Living on the Con Circuit

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by The Grim Ghost, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. The Grim Ghost

    The Grim Ghost Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    May 29, 2007
    Thee Olde Spook Shack
    I was just thinking about how rough it must be for your job to be a convention guest. Not for the big fish like say Shatner, but for the people whose careers didn't turn out quite so well.

    You start out thinking you are going to be some sort of very successful actor and you achieve that for a time. But then for many Trek alumni the job offers seem to dry up. Take someone like Garrett Wang, it seems like his full time job is basically just appearing at Star Trek conventions. It seems like it could be depressing in a situation like that, forever talking about your glory days that happened decades ago. Hearing the same questions over and over and over...

    On the other hand you are basically in the position of constantly getting your ass kissed in this situation. I'd imagine people are constantly telling you how great you are, paying you for photos, buying you drinks, etc...

    I'm not trying to pick on anyone in particular (Wang just seemed a good example). I was just curious if anybody else had given this some thought or had talked with Trek alumni in this position. Are they happy? Bitter?
  2. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Mar 8, 2001
    Great Britain
    They could be acting in theatre or bit parts in TV shows that simply don't get much attention and/or that sell overseas.

    But surely even if some make a lot of income from the convention circuit won't it be like most jobs where you do the same thing more or less day after day. If you work in the service sector you are likelyasked the same questions day after day. You do the same job for long enough and they'll be days where you just get sick of it but most days you are ok with it.
  3. JRoss

    JRoss Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 19, 2010
    Jason David Frank, who played the Green Ranger on Power Rangers, is the ideal of this type. I doubt the guy has a free weekend once a year.
  4. cultcross

    cultcross Polite scientist Moderator

    Jul 27, 2001
    This sceptred isle
    Dave Prowse of Darth Vader fame is as ubiquitous at UK conventions as Harley Quinn costumes, so would fit the type. He has the unusual distinction of having played, albeit silently, one of the most famous characters of all time and yet not being at all famous himself.

    I don't think it would be that depressing. It's fairly lucrative, especially for someone like Wang (if i could sign my own name for 20 quid a time three or four times a minute I'd probably get in on that), and must be a nice ego boost.
  5. Cheapjack1

    Cheapjack1 Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Nov 15, 2016
    Darth Vader's infamous, not famous. And he was beaten.
  6. Push The Button

    Push The Button Commodore Commodore

    Feb 21, 2013
    Smithfield, Rhode Island USA
    It beats working a 9-to-5 that you hate. At least these people that are able to work the cons have a following because of the obsessive nature of sci-fi/fantasy fandom. I'm not sure if actors that are playing minor roles in sitcoms or police dramas enjoy this kind of attention, but probably not.
    ichab likes this.
  7. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    May 12, 2004
    Oxford, PA
    Many years ago I attended a small local convention where Judson Scott ("The Phoenix") was the Guest of Honor. I remember thinking that must be a strange experience: you're treated like a Big Star for a weekend, getting the full celebrity treatment, but then you go back to L.A where you're just a working actor auditioning for a guest-spot on TNG or whatever. Must mess with your head a bit.

    (No disrespect intended to Judson Scott, who was quite friendly and personable the one time I met him.)
  8. Brass

    Brass Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Feb 15, 2017
    Like others said, it sure beats a 9 to 5 job. It's pretty much the definition of a first world problem. I'm sure a lot of them wished they had become more famous. It's only human to wonder "what could be" after all. However, I'm sure many of them are grateful for the position Trek put them in. No matter how long ago they were in Trek, they can show up and earn some cash for photos and autographs, all for people who admire the show they were in. Pretty great benefit if you ask me.

    Sure it could be a drag doing the same thing over and over, but that's true of anything.

    Now if you're someone like the guy who play Anakin in SW:The Phantom Menace, I can understand the dislike of fans. Poor soul...
  9. Spot261

    Spot261 Commodore Commodore

    Aug 16, 2013
    uk - Spot261
    In the grand scheme of things many people spend life disappointed that they didn't reach some goal, achieve some dream. Most people have some sort of idealised version of how their life could/should have turned out and by the law of averages most don't get there. Many of them end up in factories, driving taxis, cleaning up other people's bodily fluids in nursing homes, sat in call centres, serving in convenience stores or performing any number of other mundane but essential tasks while wondering where it all went wrong.

