Star Trek Chicago

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Star Trek Convention
Name: Star Trek Chicago
Dates: August 22-24, 1975
Frequency:
Location: Conrad Hilton Hotel, Chicago,IL
Type: for-profit, Procon
Focus: Star Trek: TOS
Organization:
Founder: Lisa Boyton and the Talos IV Group, assisted by Starfleet Command (Chicago area Star Trek fan club)
Founding Date:
URL:
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Star Trek Chicago was the first Star Trek convention to be held in Chicago and it was chaired by Lisa Boynton.

front cover of the program book
back cover of the convention program book
photos from the con, printed in Sub-Space #4
Toledo newspaper article, Aug 21, 1975

It is NOT the same con as The Chicago Star Trek Convention.

Unlike the Star Trek Lives! cons, it was a for-profit procon and paid its guests to attend, making it more difficult for fan run conventions to compete with.

This con had over 16,000 attendees, and grossed $100,000 for its promoters, Lisa Boyton and the Talos IV Group.

This convention, and the disastrous subsequent one put on by Lisa Boynton the following year in New York (New York Star Trek '76), were hailed by many fans as the end of the era of fan-run conventions with actor guests.

From the editors of the zine Star Trek Prospers wrote in 1977: "STRANGE INTEREST? Morgan Powell, Lisa Boynton's associate on the Chicago con, has sold a book on her experience to Bantam called "The Big ST Con." This should raise a few Vulcan eyebrows!" [1] Powell was the con's "information officer" [2]. It is unknown if this book was ever published.

A similar series of cons were Star Trek America and The Schuster Cons.

A Planned Second Con

There was a second con planned, and canceled at the last minute. A very unhappy fan writes about this in "The Convention That Failed" in Starship on the Edge of Forever #2.

Guests of Honor

Guests of Honor were: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Arlene Martel, Mark Lenard, Philip Jose Farmer, Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, Dr. J. Allen Hynek (professor of astronomy at Northwestern University and director of the Center for UFO Studies), Hal Clement, David Gerrold, and Frank Kelly Freas.

A newsletter mentions that Leonard Nimoy did an ad for this con:

The editors wrote: "Your [sic] not going to believe this but... Leonard Nimoy taped a TV commercial for the Chicago Con, which ran at the end of June locally in Chicago. In July it will be booked around the country so look for it. [3]

In 1975, a Toledo Ohio newspaper ran an article about the upcoming Chicago convention:

"Lisa Boynton was a 26-year-old short order cook in a Columbus drive-in when the Star Ship Enterprise blasted off on its five-year mission to explore 'where no man has gone before.'

"The Star Trek television series was 'phased' from the airwaves three years into its mission, but Lisa and thousands of other Trekkies, as they love to be called, still bemoan the loss of their science-fiction show.

"But Miss Boynton, now 35, a tax consultant and law student, carries her Trekkie fanaticism to its ultimate end: she's assembled virtually the entire Star TrekStar Trek club with members aged six to 60."[4]

Con Staff

CREW LIST

  • LISA BOYNTON: CONVENTION CHAIRPERSON HEAD TREKKIE
  • DOUGLAS NEWITT: HOTEL LIAISON
  • DOREEN KOWALCZEWSKI: REGISTRATION
  • DENA CHESTON: EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
  • ANDY DE CYAN: ART SHOW DIRECTOR, DEALER REGISTRATION
  • RALPH AND VALERIE CARNES: PROGRAM DIRECTOR
  • CLYDE JONES: OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, SECURITY COORDINATOR, ART COORDINATOR, PERSONNEL COORDINATOR, WHEW!
  • TAUNA LE MARBE: PEN AND INK SKETCHES, LAYOUT, T'PAUNA
  • MORGAN POWELL: PRESS REPRESENTATIVE, FILM AND TV LIAISON, LOGISTICS COMMAND, LAUNDRY, AND MORALE

Programming

This con was on the radio. From the program book: "Fans! For your continuing enjoyment, if you don't close down when we do -- WHPK --FM, 88.3 on your FM dial -- will broadcast each evening from 3 A.M. to 10: A.M -- a continuing convention program -- music, interviews, focusing on the convention. Check it out!"

Leslie Fish's First Gig

This con was the first one that Leslie Fish attended. She was a guest of honor.

From a 2017 interview:

I got into fandom. I contacted others. In those days, it was all about snail mail, and I got to reading and writing fan fiction. At the same time, I’d always been a folk singer. So, at the same time that I was getting into writing fan fiction folk songs. When I heard that there was a Star Trek — I was living in Chicago by the time that I heard that there was an honest-to-God Star Trekfan convention. Wow! In town, and I had written for my own amusement an awful lot of songs, folk songs, about Star Trek. I called up the coordinators of the convention and asked if I could get a free membership in exchange for singing my songs at the convention. They were quite happy to have me. In fact, they said, “we’ll not only give you a free membership; we’ll give you the usual perks of a fan guest of honor, musical guest of honor,” and I got to go to the top floor of the hotel where all the stars hung out. Wow. Great introduction to fandom!

