It’s a wedding, Josefin, but not as we know it: Klingon couple hope to live long and prosper
Two Star Trek fans have married at the UK’s first official convention. Tom Peck beamed down
"When I was a little girl, I dreamed of a wedding in a big church, with a white dress and a beautiful cake, just like every other girl," says 22-year-old Josefin Sockerton.
Today is her wedding day. Her face is covered in brown makeup, as is her future husband’s. On her head is a giant latex mask, which covers her forehead in inch thick brown wrinkles. Four feet of jet black artificial hair protrudes from the back. Round her head is a bead of silver flowers and she is dressed in a scarlet tunic with gold, floral, sleeves. Her groom, Sonnie, is dressed the same. They are the stars of the UK's first Klingon wedding. Their guests, at London's Excel Centre, are the attendees of the UK's first official Star Trek convention.
"It was his idea," continues Josefin, not altogether surprisingly. "I looked at him. I said 'Are you nuts?' Then I thought, 'you know, why not? It is something we will remember for the rest of our lives."
That cannot be denied.
"I'm very lucky," confesses Sonnie. He is 29, seven years her senior, and they have flown in from Sweden this morning, especially for the occasion. They legally married on Thursday, with a few guests. To London, they have come alone.
In front of banks of cameras and hundreds of astonished trekkies in various insane costumes, the registrar, wearing a suit and tie, begins. “Sonnie and Josefin wanted to have a ceremony that was meaningful to them. They wanted a Klingon ceremony.”
A woman from a novelty wedding company bangs a huge gong, and the couple emerge.
“With fire and steel did the gods forge the Klingon heart,” booms the registrar. This is stirring stuff. “So fiercely did it beat, so loud was the sound, that the gods cried out, 'On this day we have brought forth the strongest heart in all the heavens. None can stand before it without trembling at its strength.''”
The wedding is taking place next to the Klingon bar. A few trekkies look at their beers and do a doubletake.
“Does you heart beat only for this woman?” asks the registrar.
“Yes” comes the reply.
It is repeated in Klingon. Phonetically: “Echs duch muja hair hazsov eschs dorchs?”
"Taja,” Sonnie confirms.
A few more vows, and they are earthly man and wife. Cue much applause, a kiss, and the cutting of a three tiered grey metallic cake.
“It is a borg cube,” explains Charlotte White, who has spent three days making it. “Well, its actually three borg cubes.”
It is in contraptions such as this that the bad guys of Star Trek get about from one star to another, I am told, many times, by men in increasingly absurd regalia, and with increasing incredulity that I do not know.
But they’ve paid their money, they’re entitled to be angry. Tickets for a standard day pass are £29. The most expensive package goes for £2,999, including pictures with all five captains, one on breakfasts, and an “Exclusive VIP show jacket limited to only 20 worldwide.” They have sold out.
All five captains are here - a first apparently. William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks and Scott Bakula. There are lengthy queues for autographs, which cost £40 each. “No photos. No personalisation.”
If Star Trek is a vision of the future, earth is a cold star, and the capitalists won. At the UK’s first Start Trek convention, the cash registers are ringing up to infinity and beyond.
Boris and Selvana have flown in from Berlin, dressed as a Ferengi (bald head, massive ears, evil) and Leeta a Dabo Girl (black jack dealer of the future).
Boris concedes he will "probably spend £600."
On "photographs, autographs and more photographs," Boasts selvana with an excited squeal.
"I love the universe," she says. "To think of a future that will maybe come. And to be with people who think like us."
Autograph Area B boasts lesser mortals. Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar – Next Generation), Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed – Enterprise), Gwynyth Walsh (B-Etor – Generations)
Here Ian Ross K’Bragh (K’BRagh is his Klingon name) is in full Klingon get up, collecting autographs like football stickers. The tunic, the make up, the hair, the lot. “I just love the excitement, you know. The possibilities. The future. Going to space," he says.
For the meantime, he works in a hospital near Heathrow. He is dressed as Martok, from Deep Space Nine, informs his partner Gillian, who is following him around with a gold pen for his many autographs, and a very expensive camera to photograph him as he does so. She has her own Klingon outfit at home, but mystifyingly has chosen not to wear it. Evidently is just not the proper occasion.
Unsurprisingly, stalls sell every imaginable piece of Star Trek merchandise. Models of the USS Enterprise and the USS Reliant (which has three wheels less than its Robin predecessor) go for several hundred pounds.
Events began yesterday with a debate: “The Best Star Trek Movie?”
One autographed picture, from Star Trek III – The Search for Spock, is a princely £2999.
“Well that one guy, Gene Roddenbury, he boosts the value by about 800 dollars,” says the chap manning the most popular of the stalls. He is American, and has flown in especially. Who is Gene Roddenbury, I tentatively ask.
He doesn’t like it. But then, he has, after all, taken a transatlantic flight to stand in a neon strip lit windowless hall to sell plastic toys to grown men.
“Gene Roddenbury! He created it all.” It’s a satisfactory explanation, but it’s not over. “There were three television series. Then six movies. This is the third movie. The Search for Spock. Then it came back to television, with Patrick Stewart – The Next generation. Then there were four more movies. Generations, First Contact, Insurrection, Nemesis.” He is not slowing down. “Then it came back to television again. Deep Space Nine. Vogager. Enterprise. Then three years ago, a new movie, Star Trek, that totally reinvented the franchise.”
Most of the six inch plastic figurines are around a tenner, but one is £120. “That’s Data. From Redemption. Very rare. Sold only in one store in the whole of the States as a promotional offer.”
He’s got his claret and black skin tight kit on, the “next generation jumpsuit” and looks, like every action figure, rather like Paul Robinson from Neighbours. But clearly he’s a big deal.
Oriol Gaspa, a physicist from Barcelona, is one of many attendees dressed exactly like him. His girlfriend Olivia, from Sheffield, has the tan version. Different colours indicate different parts of the ship, I learn.
“I only bought this costume this morning,” she protests. “From a fancy dress shop. It was forty five quid!”
Like many of the ladies in attendance – and there are quite a few – this was not her idea.
“We’re not that into it,” says Oriol. “We just like it. You know, the same way some people like computer games, or Eastenders.”
All very well, but there are no weekend long conventions where Eastenders fans fly halfway round the world to dress up as Peggy Mitchell.
“No, but the stories are quite cool. The early ones were groundbreaking. Breaking taboos on racism, when it was a really radical thing to do.”
Others confess to a fascination with the technical aspects of the show. That the future really could like this is a common refrain - and a worrying thought.
One gentleman, Martin Hall, again a Klingon again, admits: "i just love all the dressing up."
"He certainly does," confirms his girlfriend, forlornly wearing a t shirt he has bought her that reads: "I [heart] a Trekkie."
But the mood is sweet enough. "It's just great to be around all these people who feel the same, who love the same things," he says, and it being the UK's first Star Trek Convention, he might just have been waiting his whole life to say it.
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