SeKWester*Con

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Star Trek Convention
Name: SeKWester*Con
Dates: 1976, 1977
Frequency: yearly
Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States
Type: Trek relaxacon
Focus: fans
Organization:
Founder: Paula Smith and Sharon Ferraro
Founding Date: April 9-11, 1976
URL:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

SeKWester*Con (April 9-11, 1976) and SeKWester*Con, Too (May 28-29, 1977) were part of a series of seminal Star Trek media cons that eventually became MediaWest*Con.

Note: in the previous year's program report, Paula Smith mentions that this con was initially titled: "InKWest*Con."

By 1976, Star Trek cons were getting bigger and more expensive; more guests, more stars... In reaction, Paula Smith and Sharon Ferraro planned SeKWester*Con (pronounced "sequester con") as the first media con by fans and for fans, with no celebrity guests -- designed for fans who complain that at the big cons, they never get the time to see the other fans.

Cons in the Series

Its Birth

flyer proposing the first con, click to read
Lotsa fans have been griping that at the big cons they never get time to see other fans, and for me anyway, that's half the reason I go to cons. Well, Paula Smith and I have come up with a solution -- over the weekend of April 9-11 we plan to hold SeKWester*Con here in Kalamzoo at the new convention center. Programming will be entirely fan-discussions of Trek, of fandom, of anything people want to discuss. A small art show, a swap session, a costume banquet, and anything else that comes up. A thoroughly fan con. Cost will be kept as low as possible... Registration is $3.00 through October 1sy, $4.00 afterwards and at the door. There will be a strict limit on attendance, we can accept no more than 200 registrations... we'd prefer 150. [1]
Back in the early 1970s, Devra's New York con was the one to go to. Before Devra shut down in 1975, there were a couple of big professional conventions with all the stars from the show. But those were expensive—$20 to attend! Sharon and I looked at each other and said we should do a Star Trek con the way we did our science fiction cons. Since we're hiding it away from the big guys, let's call it 'SeKWester*Con.' No stars at all—that would be the big difference. So we held it in 1976 in Kalamazoo because the Midwest was where the active fans we knew were. And we thought, let's do a 'fan quality' award. We'll call it a FanQ to thank all the people who were writing good stuff. One for art and one for writing. It was just for Trek. There wasn't anything else... One hundred people came, which was pretty good for what we wanted. We had a bunch of panels, we had an art show, and we had a dealer's room. We took the same template from the small science fiction cons. We held it at a little motor lodge and posted notices in the zines. We also sent letters to people we knew would be interested. A lot of people came from all over the country. In 1977, for the second one, 200 people—even from as far away as Australia! It was called SeKWester*Con Too. Lori Chapek had gone to SeKWester*Con One and she thought, 'That was fun. I can do that too.' So she organized a little con at Michigan State in 1978 while she was still a student there. She asked to do the third one and called it T'Con. Gordon [who would be Lori's husband] was writing around then and he had these characters, the T'Khutians. It was an alien race that was related to the Vulcans, but because he was a humorist, they were all crazy clowns. Lori and Gordon did T'Con and the next year, 1979, they did 2'Con. The mascot was a toucan bird doing a Vulcan salute. And then Devra said she'd like to hold the next one in New York and organized Mos' Easley in 1980 because Star Wars was out then. The Star Wars fans started to come at T'con, and so it began to morph into a multiple-fandom [con], though at that point, it was still just Trek and Star Wars. In 1981, Lori and Gordon took what was now the big yearly con back to the Midwest, and called it MidWest*Con. The second MidWest*Con [2] was in 1982 and throughout the 1980s, we began seeing fans from Starsky and Hutch, Doctor Who, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.—fans of all kinds of movies and TV shows. Lori and Gordon decided to change the name to MediaWest*Con because it was for media fandom, to distinguish it from science fiction fandom, which concentrated more on science fiction in books. And of course, MediaWest is still running. [3]

Connection to MediaWest*Con

After two years, Sharon Ferraro dropped out, and Lori Chapek-Carleton and Paula Smith changed the name to T'Con, to take place on Memorial Day weekend of the next year, 1978. That convention gave out the second Fan Q Awards. The next year, they held 2'Con, and again, gave out Fan Q Awards.

In 1981, Lori Chapek-Carleton, Gordon Carleton and Paula Smith put on MediaWestCon (actually called "MidWest*Con" the first two years), held on May 22-25 in Lansing, Michigan. It turned out to be the fanzine convention of the year, and has been held every year since. They still give out Fan Q Awards, though the categories have changed many times over the years.

The First Star Trek Fan Fund

Gerry Downes was the first recipient of the Star Trek Fan Fund, sponsored by the letterzine The Halkan Council which raised money to pay for transportation and hotel fees to allow fans to attend conventions. She chose to go to SeKWester*Con.

For more about this fan fund, see: Star Trek Fan Fund.

The Pornography Controversy!, aka "Rise of the Age Statements"

Main articles: The SekWester*Con Porn Debate, Open Letter by Mary Lou Regarding Explicit Fanworks

The major difference between SeKWester*Con and SeKWester*Con, Too was the new inclusion of explicit art (nudes) in the art show, discussion of K/S stories and pornography in two of the panels, and nomination of explicit stories (including Leslie Fish's notorious Shelter) for Fan Q Awards. R&R, the first zine series after Grup to label itself adult, brought out its first three issues between 'SeKWester*Con and SeKWester*Con, Too. Some fans had never seen this sort of material in Trek fandom, and they had very strong reactions.

