the time the crowd really wasn't noticeable, until people started queuing
up for masquerade tickets. The programming was generally uninspired, and
bedevilled by technical hitches. Some of it was held outside the hotel,
at the Music Hall just down the road. We visited this twice, once for the
Hugos and Guest of Honour Speech, and on another evening (after John
Millard had taken the Aussies out to dinner at the hotel's posh
restaurant) for the Dramatic Presentation. This was up, or rather down,
to the usual standard of such performances at conventions, and Carey and
I left at intermission.
On the way back we were accosted by a young woman who waved
a carnation at us. Would we like to buy it for a dollar, to help raise
funds for a "God Bless America" Rally. After a moment's thought I replied
that we would have to see a bit more of America before we could decide
whether we should ask God to bless it.
"Well," she whined, "you could at least give a quarter...".
Back at the hotel we attended a Cincinnati Fantasy Group party,
and then attended the midnight surprise item, one of the highlights of the
convention, the indescribable Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre performing
"Gonad the Barbarian".
The other highlight of the convention was the masquerade. Well, actually,
the masquerade intermission. After a couple of people had given a delightful
rendition of "Have Some Madeira My Dear" they brought on a stripper,
She was a fan who had volunteered her services and she was a very capable
acrobat, Her performance however was absolutely lewd. She had this feather
and...and then at one stage she borrowed some poor lad's glasses...
The masquerade organisers said nothing until just before she came
on, at which point the fellow with the microphone launched into a lot of
bullshit about burlesque being an art form and "absolutely no photographs"
being allowed (but she was videotaped). So here were these 2000 people
with their kiddies and everything, frightened in any case of losing their
seats, to say nothing of the feminists who were already displeased with
the committee because of the bellydancers...Oh, the faces of the audience
were priceless.
The banquet was fairly unremarkable. The roast beef but of course,
in Kansas appeared to have been merely walked past the oven, and the
cheese soup, a speciality of the hotel, was lukewarm and unpleasant. Various
people made pleasant little speeches, the tone of which may be imagined
by Fred Pohl's little witticism "They said: We're having Heinlein at the
banquet. I said: Is there enought of him to go around?" For reasons which
were not clear to me the Heinleins were made honorary citizens of the
State of Texas, something of a mixed blessing considering what many other
Americans appear to think of Texans.
Rusty Hevelin's slide show was very good, especially in view of the
fact his photographs hadn't come out and slides were by courtesy of Ben
Yalow and Alan Frisbie. The slide show was followed by a very successful
DUFF auction, at which one enthusiastic person paid $US20 for an
Australian $2 note, admittedly autographed by Tucker and myself!
Overheard in the hotel coffee shop:
"Say, does Harlan have any of those T-shirts left?
"Don't think so he only had 100 or so run off for his close friends."