illo by Alan Hutchinson

  And now, just in time for NOLAcon is a look back at 1986's Atlanta Worldcon, In the first issue of Mimosa back in 1981 we featured an example of that great Southern Fandom tradition, the Hoax Convention Report, Here's another example. The following originally appeared in the Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA) about two years ago; nearly all the fans mentioned by name are current or former SFPA members. The author's name should be recognizable to anyone who's seen any of our first three issues, but most fans are unaware he's a good writer as well as artist. And a word of warning: at least some of what follows actually happened!
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Tales Calculated to Drive You
to AWC (Atlanta World Con)

by Alan Hutchinson

It was a dark and stormy night... Well, it wasn't stormy, but it was dark and it was night. Two out of three ain't bad. The guy I had hired to impersonate Gary Brown was due to arrive at my house in St. Petersburg at about 1 AM early, early Friday, but instead showed up around 11 PM Thursday. "Gary" had attended a meeting of the Fantasy Lacrosse League in Clearwater earlier that evening and was all tired out from a rough day of lacrossing. He said that they had difficulty finding enough Indians to play, but they made do with Cubans and Haitians. We loaded our stuff into the ol' Camaro, kissed our loved ones good-bye (I kissed my wife Rose and daughter Valerie, "Gary" kissed the cat and dog), and took off for Atlanta.

We had decided to drive at night so that we could both get some sleep. Unfortunately, we both wanted to sleep at the same time. It was a lucky thing that my car has an automatic pilot, so I set the controls for "Atlanta World Con" and dozed off. It was several hours later that MOTHER woke us from our suspended animation... it seems her transceivers had picked up a signal from a nearby town that seemed to indicate signs of life, and under the provisions of the contract, we had to stop and check it out or else forfeit all shares. I didn't like the idea since somewhere before I seemed to recall something like this happening to someone else. We pulled off the interstate and saw the sign that read "LV-426 ... Population 512 341 194 37 15 1 ... Welcome!" We drove slowly through the deserted hamlet but saw no signs of movement. "Gary" said he was hungry and suggested we stop for a midnight snack. He said he really had a taste for eggs, so we found an all-night diner that served breakfast, but when we saw the size of their eggs we figured we couldn't afford it and drove back to the interstate and went back to sleep.

illo by Alan Hutchinson The first hint I got that we were in Georgia was when I awoke with an icicle hanging from my nose. I couldn't remember having put it there myself, so figured it must have formed spontaneously. I had forgotten once we left Florida, we were "up Nawth". We stopped the car so I could put the snow chains on (the first time, I might add, that my car has Chained Up), and drove on into Atlanta.

We arrived at our friend Richard Davidson's apartment on Penn Avenue about 8:15 AM. We knew it was his because it had a sign out front that read "Okeefenokee Glee and Perloo Society Welcomes North Florida Fandom". Rick lowered the drawbridge and we entered. We were hardly prepared for the sight that was to greet us. I harkened back to the time I visited Alcatraz Prison, with the rows of barred cells and uniformed guards. Well, Rick's apartment was nothing like that. It was more like an ancient Celtic castle, with suits of rusted armor, dungeons, skulls, a black cat, cases of Alka-Ce1tzer, piles of comic books, a typewriter, and an army cot. Yep, just like an ancient Celtic castle.

illo by Alan Hutchinson We ate some breakfast and walked the six or eight blocks to the con hotel where we met George H. Wells in the lobby. When he spotted us, he was so anxious to run over and tell me how great I am that he tripped and fell into a fountain. Luckily, Gary C. Tesser was there to pull him out, so we met Hank Davis and went up to the New Orleans bid suite. It was there that Gary Tesser and I got into a long discussion about what was wrong and right with our employer, the U.S. Postal Service, these days. "Gary Brown" was naturally so interested in this dialogue that we actually had to tie him to the chair so that no one could pick him up bodily and take him away.

Afterwards, we went back down to the lobby and found a contingent of SFPAns. I already knew Stven Carlberg, JoAnn Montalbano, and Ward Batty, and the fourth member present was introduced to me as Jim Cornona Cobb. I don't know why the others all laughed at that, unless it was the surprising juxtaposition of the English Anglo-Saxon first and last names with the obviously Hispanic middle name. After that came the one and only bit of programming that I attended at the Worldcon (except the costume show). Guy Lillian was hosting a panel on "The History of Fat in Science Fiction Fandom" and it gave us a great opportunity to catch up on the sleep we'd lost the night before.

