Hawaii Star Trek Convention Recap - Day 1

Hawaii Star Trek Convention Recap - Day 1

Day One of Creation Entertainment's triumphant return to beautiful Waikiki Beach for The Official Star Trek Convention, which launches their year-long salute to the 45th Anniversary of Star Trek, opened with an appearance from that lovable Ferengi Rom, a/k/a Max Grodenchik. The Waikiki Sheraton is the flagship property of the Sheraton chain and attendees were understandably impressed with the gorgeous meeting space, overlooking Diamond Head and the ocean. Max looked relaxed and content as he greeted all his Island fans with some of his whimsical stories and jokes. He recounted his original casting in 1990, when he was offered the role of a Ferengi. At the time, Max had a roommate who knew something about the alien race and gave Max some acting tips. The result was a guest shot on a 3rd season ST:TNG episode, "Captain's Holiday." He was introduced to Patrick Stewart, who was very solicitous, offering "If you need anything special, come to me, I seem to be important to them here!"

A few months later, Michael Westmore  -- Trek's resident makeup wizard --  tipped Max off to the imminent casting of DS9. At the casting sessions, Max found himself reading for the role of Quark opposite Armin Shimerman, because, as Armin quipped, "We were the only two short people there!" In the pilot ("The Emissary"), Max got a quick appearance as a "pit boss," and then a couple of episodes later first appeared as Rom, who must get his troublesome son Nog off to school. As Max recounted, the somewhat adversarial yet loving relationship with his brother Quark got off to a quick start and Rom established himself as an independent thinker. Ultimately, he became the Grand Nagus, much to Max's pride. Evidently the Ferengi teeth made talking so difficult, he learned to speak from the back of his throat, which created the signature Rom vocal affectation. Max finished out his time on stage with a Ferengi rap song ("Rom DMC"), which blew everyone away. He is truly a talented performer.

Creation Co-CEO and show host Adam Malin went on to host a lively segment of their famous Yes-No Trivia Challenge, enlisting much of the audience to answer questions, ranging from easy to hard, about Star Trek history. Contestants won $500 in prizes. There was an impressive age range of contestants, from young to old. Following that, Creation screened a copy of Gene Roddenberry's TOS Trek blooper reels. These old outtakes continue to delight audiences year after year, and it's obvious how much fun the TOS cast was having on the set of the show back in the glory days. Murphy's Law (everything that can go wrong does go wrong) was firmly at work as actors missed lines, slipped and fell, improvised and generally raised eyebrows with their naughty behavior. Bill Shatner is particularly hilarious in several of these scenes.

Honolulu had never seen the likes of the next guests, those nefarious emissaries of the Klingon Empire, Gowron and Martok (Robert O'Reilly and J.G. Hertzler), in full makeup, costume and regalia. Except that instead of leather pants, Gowron was wearing flower print shorts and a lei, and Martok wore a Polynesian sarong! They treated the audience to their infamous Klingon rap song (featuring members of the audience) and their hysterical discussion included their notorious "Rooster" routine, which had the audience in stitches; if you haven't heard this story, suffice it to say it involves the virility of barnyard birds. All in all, these two characters brought a healthy dose of the Aloha spirit to the proceedings, Klingon-style.

Following was Creation's Famous No Minimum Bid Auction, where sets of Star Trek photos from all five series went for shockingly low and great prices. Highlights included out-of-production Trek plates, Hallmark ornaments, Fleer cards and other goodies.

After that, Malin interviewed BarBara Luna, best known as Lt. Marlena Moreau from the TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror." Luna revealed a long and illustrious career, starting at the age of 7 on Broadway as a child in the original productions of two Rodgers & Hammerstein classics, South Pacific and The King and I. Richard Rodgers predicted that she would have a career in acting, and she went on to do several theater pieces before moving to Los Angeles, where she got episodic TV work in iconic shows like Mission: Impossible, Hawaii 5-0 and, of course, TOS. Of "Mirror, Mirror," Luna remarked that Roddenberry's casting process was based on an actor's technical merits more than ethnicity or looks, which impressed her very much. She didn't have the sense at the time that what she was filming would become one of the seminal TV classics, nor that her episode would go on to be considered one of the fan favorites of the show. In general, she commented that her experiences in 60's Hollywood were positive, without the horror stories of the casting couch and sexism that many other women of the time encountered. She related working with some Hollywood and Broadway legends, including Mary Martin, Yul Brynner, Frank Sinatra, Martin Landau, Spencer Tracy, and of course Shatner and Nimoy. Still looking vibrant and beautiful, Luna remains a class-act Hollywood success story.

