ZebraCon/1984

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ZebraCon 5 (1984)

Zebracon 5 was held on August 10, 11, 12, 1984 in the Chicago area at the The Hyatt Lincolnwood or the Holiday Inn-O'Hare Kennedy. It was the first year that the convention welcomed fans from other fandoms.

detail from a flyer: "How'd you leave Chicago?" -- "Pretty much as I found it."

Membership was limited to 100 people.

Con chairs were Karen B and Jean C.

Cost: Attending -- 22.50 + 3 legal-size SASEs Supporting: $5.00+3 legal-size SASEs. "We will accept Apocryphal Memberships at the door, whatthehell, eh?" [1]

From an ad in the back of Between Friends #3: "ZEBRA CON is pleased to welcome REMINGTON STEELE, HILL STREET BLUES, SIMON & SIMON, MAN FROM UNCLE, and THE PROFESSIONALS this year - potential dealers take note." As a result, membership climbed back up to 93 people, and a total of $450 was raised for charity. The Saturday night play was "Demonstrated To Death," was written by Paula Smith and Jody Nye and was a parody of the controversial zine Decorated for Death. A copy of the parody sold for $115.00 at the charity auction. This play was later printed in Ten-Thirteen #2. There is a con report in Between Friends #5 which mentions there was no video room, the food at the banquet was excellent, and the panels were fabulous.

Guest of Honor

The Guest of Honor was to have been Paulie Gilmore, the founder of Zebra Con.

From the third progress report: "Sadly, she will not be able to attend.. .[personal family problems redacted] We'll all miss her! Because of this, items donated for the Fan Fund are being transferred to the Charity Auction, unless those who donated items wish to withdraw them... in which case please let us know immediately. Those of you who have bid on Fan Fund items don't worry - those bids are not affected; only the money received will go to Charity."

The Charity

The con's charity was "The National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse."

Programming

From the third progress report:

Help! We need three volunteers: someone to run the discussion group on HILL STREET BLUES, someone to run the discussion group on SIMON & SIMON, and someone (preferably a writer) to fill out the "/" Fiction panel. If no one volunteers, the HSB and S&S discussions will have to be cancelled. We have discussion groups scheduled for Remington Steele, Man From UNCLE, S&H, and The Professionals as well. Panels will run Friday and Saturday all day.

Friday evening we are planning a very casual pool party, so remember to bring a bathing suit. Reassuring Note: the pool party will not be videotaped.

On Sunday we will be repeating our infamous Dead Dog Breakfast, which will probably run most of the day. . .the con is officially over at 3pm Sunday. We will be staying at the hotel till Monday, though, so anyone who's still around Sunday night.. .drop by our room.

The Con starts at 10 Friday morning, so it's a good idea to come in Thursday night, if possible. As with ZCon 4, we will be videotaping the con, including the Awards and the Auction, and the tapes will be available for sale after-the convention.

There is no video room, as such, again this year. We stopped having one because of all the legal confusion and ambiguities; last time we provided a room for people who wanted to bring their own machines and tapes, but everyone just showed tapes in their rooms and it was wasted. So, this time you are totally on your own as far as video goes. There will be a message board set up at Registration, and anyone wishing to show tapes in her room could put an announcement up there.


Convention Reports

By-the-by ZebraCon was fantastic, loved every minute of it. The atmosphere was absolutely electric. Didn't the Pros just walk away with it? I am so used to being in the minority it was a stunning revelation to find there, were all those other nicely strange people running about. Turning [others] on to the Pros was the nicest favor I ever did myself. [Their] enthusiasms certainly can be infectious. Undoubtedly the highlight of the con was watching the original snakeoil salesman herself, [K B], conducting an auction. Ah, you do know how to separate women from their money, don't you? Showing all those lovely pieces of artwork to the panting audience, pandering to those with special tastes (God! You wouldn't believe what I paid for a Murphy). They say there is no substitute for experience, and you do, indeed, know how to run a con. I have the distinction of being the first person to sign up for the 1986 extravaganza. We had a guest from Germany this year, think you could dig up some real live Aussie talent for the next go round? I'll leave it in your more than capable hands. Thanks again for a wonderful con.[2]

My first bit of advice Is to save your shekels, everybody, for July 4th weekend 1986 when the next-Zebra Con is scheduled. You don't really want to miss THE great con of that year, do you?

