January 20, 1996 
Commanding officers: Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks, Jonathan Frakes, and William Shatner
Trekker Treat 
Fans will never forget a once-in-a- lifetime, 'Star'-studded meeting of the brass 
By Michael Logan 
Photographed by Wyatt McSpadden for TV Guide
       It was an event so big in the annals of Star Trek fandom, it could only have happened in Texas.

      "A Celebration of the Legacy of  Star Trek"-the first time commanding officers from all four Trek series appeared together at a single event- was held last fall in Dallas's cavernous International Apparel Mart.

     The mission: to create the wildest Trekker blowout ever (complete with dining, dancing, and celebrity schmoozing) and raise awareness of The Science Place, an interactive kids' museum that was featuring a traveling Trek exhibit.

     The crew: William Shatner (Captain Kirk, Star Trek), Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker, Star Trek: The Next Generation), Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko, Star Trek Deep Space Nine), and Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway, Star Trek: Voyager). The outcome: for the 800 fans who attended, a singular experience they are still talkng about.

     While the all-star Trek crew may zap around the galaxy at warp speed, getting to Dallas wasn't quite as easy. Only Frakes (filling in for Patrick Stewart-TNG's Captain Picard-who was preparing for the Broadway run of Shakespeare's "The Tempest") made it on time.

     "I've been on connecting flights for 26 hours," said a bleary weary Shatner, who arrived by way of Africa, where he was on safari.  Mulgrew and Brooks, who flew from Los Angeles, had to make an emergency landing in Arizona when another passenger took ill.

  "Then," said Mulgrew, "we were delayed again due to the two most frightening words on the planet: mechanical difficulties." The duo arrived so late, in fact, that there was no time for any Texas hospitality. The quartet gathered for a fast photo, then were frantically hustled into a press conference to be grilled on topics ranging from the sociological underpinings of Gene Roddenberry's vision to the controversy over Captain Janeway's hair.

     The stars were just as frantically hustled to the black-tie gala, where fans were a show unto themselves: Bejeweled Dallas socialites arrived arm-in-arm with men dressed as Romulans. A guy in a cowboy hat piled out of a Winnebago with six kids -all made up as Vulcans except for the youngest, who had inexplicably come as a Smurf. Bert Copeland, a nurse from nearby Euless, Tex., greeted guests in a sinister eye patch.

      "My character is the grandson of Chang," said Copeland, referring to the villain played by Christopher Plummer in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country." "If I see Shatner tonight, I might threaten him a little bit for killing my grandfather."

      Hundreds of Trekkers purchased seats ranging from $50 to $500 a pop, and a few coughed up $1,000 to sit at one of the four Captain's Tables. But don't dare lump `em all together.

      "A lot of Star Trek fans are real nerds, but we are not, as you can clearly see," said Rende Douglas, a bubbly redhead in a tight sequined dress who was accompanied by her equally dolled-up sister, Sherry Fowler. The Fort Worth women were raised on classic Trek. "Our parents used the series to teach us major life lessons," recalled Douglas. "When we were growing up, women were still relegated to secretarial or receptionist jobs-that was the best they could ever hope to attain. But Mother always pointed to the women on Star Trek and said, `You can make this happen in your lifetime. You can be whatever you want to be.'"

      So what did the sisters end up doing with their lives? "We're hookers," said Fowler. Her dead-serious expression suddenly broke into a Texas-size laugh. "Ju-u-u-ust kidding!" Actually, Fowler works for Texas Christian University and her sister manages apartments.

      The dinner menu was as wild as the crowd: Galactic Greens (with Corbomite Dressing), Cardassian Chicken, Bajoran Bread, and Vulcan Vegetables.

      Between bites, Dallasite Donna Miller-who was seated at Mulgrew's table-encouraged fellow diners to touch her hair, which had been sculpted into the hard, multicolored rings of Saturn. "The beauty parlor swore it'll wash right out.. but I don't know," she shrugged. "I think we're gonna need lacquer  thinner and a blowtorch," added her husband, Martin Weiser.

      When dinner ended, the lights dimmed and Trek music filled the room. A montage of memorable Trek moments-generously peppered with clips of Kirk putting the make on miniskirted space babes-was projected onto a gigantic screen, and the audience went wild.

     Mulgrew, the first to speak, was beamed onto the stage amid a dazzling display of laser beams and waved to the throng like Princess Di.

      "I am thrilled to be here tonight," she stated in perfect pearl tones. "I am thrilled to visit the Lone Star State for the first time in my life!" After the crowd's yee-haws and wolf whistles subsided, Mulgrew took a long, dramatic breath and spoke movingly of a recent trip to the White House, where she met 20 teenage girls who are devoting their lives to science. By the time she was through, many women in the audience were sniffling.

      Next up, Brooks paid an eloquent tribute to his mother and grandmother, who, between them, educated children for more than 85 years. Now even some of the men were sniffling. Frakes tugged yet further at the heartstrings with his adoring reminiscences of the late, great Roddenberry. Shatner-a Star Trek legend for nearly 30 years-was expected to bring the evening to its emotional climax. Instead, he discussed his trip to Africa and how he was defecated on by a very large elephant.

      Some were shocked by the anecdote. Others were baffled. But most of the fans were in hysterics.

      "Elephant dung!" said Shatner, with the same commanding elocution used by Charlton Heston at the Red Sea "It's enormous! Elephant dung seed of the jungle! Do you understand what I am saying to  you? They eat things off a tree and it goes through their enormous stomachs and comes out already  fertilized! It was all over me! I.. .had. . .learned . . .something."

        It was up to the sponsoring UPN executives to end the evening on a graceful note by presenting the stars with a beautiful glass sculpture that divided into four equal parts. Big-band music swelled, but only a few fans got up to jitterbug. Some headed to the lobby, where photos, costumes, scripts, and other memorabilia were up for auction. But most wanted to bask together in the glow of a glorious evening. Michael Walker, a Dallas sculptor who underwent four hours of makeup to come as a Klingon, said, "I go to Trek conventions all the time, but nothing will ever, ever top this."

      Frakes, still on-stage, was having his beard kissed by a Columbus, Ohio, math teacher. Brooks was besieged by fans with disposable cameras. Mulgrew was positively crowing. "This was an honor. This was a great, great event," she said. "I thought Mr. Shatner's speech was a fascinating example of...well...uh... what was that speech about?" Alas, we will never know. In true superstar tradition Mr. Shatner had left the building.

A presentation of a glass sculpture capped off the program.