The day concluded with an energetic and upbeat reminiscence of the TOS cast featuring Malin and Richard Arnold, Gene Roddenberry's longtime right-hand man. Arnold was wearing a pair of pink seersucker Izod shorts that belonged to Gene Roddenberry and dated back to the seventies. The two lovingly recounted funny and endearing encounters with the cast and Roddenberry, both at the studio and on the convention circuit. One little-known and darker story recalled the power struggle for who would direct and produce the film Generations. It had been offered to Nimoy, but he was not being given the opportunity to do any script rewrites and passed. Whoopi Goldberg had come on the project with an expectation that she would get to work with Nichelle Nichols, who had inspired her to go into acting from when she used to watch her as a child. When Whoopi discovered that Nichelle wasn't hired for the film, she was livid. Arnold mentioned that he had actually made the first-ever introduction between Goldberg and Nichols.

The day ended and the evening brought with it a killer performance from "The Rat Pack," the musical collective comprised of Max Grodenchik (who also wrote most of the lyrics), Jeffrey Combs, Casey Biggs, Vaughn Armstrong and Armin Shimerman. Debonair in matching black tuxedos (this reporter hasn't seen so many tuxes since the endless days of Bar Mitzvahs at Leonard’s on Long Island) and obviously excited to play before the Honolulu audience, the group launched into an extensive list of classics. Combs was particularly endearing, lamenting about his many characters/aliens on Trek. Schizophrenic, but as long as he gets paid, he's OK with it! Biggs demonstrated some real chops on the guitar. Armstrong serenaded the women of Trek aboard "the Trekkie Deckie" on the shores of Waikiki. The group called out to "Beam Me Up, Scotty," waiting for "Kirk to suck face!" Their five-part harmony demonstrated the degree of preparation these fine gentlemen went to in preparing for this performance.

Biggs went on to salute Mr. Sulu (George Takei) coming out of the closet with "Ooh Mr. Sulu" and the "Voodoo that he do!" Tellingly, Trek fans know that Gene Roddenberry saluted gender orientation diversity decades before it was politically correct. Armstrong joined in with some bluesy harmonica. Then Shimerman lamented about his "Rubber Butthead," a vaudevillian routine celebrating the posterior-oriented head prosthetic that personifies the Ferengi race. Grodenchik offered some limericks that demonstrated hysterical new lows in taste and highs on the laugh meter. To the tune of "Born Free," Armstrong saluted "Borg Queen," wherein "Resistance Is Futile" once again provided cheap laughs at the expense of the civilization-devouring Collective. Combs wondered why Kirk and Spock didn't pick up on the fact that the poor schlub in the Red Shirt always ate the dust, to hilarious results: "You wear Red, you're dead!"

Not resting on their laurels, the group surprised everyone with a Herman's Hermits- themed multi harmony saluting "Jeffrey Combs, You Are an ugly Vorta" (to the tune of "Mrs. Brown You Lave a Lovely Daughter"). Much to the audience's delight, then J.G. Hertzler and Robert O'Reilly were called on stage (drinks in hand). With everyone sporting matching eye patches and recalling "Pirates of the Caribbean,” the group saluted "A Klingon's Life for Me," the group's randy expose on the shocking effect of alcohol consumption.

Lou Reed was summoned with Max's ode to DS9’s need to chill out: "Sisko, Take a Walk on the Mild Side!" The group then created a truly lovely four-part harmony, hoping that the crew of the Enterprise would find their alien race, accompanied by keyboard player Bill Burchell's sweet piano melody. Even Randy Newman was skewered with "You've Got a Ferengi In Me," recalling the Roswell/1947 episode. Finally, as the Dessert Party encroached on the time available to the crew, they parted with "The End of the Line," in which Max complained that he had to get his tux back to a shop on the corner of Kalua and Kalakaua, and Armin promised that if they ever bring back Quark's bar, the drinks were on him, as you remember what you leave behind, from Cardassia Prime, to the End of the Line.

It was an amazing ending to a fantastic day in beautiful Waikiki. On to the Dessert Party. Live Long and Prosper!

Tags
convention
space
bones
science
fiction
cool