Interview: The Star Trek Fandom Lives Long & Prospers At Trekonderoga

Interview: The Star Trek Fandom Lives Long & Prospers At Trekonderoga

Trekonderoga 2021, the annual Star Trek fan occasion that takes place in—the place else—Ticonderoga, New York, is kicking off this weekend. George Takei, higher generally known as USS Enterprise helmsman Sulu, will likely be beaming right down to attend. There can even be a dressing up contest (from the official guidelines: nudity shouldn’t be a dressing up) and alternatives to tour a painstakingly recreated set of the Enterprise. The mastermind behind all that is superfan James Cawley, who constructed units from the unique Star Trek collection within the upstate city, funded partially by his earnings as an Elvis impersonator.

As he ready for the weekend by performing some last-minute cleansing of the recreation of the Enterprise’s bridge, Cawley spoke with WNYC host David Furst about Trekonderoga, his relationship with William Shatner, and his ardour for all issues Star Trek.

This dialog has been edited for readability by Kate Hinds.

Initially: why does Ticonderoga have this unimaginable duplicate of the bridge of the starship Enterprise? I suppose the reply is “why not?”, however I’d anticipate to see one thing like this in Hollywood. Effectively, here is the factor. It is 13,000 sq. ft, so it is huge. And as everyone knows, actual property in Manhattan and Los Angeles is extraordinarily costly, and it is a everlasting attraction — it would not transfer from place to put. So that you’re actually strolling right into a one-to-one recreation of the Desilu soundstage from 55 years in the past. So you need to plan it out and construct it appropriately in order that it stays in a single place. And Ticonderoga is a part of the larger Lake George area. Now we have a really lovely vacationer space up right here within the Adirondacks so it is an amazing place for it. Lots of people come via right here yearly and we anticipate that simply to proceed to develop.

There’s additionally the transporter room. Why was this one thing that you simply felt such as you needed to do? It is greater than the bridge and the transporter room. It is each set that the actors labored on daily, laid out and recreated precisely the best way they had been when the actors labored on them. So that you’re speaking concerning the transporter room, the sick bay, the lab, Dr. McCoy’s workplace, Captain Kirk’s quarters, the briefing room, engineering, your entire hall format. It is actually like being an actor on a time journey and going again to work on the present. I grew up with Star Trek. I used to be simply enamored with it and by no means misplaced the eagerness for it. So right here we’re at the moment nonetheless celebrating it.

How correct is the set? Lethal. We labored from the unique blueprints. They got to me by the unique costume designer who had them in his possession. We stored hundreds of stills from the unique collection in excessive definition. We have sourced and situated a whole lot of antiques and vintage furnishings. We have rebuilt each jelly bean button. All the things is laid out, each shade, proportionally. Each surviving actor from the primary solid has been right here, and lots of the visitor stars. Invoice Shatner loves it a lot he is right here twice a 12 months.

Twice a 12 months?! He is right here twice a 12 months. He normally is available in June or July after which he is again in November. He’ll be right here once more on November twelfth and thirteenth. All the stars take pleasure in it a lot that they really lead the excursions. They’re your tour guides via the units and so they recount what it was wish to be on the present.

A recreation of the transporter room

arrow

A recreation of the transporter room


Trekonderoga

New York Meeting Speaker Carl Heastie has visited, and sat in Kirk’s chair. And as you say, William Shatner has been there a number of occasions. Did you ever see this turning into this huge of a deal? I all the time had my ideas that it could develop and grow to be a giant deal as a result of, you realize, I’m a Star Trek fan and I wish to assume that I do know what different followers want to see. So I all the time had my needs and my hopes and it has completed what I believed it could do. Did I ever assume the celebs would adore it this a lot? In all probability not, in order that’s been an actual bonus. And to get to know Invoice Shatner and a number of the others has been terrific.

Do you get to name him Invoice? I name him Invoice. Yeah. [Editor’s Note: So does WNYC host Alison’s Stewart, who just interviewed Shatner about “Bill,” his new autobiographical album, a collaboration with Joe Walsh, Brad Paisley, Robert Randolph, and Joe Jonas, among others.]

What did he say when he first visited? Did he have any disputes about issues not being precisely the place they had been purported to be? By his agent [he] had a particular set of necessities. Invoice, you realize, he is seen plenty of recreations over time, [he’s] like, ‘Well, I don’t really want to get stuck in the captain’s chair all day.’ That sort of factor. So we stated, ‘No problem, you know, whatever your requirements are, no problem.’ After which he was doing another appearances across the nation and bumped into some of us from Paramount and CBS. And so they had been speaking to him concerning the high quality of this set. So his curiosity, I feel, arose. And when he bought right here, he walked within the door and he stated: take me to the bridge.

So in fact I took him to the bridge and he stood there for what appeared like an eternity, but it surely was most likely solely about three or 4 minutes. And he simply applauded and stated, ‘You know, this is it. The proportions are perfect. This is unbelievable.’ He stated, ‘That’s my chair.’ And he went and sat within the chair.

Did you ever assume in your life there would come a day the place William Shatner would say to you: “Take me to the bridge”? He’s such a great guy. [Editor’s note: Shatner, who turned 90 earlier this year, worked a trip to Ticonderoga into part of his birthday celebrations.] He has a lot of input into what we do to make the event better. We asked him what he would like to do, what his preference was for signing autographs, and he said, ‘Well, why don’t I just sit in my quarters? And people can come down the corridor and line up and sign autographs that way.’ And I thought, ‘Jeez, that’s great.’ So the fans got to stand in the corridors of the Enterprise and wait to go into Captain Kirk’s quarters to greet him. I mean, how, how cool is that?

A photo of the recreation of the Enterprise's bridge

A recreation of the Enterprise’s bridge

arrow

A recreation of the Enterprise’s bridge


Trekonderoga

In the previous few hours earlier than this occasion kicks off, what are the ultimate issues that you simply’re doing to prepare? Primary upkeep, cleansing. And naturally we’re nonetheless operating day by day excursions on the similar time, so we have all that occurring. Plus we’re debuting Star Trek. The Subsequent Technology. We’re actively constructing that soundstage in order that the followers of that present will be capable to go to that. And we’ll be debuting a part of that bridge set this weekend for folks on an insider’s tour.

What sort of a constructing is that this in? Effectively, the unique collection set is in a constructing that was in-built 1965. It was initially constructed to be a grocery retailer, and it was a grocery retailer for many years, after which it was vacant. And so we purchased it and fully renovated the area to show it into Star Trek. After which subsequent door was a two-story division retailer, which we simply acquired. And that is the place the Subsequent Technology goes.

Do I’ve this proper that you simply initially partially financed this with cash that you simply produced from your work as an Elvis impersonator? Yeah. For 31 years, I’ve toured the nation as Elvis at main reveals. I am not the jelly donut man and I am not the marriage Elvis, if you’ll excuse the time period. However I performed plenty of casinos, plenty of theaters and showrooms over time, and toured with the unique Jordanaires as backup teams. So it has been an amazing profession. I reside by the philosophy, ‘Do not ever let anyone inform you, you’ll be able to’t do one thing if you’d like it to simply exit and do it and also you pull it off.’

And apparently should you construct it, they may come. They are going to come.



Source link