Many fans remember Chase Masterson for her breakout role as the Bajoran Leeta on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Others may remember the Colorado Springs-born actress being named one of the 50 "Sexiest Women of the Year" by Femme Fatales magazine.
Well, she remembers her fans, too. And one in particular.
"One of the best things that's ever happened to me was right here in Colorado," she says. A fan walked up to her and relayed a story about being deployed as a soldier in the Gulf War. After being away from base for several days, they would all sit down for the newest episode of DS9. "Before they even took showers, they gathered to watch it."
The soldier said that this helped them process their own experiences about war and the need for peace. "I'll never forget that conversation," she says.
That exchange came at a science-fiction convention, Masterson says. And if that comes as a surprise, given the stereotypes that surround sci-fi, you should get a load of U.K. author Sam Stone at GalaxyFest at the Antlers Hilton this weekend.
Stone has been writing dark fiction, or horror, for a very long time, and in recent years has been tagged the new Queen of Vampire Fiction. The way she appears at sci-fi conventions — in corsets and thigh-high boots — only adds to the persona. But generally, she says, the events are characterized by a real warmth.
"The truth is, they are usually full of the nicest people," she says, adding, "Naturally, you're going to get the odd, strange person, but that's the minority, not the majority."
Your 3 a.m. destination
So, sci-fi conventions aren't all about rabid "fanboyism," then? No, says James Nimark, who as the master of ceremonies will be the face and voice of GalaxyFest.
"I've been in chat rooms on the Internet where the details get hashed out," he says. "People fight over who's the best Dr. Who, and things like that, but you don't see a lot of it at actual conventions."
Nimark plans on walking around the convention heavily caffeinated, participating in a lot of events, and is looking forward to the kilt-blowing scheduled for the "after dark" track of the convention. "Guys in kilts and girls with leaf-blowers," he says with a laugh. "There's no nudity, but, yes, it's a bit promiscuous without being perverse, and it's very, very funny."
Nimark is a 10-year veteran of the convention world. Recently he's helped on the logistics side of MileHiCon, Denver's science fiction and fantasy convention. He's also helped bring together BrethrenCon, the annual pirate convention in Denver.
"That one started out as just a group of pirate enthusiasts getting together to party," he says. "After a while, there were so many people, they decided to formalize it a little."
GalaxyFest, billed as "Colorado Springs Premier Science Fiction Media and Literacy Convention," plans on hosting three solid days during which convention-goers can immerse themselves in sci-fi and sci-fi-related activities (while also benefitting the Colorado Literacy Foundation). Says Colorado Springs resident David Wacks, the man responsible for bringing GalaxyFest to life, "People have a choice where to spend their money, so there are events going 24 hours a day for the duration of the convention."
That in mind, they've attempted to make it attractive for the whole family. There's a kids' track that includes a costume show, a starship bridge simulator, and lots of manga, as well as all-ages programming.
No science-fiction convention is ever complete without the ubiquitous and much-adored Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. GalaxyFest is no exception. There will be Stormtroopers roving about, and probably Klingons.
But there's only one Lt. Tasha Yar from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and that's Denise Crosby.
"I've had a rather unique relationship with Star Trek," she says. "I was only on for the first season as a regular, was killed, and then came back ... died again ... and then back again as my own character's daughter."
The fans loved it all. Without fans, none of it would be possible, and Crosby is particularly aware of and thankful for this, having made two documentaries on the subject of fandom: Trekkies and Trekkies 2. Without conventions, she says, there's no way she could have made the documentaries or even conceptualized them.
Outside of one guy who stripped off his shirt to reveal a full-on back-piece tattoo of Crosby as Lt. Yar, there really hasn't been much in the way of extreme behavior. "I have had only the occasional gushy fan," she says. "For the most part, fans are just delighted to hear funny, personal stories, and enjoy the opportunity to tell you about how much they've enjoyed your work."
Dean Haglund, who spent nine seasons as Langly on FOX Network's The X-Files (and its spinoff series), will try to tie everything together at GalaxyFest with a comedic bow. Haglund has become a major attraction at conventions with his unique brand of improvisational comedy. "I like to think of these as three-dimensional Facebook," he says, "or what we used to call 'conventions.'"
Of his show, Haglund will only say that it's funny, and that at least one person from every conference eventually confides in him that they laughed so hard they wet themselves. Though his smirk says otherwise, he offers, "I hope that they're kidding."
Plan of attack: GalaxyFest events (mostly) at the Antlers Hilton
Thursday, Feb. 23
Mass book signing, 2-4 p.m. (Note: This event will be held at the Written World, 4743 N. Carefree Circle)
Thursday Night Zombie Crawl, 7 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 24
Game Room, opens 10 a.m., runs through 10 p.m., Sunday
Denise Crosby presents Trekkies, 7-9 p.m.
Guest Celebrity Mixer, 9-11 p.m.
Inara's Closet Lingerie and Body Painting Show with Burlesque Preview, 9 p.m.
Charity Poker Lounge, 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Saturday, Feb. 25
Saturday Coffee Klatsch with authors, 8-11 a.m.
Claudia Christian, 10 a.m.
Dean Haglund, 11 a.m.
Kevin J. Anderson, noon
Denise Crosby, 1 p.m.
Chase Masterson, 2 p.m.
Charity Poker Lounge, 2-6 p.m.
Q Squared, starring Dean Haglund, Claudia Christian and Denise Crosby, 3 p.m.
Madame Galaxee presents the Ultimate SteamPunk and SciFi Fashion Show, 5 p.m.
Masquerade, 7-8:30 p.m.
Speed Pitching, 8-10 p.m.
Burlesque: Vagabond Misfits, 9 p.m.
Live Art with B. VantGard Gallery, 10 p.m.
Late Nite Party with authors, 10-11 p.m.
Galactic Dance, with HeartBeat and a DJ, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Kilt Blowing, 11 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 26
Sunday Coffee Klatsch with authors, 8-11 a.m.
Dean Haglund presents The Truth is Out There, film screening with Q&A, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Mass author signing, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Chase Masterson, 11 a.m.
Frazer Hines "One Man Show — The Traveling Scot," 1-3 p.m.
SteamPunk Tea Party with special guests, 2-4 p.m.
Charity Poker Lounge, 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Passes: three-day membership, $45-$100; children $20. Individual events, $5-$20.
Certain events subject to change. Visit galaxyfest.org for updates and other activities, or call 581-9253.