DSTL: Silver just wasn’t enough! by Guest Blogger Vesta Wild

DSTL: Silver just wasn’t enough! by Guest Blogger Vesta Wild

Oct 24

Silver just wasn’t enough…

The phrase “are you out of your Vulcan mind” comes to my mind when I remember my husbands reaction after I told him I had bought a silver pass to DSTL, god knows what would have happened if my “finger slipped” onto the gold pass!

Having said that, after the weekend I just had, silver just wasn’t enough!

So, the first grand scale Star Trek event in the UK in as many years that I’ve been a Star Trek fan, how could I not go? Thus the journey began; a silver ticket, accommodation and travel booked and off I went, the pack horse (husband) in tow.

Friday

First impressions count, and I have to say I was rather impressed with the sheer size of the event. Imagine an aeroplane hanger…and then add two more to it, oh and another one to queue people up in before the show opens officially. Wow.

Now I have to say, I’ve been to my fair share of Sci-Fi conventions over the years, and none of them looked as polished as this one. Normally you have merchandise stands crammed next to each other with only 6ft wide isles and no room to breathe. But this was a completely different situation. Granted, I was quite disappointed with the distinct lack of merchandise stalls (my dreams of buying a replica Bat’leth had been stamped out) but you got the feeling that you were in a different convention universe. This was about mingling with your own kind and experiencing the world of Star Trek. There aren’t many conventions for example, that would have three stages dedicated to FREE talks and discussions with the stars, producers, writers and crews of the shows.

The museum was far superior to that of the recent London Film and Comic Con boasting an array of costumes and props from the series and films. I found it quite amusing to see the space suit that Spock wore in Wrath of Khan, next to the space suit in Star Trek Enterprise. Although technically set before Wrath of Khan, the Enterprise suit looked so slick and…not wooden!  I was particularly amused to see Captain Proton’s Ray Gun.

The superbly dressed Klingon Zone was worthy enough to host the first ever OFFICIAL Klingon wedding.  There were various props, a giant Klingon Statue, a gong to smack with a giant stick, and a throne to sit on.  Flame lamps and “fur” skin rugs topped it off to make it look genuinely impressive. The Federation Zone, although disappointing compared to the Klingon’s, had a few scenery pieces for fans to throw themselves in front of for some great photo opps, and a life size pin impression to hurl yourself into to see what shape gets left behind.  All of this was for when you weren’t running around like a headless Targ after autographs and photos!

One of the biggest errors I would say the DSTL organisers made was to insist that fans bring their own pictures etc. to be signed, so you can imagine the mayhem when there was ONE stall selling pictures of the stars at the event, and hundreds of fans trying to get them! But I did, and I spent most of the Friday collecting autographs and meeting the stars. I had four designated autographs from my silver pass and one from my husband’s standard pass, and I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t hugely excited by them. But how wrong was I, the person I knew least about was Robin Curtis, and a more warm and welcoming actress you couldn’t find (other than Kate Mulgrew…but more on that later). Having compared hair styles and name meanings, she signed my picture along with the words “Long Love, Long Love” which later I was to find out, was in homage to Gene Rodenberry, a tradition she felt he would appreciate her carrying on.

I exchanged brief conversations with Andrew Robinson and Connor Trinneer and was pleasantly surprised to find that Mariana Hill was a down to earth woman in touch with her hippy routes who said that she once lit a candle for the goddess Vesta to help with her housework and that Vesta had failed her. Oops, I’ll be sure to pass on the criticisms to the ancient Roman gods. The last of the allocated guests was Brannon Braga, whom I was particularly curious to meet, just so that I could thank him for introducing me to Voyager!  I have to admit, I was definitely not a Star Trek fan when I was younger, and often called my sister a geek. It wasn’t until Voyager, and the first female lead, that I took an interest, and now I’m a Sci-Fi nerd…although I can’t bring myself to watch TOS as hard as I try! I also managed to get some time with Manu Intiraymi and I found him a lot darker than I expected, or as he liked to put it “cynical” he had some art pints that he and a friend had drawn to raise money for a new film he was doing. The flowers to me were happy, but to him he said they were dark.  Maybe a slight amount of emo-ness in him?  The idealistic world of Star Trek had not rubbed off on him it seemed, but a fascinating person none the less!

