|Dates:||May 23-26, 1980|
|Location:||Baltimore, Maryland at the Hunt Valley Inn|
|Organization:||Randallstown Association of Star Trek|
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Starbase Baltimore was a Star Trek convention that took place May 23-26, 1980 in Maryland.
Guests of Honor
The guests were George Takei, Walter Koenig, Mark Leonard, Jesco von Puttkamer (NASA advisor to Star Trek: The Motion Picture), and Bill Hickey ("an extra in ST: TMP--the guy who solemnly lowers his head in the rec room scene when Epsilon Nine is destroyed.")
The con com:
- Lita Drapkin (chairman), assisted by Ed and Kim Drapkin
- Sharon Drost (registration)
- Dan Lipstein, assisted by Greg Fonseca and Jim Reeves (security chief)
Special thanks to:
- Karen Esibill for the PRISONER Room
- David Easter for the Golden Radio Room
- Mike Women and Patti Amour for the Esoteric Arts Room
- Wendy Schatz, Dusty Jones, Jeff Frifel and the other members of RAST (Randallstown Association of Star Trek)
- Connie Burk: "whose faith in our ability to put on this convention was strong enough to overcome the many obstacles we faced"
Jogging With George
As it was often his custom at cons, George Takei created some physical programming via jogging. From the program book: "George Takes has invited everyone at the convention to join him each morning at 8 AM to jog. If you wish to participate then meet with George outside the main entrance at that time."
The program book contains 27 pages. The cover art is by Patti-Marie Amour, title page art by Michelle Miller. The book itself was put together by Mark Wolkow and Ed Drapkin.
There is a single uncredited illo by Audrey Jakob.
The Prisoner RoomFrom the con book:
STEP INTO THE FASCINATING, BIZARRE WORLD OF THE PRISONER
JOIN US IN THE PRISONER ROOM
Acclaimed as "television's only genuine work of art',' Patrick McGoohan's brilliant series of over a decade ago still intrigues and confounds audiences to this day.
The Prisoner room will have video taped showings of Prisoner episodes and, also, other film work of one of the most gifted and talentd actors around, the Prisoner's star end creator, PATRICK MCGOOHAN. There will be discussion groups, audio taped interviews with McGoohan and others who worked on the show, information on the various Prisoner clubs and publications here and in England, and information on the enigmatic Mr. McGoohan, himself.WELL COME
The Golden Radio RoomFrom the con book:
The Golden Radio Buffs of Md., Inc. in conjuction with WBFF-TV, Channel 45 in Baltimore, have available a limited number of Episode Lists for the current PR. WHO series. Time-Life Television, the company that brought PR. WHO to America has divided the series into two parts. WBFF-TV is currently presenting one of these parts. The Episode Lists are available in the Listening Room.
The Esoteric Arts RoomFrom the con book:
The Esoteric Art and Science Room: "Dare to go where no man has gone before..." Our lives are but moments in the flow of eternity and eternity is but a flow of lives like ours... Though man may go to the most distant star, arriving, he is Here...
Take a unique and exciting adventure of self-awareness through the mystical world of esoteric magic... A Professed Artist of Legerdemain will demonstrate illusions of the mind... Awaiting you is the mystery of the Tarot of centuries of old... to the wonder of computer astrology of today... to the fascinating science of bio-rhythms and numbers of tomorrow... The mystery of the hidden truth can be discovered through private and personal charts and readings. Though man may go to the most distant star, arriving, he is Here.. .patti-marie amour
[A fan's con report written in 2007 recounting his experiences as a 15-year old, first-time con attendee]:
Rap Session with the Stars
Probably part of the fun of this convention was being 15 years old and having no adult supervision. My friends and I spent a lot of time wandering the halls of the Hunt Valley Inn (which seemed a lot bigger back then...). Thinking back, it seems like we spent hours just sightseeing--both in the convention areas and on the guest floors.
It was on one of our visits to the latter that my friend Bob and I were wandering down a hallway and came to a double-door that was being guarded by two people with convention badges. We were curious and we asked what was happening inside. We were told that there was an invitation-only "rap session" with the stars happening inside. Bob and I weren't on the invitation list, but we asked if we could go in. The guards said that they weren't supposed to let us, but not everyone had shown up and it was about to start, so...sure!
So, Bob and I entered a suite where about a dozen other fans were already sitting in the living room area on couches and on the floor. We sat down, and moments later George Takei walked in. He sat down, talked about Star Trek a bit, and answered questions for a half hour or so. He was very friendly and chatty (more on that later).
