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Starfury: Ascendant 2003 UK Convention Report
A recap of Dani's first full-on UK con...

By Dani Moure

So, I'd never been to a full-on UK convention before. The one-day Wolf Event with Claudia Black and Wayne Pygram last December doesn't count, since that was just a day out. This was a full-blown weekend. I actually booked my ticket way back before I'd even been to Burbank, back when only Gigi Edgley and Anthony Simcoe were announced as guests. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances there was a bit of shuffling of guests, but we ended up with three superb stars: Wayne Pygram (Scorpius) and Anthony Simcoe (D'Argo) from Farscape, and Laura Bertram (Trance) from Andromeda. Little did we know how great they'd be (OK, so I had an idea having seen Wayne and Anthony in Burbank, but even I was a little unprepared...).

It all started when I was picked up by David on the Friday. Thankfully, I wasn't driving this time, so we actually headed straight for London (as opposed to detouring towards South Wales). We arrived at the hotel fairly early, checked in, and met everyone in the lobby. It was... interesting seeing my fellow UK Scapers again. Most of them are a blast. Not much really happened on the Friday. Some of us checked out the dealers room, we all chatted, went to McDonald's for the first of many munchies, and sat around a lot. Anyhow, it somehow all progressed to eventually going and getting ready. I can't recall if we actually attended the opening ceremony or not, but no matter.

Wayne takes to the stage
We did get to the cocktail party, though. For those that may be more accustomed to a Creation con, let's just say this was far more... relaxed. The guests were OMG!! allowed to mingle with us. And no, they weren't mobbed. By the time we actually got to the cocktail party, and found our group, we noticed some strange man sitting in amongst us. Oh, it was Wayne. He didn't stay much longer (why on Earth am I always late for such things?), but he chatted and it was nice.

Laura Bertram (the Andromeda sweetie, keep up) made her way to our area next. She may have thought we were a) ignoring her or b) blissfully unaware of her presence, since she wasn't mobbed, but she did chat to a couple of our group (most of us didn't really have a clue about Andromeda, and instead just agreed that she was just the cutest thing). She was with her dad, bless her cotton socks, since it was her first convention outside the US (note that while she was really sweet, she's not quite on the level of Raelee).

Eventually, a certain Anthony Simcoe made his way to our table. This turned out to be most interesting. He clearly took a liking to us, since he spent around half an hour seated with us (but why the heck was I standing the whole time, dammit?). He was his usual hilarious, bubbly self. His "minder" was lovely (and female), and pretty much joined in on the action when we got some drinks in. It was here that Anth had his first encounter with the evil twins (Keli and Becka), an encounter he would not forget. We talked about a lot of things, mostly not including Farscape. I know there was a fair amount of conversation about British comedy classics, but I don't remember much else (I'm sure it was all actually very memorable, though). Well, except him stuffing some tinsel down his shirt and clenching it with his man-breasts. And his minder doing the same. One of the more interesting aspects of the conversation was the amount of times you heard "So..." Yes, at first there were several moments of silence. Perhaps us Brits are too reserved in that respect. There was also a mention of the amount he swears, and his mother's objections (I'd call him mouth almighty, but I guess I can't really talk in that respect). Eventually, long after Laura and Wayne had retired for the evening, he was dragged away. I believe Wayne actually came back and went again before Anthony left. Anyway.

I do remember attending the disco that night. Anthony decided to make a brief, impromptu appearance on the dancefloor. There was also a conga initiated by our group. I did not get involved, though it was mightily impressive and spanned the whole hall. Despite the absolutely terrible music they played much of the evening (sorry cheese-meisters, it really wasn't to my taste most of the time), I did get up and dance when they played "Get the Party Started"... and promptly sat down thereafter when some not-so-good music returned.

Anth bounces out
Well, I can see this will be an interesting report. In all honesty, much fun was had, and probably the highlight of the evening for me was the full-length rendition of the Smallville theme they played, and I used my mad skillz to sing along to, especially for LJ (knowing how much she loves my virtual singing in the chat room). Eventually, after a somewhat long night (and several interesting attempts to order drinks from the foreign bar staff who clearly didn't understand the concepts of English lager, or bottled water, for that matter), David, Ben and I eventually retreated to our hotel room and all went to sleep.