The strongest reaction came from Mary Louise Dodge -- an excerpt:

Since I came back from SeKWester*Con, I can't seem to get myself back to work.... All the joyous memories of meeting old and new friends, or of the delight in the charming Saturday night sketches—everything is being smothered by a flood of resentment.... I do not enjoy being invited to a Star Trek convention, only to find instead it is a pornography con; I do not relish having pornography shoved down my throat! ...For the first time, last weekend, I was ashamed of being in fandom.... I don't know how this sea of sludge can be stemmed...better to outlaw the zines completely than to see them destroy Star Trek, for I couldn't even watch it this week, I find it depressing, after seeing what fandom has brought it to. That's it—I'm mad, and I'm getting madder every day...and I'm not the only one. There were a lot of tight-lipped people at the Con. Somebody owes somebody a big apology to real Star Trek fans." [4]
the Wicked Wanda cover of "Spectrum" #35 by M.J. Fisher. It was in this issue that much conversation about Sekwester Con and "porn" took place

Paula Smith, one of the con organizers, responded -- an excerpt:

I agree that ST pornography is a lousy thing—it is so badly written.... But when a reader takes up a story on an adult theme, she expects an adult treatment, or ought to. A simpering, or brutal treatment of sex is evil in the most fundamental sense, because such trivializes and degrades our greatest humanity—love. But sex, and sexuality, per se, are not dirty and disgusting."[5]

A few month later, Spectrum #35 covered the controversy over sexually explicit material -- an excerpt:

Last summer a feud broke out in STrekdom.... The feud was over the issue of pornography and indecency in fanfic. To some people the whole controversy seemed absurd since most people in fandom feel that fans tend to be more open-minded and liberal than the rest of the mundane world.... The height of the debates occurred last summer and early in the fall of 1977. The reason that the pressure died down is due in part... to pressure from STW The Star Trek Welcommittee to keep everyone away from everyone else's throats.

For more on this topic, see The SekWester*Con Porn Debate.

The debate spurred decisions throughout Trek fandom to label any fanzine with explicit sexual material as such, and not to knowingly sell such material to minors by requiring an age statement for purchase. By a decade later, when the Surak awards debuted, zines nominated were divided into two categories: "general" (which became gen) and "age statement required".

SeKWester*Con (1976)

The first con was held April 9-11, 1976.

It had a had a cap of 200 attendees and was wildly successful.

There were 110 attendees. Most were zine editors, writers and artists, along with some zine readers.

Twelve pages of the program book are printed in The New York and Chicago Strektaculars!.

The program book also contains a filk called "Star Drek Strektacular!"

All attending and supporting members got a copy of Sharon Ferraro's perzine, Turnabout.

SeKWester*Con : Program Book Covers

Programming: SeKWester*Con (1976)

Friday:

  • 9:00 -- The Image of the Trekkie and Why (Virginia Walker, Shirley Maiewski, Phil Foglio (M))
  • 10:00 -- The History of the Federation (Stephen O'Neil, Jeff Johnston, Sharon Ferraro (M), Rich Tucholka)
  • 11:00 -- Kraith (Debbie Goldstein (M), Carol Lynn, Joyce Yasner, intro by Paula Smith)
  • 12:00 -- Lunch Break
  • 1:00 -- Cons at Present -- The State of the Event Now (Joyce Yasner, Devra Langsam, Sharon Ferraro (M))
  • 1:30 -- Cons of the Future -- Evolution (Mary Manchester, Sandy Yingling, Shirley Huang, SRF (M))
  • 2:00 -- Fanzines, What Makes a Good One? (Devra Langsam, Debbie Goldsmith, Connie Faddis)
  • 3:00 -- The Blueprints and Tech Manual -- How Useful Are They? (Mike Short, Jeff Johnston, Paula Smith (M))
  • 4:00 -- Panel for Beginning Writers (Joyce Yasner, Connie Faddis, Shirley Maiewski, Paula Smith)
  • 5:00 -- The Star Trek film and Revival -- What Will it Mean to the Hard-Core Fan?
  • 6:00 -- Banquet preperation
  • 7:00 -- pre-banquet parade ("introduce your persona, watch out for Shirley's camera!")
  • 7:30 -- Banquet
  • 8:30 -- Special Surprise by Gordon Carleton ("Non-banquet attendees may come in for this.")
  • 9:30 or so -- break up for the evening -- Special suggested discussion topic -- Star Trek Lives and The New Voyages -- what are they, what have they done?"

Sunday:

  • 2:00 -- art and charity auction (STFF)
  • 3:30 -- What are we all doing here? Final wrap up. Group discussion, all members
  • Alternative Program Room -- "The program for the alternate room (smaller and set up for projecting) will be posted outside the room. Topics and subjects likely to be scheduled in this room are"
    • "I Am Not Spock" (book discussion?)
    • Uses and Misuses of ESP in Trek Lit
    • Slide Shows of "Amok Time," "City on the Edge of Forever," "Mirror, Mirror," and "Journey to Babel"
    • Devra Langsam's Slide Shows
    • "Operation: Annihilate" -- episode film
    • Graphic Aids for the Zine Editor by Jeff Johnston and Phil Foglio
    • Types of ST Fiction - Mary Sue stories, "get stories," etc...
    • What is David Gerrold and Why?
    • Proper Adoration Techniques for Celebrities (sub classification for short writers)
    • Humor in Trek Lit
    • Care and Feeding of Film Clips and Rubberized T-Shirts

Some of these panels were excerpted and transcribed in the 1977 program book (the following year). See below.

Dealer's Room & Art Room for SeKWester*Con (1976)

From the program guide:
DEALER"S ROOM & ART ROOM.

Dealer's room/art show will be open from 2PM to 6PM on Saturday and from 12 noon to 4 PM on Sunday. Art will be displayed with bid tags or "Not for sale" slips. The Art auction will be at 2PM Sunday and the con will take 10% commission on all art sold thru auction. Art may be sold directly at the discretion of the artist or the artist's agent.