Next, Mark Leonard came out. He wasn't so keen on talking about Star Trek. Remember, this was seven years before Next Generation, and the first movie had just finished its run, so it wasn't really "cool" for "serious actors" to be enthusiastic about Star Trek. This begs the question of why Mr. Leonard showed up at the convention. At any rate, the fans tried to ask him about Star Trek, and received terse answers at best. Finally, Mr. Leonard said, "Let's talk about something else. I wasn't just on Star Trek. I've done many other wonderful things." The crowd wasn't really interested, though. He left shortly thereafter.
Next up was Jesco von Puttkamer. Despite the fans' obvious interest in space, they didn't really seem to know what to ask an honest to god rocket scientist. He wasn't there for long.
Finally, Walter Koenig came in. He was initially the opposite of George Takei--very quiet and reserved. But, once the fans started talking to him, he got more and more animated and turned out to be just as nice (if not nearly so outgoing) as George Takei. My friend Bob and I asked him about how he developed his Russian accent (Bob and I were in the same Russian class in school). We even criticized the accent a bit--in a good-natured way. He took it well.
On the way out, I asked Walter Koenig if he'd be interested in reading some of the sci-fi scripts I had written in junior high school (I still have them--blatant Trek rip-offs, but I thought they were great at the time). He let me down easy.
This was easily one of the most memorable convention experiences in a convention that was full of memorable experiences.
Close Encounters with George Takei
No. It's not what you're thinking. Stop that.
As I said earlier, George Takei is a really friendly, outgoing guy. Of all of the stars I've ever met in person, he has to be the nicest, most genuine person. When he talked in front of a crowd, it was obvious that he wasn't just there to cash in on his Star Trek fame. He was there because he loved to be there. He really enjoyed hanging out with the fans. Of course, anyone can come off as nice in a public setting. But you really find out what a person is like when you meet them one-on-one.
Turns out that happened twice at Starbase Baltimore.
The first time, I was riding an elevator alone (no doubt returning from one of my exploration junkets, since I was coming down from the third floor). The elevator stopped on the second floor, and in walks George Takei. Now, I have always hated those gushing fans who drool all over a star and make a nuisance of themselves, so I decided that the best thing for me to do if I wanted to maintain my dignity was to say nothing.
The elevator started moving. I stood there, wearing my convention badge proudly on my Superman t-shirt trying (without much success, I suspect) not to look like a total geek. George Takei turns to me, looks at my shirt, and says hello, and then says, "You know, I once ran a marathon with someone who wore a full Superman costume." I stammered something in reply, and we chatted about his marathon for the 45 seconds or so that it took for the elevator to reach the lobby. When the doors opened, George said, "Well, it's been nice talking to you!" and went on his way.
I was very impressed at how normal a guy he was, and was quick to tell all of my friends about our epic conversation.
The second encounter was on the last day of the convention. They were closing down the dealer's room and everything was over. Bob and I were waiting for whoever was picking us up that day to pick us up, and Bob was munching on Fritos. While we were standing in the hallway, George Takei walked into the men's room. Jokingly, I said to Bob that George Takei was a nice guy and that he (Bob) should offer him some Fritos or something.
Not one to turn down a dare, Bob waited until George came out of the restroom, walked over to him and said, "Hi, Mr. Takei! Want some Fritos?" George turned around, smiled, and said, "Thank you! You're very kind!" He then proceeded to reach in the bag and grab a huge handful of Fritos. He walked away across the lobby, munching them.
No big deal in either case...but to a couple of 15 year old Star Trek fans, it was. And it definitely made a lasting impression about what a cool guy George Takei is.
Maybe, subconsciously, that's why one of the few voices I imitate well is his...
The Costume Party Play
Every day, they posted sheets with the day's events all over the convention. My friend John and I were looking at one of these one day, and we saw that they were having tryouts for parts in a play that was going to be performed the next night at the costume party. The "play" was actually the bar fight scene from the episode The Trouble With Tribbles. John said he wanted to try out to be a Klingon, and he convinced me to go along.