The people I was most excited to meet were Sir Patrick and Kate Mulgrew. Sir Patrick because of my love for Shakespearian theatre and because of the legend he is (with or without Star Trek), Kate however, was the reason I had gotten into Star Trek and most Sci-Fi shows. She brought something new and fresh and I admired her for that. Of course, being the complete lemon that I am whenever I meet an actor, I shyly approached both desks (slightly shocked that Kate now had short, big, red hair!) I shook hands with them, and quicker than a flash I had my autograph. But I just had to take a few seconds more with Kate, just to thank her for introducing me to the world of Trek.

That was pretty much it for the day…I’m sure there’s something I’ve forgotten though…oh yeh…the Opening Ceremony! History in the making!

Picture the scene, an aircraft hanger filled with hundreds of Trekkie’s, all staring at five chairs on a stage.  Eagerly anticipating what was to come.  On came the “mic man” who introduced us to all of the guests (bar the captains), on came the Enterprise guests, then the Klingon’s who shouted “by grabthars hammer, I shall avenge you!” (Galaxy Quest having just come second in the debate for best Star Trek film!), followed by the first armada of guests, including Manu doing his own model cat walk.  Then the second wave, followed by the DS9 main cast, who would “speak to us later” followed by John DeLancie and Walter Koenig (Who came on, waved his hat, and went off!) and then “Denise Crosby, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner…and John DeLancie again!”.

After this, Mr Mic man came back again, to announce that our host for the evening would be the one and only John Barrowman, at which point most women in the audience swooned, and all Doctor Who fans had mini orgasms…which wasn’t far off what John Barrowman did a little later on…

He was the perfect host and introduced our five captains superbly.  He asked the right questions when needed and managed to steer the conversation in the right direction.  The first “question” came from a fan called Richard, whose birthday happened to be that day.  “Well what do you want? Happy Birthday, there you go” John Barrowman shouted at him, but then Kate stood up followed by Patrick and Bill and they sang Happy Birthday to Richard, accompanied by Avery’s smooth vocal beats.

I have to admit, the night is a bit of a blur, they always say the funny moments stand out, and one such moment was when they captains were asked about embarrassing events at conventions.  Bill’s was when a woman whipped out her left breast ready for an autograph to which Kate replied “surely it wasn’t too hard”.  Kate’s was when two women asked her to marry them, “You do know that I play a captain, I’m not actually a captain” but never the less, they wanted her, so she did it!  Scott however, had never had an embarrassing moment.  “You mean you’ve never signed anyone’s boob or anything” John asked?  Now’s your moment! And he brings out a permanent marker, pulls down his trousers, and gets Scott to sign his posterior.  It was later mentioned by Scott that he had signed “Patrick was here” on Johns butt cheeks!

There was a fantastic response from Avery when a Trekkie asked whether they believed that we were not alone, his response was so deep and meaningful that it was received with great applause.  Unsurprisingly, they all believed that there was other life out there.  Avery stole the show again, when he spoke up for the fans, criticising the way we were being treated like cattle; a hand shake, an autograph, and you’re out.  So he purposefully moved slowly.

I’m sure that there are plenty of other blogs out there to tell you about the Captains Talk, so get looking!

Saturday

The day was pretty much planned, my pack horse was prepared, and off we went. I had two talks and two photo shoots, and a better chance of seeing all the different stands. The first talk was Scott Bakula, and I would have to say it was a lot better than I thought it would be! The fact that he asked the guy with the mike to get questions from the back was good enough for me!