CHARITY AUCTION--This auction will be of all sorts of odd Trek related things. We have some bubble gum cards, one of Dickie' Horowitz nifty disruptors , a little art, old fanzines including a couple out of print Menageries . Old Star Bornes , and anything YOU contribute. We may even have another Dunsel Box and are there ever goodies in there! MMFC buttons will be available as well as other special buttons.""

SeKWester*Con's (1976) Required Reading!

From The Halkan Council #10: "... required reading list will include World of ST, STLives and Trouble with Tribbles with a recommended reading list spanning even more Kraith, major fiction, and articles like Grup's Vulcan anatomy, etc. This is almost going to be a work con. We hope to produce an after-the-con book with transcripts of the best panels. Each attending or supporting member will have first dibs (cost about $2) and any extras will be sold on a first come-first served basis."

progress report #2

The official reading list from the progress report:

Other recommended reading:

  • The Star Trek Log Books by Alan Dean Foster
  • Star Trek books by James Blish
  • In Search of Wonder Woman by Damon Knight
  • The Issue at Hand by William Atheling, Jr.
  • More Issues at Hand by William Atheling, Jr.

"Fannishly Available" recommended reading:

Some Tidbits from the Progress Report for SeKWester*Con (1976)

  • TAPING: "Feel free to bring along your tape recorder. We will try to synchronize all starts of taping to avoid the 'clack, crack' in the middle that gets on everyone else's tape. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you bring C-60 cassettes (60 minutes total, 30 minutes on a side). We will plan a short 'flip-over break' at the 30 minutes point on all the panels."
  • ART SHOW: "Apparently the art show will include an auction. Each artist is in charge of her own display -- buy half a table for $1."
  • BANQUET: "The banquet will be a costume banquet. Please feel free to wear the costume of your favorite persona. Remember though, that you have to be able to eat, which precludes such ideas such as the Horta -- unless you want to eat off the floor... The cost for the meal is $7. Because the Holiday Inn has instituted a new policy, we must have a catered meal each day in order to get our function rooms free... [So], we will have a $4 Sunday brunch, and only 30 of your clowns need to attend, more is okay, of course! Since this is the exact same meal at the exact same price you'd get downstairs in the restaurant, you can see it's a deal to have the same thing upstairs, served privately for con members (and not frightening the mundanes)."

Con Reports for SeKWester*Con (1976)

Joan Verba writes about the first SeKWester*Con in Boldly Writing:
This was a marvelous convention. The Crosstown Holiday Inn was a two-story motel designed so that all the doors to all the rooms faced the parking lots (on either side of the motel). In order to find a room party, or a fan to talk to, one had only to walk up and down the parking lot to an open door. There was a pool, but the hotel never filled it with water during the convention. No one minded. Jacqueline Lichtenberg spent so much time greeting friends she lost her voice the first night (this often happened to Jacqueline at conventions). Through the mail, I arranged to share a room with Connie Faddis, whom I had never met. When Connie arrived at the hotel lobby, she took one look at me and said, 'It's just like looking at a mirror.' When Shirley Huang of Halkan Council asked if she could take a picture of Connie and me together, Connie would not do so until she had hand-lettered and held up a sign in front of her hat read, "I am not Joan Verba. [this photo, among others, was published in Halkan Council] ... At one point, Mary Manchester—with the assistance of Connie Faddis— spent quite a while explaining the development of K/S to me. (In spite of the number of fanzines I read, I was unaware of this trend in fan fiction until that time.) About 90% of the attendees were women over the age of 21. The men listed in the program book as attending were Steve Clarke (now Steve Dourson) of STW, Gordon Carleton of the MSUSTC, Jeff Johnston of Spectrum, Randy Ash of The Sehlat's Roar, technology expert Steve O'Neil, plus Joe Fleming, Rich Kolker, Dick Preston, and Mike Short.
Another fan in Probe #8 offers this up:
Sing-a-longs -- 'Glory, Glory, Roddenberry' -- well into the night. Every getting to see 'old friends' they'd previously only known by letter and phone. A Langsam slide show, Phil Foglio's drawings. Well-run and interesting fan panels: Examples: 'Kraith,' 'Cons: Present and Future,' 'The Revival and What it Means.' A surprise showing of City on the Edge of Whatever [another slideshow]. Excellent food, excellent company. Three marvelous days... one sleepness night. Reading a Jean Lorrah novel, The Night of the Twin Moons. An intimate convention of 105 people... Only regret is that it didn't continue to go on for several more days, for now I'm convinced that this is where cons are going; small is not just a craze.
A fan writes in Menagerie #10:
...the after-dinner entertainment was was a satire of "City on the Edge of Forever"...Sharon, Paula and friends read the script by Gordon Carleton, who also did the artwork for the slides...Sunday brunch had its entertainment too: a dramatic reading by Paula and Sharon of Paula's "The Secret of Star Hallow", a Star Trek Gothic...The Star Trek Fan Fund auction was marked by the sale of Star Trek bubblegum cards. Each card, besides having a ridiculous photo plus caption, also had a little story to go on the back...Not even Freddy Freiberger in his heyday could have made up such wonderfully *awful* stories. I have one called "Mindless Man" featuring a picture of our dear Captain. I will share the text for a fee.
From a report in A Piece of the Action #42:
SeKWester*Con was either an old-style fan con or a new-style fan con and there are (pardon the expression) logical reasons for either description. In one way, it represented a return to the genuine fan con, back when cons were just gatherings of fellow freaks for conversation, discussion, and lack of sleep. From the other point of view, it may also represent the con of the future. One of the discussion topics was "cons of the future," and the general concensus of opinion seemed to be that the super-con bubble has grown about as much as it can and is on the point of bursting. We shall see. The programming consisted entirely of fan panels on topics of fannish interest. Just about everything was covered. Some topics formally scheduled included "The image of the 'trekkie'," "Federation History," "Kraith" (of course!), "Fanzines - what makes a good one," "Beginning writers' panel," "Feminism in Treklit," and a lively debate—that nearly drew blood—on "The Vulcan/Human Hybrid." Informally scheduled topics included "Uses and Misuses of ESP in Treklit," several slide shows, "Types of ST fic -'Mary Sue', 'Get so-and-so stories'," "Care and Feeding of Filmclips and Rubberized T-shirts," and "The Proper Adoration Techniques for Celebrities," Out of about a hundred registered attendees, more than thirty participated in panels or discussions—in other words, this was definitely a participation con. At the costume banquet, a special entertainment was presented by Gordon Carleton with the assistance of the MSUSTC contingent plus miscellaneous other assistants of his slide show with accompanying script "City on the Edge of....Whatever" to a very appreciative audience. In fact, the audience all but rolled in the aisles. The art show was small, but extremely high quality, and a mini-dealers-room was open for mini-dealing a couple of hours each day. The final wrap up was the art and charity auctions which included not only the art that had been on display, but such goodies as old bubblegum cards and Star-Bornes. The con was run by Sharon Ferraro and Paula Smith. This was a very different and special con, and I certainly hope to see more like it.
From Randy Ash in Sehlat's Roar #2:

