Here’s a special treat for you this weekend if you’re attending Starbase Indy in the Wyndham Hotel: InConJunction members will be the hosts of A Game of Books in-room party at 9 p.m. Saturday in Room 255 of the hotel. Have fun and learn about what’s being planned for 2017 InConJunction.
Chase Masterson will be one of the guests at Starbase Indy this weekend in part because this is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and one of her characters eventually became the first lady of the Ferengi Alliance. She also will be bringing her social consciousness.
Masterson’s career has been about more than Star Trek including being the current star of a Big Finish, Doctor Who-related audio series, a jazz singing career and her Pop Culture Hero Coalition, which is working to end bullying. She’s also an author, a producer and has sung on USO tours for the Navy and the Marine Corps. She is a former Indiana resident.
According to IMDB, Masterson appeared as Leeta in 17 episodes of “Star Trek: Deep Space 9,” which ran for seven seasons. The new ”Star Trek Encyclopedia” describes that character as beginning as a Bajoran dabo (game of chance) girl in a bar on Deep Space 9 before eventually becoming the first lady of the Ferengi Alliance.
In addition to Masterson, actors who’ve been involved with Star Trek the Original Series, Star Trek Voyager and Star Trek Enterprise are scheduled to be among the guests at the three-day event, which begins Friday.
Masterson has been described as one of “the hot leading ladies” in 2008 by a film magazine, one of the world’s “50 sexiest women” by Femme Fatales magazine, the “Number 1 Favorite Science Fiction Actress on Television” in a TV Guide online poll, one of the “Top 50 People to Watch in Hollywood” by Sci-Fi Universe Magazine and the “Best Feature Film Producer” by the LA Femme Film Festival.
Masterson says the descriptions don’t bother her.
“I just see those things as a tool to do the work I want to do on-screen or off,” she said in an interview. “The word sexy is a pretty meaningless word.
“What’s really important is what’s on the inside and the heart of the work we do in the short time we’re on this planet. If people say those things and it helps me get another great project off the ground for charity or entertainment, that’s fine with me.”
Masterson founded the Pop Culture Hero Coalition “to take a stand against bullying, racism, misogyny, LGBT bullying, cyber bullying and other forms of hate using pop culture in film and television,” she said. “We make parallels between on-screen heroes and heroes in real life.
“Our motto is, ‘We love super heroes, why not be one.’ We are currently creating an incredible curriculum for schools and we also work in common cause and communities.”
Masterson said she’s seen so much oppression and wanted to do something about using the tremendous power of popular culture fandom.
“It’s really a phenomenon,” she said. “I want to harness that energy for doing good, that’s what the stories are about.”
Masterson’s charitable work also has involved the United Nations, hospice organizations, and the World Health Organization.
The philosophy Masterson espouses is reflected in her feelings about Star Trek.
“I think that Star Trek has a really, really neat message,” she said. “The whole infinite diversity in infinite combinations is something that’s very attractive to all of us. And it’s something that I wish the world would grasp onto as beautifully as the Star Trek fans have. …
”The fans are mostly lovely, truly some of the loveliest people I’ve met. Occasionally there have been ones that crossed the line, but I never let that stop me from being genuine with everyone I meet. …I think Star Trek attracts really lovely people because of what Star Trek’s message is, the message of the show. “
Unfortunately, she said, with this year’s election, there have been many negative actions, contrary to that spirit.
“White supremacy is once again rearing its ugly head and growing in both numbers and in the press,” Masterson said. “There has been a rise in hate crimes to African-Americans and Muslims and the LGBTQ communities and other people since the election by those who feel empowered by (president-elect Donald) Trump. …
“I think they’ve been empowered by his hate speech. …. We have to come to our senses as a country and see that this is not what America was born to be. We were born to be a place of diversity and inclusivity.”
The lack of empathy that not just white supremacists, but everyday people employ in everyday racism and in everyday bias is “disgusting and it’s unChristian, it’s unJesus like, and it’s really embarrassing that our country is being seen this way,” Masterson said.
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s future tenant of infinite diversity in infinite combinations is the way the world is supposed to be.
In some ways, Masterson’s Deep Space 9 character reflected her passion about issues related to racism, misogyny and bullying. Her character married a person, Rom, from another world and that led to her becoming the first lady of the Ferengi Federation. Max Grodenchik, a previous guest at Starbase Indy, played Rom.