When I got there, there were a bunch of people trying out. Like John, I was really only there to be a Klingon extra. But, when they cast the part of Scotty, it was obvious that most people thought the guy who had been picked sucked. John kept nudging me and saying that my Scottish accent was way better, and I should try out to be Scotty. So I did. As I recall, the guy who was originally cast as Scotty was something of a jerk that was already well-known around the convention. After my audition (the other guy was kind of surly about the fact that I did audition), whoever was in charge had the two of us turn around and by a show of hands, they voted on who got to be Scotty. I won by a landslide. Jerk-guy got to be Kirk. (We carried the performance through to the follow-up scene where Kirk angrily interrogates the people who were involved in the fight.)
That night, I studied the lines from the scene until I knew them cold. We rehearsed the next afternoon and found out two things. First, the play would be performed in front of the stars (scary). Second, the fist fight from the scene was to be replaced by a pie fight (fun).
So, the costume party started, and we did our little performance. It went swimmingly. I got to throw the first pie at the lead Klingon (played by a hot girl who was dressed as an Orion slave girl). Chekov was also female--played by Gail Standish (who I got to be friends with).
The only star who showed up that night was Walter Koenig, and he got a huge kick out of the performance.
In retrospect, it was a pretty bold move for me--I tend to be very shy by nature. But the feeling of camaraderie at Star Trek conventions seems to bring even the most diehard introverts out of their shell. And I had a blast.
The Phaser Battle
The Trivia Contest
After my stellar showing on Star Trek Day at the library, I was psyched...and a little scared...to take on a big crowd of fellow geeks at the convention. There turned out to be around 250 contestants in the contest, and (as I recall) they had to spread it out over a couple of sessions.
Everyone stood in a long line stretching to the back of the huge ballroom. One by one, the contestants took the stage. They stepped to the microphone, and the guy in charge read the question. The contestant answered and then either got back in line or walked away in abject defeat. The contest was triple-elimination--which meant that you could get two questions wrong, but if you go a third one wrong you were out.
I got my first two questions wrong.
Needless to say, I was really bummed and I expected to be eliminated on my third trip to the stage. But then the Trek trivia that was rattling around in my brain finally started clicking, and I hit my stride. The line got shorter and shorter, and I just kept getting my questions right. I was on a roll!
Finally, it got down to five of us. We rotated through several increasingly difficult questions, and all of us kept answering correctly. Finally, they got the five of us on stage and started digging through trivia books to find questions that would finally trip us up.
The one that killed me was quoting a headline that had been on Spock's tricorder screen for about a second and a half in City on the Edge of Forever--the headline proclaiming Edith Keeler's death. I dug deep, and said "Social Worker Dies." The actual headline was "Social Worker Killed."
That one word took me down. But, even today, I can brag that I came in third out of over 250 in a Star Trek trivia contest. Of course that was back in the days when there were only 78 episodes and one movie. But still..
All of those were the major highlights of the convention as I remember them. Like I said, there were a lot of things that made that first con stand out in my mind as the best one. Some of the other stuff that made Starbase Baltimore great included:
The Dealer's Room: My first experience with a dealer's room at a Star Trek convention was an overwhelming experience. I knew from the moment I stepped through the door that there was no way I'd have enough money to buy every single thing I wanted. There was just so much! I don't remember everything I bought, but I do remember getting:
- The original Star Trek Technical Manual
- The original Star Trek Medical Reference Manual
- My aforementioned phaser water pistol
- Starfleet Battle Manual, a paper and dice game with starship cutouts that was played in HUGE spaces (like whole rooms). A precursor to a later obsession of mine (Starfleet Battles)
- A tribble.
Computer Games: There was a computer gaming room at the convention. Back then, computer games weren't very common (video games were still pretty new-ish, and few people could afford a home computer at that point). There was a Star Trek game with ASCII text graphics that I thought was AWESOME. I didn't get to play much, but I vowed that someday I would have it. I tried to program it on my TI-994A. I failed. But hey...now, nearly 30 years later, I have Starfleet Command. And that's way better.
Gaming Room: Like most conventions at the time, Starbase Baltimore had a gaming room, where people could play games like Dungeons and Dragons. This particular one was awesome because they had it set up in the Hunt Valley Inn's wine cellar--which was probably the most dungeon-like gaming room I've ever seen at a convention. I partook a bit, but not much--I was on a Trek kick that weekend. Come to think of it...I think that might have been where Andy was most of the time...Films: I don't recall if I actually watch any films that weekend--there was too much other stuff to do--but they were showing Trek episodes and bloopers, as well as episodes of other shows and sci-fi movies. (Strictly 16 MM film--no video "back in the day.")