It's been nearly 2 1/2 months since I attended SeKWester*Con and I still savor the memories.

We were unsure as to [whether] or not we would be going until the last day, when we (John Broadbent, Theresa Holmes & I) all piled into John's brother's T-Bird and we were off, to what we weren't quite sure... We got there around 7:00 pm and after settling into our rooms we headed for the hospitality suite.

There were about ten people in the suite when we first arrived, but by the time I left over six times that number had wandered in and out (mostly in).

I met three delightful young ladies there, Ingrid Cross (who should write to me!), Debby Chapman, and Vivian Sheffield, and at about out nine we went with one of there friends, whose name I was never told, out to find a red light-for to turn right [6], then out to Burger King for dinner. I finally hit the sack around 1:30 am. I woke the next morning thoroughly refreshed after having attained a fanominal four hours sleep. Then, John and I went down to the coffee shop for breakfast (we ate for under 50 cents!). There we met Jackie Bielowicz, Darlene Fouquet, Frances Zawacky & Joyce Yasner, sold them almost all the Berengaria sixes and specials that we were vending for Vicki, and made some more friends.

The day was full of things to do. .. There were several interesting discussions set up on everything from; Fanzines; what makes a good one? to Kraith. Although I missed the later discussion, I did hear the tape of it, and it got pretty heated before it was over. There were also several slide shows, the episode-'Operation - Annihilate', and just chatting with penpals and new found friends.

Before the banquet/costume ball, that evening, there was a preview of the costumes, and the adjoining picture, by Phil Foglio, is of our own beloved Theresa in her costume. Really, not a bad likeness. At the banquet the food was good, especially after nothing but Whoppers. Afterwards we were entertained by the slide show, City on the Edge of Whatever by Gordon Carleton. It was complete with narration and hilariously funny.

After that, it was back to the hospitality suite. That night I met several people, and had a chance to talk to my new found friends some more. I was up 'til 3:00 am singing filksongs with Leslie Fish, a real talent.

Sunday morning I went to the brunch, and was entertained again, this time by Paula Smith, as she interpreted to us her story The Legend of Star Hallow. I thought Connie Faddis was going to split her sides laughing -- in fact, I thought we all were!

The rest of the day was a carbon copy of its predecessor except for the art auction, which ended the con.

SeKWester*Con, Too (1977)

It was held May 28 & 29, 1977.

The con program lists 183 attending members, and 17 supporting members.

The con looked much like today's relaxacons. But there were two major and a few minor fanwritten productions performed live during the banquets. Also, many people were interested in how to make their own fanzines, so Jeff, the editor of the zine Spectrum volunteered to create the zine, The Cage at the con so that those attending the convention could see a mimeographed fanzine being put together before their very eyes. It took all four days of the con. ("The result was 41 pages, printed on Jeff's machine. There were a variety of contributions—stories, articles, satires written under pseudonyms (one of which was "Su Do Nims"), plus an honest-to-goodness Mary Sue story.")[7]

One evening's activities was Gordon Carleton's slideshow City on the Edge of Whatever Slide Show.

The program book is largely made up of photos and transcripts from last year's con.

As a reaction to the failed effort to get Trek fan writers and editors on the Hugo ballot, Paula and Sharon sponsored the first Fan Q awards.

SeKWester*Con, Too: Program Book

The program book contains 15 pages.

  • programming
  • a list of attending member's names
  • five recaps of panel discussions from last year, each one includes photos of the panelists
    • recap transcribed via an audio tape of a panel from last year's con (panelists were Sharon Ferraro, Shirley Maiewski, and Beth Robertson) called "Trek Novels" (about the quality of fanfic Trek novels, plus writing hints)
    • recap transcribed via an audio tape of a panel from last year's con (panelists were Joyce Yasner, Connie Faddis, Shirley Maiewski, and Paula Smith) called "Beginning Writers" (about the quality of Trek writing)
    • recap transcribed via an audio tape of a panel from last year's con (panelists were Sharon Ferraro, Jean Lorrah) called Feminism in Treklit
    • recap transcribed via an audio tape of a panel from last year's con (panelists were Devra Langsam, Debbie Goldstein, Connie Faddis) called Fanzine Reproduction
    • recap transcribed via an audio tape of a panel from last year's con (panelists were Joan Verba, Paula Smith, Mike Amsden) called The Vulcan Human Hybrid

SeKWester*Con, Too: Skits

The con skits were "Stour Trek: A Musical in Search of a Key" by Paula Smith and "Where No Man Has Gone Lately" by Winston Howlett. The first skit's transcript was printed in Eel-Bird Banders' Bulletin #2. Another skit was an epilogue to a story in Delta Triad #4: "The Sword At the Gate," a sequel to "The Paradise Syndrome. It was performed with Gerry Downes reading the lines aloud while the story was done in Indian Sign Language.[8]

Programming for SeKWester*Con, Too (1977)

Friday: "Con Suite open ? to ?, Penthisilean Pool Party; Drinks, munchies, gab; CAGE typing, plays rehearsal. Filksinging, crowding, creative drowning."

