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September 24, 2001



This started out as "The Return of the Son of SpongeBob Vega$Pants", but it devolved into a long tangent, and now I have to leave. So read on, and expect a REAL addition to the story later today.

When we left our hero, he had just signed a bunch of autographs, and was grabbing a much-needed nap.

Now, before we roll the tape again, there's something that happened to me while I was signing autographs that was really funny, and I forgot to mention it before.

I was wearing this T-shirt that I really like, made by a very cool, subversive company. It's a black T-shirt, with a picture of a hand making rock-and-roll devil horns, and it says, "Keep music evil".

About 200 or so people into the day, this woman comes up to me, to get her collectible plate signed, in gold, because John DeLancie signed his in silver, so now silver is the color reserved for "Q".

She sees my shirt, and she becomes hysterical. She is pointing, at my shirt, and she screeches at me, "You are going to hay-ell! You are going to hay-ell!"

"Why am I going to Hell, ma'am?" I asked back, trying to figure out if she was joking.

"You're wearing that shirt! And that shirt promotes SATAN!"

Okay, she's definately not joking.

"So I'm going to Hell, because I'm wearing a shirt? Is that right?"

"Yes! You! Are! Going! To! HAY-ELL!"

"Well, as long as I'm not going where you are, ma'am."

And she leaves, but not without her plate...

So, I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Okay, back to our story...

So I took a nap. One of those naps that lasts only 30 minutes, but feels like a whole night's sleep.

I woke up, ate, showered, changed, packed my bags with costumes and props, and headed back to the con for the talk, and my show.

For those of you who don't know what Star Trek conventions are, I'll make a feeble attempt at an explaination. Conventions (or "cons", as the cool kids call them) are part trade show, part collectible show, part geek-fest, part love-in. Well, not the love-in part, but it's prolly better that way.

Promoters hire actors, writers, producers, etc., from the show to come to a hotel conference center, and give a talk and sign autographs for the fans. There are also people who sell collectibles and bootlegs and stuff, and they usually run episodes of the show on a big screen. Think Rocky Horror Picture Show, but slightly less cool.

Going to conventions used to be lots of fun, because we could get onstage and talk about what was coming up this season, dish dirt about each other, and let the fans see us as we really were, not just as our characters.

But since I stopped making the show, going to cons started feeling lame. I felt like I was resting on my laurels, and, quite honestly, I felt like a tool being there, especially since there were 2 other shows on (DS9 and Voyager)--

Oh! Tangent!

This guy comes up to me one day, and he is *SO* out there. For those of you who know what this means, you'll get the image, perfectly: He was a Gamer.

So this guy corners me, and starts his conversation by saying, "I'm not that big a Trekker, but..."

Okay, here's the deal. "Trekker" is a term devised by fans who don't like being associated with the "wierd" ones, whom they refer to as "Trekkies". So when a guy who looks like a Gamer tells me that he's a "Trekker", it sends off a few warning flags. Methinks the Trekkie doth protest too much, you see.

He must have sensed my unease, because he went on, "I mean, I really like the show, but I've never been to a convention. Conventions are for wierdos. I own all the episodes on video, and I can quote most of them, but I've never been to a convention. Conventions are for wierdos. Sure, I have lots of the technical manuals, and I've read them a few times, and I wrote Mike Okuda about some inconsistencies between the movies and the series, but I've never been to a convention. Conventions are for wierdos. And I just want you to know that I always liked Next Generation the best, I mean, I watched all the episodes of DS9, but I only watched about half the episodes of 'V'ger'"...Yes, he called "Voyager" "V'ger", in a throwback to Star Trek: The Motion Picture...anyway, he finishes up his disclaimers, and begins asking me all these questions about Star Trek, like, trivia and shit, and when I don't know the answer, he snorts, he snorts! and tells me what the answer is. Now, keep in mind that I am simply not allowed to say, "Dude. You are the Freakest Link. Goodbye," and walk away. I have to stand there, and take it like a man...which I do.


So I didn't want to do cons, because it made me feel like a loser, standing there, talking about what I did so many years ago...then I saw "Galaxy Quest".

I *loved* "Galaxy Quest". I thought it was brilliant satire, not only of Trek, but of fandom in general. The only thing I wish they had done was cast me in it, and have me play a freaky fanboy who keeps screaming at the actor who played "the kid" about how awful it was that there was a kid on the spaceship. Alas.

When I saw "Galaxy Quest", I remembered how much fun I used to have at conventions, and I missed it. I missed the interaction with the fans. I missed the chance to tell stories about my life on TNG...but mostly, I missed the sex. The hot, Klingon-forehead-wearing fansex.

WHAT?! Just kidding. I just wanted to see if you were skimming or not.

Okay, serious: I missed it. I thought it would be fun to do one again, and I did, and it was, and Dave Scott, the promoter, asked me to come participate in the Vega$ show.

Something about the market for conventions: It's really changed over the years, especially for the guys from the original Star Trek, and TNG. There just aren't that many stories to tell that the fans haven't heard, and it's not like they can get up on stage and talk about what's coming up next week, you know? And most of the people who want to collect autographs and pictures have already gotten stuff from all the people they like. Add that to a few evil, shitty, dishonest promoters who've come and gone over the years, and the result is: most people are over conventions. So a few actors and promoters got this really nifty idea. This wonderful, awful, Grinchy idea...they needed to add something to the convention experience, to make it worthwhile for the fan to come to the show, and they [the promoters] needed to make sure that they would continue to earn money, so the whole thing was worthwhile for them, too. So the idea, which I hear was hatched by John DeLancie, was to sell an extra ticket for a dinner event, and invite the actors to come to that event, and, when the fans are done with dinner, perform for them.

This is the coolest thing, ever, I think. From the fan's perspective, it is a chance to see an actor they love, in the flesh, performing for them. Lots of actors wrote their own plays about their characters, and they perform them at these cons. I mean, if you're a Trekkie, how cool is it to see Nimoy and DeLancie perform "Spock meets Q"? I'm not a huge fanboy, and it was exciting to *me*, so you can imagine.

Now, from the actor's perspective, this is a great thing. We love acting. We love performing. Is there anything better than having an audience, who, by all accounts, wants to like you, come and see you perform? It's great!

So, to make this longer without telling you anything new about Vega$, Dave Scott asked me if I'd be willing to do something for one of these cabarets. I thought it would be rad, but I didn't know what I'd do...see, I really wasn't interested in writing some sort of "Where's Wesley Now?" play, and performing that. That would have just been lame. But, there's this other thing I do...this sketch comedy thing...

As most of you know, I am a writing and performing member of the ACME comedy theatre in Hollywood. We're a great company, and we have some VERY funny people in the group, so I approached them about doing a sci-fi oriented comedy show for some sci-fi fans. The ones who didn't run away came with me to Vega$.

We named the group "Mind Meld" and we called the show "Assimilate This!"

...wow. I've really just gone in a big circle here. I've been writing for an hour, and I haven't gotten close to telling the stories I want to tell. And now I have to leave for an interview (With the Los Angeles Times, thank you very much!).

So I guess The saga of SpongeBob Vega$Pants will have to continue this afternoon.

Posted by wil at September 24, 2001 10:46 AM


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