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Con of Wrath – Were You There in ’82?

8 August 2011 4 Comments by

Earth Date: 1982 – June – shortly after the release of The Wrath of Khan.

Place: Houston, Texas – Houston Ultimate Fantasy Convention.

It was supposed to be a Trekkie dream come true, the first ever all-cast Star Trek convention. It became a misery of staff panic, attendees forced out of hotel rooms, un-paid space fees, dealers passing the hat to keep the doors open, and general meltdown. Ultimate Fantasy is known to those who survived as The Con of Wrath.

Where you there in 1982? Do you remember? Larry Nemecek hopes so.

One of the few panels I got to this Comic-Con was “Star Trek: Between the Cracks” with the Universe’s leading Trek authority, Larry Nemecek. Towards the end of the panel he spoke about Ultimate Fantasy, which he had been eagerly anticipating as a young Trekkie.

It’s a car wreck of a story about a mysterious “sellout” status given would-be ticket buyers … con staff who go into shock when the truth is revealed … fans wrongly kicked out of their hotel rooms … dealers who “pass the hat” to keep the doors open … the incredible burning planet … and the unsuspecting Hollywood folk who walk into all this and face a PR nightmare.

And it’s also a personal story: my first coming-of-age con road trip—and I’m thrilled, after all this time, to preserve it for the ages in my first film project, “THE CON OF WRATH.” (Best of all, the title is a gimme: that’s really what fans were already calling it by weekend’s end … just a couple weeks after the smash debut of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.)

Being a reporter type Nemecek has found himself with the need to document this convention disaster before it can fade entirely from the fan consciousness. So, he’s making a documentary. Interviewing the celebs, staff, attendees, and anyone connected who he can get his hands on. That’s where you come in. If you were there, if you have a story, memorabilia, photographs, etc. Larry needs you.

So far Nemecek has interviewed both Star Trek producer Harve Bennett and actor Walter “Chekov” Koenig. You can view a project promo with portions of those interviews on the Con of Wrath project website.

And even if you weren’t there in ’82 you can still help this project come alive. Larry Nemecek is welcoming sponsorship donations as low as $10 or $25, with a ‘thank you’ swag bag for each of the eight levels of sponsorship. Plus screen credit for ALL donors.

Times are tough, and for some us even $10 dips too low into our budget. But you can still help the project by spreading the word. Or, hey, maybe even your local fan group can put some change in the kitty to help sponsor the Con of Wrath project.

If you survived The Con of Wrath, or if you just want to sponsor the documentary, fandom needs you to help Larry Nemecek Make It So.


  • JMM said:

    Oh my. I do remember The Ultimate Fantasy. Here in Houston we often hear it called The Ultimate Fiasco. But for me, well, it was one of the best times of my life because I was a member of StarBase Houston back then, and the club was invited to be the bodyguards and hosts of the stars. We stayed in the posh hotel with the actors, and it was marvelous. We didn’t get to go to a single panel — but one day a panel was running late and DeForest Kelly, a true Southern gentleman, turned to me, and said,”Darlin’, will you please call my wife and let her know this panel will be running late. I will have to postpone taking her to dinner.” I was so very nervous making that phone call from the convention hotel to the one where the actors were housed, but it was also a huge thrill. On the last day of the con, Nichelle Nichols asked me to race (in my little Gremlin)from the Summit back to the hotel to get something she had forgotten. Again, I was shaking in my boots, but I did as asked and again, it was such a thrill to be able to connect with these folks I adored, even if I was a lowly gofer. They treated all of us Starbase Houston bodyguards like gold, and we tried to be extremely helpful. I was there when William Shatner jumped off the stage to kiss a girl and was swarmed by fans. My best friend and I were among the bodyguards who rescued him. He was quite grateful! Everything was such a jumble, but the stars rose above it all and did their thing amidst the chaos. In my mind, they were the truly heroes I expected them to be — I never once saw a show of temper from any of them, even though the situation was trying. Several of the stars went to Texas Children’s Hospital that weekend and greeted the kids (and the workers, who were possibly even more delighted)and gave out autographed pictures. I know most con attendees had a horrible, awful, very bad weekend. For me, it was glorious!

  • Elaine B said:

    Oh, yes, my sister and I were there, along with a group of friends! I’ll have to dig up the con report we put together after we got back, and the list of pithy sayings about the con and the con artists who put it together. Probably some photos, too, and our I Survived the Con of Wrath buttons…

  • Larry said:

    Chriss! Thans so much for the unexpected shout-out!

    One thing today’s fans should keep in mind about UF/The Con of Wrath versus other con disasters—this one WENT ON. For THREE SHOWS, in the Houston NBA arena! To a fraction of what had been expected. Cast and staff were both troopers, as well as fans.

  • Thomas said:

    I was part of STAFF oh so long ago, working with Paul, Jerry, and many others during many conventions, including ‘Kroger-Con’ and Houston Con/Ultimate Fantasy. I was the one that got the sheet music for the UF orchestra delivered to Danny Ward. I tell you, that convention was the 9/11 of Star Trek conventions in Houston. After that con, Hollywood and Paramount avoided Houston like a plague, thus no true Trek conventions ever came back our way. Have to go to Las Vegas or up north for a decent ST Con. Now Houston has mostly Japanese Anime Conventions. I know this because my daughter attends and works at many of them and she is friends with some of the voice actors.