Houstoncon

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Convention
Name: Houstoncon
Dates: 1967-1982
Frequency:
Location: Houston, TX
Type:
Focus: comic books, later Star Trek: TOS
Organization:
Founder: Roy Bonario, Gene Arnold, Marc Schooley
Founding Date:
URL:
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The program cover for 1982 "The Con of Wrath" aka "Ultimate Fantasy" -- it contains 44 pages.

Houstoncon was a series of conventions. Its primary historical focus was comic books, gaining Star Trek: TOS content later, with the last con almost all Trek. It is this last con that most fans remember. It billed as Ultimate Fantasy, later, The Con of Wrath.

This is not the same thing as Star Trek: Houston.

1974 and 1975: Combined With a Star Trek Con

In 1974 and 1975, "Houstoncon" was combined with a somewhat separate Star Trek con, not unlike Equicon was with Filmcon for a few years.

The Star Trek part of the con had a Star Trek guest of honor.

While some of the programming happened alongside the regular "Houstoncon" offerings, the Star Trek film rooms and the Star Trek dealers room were on different floors.

There was, of course, some conflict between these two different elements, and the somewhat different fans they attracted. The influx of Star Trek fans and their "feral" ways was viewed in disdain by some SF fans.

From an SF fan:
Like all Star Trek cons, this one had its share of Trekkies. To some people Trekkie refers to any Star Trek fan, but most ST fans find the word demeaning. I myself apply the term to female ST fans who squeal at the thought of just seeing one of the Star Trek cast in person. There were defiantly some of those at Houston. Trekkies are usually less mature than most ST fans and tend to make a nuisance of themselves. [1]
And some Star Trek fans were not particularly interested in the comics and old-time radio elements of the traditional programming. While this fan is commenting on the 1978 con, her disappointment was perhaps an echo of these 1974 and 75 cons:
The Con was a big disappointment—it was about 85% comic books, 10% Star Wars, and the last 5% a combination of Star Trek, Elvis, and other nostalgia. They only had two episodes of ST scheduled for the entire four day Con. It also seemed to be attended mostly by teenage boys and famly groups. I didn’t run across anyone else like me—a 33-year-old-single-intelligent-adult ST fan who just wanted to talk. [2]

Star Trek is the souvenir program book for this subset of "Houstoncon."

Some Early History

Roy Bonario, Gene Arnold, Marc Schooley and a group of Houston-based comic book fans founded the Houston Comic Collector's Association in 1965. The HCCA was led by Bonario and fellow fans Mark Schooley and Jerry Poscovsky. They put on the first Houstoncon, which was first called "the Houston Comic Convention." This first convention was held at the Ramada Inn on June 16–18, 1967.

In Dallas in 1966, another con was held. It was called "Southwesterncon."

Houstoncon is the con that is the result of the mergers of "Southwestnerncon" and the "Houston Comic Convention." This first Houstoncon debuted in Dallas in 1966. By 1973, the partnership with Southwesterncon was dissolved and Houstoncon became an annual event. Houstoncon was then run by Ed Blair, Jr, with the help of G.B. Love.

Houstoncon started out as an every-other-year convention.

Some Badges, Flyers, Pages from a Program Book

Old Photos

1969

Houstoncon 1969 (still referred to as "Southwesterncon" in some publications) took place June 20-22, 1969 at Houston's Ramada Inn. The first Houstoncon attracted 124 attendees.

Ed Blair, Jr. was chairman.

1971

Houstoncon 1971 took place June 17–20 and featured Kirk Alyn at his first fan convention.

flyer for the 1971 con

Ed Blair, Jr. was chairman.

1973

Houstoncon1973.jpg

Houstoncon 1973 was held June 21–24 at the Marriott Motor Hotel in Houston, attracting over 2,000 attendees; guests include Kirk Alyn, Frank Coghlan, Jr., William Benedict, William Witney, Dave Sharpe, Al Williamson, and Don Newton.