Second bit of advice, whatever you do, avoid Continental Airlines like the plague….

Z-Con had two fairly small dealers rooms and as there weren't very many fanzines out this past year most everything for sale was pictures and collectables. An awful lot of VERY good photos of the Bistro Twins which everyone got sticky looking at. Zebra Con started out originally (as most know) as a Starsky and Hutch Con but this year opened up to other Cop/Spy shows and American Professionals fandom was out in force. Shall I tell you about the art show? Shall I tell you about pictures that had grown women weeping because they hadn't brought their first born to hock? I have never seen the quality of this con before. Some of this stuff will be showing up in zines pretty soon and you'll see what I mean.

It really didn't occur to me to list the art show winners or the Huggy award winners and quite honestly, except for Code 7 which won best zine, I don't remember who won what. I did think all awards were well deserved...If anyone is desperate to know, I'll track it down.

I was at the Professionals panel and the writing '/' panel, both of which were well attended. The Pros panel was more of a gossip/what's your favorite crotch shot discussion group and was fun (for me anyway). The '/' panel concerned itself with writing as a general thing rather than just '/'. POV was a major topic.

There was a pool party Friday night that was moved (because of inclement weather) to the jacuzzi indoors. It was well attended and the special guest star was George the large green plastic bug. There were differences of opinion as to why George was/should be attending.

Friday night was also the Professionals party which I don't remember too well and I defy anyone else to either. A fondness for Baileys and the McAllen (not at the same time) made it all rather fuzzy. Actually, the only reason I remember it -was Friday night was all the other nights were accounted for. Great Party! Lots of pictures that prove LC does have hair on his chest. Unless it's a wig.

The banquet Saturday was attended by Midwest Mercs Inc. (a group of camouflage evening gowns) and the rest of the con. After an uninspired dinner, we were entertained by April Valentine who sang two lovely songs, “Whisper My Name” and “The Only Other Thing”. The art show and Huggy awards, an appearance by [K] and [T] and finally Demonstrated to Death (a play) followed.

After all this came the world's fastest art auction which lasted about two hours, I think. I sat through it and tortured myself watching it all go to other people.

What else can I say? I talked to lots of lovely people (the true reason for cons anyway), got maybe 4 hours sleep, and had a great time. Fastest effin' weekend of my life. Here's to '86.[3]
...Though it was easy to meet people, and most folks were friendly enough, I was bored and disappointed waiting for next events, as (at the risk of sounding like a whiner) I had no one to play with. That was really my choice, though, as I didn't feel comfortable trotting up to strangers' rooms to see what was playing.

Which brings me to complaint 02, which was a real one in terms of programming. I was very disappointed that there was no video room. I had really looked forward to seeing a lot of tapes, and was startled to realize that I'd seen no tapes of S&H at the Con. Another tip for the neo: I was at a disadvantage going home at night. A con really is better if you stay at the hotel — better access to parties and general merriment.

Now that my complaints are out of the way, and this may sound like a contradiction, I had a great time! The panels I was able to attend (I'm a lousy reporter--I got there late, too) were well-run and entertaining. I'm amused by how much Bodie and Doyle have infiltrated fandom to the point that they were included in "our six men," K/S, S/H and B/D. Amazing. Half the people in the room had never seen a PRO tape, yet the room was pretty well packed with interested participants. The folks running the panels seemed unusually well informed, detailing tiny particles of the actors' lives without straying too far from the topics at hand. I loved any mention of S/H and how we rationalize the relationship (next I write to HP with my reaction to that), and was relieved to see that very few unacccpting types remain. At least, no one left the room during more liberal discussions.

