It's the mother of all Star Trek conventions, and it only happens but once a year - in Las Vegas. Nearly every living cast member from every series/movie is in attendance, and I'm proud to report that even though I was working...I had a damn good time. Enjoy some highlights!
When I was a kid, Star Trek was my jam. I used to watch The Next Generation with my Mom, and I became obsessed with it pretty quickly. Before you knew it, I was dressing up. My parents were taking me to conventions. I had every single one of the action figures. I just loved it.
Somewhere in my early middle school years, I abruptly stopped loving it. I don't even remember making the actual decision, which was based solely on the quest for popularity. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy it...I just figured I would enjoy being "cool" more. Pretty stupid, right? Well I'm happy to report that now that I'm 30, I have no hang-ups when it comes to the types of entertainment I'm passionate about. I mean, you know how I feel about The CW. Nuff said. There are no guilty pleasures in my life. If I enjoy it, why should I feel guilty about it? Who cares?
It's with this mindset that I traveled to Las Vegas last Wednesday, to attend my first Star Trek convention in close to 20 years. I was there exhibiting with work, in "The Captain Dave Vendors Hall" adjacent to the ballrooms. And even though that's where I spent most of the show, I will tell you with complete honesty that I had a blast.
Just about every person you've ever seen on a Trek series or in a Trek film makes the trip to Sin City for this convention. Every Captain (save for Sir Patrick Stewart, sadface). All the crew. Tons of aliens. They're all there to sign autographs (for a price) and pose for photo ops (for only a slightly higher price), and I have to say that it's very impressive. It's a Trekker's dream come true. Here are a few of my highlights from the general booth area:
The Okudas! Technical Consultants and Scenic Art Supervisors on everything Star Trek since TNG, they're responsible for the look of alien languages, the style of computer control panels, specs of a starship and even some logarithmic equations. Their contribution to Star Trek as a whole can only be matched by how genuinely down to earth and personable they are. We were fortunate enough to host them at the booth for a signing on Saturday afternoon. They're also big EPCOT fans! We talked about it at length, obviously.
Look, no one is more Team Beverly when it comes to Picard's love life than me. But there was always something about his lady-on-the-side from Risa that I loved. She was pretty, she was sassy, and you could never figure out what she was actually up to. Turns out, she's clearly been taking great care of herself! Jennifer "Vash" Hetrick looked absolutely gorgeous!
I got really excited about this one. Deanna Troi's mother Lwaxana's mute manservant Mr. Homn...AKA Lurch, from the Addams Family films! I loved that the photo he displayed prominently is of the "Are they made from real Girl Scouts?" scene. Oh yeah, he's FUCKING TALL.
Another lady that appears to be kicking natural law in the nuts on the regular is Ms. Jacqueline Kim. She played Sulu's daughter, and now plays the guitar, apparently. And look at those bright red shoes! Set phasers to stunning.
And now, the highlight of my entire 5-day trip to Vegas. I met Gates McFadden! Dr. Crusher was always my favorite character on TNG after Counselor Troi, and she remained prior the only member of the main cast that I had never met. Remember: I used to do this A LOT as a kid.
I wasn't prepared for how lively, energetic and borderline-crazy she was going to be during her photo opp session (despite how subdued she looks in my photo, above). She was dancing around, she was playing the air drums - lady is 63 years old, and busting out moves I can't even do. It all happened so fast, but I wish I could preserve the entire experience in a Holodeck. It was sheer perfection. And she looks A-MAZING! I suspect it may have something to do with her giant amulet...but I don't have any proof. Either way, it was an experience two decades in the making - and I wasn't disappointed.
One of the other things I really enjoyed about this show were the people. Having coordinated my final San Diego Comic-Con back in July, I definitely won't miss the hordes of rude nerds who won't even acknowledge you when you address them directly at your booth. This couldn't have been more different.
Star Trek fans, I realized, are your dream fan community for an exhibitor. The vast majority of them are very friendly, intelligent, and are really just so happy and excited to be there. It makes my job a lot easier, because I love all of this stuff, too - so it feels less like work and more like hundreds of rapid, micro conversations with people who mostly share your interests (mostly). And what convention would be complete without people dressing up?
I never would have guessed that the Crystalline Entity would inspire cosplayers this much. But here are two different interpretations!
This is April, and she was hands down the BEST Guinan at the show. I was fortunate enough to cross paths with her a few times...
...including the day that she came as Guinan from the Holodeck! This was seriously the exact costume that she wore as Gloria in that Dixon Hill adventure. So impressive.
Borg at the booth.
Dogs of Starfleet! They made an announcement in the vendors hall at one point, because I think one of them bit someone. Oops.
Last but certainly not least, my mind was literally blown over how many gays were at this convention! I guess that shouldn't shock me too much (maybe?), but I was pleasantly surprised at how many gay couples I saw. In matching outfits, no less!
So now, before wrapping up, I present to you a very special photo set:
Bears love Tom Paris! Who knew?
Cute...just so, so wrong.
Pocket Red Shirts! There was an accent of some kind involved, but I was preoccupied by how many poses they wanted to do.
So, it turns out you can go home again! This was a great convention, and I'll most certainly be going back next year. Hell, even if I'm not working it. Embrace your geekdom. You only live once, so live long and prosper!