Ed Blair, Jr. was chairman

1973: Con Reports

It had been two years since I had attended a Southwestern convention, and after the hectic disappoitment of the '73 New York convention, I needed the break. Southwestern cons are far more relaxed in atmosphere than New York although there is easily just as much there to do, plus Houston was far more organized and concerned about the attendees than the ungainly and unfeeling New York con was. Films ran almost constantly at Houston in three different rooms beginning at ten o'clock in the morning and running after midnight. The only lengthy breaks between films occurred when the various panel discussions took place. The guest list at Houston was quite impressive as it included artist Al Williamson, Don Newton, Fred Fredericks, actors Dave Sharpe, Tom Steel, William Benedict, Kirk Alyn and former movie Tarzan Jock Mahoney. Of the actors the two I looked forward to meeting the most were Jock Mahoney and Oave Sharpe. I had always liked Jock Kahoney in his old YANCY DERRINGER TV series anc of all the people who worked in serials in the thirties and forties, I enjoyed watching none nore than actor/ stuntman supreme Dave Sharpe. The serial panel discussion was headed by Dave Sharpe as well as the other serial luminaries in attendance. The panel got off to a rousing start when Dave Sharpe and William Benedict staged a mock fight, and Dave Sharpe, although in his sixties, showed that he is as agile as ever and can still do a perfect fall. Sharpe is still very active in films having recently appeared in THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE as well as doubling Tony Curtis in THE GREAT RACE. Another serial stuntman present was Ton Steel. I asked Tom how he felt about being the real star of THE MASKED MARVEL but yet receiving no screen credit. He replied that it really didn't matter to him, that it was "just a job".

The art panel, consisting of Al Williamson, Don Newton and Fred Fredericks was quite interesting as it brought to light some problems artists were having that I hadn't heard discussed before. One concerned only Williamson and Fredericks as it had to do with the restricted space given to daily comic strips, requiring artists to make the lettering larger, thus cutting down on the space in a panel for the art. The other point all agreed on and that was the diminishing quality of the art impliments produced today. Williamson especially was critical of things like pen prints of which he used to buy fifty that would last five years but now can't get through one year with a gross. He also said the paper produced now is much poorer and it takes him longer to do a drawing or it because cf that due to ink blotting and the paper bleeding. Don Newton mentioned that the paper shortage itself effected hiii when Charlton suspended operations for two months because of it. Many people feel that if you want to get the really rare comics that you have to go to New York. Not so. This year Houston's dealers room had no less than three copies of WHIZ 12 (#1) and one sold there for $2800. There were also copies there of ACTION #1, BATMAN n as well as piles of EC's. Something I had never seen at any convention before was at Houston, that was full tabloid size original Spirit sections. Only one dealer had them as they are quite rare, but the prices were a bit steep as they were from the late forties and were being sold for five times what the normal sized Spirit sections sell for.

There were also a lot of fine itens that appeared in the auction (an auction that, by the way, was free of any unseemly percentage charge). Superman #1 was auctioned off, as well as, several films Including NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Cne rather startling thing that occurred in the auction was when the cover proof set to CONAN #4 was auctioned off. Even though it's a one of a kind item, cover proofs are not that, rare, and yet some apparently Barry Smith fans wanted it badly enough to bid it up to $52.00! The highlight of the auction was the Carl Bark's painting that Russ Cochran put in. Dale Manesis and Burrell Rowe bid on It frantically until Dale finally got it for $2,350.00! That's only fifty dollars shy of the maximum price paid for a Bark's painting. And I can remember when I thought the nine hindred dollar prices paid last summer at New York were rather high. The prices on things in comic fandom are skyrocketing to say the least. I'm afraid that this is causing too many fans to be left behind in a cloud of dust wondering where it will all end.

BEST ART SHOW EVER.

The art show at Houston was easily the best presented at any Southwesterncon. It included the original Frazetta painting from the paperback edition of FLASHING SWORDS 41, two Carl Barks paintings, art by Al Williamson, Don Newton, and a splendid array of astronomical paintings by Morris Scott Dollens. The paintings by Dollens included extra-terrestrial landscapes as well as several Star Trek paintings featuring beautiful scenes of the Enterprise in space. But the convention's art show was not the only place that stunning works of artistry could be beheld. Kenneth Smith opened his room as a gallery of his works and on display there was virtually every major piece he's done, as well as many new pieces. The Imagination and color serene of the paintings was almost overpowering when so many were there to see at once.