Anyway, I forget the name. It was the first professional, i.e., for money, big Star Trek convention that was held in Chicago. It was notoriously run by these two women who had a falling out, and I did get paid actually, but it was a rather famous and later-notorious convention. I don’t recall doing anymore. I don’t think there were any more professional Star Trekcons held in Chicago after that, but it was my introduction, and I took off from there.

[...]

They were my own Star Trek-themed filk songs. They later wound up on a couple of albums that I and my folk band at the time paid for at our own expense. The first was Folk Songs for Folk Who Ain't Even Been Yet, and the second was called Solar Sailors. [5]

Convention Program Book

The program book contains 44 pages.

There is some fan art, including portraits for the bios of the main guests of honor. These illos are not credited.

On the dedication page: "Star Trek Chicago is dedicated: You! The fans who keep the spirit of the Trek alive! Peace and long life."

The program's welcome:

WELCOME TO THE FIRST STAR TREK CONVENTION TO BE HELD IN CHICAGO! WE'VE PLANNED SOME NEW ACTIVITIES, WE'VE MANAGED TO GET COMMITMENTS FROM THE ENTIRE CREW OF THE BRIDGE OF THE ENTERPRISE TO APPEAR, AND WE'VE LINED UP SOME PANELS AND PERSONAL APPEARANCES WITH NOT ONLY THE STARS OF THE SHOW BUT SOME OF THE TOP SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND SPECULATIVE FICTION WRITERS IN THE COUNTRY.

THERE ARE BOOKS, POSTERS, GADGETS, MAGAZINES, FANZINES, BUTTONS, TWO FULL DAYS OF MOVIES, AND EVERYTHING IMAGINABLE (AND SOMETIMES UNIMAGINABLE) THAT HAS COME OUT OF THE EFFORT TO MAKE THE SHOW, THE STARS, AND THE DREAM AVAILABLE TO ALL OF US. AND WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF ENERGY AND NEED TO REFUEL, THERE'S A LIST OF RESTAURANTS, BOTH GALACTIC AND EXTRAGALACTIC, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PROGRAM. IF YOU ARE JUST PLAIN STARRY-EYED ABOUT STAR TREK, THEN JOIN THE CREW FOR A THREE-DAY VOYAGE WHERE NO FAN HAS GONE BEFORE I

HAVE FUN!

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!

The Fanzine in Response

A fanzine was published with cartoons illustrating the disastrous convention: The New York and Chicago Strektaculars! is a 27-page zine in comic book about a gofer behind the scenes at two large Strektacular cons. The narration and art are by Phil Foglio, with lyrics by Ann Passovoy and "ritzy lettering" by Doug Rice.

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

Fan Comments

1975

Cons are a sore subject of late, what with ol' Lisa Boynton out to take over condom. (Sorry), ((ChicagoCon, organized by Lisa Boynton, reportedly made in excess of $100,000 profit. Her company, Telos IV Corp., is planning a series of ST cons around the country.)) The Houston group is frantic about the way the actors fees have soared since Chicago, Bjo Trimble is frantic about Lisa's Los Angeles con the week before hers (Equicon)), Al Schuster's and Devra Langsam's groups (organizers of The International ST Con and The ST Con, respectively)) are frantic about [Lisa] moving into New York City in January, and the Boston con hasn't progressed at all since the first meeting with Gail Abend. I have no objections to four- and five-figure fees for the major stars, or to the rise of agencies like Trekstars Unlimited to protect the ST people from inexperienced concoms but I do think ST Chicago, may have signaled the end of the ST con as we have known it. I can, see the pros taking over the meat cons, the 'fan-run' cons becoming one or no star local Trekkie cons and fan cons like SekWester Con proliferating. Trufen will use the pro and fan-run cons to inform the neos, through zine sales and STW, that there's more to fandom than gaping at the S*T*A*R*S and watching the episodes, but the fan cons will become the most important and influential aspect of ST fandom. [6]

[Janet Smith-Bozartb]:

CHICAGO CON: $100,000 FAN RIPOFF?

In 1975, the now-legendary Star Trek convention " Star Trek Chicago” was held , Janet Smith-Bozarth was one of the thou - sands of fans who attended the con , and she returned with mixed feelings. We encouraged her to try to express them in what amounted to both a convention review and a critique. Because we don't run con reviews as a matter of policy (they tend to be too similar ), we asked her to keep the play-by-play as short as possible and concentrate on her observations . What Janet eventually emerged with is prob- ably the perfect example of a person's feelings when they are having a simultaneously good and bad time . And we thought that that in itself was enough to merit space in the magazine t for the Chicago con reflected Star Trek fandom itself in a small way : good and bad , but always interesting.

"Star Trek Chicago, billed as Chicago’s first Star Trek con — and the biggest ever held! A reunion of the entire cast and many major science fiction writers were expected to draw over 15,000 fans.