Saturday:

  • A "Created Worlds" panel track, featuring the creators of some popular fan universes:
  • 12:00 -- "Lunch -- go forage"
  • 1:00 -- Trek Tech, part two (Mike Short, Jeff Stonston)
  • 2:00 -- The Music of ST (Amy Falkowitz, Leslie Fish, Steve Reubart)
  • 3:00 -- Zine Reviewing (Lori Chapek, Roberta Rogow, Jackie Bielowicz, Dixie Owen)

Dealers'/Art Room was open from 12-4. Alternate Programming room was open from 10-5 for zine production of the CAGE.

  • 7:30 -- Dinner, come in costume
  • 8:15 -- Culture-time: Skits
    • Stour Trek: A Musical In Search of a Key by Paula Smith
    • Where No Man Has Gone Lately by Winston Howlett
    • City on the Edge of Whatever by Gordon Carleton
  • 9:30 or so: Films, etc. "Also, the Starsky and Hutch CateGorical Appreciation Society will bug out at 9: to watch the reruns."

Sunday:

  • 10:30 -- Breakfast, Postprandial Greek Choris
  • 12:00 -- Publication (Sharon Short, Joan Winston, Joyce Yasner, Devra Langsam)
  • 1:00 -- Artists [with a panel representing the Art Royalty of the day] (Connie Faddis, Gayle F, Signe Landon, Gordon Carleton, Joni Wagner)
  • 2:00 -- Porno and Sex in ST (Sharon Short, Melinda Shreve, Jean Lorrah, Jackie Bielowicz)
  • 3:00 -- How We Do It, Throwing a Small Con (Sharon Short, Paula Smith)
  • 4:00 Art Auction till 6:00, "until we get tired, or sell out."
  • Break for Dinner
  • Films for anyone still around, or last of Charity Auction, or "sump'n"

Stephen Clarke will show slides of the NASA Space Program in the Alternative Programming room from 12:00.

Monday ("If anyone's still around")

  • swim in the pool
  • Lay in the sun
  • help Paula pack

SeKWester*Con, Too: The First "Slash" Panel

The first public discussion of K/S may have taken place at SeKWester*Con, Too in the form of a panel called Kirk and Spock: Do They or Don't They?. [9]

It was, by all accounts, the most well attended event at the convention and quite boisterous. On the panel were Leslie Fish, Gerry Downes, and Gayle F.

Carol Frisbie, editor of Thrust, informed the audience that Gene Roddenberry knew about K/S and had told them that, "as long as it stays underground, and away from the mothers of America," he had no problem with it. [10]

Parts of the panel went unintentionally public when a problem with the hotel sound system inadvertently projected the voice of Connie Faddis reading aloud from an explicit story into the hallway.

And while the panel was controversial and generated loud objections (see the LOCs in issues #12 and #14 of Menagerie), the convention organizers pointed out afterwards in Menagerie that when the panel was announced in the convention progress report: "Ten people volunteered to be 'pro' the K/S relationship; no one volunteered to be 'con.' We had to draft the opposition." (Panelist Theresa H. revealed that she and other "anti"-K/S fans had felt intimidated by the "pro" side and that many of the fans she spoke to had been afraid to be "emotionally involved.")

Also see: The SekWester*Con Porn Debate and The Sound and the Fury: The First Panel Discussion About K/S.

For a broader discussion of these issues see: Slash Controversies and History of K/S Fandom.

SeKWester*Con, Too: Con Reports

[ Dixie G. Owen wrote a con report all in verse]:

[snipped]

Soon BNFs showed, and the halls fairly glowed With INTERPHASE, WARPED SPACE and PROBE; Con Suite opened wide, and the crush was inside, To sore try the patience of Job.

Then on to the rooms, where the filksinging blooms And arguments into the night; No matter your stand, there is always a hand For and against, but polite.

On Saturday more, the panels were born, And Lorrah held forth on the "Moons." Sahaj came out and put Lilker to rout, Then Lichtenberg's KRAITH called the tunes.

Next LP6 explained all of their tricks, And then introduced AU4. (Twixt every two groups, in Paula Smith troops, And pastes their [ stars on the corps.)

P.M. brought Trek Tech, with its panel select, And the music of Amy and Fish. Then followed the crew, for fanzine review, And at LAST we had worked up to swish!

[snipped]

Then Porno and Sex served only to vex Those who would never agree That affairs of the heart just must be a part Of shiplife aboard the Big E.

I neglected to mention, at every Convention, The fun that goes on at the sales. The Dealers' Room glistens, and nobody listens As they grab zines, avoiding the mails.

Oh, the Auctions are chanted, and price raises granted By Bob, Mike and Sharon and Joan; So what if you missed the K/S who kissed?

What WOULD you do with it at home?? [11]
Lori Chapek-Carleton:

KWest*Con was the first convention I ever at tended. I also attended ReKWest*Con and SeKWester* Con. SeKWester*Con, Too, to me, is the latest in a string of marvelously "fun" conventions from Kalamazoo, and I thank Paula Smith and Sharon Ferraro for holding these conventions.

