Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vegas Khaan 2012: Thoughts & thank-yous in review

I've been talking about this curve since 2009.

I was stupid enough to get separated from my Canon HD cam and didn't grab any vidchats this year—and I missed a few great ones.

And I don't care IF the "numbers" were down 10 % this year (blame it on the "last Nimoy con" spike of 2011), or that the Guinness Trek-costume-meetup world record didn't get broken (though "we" still hold it, by the way).

Fact is, this was still an incredible Vegas Khaaann we all just survived—and not just for the Hollywood2Vegas Tour I hosted before it (more on that soon).

You Trekland readers may recall I dubbed 2011 the "Comic-Conification" of Vegas Trek because of the explosion of really clever, obscure or elaborate, "out of the box" costumes—a huge jump last year.

Not only did that trend this year go off the scale, Captain, but my predicted "Comic-Conificiation Phase II" phenom came true as well: Vegas-goers simply had a slew of Secondary Theatre panels to choose from—from fun fan debates to hands-on updates from licensees, in non-stop schedules that kept that stage as busy as the main. A chunk of that was under the banner of the newly revitalized, finally, and the rest was just licensees and our Trek names getting to their expanding audience.

Virginia Madsen: TruFan since TOS
Personally, I finally got to meet both writer-bloggers John Tenuto and Jordan Hoffman (though I missed meeting Trek professor Anthony Rotolo). And my theory of Virgina Madsen's appearance on Voyager was totally turned on its ear. Virginia was a table-mate of mine, and confided that she's been a Trek fan all her life, thanks to her mom: "I had to FIGHT my agent to get on Voyager," she told me, in between hopping up to take pics with every cool fan costume character who walked down our tween-table aisle.

Sorry, Paul R: it's not my book, it's yours—but I happened to have a Voyager Companion on me and presented it to her, with her "Unforgettable" right there in the sixth season where it belongs.

The above was an example of my Vegas Resolution 2012: to get out and see more peeps—pro and fan—than I did a year ago, when the scale of the new huge Rio environs just sneaked up and exhausted everyone who were used to the Hilton's smaller scale. I think everyone did a better job on that count, too.

Aside from success with my own projects, like our first Vegas fund-raiser meetup for The Con of Wrath—and my surprise CD, still yet to be fornally "launched"—I want to thank everyone who jumped into the RECORD-sized line at my annual Rapid-Fire Trivia on Thursday, and who seemed to enjoy and bravely speak out at our "state of the franchise" forum on Friday. I appreciate those of you came by to say you enjoyed that more than any other panel... at least, by Friday afternoon.

Kudos as always to CBS' Bill Burke and John Van Citters for our trivia prizes—the fans' smarts level was way up this year, and for the first time ever I had people pining for more trivia session later, on Saturday, before the stage pace got even more insane. I was thinking the Secondary Theater's turnout was smaller than last year, until stagemaster Doug Murray tipped me off that one wall had actually been opened up to make the room bigger this year for the Guinness record try (whew). But more on numbers and demos in a post to come, thanks to great points to ponder from my CBS buds. (That includes you too, Marian and Yasmine!).

I didn't get to see as many of our old actor peeps around stage as before, but did high-five a lot of them. That runs the gamut from Avery's really perception-challenging midnight concert Saturday, to Ira Behr's comical takeover of my table for pics (left). Most of all, I had not talked with Gates McFadden since 1995, so our chat was especially welcome (stay tuned).  It was also wonderful to see the last surviving brother of original Enterprise designer Matt Jefferies, Richard, tabling with his book on Matt's life again—after our chat in 2008; you really DO need one of these beautiful coffee table tomes if you are a fan at all. 

But most of all, those costumes! (I still avoid saying "cosplay," as that should refer to those who actually roleplay as well as don the duds—and there were still some of those. I'm looking at you, all-day-Pakled Ron Aponte (right). :-)  My regrets at not seeing the Vasquez Rocks live, nor any of the Crystalline Entities.

And those new fans! How many, one after another, came by the table and let me worm it out of them that this was not only their first Vegas Khaan!, but their first con anywhere, of any stripe. Some had been armchair fans for years, some came in with JJTrek—but all said it was just time to do it.

Trek teen geekgirls rule!
And that brings us to all the stereotype busters, god bless'em. Nervous Trek marketers worried about the under-30-fans dwindling, and that seemed to be true in the mid-Aughts—at least as far as the barometer of con attendance. Middle-age folks with hard-core jobs, more into actors than con-going, turned out on Saturday and/or Sunday on one-day tickets, especially for the TNG reunion or the "Four Captains." But the Vegas phenom has exploded since mid-decade for twentysomethings—thanks to JJ's movie, and thanks to the TNG-watching parents' kids now in their 20s and coming alone when their parents remained armchair fans (I heard that over and over, too: those '80s babies finally grew up).

Our other meme-buster remains women—and how. Not to be all sexist, but I've long fought to undo the meme that there were no women, much less attractive ladies, in Trek fandom. Of course that's silly: Spock's Vulcan sexual aloofness/seductiveness DROVE fandom in the first decade. But the con-going generation didn't replace that until recently, in big numbers, and now we have delightful young ladies all over the place--and smart, savvy, sassy ones sciencing and entrepreneuring up a storm, as part of the geekgal revolution. And thanks to 24/7, cross-platform media and online awareness.