And that is exactly what happened at the Conrad Hilton hotel in Chicago the weekend of August 22-24, 1975. Total attendance was over 16,000, making it the largest Star Trek con ever held.

Among the usual events, the con had an art show, which was sparsely attended, as it was hidden away in the basement of the hotel. This is truly unfortunate in that it contained a small but very good showing of artwork and was excellently run by Andy de Cyan and his staff.

There were numerous panel discussions; everything from writing sci-fi (conducted by Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, and Hal Clement) to a UFO discussion by Dr, J, Alan Hynek.

The main attraction was the panel entitled "The World of Star Trek," during which all of the cast of ST spoke from a mockup of the Enterprise bridge. This three~and-a-half-hour discussion allowed each member of the crew of the Enterprise — as well as Mark Lenard (Sarek) and Arlene Martel (T'Pring) — to express their views of Star Trek and answer questions from the 4,000-odd fans in attendance.

Each of the three panels featuring the Star Trek stars started with a group of Klingons capturing the bridge. This same group of Klingons (in authentic-looking costumes) served as the convention security force. And most efficiently, since who would want to cross a Klingon?

Then each star was escorted onto the bridge mockup by two of the Klingons.

First was Mark Lenard, who seemed somewhat out of place when asked questions like: “Why did you marry Spock’s mother?" and "What is Vulcan like?"

Arlene Martel was next, and she seemed to be much more comfortable in the position of being identified as T'Pring.

The banality of the questions asked her and Mark Lenard wasn’t unusual, as most of the questions asked of the actors were along the lines of "What are you doing now?" and “Was Spock really in love?" and “Did Dr. McCoy really like Spock?"

One question that was constantly asked was, “When is the movie going to be out?" The answer was unknown then; and is still not certain. (Roddenberry is working on the second draft,)

One highlight of the Chicago con was the costume ball. There were only forty or so entries, but most of the costumes were original and very well constructed. The winners were two teen-age members of the Klingon Auxiliary Corps. It was strangely appropriate that the second-place winners were a pair of oversize Tribbles,

Star Trek Chicago grossed $100,000 for its promoters, Lisa Boyton and the Tallos Four Group, These people supposedly put on trade shows for a living, but if Star Trek Chicago is any indication of their other shows, they must be pretty poor.

It was a fun con for many, since most of the people there had never been to a Star Trek con before. But to those of us who attend cons regularly. Chicago was a good example of disorganization and poor planning.

During the Saturday-afternoon panel, one irate fan (a convention member) was objecting to the $20 membership fee, David Gerrold and 3,998 other members silenced him by asking where he could see and hear all of the actors and speakers that were at this con for less money.

Granted, the events were numerous, but they overlapped so badly that it was impossible to see even one-quarter of what you wanted to see.

For example, the ever-present gofers were not even briefed on where anything was. Some did not even know what they were supposed to be doing.

If you can believe it, the costume ball, the main panel discussion, the art auction, and the Planet of the Apes movies were all scheduled at the same time!

The dealer's room was the greatest hoax of all. It was in a long corridor with six entrances, and only four security guards. Each night, all of the dealers had to pack up all of their merchandise and move it to their rooms to keep from being ripped off.

On a scale of 1 to 10 convention rating. Star Trek Chicago would rate a 4.5. And a rating this high is only because of the guest list. [7]

Leslie Fish:

Finally, why is everybody so down on the people who ran the big STAR TREK Chicago Con this last August? It was my first Trek-con (the first time I realized I wasn't the Last Trek-fan Left Alive, in fact) and I had a great time. I know there were a lot of mix-ups about who the official gofers were supposed to be, but I know for a fact that this con was put together by only two girls (not a whole club) who'd never run any kind of con before, much less a big one, and I think they can be excused for a few fuck-ups. So why all the geshrei about it? Explain?

((Lori Chapek: Editor's Note: To start with, if I have to answer any LoC questions, I'll employ Ruth Berman's method of enclosing them in double parentheses, ok? To answer: fandom has officially, and unofficially been a non-profit-making hobby-type activity. Conventions, and this includes STAR TREK conventions, have traditionally been non-profit-making. Any profits, if any, are donated to charity.

Lisa Boynton's con, and a few other professional cons have made huge profits (the Chicago Con, by some reports, cleared $100,000!). These people are making money off the fans and are also escalating celebrity rates, Equicon, a legit con, is refusing to pay these rates, asking people who are interested in science fiction and not huge fees for a few moments of their time on stage, to the con as guests. And Equicon has annually donated any "profits" to charity. The roadshow cons, it is now feared, have marked the end of the STAR TREK conventions as we have known them.

