Raleigh Convention ReportBy Kathryn Keeter and Bette Llewellyn
Posted at July 24, 1999 - 5:00 AM GMT
For starters, I've attended a number of science fiction conventions, both the professional kind and some that were produced by fan clubs. I was curious to see how this one would go, as this was Slanted Fedora's first trip to Raleigh, North Carolina. My friend and I showed up at the North Raleigh Hilton before the scheduled start time, and I was pleased to see the overall con organization already up and running. Despite being very busy, both Dave Scott and the folk working for him were readily available to answer several questions. The schedules for Saturday were clear and detailed, and had some breathing space built in. The thing that pleased me the most was having all the con areas in one wing of the Hilton--no dashing back and forth between events, and all the areas were accessable.
On Saturday Chase Masterson, Leeta of Deep Space Nine,was the first speaker, and was running a bit late, but Dave was careful to let the attendees know about any delays or adjustments to the schedule throughout the weekend, and no-one got impatient. Chase was absolutely charming--so perky she could advertise espresso.....being late, she went directly into questions and answers, and spent most of her time with that, describing her experiences on DS9 and the charity she fundraises for. After speaking,she moved to an autograph table in the lobby,and spent the entire morning talking to fans and signing.
The next speaker was Stephen Furst, Vir of Babylon 5, who joked about fans getting up to follow Chase out of the auditorium (which was full--attendance was very good). My friend and I are also B5 fans, so we stayed, even though Walter was out in the lobby signing as well.
After Furst was the charity auction which had some excellent "deals". All bidding started at $2 and nothing went over $100.
Then Walter and George were on--and I mean "ON"! At my present age of forty-(mumble) I've seen showmanship, but these guys know how to work a crowd! Walter was playing straight man to George, but he got some deadly zingers in! I don't know which stories are cliches and which are new, but the audience had a great time. George brought up the subject of a Captain Sulu series several times, but I got the impression that this was more a running joke than anything else. Walter hopes to do plenty of stage roles in the future, amoung other work. When asked about future Star Trek spinoffs, George said he's heard the rumor of a "Star Academy 90210" type show, which would be dreadfull.George also plugged his web site: www.georgetakei.com.
Nichelle and Jimmy came on after a short break. Nichelle kindly repeated questions for Jimmy, who said his hearing aid was giving trouble. At Jimmy's age of 79 he was slow in speech but his answers were always witty and sharp. He even seemed to surprise Nichelle at times.They also impressed me with their professionalism, and all the stories were enjoyable, both old and new. Nichelle is doing a sequel to her novel "Saturn's Child", and is starting a line of clothing and accessories which can be seen at her web site, www.uhura.com. Jimmy has an upcoming (casino) appearance in New Mexico, His wife is going along to that one. He and his wife live in Seattle. He speaks of her like he's nuts about her--it's very sweet.
Then came the time for the autograph signing.which was very well organized. I didn't stay for the evening dinner with the stars, but several people I spoke to next day said it was a blast, and they were able to talk with the stars directly.
Sunday's schedule was much the same as Satuday, Chase and Stephen spoke in the morning, followed by another auction. The only difference on Sunday was that all four classic Trek stars were on together in the afternoon. They worked beautifully as a team. There was a solemn moment when they were asked about DeForest Kelly, and each of them paid tribute to him. Lots of applause throughout! Each of the stars emphasized that they were still working and would still make appearances but this was their last tour as a foursome. The autograph session was moved forward to accomodate three of the stars who had to make an early flight out.
General comments: Dealer's room--the usual stuff. Cards, plates, toys (sorry--action figures), books, bloopers. No exotic stuff. Most of it was Star Trek with a smattering of Star Wars, Xena and Hercules, Buffy, and oddly enough, South Park. I missed the costume contest, but saw quite a few fleet uniforms and some impressive Klingons attending. On Sunday the Klingons brought with them some dancers who put on an impressive routine for those of us waiting for our turn to get autographs. Auditorium: the platform was raised so we all had good visibility, and the sound system was good. No panels or video rooms at this con; Dave Scott says they may be available next time. He started off saying "maybe next year" and as attendance numbers increased, this became "definitely next year". I'd go back in a minute if the guests are right!
Kathryn Keeter and Bette Llewellyn regularly visit Star Trek conventions.