Pros & Cons
Written By: Randy Hall
Published: Issue 7
Let me start off this week's column with a challenge to my fellow BBKers: If you're going to attend an upcoming Star Trek or science-fiction convention and want to spread the message to Bring Back Kirk, let me know at least a week in advance, and I'll send you 100 copies of the BBK flyer for you to place on the information table or otherwise distribute at the con.
Just write to me at RandyHall@aol.com, let me know which convention(s) you'll be going to and give me an address I can use to "snail mail" you the flyers. Of course, the sooner I know of your plans, the more time I have to get copies made. Also, I can use a cheaper (and therefore less speedy) method of sending you the flyers.
(Even if you make your own copies, please let me know which convention you're attending and, afterwards, how many flyers were distributed. I'd like to keep track of that so we can determine what we've accomplished together by year's end.)
So why am I doing this with mostly my own limited resources? Because like you, I want to see Captain James T. Kirk back on the screen (regardless of its size) and alive and well in the Star Trek universe. Not only do I think this would be good for us fans, but it would also be good for Trek, which needs something to "jump start" its sagging fortunes as it approaches its 35th anniversary - and the recent "Birth of the Federation" idea is NOT it!
And now for something conventionally different...
The best description I've ever heard of a convention came from Bill Campbell, the actor who's played Trelane and Captain Koloth in Classic Trek and heads up the annual Fantasticon gathering in California. "This is like going to Mardi Gras," he said at a con I attended, "where everybody puts aside real life for a few days, dresses up, and has fun." I couldn't have put it better myself!
Conventions also remind me of the old joke about the players on a prison baseball team; some are pros, but the rest are cons. Similarly, there are two kinds of Star Trek or sci-fi conventions: those put on by professionals (people being paid to host cons) and others run by fans (who tend to be volunteering their time and efforts).
At first glance, it's not easy to tell the difference since both types of cons have several common elements. These include celebrity guests (who speak onstage and usually sign autographs), a dealers' room (selling everything from action figures to T-shirts), and fans in attendance (wearing clothing that ranges from everyday attire to full turtle-headed Klingon regalia).
However, professional conventions have one basic goal: to provide ENTERTAINMENT. Not that there's anything wrong with that, you understand. Because of their direct connections with The Powers That Be, pro cons are usually good places to get the very latest information on upcoming TV series and movies. And these cons can more often afford to bring in at least one "major" guest, along with several "lower-tier" celebrities.
But you normally have only two choices as to where to spend your time: the main auditorium or the dealers' room. And in order to keep you entertained (there's that word again), the pros will fill those pesky gaps in the schedule with small costume calls, "sound-alike" contests where you get a chance to come onstage and do your best impression of Kirk shouting "Khhhhaaannnnn," and even MTV-style music videos.
As such, professional cons can be fun to attend, but they usually provide very few ways of telling other fans about the campaign to Bring Back Kirk. Other than a flyer table and talking with fellow fans directly, you have to figure out a way to get BBK into the question-and-answer time for celebrity guests.
Nevertheless, there's good news on this front Creation Entertainment, the largest organization providing professional conventions across the country, has signed on to the Bring Back Kirk campaign. Before long, I intend to contact one of Creation's "bigwigs" and see if there isn't some way of inserting BBK into their programs, such as mentioning our web site after showing a video on Captain Kirk.
Another big-time host of pro cons is Slanted Fedora, which has shown a fondness for booking Classic Trek guests. With such people as Leonard Nimoy onstage (as he will be this summer), it shouldn't be difficult to get in a question about Spock (and Kirk) returning to onscreen Trek.
By the way, if anyone out there has come across other means of spreading the message of BBK at professional conventions (or fan cons, for that matter), please send me an e-mail, and I'll be more than happy to share it in my column.