SeKWester*Con, Too was probably the most impatiently-awaited weekend event of the year, as far as us more-or-less serious Trek fen were concerned. It was an opportunity for the writers and artists to get together with the 'zine editors (and vice versa), and for old friends to meet again, and for new friends to meet for the first time, and for subscribers to meet their 'zine editors (and verse vica)—and, of course, the biggest opportunity of all for us 'zine editors was the chance to save hundreds of dollars in postage by getting our latest issues out at the con and foisted off on our loyal subscribers. Has anyone counted how many different fanzines premiered their most current issues at the con? Or how many new 'zines came out at the con? Not to mention THE CAGE, that weekend update produced primarily by slave labor in the consuite!

I bought a new swimsuit especially for SeKWes ter*Con,Too. (I don't do a lot of swimming.) I even tried to work on a good tan before the con. Unfortunately, the pool was dry. And SeKWester*Con, Too weekend was hot. *Sigh* No Penthisilean Pool Party. Our East Lansing contingent arrived at the convention in four different cars, I think. One of these days we're going to fly special convention flags at our antennae as we zip down the highways.

Checked at the con suite and discovered I was scheduled for two panels. Wonderful. My picture was even in the con book, twice. Lovely.

I was not looking forward to the epilog of the banquet—Culture Time. Paula Smith and Winston Howlett had produced one play each, and in the absence of Sandy Yingling and Shirley Huang, Cindy Myers and I were tapped to portray Chekhov and Sulu in both plays. (Thanks to Dean Calin for letting me borrow his shirt for the plays!) As you all saw, I fortunately didn't have many lines, and since I'm not a singer, I was lucky to be drowned out (most of the time), by the other players. In Winston's play I got to lie on the floor most of the time, and almost got a Saurian Brandy bottle dropped on my head... Also, since Cindy and I sat at the front of the stage, we missed most of the action in the plays. *Sigh*

Reluctant Artist Connie Faddis was voted the Fan Q Award for best artist published in a fanzine in 1976, and Leslie Fish was voted best writer for "The Weight." Which appears in my fanzine, WARPED SPACE. Incidentally, Leslie gave me the first installment of "The Weight" at the conclusion of SeKWester*Con last year.

Gordon (Carleton, my husband) and I spent most of the convention lugging cable television videotape equipment around. We taped odds and ends of the convention for footage in a TV special we're working on (Subject matter: STAR TREK, of course), but most of the footage, upon viewing, turned out to be useless. Such is life.

Perhaps the most memorable event of the weekend for us occurred after the con proper had ended. We had been told that people interested in congregating to a Chinese restaurant for a good meal should meet in front of the con suite after the art auction. So we did (maybe 100 people in all?) The first wave left in assorted cars, and the rest of us waited for latecomers Smith, Faddis, Carleton, etc. We piled some 30 people into some three cars and took off.

The Chinese restaurant was filled solid with people from the first wave. We walked to the Hilton's coffee shop and promptly drove out the other patrons. The waiter and waitress blanched, but gamely served us. While awaiting our food (and during it, after it arrived), we worked on three round robin stories, and Gordon worked on the obligatory convention placemat (there being no plates available). The waiter and waitress were suitably impressed with our sophistication, literary style, and Gordon's art. The waiter made a stack of xeroxes of the placemat and both he and the waitress (Chris and Anne) were thrilled to have been so immortalized. After our meal, we walked back to the cars (with several members of the group playing "Starsky and Hutch" along the way—I think Jan Rigby was the red Torino), we piled back in, and headed back to the hotel, stopping at an ice cream stand on the way. The melting ice cream cone in our car became very popular. And when we got back, Poblocki regailed up with her play, "Gumby Trek." If you're not a Monty Python addict, it doesn't make much sense. Even if you are a Python addict, come to think of it, it still doesn't make much sense! But then, did SeKWester*Con, Too?[12]
Gerry Downes:

The logistics of getting out of Anchorage and down to Michigan were almost the finish of me—all the personal and business disasters and crises and ohmighod-now-what's-happened that kept occuring every day for two weeks. Finally I decided that unless someone was actually in the hospital, in traction or something equally serious, I WAS GOING. Period. And I'm very, very glad I did. Because there are some very nice people out there in the continental U.S. A few years ago, I went outside for a few days. (That's Alaska-talk for traveling outside the state. If it isn't in Alaska, it's outside.) In another sense, I really was 'outside' at the con. Every one knew of me, and everyone welcomed me, and made me feel a valued part of the group. (Anyone who didn't feel that way never let me know about it, and frankly, I was just as glad. As someone once titled a book, I didn't come here to argue.) So I participated, and discussed things, and met people and had a grand time, but at the same time, I was also an observer.

And I learned a few things. Maybe I knew them all along, and just never really thought about it. There are a lot of unhappy people in Trek. You can see it in their eyes. They're running from something, or they're running to something, and they're not quite sure they like and appreciate the person they're traveling with. Which is them selves. Not everyone was this way, of course, and those who were varied a great deal in the degree to which they see med to feel this but it was there and I saw it. Many, many people were seeking reinforcement and approval from outside themselves, in stead of having it inside, where it really counts.

Oh, sure, I was getting off on all the egoboo of fin ding all those people who actually liked something I'd done. We all need approval. But it would have been so easy to start pushing, to start preaching or pounding the tables for whatever ax I had to grind at the moment. I could have convinced a few people. And, there were many, many times I could have hurt someone's feelings. We were all very vulnerable down there. But some of us are more vulnerable than others of us. Perhaps we were all so trusting of each other because we had a common meeting ground. We guaranteed each other acceptance.