Also, people resent being screwed; as one of the Chicago gofers, I know that Lisa reneged on the original terms. I hadn't planned on attending the con until I heard the terms. if I'd have known what was intended, I would not have gone regardless. Lisa did not pay all gofers full membership refunds, as agreed. She said she couldn't afford it ... )) [8]

Sharon Ferraro:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I suppose what I am trying to say is this: Give the new committee a second chance to not rip off fandom before writing them off completely. As to this type of con (of which there is only this group) escalating celebrity rates— sorry again, but it is the celebrities, their agents and their Guild that is escalating the rates. It is not a case of the committee making the star an offer they can't refuse. The star is making the committee an offer they can't refuse. The stars know they are the drawing cards and it's a seller's market. [9]

[Debbie Olds]:

This August, I attended an ST convention in Chicago, the first ever held there. The con was held at the Chicago Hilton, the grid's largest hotel, and hosted over 15,000 people. The entire cast was there, giving speeches from a replica of the bridge to audiences of 5,000 at a time. Other famous people there included: Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, David Gerrold, and two of NASA's astronauts. Every ST episode was shown plus many sci-fi films. A costume show and contest, art exhibit, and huckster's room were among the other attractions.

All in all I think it was a very fine convention. It was put on with no complications, and the people there knew what they were doing. [10]

1976

The first Chicago Star Trek and Science Fiction Spectacular did live up to its name in many ways. Despite my suspicion of extrava- gently labeled events, it was (at the time) the largest and best-attended con (guests as well as fans) ever! Besides all the leads and regulars, we were treated to a veritable paradise of pro sf lectures by Robert Bloch,Hal Clement, Harland Ellison, Philip Jos4 Farmer, Frank Kelley Freas, and David Gerrold, There were continuous movies (2001, Apes' movies, Star Trek episodes, etc,), The Andromeda Light Show, an ST song Fest, Costume Call, Dr. Hyneck, a real astronaut, zines for sale (among other things), etc. If you begin to suspect that choosing from among all this made one a little schizophrenic,you're right. But what exquisite torture! And all those other Trekfen running around; when many of us had thought for years that 'I am the only ST fan left alone'.

The Trekstars themselves were in fine form; and it was interesting to see how they had changed and hear about their current activities.

Arlene Martel (T'Pring) spoke briefly; but unfortunately her "act" made her seem rather arrogant and uncooperative, as well as uninformed on some basic Vulcan sociology. She 'invented' a new Vulcan salute because she can't do the original. No, thanks, Arlene.

When Mark Lenard was asked what Amanda did for a living before she married Sarek, the fans coached with 'teacher'. But he came back immediately with "that may have been what she wrote home to the folks, but..." Then a serious-looking fan stumped everybody with "What is the Vulcan gestation period"!

Walter Koenig was cheered when he sort of reluctantly gave us a few words in the Chekov accent, and his console buddy George Takei discussed his recent work in tv and local California politics. Both were most pleasant the STW table.

James Doohan sported a most intriguing full beard. Hope they let him keep it for the movie; it seems to fit. Nichelle Nichols really won the crowd when she gingerly tried out the command chair which was part of the bridge mock- up on stage, DeForest Kelley was his usual genial self fielding fan queries and even honoring a fan-writer's (Paula Block) request for his coin trick.

Leonard Nimoy had been in town doing 'The Fourposter' and he intended to travel to Australia to film a special on the coral reef problem. The official gopher T-shirt, which he designed, was clever, if you don't mind having 'Trekkie' emblazoned on you for three days. He read from I Am Not Spock and cheerfully answered even the most idiotic questions. What patience.

Mr. Shatner, who had broken a leg in a freak riding accident (while filming the now-defunct tv show "Barbary Coast"), also tried the command chair. To our horror and surprise, it was so poorly constructed it almost 'threw' him. He recovered nicely, though, and discussed his latest activities. Seems BC was filmed on the same Paramount sound stages as ST and he was working with many of the ST stage crew again.

Meanwhile, the writers and other lecturers took everything in stride, looking much less confused than the rest of us. That convention area was like a maze! When you add the continual whine-shrill of the 'operational' phasers somebody was selling headaches and confusion galore.

Costume Call had some striking entries, and many obligingly circulated all day Saturday so we could all enjoy their work. Downstairs, the Art Show had a lot of variety but could have had better quality overall, A few of the entries looked like summer camp Arts & Crafts efforts, Dr, Von Puttkamer (NASA) gave a tight and literate [presentation], while Dr, Hyneck (Northwestern U. astronomer and UFO expert) whom I used to respect, subjected us to an insulting put-down. I don't believe in saucers either, but it is unfair to ridicule everyone who has re ported some kind of UFO.

If you were looking, you could have seen Devra Langsam (Masiform D & Spockanalia) Connie Faddis (Interphase), Lori Chapek & Gang (Warped Space), Sharon Ferraro & Paula Smith (Menagerie), Mary Lou Dodge & Laura Scarsdale & Melinda Shreve (Delta Triad), and Jacqueline Lichtenberg (Kraith) with her co-writers Sondra Marshak and Joan Winston (ST Lives!), Helen Young and Jan Scott were spotted at the STW table, busily helping answer fan questions.

