ZebraCon/Memories

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In 2007, some fans submitted their memories of the con to the last program book. "We asked our attendees to send in their favorite convention memories, their thoughts on what ZCon has meant to them, and were gratified and very touched by what resulted."

Excerpts

Some fan's names have been redacted here on Fanlore.

From KimberlyFDR: "ZebraCon is more than just a con, it's a place where old friends and new can come together through the fannish love they share. With its roots in the Starsky and Hutch fandom, I know that I'll get to see friends from our fandom and there will always be new fans getting continually pimped in. ZebraCon will always remind me of the times when small groups of us would steal away until the early hours of the morning, talking and sharing and laughing about the joys that fandom has brought us."

From CC: "ZCon 2003 was my first con experience of any sort. Looking back now it's hard to define what made that weekend so special, but I think it had something to do with having a place to explore the power and joy of being a woman, in between fits of giggling like a young girl. For that one weekend I could be completely myself, without the filters I wear in everyday life. I arrived not really knowing anyone and left with new and lasting friendships that now extend far beyond fannish boundaries. I'll always be grateful to ZebraCon for these precious gifts."

From Barbara Nice-Miller (Agt Spooky): "ZCon has meant the world to me over these past many years. It was truly my first fannish convention and it opened my eyes to the wonders of fanzines and songvids, which I'd never heard of before. It allowed me an outlet for my fannish artwork to be displayed, where I won my first Best in Show. And it made me brave enough to host my first Sentinel party, which I have continued to do all these years. ZCon truly made me open up as a member of fandom and become actively involved by taking part in panels and such then transferring that to the internet mailing lists at home. But most of all, ZCon is where I met my first fannish friends and made bonds that continue to this day. And that is something I will always treasure. Thanks for the memories, Karen."

From Dawnwind: "What Zebracon means to me -- Understanding. It's so rare to meet so many people-let's face it- women, who understand exactly why I like to talk about TV characters. We may not like the same series, we may have nothing else in common in life, but we share the same passion, the same love of these fictional characters and want to treat them like they are real, have lives, lived before and after their on-screen adventures. My RL friends just don't get it, but for one weekend, everyone in the room understands me and shares my joy."

From Deb Johnson: "ZCon has been a marvelous holiday resort where everyone speaks the same language - with different dialects. ZCon has been the beginning of friendships that transcend fannish fun to become an important part of Real Life."

From Glow: "For me, ZCon has always been the con that felt more like a family reunion than a convention. Warmth permeates throughout the weekend. My favorite part has always been the Saturday gathering. My eyes are never dry during the group singing of The Rose. There is no moment at any convention I have ever attended that can match that feeling . . . those precious moments of camaraderie with my fellow fans. It's one of those moments that writes itself down on the scrapbook pages inside your heart where it can never fade. ZCon has also served as a light in dark days. My own personal tragedy happened a month before ZCon and being at the con helped me in ways I can't even describe. I will never forget how warm and welcoming folks were and how good it felt to have that oasis in the midst of my darkest hour. ZCon was my helping hand in a troubled time. ZCon also happened a month after 9/11. I won't forget that year either. We drove out from New York, smoke still lingering in the air, stocked with water and emergency supplies in case something else horrible happened...but we were not missing that con. Again, the sense of family amidst those that were able to make it that year brought the light of comfort and solidarity during a time that was filled with uncertainty and fear. ZCon was the buoy to which we clung. Good things still stood among the ruin. Life could still go on. But I suppose my most valued memory of ZCon is Karen herself. I have always admired the way she ran this con: the energy, creativity and care she brought year after year. ZCon IS [Karen B] and she has given a gift to fandom that can never be matched. And what she has had to endure to make sure we have one last ZCon and send this convention off in style has been heartbreaking. Yet, she perseveres. She could have said 'the hell with it' and just walked away, but she didn't do that. Instead, she took on the extra work, the frustration, the aggravation and the financial risk. I hope it brings her some comfort to know how much the things she has done mean to others. She has made her mark not only in fandom, but on people's lives as well. I know I wouldn't trade my ZCon memories and experiences for anything. When it is gone, it will leave an empty place in my heart, but I will be forever grateful for all that it has brought to my life."

From Terri Beckett: "Acting in Paula's hilarious plays - even singing!!! (And once, just once, I was Starsky. A short, blonde, English Starsky... ) Having hugs from people I had written to for years -- and never met until ZCon... Being able to immerse myself, totally, in something most of my family regarded as slightly - WEIRD... Thanks -- for the memories..."