Still other artistic creations were there in the form of figures constructed by John Fischner. Most of these were sculptures of creatures which have appeared in the films of Ray Harryhausen. The major exception was a sculpture of the crucified alien that had been originally rendered in a Frank Frazetta painting on cover of NATIONAL LAMPOON. John's representation of it was very finely done and sold for $40. [3]

1974

Houstoncon 1974 was held June 20–23 at Houston's Sheraton-Lincoln Hotel. There were over 2,500 attendees.

Ed Blair, Jr. was chairman.

In 1974, the show had merged with the local Star Trek convention and was co-produced by Ed Blair, Jr. with G.B. Love. Guests of Honor included Walter Koenig, Al Williamson, Dan Adkins, Don Newton, Kenneth Smith, Fred Fredericks, Jock Mahoney, Kirk Alyn, Tom Steele, William Benedict, and stuntman Dave Sharpe.

flyer from 1974

1974: Con Reports

For the first time in Houston, a different kind of ST convention was held... It was different because it was being held in conjunction with Houstoncon, a nostalgia-comic book convention which (unfortunately) got top billing while the ST convention was mentioned as an entirely different con. The name 'Houstoncon' was identified with a ST Convention. Attendance was estimate between two and three thousand... The only guest for the Star Trek convention was Walter Koenig. He was available for about an hour each day, and made a speech on Saturday... Even though there was not a whole lot of Star Trek in this convention, it was still a lot of fun. [4]

Walter Koenig was greeted by a very enthusiastic welcome at Houstoncon. Although Water enjoyed being the Star Trek convention's guest, he was plagued by the problem that confronts any actor who becomes heavily identified with a certain role. This was most in evidence when he appeared on a Houston talk show. When people called in to talk to him and ask questions they invariably called him Ensign Chekov. At first when someone called him Chekov he would silently mouth his name "Walter." But as it persisted time after time, call after call, he'd start saying "Call me Walter," and he even had to say this to the show's host once. Those who called him up were primarily girls, and one giggled so much you'd sware [sic] you could hear her blush. Primarily though the hour long talk show was very good as Dave Sharpe and Jock Mahoney were also guests with Walter and were interviewed. The show was very noticeably slanted toward Star Trek fans though as the host concentrated on Walter and showed a clip from the a Star Trek episode as part of the Star Trek bloopers, a part which apparently hadn't been prescreened by the station too carefully as it had a four letter word in in that ain't supposed to creep out over the air waves.

Like all Star Trek cons, this one had its share of Trekkies. To some people Trekkie refers to any Star Trek fan, but most ST fans find the word demeaning. I myself apply the term to female ST fans who squeal at the thought of just seeing one of the Star Trek cast in person. There were defiantly some of those at Houston. Trekkies are usually less mature than most ST fans and tend to make a nuisance of themselves. I discovered this for myself when I was waiting for an elevator going up along with a number of other people when one going down stopped., the door opened, but no one got out before the door closed and it continued down. Was out of sight of the door so I haven't really noticed much when a girl suddenly started laughing. She turned to a friend of hers and said, "Walter Koenig was on that elevator. He was about to get off when he saw you, turned around and got back on." [snipped: detailed info about some elevator hijinks]. Thankfully, most Star Trek fans aren't like that although I'm sure similar incenses occur at any convention.

On Saturday, Walter gave a talk and appeared on a Star Trek panel discussion. The swarms of fans who came to see this were of such numbers that the film screening room where it was to be held had to be opened up into the adjoining screening room to accommodate a standing room only crowd. For weeks there had been rumors flying about a new Star Trek movie in the works. Walter clarified all reports by stating that Gene Roddenberry and Paramount were negotiating to make a new Star Trek movie by nothing had been signed. It was still a hopeful sign though as it was the first time that Paramount had stated they were interested in reviving Star Trek. So although nothing was definite, talking was going on in serious degrees. One holdup was that Paramount was cautious about spending very much; they wanted to do a quickie and Roddenberry wanted to see it done right. The audience started to get a bit ugly when Walter mentioned that Paramount had suggested to Roddenberry that the series have all new stars, an idea which Roddenberry didn't care much for. When Walter was asked what other former cast members are doing right now, he mentioned that George Takei is on the Los Angeles Rapid Transit Commission. Quipped Walter, "He's navigating."

