Fans trek to sci-fi meet

Klingons on parade and pagans on panel at 33rd annual Balticon "Some people golf. Some people read books. We like to be Klingons."

April 04, 1999|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

So you want to be a Klingon, a sci-fi warrior of the universe? Here are some fashion tips:

Make sure your gruesome, lumpy, latex forehead matches your skin color. (Use grease-paint or powder). Two-tone Klingons are a big no-no.

Put hook-and-loop fasteners on the furry sleeves of your vinyl chest armor so you can strip them off. (It can get awfully steamy being a "Star Trek" warrior.)

And please, don't wear glasses, at least not for the pictures.

"The idea is to be believable," explains Brad Graper, 44, an Edgewood computer specialist, otherwise known as BuraD, squadron commander of three spaceships. "You don't want to look like a human in a Klingon outfit. You want to look like a Klingon."

Such was the advice offered yesterday at Maryland's 33rd Balticon science-fiction convention, which continues today at the Omni Hotel in downtown Baltimore.

Three floors of the hotel teemed with science-fiction fans. Some were dressed as their favorite galactic heroes or heroines, while others wore jeans and T-shirts, as they thumbed through scores of books.

Filling the day were lectures on such matters as "Witches on TV: Wiccans and Pagans Speak Out" and costume classes like "Big, Silly Things on Your Head."

Vendors sold such hard-to-find items as black silk roses with skulls in the middle -- very popular as post-divorce gifts, according to Teddy Gregor of Ellicott City's Hermits Hollow Carvingworks -- and buttons offering science jokes ("Two atoms bump into each other ").

Panel discussions also were offered on weighty subjects such as whether God has a place in science fiction.

But the sight of the four Klingons -- fictional characters from the "Star Trek" television series -- parading around the hotel made the scene otherworldly.

Some might think these guys take television too seriously, but Graper and Bill Koblinsky, 41, of Baltimore say it's just plain fun to be Klingons.

Both were attracted to the Klingon group because they were fascinated by the warrior culture. Graper is an Army veteran and Koblinsky's father fought in World War II.

Said Graper: "Almost all team sports are tribal activities. This is just one step away. We are science-fiction fans who became re-enactors."

Added Koblinsky, also known as q'Lor: "Some people golf. Some people read books. We like to be Klingons."

About 75 people belong to their Klingon group in Maryland and Virginia, Graper said. The group is divided into squadrons, which meet monthly. About once a year, the whole "fleet" gets together for a Klingon hoedown, where they eat chicken dyed green and salad dressing that resembles blood.

They model at conventions such as Balticon in hopes of winning a coveted costume prize and appear at libraries to encourage children to read.

But it's not easy being Klingons. They wear custom-made wigs, vinyl or leather outfits and full makeup. Forget military might; this takes an endurance for heat and creative tailoring.

Yesterday, Terry Smith of Pasadena, also known as Ta'Ra, posed a critical question to her fellow warriors: Did her outfit look better with or without the gold sequin necklace?

With, they all responded.

Pub Date: 4/04/99

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