael to do-anything-you-want! Terry's superlatives while describing the endless number of 'rare' and 'remarkable' items had us almost falling on the floor. They almost had to carry me out at the end of it.
And then there mas the infamous Liar's Panel. Last year, I'm told, Michael Praed had difficulty with the concept. But this year he nearly always had an amusing answer (or was able to deftly palm the question off on one of his other hapless fellows). One time he even had Clive laughing so hard he was wiping tears from his eyes. Lewis admitted he couldn't get the hang of it, but did come across with some brilliant one-liners in response to the others' lies. Clive and Lewis were eating during a portion of the panel when Clive was asked a question. With his mouth full, he did a mime of Michael flipping his long hair back over his shoulders, shooting a bow and arrow and fist-fighting - all in rapid succession. It was so spontaneous and funny, it brought the house down. My sides ached from laughing.As you can tell from the above, it was a very happy con. We spent the final hours in the hotel bar with ten people crowded in and around a booth meant for four. The jukebox was plied with quarters and we sang and pounded on our glasses with swizzle sticks in time to the music. Michael and, perhaps, Clive (I wasn't seeing too well by then) played pool until they were "urged strongly" to leave so that the bar could close. I met more people, discussed a variety of topics and finally dragged myself back to the room to sleep. Three other new-found friends flew home on the same plane and me promised to meet again at the next upcoming con. It's taken almost two weeks for me to read most of the zines, N/Ls, flyers and other assorted items I picked up from Scorpio. I enjoyed it immensely and hope to scrape up enough money to attend more - an experience that bears repeating. 
Scorpio VII - 1989
Scorpio 7 was held Jul 7-9, 1989. It was the last Scorpio event and had actor Gareth Thomas as guest.
- from Avon Club Newsletter #18
- from Pat Thomas in Horizon Newsletter #13 (January 1985)
- from Virginia Turpin in Horizon Newsletter #13 (January 1985)
- from Avon Club Newsletter #18
- reference link; reference link.
- Mary Moulden from Horizon Newsletter #17
- Sally Armstrong from Horizon Newsletter #17
- reference link.
- Gareth Thomas Convention Appearances quoted at Hermit.org, referencing a quote in Freedom City Gazette #4
- In a response to this, another fan corrects this statement, saying the art depicted the character, William Bodie, NOT Lewis Collins who portrayed that character.
- quoted anonymously from a mailing list (Apr 10, 2012)
- by Joe Nazarro in Freedom City Gazette #4
- by Mary Roberson in Freedom City Gazette #4
- from Horizon Newsletter #19
- from Horizon Newsletter #21 (December 1988)
- from Horizon Newsletter #21 (December 1988)