John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
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Trekkies beam up to recruit new fans

Trekkies beam up to recruit new fans
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Press-Register (Mobile, Ala.) Staff Reporter

About half a dozen representatives from several regional Star Trek fan clubs were transported Saturday to Colonial Mall Bel Air in Mobile to recruit members to Starfleet International, its parent organization.

Some of the recruiters came dressed as the fictional and scary looking characters featured in the television series. There was at least one person dressed as a Vulcan and another as a Klingon.

And they arrived in common, earthly vehicles -- not through the fictional transporters seen in Star Trek. Any fan or casual observer of the series knows that transporters convert a person to an energy pattern, "beaming" him or her to another location.

Local Starfleet International member John Clayton, 47, of Mobile, said that the original NBC series began 40 years ago and lasted nearly three years. According to Clayton, a total of 39 shows aired before the series ended.

Kristi Stapleton, 46, of Bay Minette wore her chief-of-communications Star Trek uniform as she sat at a table and talked to potential members just inside the front entrance to Books-A-Million.

There are about five members of Starfleet in Mobile and Baldwin counties, she said. The worldwide group claims about 4,000 members.

Giggling, Stapleton said she joined the organization because she is a big Star Trek fan and "because it's far out." She acknowledged that some people might find the group's members a bit "nutty."

"It's fun and it helps me to get out and meet new people, and it helps me expand my knowledge of Star Trek," she said.

Stapleton said the characters in Star Trek used high-tech communications devices, which she said are similar to modern-day cellular phones.

"It helps me think about things as they could be (in the future)," Stapleton said of the Star Trek series.

Starfleet member Michaela Austen, 40, of Jackson, Miss., came dressed as a Vulcan, the fictional pointed-ears race of beings that was portrayed by the popular Star Trek character Spock. Austen said she liked Vulcans because they were intelligent and showed no emotion.

Starfleet member Sunnie Planthold, 54, of Sun City, Fla., was outfitted as a Klingon, complete with rubber mask that had a deeply furrowed brow.

Planthold, a teacher by trade, worked the mall walkways trying to recruit new members.

Crystal Groue, 28, of Biloxi stopped just long enough to chat with Planthold but did not commit to becoming a Starfleet member.

Groue was with her 6-month-old daughter, Skylar Groue, who seemed puzzled but not alarmed by the Klingon talking to her mother. Groue said the idea of dressing up as Star Trek characters seemed unusual, "but it's fun."

Clayton said that anyone interested in joining Starfleet International can call 214-2397.

© 2006 Press-Register

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