There were a few Quantum Leap fans in the crowd but most of us were there to find out about the Trek stories. It was good to find that he was envious of one other actor on set, a dog for that matter…or should I say a female dog. Who knew Portos was a girl?  She was also the star of the film Cats and Dogs…again playing a boy!  We also had a musical performance as Scott showed off his beautiful singing voice, and he told us how he tried to get a musical episode of Star Trek Enterprise.  One fan asked about T’Pol’s relationship with Tripp instead of Captain Archer, but quite rightly, Scott said that this would have been completely against Captain Archer’s character and pointed out that had his fist officer been a man, fans would not be asking this question, even though a relationship was still possible.  He also told us about his time on Desperate Housewives, and how the irony of the name of his character “Tripp” was completely lost on the producers of the show!

The second talk was that of William Shatner, a story teller if ever I heard one! Although we only asked about 6 questions, the epic answers that came out were wonderful. I especially liked it when he said that “scientists don’t know anything, they’re just guessing” and that he was once told by a scientist: everything is nothing…”what does that mean?!” He shouted! I particularly found his answer, although loosely based on the question, about parallel universes quite interesting. The short answer was “anything is possible”, the actual answer, took about 10 minutes, but they were 10 fascinating minutes. I also enjoyed his story about Leonard Nimoy’s bike, and laughed my head off at the end of it. There was another story to be told, but alas, we were sworn to secrecy!

I also had the photos with Sir Patrick Stewart and Kate Mulgrew on the Saturday, again, very quick once you were there but on both occasions I was struck by how friendly and approachable they were; Kate especially.  I informed Kate of my love for learning because of the inspiration Voyager had given me.  It’s amazing what a lead female character can do for a young girl’s self esteem!

Towards the end of the day I had the chance to sit in on the Trek Mate and Trekkie Girls Best of Voyager debate and I honestly felt at home here. Ask me about Voyager and I’ll talk you into the Q Continuum and out the other side! So to find others so fond of the show was fantastic. End Game was a great choice, for the best episode for so many reasons but the debate did remind me of so many others!

To end the day, we went to see the new Star Trek game demo, and I’m greatly looking forwards to it. Finally a two player shooter that looks like it has brains behind it. Two different game styles (Spock and Kirk) and set between Star Trek 2009 and the new film. The Gorn definitely look intimidating now!

As quick as it had started, day 2 was over, only 1 left and it would all end!

Sunday

We arrived nice and early as today was the day to try and get to the free talks. I had Patrick Stewart and Kate Mulgrew’s talks but plenty of time in between. By this point, my husband and I had made several new friends, and like a pack of hunting wolves we went after our prey, five separate queues, for all the free talks so we split up and attacked. It was well worth it. We had Manu Iniraymi, Brent Spiner, John DeLanice, Walter Koenig, the DS9 cast and Michael Dorn to look forwards to. The day was going to be great.

I found Manu quite interesting, for such a young character in the show, he had certainly matured. He was telling us about his latest projects and wasn’t ashamed to ask for 10k to invest in his latest film! He made several references to Garret Wang, so I’m going to have to find out what the story is there!  He also told us about Ethan Philips and how there is a rule in television and film, that you never try to make a child laugh.  Anyone remember “The Haunting of Deck Twelve” from Season 6 of Voyager?  There’s a scene where Neelix gets the children to sit down so that he can read them a story about Flauter.  Well instead of saying his line, Ethan Philips decided to tell them about the time Flauter farted…and apparently that was it for the next two hours of filming.

Manu was followed by the great Brent Spiner, and what a guy! Who by the way does fantastic vocal impersonations (poor Sir Patrick). Brent was full of life, and answered all the questions, even the ridiculous question about “if he were an arachnid would he change his name to Brent Spider” funnily enough this question came after “what question would you not like to be asked”, well the spider one was it, to his credit, Brent answered, and said yes he probably would.