There was no Blooper Reel, and while an expensive banquet was easily foregone, we did wish there had been some contests for ordinary fans. The con got good local coverage from the media, and a local station ran almost continuous reports and interviews from it during the evenings. Con organizer Lisa Boynton is a law student who runs an accounting business too. She planned the whole thing with an incredibly small staff, but managed to get excellent advice in most areas. During the con she was rarely seen, and often seemed totally exhausted when she did appear.

Realistically, there were problems. Official gophers were not clearly designated, even though Sharon Ferraro (head of gophers) did a fine job considering the monumental task she faced. The registration desk was inadequately prepared and so an incredible line developed which moved at snail's pace,

Lisa Boynton was virtually unavailable, even in emergency situations. No lectures were taped, except by some foresighted attending fans, and the Costume Call was held so early Saturday morning that entrants (many of whom were gophers) had no time for their often elaborate make-up, which can take hours. Host of the snafus can be excused because it was a first con. But Lisa Boynton (and con committee Tellos IV) is getting a lot of fan criticism about the large profit she reportedly made. Many fen see that as a violation of the non-profit ST con tradition and something which escalates appearance fees. Also, some gophers were promised full-refunds of their registration fees and were told (after the con) that Lisa could not afford that much!

But just from the standpoint of having a first,con run that well, offer such a variety of entertainment, and reach so many new fans; Lisa's 18 months of planning were worth it. It was an incredible first Chicago con, and we owe Lisa for making it obvious that our area can support one with style and flair. Thanks to her success, we can expect another one, and while it may be bigger, our first one will always be special. [11]

The International Ballroom attract ed about 2,000 conventioneers with its life-size replica of the Enterprise command bridge. This would serve as the stage for the cast.

At 3:00 pm we were treated to an appearance by each cast member lasting an average of 25 minutes. Besides informing the audience of their current projects, the stars also accepted questions. Unfortunately, most inquiries were trite. Some of the more interesting replies, however, were: "I enjoyed playing the Romulan commander more than Sarek because of the greater acting challenge, but in terms of popularity, Mr. Spock's father wins hands down." — Mark Lenard, Also from the same man... Q: "Why did you marry Amanda, even though she was not a Vulcan?" A: "At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do."

James Doohan explained the manner in which a starship enters warp-drive ..."not by acceleration but by 'pop ping into' it." "What changes would you like to see in the character of Spock, or the others, in the upcoming film?" That challenging question fielded to Leonard Nimoy was, sad to say, by-passed with the responses "Let's worry about that when we get there."

In addition to their Q and A session, several performers demonstrated interests or talents outside of acting, James Doohan ran thorough the aisles, arms swept out in delta-wing fashion, for the audience to brush as he jogged past. Otherwise, he would have been shaking hands for three hours. He sang a couple of Irish songs before making his exit. Nichelle Nichols sang one number, demonstrating here incredible vocal range. She is currently pursuing a singing career. Leonard Nimoy read excerpts from the introduction to his book I Am Not Spock, Arlene Martel (who portrayed T'Pring) said she is working on a book relating the events which occurred after she jilted Spock in that famous episode. DeForest Kelley appeared the least comfortable on stage until he did a feat of manual dexterity which drew heavy applause. He took a 50 cent coin, placed it upright between his knuckles and made it cartwheel back and forth between his fingers.

The only cast members who have altered their physical appearance are George Takei, who has allowed his hair to grow over the collar, and James Doohan, who has sprouted a beard and mustache.

An incident which brought some sad moments to the enthusiastic audience was quickly allayed by moderator David Gerrold. Between appearances on stage by the stars, a person in the audience shouted out his displeasure, "Is this worth twenty dollars?" Gerrold ran down a list of possibilities the irate viewer could avail himself of, "Besides," he explained, "you have five writers who have donated their time. If you were to attend a writer's conference with those same people you would pay as much for the course alone, if not more," The audience roared its unanimous approval.

To end "The World of Star Trek" the entire cast came out on stage together for bows and to pose for photographs, (Someone had announced moments before that Time and Newsweek were present and had requested the picture session.)

Afterward, they were quickly escorted to their suites by armed Klingon bodyguards, (Talk about security.) The audience was hoping for an autograph session after the three-hour presentation but this wish was not to come true. It was up to each individual's luck to encounter a star milling in the crowd and obtain his signature then.

Some people I met said that after the initial stage presentation an autograph session was held, but only 100 people were fortunate to get one before that attempt had to be called off. A girl I met on Sunday told me she knew firsthand that the event was cancelled after the hundredth person because she was the 100th in line; and her good fortune was the result of some nice guy letting her get in front of him in line.

In retrospect, it is odd that I was not in attendance at any of the factual sessions, e.g,, the NASA-sponsored lectures and, by choice, Dr, Hyneck's UFO presentation. Skipping the latter was simply due to hunger pains and a need to stretch after sitting through three hours of "The World of Star Trek."

