News & Politics

“The First Annual Convention of ‘Star Trek’ Freaks”


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January 27, 1972, Vol. XVII, No. 4

By Howard Smith & Sally Helgesen

PLASTER CASTS of Leonard Nimoy’s head crowded one display table. Life-sized posters of William Shatner striking various heroic poses covered the walls. The air was filled with a cacophony of reel-to-reel tapes, each blasting forth the voices of the immortal band for the USS Enterprise. Zonked devotees were sacked out in corners and beneath trading counters, exhausted by the rigorous demands of true fandom.

The scene was the First Annual Convention of “Star Trek” freaks, held at the fusty old Statler-Hilton Hotel for three days last weekend.

More than 2000 fans from all over the country came to hear Gene Roddenberry, the show’s creator, inspire them with hints that the now defunct (but still re-running) program might still have a future, and to hear Isaac Asimov fill them in on the latest space gossip. But mostly they came to trade — plastic tracer guns (which sold for $1 during the show’s run and now bring $8), tapes and cassettes of each of the show’s 78 episodes, recorded right off the air. Posters (“In Spock We Trust”), t-shirts (“Star Trek Lives”), and buttons (“I Grok Mr. Spock”), records, scripts, and uniform braid. And thousands of glossy stills from the show — one of the busiest tables in the place was piled with enormous bound catalogs, each with a sampling of several hundred different glossies, arranged episodically, complete with order blank.

The convention was dreamed up and organized by three adult sci-fi freaks and show buffs, but it seemed to have been taken over completely by kids — they manned most of the tables and did most of the trading. Few people over 16 were in sight, but there were plenty of 10- and even eight-year-olds lugging around huge suitcases crammed with treasured nuggets of Startrekia, and they approached the business at hand with the same circumspection that’s evident at a big Parke-Bernet event. One pale, serious kid who looked about 11 approached another — “Aren’t you that ‘Dark Shadows’ freak?” “Yeah. Got anything?” “Some early glossies, to trade for Shatner shots only.” “So, let’s have a look.”

MORE ON the women’s lib last name dilemma: this for feminists who can still see marriage. Ursule Molinaro suggests in her new book, “Life by the Numbers,” that when two people get married they should select some entirely new last name, the same for both. She writes that “unless a man and a woman can agree on the same new name for themselves and feel right with it, enjoy taking on the new personality a name change subtly brings about, their unity has a very low harmony potential to begin with.”

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 27, 2011


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