The Prelude Before the Storm, summer 1983

Yes! It’s another installment of Teenage!Jenn and Her Adventures In Doctor Who Fandom! (Although, pretty soon in the narrative, I will reach the big 2-0 and thus won’t technically be a teenager.) When we last connected with Teenage!Jenn, she had just had the Weekend that Would Change Her Life Forever And Ever (and never to part– whoops! Didn’t mean to rickroll you there!)

But what happened next? You might very well arsk. Here’s the story….

The last two weeks of sophomore year flew by, and soon enough I found myself back in my little pink high school bedroom for the summer. I was having difficulties (as usual) finding a summer job– I mean, I could have worked at Rand Park Pool, but that would have required me missing several classes because the job started before I got out of school, and the supervisor didn’t give a shit re my actual availability. I filled my days doing menial tasks around the house, working on bad fanfic (Ok, it was actually probably very good compared to 90% of the fanfic that currently clogs up the Internest– but, back then, there were standards!), and trying to figure out how to raise the cash to go to Panopticon West in Columbus, Ohio.

See, there was either a club or some guy who was organizing a bus trip to Columbus from Chicago, and I knew that would be the only way I could actually get to the convention. And get there, I had to, because, like Gallifrey One today, it was the place to be if you wanted to be Hardcore. I had a spot reserved– and actually had con membership already, thanks to having signed up the previous year at Sweatcon for the event– so all I needed was the money to pay for the trip, the room, the food, and the swag. (In truth, thanks to Larry’s Comic Book Shop, I was pretty caught up on Official Swag. I was anticipating buying the Fannish Swag, like fanzines and Cheryl Duvall’s buttons.)

I ended up signing up with a temp service, that got me a job doing telephone surveys over the 4th of July weekend. Not a good weekend to do surveys, you know? And… guess what… I hate making phone calls. With a passion. The only reason I manage to stay in contact with so many people today is that I can email them instead of calling! Nevertheless, I plugged through 40 hours of hell, which got me just enough money to afford the convention. (The Temp Agency said “thanks but no thanks” to me working a second week at the survey place; I was quite relieved.)

Right before the Temp Job From Hell (which would have been more tolerable should, say, a lab-created monster tried to attack me, because then at least the Middleman would have come and a) rescued me b) offered me a better gig), I went to my first “branch” meeting of the U.N.I.T. Irregulars. I was assigned to the newly-minted Deerfield division, as it was the division closest to where I lived (whether I was at home or at school). Fine Mike was in charge of the division. Fine Mike turned out to be a high school student, who somehow managed to talk his family out of being out of the house while said Saturday afternoon meeting went on. (Perhaps said family merely fled in horror at the thought of having to interact with their son’s geeky acquaintances. In any case, they were much more trusting that I would be. (At least currently.) Also in attendance were some other high school types, and an old, smelly guy who claimed to be in Moebius Theatre. (Remember: to Teenage!Jenn, Old=Current!Jenn’s age….) I had heard of Moebius Theatre, they performed sketches at local SF cons. After meeting OldSmelly, though, I wanted no part of the group.

(Yes, he really did smell, like he had been at a con all weekend sans access to bathroom facilities.)

(I would also like to point out that everyone I’ve met in the past 10 years who have been in Moebius actually know where both their towels and their shower gels are!)

I wasn’t thinking too highly of the arrangement, especially since Fine Mike had the personality of a brick and his high school chums weren’t any better. About 450 years into the meeting, though, the Crew from the Libertyville division arrived. The Libertyville Division was headed by Chris, and had the core group of what would become the Federation in it. Chris and several of his fellow divisionites showed up with a purpose: to announce that U.N.I.T. would be making a video that summer that would spoof the entire history of Doctor Who, entitled “The Five Faces of Doctor Booh.” (The title derived from the 1981 repeat season on BBC-2 called “The Five Faces of Doctor Who.”) Chris laid the plot (such as it was) on us, then had those who were interested fill out a questionnaire specifying interests both in front of and behind the camera.

Ooh, I couldn’t believe it! I would have squeed had I not been trying to appear cool. More than anything, I wanted to make my own Doctor Who video thingie. Not much of a chance to do so while doing class assignments, of course, and it’s not like I had access to video equipment during the summer. (Hell, we didn’t even have cable t.v., let alone a VCR. Then again, many people didn’t have either in 1983!) Now to suddenly find myself in a group that was going to do what I wanted to do… SQUEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

I filled out the questionaire, mentioning that I was a film major and thus had cinematography experience, and oh yes I also had Sarah, Leela, and Romana costumes. I gave it back to Chris, and hoped for the best. A couple of weeks later, he called me up. Apparently I was the only person with any experience in running a camera (let alone making a film), so I was totally in as cinematographer. And, oh yeah, I could play Sarah, too. Wheet! Filming would be the last weekend in July. Even though it conflicted with Beatlefest, I decided that I could certainly miss most of Beatlefest if it meant making an original Doctor Who like story. (Even if technically it was a spoof!)

With filming arrangements set, it was only a matter of time before we made our first magic. (Or not.) In any case, the actual filming will be saved for another entry, along with what I remember of Panopticon West 1983. Also coming up: the first DW con I ever worked, U.S. 20. Can you stand the anticipation? I’m not sure I can!

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