There were a few other people at the con who noticed the same things I did. Odd thing is, none of us seemed to want to talk about it too loud. May be I sound arrogant, making observations of a group I've only recently joined and who knows? may soon be thrown out of, but I notice all this because I have these same feelings sometimes, too. We all do, some times. And I just hope we can all give each other enough room, enough space to grow in and learn in, so that we don't get those feelings quite so often any more. It doesn't take very long to list all I did, but oh, what a time it was. I'd read Amy Falkowitz' analysis of ST's theme music before, but it was interesting to hear those themes and their effects discussed. afterwards. And Leslie Fish sang a couple of songs I'm glad one of them was "Iron Mistress. The K/S panel went along much more smoothly. than I had expected. Right away a very matter-of-fact grown-up tone was established, and the theme was mostly discussed from the point of 'can you make a good story out of it?' There didn't seem to be too many 'anti' people in attendance, or perhaps they didn't feel too comfortable speaking up, since those of us 'pro' were fairly definite and articulate in our views. My tape of this panel is full of audience noise, and it is hard to remember now who said what, but I recall being surprised at the number of open-minded people who were willing to discuss the theme with good humor, even if they didn't believe for one second the thesis. My own opinion, then as now and before, is that you can make a fine story with it and a fine story without it, and there's plenty of room for everybody. We've all got our own separate special Trek universe in our heads, and most of us can appreciate stories that don't fit that universe, as long as they are coherent within themselves. There is a lot of conflicting data in ST, and many interpretations are possible.

Several times I ducked out of things to rehearse with Dorothy Martin and after the banquet Saturday night we put on a recitation of "The Legend of Kirok," part of the story, "The Sword at the Gate," in STARDATE: UNKNOWN 3, by Jane Aumerle. Well, I did the voice reading, what Dorothy did was a Plains Indian sign language interpretation of the story. She is very good with this. Afterwards, she told me that the room was so quiet she was afraid we were boring the audience to death, but since I was concentrating less and watching the audience more, I knew it was something else entirely. They were really caught up in a beautiful, beautiful story. There was wild applause and cheering after wards, and some people were crying and it was one of the most moving times of my life.

The K/S discussions went on and on and on in Carol Frisbie's room afterwards, with many different people in and out and of course the subject broadening to include everything we felt like talking about. We took one break for Amok Time. Do you know what it's like, for the very first time, to watch that entire program, no commercials, and, right at the very end, when Spock has strangled Kirk and McCoy looks up from his examination, to hear an entire room full of people say, "You're dead, Jim."? I missed everything that was scheduled Sunday morning, I was down in the dining room drinking several gallons of coffee trying to wake up. When I finally got back upstairs the sex & porn panel had started; I came in about the time the point was being made that erotic literature is not pornographic. And the discussion about really alien sex not being a turn-on for humans, and of course I nearly knocked my chair over trying to get the chance to say, "But that part in Kraith with Ssarsun was a turn-on!" On the other hand, perhaps I have a subconscious thing about reptiles. I figure by Sunday, I really wasn't too responsible for anything I said, though people still seemed to like listening.

Sunday's art auction was different from Saturday's. For one thing, Signe Landon's watercolor of Kirk and Spock had already sold on Saturday for $100. Yes, you read that right. And if I'd had that much money to spend, you bet I'd have been in the bidding. I was able to buy a few things, mostly with a friend's money, and for that friend. But at least I can go over to her house and look at them from time to time. By late Sunday afternoon things were winding down and it was back to running into people by good luck, and talking. There were many kind generous people who went out of their way to make sure I had a good time and fond memories. If I tried to make a list it would probably include everyone at the con, a good many people who work at the hotel, some of the people of Kalamazoo, and all of the people who had anything to do with running the con. I've just had a letter from a friend who just attended a procon in LA and was very pushed around and disappointed in the thing. OK, so I didn't see Shatner, De Kelley, et.al., or any big professional show. What I found at SeKWester* Con was much much better. I found real, true Star Trek fans. And they were each, in their own way, very special people. [13]
Mary Louise Dodge:

Since I came home from SeKWester*Con, I can't seem to get myself back to work on Welcommittee letters, or on stories. All the joyous memories of meeting old and new friends, or of the delight in the charming Saturday night sketches—everything is being smothered by a flood of resentment. So I'm going to take the advice of a character I saw in the preview of "Network," and scream: "I'm mad as hell! And I'm not going to take this any more!"

Why are you the one to be unloaded on? The HALKAN COUNCIL has to all effects folded, T-NEGATIVE is done, SCUTTLEBUTT doesn't print letters, and Sharon has fled west—and that leaves you (but come to think of it, you deserve it; you helped start the whole business&s by publishing lovingly written excursions into sadism, thrilling the kids right down to the bottom of their little genitals, leaving them crying for more.)

I do not enjoy being invited to a Star Trek convention, only to find instead it is a pornography con; I do not relish having pornography shoved down my throat! Along with its concomitants, drug pushing and prostitution, it is an industry which battens off the mentally ill, the desperate, and children. Its products and practitioners are not socially acceptable, and people of breeding do not expose those whom they respect to any of them. (I quite realize that collegians are without any taste, but the Con committee supposedly consisted of adults and they must have been aware, when they saw how the fan vote was going, that the motto of the Con was going to be "Praise Porn!" and the final Progress Report should have warned us, so that we could have decided if we wished to endure the mess for the sake of meeting friends, come and have a separate congregation in some of our rooms; or cancel altogether. ) For the first time, last weekend, I was ashamed of being in fandom. I saw us, as we have always resented being labeled by outsiders, a bunch of flakey groupies, hot-crotching it after our favorite stars. I don't wish to be associated with that kind of movement.