Vegas Trek is also now so big that one can spend all their time in just one non-actor-focused angle—say, Star Trek Online's parties and events and developer-worship... much less the costumes... or the exploding podcaster community, led this year by a huge "Podcasters' Row": G&T Show, Priority One, Podcast UGC, Primetime UGC, Gates of Sto'Vo'Kor, and STOked Radio—all syndicated or live on Trek Radio, taking turns at their booth. (BTW: All you Cryptic and pod folks I finally met in the flesh are just a blur! Avatars and handles—not helpful!)

Ex-McFadden's: lost opp
Of course Vegas is still the place to see sights and hear news like no other: Mike and Denise Okuda inspecting the new Qmx Enterprise-A and Enterprise-D, or the unveiling of LaLaLand's amazing all-in-one TOS soundtrack  project. News that William Shatner's follow-up is a TNG doc with David Zappone and his Get a Life crew... and that David Gerrold is filming a doc on his works, too. Oh, and a personal mini-reunion with my old colleague Dan Madsen as he helps to ease Ashley Eckstein's Her Universe geekgirl fashion line into the Trek realm, with my buds Mary "Televixen" Czerwinski, Charity "Bye Bye Robot" Wood and Kayla Iacovino. Or see Rod introduce the slick and in-depth  Roddenberry episode-review podcast Mission Logs with host John Champion (and getting to meet co-host Ken Ray that night). Not near enough time with my buds Ian Spelling, Alec Peters and Anthony Pascale... or missing many, many others. (Ron and Brannon, my regrets.) 

Thanks also to all the early-birds who hit up our "Party Like a SpockStar" event at the Masquerade Bar, cosponsored with DVDGeeks review podcast; John and Mary's Bozo Buckets were a DVD-prize hit. Not so lucky was my voice, lost along with our space last year in the former McFadden's (above right) to rebranding/weeknight closure and the dull ambient roar of the Masquerade Village "stage" we were stuck with. So much for my karaoke.

Amid the mobs, there was a place for little moments: my Twitter bud and STO's Thomas Marrone fulfilling a lifelong dream of having Mike O. signing his TNG Tech Manual (left)... introducing "FX Ron" B. Moore, VFX supervisor from TNG's pilot through Enterprise's finale, to the radio guys (right) and getting him on live (and seeing his Memory-Alpha page for the first time!)  .... and catching a Nog-Jake reunion, as Cirroc Loftin and Aron Eisenberg found each other for a quick chat just at Sunday closing time in the vendor's room, right across from me:

Ferengi-Hewmon unscripted reunion

Touching history
Or even me, finding a rare fanboy moment and actually touching a piece of the original Galileo shuttlecraft plywood hull with the actual builder, car customizer Gene Winfield (right) in the original AMT Models deal that paid for the set piece.  But not to say, in all that, that I was crowdaphobic: I had to see the TNG reunion and most of Four Captains as well, myself.

But Vegas Khaan has gotten not just large but diverse—the 9-p.m.-bedtimers and the party peeps alike—and even spawned empowered fans who make their own events and spinoffs to fill the gaps that still remain, even after Creation's Adam and Gary keep expanding it ... proving that there's  plenty of small moments and personal bits that everyone can take away.

Thanks so much for all of you Khaaaners who shared little moments with me—either a question, or a trivia try, or a photo op (yours or mine).  My gratitude and thanks for all the support so many of you give Trekland, my new CD "On Speaker", and The Con of Wrath—both at the table and at the events.

And most of all—thanks to all of you who admitted, one way of another, that this was your FIRST Vegas Khaan... or first con, altogether. (Hey, don't forget to find and support your local sci-fi fandom, too!)  That's what keeps this event fresh, that's what keeps fandom fresh... that's what keeps STAR TREK and Gene's vision fresh and alive.

As if they need any help.

(Like so many others, I have these and more choice Vegas pics in an album at my Trekland Facebook page. "Like" the page, would you, if not already? There's plenty more albums of pics there, as well.)


TardisCaptain said...

This was my second trip to ST Las Vegas. I thought it was a lot better this year than last year. Thanks for everything Larry.

William McCauley said...

qstpthiGreat Blog Larry! I enjoyed every single minute of stlv2012. And It was my first Vegas Con, but not my first Con. You were a welcome and friendly face to me. I Support your ConOfWrath movie 100%. Thanks for putting up with me. I think I forgot to sign the sheet for the trivia con in your room.I will there next year a day or two earlier as well.

Thanks Larry

Katie said...

So sorry to have missed the Khan this year.. Already planning for the 2013 Khan..Thank so much for the rundown & see you soon Larry!

Larry Nemecek said...

Carl and Willie: Thank you!

Katie: We missed you guys big time. People are actually starting to get used to the Rio Cavern. Just not the lack of meet-up sites. :-) See you in 2012 or sooner, too!