REDEMPTION 1999
by Louise Badsey

The first thing that attracted me to this convention was when I read an advert about it in "On The Wing" - Steven Pacey apa. It mentioned that there was to be a panel on Slash Fiction where David 'Servalan' Walsh would be answering questions from slash fiction writers on what was or was not possible regarding sexual positions between two guys! The next thing to attract me was that it was a Blakes 7 convention and that Brian Croucher would be there and having already met the first Travis at Deliverance, it would be cool to meet Travis 2 also!

The convention was at the Ashford International Hotel in Kent - a very nice place - all the activity rooms being off the main boulevard where there were seating areas and the bar close by. There were only about 150 attendees so by the end of the convention you pretty much got to know everyone and they were a nice friendly lot too! You basically felt very relaxed and could just walk around by yourself, see all the events you wanted, and when you wanted company, there was always someone you knew about that you could talk to.

Ooh, where to start my review? I've got my programme book here in front of me with the events I saw highlighted, so I'll start from the beginning I guess! Friday afternoon at the hotel - the first event I got to see was Brian Croucher and Judith Proctor talking about how alike Blake and Travis were. To be honest, I can't remember any of this except that I was talking to Brian about Worcester as he did one of his first shows at the theatre we have here - also that it was superb to see Brian for the first time! He looked a lot thinner than he did in the last picture I saw of him, which was a signed photo I got at an auction of Brian in Eastenders in which he looked much bigger! He still had cute chubby cheeks, but was a lot trimmer and looking good!

The opening ceremony was pretty exciting - it was very professionally done, but in a friendly atmosphere as there were not many people there considering. We had several mixer games where we had to go around the hall asking questions to people. This was very good actually as I got to meet a penpal I'd been writing to for some time, but didn't know he was going. I'd never have known it was him as his badge name was "burpy" - however, he recognised my name and so we ended up hanging out together for the rest of the con.

"Ivan - Disco King" Not much else event-wise on the Friday, just getting to know where everything was and meeting people. I discovered that the best place for this was the dance floor and there were a group of about 6 of us dancing for 5 hours until 2 am in the morning. None of us had met each other before but we all had one thing in common - we enjoyed a good boogie on down! So we also "hung out" for the rest of the con!
Buck Rogers My one penpal, "burpy" entered the Rulers of the Universe competition as Buck Rogers and so I became his campaign organiser and we put up leaflets and gave out stickers for people to vote for him. It was great actually as I offered a sticker to Brian Croucher and from then on whenever he saw me around he kept saying "Vote Buck!"

I was enjoying a drink in the bar with a group of Klingons on the Saturday morning, when along came David Walsh who I recogonised as "Servalan" - he came up to me beckoning me to go over and speak to him! I was pretty much surprised, but quite pleased as I'd been looking forward to seeing his session about slash fiction for about a year! He had basically seen that I was wearing a Liberator hand gun (home-made) and asked if he could borrow it the next day in an event he was doing. I said sure and went on to tell him that I would be at his slash discussion as I had lots of questions to ask him!! He said "Uh oh" but was smiling also!

VAL WESTALL During the day I got to buy some slash zines from the dealers room. There was a new one out with some more great artwork from Val Westall. Later on that day, I actually discovered that Val was at the convention and so just had to go and talk to her! It was excellent meeting her - you almost felt like kneeling down in front of her crying "we're not worthy!" I was quite surprised when she said she didn't get much recognition for her artwork which I could not believe! I therefore made up for this by telling her how much I enjoyed her work. I also got a photo of her holding her zine which she seemed quite shy about doing. She was really nice and it was great to meet her.
   
SERVALAN AND BRIAN I went to a panel on the Saturday which discussed the relationship between Travis and Servalan. This was hosted by Judith, Brian and David (dressed as Servalan). It was great as Brian seemed pretty much disturbed to see some bloke in a dress pretending he was Servalan. He pointed this out saying "don't you think this is a bit wierd!" He really didn't seem to know what to make of it! Got of photo of them together as well.

After this interview, I zoomed off into the main hall to catch the end of the Blakes 7 bloopers. Unfortunately, I was only in time for the last 15 mins. I saw the Space Rats episode where they were trying to escape in the buggy. They all jumped in, Avon commanded "Go!" and they stalled the buggy! There were several scenes like this - on one occasion the buggy started to roll backwards down the hill - they were all in fits of laughter which was great to see.

My next point of call was the Zine Publishing panel run by Judith. Julia Jones and two other ladies who produce zines and myself were the only ones there. Therefore, the four of them basically spent the session talking to me about editing stories and putting them together in zines. Very interesting stuff.

As for the "Realism in Slash" session - yes, it was as good as I'd expected and it was worth the year's wait to see it! As David "Servalan" already knew me, he decided to use me as a "prop" for his opening session and so called me out the front in order to do some sexist jokes! It was a good laugh! He then also picked on me to ask the first question and announced to everyone "this woman is dying to ask me some questions so she can go first". I guess it served me right, so I started off by getting straight in there with my question "in all these stories I read the two men have always got a tube of lubricant in the bedside drawer - do you really keep lubricant all around the house and do you need it?"

The answer was yes, very much so and it is true! He then went into detail about the types of lubricant available! Apparently you can get small packets of it which you can carry around with you. By the way, this interview was held in a small room - filled with mostly women, although there were about 4 or 5 men there also!

Whenever someone new came into the room, David stopped the discussion and asked the person "are you aware what slash is" so as not to offend anyone - well, this one chap walked in and David asked the question - the chap answered "yes, horror films isn't it" - we could not help but smile whilst someone answered him "no, it's homosexuals" - he shot out of the door at high speed!

The discussion mainly involved David telling us all about his relationships which he related in a very informative and entertaining way. The idea was for slash writers to ask David what positions etc were possible in gay sex so that we can get in right in our stories. Apparently David and a friend were going to actually demonstrate the positions for us, but his friend was not able to make it to the convention, so we had to just imagine them from his descriptions!

He then decided to ask us woman some questions also - like why we write this sort of stuff! My one room mate - Ruth (better known as 'Predatrix') spoke on our behalf for this one! We all had a good laugh actually, as well as learning quite a lot from the session. We went over our time limit for the room as we were having such a good discussion and I'm sure we could have gone on all night!

TRAVIS AND LOUISE Next was autograph time and I happened to be first in line (there were not many at the convention, so there were no real queues for anything which was great!) - I therefore managed to get a quick snap together with Brian - as shown!

Then it was Saturday night and therefore disco time! Buck Rogers, Mike the Jester, Ivan - Disco King, Steve Rogerson, Richard the Klingon and the rest. Another 5 hours of dancing with our ever growing dancing group (around 10 of us now!) At around 2.15 am they chucked us off the dance floor and we retired to the boulevard where Buck taught us a card game called ping pong bang which we played until 4 am in the morning. It was only at this time that I decided I ought to go to bed since I was supposed to be on stewarding duty at 9 am in the morning! So I crept into my room just after 4 am trying not to wake up my roomies. I had a choice of 2 light switches, one for the bathroom and one for the room - I went for the obvious switch being the one furthest from the room and yes you guessed it - wrong one! The room was illuminated and my poor roomies were all lit up! I gave a quiet call "sorry!" before quickly correcting my choice and later on had to find the way to my bed in the dark! All Down and Safe at 4 am and still managed to make my 9 am stewarding duty the next morning!

Sunday lunch time was the "Sex in Space" panel - Neil Faulkner and Judith Proctor ran this one. We basically discussed who was having it off who with who in all types of sci-fi series, starting of course with Blakes 7! They asked us for our favourite pairings and I put my hand up to vote for Tarrant and Travis! The funniest bit though was when they asked everyone in the room whether they would actually like to see explicit sex on TV in sci-fi programmes, or whether you should only get a hint so you could imagine the rest. Well, my two friends sat either side of me and myself immediately raised our hands to vote "yes, we do want to see explicit sex in sci-fi shows" - unfortunately, we were the only ones in the whole room who put their hands up and so we embarrrassed ourselves when they pointed out that we were the only ones and the fact that we were all sitting together!! (Engage red face mode!!)

RULER OF THE UNIVERSE The Rulers of the Universe competition was amusing, as well as my friend "Buck Rogers", there were a couple of Babylon 5 entries - the only one I recognised being "Londo" - the lady doing this was great - she was in character all weekend - doing the voice actions and everything and I think she deserved to win. However, Servalan pipped everyone at the post when it was turn for her vote. Just before everyone was asked to raise their hands to vote, she stood up and called for Travis.
VOTE FOR SERVALAN - OR ELSE! Along came this guy dressed in black leather, along with black gloves, eye-patch and large yellow ring! She commanded him to shoot anyone who did not raise their hands to vote, so they didn't get much choice in the matter! This was a very nice touch, very effective and deserved the winning vote!

Oh yes, one more thing I need to mention, I could not leave the con without checking out the zine library. I did found a whole section on Slash Fiction and so spent a good hour checking out some stories as well as some amusing artwork! Whilst I was there, in walked David "Servalan" and friends - of course they joined me in the Slash section and David and I went on to point out stories and 'interesting' drawings to each other which proved most amusing!

All in all a great time was had, met lots of new friends who I'm still in touch with now and who I will be meeting up with again at other conventions this year with luck.


* incredibly sorry - there were apparently about 250 to 280 attendees, not 150 as I'd guessed, cheers to Judith and Steve for the information!