Heather McPherson wore what I can only describe as a “not Starfleet-issued” costume, red and black with cleavage-revealing bustier. It was a riff on the famous “Mirror Mirror” episode of the original Star Trek, she explained, updated to apply to the costumes of Next Generation. In other words, yeah, the woman’s a major Trek geek. And she was seated just a few rows back from the stage where Sir Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew and the grizzled vet, William Shatner, would soon appear.
The 41-year-old’s lived her life according to Trek. The first book she ever bought was poetry by Leonard Nimoy. Mulgrew “got my daughter into theater,” she gushed. And from the looks of the crowd gathered Sunday at the Rio—according to Shatner, “the largest [Trek convention audience] I have seen, possibly ever”—McPherson was not alone.
There was the guy walking around in the Star Trek robe, the guy who attended not to see Nimoy or Shatner, but Lee Meriwether, Olivia a’Abo and James Darren, and who was very proud that he had ticket 67 to get Mr. Darren’s autograph. He wouldn’t give me his name. He was not here to engage the natives, only to observe. There were “Parker” and “Jack,” two younger fans who really wanted to know which I liked more—original Trek or TNG. I let my wife, the real fan in the family, answer. I was here to observe as well.
And to buy things. The vendor area was a show all its own. Just down from the celebrity booths with Battlestar Galactica’s Richard Hatch and Moonraker’s Richard Kiel was one for perfume by Farscape’s Virginia Hey. And I seriously got in touch with my inner geek at the booth that sold Famous Monsters magazines, model kits of the Mummy and the Frankenstein and original Planet of the Apes model kits. For 15 seconds, I was 9 again. It got me thinking that’s most likely the feeling all these fans get from whatever iteration of Star Trek they’re into. For my wife, that’s definitely the original—she bought a Tribble and two Captain Kirk action figures, including one in his 1930s costume. As we left the convention and she began role-playing with ’30s Kirk (“You’re going to let Joan Collins die!”), I thought to myself, yeah, I could come here again next year.