The turn out at the Houstoncon 74/Star Trek 74 made it the largest fan convention held outside New York and California. "We attempted to give the fans two distinct conventions for the price of one," convention chairmen Earl Blair and G.B. Love said. "Needless to say, we were more than pleased at the reaction. We felt, however, that most fans were a bit skeptical about the idea, not really believing they were actually going to get two cons for the price of one, but we made believers out of them, and we intend to expand the idea even further next year."

The success actually came as little surprise as all dealers tables had been sold by May 1st and advance ticket orders more than doubled the previous years'.

The Star Trek dealers rooms (which were on a separate floor from the Houstoncon dealers room, as was the Star Trek 74 film room) had plenty of Star Trek souvenirs, and dealers there did very well, averaging $500-700 taken in. ST items ranged from magazines, books, and T-shirts, to one dealer who had a hundred different color of Star Trek photos, most of them quite unique.

Films shown, besides ST episodes such as "City On the Edge of Forever" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before" as well as several others, included the feature science fiction filks THE TIME MACHINE, FORBIDDEN PLANET, EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS, DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL as well as the Star Trek bloopers, which packed the room every time it was screened (which was every day!). Next year even bigger films are planed for an even bigger and better STAR TREK '75. [5]

1975

Houstoncon 1975 took place June 25–29 at the Royal Coach Inn, was again merged with the Houston Star Trek convention.

cover of the 1975 program book

Guests of honor included C.C. Beck, George Takei, Jock Mahoney, John Wooley, and Don "Red" Barry. Beck and Barry served as judges for the costume contest.

Ed Blair, Jr. was chairman.

1976

Houstoncon 1976 was held June 17-20.

Schooley and Bonario were chairs and Ed Blair, Jr. was a consultant.

1976: Con Reports

Friendly was the key word...George Takei was warm and outgoing, never showed he was tired of answering dumb questions--though he was overheard assuring Laura Virgil that he was "bushy-eyed and bright-tailed!" Grace Lee Whitney was truly charming; a very sweet person...she and husband Jack Dale were both very polite and more than co-operative with everyone. Johnny Weissmuller always spoke to everyone nicely around the hotel as he encountered them, and is still very much Tarzan! The people were friendly and the con committee, though disorganized, very helpful. There was a fairly good mockup of the shuttlecraft, it felt weird to be in it. The lights in the dealer's rooms were out for three hours on Saturday, and the hotel ice and coke machines always broken—just to mention the glitches. Not too many ST dealers—they were greatly outnumbered by the nostalgia dealers. [6]

1977

Houstoncon 1977

Guests of the 1977 show included Frank Brunner, Spanky McFarland, Jock Mahoney, George Takei, Forrest J Ackerman, and Roy Rogers.

1978

Houstoncon 1978 guests include Frankie Thomas, Kirk Alyn, Ron Goulart, Gil Kane, Jenette Kahn, Frank Brunner, Ray Harryhausen, Greg Jein, Jim Newsome, and Paula Crist.

1978: Con Reports

Just two weeks ago I attended my first con, Houston Con ’78, and picked up a flyer about Ambrov Zeor books, which fortunately had your address. The Con was a big disappointment — it was about 85% comic books, 10% Star Wars, and the last 5% a combination of Star Trek, Elvis, and other nostalgia. They only had two episodes of ST scheduled for the entire four day Con. It also seemed to be attended mostly by teenage boys and family groups. I didn’t run across anyone else like me — a 33-year-old-single-intelligent-adult ST fan who just wanted to talk. [7]

1979

Houstoncon 1979 guests included Walter Koenig and George Pérez.

1980

Houstoncon 1980 took place June 20–22. A featured guest was George Pérez.

1982 ("Ultimate Fantasy" aka "The Con of Wrath")

The final Houstoncon, held June 19–20, 1982, at Houston's The Summit Hotel.

program cover for "The Con of Wrath" aka "Ultimate Fantasy", it contains 44 pages

This con is mostly known as "Ultimate Fantasy" (and later "The Con of Wrath"). It was organized by local fan Jerry Wilhite, and scheduled for shortly after the release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

The Ultimate Fantasy assembled the entire main cast of the original Star Trek TV series as guests. The con was promoted with magazine advertising, laser light shows, billboards, a huge venue, and other promotional gimmicks. Walter Koenig's play, The Machiavellian Principle, was written and performed exclusively for this event.

