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"I think what these types of [science-fiction] shows tend to do is expose people to that kind of thrilling idea that these things can be done and achieved," says Gordon. "How and when -- those answers avoid us -- but they can be achieved."
Denise Lewis (the "other woman" from Kim and Dianna's role-play) enters the lounge and greets us with a broad smile. Vulkon, she says, was one of the first companies to give preferred convention seating to physically handicapped fans, adding that the sci-fi community, now well established online, is especially great for people with physical limitations. "For some of these people, who are immobile and unable to leave the house on their own, if it wasn't for fandom, they wouldn't have a life. In the Star Trek world, they're unlimited in their abilities. What's in their head is fleshed out." Denise offers her father-in-law as an example. "The man had a brain tumor and developed gigantism. But he's still brilliant." Lewis says that when her father-in-law participates in Star Trek-related role-play games online, "it lets him be the person he needs to be."
"Fandom enables people to be more of who they are," Lewis continues, "and more of how they'd like to see themselves."
The desire to see oneself as one would like to be is, in many cases, exactly what Motes and Martinez market; the ability to be with one's television heroes and with fellow fans creates a sense of validation for the fans, but it also works for the actors of these cult shows, who do not often lead the field in Emmy nominations. There is a symbiosis of the adored and the adoring at sci-fi conventions that rarely occurs elsewhere -- the walls between fame and obscurity are, for a weekend, blurred, leaving both the fans and actors with a new sense of who they are to one another. It is a service Paramount cannot license.
So what is this service worth? Motes won't reveal how much Vulkon nets annually. "It varies," he says. "This year we have William Shatner and quite a few other stars. Without giving any numbers, we did pretty well."
Still it would have taken more than greed to keep Vulkon's promoters going when the company was $25,000 in debt. In the past decade, Vulkon's promoters have had to evolve and follow the trends of fandom. So long as there are guests who agree to attend, there is a market, they maintain.
In fact, Motes believes he can create a con for any show, canceled or not, so long as its stars agree to appear. "Everybody has a favorite show of some type," he says. "There's always going to be somebody out there who wants to meet a star."
And so long as he has to pry his own staff from an actor's arms, Motes knows he's right.