Chicago Con Report by Bonnie
Chicago Creation Con—Sept.30-Oct.2, 2011
After the wonderful experience (and expense) of the Las Vegas Creation Con in August, I was unsure as to my attending the Chicago convention just a month later. However, as time went on, it sounded like Mr.Nimoy was very serious about this being his last convention appearance. When I saw his tweet that Mrs. Nimoy and the rest of his family would be there, I knew had to be there too.
Arrangements were made and I was to meet/room with a fellow Nimoy fan, Grace Lenihan, who would be flying in from Washington, DC (my flight was from Raleigh, NC.) We sound like the ‘Mary’ and ‘Sally’ from different parts of the country that Mr.Nimoy talks about ‘finding’ him years ago in Montana!
The first day of the con (Friday) focused on the “Enterprise” TV show and its stars. However, at one point Mr.Nimoy and his family were spotted in the lobby! Grace was already on the scene and had a nice LLAP exchange with Mr.Nimoy. As I was walking up,Aaron (his stepson) was passing me. He stopped when I shook his hand and told him that we had met briefly at the “Secret Selves” reception in July 2010. I went on to say how special it was for Mr.Nimoy to have all of them there. He grinned and said “yes, and thank-you.” Mrs. Nimoy was very striking with her silver hair and a black jacket and tights. The family departed in a van some moments later. We were unsure as to why they were there at that point, as Mr.Nimoy’s seminar was the next evening and his convention talk was scheduled for Sunday.
The last appearance on Friday was John deLancie (Q),who appeared very relaxed and said he was honored to be at Mr.Nimoy’s last convention. He also mentioned the new availability online of their mutual project “Alien Voices".
I spent some time in the Dealers Room and enjoyed seeing my friends with Lightspeed Fine Art, Gary Hasson and Melissa Kendrick. Lightspeed continues to offer beautiful ST-related prints, giclees and autographs, among other things. I was struck by a newer piece, “Legacy” that featured a great rendering of Spock/Kirk, along with Nimoy/Shatner autographs. Hmmm…. As well as overseeing Lightspeed, Gary acts as an ‘agent/assistant’ for many of the actors. We had a good time catching up from seeing each other in Vegas. He added “I told Leonard you would be here too.” He mentioned providing some transportation for the Nimoys, Jonathan Frakes, John deLancie and Brent Spiner over the weekend. He is a very busy person! He told me he was thinking of ways to “get Leonard back out there (in public)” after this convention. Naturally, I wished him luck and any assistance I could provide! Ha!
On Saturday, we enjoyed a wonderful presentation from John Tenuto highlighting “Alternate Treks” that included hearing dialogue from the scripts of several of the ST movies that were never filmed. Some great behind the scenes photos were also shown. Next was the wonderful appearance by Nichelle Nichols. She looked great and still has a pitch perfect singing voice. I have heard her story about meeting Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. and the encouragement he gave her to stay on the show on several occasions. However, I don’t know if I had ever seen her as emotional as she was this time. In tears, she closed by saying something like “I don’t know if I can tell that anymore.” She ended up signing autographs for HOURS and finally had to stop late in the evening. Fans still in line were able to pick up their autographed items the next day.
Mr.Nimoy’s “Secret Selves” seminar was next. My self and Grace were #3 and #4 in line and we were able to obtain front row seats. The room was a small amphitheater, with comfortable seats and unobstructed views, making it somewhat more intimate in some ways than it was in Vegas. Mr.Nimoy was greeted with enthusiastic applause when he entered, the only time we were told we could take pictures. (A few snapped a couple shots later—shame on you, but I’d love to see them! Ha.) He looked happy and receptive. He reported that a lady in an elevator with him earlier had said “I’m praying for you.” He then held out his hands in a comforting gesture to the audience, saying “I’m OK (and to us) I’m REALLY OK!” He chuckled and added “I’m just retiring!” We had to laugh with him!
The DVD of his interviews with “Secret Selves” subjects was shown after he explained the origins of the project. When he came out afterwards, he asked if others would feel comfortable revealing THEIR “Secret Selves!” What followed were some honest and moving revelations from several audience members. A theme seemed to emerge regarding how women in general have had to hide, change or submerge aspects of themselves in order to survive, cope or contribute to society or relationships. Mr. Nimoy was VERY interested and moved by this subject - not surprising given his ‘elevation’ of women in both his “Shekhina” and “Full Body Project” conceptual photography endeavors.