Due to poor sales and apparent mismanagement, only a few hundred people attended the convention.

Similar Disasters

1982: Con Reports

I Survived the Con of Wrath contains one fan's account.

From Boldly Writing:

Convention organizers in Houston had announced for some time an extravaganza called The Ultimate Fantasy. They had booked all the Star Trek actors except Leonard Nimoy, as well as Star Trek II producer Harve Bennett. This convention was heavily advertised and promoted. Convention attendance was expected to be in the thousands. Announcements stated, 'vacation packages available including hotel, convention tickets to Ultimate Fantasy, banquet with the stars and the new Star Trek movie.' The reality, however, was different. Only hundreds, not thousands, showed up. The stars ended up speaking in mostly-empty convention halls. People who had paid for packages found that the hotel had no record of their rooms being prepaid. Despite this, the convention went on. Local fans helped the incoming fans who suddenly found themselves without hotel rooms. Harve Bennett and the stars outdid themselves in the attitude that 'the show must go on.' Despite the difficulties, with everyone pulling together, those who attended often ended up with fantastic stories to tell. In the July Interstat, Beverly Zuk reported having a good time despite problems, and Teri Meyer singled out Harve Bennett for his assistance: 'Thank you, Harve Bennett and cast. We are grateful. We are a fandom, blessed'.

From Nancy Kippax:

Later that summer, another event took place that certainly had a negative influence on fandom, but as with so many memories, it has now become a special privilege to have been a part of it. I'm talking about a convention – an extravaganza – that took place in Houston, Texas called "The Ultimate Fantasy" – which became known among fans as "The Ultimate Fiaso" or, "The Con of Wrath"!

A group of fans in Texas had decided, around the summer or fall of 1981, that they were going to put on the biggest and best Star Trek convention in history. As I remember it, they hooked up with a convention promoter, an entrepreneur whom they trusted to run things. Fandom was deluged with flyers and ads. Calling their massive event "The Ultimate Fantasy", they rented out not only a large portion of a downtown Houston hotel, but the Civic Center Auditorium, where they planned to mount shows on the Saturday and Sunday of the con. Their guest list included every one of the original cast except Leonard Nimoy (who was apparently the only one with sound business sense), but also the featured performers from "The Wrath of Khan" – Merritt Butrick, Kirstie Alley, Bibi Besch. And Producer Harve Bennett. They offered various package plans. You could buy all the convention activities plus any or all of the shows at the Auditorium, you could have your hotel room included or not. There was even an opportunity to be a Gold Sponsor or a Silver Sponsor, which entitled you to everything plus some special perks to boot. The materials and presentation seemed organized and comprehensive. It sounded like it was going to be a fabulous weekend celebration.

Everything started to unravel almost immediately. People arriving at the designated hotel on the night before the con heard strange rumblings about money problems and a much lower attendance than the promoters had planned for. I'm not sure why this con failed to get the anticipated numbers. After all, the early cons in New York had drawn 14,000 and more. Perhaps it was the Houston location – a long trip for anyone other than a devoted (and flush) fan. The con itself was expensive, even if you didn't get one of the larger package deals. It was summer, and Houston was hot as Vulcan, the kind of humid heat that plastered your shirt to your body if you just stepped outside for five minutes. Whatever the reasons, fans just didn't come forth in great numbers, not enough to pay for everything that had been contracted for plus the appearance fees of all the guests they had invited.

Those guests started arriving, expecting to pick up their checks before they went on stage, and it soon became apparent that there was no money with which to pay them. At this point, the con committee, made up mostly of long time Star Trek fans, were running all over the place trying to find the man who controlled the money, the Promoter with whom they had been working, but the man was no where to be found.

Con attendees woke up on the Friday morning of the convention to find that the hotel had slipped notices under their doors informing them that they would have to come down to the front desk and either pay or check out. Many of these people had already paid for their hotel rooms – to the convention. But the hotel had not received payment for the rooms!

We were lucky in that we had ordered our hotel rooms independently and not through the convention. We all got the same under the door notice, but we could go down and prove that ours had been Visa or MasterCard charges to the hotel itself. But the fans who had paid through the convention had to either pack up and get out or pay the charges a second time and hope to get the original money back somehow.

