On and off over the past two decades, Starbase Indy has served proudly and admirably as one of the longest-lived geek-culture gatherings in Indianapolis. Originally a purebred Star Trek convention by design and preference, its scope has broadened over time as organizers and attendees proved amenable to the presence of more than one fictional universe in their midst. Granted, it’s no coincidence that the festivities have grown more inclusive as Paramount Pictures withdrew Trek from prime-time television and lamented the decreasing aesthetic returns from the latter-day movies. The JJ Abrams reformatting certainly didn’t hurt the cause, but SBI today is a smaller, tighter gathering than its earliest incarnations — now run locally and purely For-Fans-By-Fans, not by out-of-town sideshow promoters who fancy themselves the next Gareb Shamus.
My wife and I have attended more than a few SBIs. We took a break for several years during a long, unpretty transitional period, but made our tentative return in 2010 when a few encouraging signs enticed us back. We enjoyed ourselves so much that year, we were happy to attend in 2011 as well. This selection of highlights from our last two SBI experiences is by no means the complete collection of every photo we took, nor does it represent all the SBIs we’ve ever attended. Our souvenirs date back far enough that many were created using the ancient medium that primitive man once called “35mm film”.
Special guests included Ethan Phillips, best known to Trek fans as Neelix from Star Trek: Voyager, also known to even older TV viewers who can remember as far back as Benson.
Also appearing from Voyager, Tim Russ. Younger viewers now know him as a principal on the Disney Channel smash iCarly.
Not all the guests are major names, or even former major names. Prior to this convention, the biggest films on Crystal Allen’s resumé were Anacondas 3 and 4. Nonetheless, her stage Q&A was entertaining, and she was a delight to meet even though neither of us has seen the episode of Enterprise in which she played an Orion slave girl.
Naturally there are costumes. Behold: the original Avengers!
Representation from our local chapter of the 501st Legion is also not uncommon. Just as no one cares about east-coast/west-coast rap rivalries anymore, so have Star Trek and Star Wars fans learned that we all must live and work in harmony, or else the con fails and no one gets to have nice conventions anymore.
You’ve had to have seen Tony Todd in any number of movies and shows. Trek fans know him as Worf’s brother Kurn, but he’s also made lasting impacts in Candyman, the Final Destination series, the first season of TV’s Chuck, and countless other flicks — Beastmaster, The Rock, The Crow, and more, more, more. I even caught him in a recent episode of Hawaii Five-O the other day.
John Billingsley was known to us as Dr. Phlox, one of the two best things about Enterprise. I understand he’s also been on True Blood, but that’s really not my thing.
Billingsley’s wife, Bonita Friedericy, was best known as the mighty General Beckman from TV’s Chuck. She’s very much stage-trained and gifted with a voice that boomed across a ballroom even without a microphone.
Nurse Harley from Arkham Asylum wasn’t just there for the ambience: she was working at the registration desk.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, Trek costumes aren’t exactly extinct. You’re guaranteed at least a few Klingons every time, as well as unusual choices such as the original series’ Yeoman Janice Rand…of sorts.
Once again, we enjoyed ourselves so much, my wife and I have ordered our tickets for Starbase Indy 2012. After a trial run in December 2011, this year SBI returns to its original time slot on Thanksgiving weekend, November 23-25, with the following guests in store:
* Nicole DeBoer — Ezri Dax from season seven of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
* Robert O’Reilly — the Klingon leader Gowron from Star Trek: the Next Generation.
* J. G. Hertzler — the Klingon general Martok from Deep Space Nine.
* Alexis Cruz — We’re told he had meaty roles on Stargate: SG-1 and Touched by an Angel.
Other guests will include actual accredited scientists, authors, artists, musicians (including local favorites Five-Year Mission, and the group called il Troubadore that we witnessed at this year’s GenCon), and more more more! SBI frequently tosses in such value-added special touches as free lunch, breakfast, or snacks (donations welcome); classic arcade games (old-school cabinet style); toy dealers; local fan clubs; games for the kids; screening rooms; charity auctions; costume contest; and, sometimes best of all, other fans.
More details are available at Starbase Indy’s official site, including ticket prices, location, and such. We’re looking forward to this year’s shindig, and hope to see more than a few people there.