Back in 1982, an ambitious Star Trek convention set to take place in Houston, Texas, ran into major problems but L.A. stars, vendors and fans did their best to make the best of a bad situation.
Star Trek author-historian Larry Nemecek has announced “The Con of Wrath,” the story of that hot weekend in June when the Ultimate Fantasy proved to be anything but.
“It was supposed to be the granddaddy of all Star Trek conventions,” explained Nemecek, “a glitzy rock concert of an event planned to truly go where none had gone before—complete with laser shows, orchestral oomph and a revolving stage in Houston’s NBA-sized arena. Instead, fans got the mother of all meltdowns—and, numbering in the hundreds, rather than thousands, gave it the nickname that itself was a takeoff on The Wrath of Khan, the hit Star Trek movie sequel released only days before.”
Advertising for the mega-con had been placed in the science-fiction related fan magazines of the day, including Starlog, and the glittering guest list included the original cast members minus Leonard Nimoy, plus The Wrath of Khan‘s Producer Harve Bennett, and The Wrath of Khan actors Merritt Butrick, Kirstie Alley and Bibi Besch.
But a low fan turnout – hundreds instead of the expected thousands, doomed the fantasy weekend, which turned from the Ultimate Fantasy to the Con of Wrath. “When turnout numbered in the hundreds, not thousands,” explained Nemecek, who was in attendance that fateful weekend, “well, like a train wreck, it was almost impossible to look away.”
But those who were to haven been the stars of the convention, as well as ordinary people, stepped up to the plate to make sure that the fans didn’t go home disappointed. Harve Bennett took charge, and convinced the Trek actors to carry on, according to fan Nancy Kippax, also in attendance at the time. Kippax’s accounting of that weekend can be read here. Actor Merritt Butrick “took money out of his own wallet,” to pay the sound and light crews who were “getting ready to walk off, because they hadn’t been paid.” William Shatner appeared both days and performed for the audience.
“These circles within circles each reacted and dealt with the fiasco in their own way, not only surviving but salvaging the experience for those who were on hand,” said Nemecek. “And along the way are a lot of great stories.”
According to the press release, “Archival film footage, artifacts and stills will help tell the story, along with visits to the scene today and the memories of everyone involved on all sides. Cameras are already rolling on the first memory sessions, including the actor celebs.”
The Con of Wrath has begun filming and Nemecek hopes to have it complete by the Ultimate Fantasy‘s 30th anniversary in June of 2012. Nemecek is looking for fan input and financial support, and details can be found on the Con of Wrath website, located here. “If you have a great story from that weekend, we want to hear from you,” said Nemecek.