Friday was a down day, with only the Dealer's Room open and no scheduled shows as all of this horror show unfolded. Even the Dealer's Room was in jeopardy of being closed down. Dealers had to take up a collection among themselves to pay the hotel.

Harve Bennett arrived in the midst of all this and quickly perceived what was happening and took charge. He rounded up the performers (everyone was there except for William Shatner, who was scheduled to arrive Saturday morning) and spoke to them all. He felt it wasn't fair to the fans who had innocently come expecting to be entertained. Harve had a very strong sense of "Star Trek's" fan base and what it meant to the franchise. He also had a strong sense of decency and fairness. At the end of that first day, it was announced that he was going to talk to us all at what had been planned as a scheduled press conference with the working press to meet and interview the actors. He had soothed and pacified the stars,convincing them all that they had to go on with the planned activities and shows at the Auditorium, whether or not they got paid. The convention Committee members had promised to pay what they owed, it just could not be that weekend. Harve called everyone together and took the helm with all the aplomb of Captain Kirk. His first words, in fact, as he stepped out to the mike, were a modified quote from the latest movie. He said, "As of ___ o'clock, I am taking control of this ship!" And his audience laughed, releasing the tension. He rejuvenated everyone's flagging spirits and showed us what "Star Trek" was all about. It was an amazing moment, a stirring testimony to why we loved these people so much!

Harve Bennett wasn't the only "hero" that weekend. Over at the Civic Center, the sound and light crews were getting ready to walk off, because they hadn't been paid, either. Young Merritt Buttrick took money out of his own wallet and paid the techs. His mom lived in Texas, and his family was coming to see him, so the show was personally important to him. William Shatner, for all his misgivings, came out on the stage at the Civic Center on both days and carried that audience in the palm of his hands, making everyone laugh and sigh and understand why we were fans. Nichelle Nichols gave an amazing performance of her song, "Beyond Antares". They had all pitched in like troupers and given us more than their time and talents.

Some of the events were scrapped and others reduced to bare bones, but the shows did go on and something magical had happened that was worth more than simply watching performances from afar. We had glimpsed the generosity and devotion emanating from a group of jaded Hollywood people for us, for their fans. They had reciprocated and reflected our love back at us.

And the missing Promoter? I have no knowledge of what ever became of him. But, sadly, several people on the Committee actually lost their homes and some had to declare bankruptcy, we learned later. I don't know if all reparations were ever made, but I believe an attempt was made. These people weren't dishonest or con artists. With the exception of that one convention promoter, they were all basically just fans like the rest of us. They got in over their heads, expected an attendance in the thousands and got hundreds, and ultimately had to pay the price in one way or another. There were mistakes in judgment and they over-extended themselves. For them, it was a personal disaster. As someone said at the time, they had Texas-sized ideas without the funds to back them up.[8]
From Marnie S:
The Con of Wrath, or Ultimate Fiasco, it was a horrible metaphor for the ultimate mess-up. The guy behind it was not a normal member of the group. He had great designs, wonderful, fantastic desires and ideas, but he did not carry it out well. He was not a good businessman, he screwed everything up, he took a lot of money, which he frittered away. I don't think he had any — went into it with any kind of criminal intent, because he lost his house, he lost his marriage, he lost his wife, he lost pretty much everything that he had. But he was — He just never should have been involved in it in the first place. And, he, ah, a lot of people lost tons of money, who came in from not just the U.S. but from overseas. Who thought they had prepaid rooms, who had bought packages, that were supposed to be having transportation and seeing sights, and the shows. And he had rented this enormous, what was it called? I'm trying to think of the name of the venue, it was the enormous auditorium which was used primarily for basketball games and the Shrine Circus and what have you. It seated fifteen to seventeen thousand people? And he had supposedly planned five to seven shows? He had booked all the cast of Wrath of Khan except Nimoy, who couldn't make it, and I'd lined up Harve Bennett to come and talk too. And then promised them the world, and then couldn't deliver on most of it. He spent tons of money keeping a fleet of limos on call, twenty-four hours a day, for five days, and they did insist on being paid upfront— they were about the only people who were paid. And, for the rest of it, it went phhhbbt.