It got to be dinner time, and someone suggested the Vietnamese restaurant in the hotel. Unfortunately, they only had mats that seated two and there was 41 of us. But with a little arm twisting and a few broken bones, JoAnn managed to get us accommodations. After dinner, "Gary" and I went to the dealers room. I didn't bring a lot of money with me, but I didn't want him to know that since comics fans have a free-spending reputation. I didn't really want to buy anything, but when "Gary" asked if I was looking for anything in particular, I picked the thing there was little likelihood in finding: an 18-inch tall plastic model of the Alien. I figured no one would have that, so I casually mumbled, "Yeah, if someone had an 18-inch plastic model of the Alien, I'd buy that." So the first thing "Gary" finds is guess what? A 4½-inch styrofoam model of Gigantis the Fire Monster. But the second thing was an 18-inch tall plastic model of the Alien, and he says, "Hah ha, now you have to buy it," which really put me on the spot since the dealer wanted only $3,000 for it. Now, I really wanted that Alien, but not $3,000 worth since I only had $40 and a Marta token, so I hemmed and hawed around, and said, "I have to go to the bathroom," and managed to get out of it for now.

By that time, it was getting late and since we had no desire to walk through dis-year neighbahood at dis-year time of night, we called a taxi that took us the six blocks to Rick's place by way of Marietta


"Gary" and I rose bright and early the next day and ate some Quacker cereal. Rick would have offered us some Pac-Man cereal, but it had already eaten itself. Then we set off to the Hilton (or was it the Marquis?). There we met a few people we knew, like Ned Brooks, Cliff Biggers, and Ned Brooks. Rick wanted to tour the dealers room so I loaned illo by Alan Hutchinson him my badge, since I didn't need no steenking badge, and "Gary" and I went to lunch in a nearby McDonalds. Actually, "nearby" is a relative term but since I had no relatives in Atlanta, we forgot about it. The McDonalds was only two blocks from the hotel, but it took us four hours to find it, which is why we started early. "Gary" insisted on plain hamburgers, so by the time he was served, I was finished eating. When he got his order, however, he opened the burger to find that they had indeed put McDonalds Stuff on it, so he had to go back up to the counter and get a new batch, which took another half hour. While I was waiting for him, a drunk staggered over to the table and says, "Would you like to buy a fine hand-made leather belt for $7?" So I bit him.

Back at the dealers room, "Gary" and I noticed a girl pushing a baby carriage. That in itself would not have struck us as unusual, but this girl had... uh... she had... her... that is... oh, forget it. I tried to take my mind off it by going back over to the dealer with the Alien model, but he refused to lower his price. So I spent the next couple of hours collecting business cards from all the tables.

illo by Alan Hutchinson There was a sign in the Hilton (or was it the Marquis?) lobby announcing a SFPA party in the Chattacon suite, so Gary, Rick, and I went over to see what mischief we could get into. There appeared to be a good time going on... some drinking, practical jokes, cat juggling, and a surprise that almost backfired on me. I was shocked to see that The Mysterious Waitlister (the real Gary Brown) was there, dressed up in a mask so that his true identity could not be discovered. Fortunately, TMW likes a hoax as much as the next waitlister, so he didn't blow the cover of the fake "Gary Brown". Other people at the SFPA party were Cliff and Susan Biggers, Tom Campbell, Stven, JoAnn, Guy Lillian, Hank Davis, Gary Tesser, George Wells, illo by Alan Hutchinson Madonna, Prince Andrew and Fergie, Shelly Long, Ruth Judkowitz, and Dick Smothers. It was during a fast game of Trivial Pursuit, in which I had a run of 241 correct answers in succession, that JoAnn uttered her soon-to-be-famous line, "You're like a turtle -- you never forget!" Everyone laughed, and Guy jumped to correct her: "No, no... 'If you put an elephant on its back, it can't turn over by itself.'" JoAnn replied, "Oh, yeah... I keep getting those mixed up." It was at this party that "Gary" tried his first "hit" of nitric acid. Couldn't see it myself, as the results seemed to be so obvious. Oh, well.