He called on several people who wished to contribute, ultimately pointing and saying “yes, Bonnie” when I raised my hand. I revisited the “Secret Self” I portrayed when he took my portrait at MASS MoCA in July 2010 when the exhibit opened there. I won’t go into detail, but I added that my “Secret Self” had been a bride due to some of the issues that were being identified. I took out a copy of the portrait and he said “show it to the audience”, which I did. Some members asked me to describe it in more detail and I complied. We did have a laugh, though, when I reminded him that I had looked a bit serious during the process and he had said “Bonnie, this is a happy occasion—like a Bar Mitzvah!” Mr.Nimoy went on to answer several more questions related to the project, including one from a gentleman who wondered about the impact of the “Secret Selves” participants whose “Secret Self” was no longer “Secret!”
At one point, Mr.Nimoy said “Yes, Jonah.” A young gentleman then talked about having to project one kind of image/self as a musician, while perhaps feeling differently inside or when somewhere else. “I’m learning about my grandson here!” was Mr.Nimoy’s response! It was a special moment!
Near the close, Mr.Nimoy called on me again and I mentioned that he conducted a wonderful interview with photographer Philippe Halsman several years ago and was wondering about his influence, if any. “That’s on You Tube now, isn’t it?” he said, and the audience confirmed this. (I suggest that readers look it up—Mr.Halsman was obviously pleased with Mr.Nimoys questions, interest and knowledge, ‘Talk show host’ could have been another successful aspect of Mr.Nimoy’s career!) Mr.Nimoy went on to talk about Mr.Halsman’s approach to his subjects and his focus on portraiture. However, he said his primary influence was Robert Heinecken, with whom he studied in the 1970’s. After this, he indicated that this was the last question and that he appreciated the participation. As always, he credited Rich Michelson as a collaborator on the project and it was announced that “Secret Selves” books were not available that night, but could be ordered. A line immediately formed to do this. (Please see leonardnimoyphotography.com for more information on the Michelson Gallery and Mr.Nimoy’s work!)
On Sunday, attendees were treated to another talk by John Tenuto. This time on the history of ‘The Official Star Trek Fan Club.’ Then, there were appearances by Rene Auberjonois and Nana Visitor (Deep Space Nine.) By 1:45 pm, the ballroom was packed and filled with anticipation for Mr.Nimoy’s appearance. His ‘Bruno Mars’ music video was shown on two large screens to the delight of the audience. Then, a surprise video compilation of messages from all the stars of the 2009 Star Trek movie was played. Everyone from J.J.Abrams to Zachary Quinto voiced humorous and heartfelt ways to say what Mr.Nimoy has contributed to Star Trek in general and what he has meant personally to each of them. It was fantastic! (This has also been posted on this site as well as You Tube!)
Mr.Nimoy came out to a huge ovation and was greeted with signs that had been made available to us that said “We Love You Leonard—Live Long and Prosper!” The content of his speech has been well documented, so I will not go into detail about it here. He did mention that he knew his last appearance would be hard and it was. He wasn’t quite as overtly emotional at its’ close as he appeared to be in Las Vegas, but that reaction may have taken him by surprise and he was more ‘prepared’ for this moment. However, the love between this man and the audience was almost palpable and it was a unique, moving and historic moment as he exited the stage to another standing ovation! (A cake to mark the occasion was then brought out, but it disappeared quickly—fans at cons do have big appetites!)
Everyone was emotionally exhausted, but most quickly went downstairs to get in line for the Photo-Op with Mr.Nimoy. I think everybody was on a ‘high’ that had total strangers laughing and sharing with each other their ST/Nimoy/fan experiences over the years during the wait. When my turn came (I was wearing a Nimoy signature T-shirt I purchased from a fan club YEARS ago), he said “hey, Bonnie!” I told him that our first picture together had been taken 32 years ago! He laughed and I then asked the photographer if Mr.Nimoy and I could look at each other, rather than the camera. He said “sure" and a real ‘interaction’ was caught in the photo!
I don’t know how he had the energy, but after the Photo Ops was the autograph session! Another line! Oh well, the excitement displaces the physical discomfort ones’ legs are feeling by now! I had Mr.Nimoy sign 4 items, one of which was the photo of the two of us at the MASS MoCA reception. He was amused at another thing he signed—a sculpted model of him, about 5 inches tall, as he appeared on “The Simpsons!” (A long story as to how I got this—it may have been a prototype or the effort of a talented Simpsons fan/artist who wanted to create his likeness, as it was not available publicly.) After the head briefly came off (we laughed!) he was careful to choose a smaller pen to sign ‘his’ back! I’ve never sold anything on e-Bay, so don’t expect this or anything else from my collection to show up there!
The flight home was bittersweet—it was sad to think we may never get to see as much of ‘our’ Mr. Leonard Nimoy, as we have been privileged to do in the past. However, it was joyous to think of all the memories, as well as the personal rewards he so richly deserves, that his retirement may bring.