People did help. Katherine and her husband ... did a lot of work for him. I mean — The fans were starry-eyed and saying, this was the way, this was a fantastic convention. He had promised so much, and they were trying to help as much as possible. Completely unpaid; none of us got any money out of it at all.... it was discovered Thursday, the first night, before it was supposed to even open the shows, that fans were arriving and rooms at the hotel had not been paid for, food that had been promised had not been paid for, was not going to suddenly show up. People were here who'd traveled from England, for heaven's sake, and they had no money and no — y'know, very little money and — everything was supposedly all prepaid and it was not there.

A number of fans, those who had helped the most and were the most influential...literally maxed out their credit cards by paying for as much as they could. Other fans in the area took people into homes, to give them a place to live. Those of us who had been on security— we'd been training for about six months, actually, martial arts and crowd-control techniques and stuff like that, we were supposed to be put up at the hotel, which of course we weren't, but we, they did have a green room for us at the, ah, the venue, and we wound up going out and— There were two of us that were married, went out and bought food and brought it in, to give the actors something to eat. And then the actors, out of their pockets, when they found out what was going on, many of them pitched in. And George, and I think Walter even helped too. It wound up that there was supposedly this big banquet that was already paid for, and of course wasn't there. George and Walter wound up buying — I think it was mostly paid for by George, though — wound up buying food, and put out a spread of cold cuts and sandwiches and salad stuff so people would have something to eat, out of their own pockets. And they knew they weren't going to get paid. And other of the actors chipped in for this and that. When the call was made to Harve Bennett, who hadn't come out yet, because it was before it was supposed to start, and he was still back in California, he flew out immediately. He jumped in and got Paramount to help subsidize and keep this, because they didn't want the name and the franchise of Star Trek to — He convinced them that they didn't want to tarnish Star Trek with this enormous failure. And he stepped in, and they made good on a lot of stuff that otherwise would not have even gone off. He called Shatner the next day — Shatner wasn't supposed to come out until Friday — well, I guess this was started on Wednesday — Friday, and Shatner jumped on a plane. He didn't even go home, I don't think. He went directly from work, wherever he was working that day, on whatever lot, grabbed only what he had, I guess in his dressing room, which was a little bitty carry-on bag, a valise, and jumped on the plane and came out that night. The show had not been written, which... Mark Lenard, stayed up all night writing a show, putting something together. Mark was very, very involved in that. He did a lot of that, well, he and Walter did most of it. People just jumped in. They had already lined up a bunch of appearances at local radio stations, TV station, Good Morning Houston, and there was a visit to the children's hospital, which the actors insisted should not be publicized. They did not want to do it for publicity, but to help out and visit the kids. [9]
From Alayne Gelfand:
[I saw an ad] in the back of a Starlog magazine, it said "The Ultimate Fantasy." And I went, "What's that?" And I looked into it, and took myself off to Houston, and the rest is kind of history. I met people there and it just rolled on... It was a huge con that was a disaster. Everybody who had hotel reservations— the people had run off with the money, there were no hotel rooms for anybody. The con was small, so you had all these— Most of the actors there were talking to, like, fifty people, so it was kind of embarrassing too— But it was my first con experience, and I was standing against a wall looking forlorn, and this woman came over and said, "Look, you know, do you have a room, do you need help, have you been here before, are you a fan—" whatever. And she took me into the dealers' room, showed me what a fanzine was, and she showed up on my doorstep the following weekend with a huge suitcase full of fanzines. So that was the beginning [of my involvement in fandom]....Oh, I ran toward it, arms open. It was wonderful. It was just exactly what I needed at the right time of my life. It gave me a community, and it gave me a philosophy that was positive when my life wasn't real great. [10]

Further Reading/Meta

References

  1. HoustonCon 71-74: Star Trek's Koenig a Big Hit, Archived version
  2. by Elaine Hauptman in A Companion in Zeor #2
  3. HoustonCon 71-74, Archived version -- this was most likely orginally printed in Trek, something this scanned version does not mention
  4. From a con report in A Piece of the Action #16
  5. HoustonCon 71-74: Star Trek's Koenig a Big Hit, Archived version
  6. from A Piece of the Action #41
  7. by Elaine Hauptman in A Companion in Zeor #2
  8. Reminisce With Me/"The Needs of the Many..."
  9. Marnie S. from Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Kandy Fong and Marnie S
  10. from Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Alayne Gelfand