From Teresa (Simonesa): "Living in a small southern city located on the buckle of the bible belt it is near impossible to find fan girls, much less fan girls who appreciate the fine art of slash. Z-Con is the chance to meet up with like minds and have a good time. It is an escape to my secret identity where I do not have to measure my enthusiasm for fandom or hide my love for slash. I am fairly new to con life; Z-Con is only the third fan con I have attended, but by far my favorite. Alas Z-Con, I will miss you."

From Flamingo: "Zcon is one of the founding events of my fandom. Going to Zcon for me was like going to Washington for a Republican, or going to California for a Democrat, or going to New York for an Independent. . . well, you get my drift. At Zcon I could hook up with the founding mothers of my fandom. This is where I learned our history, where I made connections to people whose fiction only existed in zines, where I found people who could make me video tapes of some of the rarest TV appearances of my guys, or who would make me a copy of the rarest of out-of-print zines. Zcon was the Great Library of Alexandria, the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and an illicit fantasy porn store catering solely to women all rolled up in one. In short, it was heaven. Months of frantic preparation (zine production, vid production, print production, packing, what'll I wear...?), 15 hours of cross country driving (the Pennsylvania Turnpike in peak autumn colors-beautiful! breathtaking! and deathly scary!) for 3 blissful frenetic days of laughter, parties, lustful ogling, hugging, eating, and excessive money spending on the essentials of life (zines, art, vids) and absolutely NO SLEEPING ALLOWED. Who wanted to waste the time? Zcon was pure joy. Zcon is where I made some of the most wonderful friendships of my life. I started my own con, SHareCon, as a tribute to Zcon's earliest days, and the best thing anyone ever said to me about SHareCon was that it had the same feel. There will never be another Zcon. And I'll never forget everything it gave me."

From April Valentine: "My first ZebraCon memory was when I arrived at my first ZCon in the mid-80's. I was welcomed with open arms by many friends from Trek fandom that I hadn't seen in quite awhile and I felt I'd come home, truly, in fandom. Most outrageous memory of ZCon - what is referred to as 'the train ride from hell' going to the con the year it was held over the July 4th weekend. Our group, Carol Davis, Merle Decker, Nancy Goodwin and Linda Cabrillo was joined by Tabby Davis and we thought, for some reason, riding all together by train would be really fun. We were wrong. We couldn't get seats together due to the huge holiday crowd, which included, apparently, every boy scout in the United States. I had to sit next to 'an axe murderer' on the trip to the con. We could barely sleep; we were all carrying way too much with us. (I had my suitcase, guitar, a bag filled with zines and a portable vcr in a case.) On the way back, we hardy travelers staked out the station, the temperature of which had to be 102 degrees Farenheit, and were ready to get seats together for the long ride home. Those of us who were fast walkers handed off our heavier bags to the slower walkers and we bravely cruised ahead to grab seats in the front locomotive. We made it and just as the train began to pull out of Chicago, we spotted a beautiful, though rusty looking, red and white striped Torino parked in a backyard. The other passengers didn't seem amused by our squeals of excitement, but we didn't care. Going down to the Chicago train station that same ZCon weekend to pick up the boxes of zines that had been sent from home for the con (they weren't all bound when I had to leave). It was Nightlight I and one of the boxes had broken open on the trip. Burly baggage handlers from all over the train station appeared when I stated my name and asked for the boxes - they were all sort of nudging each other and winking about the illo of S & H by Suzan Lovett on the cover and said I should check one of the guy's locker to see if he'd kept one! Paula Smith, who'd come along, said, 'at least we'll never have to see any of those guys again.' My favorites memories of ZCon have been of leading the singing of 'The Rose' on Saturday night. It felt so wonderful to be up there playing my guitar and hearing everyone sing along with me... Watching 'Distant Snores,' the play Paula Smith based on my novel 'Distant Shores,' and seeing everyone look over at me for my reaction every time the script gave a particularly sharp dig to the story. I thought the play was hilarious and right on target and had a great time being spoofed by Paula... Accepting a Huggy for Lynna Bright for 'Murder on San Carmelitas.' I was so proud to have been able to publish her novel and take home the award to her."

From Sara S: "I have been lucky enough, with other British fans, to attend three Zebracons - 1982, 1997 and 1999 - and my memories of all of them are very happy ones. We were always made to feel very welcome and even today we sometimes talk about the cons when we all get together for a weekend. Great memories? Going out of the back of the hotel to look at a Torino - which was in beautiful condition - and then being taken for a drive around the car park. I was wearing a silky dress, and when I got in I slid on the polished seat and was in danger of disappearing under the dashboard. My eyes nearly coming out on stalks when the dealers room opened and fans streamed into the room heading straight for the Gryphon table. I was put in a corner by fellow Brits and told to stay there until I had got over my panic. After that it was fun; talking and talking and talking - something that fans do rather well! Then there was the Saturday evening get-together - the plays - the singing - the great feeling of fellowship. And yes, more talking. Seeing people I hadn't seen for years or only knew through emails and letters, getting caught up in the whole hurly-burly of the Zebracon experience. It was wonderful! Thank you, Karen and Jean for all your hard work over the years. I know Zebracon will be sorely missed and I am only sorry I cannot be with you this year. All the other Brits who came over in 1997 and 1999 join with me in wishing you all the best for the future."

