Equicon 1975 was held at the El Cortez Hotel in San Diego on May 24–26, 1975. S.T.A.R.**Utah organized a caravan of cars with local fans wanting to attend a real science fiction convention. Most of them had never been to a convention before; driving for 18 hours to experience one was the chance of a lifetime.
Carol Andrus and Julia Howarth made up the Equicon Coordinating Committee for S.T.A.R.**Utah, but due to the fact that they had both lost their jobs at the first of the year, didn’t have the money to attend themselves . . . until the last minute, when Beverly Jones loaned them enough (from her tax return) to join the crowd.
The Communicator, Vol 3 No 4 (Sept 1975) has driving logs—both to San Diego and back to Utah—for one of the cars in the caravan. That issue also has convention reports from several of the attendees, which appear below.
The 23rd Century: a time of high adventure and peril on the growing rim of the United Federation of Planets. And, through the medium of that Time Machine known as “The Tube,” we can witness and participate in the exploration of a galaxy.
STAR TREK has been our ticket to new tomorrows and will be again with Gene Roddenberry’s movie and possible mini-series.
This hope was supported during S.T.A.R.**Utah’s attendance of Equicon ’75/Filmcon 3, the west coast STAR TREK Convention.
It was my first STAR TREK Convention (barring the Red Hour Festival Minicon in San Francisco) and despite transport problems, high food costs, and extreme lack of sleep, it was the most enjoyable trip I’ve ever made. It was no less than purest pleasure to converse with, argue with, dine with, and otherwise hobnob with those people who one has merely read about and seen on television and those thousands of persons whose minds run in the same beam as mine and yours.
During the con I met Poul and Karen Anderson, Larry and Mrs. Niven, Walter Koenig, George Takei, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Robby the Robot (!?), Theodore Sturgeon, D. C. Fontana, William Campbell, Matt Jefferies, David Gerrold, Franz Joseph Schnaubelt, and assorted Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons, etc.
I told George Takei about helmsman Sulu was cursed for inaccurate phaser fire in our Stargames and was told that Sulu actually wears glasses and is as blind as a bat without ’em!
Robby flashed his lights at us.
Theodore Sturgeon and I discussed the relevance of science fiction in today’s world and he showed me his latest manuscript, a chapter on science fiction for a university text.
Larry Niven told me that he was responsible for the aliens and Jerry Pournelle was responsible for the background in the Hugo-nominated “Mote in God’s Eye.”
Walter Koenig visited our dealer’s table and purchased several of my hand-painted wargame figurines while talking about his current projects and the Star Trek movie. I never had a chance to go to a panel, what with the dealer’s table and all, and Mr. Koenig’s information was most welcome. He told us that the STAR TREK movie was to be about the beginnings of the Enterprise and her crew and that he had lost ten pounds and shaved his moustache to prove to Gene Roddenberry that he could play the part of Chekov again.
By far the most profitable conversation was with Franz Joseph Schanubelt, the creator of the STAR TREK Blueprints. Mr. Schnaubelt told us of the reasons for many of the details of the plans and excited us with descriptions of the Starfleet Technical Manual to be published by Ballantine later this year. The Technical Manual will be over 97 pages long, containing three-views of all ten classes of Starfleet vessels and the shuttlecraft, maps of the Galaxy showing the location of the Federation and the Romulan and Klingon Empires, the charter of the United Federation of Planets, the articles of Interstellar Commerce, and all of the directives and primary regulations of Starfleet. Quite a collection but we’ve still got to wait months before it comes out.
A Con is confusion and disorder, and it’s happiness and fulfillment. The representatives of S.T.A.R.**Utah had plenty of the former but the latter is what will be remembered.
You did WHAT for 18 hours?
What do I want to say about Equicon ’75? I didn’t think I would be able to go. I was putting together the May issue of THE COMMUNICATOR to be ready to print and take to the con . . . and suddenly Bev Jones, who was driving one of the “caravan” cars and stopped to say goodbye, said, “Look, you two (meaning Carol and me). I can pay for you—come to the con with us!”
