Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Props, costumes and auctions, oh my!

Over recent weeks, my monitoring of the It's a Wrap! auctions of Star Trek props and costumes led me to a great online bulletin board (BBS) for collectors of Star Trek props and costumes. I can highly recommend it as a place where questions are answered, answers are questioned (always in a friendly, helpful manner), and the members display amazing access to encyclopedic knowledge of ST trivia.

Star Trek Props, Costumes and Auctions Logo
Star Trek Props, Costumes and Auctions BBS

As for my own journey as a SF media costumier - and authentic Star Trek prop collector - I cobbled together my first TOS redshirt in 1980, from an old red velour sweater. Coincidentally, this favourite velour top had some tiny holes right where the insignia and rank stripes should be.

Over the years, my Andorian persona, Therin, got to wear a homemade beige TMP costume, a ST II-style uniform, and a formal tailcoat, depending on the occasion, be it convention or movie premiere night. A friend made me the TNG outfit in which I played Data several times. My mother helped me to make a Robin the Boy Wonder costume (from TV's "Batman" series), a David Marcus shirt, and a "Greatest American Hero" costume. Our Star Trek club once spent a weekend casting plaster moulds of each other, and making latex appliances, which is when I made my Maltz (the Klingon from ST III) head! After growing a beard for a few years, I also began to play a Tellarite named Grol.

Owning an actual screen-used costume is going to be a very different type of satisfaction and excitement, as making replica costumes was a wonderful challenge, and perhaps something I've really missed since so much of interactive ST fandom vanished from Sydney in the 90s.

Performing in a costume parade (when not actually hosting or judging them) was also very fulfilling. It's not just wearing a good replica, or choosing something that suits your personality and/or physical dimensions, it's staying in character. And that clever one-line quip during the performance can really make a costume, and can definitely tip the voting in your favour.

A few examples:

I was in my Robin the Boy Wonder costume, with friends dressed as Batgirl and Lois Lane. Our Batman failed to turn up at the convention. The theme of the convention was "V: The Series" and the guest was Judson Scott (aka Lt James). As we came out, Lois pretended to be taking notes and I exclaimed to Batgirl, "Holy indigestion! Batman's been eaten by a Visitor!" (We won best group in that costume parade.)

My friend Karen and I came out dressed as Andorians - at a science fiction literary convention, no less - and I presented her to Guest of Honour, Harlan Ellison, and said, "Isn't she blue-tiful?" (We won best couple, even though Harlan has his infamous love/hate relationship with Star Trek.)

Bjo Trimble - "the woman who saved Star Trek" in the 60s - once told a convention audience about a very shy girl in a costume parade, who came out dressed as a female version of Luke Skywalker ("Star Wars"), with a life-sized Yoda doll/backpack on her shoulders (as per "The Empire Strikes Back"). She asked the Yoda doll, "How can I prove my Jedi powers, Master Yoda?" Yoda replied, "Levitate audience you will." She simply closed her eyes and wiggled her fingers a bit. When she opened her eyes again, the entire audience had stood, as one. Spectacular!

Bjo also mentioned one of the poorest efforts she'd seen at costuming. A beautiful young girl, wearing a stunningly brief slave girl Leia "Return of the Jedi" outfit, but she walked out "as if going to the shop to get a milkshake". As I said the other night, clothes maketh the alien - but so, it seems, does performance.

Raiding my old photo albums for some fun stuff to put on Flickr!, here are some scenes from Sale of the 23rd Century. This was a parody game show, performed and videoed live at Brisbane's Con Amore in 1985. The edited footage, with titles, a few newly-shot insert sequences, plus some special effects, became the first fan film of Harpic Productions. As a lark, I nominated the fan film for an Australian Science Fiction Media Award, and it ended up winning in the category of "Best Audiovisual Production". No doubt we were helped by the fact that many fans voting had seen the live version at the previous national convention.

Sale of the 23rd CenturywhiteSale of the 23rd CenturywhiteSale of the 23rd Century
Therin of Andor and Tackee the Orion slave girl (left); Therin and Tharrah see Tackee get shocked (centre); the contestants resolve a tied score (right). Photos by John Tipper, 1985.

Propwise, I own one of the very last large two-toned, screen-used 60s tribbles (from "The Trouble With Tribbles") that David Gerrold found in his garage a few years ago. I also have: a security clearance set pass from TMP; a patch of artificial Genesis Cave grass from Stage 5 (ST II); Majel Barrett and Michael Berryman cue cards (from ST IV); an unfinished breathing mask prop from ST V; a security clearance set pass from TNG; two "Starfleet Materiel Supply Command 01" cargo deck decals (one red; one blue); and a "baggie full of Star Trek" - bits of carpet, decking, wood and wire from ST: TNG - collected from the set by Bjo Trimble.

Star Trek set passes

My favourite item might just be: a little clay tabletop-model house from the Old Bandi City of "Encounter at Farpoint", which were once attached to dozens of Christmas cards given out by the SPFX guys to the cast and crew.

Originally located on Deneb IV, somehow this little cottage was transported backwards through time and space - and is now situated on a plot of grass from the Genesis Planet. Yes, it's my Little Bandi House on the Prairie.

And my apologies to my niece, Beckie, who likes all my blog posts except the Star Trek ones. Sorry, Beck, it's been a big Star Trek week!

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