Thus, Saturday morning began. I believe we headed pretty much straight to the main hall. I did run out to buy my photo tickets for the next day, but nonetheless, a certain Wayne Pygram made his way out on stage pretty much on cue. Interestingly, this was my third Farscape event, and he's been at all three. So while I did end up reliving the odd story, it was still a lot of fun. Wayne spoke a bit about the end of the show, and also about his likes and dislikes about the fourth season. He, like me and many others, was disappointed by the introduction of the flowers in the "We're So Screwed" trilogy, and how the focus shifted from wormholes to the flowers pretty much out of the blue. Apparently, this stems from him not being happy with the final scene in "Incubator." At the very end of that episode, he caresses one of the flowers. He felt it would be nice at some point to do a brief scene in which Scorpius crushed one of the flowers, as a bit of closure for the character and that aspect of the story. So he mentioned it to the writers... And thus the flower arc was spawned. He felt it came slightly out of left field, given that the build-up had always involved wormholes. Apparently, when Ben found out, he went and said to Wayne something along the lines of "You just had to mention them, didn't you," about the flowers. Seems that many were a little baffled, and perhaps disappointed, about the flowers. But they all tried to make it as believable as possible. Wayne did mention that he really liked the last episode though. He watched it when it aired in the US, and loved the ambiguity left in the editing of his scene with Sikozu where it's as if he snaps her neck. He felt that said a lot and came off really well. He was not, however, pleased with the messages at the end of the show and the tampering of the (should have been silent) end credits.

I'm telling you sweetie
Next up was the lovely Laura. You've probably noticed I keep describing her in such a way a lot. You see, that's because she was just so... kawai! Anyhow, she got on stage, was quite nervous, and relayed a lot of stories. Particularly funny was her story about her makeup test in the hotel with her sister, where the hotel people walked in while the room was covered in plastic and looked kind of... interesting. She did have a lot of interesting tales, and was really fun to listen to her. The Andromeda fans didn't seem particularly vocal, and seemed to be the minority, because questions weren't too forthcoming at times (but again, we're not so quick with the questions). She was easy to listen to, though.

Finally, in terms of the day's talks, was Anth. Yes, he bounced out. Ran around a bit, and poured some water over himself (not necessarily in that order). He had plenty to say, including relaying a story about a certain not-so-great actor whom he and the director decided to chew out together... while she could hear through her earpiece. Basically, it was a D'Argo episode, and she was not good at all. The director commented on it at one point, and Anthony joined in. As they stood there talking about her, she could hear through the director's microphone since she had an earpiece in so she could hear while in full makeup. Whoops. He also apologised for "Mental as Anything", adding how crap all the D'Argo episodes unfortunately were. He talked a little about what he was up to now, his future plans and relayed a few more stories about Farscape (like, you know, the stories of when he fainted on set).

When all was said (OK, when he was coerced off stage), the autograph session began. Again, this was a different approach to the "carted-through-like-cattle" system used (partly out of necessity, to be fair) by a certain US convention company. Here though, because of my low-ish ticket number, I was forced to wait around outside to be called. Maria and I eventually queued together, since we had similar numbered tickets. I grabbed Linda's copy of the last Farscape mag to get signed. I don't really care about autographs, but the people look at you like you're insane if you line up without anything. So anyway, the staffers brought round some post-it notepads for us to write our names on, and stick to our items for personalisations. I didn't do this, but no matter. Now, as we got into the room, the guy at the table where they hold bags and things started giving me some evil looks. I wondered why, but he seemed reluctant to speak to me. Instead, he spoke to the other steward next to me about my camera. I had it on my wrist, you see, since I hadn't returned to my room. So I offered it to the guy speaking (I thought it a bit pointless to go through another guy). He didn't take it, but just reminded me I couldn't take pictures. I realise they were doing their job, but honestly, you'd think they'd realise that since the lens cover was off and I was holding it in plain sight, I wasn't planning a photo-heist. Nevertheless, we continued round. Seeing Laura in the corner, looking so lonely and adorable, I couldn't resist the temptation to buy one of the photos right next to me to get signed. She was just so lovely.

Awww! It's a mini-Chiana!
As we continued to close in on the tables, in the final stretch, yet another steward starts eyeing up my camera. Maria and I watched in amusement as he went to get another steward, and as she approached I just handed her my camera and told her I'd offered it to the guy at the table, and he declined. She was nice about it though. Yay! No more evils. So we arrived at Anth. Maria was in front (you know, ladies first and all), and I handed over the magazine to Anth's nice minder. "No personalisation?" She seemed quite amazed. Whatever. I smiled and moved on to Anth, just saying how nice it was for him to come over, and nice to meet him (and shared a quick snipe at Creation's cattle-hurdling ways).

Moving on to Wayne, this was the toughie. Not really been around many famous people, you see, so that Brit nervousness kicks in when I have something normal to say. I started by just saying hi, and almost walked off without saying more, but since the person behind was still with Anth, I quickly gulped and mentioned the interview. Seemed to set off some lightbulbs, too, as Wayne mentioned he'd been expecting me, his minder told me that Sean (the con runner) had been looking for me, and Wayne said he was looking forward to it and we made brief plans for the next morning. Yay! Your humble webmaster found some courage.