“He was really so truly lovely as Rom and made me fall in love with him, he was so gentle and sensitive,” Masterson said. “I just appreciated all of that in him as an actor and as a character. …
“I had such a great time working with this extremely talented cast, but the memories that are the ones I cherish the most are ones that happened off-screen. Many times, I’ve had someone who served in the military, particularly oversees, come up to say how much the show meant to them while they were in the service and for those in the Gulf War it was a little piece of home and it reminded them of what they were striving for, which was peace.”
Deep Space Nine has been underrated, she said.
“I don’t think Deep Space 9 gets the respect it deserves,” Masterson said. “It was the Number 1 syndicated show in the world when we went off the air and yet it is seen as the little, runt brother of Star Trek.
“It was difficult for us, not having been the mainstream show that Next Generation was, frankly we feel the stories and characters deserved. A lot of people feel Deep Space 9 was their favorite over any of the other Star Trek.
Chase Masterson’s acting career also led her into “Vienna,” a Doctor Who spinoff. audio series. She had previously worked on audio projects with former Doctors Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy.
Vienna is going into Season 4. Vienna is “an intergalactic mercenary assassin with a heart of gold who always lands on the side of good,” Masterson said. “If I’m hired by a bad guy I will turn that around on him and make it his own undoing.”
We’ve recently conducted interviews with Chase Masterson and Garrett Wang, two of the scheduled guests at Starbase Indy.
Among Masterson’s many credits, she appeared in multiple episodes of Star Trek Deep Space Nine as Leeta.
Wang was a regular in all seven seasons of Voyager and now coordinates the Trek Track at Dragon Con.
When one sees a current picture of Sandy Gimpel, it’s hard to believe she was once one of the scariest creatures in science fiction history.
A fourth degree black belt holder who has been a karate instructor,
Gimpel appeared in the first Star Trek pilot and then, more famously, was the salt creature in the first episode of Star Trek that NBC broadcast 50 years ago.
This year’s Starbase Indy will have a representative of each Star Trek television series, including Gimpel. It will be her first trip to Starbase Indy, she said.
In “The Man Trap,” the first aired episode of the of the original series, Gimpel is the M-113 creature, more commonly referred to as the “salt vampire.” The creature could change its shape to appear as anybody, but in its natural form was the “salt vampire, which Gimpel suited up to play.
In an interview, Gimpel said her involvement with Star Trek began because she “was a dancer and got a call from central casting to go on an audition for the show to work in costume because I could move well and got the job.”
Gimpel’s first Star Trek part was as a Talosian in “The Cage,” creator Gene Roddenberry’s first Star Trek pilot. NBC rejected it, but “The Cage” was later incorporated into the first-season, two-episode “Menagerie.”
It has been 50 years since the first episodes aired and after three seasons it was canceled despite efforts by its fans. But Star Trek wasn’t due to just fade away.
“I had no idea that Star Trek would become so great,” she said. “We just work, go in and do our job and go home, never thinking ‘OMG I just worked on an amazing show.’”
Despite going where no one had gone before, she didn’t appear at her first Star Trek-related convention until this year.
“Actually, the 50th anniversary convention in Las Vegas last August was the first one I have ever been at as a guest or visitor,” Gimpel said.
According to IMDB.com, Gimpel has 115 stunt performer/coordinator credits and 34 credits as an actress in what is still a very active career. It is one role, however, that fans want to know about.
“Most of the questions are about the salt vampire costume and was it hot or heavy to wear,” she said. “The fans are incredible, so nice and amazing to talk with. They are so interested in what I do for a living and very gracious.”
At Starbase Indy, she will be signing pictures for fans and taking pictures with fans. She’s also scheduled to participate on several panels where she’ll talk about the salt vampire and the Talosian characters.
Recently, Gimpel has appeared in an “Agent Carter” episode and has a stunt involvement in the soon-to-be-released “Why Him” film, which stars Zoey Duetch, Bryan Cranston and James Franco. She’s also working on a Disney television show and other TV shows.
In some fans’ minds, “Star Trek” and “Lost in Space” were competing science fiction shows, but she appeared in “Lost in Space” first. And that’s where her stunt acting career began.
