This is a story I enjoy telling at the bar over a whiskey. but it’s time the broader world was told.
Back in my high-school-and-immediately-after days (think early 90s), I helped run local science fiction conventions in Virginia Beach. One of those, Beach Trek, was especially fun. Our first big year, we invited actress Denise Crosby, who’d played Tasha Yar in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She reprised her role, and that of a Romulan, several times throughout that series’ run. I was assigned to escort Denise around the convention, make sure she got to the right places at the right times, and help our security folks keep attendees from crowding her.
Denise was a great lady. Really friendly, and with a great sense of humor. From which comes our story today.
Denise had her big talk and Q&A session in the afternoon. I walked her into the session room, and we sat up front while the previous speaker was finishing. That speaker was Bjo Trimble, Star Trek’s Number One Fan. Bjo had a knack for getting memorabilia and castoffs from the studios, and as part of her speaking engagement she’d auction them off for local charities. Beach Trek’s charity that year was Tidewater AIDS Action Network, and Bjo was doing a good business for them.
As Denise and I sat down, Bjo was wrapping up an auction for a piece of terry cloth that had been cut from the hem of Spock’s robe in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The one with the whales, where Spock is pretty much in the robe the whole movie. That went for like $80. The last item was a set of three cloth snippets: one in maroon, one in a mustard gold, and another in a deep blue. They were cuttings from the official cloth used to make the actors’ costumes for the Next Generation show. I think those went for $80, too.
“Really? Eighty bucks for cloth?” Denise whispered to me. That’s not an exact quote (none of these are, it was a long time ago), but you get the gist.
“Well, costumers will pay that so they can get something to make a really good match with,” I said. “And, it’s for charity, so people get carried away. You could probably get a hundred bucks for a clip of hair.” She laughed quietly, watching the auction wrap up. Then, she was up!
After her introduction, she stepped onto the stage and said – and I’ll never forget these words – “Before I get started, since there’s a great charity involved here…”
My butt kinda clenched. Denise had a pretty short haircut, and I was having bad visions of scissory things.
“…what am I bid for a pair of white…”
Definitely clenched. Don! What’s going on! my walkie-talkie said. I couldn’t reply. It was happening too fast. I was only, like, eighteen. But I was guessing that a haircut wasn’t about to happen.
“…I think they’re cotton…”
Yup, no haircut. Either my heart had stopped by this point, or it was beating so fast that an EKG would have just shown a straight line. Not sure.
Cheering had started in the room. (Hindsight: wait, you knew the brand but not the material?)
“underwear… not worn! from my luggage?”
Cue the shouting of numbers by the crowd. Denise got it under control, and within two minutes had promised to not only autograph said underwear, but to apply a red lipstick kiss to one buttock. Someone in the crowd suggested that. Good call, too, because it drove the price up. I think she got $350. Might have been $250. It was a lot, but looking back and thinking about today’s eBay economy, it was a steal. I have it on good authority that they wound up on an underwear display mannequin, in a Lucite case, in the home of the winner. Whose spouse was, I’m sure, thrilled.
Denise was just awesome about the entire thing. She obviously had a great time, while not quite believing she was doing it. But man, was it the talk of the convention, and was a big extra chunk for us to deliver to TAAN.
Fun side note: We had Michael Dorn, who played the Klingon Worf, out for Beach Trek the following year. I wasn’t in on the conversation, but one of the organizers said that (either he or his representative, I’m forgetting) called and asked if he needed to bring an extra pair of boxers to the conference.
PS: Beach Trek doesn’t run anymore, but you may still be able to find Starlfleet Atlantic, the Tidewater-area fan group that produced the conference. At the time, the ladies who ran the group were Betty and Joy, I believe.