The banquet was wonderful. Besides unusually good service from the hotel staff (they scrounged up a vegetarian plate for me at the last minute), I had the luck to sit at the table with Maureen B., who may as well have stayed up there with Jean and Karen to collect her stack of awards. Ima and her consort Sucha did a wonderful impression of Mr. Tyrone and Mr. Marlene, and Paula Smith's "Devastated to Death" [4] helped the original DECORATED FOR DEATH go down a little more smoothly. It is easy to see why Paula is well-known throughout fandom (and loved in spite of or because of it?).

I've probably rambled enough for now. Though there will be no Z-Con next year, that only gives us two years to build up enthusiasm for the next one, although we probably could have dredged up some in only one year.[5]

ZEBRA-CON 5 was terrific. I must admit that I was a bit afraid at the prospect of attending, as I am a newcomer and I wasn't quite sure I would be accepted within the fold, as it were. But from the start, my friend Carol and I were treated like family. We met many of the people we've been writing, and got to gaze upon our favorite authors and artists. The hotel was a delight, too, as I've never traveled very much, and our big airy room felt just like home. The dealer's rooms were crowded with friendly smiles and good bargains. I found an original CASA CABRILLO, which I have been driving poor [Linda W.] up a wall to find. I also got some long-wanted zines from Ruth Kurz. (Thanks, Ruth!) And all this in my first hour of arrival!

That afternoon, we attended a couple of panels, including a SIMON & SIMON one, which was very small and informal. I got to talk a lot, which made me extremely happy. Next on the agenda was the banquet. Talk about a good time. After stuffing myself with lasagna and ice cream, I was treated to the trivia/limerick/short story awards and, of course, the HUGGY'S. These were all handed out and received with the greatest of good humor and gratitude. And, of course, I agreed with all the winning choices. (The artist winners, especially. The artwork often had me standing goggle-eyed. I want to send my compliments to such wonderful artists as Ruth Kurz, Maureen B. Carol Davis and all the others. Beautiful work, guys!)

After all the awards and a short break, we were treated to a hilarious play starring Paula Smith. The play was DEMONSTRATED TO DEATH, a take-off of you know what. It was humorous, wry, a little salty, and enthusiastically acted out. Bravo to all involved. Later the same evening came the art auction. All those wonderful S&H pieces of artwork and I could not afford all the pieces I would have liked, as the S&H stuff naturally is some of the highest-priced. So, I set my sights on a wonderful pen and ink piece depicting HARDCASTLE & MCCORMICK, by Ruth Kurz. It being my first auction ever, I was rather worried that I wouldn't be able to bid in the clinches. But when the time came, I amazed myself by not only bidding, but by winning the piece as well. (It was close, though. Another five and I would've been doomed). The auction itself was fascinating and made enjoyable by all the wisecracking by the auctioneers, Paula Smith and Karen B., our fearless con organizer. The erotic art was hotly contested for, not to mention drooled over, not only for S&H but for THE PROFESSIONALS, as well. It lasted two hours, and I was mighty tired when it all ended, but I don't think I would've wanted to miss it for the world. I went to bed worn out, sleeping with visions of Starsky & Hutch, both in and out of their clothes, dancing through my brain.

Today was a slower day, as everything was winding down. (We did not attend the Con on Friday, as neither my friend or I could get off work.) We dropped in on the dead dog breakfast for a bit, and I picked up my H&M picture. It was still as gorgeous as the night be fore. We found some PROFESSIONALS fans who offered to let us see an episode, our first. Ever curious to see what all the fuss was about, we agreed. The episode we saw was THE PURGING OF CIS, and of course, I am hooked. I shall be sending out requests for PROFESSIONALS episodes fairly soon. Anyhow, we visited the dealer's room one last time, buying some REMINGTON STEELE stationery and an ERRANTRY 2 zine.