At this time only half the available rooms, were scheduled with activity, The International Ballroom was being set up for Dr. Hyneck's lecture, I never found out whether the costume judging was cancelled or switched to another time. Across the hall, in the Grand Ballroom, "Forbidden Planet" was being shown, I wanted to see the film but hunger dictated otherwise and I knew if I were to return in time for the Festival, nourishment would have to he obtained now. So off I went, in search of an inexpensive place to dine.

Most of the persons I passed in the corridors did not seem very friendly, unfortunately, I was under the impression that people went to these conventions to find others who shared their likes and dislikes of episodes, heroes and villains.

[...]

Sunday morning was a delight at the writers' conference. As an amateur author I found those two hours most informative, despite some silly questions about writing from the participants which occasionally slowed down the pace.

Hal Clement and Robert Bloch were very nice to talk to afterward, as was Harlan Ellison, who completely surprised me; I expected an egotistical pessimist. During the lecture, Mr, Clement made some remark about writers and Ellison quickly said, "Now there's a wonderful human being, I am a prick." But not at any time did he come off as such.

Next, I went around to all the vendor's kiosks for some souvenirs since, for all practical purposes, the convention was over. While walking around, I overheard bits of conversations that the stars would be mingling with the crowds to sign autographs. It was true.

I ran into Mark Lenard in the lobby but could not think of a single question so I only paused to obtain his signature. It should be noted that George Takei, DeForest Kelley, and William Shatner were not to be seen anywhere off-stage during the entire Con. Near the end of all festivities, Leonard Nimoy walked through several display corridors, shaking hands along the way as best he could. I managed to get in a handshake before the "conga line" turned into a caterpillar crawl. So I went downstairs. While waiting in the main lobby for someone else to appear, the conga line wound its way down to pass in front of me. Suddenly the line shifted to the right where it could have gone in either of two directions - upstairs via an elevator bank or alongside the main lobby to another entrance foyer. The mob gathered near the elevator bank. Eventually, it dissipated. As I surveyed the situation, alternating to determine which way the celebrity went, a girl on my left said, "Miss Martel, may I have your autograph, please?" Turning, I saw her not more than three feet way from me, accompanied by a Klingon. Because of that unexpected surprise, I moved fast and was second in a swiftly forming queue. From there I went into the elevator area where I met three girls - one of whole was relating a "breathtaking adventure of how she men Leonard Nimoy moments before. She just happened to be in the elevator that the Nimoy entourage chose to escape from their fans in. On the way up, she asked him for an autograph on the only writing surface she had— a glossy for McCoy. But she said Leonard was very good-natured about it.

[...]

During those three hours, we saw the following celebrities depart: Nimoy, Martel, who was the most gracious person we met; Koenig, who simply refused to grant us a signature; Nichols; Ellison; Bjo Trimble; and David Gerroid. Whether anyone else remained after that point was unverifiable, We were told that Doohan and Kelley had exited by a service elevator, Shatner had left earlier that day.

What better way to top off this capstone of my summer then with Leonard Nimoy's answer to questions about casting the upcoming motion picture:

"I hear that Robert Redford wants to play Captain Kirk." (audience responds with a loud chorus of "NO!").
"Paul Newman wants to play Mr. Spock." (audience reaction is a mixture of boos, laughs, hisses, and demands of "NO!").
"I heard this somewhere, and I suspect this is true, Flip Wilson wants to play Lt. Uhura," (uproarious laughter and applause). [12]

The Windy City's first Star Trek convention was held at the Conrad Hilton Hotel on the Weekend of August 24-26, 1975- Organized by Lisa Boynton, who did a fantastic job, the convention boasted an impressive guest list including William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, De Forest Kelley, George Takei, James Doohan and Nichelle Nichols, aa well as Mark Lenard, Arlene Martel, David Gerrold and Hal Clement. The highlight of the convention came as the Star Trek cast took their positions on the full-scale mock-up of the Enterprise bridge and felt right at home. Other activities included an art show and auction, films, and a costume ball. Our day usually started early with a brisk jog around Grant Park with George as our leader. Have you ever seen a group of girls jogging in platform shoes at 8 o'clock in the morning? George was the only one comfortable in sneakers, but somehow we managed to keep up with him! I would like to convey my thanks to Lisa, her entire committee and the Klingon Diplomatic Corps for a wonderful weekend, and I want to wish them the very best of luck in future conventions. My special thanks also to the 12,000 or more Star Trek fans who attended and also made this convention, as others, pleasantly successful. Keep on Trekking! [13]

My son Dale is a avid a Trekker as I. Naturally I wasn't about to leave him home, during what I call Chicon - the first Chicago STAR TREK Convention, 1975.

This Con was the first time, the whole crew was together; since the show went off the air. Rather like a family reunion, and they had a great time! We also, had Mark Lenard (the Romulan Commander and Sarek), Arlene. Martel (T’Pring), as well as David Gerrold and Bjo Trimble.

