by Marguerite Krause
This year's annual ORACLE family reunion--known to most of the world as the big Las Vegas Creation Convention--took place on the weekend of August 8-10.
René made all of his convention appearances on Saturday, August 9. In addition to the usual photo ops and an autograph sessions, René and Armin Shimerman shared the stage for a Q&A session and, as always, it was great fun to listen to their stories.
In the evening, René signed autographs for convention attendees and to raise money for Doctors Without Borders, and several of us from his fan club helped out at the table. Both Miriam and Talia have helped out at the autograph table in previous years, but this was their first time working together. They make a great team! René had brought a new item to sell at the table: a copy of a cartoon of the DS9 cast drawn by the wonderful artist Al Hirschfeld. He suggested that we try to get Armin to sign a few of them, and then René would sign and personalize them as well for anyone who wanted to donate to Doctors Without Borders.
While we were setting up for the autograph line, Alexander Siddig was on stage doing his Q&A. J.G. Hertzler got in line to ask him a question, and Armin stood near our table, just behind the curtains separating the auditorium from the autograph area, because he wanted to hear what J.G. was going to say. As he waited, he kindly signed some of the cartoons for us. I'm not sure how many copies René had made, but it was a good stack; at least 50. I thought that Armin might sign 5, or perhaps 10. Instead, he started working his way methodically through the pile, signing at least 15 of the cartoons.
Then we heard J.G.'s voice, and Armin stopped and went to listen. J.G. was talking to Sid as if he were an average fan, complimenting Sid and saying how much he liked Bashir. Sid listened patiently, a big smile on his face. Then J.G. asked what it was like for Sid to work with J.G. Sid, straightfaced, asked, "Ah, J.G., wasn't he the second assistant cameraman?" which set the audience laughing. J.G. then tried to approach Sid, as if he wanted to give him a gift (or a hug?!), and Sid acted alarmed and called for security…and one of the Creation security guards, who was in on the joke, leapt onto the stage and threw himself protectively in front of Sid to ward off the "dangerous" J.G. All of this silliness inspired lots of laughter and applause from the audience.
When J.G. was finished, Armin came back to the ORACLE table and signed even more of the cartoons! I assured him more than once that we really appreciated his support and we certainly didn't expect him to sign them all, and he finally had to quit so that he could go over to his side of the stage and get ready to do his own autographs. But I think he left only six or seven of the cartoons unsigned, which means we had over 40 of them that we were able to sell as "double-autographed" items for a very good price.
René arrived just before the session was supposed to begin at 6:30, but Creation wasn't quite ready to start the line, so René had time to say hello to J.G. and Armin. It was probably about 6:45 before the line officially began.
Talia and Miriam patiently explained to the fans what we were selling, and why, and explained about how René would personally draw an Odo's Bucket cartoon. Talia also occasionally left the table to walk up and down the line of waiting people, giving them an advance description of what was available so they could think about what they might want to choose. Mike stood behind them, collecting the cash, and I punched Creation tickets and helped people hand their photos or other items to René right side up. About halfway through the session, Kathy Wang, who had been helping Armin and Nana with their autographs on the other side of the room, came over and joined us in running René's table. By the time the line ended, about 9:30 p.m., we had raised over $2,200 for Doctors Without Borders.
Talia had to leave for home early on Sunday morning, but Lynne, Kathy, Mike, Miriam, and I went to the Hilton very early to set up a silent auction, held every year as part of Creation's Sunday morning celebrity breakfast, to benefit a local charity that provides college scholarships for student's whose families have been affected by cancer. Creation always donates a selection of autographed photos, posters, and collectible plates, and Gayle Stever brought a suitcase full of items, many from the collection of the late Rose Blue, a great fan of Star Trek and voracious autograph collector.
Among the items Gayle brought for us to sell was a piece of the DS9 set! It was a piece of "rubble" from an explosion on the Promenade during the episode "Visionary," which had been donated for the purpose of raising money for charity. We sold that item, and an autographed poster donated by Creation, via a voice auction, which was great fun. Thanks to the enthusiasm of the crowd, that little piece of painted gray plastic earned $275 for the scholarship fund, and the total raised from all of the items sold that morning was over $6,000.
During the weekend, as I walked around the convention, I overheard people speculating about whether this would be the last big Creation Convention in Las Vegas. The Hilton Hotel had announced that it would be closing Star Trek: The Experience, with its exhibits and gift stores and theme ride and Quark's Bar. Some people couldn't imagine that Creation would bother to return to the Hilton without that built-in Star Trek connection.
However, Creation printed a registration form in the back of this year's program book for people who want to sign up for next year's convention. It says "August 6-9, 2009 at the Las Vegas Hilton." So, someone on their staff, at least, thinks they'll be returning for another year!
Not everyone can make a trip to Vegas…but if the convention happens, and René is one of the invited guests, I have no doubt a number of members of our ORACLE/RAFL community will attend, and another happy reunion will be enjoyed by our family of René-fans.