As if Black Friday weren’t busy enough, my wife and I attended the seventeenth iteration of Starbase Indy on Friday and Saturday. This fan-run Star Trek convention is a longtime Thanksgiving weekend event that she and I have done several times (see previous entry). The convention cordially welcomes actors and fans from other shows and universes as well, but Trek still commands center stage.
Two of this year’s guests approached their Saturday Q&A with an unusual flourish. Fans of Star Trek: the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine will remember Robert O’Reilly as Chancellor Gowron, ruler of the Klingon Empire and frenemy of Worf. Don’t let his now-genial features fool you. Once upon a time, Gowron’s gaze was penetrating and frightening. Today his voice is no less stentorian.
J. G. Hertzler was DS9’s General Martok, a longtime ally of Worf, key player in the Dominion War, and successor to Gowron upon his death at Worf’s hands. As with O’Reilly, Hertzler could still be heard at the back of an auditorium even when his microphone malfunctioned.
O’Reilly and Hertzler shared a Q&A on Saturday in style. With the remarkable assistance of makeup artist John Paladin, the dastardly duo spent a few hours donning familiar faces and uniforms that the fans haven’t seen in a very long time.
That Klingon Bird of Prey was lugged over 350 miles to Indianapolis from Riverside, Iowa, home of another, more famous Trek convention and anointed Birthplace of Captain Kirk. After this photo, both actors were gracious enough to autograph the ship and pose for additional photos with its talented caretakers.
Gowron reborn onstage:
An imposing Martok, complete with the same eye injury that didn’t hold him back during DS9’s final seasons.
The two old friends sang, they danced, they gadded about. Here, Gowron marvels while Martok performs his part of a ribald joke about chickens that I can’t repeat here, partly because I wasn’t clear on the exact punchline.
The two had a grand old time making jokes at Kentucky’s expense, swapping Bill Clinton impressions, belting out the occasional showtune, and remarking incredulously to a younger fan not yet overloaded on Trek trivia, “You were not there when the great Gowron died and ruined Star Trek forever?”
At one point, a hyperactive Gowron played “Talk to the Audience” with an accommodating fan. Disappointed with the number of empty seats in the back, he decided to test his microphone range, left the hall, and wandered other parts of the convention, shouting at attendees to come join the fun. We could hear him broadcasting for several minutes until he finally broke contact somewhere distant, possibly in the hotel next door for all we knew.
One of several impromptu musical numbers included a quick take on “The Warrior’s Anthem” sung in the original Klingon. Any costumed or honorary Klingons in the audience who knew the words and possessed a true warrior’s spirit were invited up front to join in the chant. All other cowardly Klingons in the audience were rounded up and executed.
At the end of their time slot, Martok and Gowron were joined onstage by their guest MC, Trek podcaster and cosmetologist Moxie Magnus. (My aforementioned clipfest included a photo of Moxie, but was mislabeled as merely Janice Rand. The management apologizes profusely for the error.)
Sometime between noon and 2 p.m. Hertzler and O’Reilly escaped their makeup no worse for the wear, cheerfully signing autographs as if nothing special had happened today.
To be continued. In tomorrow night’s chapter: the non-Klingon guests!