Another year equals more of the same - and there's nothing wrong with that!
by Martin Hafer
A couple years ago, I finally attended my first Star Trek convention … even though I was already in my 50s and supposedly too old for anything fun! And, I chose not to go to one of the smaller conventions around the world but the mother of all Trek conventions,
The always entertaining George Takei. -Photo by Martin Hafer
the annual one held in Las Vegas. I had a marvelous time…so much so that by now I’ve attended smaller Trek conventions as well. August, 2017 was the second mega-convention I attended and this one was bigger, better and, for me, even weirder! Some of the weirdness actually occurred the day before the convention began, as I got a chance to fly a stunt plane…and my stomach will never forget it! But that’s another story for another time.
Like all other recent Trek cons in Vegas, this one is held at the Rio Resort and Casino. In some ways, it’s great as the convention space is amazing and more than adequate for the crowds of Trekkies from all over the globe. Despite all the people, it never seemed crowded like the larger Comic Cons. But, on the other hand, the Rio is the smokiest resorts in Vegas I’ve visited. Some of this is understandable … with this many people and a smoky casino nearby, respiratory issues seem inevitable. But the Rio is in a class by itself with several cases of Legionnaires reported there (the last outbreak was in June). I myself got a bad case last trip and it took me months to recover. So, to deal with this potential problem I stayed next door at the Gold Coast … not quite as fancy but the rooms were noticeably easier on the lungs. The Palms is also close enough that you could
Patrick Stewart speaks to a crowd. -Photo by Martin Hafer
walk to the Rio and avoid so much of the smoke. I also stayed part of my trip at the Signature at the MGM Grand … one of the few non-smoking resorts in Vegas … yes, there are a few (www.vegassolo.com/7-nonsmoking-hotels-in-las-vegas). Vegas is a town that seems to love smoking and allows it in many places you won’t find it in the rest of the country or even abroad … so you might want to consider this when you look at Creation Entertainment’s website to buy tickets. If smoke is a problem for you, try one of their smaller conventions such as one outside New York City or in San Francisco or stay at the Signature. I personally prefer the smaller venues in some ways. Also, if you attend Vegas, be sure to enter the Rio at the convention center back entrance in order to bypass all the smoke.
As far as the convention itself goes, this one was huge…five straight days of Trek! It offered so much Trek, that I feel all Trekked out … at least until the Trek cruise which is coming up in January (www.startrekthecruise.com)! Wednesday was day one and for me it was the most memorable day. The fans got a wonderful look at the new television series, Star Trek Discovery, which will begin airing in September. Actors were there, costumes were there as well as the folks responsible for the makeup and special effects. But there was more to Wednesday than just Discovery … especially for
William Shatner - the original! -Photo by Martin Hafer
me. Nana Visitor from Star Trek Deep Space 9 was there and I got the most memorable photo of a Trek cast member of my life when I donned a notorious red shirt with a simulated knife through my head. After all, this did seem to be the fate of way too many red shirts in the original series…and Visitor made the photo op truly memorable! Visitor also hosted a panel that day all about a special project of hers … ’Gaaays in Spaaace’. It’s a celebration of all forms of diversity in the Trek world and I have another article coming out about that …s o please look for it.
Wednesday was also memorable due to a visit by Mae Jemison…an honest to goodness astronaut who also happened to have guest starred on Star Trek: The Next Generation…and she appeared with her mentor and inspiration, Nichelle Nichols. And, Wednesday was also the premier of a tribute film to Leonard Nimoy, made by his daughter, Julie, and her husband, David Knight. During both these events there were a lot of misty eyes in the packed auditorium…including my own!
Nichelle Nichols and Dr. Mae Jemison. -Photo by Martin Hafer
One of the most surprising and memorable parts of the convention happened a few days later -- during the question and answer session with William Shatner. To put it in context, again and again through the course of the convention, several folks repeatedly jumped at the chance to ask questions and invariably got to the front of the lines and then asked extremely inane questions…questions that wasted everyone’s time and should never have been asked in the first place. It was so bad that often you heard groans throughout the place when these questions were asked. Trekkies are, by and large, a very tolerant and nice group of people but this was wearing on even them! One of these folks asked Shatner a question which went something like “who was the better ladies man…James Bond or Captain Kirk?”. Shatner responded with “That was a really, really stupid question … why don’t you try thinking of a good question and try again?!” At this point, the auditorium exploded with applause and seeing this side of the actor was welcome…very welcome. Creation Entertainment might learn from this experience and begin requiring questions to be put in writing so they can avoid these situations. All I know is that everyone I talked with loved it when Shatner showed his annoyance. And, by the way, during all this
Nana Visitor takes it to INFLUX Magazine writer Martin Hafer.
the moderator of the Q&A session was dying of laughter! I laughed so hard when I saw him practically rolling out of his chair! I guess you really had to be there!
So what was the rest of the convention like? After all, it went on for five long days! It consisted of many talks, photo ops, autograph sessions, costume contests, makeup demonstrations, cocktail parties, cast reunions, opportunities to buy lots of Trek merchandise and much more. I personally loved a new opportunity to spend money at the convention—where you got a photo of yourself seemingly transporting from the Enterprise! It was a great and relatively inexpensive souvenir. While all these things are nice, the best part of the convention for many actually cost nothing … the friendships that develop during the convention. Many private parties were given, many online friends met each other for the first time at the convention and many old friends renewed old acquaintances. Because of this aspect of the cons, I wholeheartedly agree with Shatner who once said that if none of the Star Trek actors came to these shows that the conventions would still continue because of the fans and their need to dress up and meet others who love to do the same! And, speaking of dressing up, if you do
Kate Mulgrew takes a moment. -Photo by Martin Hafer
decide to come you don’t need to ‘cosplay’ (for you newbies, that is the term fans use for dressing up in character) … only about 25% of the fans dressed in Trek costumes each day. But, if you do, it certainly is liberating and fun!
If you want to learn more about the Trek conventions or some of the many other conventions put on by Creation Entertainment (such as for fans of Vampire Diaries, Once, Supernatural, Gotham, or Orange is the New Black), go to www.creationent.com. And, as always, I’d love to know your experiences … as long as you aren’t that guy who asked the question about James Bond and Kirk!
Cosplay actors in action. -Photo by Martin Hafer
INFLUX Writer Martin Hafer being beamed up!