He had a great exchange with a little girl who put him in his place (beneath her as she was stood on a stool) and then was asked about working with children and pets “well you just saw what happened there” referring to the girl. We found out that Spot was a terrible animal to work with; apart from when Tuna was involved. We also found that we should never trust auction houses as not everything is as it seems. I finally managed to ask my question which was about his latest show “Fresh Hell” to find out where it was going. It’s a project he’s quite proud of and he seemed genuinely pleased that I had asked him. It turns out that he had agreed with the producers that he didn’t want to do it for “more than 25yrs” ;)

Following Brent was John DeLancie, who I have to say, takes himself far too seriously for such a fun character on Star Trek. However, he was still fascinating to watch and listen to, you could tell he had a real passion for his work, from My Little Pony to Star Trek, he put 100% effort into every one, and you could tell.

Then we had the legend that is Walter Koenig, looking frail but astonishingly full of life.  Regrettably, he was difficult to hear as I had a wailing child with inconsiderate parents behind me, for which my husband was apparently a punch bag.  What I did hear of Walter’s talk, was the most honest talk I’ve ever been to. He didn’t hold a whole lot back. There was a question regarding his favourite and worst moments on Star Trek, his favourite was the proud moment when the Space Shuttle “Enterprise” was rolled out (if you haven’t seen the picture of the cast with it then go take a look for a giggle). But his worst was when the producers told him to “take it or leave it” during Star Trek 3 when he asked to have a pay rise and more things to do, but was told it was not up for negotiation…so he left….of course they came crawling back! And rightly so!

After Walter I ran to the Patrick Stewart talk to queue up, having seen the previous days queues, I did not want to be sat in the doorway! 1hr later, we were in, and what a talk. Not too many questions about Star Trek which was fine by me, being an avid Patrick fan for all his other works. He told us about putting the press in their place after all the, “aren’t you dumbing down your talent doing Star Trek” questions by telling them “Look, all of those years sitting in a throne doing Shakespeare were to prepare me for sitting in the captains chair!”. I could listen to his voice all day!  He shared with us his new found love for making people laugh in the comedy sketches he’s done (get on you tube and look for Patrick Stewart and Simon Pegg’s Olympic short).

We raced to the DS9 talk after this which was almost over, but we did manage to catch a couple of good questions, one of which Cirroc Lofton answered and we discovered how generous Avery Brooks was.  Not only on set did he look after Cirroc, but also off set, he would take him on family holidays etc to bond with him, and would fight for Cirroc’s right to develop his character…hence why Jake went into writing on the show.  Renee Auberjonois told us that he wasn’t happy about Odo disappearing into the “goo” wearing a tuxedo, but there was nothing that could sway the producer’s mind on the matter.

Michael Dorn was next, and what a shock I got when he actually spoke, I wanted to ask him how difficult it was to maintain such a low gruff voice for Worf but unfortunately didn’t get the chance. He refused to say “I am not a merry man” as it was his least favourite quote, and his least favourite episode! (Because of the tights you see!). He also told us that when he transitioned to DS9 It was like working in a monastery (queue the singing demonstration…he’d make a good monk!) as they took everything so seriously, rather than on TNG when as soon as the director shouted cut “it was mayhem”. He even told us about the time he pretended to use Patrick Stewarts head as an ash tray!

And that was it! Oh wait…lets not forget, in my honest opinion, the best talk of the entire weekend; Kate Mulgrew. What a woman! But that story deserves its own place…

So what did I gain from the weekend (we won’t talk about money lost).  Well, out of all the conventions I have ever been to, DSTL was by far the friendliest, and most connected convention of them all.  I made several new friends, and finally met a few of the people I had formed friendships with on Twitter (which reminds me, Patrick apparently thought the  captains chair should have a Twitter account fed into it!).  Star Trek fans are in the right, a separate species to your average geek.  We are friendly, approachable and passionate, and this came through strong at DSTL.  Echoed by all five captains, DSTL was the best Star Trek convention they had ever been to…and the best convention I have ever been to as well.

Vesta Wild

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Michael Clark

Star Trek Fan & family member of @trekmate1701. Official Blogger for Star Trek London. Doctor Who, Warehouse 13, Firefly fan. Also enjoy anything written by Arron Sorkin like The West Wing & The Newsroom. Politics is important to all. Big Spurs fan…

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