“I went on an audition to stand in for Bill Mumy on ‘Lost in Space’ and because of my dance background, they asked if I would like to do the stunts for him, if I would go to the gym and train with stunt coordinator Paul Stater three days week.
“Of course, I said yes and did the show for 2-1/2 years and have never stopped doing stunts since.”
Stunt working can be quite hazardous, but she hasn’t suffered major injuries, she said.
“I have been very blessed not to have major injuries, only a couple of broken ribs and ACL replaced on my knee,” she said. “Cuts and bruises don’t count.”
Asked if she prefers acting or stunt work, she said she loves doing stunts, but has been “very blessed lately to be able to do the stunt acting role along with the stunt.”
In addition to “Star Trek” and “Lost in Space,” Gimpel has been involved as an actress or stunt performer in a long list of shows including “Airplane,” the original “Battlestar Galactica,” “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” “The Truman Show,” “My Name is Earl,” “The Bionic Woman,” “Criminal Minds,” “Reno 911,” “CSI” and “Six Feet Under.” This year’s Starbase Indy will have a representative of each Star Trek television series, including Gimpel.
“I think the Girl Scout fights in Airplane may top them all as an acting and stunt role,” she said. “I can’t forget the live event for the BAFTA (British Academy Film and Television Arts) Awards with Sasha Baron Cohen and him pushing me off the stage in a wheel chair in front of every big actor in the business and no one knew it was no one knew it was not real.”
For more information about Starbase Indy, go to http://www.starbaseindy.com
It is less than a month before the annual Thanksgiving weekend Starbase Indy and this year’s lineup of guests is quite impressive.
The guests scheduled to appear include actors Dominic Keating of Star Trek Enterprise, Garrett Wang of Star Trek Voyager, Chase Masterson of Star Trek Deep Space, Klingon language inventor Marc Okrand, author Larry Nemecek, intergalactic host Moxie Anne Magnus and the bands Five Year Mission and the Yavin 4.
The con is Nov. 25-27 at Wyndham Indianapolis West, 2544 Executive Drive, Indianapolis.
For more information, go to www.starbaseindy.com
The new Westworld series on HBO is an artfully done, but graphic look at a resort where the fun is about robotic shoot ‘em ups and intimate pleasures and then what happens when things start to go wrong.
This 10-part first season follows Michael Crichton’s 1973 “Westworld” and 1976 “Futureworld” movies and the short-lived 1980 “Beyond Futureworld” series.
This new incarnation is just for adults, much more graphically violent and erotic than the previous movies and TV show.
The 10-part, first season series has two big name starts in Ed Harris, who is the mysterious “Man in Black,” and Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Robert Ford, who created the fantasy resort decades ago.
The other lead roles, however, are Evan Rachel Wood as android Dolores Abernathy, Thandie Newton as an android Old West “dance hall girl,” Jeffrey Wright as a programmer, and Sidse Babett Knudsen as an executive who has a secret relationship with the programmer.
As usual, HBO’s producers and directors have done a masterful job in putting this series together. There is what we have come to expect in westerns, too, with a rowdy saloon, a dusty main drag, wanted posters and gorgeous scenery outside the town.
The show quickly introduces us to wealthy fun seekers who are either seeking the “thrill” of killing androids and intimate pleasures without facing any consequences, just a big bill. The androids include a farmer, the pure farmer’s daughter, sheriffs, gun slingers, gamblers, and bartenders. The human counterparts are the resort’s executives, programmers and android builder/repair people, and the tourists who have a variety of aspirations while on vacation including being a hero, a murderous villain, having intimate encounters and just enjoying the beautiful wild west vistas.
The twist is, however, that not everything is the way it is supposed to be. Westworld’s co-founder died years earlier, according to Ford. And the androids are behaving oddly in some cases, not the way they were programmed.
Of course, the essential truth is no imperfect creature, i.e. any human, can create a perfect being.
The series is a brilliantly done science fiction tale, but if you are turned off by lots of flood and erotic scenes this show isn’t for you. It will be interesting, however, to say what the next six episodes bring.
The fifth episode on HBO will premiere at 9 p.m. Sunday with lots of opportunities to watch it over the next few months on the various HBO channels and elsewhere.