Beam Me Up, Jimmy

Jim Strait is a Trekkie. But he's not from outer space.

NT: That sounds like fun. Is there a lot of infighting?

Strait: It does happen. Generally, we get along with one another fairly well, but there are sometimes different cliques that form. At one time, there was an offshoot of fans that wanted to get more involved in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. They just went off and we didn't really hear from them again.

NT: What a bunch of losers! Hey, I read that your club activities include going to the zoo and a lot of bowling.

Jim Strait: "We want to promote fandom."
Emily Piraino
Jim Strait: "We want to promote fandom."

Strait: We've found that sitting around reciting Star Trek trivia gets really boring after a while. We're a group of people with similar interests who like exploration, like going to the zoo or going out and doing a model-rocket launch. We used to have horseback riding, too, but the members with the horses left after a while.

NT: I heard about something called slash fiction -- sort of Star Trek porno.

Strait: I was hoping you wouldn't ask me about that. Okay, the history of that is, suppose you're a Star Trek fan, and you collect stuff from the show, and you go to the conventions, and you dress up like the characters on the show, but you still want more. There are fanzines for the show that are filled with story lines made up by fans. None of these are sanctioned. One of these ongoing story lines suggests that Kirk and Spock are more than just friends. I'll tell you that there are conventions devoted to trading just this kind of fan fiction. They're primarily attended by women in their 30s.

NT: I'd rather not think about Leonard Nimoy having sex.

Strait: I understand [these fanzines] include very graphic, hand-drawn illustrations. I saw one once, but I'd rather not comment on it.

NT: I won't press. Now, do you ever get ragged on for being a Trekkie?

Strait: (Long pause.) Sometimes. Most of the people I'm around have the same basic interests. Sometimes, at my homeowners' association meeting, my neighbors will say, "Oh, Jim, you're getting too Star Trekkie." And I always think, "What's too Star Trekkie?" I'm not like some people, who are so into the show that if you try and poke fun at William Shatner, they get very upset.

NT: No way!

Strait: I can sort of understand that, because if you really, really appreciate the show, it can become almost a part of you. You can watch the show over and over again, and still enjoy every minute of it. It's amazing. I went through all the original episodes once to count the number of times that [Dr. McCoy] said, "He's dead, Jim."

NT: I'll bet you're going to the Trekkie convention this month.

Strait: I'll be there. The group that's putting it on uses our club as volunteers.

NT: What's in it for you?

Strait: We're Star Trek fans! We want to promote fandom. We want to be there in case a fan needs information about the show or our club. We're there to make sure that fans are entertained and not disappointed. It kind of bugs me, because I used to think Star Trek fandom was about the show, but lately it seems like the fans that go to the conventions show up to buy autographs and merchandise. They don't want to join clubs; they don't want to sit around and watch the show and talk about it.

NT: They're just silly autograph hounds!

Strait: I've seen most all of the cast members at the conventions. Meeting them isn't a major thing for me, but it's hard for other fans to realize that these people are actors who appeared in a TV show, and they're not necessarily interested in the genre the way we are. Believe it or not, some of the actors know next to nothing about the series, even though they appeared in it.

NT: Do you ever wish life were more like Star Trek?

Strait: Well, Star Trek is fiction, so it's hard to imagine life being really like that. I do have the desire for our civilization to have the bright future that Star Trek paints. Not so much going toward the stars, but that we'll keep expanding and growing as a people.

E-mail robrt.pela@newtimes.com

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