Star Trek Convention, or, how I spent my vacation, or What would I have done for aggravation if I hadn't been helping run a convention?
|Title:||Star Trek Convention, or, how I spent my vacation, or What would I have done for aggravation if I hadn't been helping run a convention?|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: TOS|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Star Trek Convention, or, how I spent my vacation, or What would I have done for aggravation if I hadn't been helping run a convention? is a 1972 essay by Devra Langsam.
Langsam was a member of The Committee.
It was possibly a separate printed publication, but was also printed T-Negative #15 in May 1972, four months after the con took place.
When Elyse Pines suggested that it might be fun to have a second STcon, I heartily agreed and imagined an attendance of 250 (triple that of the first STcon, held in Newark by Sherna C. Burley). Kindred lunatics Al Schuster, Eileen Becker, Joan Winston, my cousin Debbie Langsam, Joyce Yasner, Regina Gottesman, Stu Helllinger, Steve Rosenstein, and Allan Asherman gathered, and we organized for a "nice little con." The enthusiastic response encouraged us...an advance registration of 300 should mean attendance of 600.... Advance registration hit 600 about the time that we received confirmation of Dorothy Fontana's appearance as a guest speaker. We started talking about a super-wonderful attendance of 1200 when Gene Roddenberry and Majel Barrett said that they'd be able to come, too.
As con-time came closer and closer, I got more and more nervous. The front page article in Variety (("Star Trek' Conclave in N.Y. Looms As Mix of Campy Set and Sci-Pl Buffs," by Frank Beermann, January 19, 1972, pp. 1, 69)) really shook me — I visualized hordes of people milling about — but I took comfort in the fact that the total Lunacon registration is usually about double the advance registration — and our advance was only 800. Just to be on the safe side, though, we decided to prepare for 2,000.Wednesday night, Jan. 19, I picked up Maureen Wilson at Port Authority Bus Terminal. Thursday, after a restful half- night of sleep, we began to run off 2,000 copies of various con things, like 2-page questionnaire forms. (It takes a helluva lot longer to do 2,000 than it does to print 500!) At 2pm we hastily zithered out to the airport to pick up Bjo Trimble and Richard Arnold, who'd come in from Ca. and St. Lou., respectively. (This should have been a warning to us, or something.) After depositing them at the hotel, we battled traffic homeward, where we gulped down omelettes and ran off the rest of the conthlngs. Joyce Yasner, as she helped with the paper cutter, remarked, "You know, if the man from the funny farm came to take us away, there'd be absolutely nothing we could say in our defense."
The room clerk began things suitably by asking if we were from STcon, saylng he knew I was be cause of my pointed ears. Maureen, previously abandoned at the hotel with our baggage and all the mimeo paper, had already co-erced Judith Brownlee, Carrie Peake, and Steve Barnes Into doing some collating. Asked how she'd identified them as Helpful Types, Maureen said, "I stood In the lobby looking hopeless until I spotted people with idics, so I asked If they'd like to help — PU-LEEZE!" Settled In our room, we staggered up to the con suite, planning to continue collating, stapling, not to mention stuffing. In the hall, we ran into a man who was wandering around saying, "Where the hell is 1051?" Since he bore a remarkable resemblance to Gene Roddenberry, we took him with us, and the collating gave way to a mildly wild party, with Roddenberry and Majeland several very nice people interested In space travel In a practical way. Not having eaten in a long time, we devoured the cold french fries that were sitting around. YEECH. During one of our periodic attempts to locate Bjo (who'd gone out to dine with Charlie and Dena Brown In Upper God's Country) we missed seeing the private run of the bloopers. This was a leitmotif of the con...Maureen missing the bloopers. We did manage to stay awake long enough to watch "The Cage." It was my first viewing of the complete show, and I must say it's probably one of the best ST episodes ever filmed, even at 2:30 am.
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, the mobs were gathering. Due to the hotel's error, some people thought that the con was opening at 8 am, whereas in reality it was supposed to begin at 2 pm. By 10:30, the vestibule was frothing over with people, while the registration files were somewhere vague and indistinct, the head of the art show had not shown, there was no way to open the curtains In the art show room AND the hangings we were to use hadn't been nailed to gether. Every time I walked out of the art show room, I was accosted by dozens of people waving money at me, while my cousin Debbie bobbled hopefully around the back of the mob urging people to go have coffee, have lunch, make a phone call, only go away and come back later.After gnashing their teeth for a while, (the boards that the hotel was to lend us for the art show never materialized either) Maureen and Bjo pitched in, tielng back the curtains with random bits of string, and trying to get the show organized. I pegged up some of the art on the insulating board meant to display STXmas cards and old Spockanalia art on ("In case there's not enough art to make a nice show..."). Periodically someone would poke a head In and ask, "When's the art show opening?" and we would all scream "GO AWAY!" Two wonderful girls, Fran and Pat, asked if they could help. We still had nowhere to hang the majority of the art, so we exiled them to the consulte, where they cheerfully stuffed about 600 envelopes. Somewhere along the line. Rich Arnold produced FOOD (wonderful man that he Is) and eventually registration opened. Every now and then, I would plow my way out to the front desk by screaming "Committee! Committee coming through!" (a suicidal admission, under the circumstances) and remark on the people packing the lobby from wall to wall. We finally got Judith and Pat Kelly to buy us some pegboard, and hung art madly on all available surfaces.
