In part two of his latest The Drex Files guest blog, Doug Drexler uses words and pictures to beam Trek fans back 20 years, to 1993, for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine set. If you missed part one, please click HERE.
Image 08 - Stepping outside, I run into two more characters. One is our cranky physical effects genius, Joe Sasgen. Joe had come fresh from lighting up the submarine control rooms in The Hunt for Red October. He’s one of the biggest physical effects guys in Hollywood. I mean he’s something like 6’5″ tall. He looks happy. Whew! In those duds he would be right at home on the deck of a destroyer. Hi Joe! How’s the weather up there? Oh I don’t know Doug, what’s it like down around my ass? Ok… no more tall jokes! Deal! No more forehead jokes! Done! Joe, I think we need some more blinkies at Dax’s science station. What’s that, Doug? You’re breaking up! I can’t make you out!... Blinkies! Blinkies! … Twinkies? Twinkies? Oh, FOR-GET IT!
Image 09 - This is Bernie, our Paramount security guy for the first couple of seasons. What a nice, pleasant, normal guy. He was so gullible; I would make up stories about guards being abducted by UFOs, and replaced with cellulose replicants. He would show honest concern, and look at me just the way he looks here. Then he would just shake his head, Boy, Dougie, I never know when you’re pulling my leg!
It was payday. Payday because we just got our checks, but it was also payday because DS9 premiered to terrific ratings. It opened as the number one syndicated drama, so Stage 16 was a lighthearted place that morning. Mike and I were standing by craft service just outside the station conference room. We just walked the set and it was good for camera. There goes Marvin Rush! Marvin! Great job… congratulations! I poured myself some of that commissary coffee, surveying the table for foragables. Look at that! A big ‘ol congratulatory cake to the cast and crew! Had to be four feet long! How thoughtful! Look how pretty! Hey Mike! I said. If I put my butt in that cake will you give me your paycheck?
Mike thought about it for barely a second, whipped out his check and signed it over to me! Mike had me slack-jawed! Dude! You weren’t supposed to do that! Mike looked at me inquiringly… well? Butt in cake, please!
Image 10 - Mike called my bluff! Awwww… ya got me! I can’t believe you did that! What if I had gone through with it? Mike grinned. I would have given the check to you! An Okuda has never lived who welched on a deal! And with that he handed me the check. See amount.
Image 11 - Sheesh! Phil Jacobson. One of the first guys there, and the last guy to turn out the lights… and I mean that literally. He’s the assistant chief lighting tech. He lived in the permanents above the stage floor, and usually was a disembodied voice from the darkness above… it was eerily like the voice of god.
Sorry for the slightly blurry picture, but I was probably trying to get by without being seen by him. Phil is always badgering me for special labels for his light gear. As if I got nothing better to do, and no matter how many labels I made for this joker, he never had enough. It became more about giving me a hard time. Once he came into the art department looking for me. I ducked under my desk. Anybody see Dougie? I need some labels! No one ratted me out. Well, said Phil… I’ll just sit at his desk and wait for him. Have you seen that episode of Seinfeld where George is sleeping under his desk, and gets trapped when Steinbrenner sits in his chair? Same thing! He stayed for about 15 minutes, me holding my breath. When he finally left I came out from under the desk to the unbridled laughter of the art department.
Image 12 - There’s DS9 illustrator Ricardo Delgado checking out the promenade. This was one huge set, on a Bondian scale. We had quite a rambunctious and spirited design team in that first season. Ricardo was a real firebrand, and our two set designers, Brits Joe Hodges and Nathan Crowley, were quite nutty as well. This is evidenced by all the sexual innuendo in the promenade designs. This was not lost on Bob Justman when he came for a visit. Bob covered Denise's ears, and whispered to Mike and me, “The windows are vaginas!” True enough. In fact the hand rail posts are penises arching toward the vaginas.
Image 14 - I didn’t fix the red eyes because I thought it enhanced the mischievous, and devilish side of Ricardo’s nature. Ricardo was not your typical Star Trek illustrator, and that was probably a real plus. It helped give DS9 its own visual identity. Ricardo was a huge Ren and Stimpy fan, and R&S would play loudly every day during lunch. Ricardo would giggle like a naughty little kid at every questionable joke. Someone on R&S had a name like “Billy-Bob”. After that Ricardo tacked “Bob” onto everyone's name, and it really caught on. Denise-Bob, Herman-Bob, Mike-Bob, Doug-Bob. Man, I miss you Ricardo! Someday! Ricardo illustrated a very classy comic book for Dark Horse called “Age of Reptiles.” Very beautiful work. Ricardo has a real feel for the thunder lizards, and I think “Age of Reptiles” stands as a classic.
Image 15 - Hey look! there is Mike-Bob, and Jim-Bob! They’re standing at the portal to the Bajoran temple. Back then, Jim was the PA who contributed drawings that made an impact. Another Star Trek success story. Jim became a full-fledged illustrator on the show, and went on to work on many motion pictures.
Wow, that was a little trippy re-reading that after call these years. Got a little ferklempt there! No wonder! I LOVED my time on Deep Space Nine. Even though I had been in the business for about 13 years by then, DS9 felt like a coming of age story for me. It was there that I realized that Hollywood was my oyster. The store was wide open, and I didn't have to settle for only being a makeup artist. The potential for working in this town is huge. But you know, it probably couldn't have happened anywhere else but Star Trek. It's because of that extraordinary family of friends that developed right there on Melrose Avenue that I lived the opportunity of a life time!
North Hollywood, Ca.
About Doug Drexler
A lifelong Star Trek fan, Doug Drexler made a variety of marks on the franchise as makeup artist, graphic designer, illustrator, and visual effects artist. Over his 32-year-career in Hollywood, science fiction, fantasy, and especially Star Trek, have defined Doug's career. A protege of makeup legend Dick Smith, Doug went on to become a creative mainstay on Trek for 17 years, designing such shows as TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise. His Trek career culminated as the primary designer of the Enterprise NX. Drex, as everyone calls him, has written Trek books, made cameo appearances on TNG and Enterprise, and has even had a Trek character named after him: on DS9, the Klingon son of Martok and Sirella was named... Drex. Post-Trek, Doug has worked as CG supervisor on several iterations of Battlestar Galactica, including the upcoming Blood and Chrome and Defiance. Click HERE to visit Drexler's office blog, Drex Files. Drex is an American and British Academy Award winner, two-time Emmy winner (seven nominations), Saturn Award winner, Peabody Award recipient, and Visual Effects Society Award winner.