Next we got to sweetie. When I told her assistant I didn't want a personalisation, Laura kindly jumped in and prodded me to get one. "Dani," I said, "D-a-n-i. Like a girl." Certainly got a laugh. I said it was nice to meet her, and interestingly she countered with "It's nice to meet you, too." See a cutiepie.

Wha?!? D'Argo's here?!
Following the autographs, we went in search of everyone else, who had got autographs sooner and disappeared. It turned out (after a token trip to McDonald's), that they'd mostly gone to get ready. Right. So we went back to our room, watched some football (and I napped), then returned for the disco and costume party. Despite someone giving away my seat (and thus me having to sit on the floor... grrr...), the costume parade was great. The costumes were fantastic, in general, and everyone got a nice round of applause. The three guests were judging, and picked a guy in an amazing D'Argo outfit as the winner. It really was a superb costume.

Tonight's disco was fun, as I danced some more (watch me groove), and many of the ladies came with angel's wings (Crichton's Angels... it's a long story). Anth also made an appearance for a while, and danced. Yes, danced on the same dancefloor as us. I can hear the gasps now. Later, I joined Angie and Laura outside as we chatted to Wendy, Ian and other, American, Angie. It was fun, as we noted the bar staff still unable to do anything right, and were somewhat amused by the fate of a nameless friend who had a tad too much to drink. I remember hearing the Smallville theme as an echo from the hall tonight. Shame. Eventually, we did retreat to our rooms. I can't remember if I woke David or Ben up, but I do remember walking around in the dark. What fun!

Laura does that Jedi thang
The next morning David woke me up (since I am apparently oblivious to my alarm), and off we went to have our photos. Got a group shot, although Laura wasn't placed beside me. Damn Anth. Anyhow, this all went very well, and then we went to the main hall to wait for the talks. Of course, before Laura came on, Angie and I decided to bail to collect thoughts on the Wayne interview (since we weren't sure exactly when to come along). We headed back to my room with questions prepared, and mostly gossiped about all kinds of stuff. Then we headed off to find Sean, who told us that shortly before Wayne was coming on would be a good start. So we went back in to the main hall (Laura having finished I'm sure she was very sweet), then Anthony came on. He started by playing some of Number 96's (his and Wayne's band) music, and then went straight in to audience questions. Unfortunately, we missed out on much of this, as we had to go and wait for Wayne (from where we were, walking out in the middle of it all was rather embarrassing). We were shown to the green room (which really should've been called "green area"), and waited for Wayne to arrive. He was a little late (aren't they always!), but eventually made it.

Anth mad as ever
Angie and I sat down, did the interview as planned (and I must say, Sean and staff were very accommodating), and Wayne was lovely. He was extremely giving with his answers. Angie and I kind of alternated questions, although mine were scribbled and hers were far better prepared. There were a couple of amusing moments ("She has questions prepared..." "Or so you thought," and the other one I am sworn to secrecy about), and it went very well. Again, Wayne was a really nice person. Straight after our interview, we quickly re-entered the hall and sat down, while Wayne made his way on stage. Today, he talked a great length about his history (his stories about his group of friends basically running his school were amusing) and how he got into acting. He did answer a few questions, although there weren't many left.

Following this, the ladies again retreated quickly to their rooms to change, although it wasn't too long until the closing ceremony. This was fun, and the three guests all said a few words, soon left us to it and the disco began. Again, the music was terrible. No matter, as several people brought their pulse pistols (Ellie, Keli, JJ, Meg, Angie, Laura... I don't know, I lost touch). There was lots of picture taking and chatting. It was the night of the group shot. Several other attendees were amused... some weren't. Some of the girls left fairly early (guess they couldn't hack it), and I got chatting to Laura and other Angie again. We stayed up quite late. It wasn't the best idea.

Wayne is the man
Next morning, David kindly woke me up early again (yay for the personal alarm in the room), and we went over, saw Linda in the lobby and waited for Fialka (she was coming to meet us). No one else was on time, but we did catch Maria and Laura as they were on their way up to breakfast. We couldn't find anywhere. Hmmm. So we went up, and told the guy on the door we were with the con. We all had breakfast (Jane, Angie and others joined us), and it was nice. After much chatter, it was all dispersed, and we prepared to check out. David gave Ben and I a lift home, so we hung about until everyone else had left. And thus, the journey was over.

Despite a few niggles, it was a really enjoyable con. Only my second full con, and my first Starfury. It was completely different to a Creation con, a lot more relaxed, and it was just nice to see everyone. I'd definitely recommend a Starfury if there ever is one again. It's well worth the price of admission.

If you have any comments or questions about this report, or just want to say "hi", feel free to click here to e-mail me.

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