From Nadine Bruce: "I first met my fannish best friends, Linda and Shirley, at an actor con for The Sentinel held in Vancouver in the mid-1990s. After the con, the first thing they said to me was, 'This actor con thing is fine, but if you really want to enjoy a con, and be all your slashy little self can be, come with us to a fan con. Come to ZCon!' I had no idea what they were talking about, but I soon learned. I attended my first Zebra Con in 1997, and had a blast! I got to go to panels and talk with people face-to-face about things that I can't talk about at home with my non-fannish friends. I got to see wonderful artwork of my favourite guys doing my favourite things (together!), and even own a bit of it. I helped out with the charity auction, had the Best Time Ever at room parties for The Sentinel, Due South, Smallville, and others, and dressed up for the Saturday night bashes. (If I do say so myself, I make a mean Gil Grissom. <g>) And over the past ten years, I've made some great friends in fandom through Zebra Con. They keep me going through the rest of the year, when no one in my 'real' life seems to care whether Ray and Fraser stayed together after their search for the hand of Franklin ended, or how much Nick was traumatized by his ordeal in 'Grave Danger'", or if John Sheppard's hair is naturally 'that way'" or if it has help from a jar. Thank you to Karen and Jean and everyone else for your commitment to this con, to fandom, and to fans. Hugs.

From Rosemary C: "I'd like to share my memory of the very first Zebra Con. I was still in high school and had only been to Townsley Star Trek cons, where you never saw anything but scifi in the dealer's room. The first morning of the first Z-Con, I walked into the dealer's room. It had an eastern exposure, so bright morning sun light was streaming through the windows, making everything and everyone in the dealer's room seem to glow. My eyes just about bugged out when I saw all the S&H stuff for sale. I met Teri White and Ruth Kurz in those first few minutes, and felt like I'd met royalty, LOL. There was a new Teri White novel, all manner of photos, a pillow with the guys on it, there were wooden plaques with Starsky & Hutch, dolls, handmade jewelry... just about everything a person could imagine. I spent $300.00, all the money I had with me, in 15 minutes and a friend had to feed me for the rest of the con. I'm not sure if this is from ZCon 1 or 2, but it was one of the Kalamazoo cons. Saturday night, we all gathered in the ballroom for a banquet. [Melanie R] came out in an evening gown and sang some amazing songs to us. Afterwards, several of the con members performed Paula Smith's Graven Mirages, a takeoff of Jane Aumerle's Graven Images, which was the funniest thing I'd ever seen. I have a clear memory of the Starsky character holding up his hand and asking 'Why is there an eye in my hand, Hutch?' - a reference to the Connie Faddis artwork which showed Starsky with an eye in his palm. This was the first fan play I and most of the con had ever seen. We were laughing so hard, we nearly lost our dinner and I was wheezing with asthma and barely able to breathe from the non-stop laughter. By the time that play was over, I was glad I'd brought extra underwear with me! Later cons... I think the thing I remember clearest is the entire con joining together to sing The Rose, with Martha up front leading us on guitar. I might be a euphoric sentimentalist, but I think those moments bound the people in that room to each other as few other cons ever have. The last time I was there it brought tears to my eyes, because I was remembering many of the people who used to sing it with us who were no longer alive. ZebraCon will always be a special time and memory for me, and I am incredibly grateful to Karen and Jean for giving us this lovely convention for so many years."

From Anonymous: "The last ZCon. Somehow, I never thought that day would come though intellectually I knew it had to come. So to ZCon, I must say goodbye and thank you. Thank you for lots of laughs. Memories of the plays alone will keep us smiling for the rest of our lives. Thank you for the raucous and insightful panels. Thank you for bringing together the wonderful people who were 'us' in the early slash days. We put up with lots of disdain and insults but we hung in there and we have the reward of having learned tolerance, humor, and thoughtfulness, and the ability to write so that we could touch the heart as well as the brain. Most of all we have the close, warm, indescribable feeling of having been part of a group that shared wonderful adventures, great stories and art (and lusty feelings for 'our boys'). Bless us all. They will never see our like again."