by Martin Hafer
Back in August, I attended the world's largest Star Trek convention which is held in Las Vegas each year. Much of my reason for attending was due to a desire to do things in my life which I have been afraid to do...and now that I've passed 50, there's no time to lose! In addition to this event which might not scare most of you (I really hate crowds...and was also nervous about all those 'Trekkies'), I've also done some other crazy things lately in order to laugh at the creeping specter of death...such as jumping off a huge tower in Auckland, diving in a tank filled with giant sharks as well as getting a tattoo. What's next? Well, going to a Trek convention again...but taking it up a notch. Back in August, I was one of a bazillion folks at the festival...just an ordinary guy among lots of ordinary people. But this year I was going to swallow my fears and do something really nutty...at least for me. This year, I was going to attend a Trek festival and do it like a true Trekkie...in costume and mingling much more than I am usually comfortable doing. And, surprisingly, I actually had a lot of fun and met some wonderful people. Now I am not saying everyone at the convention was exactly 'normal'...but normal is highly overrated! Besides, I am sure when some folks left talking about those 'weirdos'...I was among these oddballs!
On the first two days of the convention, I was happy wearing a simple outfit...a gold uniform from the second Star Trek pilot--the one starring William Shatner. Apart from the velour tunic, polyester pants and boots, I was still me. But on the final day, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go all out for my 'cosplay' (a term used by fans for dressing up like their favorite characters from a film or television show). In this case, I would be Evil Spock from the old Mirror, Mirror episode. You might be familiar with it...it's the show where Kirk and a small group of Enterprise crew are somehow transported to an alternate reality where the Federation is evil...and you can really tell Spock is evil because he sports a cool goatee (a sure sign of evil) as well as an 'Agonizer'--a device to torture crew members who don't perform up to expectations. Unfortunately, my Agonizer was a non-working prop...but other than that I went all out for this challenge. Sure, I was about 50 pounds too heavy to be Evil Spock and about three inches too short...but I was giving it my all. That meant coloring my goatee, donning a wig, penciling in Vulcan eyebrows and wearing prosthetic ears along with a close reproduction of the Evil Spock uniform. Was it a total success? Not even close (as you can tell from the photo)...but it was fun. And, unlike my other uniform I'd worn before, folks wanted their picture taken with me...fat Evil Spock!
In addition to the cosplaying, I also pushed myself to socialize quite a bit more. I made friends and had meals with a lot of people from around the globe...including Uruguay, Israel, Scotland, Jamaica and Puerto Rico! I know that if I'd done the first convention this same way, I would have had tons of photos taken of me and would have become friends with folks from even farther from home. Perhaps going all out at a bigger convention is in my future...I dunno. Or perhaps I have some other crazy things ahead of me (such as doing a stand-up routine in front of an audience). Or, perhaps you could send me your suggestions...the constructive and sane ones at least!
I have a few final thoughts about my weekend here at the Dallas convention and maybe this could help you if you are considering a convention like this. First, this is possibly the best place in the world to come if you are a barbecue junkie like me! Texas, barbecue and my stomach are three things that go well together. Second, seeing the TV stars from the various Trek franchises sure ain't cheap! In addition to the admission cost at one of the many smaller conventions put on by Creation Entertainment, photos and often autographs are extra...and the costs quickly mount up. For a very close seat throughout the convention (I think I sat about 1000 rows back at the Vegas convention...or so it seemed), it cost about $500 though there are cheaper options such as day tickets and tickets a few rows further from the stage. As for the photos, they started at $40 and went as high as $100 for one with Mr. Star Trek himself, William Shatner...who, by the way, is incredibly youthful and looks to be about 60...but just turned 85! Autographs were not always extra. With the more expensive tickets, you receive some free autographs but the costs otherwise are about the same as for photos...and your interaction with these folks is amazingly brief.
I would much prefer pictures...but I did bring along some photos from the last convention and had them signed--I particularly liked having my Klingon friends autograph one of these 8x10s. I also brought along Shatner's notorious 1960s record album, The Transformed Man, and he laughed good-naturedly as he autographed it. Overall, with meals, a hotel room, cab fare and the costs of the convention itself, I probably spent about $1200 for the four days I was there. Is it worth it? To me, certainly...but I've always been a closet fan of the Trek shows and felt like I'd died and gone to Heaven when I got to meet these folks! For you? Who knows...and perhaps you might want to take it slow and attend just one day of a convention near you to minimize costs. But on the other hand...I sure have some terrific memories...memories that might just be worth more in the long run.
All images property of Martin HaferShare: