The 30th annual Starfest convention, once again held at the Denver Tech Center’s glorious Marriott, was the expected explosion of nerds, goons, geeks, and shut-ins, but was just as surprising for what it also proved about these reliably awkward men and women on society’s fringe. In the face of assorted Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and Battlestar Gallactica worship, I simply shrug with predictability, but who on earth knew they were just as likely to show up in full combat fatigues and face paint, bearing almost obscenely Freudian weaponry? Fine, there was an early morning screening of G.I. Joe – The Movie, but more than that, this was the best venue in which to share their jingoistic wet dreams. Wherever I turn, it seems, I am being reminded of their erect passion for violent death.

And what’s with all the pirates? The unexpected success of Pirates of the Caribbean is one thing, but to have their kind infiltrating a sci-fi convention? Clearly they’ve gone too far. There were even a handful of Jack Sparrow wannabes pestering the public with ballot boxes and the age-old question, “Pirates or ninjas?” I didn’t stay long enough to find out who won, but as I didn’t see a single ninja during my visit, it’s obvious the deck was stacked. This also doesn’t help me understand why a good 90% of the Sparrows were women with (I presume) fake beards. Oh, the women! I saw fat ones and limping ones; the wheelchair-bound and the retarded. Green ones were matched by blue ones, and regardless of color, muffin tops were unapologetically painted, displayed, and rumbling with defiance. Their courage would have moved me, but I was too busy pointing out yet another grandmother in an Uhura miniskirt.

The guys were equally diverse. Old and young, scandalously fat and weaklings of the 98-pound variety, this group also managed, against the odds, to include the legless. The younger types, all squeaks and chirps, managed to shatter the stereotype of bad skin, but I’ll be damned if there was a strand of washed hair among them. The biggest geek of all, however, was a 6’5″ black man who stood behind me in line as I waited to get my 1.4 seconds of face time with Leonard Nimoy. His annoying voice, as irreconcilable as it was with such a powerful exterior, whined endlessly about the day job that merely paid the bills while he worked on his screenplays and TV pilots. His delusions were matched in their intensity only by the encouraging words of his awed neighbors. Still, it’s important to know what will be filling the endless rows of boxes that are found in the vicinity of his ritualistic suicide a few years hence.

Enough talk — here are a but a few of the frightening and the damned:


Easily the most popular figure walking the floor, Chewbacca, mighty warrior of a thousand galaxies, was in fact a teenage boy not yet required to shave. Later, I caught him sans mask nursing a decaffeinated soda, and his pleasant, almost deferential demeanor proved most troubling, given his mind-bending skill with plastic weaponry.


This Sand Person paced relentlessly up and down the halls, gladly posing for photos and scaring the wee ones, and I never caught him out of character for a single moment. Given the authenticity of the creation, it’s almost certain he was a finalist for the costume contest, though I doubt he’d show up to claim the prize, as that would force him to admit that his attire was in fact a costume.


The creepy French-looking dude was trying desperately to look like Obi-Wan, but as he was not asked to appear in this photo (yet interjected anyway), he obviously failed to internalize the supreme Jedi’s notoriously good manners. The Jawa, who was discovered to be a frightful young woman, eventually threw caution to the wind and later appeared with a grass skirt and ukelele, mumbling incoherent island songs and shaking her juicy backside. And yes, she continued to wear the Jawa costume while doing so.


Is this the monster from Predator? This is as close as I dared go, and I must admit that I was far more interested in the pensive gentleman who shoved his mug into the frame. What’s his story? Whoever he was, the hideous creature also proved to be a popular draw and top contender for festival-end prizes. No, silly, the guy in the costume.


Okay, this guy kicks ass, regardless of your leanings. I now hate the Star Wars films with all of my being, but who on earth could resist a Snowtrooper? He’s so cool, in fact, that I can imagine he was the lone competitor who actually had to throw chicks out of his room. The highlight was when I caught him trying to grab a child while repeating dialogue from Episode IV, when his character wasn’t even in the damn thing.


If there is a fixed star in the nerd universe, it is the old, withering fossil trying to look young by dressing like a comic book hero. These two blond slabs of poorly aged beef strutted around the place like everyone gave a shit, flirting shamelessly with boys who would barely qualify as their sons. The moment I had assumed they would be laughed out of the place, some dude dressed like George Washington (you’ll see him soon) looked me in the eyes and said, “Now there are two girls I wouldn’t mind getting behind — literally!” Yes, laughter came forth, but only so that I should not cry.


Starfest is not simply a sci-fi convention, but also a celebration of fantasy and horror. Still, I didn’t expect to encounter Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, and Leatherface in a single shot. I never saw them again, that is until our good man from Halloween showed up in an unexpected way.


There were dozens of seminars and mini-conventions, but the one that stood tall as the most appallingly disorganized was Chapa’ai of Fortune, a failed attempt to replicate the popular game show, only with puzzles that dealt exclusively with sci-fi. The host was an unshaven prick whose contempt for the audience was palpable, the simulated game via computer crashed no fewer than 15 times, and the contestants (pulled from the audience) were so moronic that they didn’t appear to know shit about their own obsessions. As a capper, the fire alarm went off during the first round, though no one seemed to care. Against my will, I spent the entire time listening to some bearded creep dressed in an orange jumpsuit make lame jokes and encourage his kid to be as obnoxious as possible.


In the context of a nerd convention, this dude was hot property indeed, prompting numerous come-hither stares and a few lustful flirtations. He had one woman almost hypnotized with his description of what he’d be wearing next year, but as it involved Lord of the Rings, I have no idea what the hell he was saying.


No fucking clue. Darth Vader re-born as a medieval knight? Boba Fett’s dumber, trashier brother? I’m not even sure he knows.


I should have known that “come see the models” wouldn’t have a thing to do with hot chicks, but off I went. Instead of tits and ass, I found a room of sci-fi models — you know, the miniature shit you paint when you’re trying to drive yourself mad? In the middle of it all sat this unfortunate group, playing (what else?) some role-playing game with all the gusto you could imagine from the image. I’m still not sure the bearded man is even awake at this point.


This chick, preserved in digitized infamy because of the fat rolls that threatened to bring down her purple shroud, nearly toppled several stories to her doom while trying to snap a photo of Leonard Nimoy. It’s hard to tell from the rear, but this lady came dressed as a belly dancer. Unfortunately, there were no convention provisions that would have prevented her from doing so.


Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers of TV fame) spent many lonely hours manning his own booth, whoring his outdated image (with signature) for a measly $10 a pop. Caught here at a particularly busy time, Gil gave me the biggest laugh of the convention when he greedily shoved the cash into his own pocket rather than collecting it like a dignified human being. I’m sure the has-been was flattered as hell to be asked to make an appearance, especially in light of the fact that, according to the program, he recently underwent gastric bypass and lost a stunning 145 pounds. That same program also gave me the second biggest laugh, as his mini-bio ended with the statement, “Gil Gerard will be at Starfest the whole weekend.” Shit, if he had it his way, he’d be at Starfest until next October.


The Q&A session with Leonard Nimoy was a jam-packed affair, and the applause so deafening you’d think he was Jesus Christ. Telling the same tired anecdotes and jokes he’s told a thousand times, Nimoy rocked the house and even tried to make us swallow the whopper that his disappearance from the silver screen had been his choice, rather than the ravages of time finally doing their work. The questions, all deeply embarrassing and cringeworthy, even included some lonely soul who asked Mr. Nimoy if he’d be willing to play a zombie if asked. The worst of all, though, was some sad girl who wondered if he’d be offended if she lived like Spock and burned away all of her emotions. If this tragic figure makes it to 18 without ingesting a bottle of mom’s pills, I’ll be as shocked as if Mr. Nimoy himself started turning down buckets of cash for phoning it in.


I’m not sure which is worse: that this thing sat unattended in the middle of the room for hours, or that I actually know its name is R5-D4.


Michael Myers playing piano. At this moment, he’s tickling “The Entertainer.” He went from here to scaring patrons at a nearby Starbucks, as he does every weekend.


Once again, I have no idea who this is, but imagine he’s from some comic book. Still, he commanded a great deal of respect, and more than one fearful patron stepped aside as he passed. His ego is now sufficient to begin planning his own school massacre.


George Washington at a sci-fi convention? He graciously posed for a picture, but revealed nothing about his reasoning. Still, it seems obvious that this guy just likes to dress like the father of our country, and figures he wouldn’t be questioned about it here.


Dance lessons from the Orion babes of Star Trek? How could a convention be held without them? I need very little to be happy it seems, but might it have been possible to secure the services of someone not pushing middle age? Not even I could masturbate to the image of a withered green bean.


Not sure who this is, but he most assuredly has nothing in common with the rest of these nitwits.