I resented the stuff in the art exhibit, the take-over of all the panels by the prurient (at least one by persons who were not scheduled to be on it at all), and most deeply I resent the calculated insult of bestowing an award of Literary Merit on a professional porn writer for, in her own description, a blow by blow description of an adolescent homosexual's seduction of his crush, while McCoy listens in to add a touch of voyeurism. It was a slap in the face of Shirley Maiewski, Connie Faddis, Winston Howlett, Jan Rigby, myself, and all the legitimate writers of quality Star Trek stories—even you, Paula. (for "The Thought of a Man" was eligible). How does it suit you to be told that careful plotting and a reasonable development of the original characters is inferior to porn? How do I answer the letters now in the face of this trend? "Welcome, so you're dying of cancer, and "Star Trek" has shown you how to face death with courage—stick with us, kiddo, we'll send you fanzine wherein your favorite characters are reduced, body and soul, to jelly, and die in lingering agony." That'll sustain her! "Come right in, friend; you say you're so glad you've found us, someone to share your love for the essentials of "Star Trek"—the integrity, love, nobility, gallantry—you'll be glad to know the truth is that Kirk and Spock are a couple of simpering gays and McCoy's a child molester." It's going to take a long time and a lot of those happy letters before I stop feeling dirty and disgusted.

And from all indications, it's going to get worse. The zinies are obsessed with the latest popular sentimental fad in vice. Last year it was rape, this year homosexuality, and I believe next year is scheduled for incest, particularly with your pre-teen children. We are shortly to be inundated by stories of McCoy's rape of Joanna (in fact someone told me one had already appeared). "Star Trek" had obviously taught these kids nothing about human integrity and civilized behavior—I get the impression they really hate it and the leading characters, and are determined to degrade them. I don't know how this sea of sludge can be stemmed; by labeling the zines not an ambiguous "adult" but "porn/pervert," or by dropping them from the directory; by appealing to Paramount (after all, I hear they did refuse to let Bantam publish Jean Lorrah's prissy-porn novel, in a flash of good taste I never expected) to make a stipulation in every contract that the contractor refrain from publishing anything that will defame or bring to opprobrium the series characters or actors--even a flat legal prohibition --better to outlaw the zines completely than see them destroy "Star Trek," for I couldn't even watch it this week, I find it depressing, after seeing what fandom has brought it to. That's it—I'm mad, and I'm getting madder every day...and I'm not the only one. There were a lot of tight-lipped people at the Con. Somebody owes a big apology to real "Star Trek" fans. You can pass the word along—they wanted to shock and annoy us—we're shocked and annoyed, and pretty contemptuous of juvenile bad taste and bad manners. [14]
Paula Smith in response to Mary Lou Dodge's con report]:

In a (probably futile) attempt at self-defense.

A) The Logical Conclusion was not exactly the first Get-Spock story ever written

B) There is a difference between pornography and erotica, and between either and adult or humanistic writing

C) Leslie Fish won Best Writer for "The Weight," not "Shelter"

D) Both "The Kirk/Spock Relationship" and "Porno and Sex in Star Trek Fiction" panels were mentioned in Progress Reports 2 and 3

E) Ten people volunteered to be "pro" the K/S relationship; no one volunteered to be "con." We had to draft the opposition. Beyond that, I agree ST pornography is a lousy thing--it is so badly written. In the search for titillating themes, good or even credible characterization is ignored, and plots degenerate to the simplest push-push gimmickry. A lousy Get-Together story is worse than a lousy Mary-Sue story, because the reader doesn't expect a Mary-Sue necessarily to be any good. If it is uneven, juvenile, or just plain silly, that is typical, and the reader is not disappointed. But when a reader takes up a story on an adult theme, she expects an adult treatment, or ought to. A simpering, or brutal treatment of sex is evil in a most fundamental sense, because such trivializes and degrades our greatest humanity-- love .

But sex, and sexuality, per se are not dirty and disgusting. Many writers and artists incorporate the sex act into their work in order to, as Norman Mailer had it, come ever closer to this truest act of creation. Or, as Woody Allen put it, "The only two things I believe in are Sex and Death; and at least after Death you don't feel nauseous."[15]

References

  1. From The Halkan Council #9 (August 1975)
  2. In an email from May 2012, K.S. Langley corrects Smith's "second MidWest*Con": "It states that MediaWest*Con was called "MidWest*Con" the first two years. It was not. Paula Smith, ghu love her, simply misremembered this. When I brought it to her attention (after her interview for Transformative Works and Cultures) she then remembered that the name of "MidWest*Con" had been used in the pre-planning stages. Beyond that, however, it was never anything but MediaWest*Con from the first con to the current one."
  3. In 2010, Paula Smith talked about these cons in A Conversation with Paula Smith, a 2010 interview with Paula Smith by Transformative Works and Cultures.
  4. from Menagerie #12
  5. from Menagerie #12
  6. reference to a new traffic law
  7. Verba, Joan. Boldly Writing. F T L Pubns, March 26, 2003, pg 37
  8. from a review of Stardate Unknown #4 in Delta Triad #4
  9. Other fans point to the August Party in 1976 where Leslie Fish almost caused a riot when she defended K/S. However, the August Parties were not formal conventions, even though they were quite influential in disseminating information throughout fandom.
  10. Over the course of time, Roddenberry apparently tailored his response to K/S fanworks, depending upon his audience, telling some people he was against it and telling people --usually in his "public persona"--that he was okay with it. -- MPH's recollection of a 2003 conversation on a private mailing list.
  11. from Menagerie #12; [1], Archived version
  12. Menagerie #12
  13. Gerry Downes in Menagerie #12
  14. Mary Louise Dodge in Menagerie #12
  15. Menagerie #12