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Novacon '99

Tyson's Corner, Virginia
April 24-25, 1999

Convention Report
by Chrysa and Amanda

A group of René's fans got together to see him and Ethan Phillips at this April 1999 convention appearance. Here are a few of the highlights of their experience.

Chyrsa:

We registered at the convention on Saturday morning and got a free CD and, for those of us who ordered it ahead of time, a shirt. Then we trekked over to the ORACLE table a few feet away and met several friends, and chatted for a few minutes and took some pictures.

Then we headed down into the dealer's rooms. Where ::blowing a trumpet:: we found an Odo doll! Two, in fact. Amy and I got them. Then we popped into another room to see a rebroadcast of a previous Novacon that featured Nana Visitor. She's very energetic and a lot of fun. I hope I get to meet her someday.

After Nana's video, we stuck around for the "1001 things to do with Odo" panel. It was very amusing. However, at every suggestion mentioned, one of us would look at the others and say, "Didn't (fill in the blank) do that in a fanfic?"

Over the weekend, some of us did a little shopping in the dealer's room -- and some did a lot! I bought so much stuff the dealers' faces would light up every time I went by.

After a while we moved back upstairs and hung around the ORACLE table, and a few of us went upstairs to their rooms. Generally we just hung out until it was time for René's talk.

We were almost late. Amy was ready to kill us when we got there. The con organizer was speaking and all I could think about was, "Gee, he could pass for Morn's shorter brother." Then suddenly he was introducing René and René was coming out the side door! We were taking pictures and chanting "Odo! Odo!" We quieted down and he began to speak.  René at the microphone

I don't remember exactly what he said, but I do know he's got this wonderfully expressive face and voice. Then he started taking questions and he called on this one guy, who said:

"I can't figure out why Odo loves Kira."

Of course this guy was in our row! There was an uproar. I was about a nanosecond from climbing over everybody and beating him to a pulp. We yelled at him to shut up and sit down. Amanda leaned over and said, "Okay, after this we'll take him outside and beat him."

René was much better about it. He looked at the guy for a moment and then said, "Do you have eyes in your head?" That set us to laughing hysterically.  René answering questions

Another guy stood up and asked René how changelings had sex. I don't remember René's response (except that it was more diplomatic than the question!)

When the talk was done everyone went outside and stood in line for his autograph. Amy and I had him sign our Odo dolls.

A few hours later it was Ethan Phillips's turn to talk. It was also a lot less crowded than René's talk -- maybe it was because of the time (around 5 p.m.). there. The con organizer was starting to introduce him and then Rene came out and interrupted him. It was hysterical. René introduced Ethan and they hugged and posed for the cameras. Then René left and Ethan took over.  René listening

René watched from the entrance to the room for a few moments and then walked over to the ORACLE table and asked how things were going.

Ethan Phillips was like Comedy Club meets Star Trek. He was extremely funny. He kept walking back and forth across the stage chewing on his nicotine gum. He auctioned off a signed Voyager cast picture for charity and made $400. He's a wonderful guy. When his talk was over we got in line for his autograph.

On Sunday, everyone was up by 8:30 a.m.. We packed our belongings and got dressed for: Brunch with René!

We were ready to go by 10:00, so we dropped our stuff off at the car and headed up to the lounge. There he was! He had on shorts and a shirt and he hadn't shaved yet. He was very easy to talk to and very relaxed. Everybody ate and chatted. He told us about the ending to the O/K story line and about DS9 and the wrap party. He did this hilarious impression of Ethan eating sushi and how, the day before, Ethan had been banging on his hotel door, yelling "Clayton!" René opened the door and then slammed it shut on him again.

We gave him this little box of jello everyone had signed. He looked at it and said something like, "Oh, that's nice." Then he threw it behind him and nearly hit Amy in the process! It was a joke, of course. We were laughing and saying, "Yeah, we meant it as a gift you could throw away, but come on!" He said the Odo stuff in his house had gone from his study to Remy's room and now it was slowly making it's way into Tessa's room and Judith was threatening to throw him out if it ever got to her room.

After the brunch, we trooped downstairs and registered for the second day of the con. René was second that day, and Ethan Phillips first. Everybody was there for Ethan's talk this time, and once again he was hilarious. There was a woman there who was doing sign language for some of the people in the audience, and he kept saying weird things so she'd have to sign them. He auctioned off another signed Voyager pic for $400. Then he was done and the line for the autograph session began.

I skipped that one and headed back down to the dealer room and hung around the ORACLE table until it was René's turn.

The annoying guy from yesterday wasn't there. The con organizer was starting to introduce René when Ethan popped up and took the mike from him. Ethan introduced René and he came out and the hugged and posed for the cameras again. When Ethan was leaving he was yelling "Clayton!" and René would yell "Shut up! Get outta here!"

It was amazing to watch René onstage. He was quite different from the morning's brunch. Other than having shaved and changed clothes, at the Q&A session it was more like he was putting on a performance. It was very interesting to watch. You have to see it.

Then we got in line for the autographs. I got him to sign that picture of Odo on the spiral staircase and a pic from his charity table.

Amanda:

First, I'll start with René. To sum up my opinion, let me say that I went to Tyson's Corner with a full blown adolscent crush on Odo. I left with a full-blown adolscent crush on René. The brunch was great, though I found myself at a loss for words and mainly stared adoringly. He did fill us in on a few spoilers [for the final episode of DS9] which I won't reveal. I must say that Odo's fate does not please me, though the writers made the right choice in the matter. René is very sweet and down to earth, he seems to really appreciate his fans. We talked a good deal of Star Trek during the brunch, mainly about the end of the show.   René answering more questions

He is somewhat different to see on stage. You can definately tell the difference between his performance personna and his "everyday" personna. I'm glad that he let us see him as he actually is. I'd already heard most of his answers to the various questions, so I won't go into them here. He fielded a lot of really obnoxious questions, such as "What does Odo see in Kira?" He graciously waited for all the yelling to go down (mainly from our group, of course), then asked the guy if he had eyes. A few people saw fit to ask questions of why Paramount did this or that thing, which of course he didn't know. René is such an energetic speaker that the hour went by extremely quickly. He didn't even seem ready to leave the stage on Saturday.

I was slightly concerned to see that René's sessions were packed with people while Ethan Phillips' sessions seemed almost empty. I felt that this was somewhat disrespectful of Phillips, who was hilarious. He is definately worth going to see. One of the Novacon staff told Amy and me that the two made a huge scene in the hall when they went to pick René up for dinner. Phillips started screaming for Clayton to come out and René slammed the door in his face. He said the ruckus continued until the staffer was actually embarrassed. There seems to be a great deal of genuine affection between René and Ethan.

Chrysa:

After René left on Sunday afternoon, we hung around the ORACLE table for awhile, I think, before leaving. I can't remember if we'd gotten dinner or not. That was true for the whole weekend, though. You eat in the morning and then completely forget about food until 6 p.m. or so.

It was a great experience! This was my first convention and hopefully it won't be my last. (I bought enough "stuff" to tide me over for years, though.) It was wonderful to finally be able to put faces to names of so many fan friends, and I hope we all meet again sometime.

Photos by
Michelle V. Hauser

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