Then, alas, we had to leave, as the trip back was long and a guaranteed back-breaker. And now that I've totally bored all of you, let me say one last thing: Thank you, [Karen B.] , for a very enjoyable first Z-Con. It was a delightful experience, and one worth repeating when the next one appears in '86. (Naturally, I find this thing and it skips a year!) All the work was evident in the care of all the programs, and the whole affair was pulled off wonderfully. GUSH, GUSH! I had a great time and hope to attend again next time. I also met many wonderful people, who I'll remember for quite some time to come. (You can all wake up now!)[6]
[From a European fan]: I just want to say that I am very happy to have met such a lot of friendly people (and nice mutant dogs), and to have witnessed the gradual reduction of a place called 'con suite' to something resembling the abode of Ali Baba's 40 thieves. Also, a game of bugball will forever remain clear in my memory (Hi, George!). A big thank you to everyone who had a part in making this stay one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.[7]

Friday opened with an early assault on the Dealer's Room. There were great fan goodies to drool over and to buy. Starsky & Hutch stuff was abundant, as were things relating to other shows. The Professionals (whoever they are) were particularly well represented!

Most of the early hours of the con were spent meeting and greeting friends both old and new. (Everyone compliments each other for aging another two years and for still looking gorgeous! This group definitely needs glasses.)

The Dealer's Room, Art Show, and Meeting Room were close to each other which made it very convenient for exhausted fans. The panel discussions were laid back, easy going group discussions. I would have liked to have seen a Writer's Panel, but was pleased with much of the programming. The Simon & Simon panel was especially good.

Saturday brought more hugs and kisses, more spending of hardearned cash in the Dealer's Room, and final voting on Art Show entries, and on fiction entries for Huggy Awards. The Art Show, as always, was wonderful. [Jean C] did a marvelous job organizing and displaying the entries so that each piece was easy to view. Some of the art was pro quality, without a doubt. Special accolades must go to [Maureen B], [Jead C], Carol Davis, and Ruth Kurz for outstanding entries.

The Banquet on Saturday night was certainly all that is promised in the "Highlight of the Evening" category. (And in spite of snide remarks about the salad, everyone seemed satisfied.) The entertainment was even better. The program opened with a special Hollywood guest star appearance by...(no! not who you think)...Tyrone and Mr. Marlene. (You had to be there.) Then, April Valentine performed two lovely original songs to her guitar accompaniment. "Whisper My Name" was especially touching. Art Show and Huggy Awards were presented, and, then, the dramatic(?) presentation DEMONSTRATED TO DEATH was offered as appeasement to the fans for the condition of the previously mentioned salad (with the Secret Salad Dressing. Only the chef knows what goes in it, and he's not talking.)

DEMONSTRATED TO DEATH was a wonderful parody of a zine that sold for $115.00 buckaroos at the later auction. It was written by Paula Smith and Jody Nye, so blame them for it. There was singing. There was dancing. There was chair vaulting. There was shambling. There was even some acting. There were mutants who also doubled as owners and acolytes. This was a versatile cast, folk . There was one joke in particular that not even Milton Berle would steal. Truly great stuff! [Karen B.] throws a divine party. Smart lady. She gets all of her social obligations over with at one time! We applaud her hard work and creativity and tolerate her interest in Bodie and Doyle (who ever they are).

Barney Eagle, Waldo Bear, Tyrone, Marlene, Uncle Ima, Aunt Sucha, and David and I had a memorable time. Z-Con 5 was like Christmas and Easter, and your birthday all rolled up in one colorful, crazy, creative, caring package. So sorry you missed it! We missed seeing you.

P.S. If anyone can name at least one other ingredient besides Mazola in the Secret Salad Dressing, contact me in these pages. I want it for my "Conventioner's Cookbook: Food to Avoid." Thanks. [8]

References

  1. The third progress report listed "Apocryphal Members" as Bru, Christopher, Hokerty, Ho'Brien, David Hosky, Ima Fool, and Cletus Bear.
  2. published in The Hatstand Express #3 (1984).
  3. published in The Hatstand Express #3 (1984).
  4. Actually, it was "Demonstrated to Death."
  5. published in Between Friends #5
  6. published in Between Friends #5
  7. published in Between Friends #5
  8. published in Between Friends #5