Due to prior commitments, DeForest Kelly, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner were unable to be there the first day. Their first appearance was Saturday morning. You can imagine the electric atmosphere as the time for the individual appearances of the Triumverate, in reverse order of rank, of course.

Dale and I had front row seats and we reveled in it. Bill was wearing a pink tye-dye suit and looked absolutely gorgeous. Drooool...He responded to the wild greetings of the Trekkers with his fantabulous wide-eyed all-over boyish grin.

When the ovation died down ages later, more of the first questions expressed concern over the injury to his ankle during the filming of his series, BARBARY COAST. (Addlepated network; programmers have done it again - ABC has cancelled the show!) He told Us about his horse slipping in the adobe mud on the set, and rolling over on his ankle in its efforts to get up. (You may have spotted the moment in the show, and heard Bill’s "ooowwwooofff" of pain and surprise.)

Now he hiked up his pants cuff, and raised his leg, showing us the cast was off. (His doctor wasn’t too happy about his precipitiveness.)

One gal shouted, "Unbutton your shirt!" The audience howled. Bill grinned and said, "Unbutton my shirt??" in an unbelieving manner. He unbuttoned his shirt! Several buttons!! UPROAR!!!!!! He is well-built - massive chest, huge shoulders, as we learned from the series. But his impact in person...uummm...

Most of the questions had to do with BARBARY COAST, STAR TREK past and future, practical jokes the cast had pulled, bloopers, etc. We immersed ourselves in Bill’s delightful humor and charm.

My son raised his hand and Bill called on him. Dale started to ask his question, and Bill spotted the tee shirt. (On it I had stenciled 'Tomcat' Kirk at age 9 1/2).

"'Tomcat' Kirk. What does that say? Come up here!."

Dale went towards the stage and Bill leaned over and lifted him onstage (Great for his ankle.) The audience loved it. Bill gazed at the shirt read it aloud, and asked Dale about himself. Then he asked about Dale's question.

"Do you know the Spock Pinch?" General laughter . Bill's contagious chuckle. "Do I know the Spock pinch? Yes!" He leaned over and pinched Dale's cheek. "Cootchy-cootchy!"

The place was up for grabs!

Later, after Dale had resumed his seat and other questions had been answered, Bill was cavorting around and inadvertantly placed too much weight on the bad ankle. He grimaced in real pain, but covered up quickly and went on with the session as though nothing had happened.

At the end of the session, the rest of the crew came out and they all posed for pictures together for quite awhile, the audience cheering and taking turns coming forward to get their pictures.

Bill’s ankle continued to bother him the rest of the Con. Joan Winston (Star Trek Lives!) told me he was in real pain. She was upset because he’d taken the cast off too soon. But Bill is such an active man, I can imagine how he chafed at the enforced inactivity, and I’m not surprised he removed the cast prematurely. Don’t worry, he was in pain for a couple of days, but he didn’t injure himself further.

During the afternoon briefing, someone asked about Dale, and Bill wondered what ’Tomcat’ meant. He hadn’t known Kirk’s nickname in Trekdom because of the many love scenes shown and intimated. The audience eagerly informed the highly amused Bill!

Sunday mornings’s briefing, Bill Spotted two beautiful little tow-headed girls about ages six and eight. He got them onstage and knelt between them, his arms around both. He talked with them quite awhile, obviously loving every second of it. (I'm sure he was remembering his own blond daughters at those ages.) The girls wanted to know how the Transporter worked. Bill asked if they wanted to know "For real" about th special effects techniques, or the pretend so they could "keep the magic?" They wanted the magic, of course, so he explained the energy conversion theory delightfully. The girls were enchanted. we all were.

Why does the time seem to evaporated when we’re living in a beautiful dream? Now it's here...now it's gone... No more seminars. No more films. No more briefings. The dealers were closing up shop. The Trekkers were reluctantly preparing to leave. The stars were gone.

The first Chicon was over. [14]

1979

"In August 1975, 15,000 Star Trek fans, or Trekkies, attended a three-day convention in Chicago. A Chicago Star Trek Club sponsored the event and charged $20 admission.

The Trekkies looked like everyone else-unless they were dressed like Klingons or Hortas. They ranged in age from 6 to 60. They shared a love for Star Trek, for its actors, and for the concept of exploring a vast universe.

Trekkies love to collect gadgets and tokens of their favorite show. At the Chicago convention, there were enough Star Trek gadgets to satisfy everyone's collecting urge. They offered tee shirts, posters, buttons, and Spock ears. There were huge rooms full of people dressed like Romulans or Tribbles or Hortas or like the ship's crew members. There was a Captain Kirk look-alike contest. The entire convention cost over $100,000. That included the full-size model of the U.S.S. Enterprise which was on display.

The lead actors and actresses came to the convention. Also many of the production crew, astronaut James McDivitt, and UFO expert James Allen Hynek attended.