We didn’t protest much—we’d been bemoaning the fact that we couldn’t go while all our friends were. So we packed and left—just like that! I chucked THE COMMUNICATOR and found somebody to feed the cats . . . and we were in Beaver before it really hit me that I was going to Equicon!
AS you can see from our driving log, it was my first trip out of Utah since I was about 3 years old. I had never been to California, never seen the sea. Argh! So I was rather in shock all the way.
When we reached San Diego we all just dropped dead in bed once we got our hotel rooms. And that (getting hotel rooms) was just the first of our problems.
Since Carol and I had no memberships, we tripped on over to the El Cortez at 6:00 p.m. to buy them. Some guy who will remain nameless (because we never did get his name) but who haunted us all through the con with bad luck, whom we call “handlebars” because of his moustache, told us very rudely that we couldn’t get memberships yet! What a blow. Here we’d just driven for 18 hours and then waited all day, and couldn’t get in yet.
Well, I won’t go through all the hassles we had getting our memberships, but thanks to some wonderful people, we managed, the next morning, to get them. So now we were free to roam the con—sort of.
S.T.A.R.**Utah and affiliated organizations had a dealer’s table, so we had part responsibility for sitting at it. Whew. It was stuck in a back corner of the dealer’s room where all we could see were the two gofers guarding the doors. The only excitement that happened was when Walter Koenig and George Takei signed our “register”—and of course I wasn’t there then.
I got to one panel discussion the whole time. It was the fantasy writing panel, with Ted Sturgeon, Katherine Kurtz, Larry Niven, and Poul and Karen Anderson. It was quite interesting, when any of it could be heard. The room was tiny, jam-packed, and without microphones.
Later, roaming about the dealer’s room, I met a lot of people I had just been writing to (or meaning to write to): Jim Rondeau, who really is just as nutty as I am; Debbie Collin, who does great art and stories; Signe Landon, who is also a good artist; and Cathy Keegan, the Klingon. (We have some incriminating pics of you in our files, people! You may get to see them someday when we have the money to get you copies.)
The one thing I noticed about the con was how disorganized it was. The rooms were too small for the panels held in them, nothing was on time, there was little guide as to what was where—I never found where all the movies were being shown (across the street) until the second day—and other symptoms of “what’s going on here?” I was also upset because our rooms were at the Royal Inn and we had a heck of a time getting to the El Cortez and back.
Being a science fiction fan first and foremost (trekness is just a symptom of that illness for me) I especially enjoyed several things at the con. I loved the masquerade, even though I had trouble getting a seat. If you heard somebody clapping madly for the “Hosteen Storm—the Beastmaster” costume, it was me. I’m a great Andre Norton fan from way back. (That’s why I was delighted when, later, I got some good pics of Katherine Kurtz dressed in a costume from one of Andre Norton’s books.)
I’ve read other people’s con reports and I guess I was just lucky. I got to see several STAR TREK episodes and caught the bloopers three times. It’s great to see “I, Mudd” for the first time on big screen in color. (Even though I only saw half of it, and then went back to the hotel and saw half of it again on TV. To this day I’ve only seen the last half of “I, Mudd.”)
I lived on cheese and crackers and Bubble-up from the machines at the Royal Inn. (I don’t think any machines worked at the El Cortez.) I not only couldn’t afford Denny’s, I wasn’t about to risk my life! And you will remember, I set off for this con without a penny to my name.
The biggest disappointment to me was the banquet. The food was terrible—burned! and with green pepper, which I’m allergic to. Having bought my ticket late, I of course couldn’t sit with any sort of celebrity, but I suppose it was just as well for it seems half of them didn’t show up. (Maybe they saw the menu?) All in all, it was a great waste of money.
The con, for me, had its high points and its low points. I enjoyed the art show, the masquerade, bumming in the dealer’s room meeting people, and clowning with Jim Rondeau. I hated never getting to see the movies, like “Andromeda Strain” and “Forbidden Planet,” because of lousy scheduling, and going to panels and finding they were moved, or cancelled, or something. (I also hated getting lost on the San Diego freeway on the way to church Sunday—but that wasn’t the con’s fault!) There was a great deal of room for improvement, and I hope that Equicon next year in L.A. will not be so disorganized. But for me, it was a great adventure, and I’m glad I went.