Later, John Guidry showed up with Faruk von Turk and Annie Hebert-von Turk. The mystic Son of the Beach told the amazing tale of how his mother once tried to assassinate him by pouring Clorox in the toilet and not telling him. As he stood there, uh, relieving himself, great clouds of chlorine gas began to rise from the potty as the water itself began to churn and boil. Empirical proof of the natural reaction of the meeting of base and acid, resulting in the formation of assault.

After dinner, we decided to take in the Masquerade. This has always been a lot of fun for Tom Campbell and me... it's been a tradition for us to sit and make fun of the contestants for many many many years, since 1982. After that many years, it gets hard to remernber the contestants, though, so we have to attend a new masquerade every so often. This one was just in time. They had a guy dressed as Christopher Lee dressed as Dracula who told some really awful vampire jokes, but who otherwise was just terrible. We had a lot of laughs at this guy's expense (and wait 'til he sees the bill we ran up). I didn't hnow any of the contestants personally, but we were all surprised to hear the announcement that SFPA's own Lon Atkins had choreographed a "Chess" presentation. What surprised us is that no one in the Chess presentation moved a muscle the whole time. Anyway, our favorite entry came out next: a little black kid with hair like Don King, dressed in ancient Japanese martial arts clothing, jumping and kicking and screaming out kung fu warrior's epithets -- "Oh-TAY! Oh-TAY!!!" The announcer concluded the bit with the endorsement, "His valiant courage and prodigious fighting skills will assure Samurai Buckwheat forever a place among the whiteys." We were all impressed. In fact, "Gary Brown" was so impressed that sometime during the proceedings, he managed to slip out of the room unnoticed. Which led to... The Quest! We had a job and we knew what it was, but we didn't let that stop us...

Tom Campbell, Hank Davis, Gary Tesser and I set out on our journey, traveling from room party to room party in the Marquis (or was it the Hilton?) to find the elusive "Gary Brown". We went from the Holland in `90 party to the Minneapolis in`73 party to the Two Eggs FL in`99 party. We would have gone to the Bermuda Triangle party but it had disappeared. When last seen on radar, it was in the vicinity of the 12th floor of the Hilton (or was it the Marquis?) and then it vanished. So we spent the next few hours lounging around the 10th floor of the M (or was it the H?) gawking, ogling, and rubbernecking at the many young nubile girls in scanty clothing. I enquired as to the exchange rate and was informed at the desk that it was 2 gawks per ogle and 6 ogles to the rubberneck. This surprised me -- the gawk must have been devalued since my last convention. Tom said, "What is it that makes such young and gorgeous girls show so much of their naked flesh to so many strangers?" I added, "And can we bottle it?"

Next on the agenda was the annual paper helicopter drop, which Tom and I started this year. Tom said, "Hey, have you ever made paper helicopters?" to which I answered, "Huh?" He demonstrated the technique he learned in the Orient (it was either that or the Power to Cloud Men's Minds, so Tom picked making paper helicopters) and we went up to the 41st floor of the Marquis (or was it the Hilton?). There are 47 floors in the hotel, but the top six are occupied by the Fantastic Four, so the 41st was as high as we could go. The paper helicopters turned out to be the hit of the evening, and all sorts of research was conducted. Longest descent time was 1 minute 25 seconds by a paper helicopter. Longest overall descent time was 2 minutes 15 seconds by a pair of overalls strip of paper 4-inches long by ½-inch wide. But that's pretty much like comparing apples and oranges, since the helicopters made virtually vertical descents and the strip of paper zigzagged crazily. The apples and oranges dropped straight down in 6 seconds.

After we were thrown out of the hotel, Hank, Gary, Tom and I strolled around downtown Atlanta, still searching for the elusive "Gary Brown", still with no success. Maybe if we had been calling out "Gar-r-ry" instead of "Chlo-o-ee!" he might have answered. Seeing as how it was nighttime, we figured it would be easy to find him since his evil brains glow in the dark. But there wasn't a glow in sight, so we went to a nearby Burger Fink so Tom could perform the entire Monty Python cheese shop routine when he ordered his Whopper. By the time he finished, it was 4:30 AM so we gave up and went home.


