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A True-Blue Trekker

September 08, 1996|Susan King | Susan King is a Times staff writer

Dan Madsen, 34, became hooked on "Star Trek" in junior high while watching reruns every day after school. He began a fan club and newsletter out of his basement in 1979. Now 17 years later, he's the president of Star Trek: The Official Fan Club, which has 150,000 members worldwide, and is editor of Star Trek: Communicator, a bimonthly magazine with a circulation of 300,000. Madsen and his staff of 15 also edit and produce Star Wars Insider, a quarterly magazine with a circulation of 200,000. Madsen talked about his love affair with "Star Trek," by phone from his office in Aurora, Colo.

Question: Why did you fall in love with "Star Trek"?

Answer: Initially, for me as a kid, I liked the characters and the Klingons and the starships and the battles. The great thing [about] "Star Trek" is it is not something that you are interested in as a kid and you grow out of. It is the kind of thing that as you grow older you grow more into because there are a lot of hidden messages in "Star Trek." There's a lot of philosophy and a lot of issues--social issues of the time.

Q: Do you have every episode on tape?

A: Definitely.

Q: How many times have you seen each episode?

A: I would say probably 40 times.

Q: Who is your favorite character?

A: I would have to say I was always a Capt. Kirk fan. I always seemed to be attracted to his heroism, I guess. When I playacted with my friends, I always wanted to be Capt. Kirk.

Q: Do you have a favorite episode?

A: No question. My favorite is "City on the Edge of Forever." That's the one with Joan Collins. They go back to the 1930s and Kirk falls in love with her. It's an exceptional story. The acting, I think, is the best it ever was on the show.

Q: Do you have a least favorite episode?

A: I do actually: "Spock's Brain." I have to say if you spoke to most Trekkers who like the original show, my feelings about the best and the worse would fall right in line with everybody. "Spock's Brain" is pretty much universally accepted as the worst. The story was just bad, the acting was bad, the dialogue was campy and corny.

Q: How many conventions have you gone to?

A: Oh, boy. In the hundreds.

Q: When did you go to your first convention?

A: 1976. It was in Denver. One of the things that just really turned me on was the dealers room. You walk into a dealers room today and there is "Star Trek" and all kinds of things mixed in with it. But in 1976, this was before "Star Wars," there was nothing but "Star Trek." And "Star Trek" wasn't sold in all the major store chains at that time, so all of this stuff was things you didn't find everywhere. It was like a child walking into a candy store.

Q: Did you buy a lot of "Star Trek" items?

A: Growing up, my room was covered literally wall to wall to wall with "Star Trek" posters and pictures. In fact, many of my family members would comment that you couldn't see the paint because there were posters and pictures covering the entire wall.

Q: Is your home decorated in "Star Trek"?

A: My office is all "Star Trek." It used to be I would have to have everything that came out with "Star Trek's" name on it. Now, I am much more picky because I have a family and I can't afford to buy everything. And there is a lot more of everything today. I pick things I think will be valuable, collectible things. Things that just turn me on. My little boy, who is 5, has every "Star Trek" action figure.

Q: What is your most prized possession?

A: I have a script that is signed by the entire "Star Trek" cast, and that's probably my most valuable thing. And then I have personal letters. I have photo albums, three actually, filled with just personal letters from all of the "Star Trek" casts, primarily original and "Next Generation."

Q: Do you hang with these guys?

A: I don't hang with them. I have become very close and very good friends with many of them. I talk to DeForest Kelley and his wife quite often. They have become close friends. Many of the cast members I see and talk to quite often. I wouldn't say we were buddies, but I have dinner with many of them.

Q: What are your feelings for the subsequent "Star Trek" series?

A: I like "Voyager" and "Deep Space Nine." I love "Next Generation." "Next Generation" is still from our perspective--this is my personal feeling--the most popular of all the incarnations. I have to say I am still a classic ["Star Trek"] fan, but there is more interest in "Next Generation" than other "Star Treks" at this time.

Q: Why?

A: "Next Generation" is kind of king of the hill. It was on longer. It's more updated to our age, and "Next Generation" kind of took "Star Trek" from being an insider's show to an everybody show. It brought in a lot more people to the "Star Trek" realm.

Q: Have you liked the movies?

A: I liked some of them. I have to say there isn't one I hated. "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" is probably my favorite. Even though a lot of people thought the first one was disappointing, I liked it.

Q: Have you ever dressed up at a convention?

A: I have never been one that has dressed up. That's one area of "Star Trek" fandom I have never been a part of. I have friends, though, who dress up all the time as Klingons and Federation admirals and stuff. I think that's great if that's what they wanted to do. They don't harm anybody, and they have a good time.

Q: Do you speak Klingon?

A: I have tried it. I must admit I am not much of a linguist in Klingon. But what is really interesting about it is they have a Klingon language camp in Minnesota. There is one held every year, and people come and spend a week and learn the Klingon language and live like Klingons and eat like Klingons. No question about it, there is a limit where it goes beyond normalcy. I don't believe I have ever gone beyond [the limit], but I was crazy enough to start a fan club.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

* STAR TECH

The Internet and CD-ROMs offer "Trek" fans a mixed bag of entertainment choices. Page 76

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