Better Luck Next Time!
First of all, I wasn’t even expecting to be able to go. I desperately wanted to, but back at the first of the year I’d been sick and lost my job. No job, no money. No money, no con.
Well at the last minute (literally!) Bev Jones turned up and said that just the day before she’d gotten all her tax money back and could afford to loan Julia and me the cost of one convention trip. Rejoice! (There are still a few miracles around.)
Of course, this meant a trip by car all the way from Salt Lake to San Diego—and back. Anyone who knows me is well aware of the fact that I detest being in a car for more than about an hour at a time, so the second miracle was that I survived the trip (although the only reason I made it back in one piece was that I slept at least a dozen of the 18 hours of the trip home!)
We arrived at the Royal Inn at the Wharf at 6 a.m. Friday. The hotel people told us we wouldn’t possibly have our rooms for at least another hour. Argh!
We drove around for a while and finally ended up back at the hotel coffee shop, figuring that breakfast would give us a cheerier outlook. At this point, we discovered the second carload of S.T.A.R.**Utah folks, who had apparently turned up just a few minutes behind us but who’d thought of breakfast first.
Our rooms still weren’t ready so some of us camped out in the hotel lobby, much to the chagrin of the management. The others actually felt ambitious enough to go exploring.
Finally we got our rooms–one for the seven girls and one for the five guys. (We seem to have run a practical seminar on the problems of over-population. How appropriate for an SF con!)
After naps and showers, we finally started feeling human again. The con committee told the few of the more ambitious members of our group who had made an expedition up to the El Cortez that registration would begin at 6:00 p.m. Accordingly, we all showed up at 5, not knowing what sort of lines to expect.
Here Julia and I had our first encounter with Handlebars. (Can’t remember his right name but he was tall and blond and his ugly handlebar mustache was his predominate feature.) He did not have a committee badge. I think he had a gofer badge, but even on this point I’m not positive. I will grant that he knew all the committee members and they knew him. He did seem to have some authority but wow! did he ever abuse it. Apparently he didn’t like folks who knew what they were doing without his blessed assistance.
Anyhow, the registration folks were still opening mail (!) and kept postponing registration—I think it was more like 7:30 before that got going. And then they told us that only the folks who’d preregistered could check in then. This, of course, rather upset those of us with S.T.A.R.**Utah who weren’t preregistered. (They did let us buy banquet tickets then, though.)
This immediately presented problems for Julia, Jeff, and me. Of course there were some films and activities we wanted to get into that evening. We needed to get in the next morning, to set up the S.T.A.R.**Utah table in the dealer’s room. We had a S.T.A.R.**Utah meeting scheduled just after that. There was no way we could get to registration until nearly noon if we’d had to do that, but on the other hand we couldn’t get into the dealer’s room, etc., unless we had badges.
We were, fortunately, rescued from this dismal dilemma. Never doubt the power of friends! Thanks to Liz Greene, Jeannie Peacock, and all the folks in charge of the gofers, we ended up with gofer badges in order to be able to get around until we could somehow manage to get registered.
Saturday morning we got in and set up our table, then set off to find the S.T.A.R.**Utah meeting. Since no-one except the officers showed up, Julia and I set off to go to registration. Disaster! But just as we arrived there, someone on the committee spotted our gofer badges and sent us off to hunt down someone else on the committee. This entailed getting on the elevator a dozen or so times, following up leads as to the place in which this individual could be found. On one of these elevator trips we ran into Helen Bautista who noted that we had gofer badges but hadn’t registered yet. We explained our dilemma briefly and she immediately told us to follow her (couldn’t leave those unregistered gofers running around all day!) and we ended up behind the registration table, out of the hassle, much to the chagrin of Handlebars, who had been giving us heck all morning.
