These are the voyages of the Star Trek convention on its continuing mission to explore sci-fi, to seek out new fans and product lines and to boldly go where no television show's revenue stream has gone before.
The convention returned to the Triangle--the Durham quadrant--for the first time in over three years. This year's low attendance, far smaller than Raleigh's 1998 convention, was not surprising considering fans were required to pay a $20 general admission fee and forced to endure poorly edited film clips, bad acoustics and forgettable guest stars like BarBara Luna--the lucky lady whom Captain Kirk "stunned" in Episode 39. (You don't remember!?!) Hey, if the captain didn't want to keep her around, why should we? We don't take sloppy seconds from anyone, even James T. Kirk. The convention attracted good old American families--and plenty of individuals who weighed nearly as much as the average American family--to the Marriott Civic Center for opportunities to exchange autographed memorabilia, franchise expansion gossip and pornographic Trek fantasies. Luckily only half these fantasies involved the Borg queen.
"I've been asked questions by people who clearly didn't understand the difference between fiction and reality," said convention host Richard Arnold, who served as Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's personal assistant for several years.
For some, the convention was a chance to boost self-esteem by engaging in a Star Trek trivia pissing contest. For others, the weekend served as an opportunity to sucker children, their parents and potential stalkers into buying autographed memoriabla not sold even at the tackiest of stores ending in "-mart."
If the casual observer learned anything from the two-day Trek fest, it was the power of the series as a commercial enterprise. In a purest form of a market economy, two autographed posters were auctioned for over $1,250. The posters, which featured the full casts of the next generation and original series, found themselves at the booth of dealers with a 100 percent markup within the hour.
With such a captive audience, the organizers were also able to sneak in irrelevant collectibles of a scantily-clad Xena: Warrior Princess and professional football player Lawrence Taylor: One-time Wrestling Warrior Prince. What a country!
Most fans, however, swallowed their disdain for the commercialization of the television series that inspired them to "boldly go where no man has gone before." The conventions continue to bring in hundreds of admirers who returned to demonstrate their loyalty in star fleet uniforms and exotic alien garb.
"After 20 conventions, you lose count," said Lt. Commander Komat Vestai Septaric, one of the four Klingons in attendance--who moonlights five-days-a-week as a mechanic.
Fans were overwhelmed with joy about news of the upcoming tenth Trek movie and newest Trek series, Enterprise, but for everyone, discussions with Next Generation legends Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi) and Michael Dorn (Lt. Worf) kept the 300-person audience in awe for 90 minutes. The duo's recollection of their seven-year stint on the most popular of the star trek series would bring a nostalgic tear to even a Vulcan's eye. But perhaps Dorn expressed the feelings of the general audience best with the choice words, "I love this Star Trek shit."
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