The Rio is the Motel 6 of Las Vegas casino-hotels: it’s cheap, and basic, and fine. The casino is without merit, the restaurants unremarkable, and it’s not even on the Strip, but when you just need a place to hole up for a few days and get some work done, it does the job.
So, there I was at the Rio, when I began seeing people walking around in Starfleet uniforms. At first, it’s like, that’s weird. But when I saw a few more I suspected the Star Trek convention must be in town.
When I found myself on the elevator with a woman wearing a convention badge (but not a Starfleet uniform) I asked her about it. Sure enough, the convention was happening right there at the Rio. I’d never been to a Star Trek convention, despite being a long-time fan of the shows. (Well, not Enterprise, but you know.) I’ve just never been “that kind of fan.” But my new friend gave me a program and told me all about it, and while we were talking, a short guy walked past and said hello to her. She was like, “oh, that was one of the actors,” like it’s just an everyday thing to have Aron Eisenberg, Nog from DS9, recognize you in the hallway. At that point I decided, okay, I’ve got to at least see what happens at these things.
Consulting the program, I picked Sunday to attend, so I could catch Sir Patrick Stewart, George Takei, and a panel of Deep Space Nine actors.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. A Big Bang Theory nerd-fest arguing over the minutia of warp speed ratings? Captain Kirk Impression Karaoke?
Nah. Just nice people having fun. On the registration line, a guy asked me where I was from, and when I admitted this was my first convention, he gave me his best advice: “Don’t wear a red shirt.” I think it was a test. If you get the joke, you’re in.
A man who was clearly mentally handicapped in some way, but dressed in a Starfleet uniform (TNG, command red) and having the time of his life, asked me how I was doing, then jumped straight to the important stuff: Who is your favorite captain? Naturally, that’s the first thing you’d want to know upon meeting someone. Sisko, I told him, and we bonded briefly over our shared love for DS9. Picard was his favorite, the wise father figure who valued all life of all races.
Star Trek fans are the nicest people ever.
The vendor area, smaller than I expected, was filled with folks selling sci-fi stuff not just from Trek, but from the whole genre. In attendance signing autographs that day were Brent Spiner (Data), Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker), LeVar Burton (Geordi LaForge), Chase Masterson (Leeta), Armin Shimerman (Quark), Aron Eisenberg (Nog), and John de Lancie (Q).
I attended a panel in the giant main theater of Deep Space Nine actors: Chase Masterson, Alexander Siddig (Julian Bashir), Andrew Robinson (Elim Garak), Marc Alaimo (Dukat), and Casey Biggs (Damar), which was entertaining. Then we had a session with George Takei (Hikaru Sulu), also a notable gay-rights activist; and one with Sir Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard).
There wasn’t as much costuming as I’d expected. Most of it was just Starfleet uniforms, and a few women with Trill spots. I guess doing a good Klingon is hard, and doing a bad Klingon is silly.
It was fun. I’m glad I went. I don’t know about this “Gold Package” stuff, though; it costs like eight hundred dollars for a good reserved theater seat and some celebrity autographs. General admission is fine, thanks.