The Las Vegas Star Trek convention of 2012 was different from the previous two I had attended. First, I had decided to spend the entire four days there rather than just one. Second, I had made arrangements to meet a few friends I knew from the sci-fi web site, "FanCentral.us," namely Kim Lockman, my artist friend whom I had never met; Katharyn King, a friend of Kim's and former member of Online Starbase, also whom I had never met; and Bill Blair, an actor I had met some years earlier at a Babylon 5 convention (he holds a most unusual distinction). I was eager to meet them. Also, I wanted to give a copy of a poem I wrote about Gene Roddenberry to his son, Rod, in person.
My favorite thing to do at conventions is to wander through the vendor's room, check out the various souvenirs and collectibles, see what's new in art, look for unusual or interesting displays, and chat with the actors and actresses who starred in movies, TV series, or who guest starred in one or more of the various Star Trek episodes, along with getting the occasional autographed picture of course.
Thursday, August 9th; the convention opened. Kim and I met that morning at a Starbuck's inside the hotel where we sipped gourmet coffee and shared first time hellos. From there, we went to the vendors' area where scads of Star Trek and other sci-fi items far too numerous to name were arrayed on tables and in booths throughout the cavernous room, and where tabled booths here and there were reserved for actors and other celebrities. Kim wanted to see the art displays, so we looked at a few of those first. The art was impressive. Then we just wandered around, looking. I checked Rod Roddenberry's venue and learned that he would not be in until the next day, so the poem would have to wait. At some point, a bubbly Katharyn King happened along. She and I were very happy to meet each other. We all chatted a bit, and then Katharyn drifted off in another direction. By early evening, Kim needed a rest break. I capped the evening at an event featuring Nichelle Nichols where she told about having met Dr. Martin Luther King and how he convinced her to change her mind about leaving Star Trek.
Friday morning, August 10th; I went straight to the vendor's room so I could be there when Rod Roddenberry arrived and give him the poem. His venue had some pretty impressive merchandise, including model phasers, tricorders, starships, T-shirts, and more. The item I coveted the most was a replica of the flute from the TNG episode "The Inner Light." Alas, it was beyond my budget. To kill time, I wandered about looking at myriad other displays, in the vendors' room, went back, wandered some more, and I waited. The morning dragged on. I went out, stood in line at Starbuck's, got a triple espresso, then came back. At last! Rod Roddenberry had arrived. He was being interviewed, so I waited some more. I told someone that I was waiting to speak with him.
He finally became free and walked over to me. He apologized for my having to wait. I told him it was no problem. Then, I told him why I was there and gave him a piece of parchment type paper with the poem printed on it. After he read it, I asked him how he liked it. He said that it was beautiful (to my great delight) and he asked me for permission to post it on line. I told him it was his, carte blanche. I ended up buying his "Trek Nation" DVD. His in-person event at 4:30 was on my itinerary. I went back to wandering.
I was somewhere mid-floor. Her blonde hair, dark eyebrows, and hazel eyes caught my attention. Her black T-shirt with the large white logo and light blue writing piqued my curiosity. I walked up to her. "Excuse me, what is "Star Trek Secret Voyage?'" I asked.
"It's a fan based Star Trek series that takes place between the time frame of "Star Trek: The Original Series" and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." We've just completed shooting our first webisode. You can watch it on YouTube. Have you seen our booth?"
"No, I haven't." I looked around. "Where is it? Can you take me there?"
"Sure. I'd be happy to."
"I'm Ken Wigal," I said.
"Hi! I'm Nicole Chauvet," she effused. "I play Commander Unara Ivos, Andorian First Officer of the Starship Enterprise in the series."
"Cool! I'm definitely gonna check it out," I told her. "If it's Star Trek, it's gotta be good!"
A couple of people wearing Starfleet uniforms were manning the booth when Nicole and I arrived. A large poster at the rear of the booth proclaiming "Star Trek Secret Voyage" depicted six characters armed with various types of phaser weapons standing in front of Galileo II, the Enterprise's signature shuttle. A video setup was playing a scene from the webisode. The special effects were pretty good. Photos of varying sizes were arrayed on a long table at the front. There were photos of the poster in both 5" by 7" size and wallet size. A bowl on the table was filled with photo buttons; small, circular lapel pins sporting pictures of the poster. Half a dozen 7" by 10" photos of individual Secret Voyage stars, including Nicole, were on display as well. The whole thing was amazing. I was captivated.
I put a few of the lapel pins in my pocket, and then I pored over all the photographs. They were great action stills. I asked Nicole if she would autograph hers. She obliged willingly, signing without hesitation. We chatted for a while, mostly about Secret Voyage. She was remarkably open and friendly. No spoilers though, but the more she told me the more interested I became. Then I noticed the time.
"Nicole, will you do me a huge favor? I know it's a lot to ask, but I have an event I really don't want to miss and I need your help. Will you please see if you can get all the pictures of your fellow actors autographed for me?"
"Of course. I'll see what I can do," she said.
"Is it okay if I leave your picture here with you for safe keeping until I get back?"
"Sure. No problem."
"I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you're doing for me!" I beamed. "Thank you!
"You're welcome," she said. "I'm glad I can help."
"I'll see you in about an hour," I told her.
"See ya," she said, smiling.
I turned and headed for the auditorium where the event was being held. On the way I thought, I'd love to get all the pictures autographed but I'm not that lucky. I continued on in, took my seat, and watched Rod Roddenberry talk about Trek nation. I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say that the event was well worth attending.
Event finished, I went straight back to the booth. Nicole saw me coming. Handing me a small stack of photos, she said, "Here, Ken."
"Thank you," I said quietly. I focused on the photographs. There were five plus hers, six in all, the complete complement, all signed. I couldn't believe it! I was astonished! "Wow!" I blurted. Then I looked straight into her eyes. "Nicole, this is incredible! I absolutely could not have gotten all of these without your efforts. I hardly know what to say! Thank you ever so much!" I gushed.
"Think nothing of it," she said smiling, her eyes alight. "It was my pleasure."
Saturday, August 11th, noonish; Bill Blair arrived and strode into Starbucks. We reminisced a little over coffee, then we headed out and met up with Kim. We passed the time strolling here and there. Bill was curious about Kim's Art; Kim and I were curious about Bill's career. We asked him about the various roles he's played, a good many of which were of sci-fi characters, when he told us that he is the Guinness World record holder in the category "most special effect make-up characters portrayed in a career." The new record number set May 6, 2011 is 202. Kim and I embraced that news whole heartedly, congratulating him. When it came time to part company for the evening, Bill autographed a couple of pictures from his portfolio of extra-terrestrials, one for Kim and one for me. I can tell you, when he's in character, he is one awesome Klingon!
Sunday, August 12th; I browsed the Vendor's room one last time. It was time to leave. I made the return trip to Los Angeles.
The Las Vegas Star Trek convention of 2012 was, without a doubt, the best science fiction convention I've ever been to. I was so happy and grateful to have met Kim Lockman and Katharyn King, and to have seen Bill Blair once again. I couldn't have asked for more. But there was more: an unexpected encounter. I met Nicole Chauvet, a beautiful, talented, burgeoning actress with eyes on Hollywood. She introduced me to "Star Trek Secret Voyage" in which she is one of the stars. When I asked her for her autograph and to get me the autographs of all her costars, she did so. I know it wasn't easy. For Nicole, time is a rare and precious commodity, yet she went well out of her way for me. This seemingly insignificant act was not insignificant at all. It had a profound effect on me. Her selfless act showed me that Nicole Chauvet is a woman of the finest character with the utmost integrity. We have since become close friends. She has a friend in me for life.