    There's nothing wrong with any of those things sure, but it's pretty safe to say few people ever dreamed of being a laundry attendant growing up.

    If the worst outcome in life is to spend your time touring the world in order to let people pay for the privilege of a few minutes in your company and tell you how wonderful you are, how much something you did twenty plus years ago still means that much in their lives then things can't be all that awful. Sure these guys probably had other things in mind, more money, more fame, more challenging and creative roles, but ultimately they have a steady income being paid to be adored.

    There are worse fates methinks.
    Brass likes this.
  10. Jedi Marso

    Jedi Marso Commodore Commodore

    Aug 15, 2001
    Would this lifestyle meet the definition of 'living off the economy?'
  11. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 21, 2011
    The Black Country, England
    My son is a big Transformers fan / collector (pre Bay variety) and we go to the UK's annual convention. There's always two or three of the voice actors shipped over and they really do seem to have a blast.

    There's only a thousand or so fans, many there for the toys, comics or ancillary activities. The actors aren't swamped, there's no ticketing or allocated time slots, and over three days you get chance to chat, get stuff signed and maybe socialise a little. It's way more enjoyable than trotting past someone with your photo held out, unable to do more than say 'Hi'.

    Sure they get paid, but I can't imagine it's a bad way to earn a dollar or two...
    PhotoBoy and cultcross like this.
  12. LK3185

    LK3185 Ensign Newbie

    Feb 21, 2015
    Everyone's situation is different. I would guess there's some that did Trek and knew that was the biggest it would ever get for them and were happy with that.. Now going to conventions, might not be the most enjoyable thing but at least you know you'll have something to get paid for a weekend.. I also find people transition into new careers because they don't care for the spotlight.

    So many different variables.
  13. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

    May 25, 2011
    Work is work. Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's boring.
    I am sure telling the same stories and hearing the same jokes gets old, but all of us have bills to pay.
    I remember watching Tim Russ doze off late on a Saturday afternoon while people lined up to talk to Bruce Boxleitner a few folding tables down.
    Tron the reboot had just come out and I thought it was funny that a few years prior Tim might have had the line, and Bruce been dozing off.
  14. ToddKent

    ToddKent Captain Captain

    Mar 4, 2008
    Dallas, TX
    I think I'm the old days there was kind of a sad vibe to actors appearing at conventions. Back then they maybe got a buck or two for an autograph and maybe they cleared $100 fir the entire weekend.

    These days though the convention business has been streamlined and completely monetized such that a so called "C-lister" could probably make a decent living on the con circuit.

    Also most people that go into acting/performing tend to be the type of people that love attention. So being in the spotlight for a weekend surrounded by adoring fans is a lot easier for them to take than, say, an author or nonperformance type of artist.
  15. sbk1234

    sbk1234 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 24, 2006
    Los Angeles
    A lot of people seem to keep mentioning about the actors not being famous, as if that in and of itself was the motivating factor to their becoming actors in the first place. Fame is looked upon as the ultimate goal and the indicator of a successful career. Although fame can be the byproduct of a successful acting career, it's my opinion that the most successful actors - probably any type of performer - never entered their field for fame, but simply to pursue their craft, which is likely their passion. There are many successful, steadily working actors who do not have the kind of fame that some big-time stars have. However, they may be quite active in stage productions or "small" roles on TV or movies, often not even being recognized as who they are, because their acting skills are so strong they just don't look like themselves, but envelop their characters so completely. I'm sure they would consider themselves successes because they make a living doing what they love.

    Just my two cents.
    Greg Cox likes this.
  16. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Commodore Commodore

    Sep 2, 2008
    Smallville actor Michael Rosenbaum admitted feeling this way when speaking at the annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL a few years ago. That while there he is treated like a rock star but afterwards had to return to his normal everyday life. That was his second appearance and would probably come every year if invited. The town avoids doing that to have variety in the celebrity guests. Plus being a small town it does not have the money to pay the expenses for a huge list of celebrity guests.
    Greg Cox likes this.
  17. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Mar 22, 2010
    I remember him from A Clockwork Orange