The next morning, "Gary" explained that he had left the masquerade for a few minutes to go to the bathroom and was kidnapped by Arab terrorists, who finally let him go when he started to talk about footbal1.

illo by Alan Hutchinson Rick, "Gary" and I decided it was time to hit the dealers room again, so we went back to the hotel and browsed around. I again tried to talk the guy with the Alien model into lowering his price, but he was stubborn and refused. Later, as I was passing a comic dealer's table, I heard the dealer say to another guy, "It's a Marvel, so I have to sell it." I was amazed and amused. I know, thanks to Ward Batty and Charlie Williams's "Trufan Adventures" strip that Marvel Zombies existed; these are fans who buy only Marvel comics and all Marvel comics, even stuff they hate, simply because they are Marvels. This was the first evidence I had ever seen that there are also Marvel Zombie Dealers. Fortunately, someone called the Anti-Lunatic Squad and he was taken away.

Rick had to work, so he left shortly after which left "Gary" and me to wander around until we chanced upon Ruth Judkowitz and JoAnn Montalbano. They were rolling drunks in the lobby, but since they had tired of that, we all went to breakfast; besides, the drunks had all rolled out the door and into the street where they were run over by passirg horse carriages. It was at this breakfast that Ruth did her impression of Mitch Mil1er. It was really great, and I especially liked the way she got all the waiters and waitresses to sing along with "Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends". I'm surprised that they knew the words.

Back at the Hilton (or was it the Marquis?) , "Gary" and I found Stven Carlberg, so we decided to take in the art show. We didn't get to see all of it because it was closing, but I did manage to pick up quite a few business cards. (Personally, if you've seen one guy named Art, you've seen 'em all.)

Back in the lobby, JoAnn and the gang were practicing their elevator-stuffing because they knew Thanksgiving was coming up and it's very important to have good elevator stuffing with giblets and gravy. One of the elevators, we were told, had slipped 11 floors the night before. That in itself was not too scary, except that it was on the 10th floor at the time. We were also told that JoAnn had had a run-in with the head chef, who wanted elevator potatoes instead of elevator stuffing. If you ask me, given a choice between potatoes and stuffing, I'll take rice every time.

illo by Alan Hutchinson Anyway, in an effort to take her mind off such confrontations, I took JoAnn up to the 41st floor for a couple of quick paper helicopters. I was certain that she couldn't get hooked on only one or two, but I was wrong. Within 10 minutes, JoAnn had dropped 70-80 paper helicopters on the lobby. Some fans who were Vietnam veterans even ducked for cover when she yelled, "Incoming!" Some were not quick enough, and paper helicopters bored into their heads before they could get away. JoAnn had just released another volley of aircraft when we were accosted by a schoolmarm in a long gingham dress who shook her finger at us and said, "Is this your first science fiction con?" I thought the lack of moose antlers, chain mail, ray guns, and stainless steel bras would have been a dead giveaway.

By then it was getting late, so we all retired to our respective domiciles.


Monday morning we were feeling a lot more refreshed than we had the previous few days... we had gotten three hours sleep that night. "Gary" and I took off for the hotel at about 9 AM and skipped breakfast. Instead, we ate lunch. Anyway, we met Tom Stern (former fellow CAPA-Alpha member) and had some pizza in the Peachtree Mall. "Gary" was still lugging around his 45-pound package of SFPAzines.At least, he thought it was his SFPAzines; as part of the hoax, I had wrapped up 45 pounds of newspaper, tied it with string, and put Stven's address on it. "Gary" was getting tired of this pulp paper albatross (a Guy Lillian metaphor if ever I've heard one) and kept trying to foist it off on Stven, but Stven was too smart for him and declined.

After breakfast/lunch, "Gary", Mr. Stern and I took another tour of the dealers room. Tom wasn't interested in purchasing anything; he was there for the girls. I never saw anyone do a better job of getting semi-clad women to pose for pictures, at least not in public and for free. At one point, Tom almost broke his neck climbing over some tables when we told him there was a girl in the next aisle with her nipples out.