Walking through the convention, one would hear: "Who are the inhabitants of Elba II?" (Answer: "Inmates at an intergalactic asylum for the criminally insane.") "What is Kevin Riley's middle name, and what is his favorite song?" (Thomas. The song: 'I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen'.") [15]

1980

From a 1980 interview with Leslie Fish in Enterprise Incidents Interview with Leslie Fish:

"I've been involved with ST fandom since August, 1975, when I simultaneously got the address of the Welcommittee (from STAR TREK LIVES) and found out about an ST con being held in my hometown of Chi. Before then, I was a typical Isolated fan — thinking that no­body but me still watched old reruns religiously. (Ho! Ho!) The aforementioned con turned out to be the infamous Lisa Boynton Pro-(as in "for money first") con, but I managed — by singing my way in on the strength of my homemade ST songs — to get in for free, and had a lovely time.

1996

From issue #27 of A Piece of the Action, as reported in Boldly Writing:

This issue contained details about the first professional ST con in Chicago to take place August 22-24 and said admission would be $20 (considered high) and "The convention will be held at the Conrad Hilton, the largest hotel in Chicago. The main program room seats around 4,000 and the film room seats 2500 so there will be no trouble with overcrowding. [16]

2011

In 2011, one attendee put together a brief video slideshow about the convention. It can be seen on Youtube here. In it he describes how fans were treated to back to back Star Trek episodes on the full size set of the USS Enterprise until 3am. Rich Portnoy shot 8mm footage at the end and can be seen on Youtube here.

From comments to Rich Portonoy's Youtube video:

  • "They were selling lollipops at the convention with the engraved image of Spock. Someone in the audience asked Leonard if he posed for the lollipop....To which he replied in a disgruntled voice; "We're not here to talk about lollipops". The audience was pretty upset at the guy who asked the question."
  • "Takei coming into the hotel drenched after jogging all around the park nearby and all the fans that ran with him. The lobby when Leonard Nimoy came in and people went from being busy to INSANE in a matter of just minutes. My first sale of artwork at that con, to Hal Clement, (author); and going to the dealer's room and spending every penny. An escalator when crowds were nuts and being held back by the Klingons. One held up his foot and asked the crowd, "Would you hit a Klingon in toesocks??"
  • "No, no! The toe-socks incident was in New York the next February. Same con committee, same Klingons. He was trying to keep the crowd from surging up a shut-down escalator and assuring them there was no room at the top either. Some agitators began saying, "How can you trust a Klingon?" To which he replied, "How can you not trust a Klingon who wears toe-socks?" while shaking off a boot to show striped toe-socks. The crowd laughed so hard, they forgot to riot."
  • "Oh my! Blast from the past. The Klingons are members of the Dorsai Irregulars who were hired to do crowd management at the event. I am one of them, but I was managing a section of the ballroom instead of being on stage. The first Klingon seen in the video was Robert L. Aspirin, who went on to become an SF author. The bagpipes were played by Corinna and it's Lucy who is being hugged."
  • "I remember that convention very well: 3 days for $40! I attended the main ballroom cast presentations - twice! After their little speech and a short Q & A, the cast member sat at the side to sign autographs. There were two movie "theaters" (one that exclusively showed episodes, and another showing Sci-Fi films) and another room had guest speakers. Harlan Ellison was there, so was David Gerrold (who can be seen giving Nichelle Nichols a short kiss in the video above."
  • "When Nimoy got up to speak, a Mother asked if her little boy could take a close look at his ears, which made a very cute moment. In the morning, from a taxi, I could see George Takai jogging to the Hilton. Finally, the hallways were full of vendors selling mostly homemade stuff, as this was long before mass merchandising production. Four years later, the movie premiered! Yeah, I was there, too, and it was a great time."[17]

References

  1. ^ from Star Trek Prospers #27 (May 1977)
  2. ^ Chicago Tribune, Action Line, August 9, 1975
  3. ^ from Star Trek Prospers #7
  4. ^ Trekking To Blast Off in the Toledo Blade dated August 21, 1975; reference link; reference link.
  5. ^ from Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Leslie Fish
  6. ^ LOC submitted to The Halkan Council #12 (1975).
  7. ^ from "The Best of Trek," online archived copy at The Best of Trek]
  8. ^ comments by Leslie Fish and a reply by Lori Chapek, the editor of Warped Space #13
  9. ^ comments by Sharon Ferraro in Warped Space #14
  10. ^ from Sub-Space #4
  11. ^ by Melissa Bayrd in Star Trek Today #7
  12. ^ from Ted Rzepczynski in Star Trek Today #7
  13. ^ from At the Helm #1/2
  14. ^ from William Shatner Letter Exchange Autumn 1975/Winter 1976
  15. ^ Star Trek TV and Movie Tie-Ins by James A. Lely (1979); reference link.
  16. ^ Boldly Writing notes this should have raised some red flags as previous fan-run conventions in New York and Los Angeles had had over 10,000 attendees. The October issue of APOTA reported there ended up being 12,000 attendees.
  17. ^ reference link.