At 3 pm, they sent me up to organize the slide show (another of those leftovers that hadn't gotten done the day before). Barbara Wenk and I got that set, but then snafued on working the taper. Finally, by something little short of a miracle, Judith and I taped the show narrations and hauled everything upstairs, only to find that the screen wasn't ready. Feeling vaguely like a plump Christian before a Roman lion-feeding, we rushed around setting up — would you believe a 10 foot movie screen that snaps into place? Gene Roddenberry, who'd come up to view the unbelievable mob scene, opened the con with a nice improvised speech. Debbie introduced him simply as "The man who gave us 'Star Trek'," and the audience gave him a standing ovation. After his speech, there was a mass movement to follow Gene out, which we fore stalled hastily by appeals of "Please don't mob Mr. Roddenberry" and assurances that he would be available for auto graphs later. Fortunately, people sat down again.
After rescuing GR from the
lions, autograph seekersfans, we actually got started more or less on time. Aside from having to share a chair with Elyse as she worked the slides, while Judith ran the taper under the table, every thing went quite well. Mary Schaub's trlbble poem was the high point of the show.
Next we collected chairs and water; and Sherna Burley, Debble-my-cousln, Joyce, and I were a fan panel on "How NOT to write an ST story, or: Don't make him say that!" We followed our formal talk with questions from the floor. Ken Scher very helpfully walked around with one of the hand mikes so that questions could be heard. The audience seemed to be quite interested, and I enjoyed the panel very much.
After dinner I helped at registration for a while. Then we kidnapped Hal Clement into room 411 and talked until about 3am. (We knew we'd be all right exposing Hal to this, since he'd unflinchingly or should I say unblushlngly entered our room, where there was a dirty naked picture of Spock taped to the lampshade.) The evening was highlighted by a dramatic reading of "Star Dregs," with Sherna Burley as announcer -- a marathon part.
Somewhere during the evening, I offered to help Hal load his slides into the productor, rashly promising to deliver It to him at 9:30. GACK! Bjo lured him away to breakfast with the slide tray, while I pulled myself to gether. I was all set to follow them, when Joan Winston called from the con suite. "Ya gotta get up here and stuff!" she walled. (We had run out of prepared packets about 6:30 the night before.) Somehow room service doesn't seem quite so glamorous over a mound of unfilled manllla envelopes.
Eventually Hal got back from breakfast and we got the projector sorted out. I heard his speech only because I was running the slides again. (The only program items I saw were the ones I worked on, since I was too nervous and run-around to sit down even when I didn't have to work.)
There were mass autograph sessions with Gene Roddenberry and Majel Barrett, the running of which I was happy to avoid, since they looked like the the last great land run on the frontier. I escaped to the consulte, to find that we'd run out of membership cards. While my Aunt Dorothy (Debbie's mother) and her sisters Bea and Dinah collated and stapled stray copies of the fanzine list, I cut up bright pink index cards, and Maureen wrote "STCon on them. Roberta Hendler went out In unavailing search for more pink index cards (leaving her sister Vivian to stuff with us) so the last 300 people to register got little blue slips of paper with a gold star on them.One of the weirder things about this con was the food. Either there was none, or there was a surfeit. Thursday I had 1 1/2 real meals, topped off by the aforementioned cold french fries and red wine. Saturday I had 4 meals, including Maureen's sandwich, since her room service takes forever hamburger had arrived at the same time as her delayed lunch. THEN, we had a formal dinner at Gallagher's (where Elyse was officially named "The Screaming Yellow Zonker") from which we left in haste to set up the Costume Ball. Once again, the wall-to-wall people presented a slight problem, which I assisted with by prowling up and down narking "Out of the aisle!" We had 78 costumes, quite a good number, including a beautiful Nasty Kllngon, two Rlgellian bloodworms, a trlbble, and some purple ambassadors. Someone asked me what my costume was (a black hot-pants evening gown) and I said, "I'm a committee member; I'm insane," and then went hopping down the aisle on one foot.
Once again, Maureen missed seeing the bloopers, since we were down In the bar with Dorothy Fontana and a batch of committee types. GR stopped over to say hello and bought our drinks. At about 1 am, we smuggled Dorothy into the art show, which she hadn't gotten a chance to see. Then we lured her up to a party in the infamous 411, where we drank PON FARRs (warm tomato juice, cayenne pepper, vodka, a green cherry, and a slice of cucumber -- symbolic of some thing or other) and listened to an obscene ST tape.  Dorothy had to leave at 10 am Sunday to catch a plane, and we did our best to keep her up until then, giving up at 4 am when our eyelids gummed shut.
Sunday we dragged ourselves up for the final stint. While Isaac spoke, I helped at Registration, where people were still pouring In as a result of the TV news coverage Saturday night. The big item on my day was the art auction, which ran in competition with the bloopers — naturally Maureen missed them again. I got a beautiful piece by C. Lee Healy, called "Prince of Darkness." We were very pleased with the art show, which despite little or no advance publicity got some really fine art.
After the auction, I was in the Schuyler Room when a reporter from WBAI came looking for committee members to interview. Al (Coordinator) Schuster, Steve Rosenstein, and I had a pleasant time talking to her. We managed to get in some good words about the great people who'd helped out, and the generally lovable nature of sf fans in toto. By 5 pm it was all over except for the clean-up, repacking the NASA exhibit, the filing, the book-keeping, finding some food... At 6 pm, three guys came in, looking for the convention.After we'd carted all the left-over items up to the con suite, we gathered up the Denver people and went out for a slightly drunken Chinese meal. Deciding we were too tired to go home, we moved down to the consuite, sat around, and talked.
Now that it's over, it's still kind of hard to believe. Did we really have more than 3,000 people sign up or come? Were all those strangers really so helpful and understanding? Did they really thank us for letting them help? Did we really get TV coverage? Are we really planning ANOTHER (to a muted chorus of "You must be crazy") next year?Sigh.