It was at this time that I finally decided that I must have that 18-inch high plastic model of the A1ien, by hook or by crook; money was no object and art was king. So I went up to the dealer and said, "I'll give you one trillion dollars and six kitchen sinks for the Alien!" He leaped to his feet, shook my hand, and said, "Sold! To the little duck with many sinks and the big bankroll!" So, while "Gary" was forced to carry around 45 pounds of newspaper, I had to carry around an 18-inch high plastic model of the Alien and an empty wallet. But at least I got rid of those sinks.

We left the dealers room at that time and wandered around the lobby looking for SFPA members, and found the weirdo contingent of Davis, Wells, and Tesser. We knew it was them because their evil brains glowed in the dark. Tesser was entertaining the group with his stories of Mr. Clear and the Sharpened Penis Indian Tribe, which I questioned because where would the Indians get a sidewalk to sharpen those penises on, anyway? Later on, a big group of us that included Stven, "Gary", JoAnn, Tom and Sioux Campbell, and Richard Davidson all went out to dinner at an Italian place called Ivan's. I don't recall what everyone ordered, but I think "Gary" had the eggplant ziti. The idle banter came fast and furious throughout the dinner. Some of the more memorable lines I have forgotten so I'll just have to make some up. I think Tom was discussing a newspaper story he'd read about some Iranians who had entered a wheelchair race and won it; when they found out they won, they jumped out of the chairs and danced with joy, which prompted Tom to say, "Those cheating ragheads make me puke!" Or maybe he didn't.

There was a heated argument raging at one point between myself and Stven as to the exact location of the remains of the Ultrasaurus, the largest dinosaur ever to walk the earth. Stven maintained that the bones had been found in Wyoming, while I was just as certain they had heen found in a canole in East Astoria, Long Island. later, JoAnn ordered a canole and gave half to Stven. You can imagine Stven's surprise and embarrassment when he went to eat his portion and bit down into... yep, you guessed it: an 18-inch tall plastic model of the Alien. How it got into his pajamas, I'll never know.

illo by Alan Hutchinson JoAnn was in fine form at this get-together. Her lips had to be hosed down several times to prevent overheating. (Just kidding!). Actually, Stven suggested that everyone have a section in their con reports titled "Jokes We Would Have Told If JoAnn Had Stopped Talking", so here's mine: If Buckwheat had joined the Black Muslims, what would his name be? Give up? 'Kareem Awheat'. Get it? Ha! I love that one!

It was at that point that JoAnn asked if anyone else noticed how much canoles taste like 18-inch tall plastic models of the Alien at the back of the mouth. We all had to admit we didn't, so she suggested a taste test. We went outside and grabbed the first transient that we could find, and since he hadn't had a bite in three days we gave him a dollar. And also made him taste the canole and the 18-inch tall plastic model of the Alien. He rolled them over on his tongue a few times, sipped some wine in between, and proudly proclaimed that the canole tasted like Ultrasaurus and the 18-inch tall plastic model of the Alien tasted like an Indian with a sharpened penis. That was good enough for us, so we doused him with lighter fluid and set him on fire. We knew we couldn't be convicted because we all watch too much television. And with that, we headed back to the Marquis (or was it the Waldorf?).

Back at Stven and JoAnn's room, there were some more games, more cat-jugg1ing, more smurfing, more listening to Frank Sinatra records, and we each took turns sharpening copies of "Gary's" SFPAzine so that they came to a point like popsicle sticks. "Gary" got real excited when he saw that, so we figured it best to get him home right away. As we zipped along Peachtree Street in Rick's car, "Gary" and I asked if he knew of a place where we could crash that night. Rick replied, "That intersection looks good," and ran the red light. Fortunately, the drivers in Atlanta had gotten used to Rick's driving and managed to evade us.

After a few hours sleep, "Gary" and I left for home, where we arrived 8½ hours later. It was a fun con 

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It's been two years, now, since Confederation. As of this writing, STVEN CARLBERG is still SFPA official editor, but GARY TESSER has pulled another of his disappearing acts and was dropped from membership (he recently rejoined the waitlist, where he promises us RSN a True History of "Chain Up"). THE MYSTERIOUS WAITLISTER has finally been invited to SFPA membership, but RUTH JUDKOWITZ and (the real) GARY BROWN are still climbing their way up the waitlist.

Meanwhile, back in Atlanta, we hear that the Marquis (or was it the Hilton?) has now finally returned to normal...

All illustrations by Alan Hutchinson
paper helicopter

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