Registered at last, we figured we were finally on the way. But no. . . . After all the trouble the committee had gone to for us, we figured we’d just keep our gofer badges and work as gofers! This wonderful sense of obligation almost lasted out the day. (Note to all convention attendees: EITHER a dealer’s table OR a gofer job. If you try to manage both you might just as well have stayed home, considering all of the convention you WON’T get to participate in.) Saturday almost doesn’t count as a day at the con.
On Sunday, Julia, Jeff and I were planning on attending church so we found the address of the nearest chapel and the meeting times. We set off with Bev’s car promptly at 3:30, armed only with our San Diego street map. We figured we could make it easily to the 4 o’clock meeting. HA! We were continually thwarted by one way streets and the lack of signs on the freeway. About 4:15 we had finally figured out what we were doing, but of course we were too late to get to church. And going to a later meeting was out since we’d paid for banquet tickets and at $10 each we weren’t about to let them go to waste.
As it turned out, it was still a waste. The food was ho-hum and the entertainment (at least I guess that’s what it was supposed to be) wasn’t entertaining. In fact the best part of the banquet was being at the same table with some ST Archives people and the one and only D’Artagnan. Also at the table were a teenage girl and her mother. The mother was behaving like a teeniebopper, much to the dismay of the daughter. (In fact, Mom just about passed out from excitement when she discovered one of the stars of the soap “General Hospital” at the next table, attending the con with the director of “Questor Tapes.”) We had a great waitress for our table, too, and finally persuaded her to let us take her picture. (Only we could come up with something like that!)
Towards the end of the meal, I got up and went over to Gene Roddenberry’s table. (Yes, I know it’s rude to bother someone while they’re eating, but I still hadn’t seen a single celebrity and GR is one of my special favorites.) GR was really cool about it and we were in the middle of a nice chat about his visit to the U of U the year before and chuckling over the bomb threat that had interrupted his speech, when superdud Handlebars came up behind me, grabbed me around the waist, and literally dragged me. OH WOW! The only reason I didn’t start screaming and kicking was that I wasn’t about to be the one to disrupt things (although Handlebars seemed to be trying to fill that position—GR looked a little astonished at my sudden disappearance!)
It really bothered me having the banquet in the middle of the con that way. Seems like the banquet should signal the end of things, but here we were with an entire day yet ahead of us.
All things considered, Julia and I did manage to get to a few activities. Two movies, several ST episodes, the bloopers THREE times, the fantasy writers’ panel, the masquerade (although I got very tired of preachy aliens, many of the skits were good and there were a lot of outstanding costumes). I also enjoyed the art show and was very pleased with my purchases there, even though I could only afford the sketch table. I did get a little upset to see some of the lousy needlepoint on display. Julia and I were selling ours dirt cheap at our table, and it was better stuff than things in the art show which had minimum bids double our costs. Just wait till next year—we’ll show ’em what good needlepoint looks like!
My main gripe about this year’s con was the lousy schedule—or lack thereof. I only got to see two films. I wanted to see several others, but it was impossible to plan ahead in that department and since I had to help out at the S.T.A.R.**Utah table I couldn’t just wander from film room to film room just to see what was REALLY showing (as opposed to what had been posted only an hour or two before). Missed more panels because they’d been “postponed” (and never rescheduled). And I only saw any of the celebrities by sheer chance.
The great thing about the con was meeting other fans: got a chance to see old friends from Equicon ’73 (Pam Kinney, Chey Gurwell, Sue Daniels), met folks I’d only written to before (Joyce Thompson, Jim Rondeau, Cathy Keegan), met all the friends of friends (Virginia Walker, Debbie Collin, Signe Landon, the Star Trek Archives folks), and of course got acquainted with lots more folks who I’m looking forward to seeing again at other cons.. I guess that’s mostly what a con is for anyhow—meeting folks—so in spite of hardships, I guess I’ll classify the whole venture as a success, although I must admit to some eagerness to see the con safely back in the hands of the Trimble crew.
Photos from Equicon ’75/Filmcon 3 (courtesy of Julia (Howarth) West):