by Cheryl Morgan
The thing that
impresses me most about Kevin Standlee as a con-runner is that when some crusty
long-time fan starts complaining about "fans of today", Standlee is always the
first to put his hand up and say, "but I was that fan". Despite having risen to
the dizzy heights of Worldcon chair, he has never lost sight of the excitement
and passion that brought him into fandom in the first place. And he is always
eager to help others follow in his footsteps.
Like many high
school kids, Kevin's introduction to fandom came through comics. In particular
he was a huge fan of Richard and Wendy Pini's Elfquest series. The owner
of his local comic store, Edward Luena, persuaded Kevin to go and meet his
heroes at a special party to be held to celebrate the 20th and final
issue of the original series. So Kevin took the Greyhound bus from his home near
Marysville, California, to Anaheim. The party was at one of these strange
science fiction convention things. It was L.A.con II, the biggest Worldcon there
has ever been. Kevin was overwhelmed, and instantly addicted.
Kevin continued to
hang around The Game Warden, Luena's comic store, which led to three major
developments in his life. Firstly he got a job, eventually rising to become
assistant manager of the store. Luena was also a comic artist and, impressed
with young Kevin's business acumen, appointed him his agent and business
manager. All of this led to Kevin attending more conventions and getting
involved with dealer tables and art shows.
importantly, however, Kevin expanded his interest in comics and, together with a
bunch of school friends, including Rick Hallock, he founded the official fan
club for Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series. Promoting the club was
yet another reason to attend conventions. In 1987 Kevin finally met Robert
Asprin at SpoKon in Spokane. Kevin and Rick entered the masquerade dressed as
characters from the Myth books. The pair also attended Noreascon 3 in 1989.
Kevin has not missed a Worldcon since.
and Rick had moved on to California State University at Chico where they helped
found a science fiction club. Hallock had a passion for movies and recruited the
club to help him make two amateur Doctor Who films, "The Zombie Legions"
and "Those Darn Daleks". Kevin directed both films and played the Doctor in one
of them. A tremendous amount of work (and money) went into these projects,
including having Hallock's father and his WWII preservationist buddies provide
military vehicles for one film. Erlinda Siller, now Hallock's wife, deserves a
medal for wearing a heavy latex rubber alien suit in a movie with chase scenes
shot outdoors in the California summer. The movies were shown at many
conventions, culminating with the 1987 NASFiC in Phoenix.
Kevin had also
become involved in convention running in Northern California. Between 1986 and
1990 he attended and worked on the Eclecticon series of conventions in
Sacramento. In 1988 he got his first taste of convention bidding with the
Sacramento in '91 Westercon bid. That bid was eventually lost to Vancouver at an
election in Anaheim. However, Kevin had got the bug for bidding and volunteered
to join the San Francisco in 1993 Worldcon bid, of which he became bid
Working on the San
Francisco bid expanded Kevin's travel horizons as he was one of the six members
of the bid committee to travel to The Hague for the site selection vote. It was
here that Kevin's interest in transit systems and lack of interest in beer made
him very useful to his fellow fans. The travelling Americans were keen to try to
famous Dutch beer, but they worried about their ability to get back to the con
hotel after a pub-crawl. A fan who didn't drink and had researched the local
light rail system before the trip was just what they needed, and Kevin was
appointed Designated Walker. He also worked as a gopher on the convention, his
introduction to running Worldcons.
By this time Kevin
was regularly attending conventions in the Bay Area. In a small but select
meeting in a bar after the 1990 Silicon he helped found the Bay Area Science
Fiction Association (BASFA). Between 1991 and 1993 he ran convention newsletters
for both Silicon and BayCon.
However, Kevin was
still living in Chico. Having gone on to be secretary of the ConFrancisco
convention committee, he often had to drive the 150 miles down to the Bay Area
for a committee meeting. Kevin threw himself into Worldcon running with
enthusiasm. As secretary he edited and produced the committee APA, The Never
Ending Meeting (this being in the days before email). He was also WSFS
Division Manager, Business Meeting Parliamentarian and held six other jobs on
the committee. His badge was festooned with ribbons and caused much amusement at
the con. At the Closing Ceremonies the rest of the committee presented Kevin
with a giant cardboard badge that was almost bigger than him. That badge is now
part of the travelling Worldcon History exhibit.
ConFrancisco had a number of major problems, Kevin was by no means put off
running Worldcons. At the post-convention committee meeting he turned up wearing
a San Francisco in 2002 t-shirt, which he had made by doctoring one of the bid
shirts. "Next time we'll get it right," he said. The rest of the committee threw
things at him.
in WSFS Business Meetings started early. He had studied parliamentary procedure
at school and was immediately drawn to the Business Meeting at L.A.Con II. Keen
to be involved, he got his name on the minutes by moving the motion to adjourn
at the first day's meeting. At his first Westercon he persuaded the Business
Meeting to adopt Roberts Rules of Order as its standard debating rules,
despite strong opposition from senior L.A. fan, Bruce Pelz. For a number of
years, when Pelz presided over a Westercon Business Meeting, he would glare at
Kevin when he went on too long and say, "Rule 2" which was short for "Shut up,
Given the choice
of any job at a Worldcon, Kevin would ask to chair the WSFS Business Meeting. He
has now held the position three times, in 1995, 2002 and 2003, and is recognised
as one of the best. He has also joined the National Association of
Parliamentarians so that he can learn to run such meetings more effectively. To
show his respect for WSFS and the importance of the Business Meeting, he wears a
business suit while chairing meetings, matching it with colorful flag ties that
honor the various countries where Worldcon is held.
It would be a
mistake, however, to think of Kevin simply as a parliamentary rules fanatic.
First of all he has a strong belief in openness and democracy, and does whatever
he can to help newcomers participate in the process. In addition, his interests
in fandom continue to stretch widely. A love of history has led him to develop a
passion for the works of Harry Turtledove. And he and he wife, Lisa Hayes, both
have a strong interest in anime. Lisa can often be seen gracing conventions in a
striking Sailor Jupiter outfit and other anime-related costumes.
Also, while Kevin
is a great believer in the importance of due process that doesn't mean that he
thinks such things should be humorless. He has run site selection at both
Worldcon and Westercon, and is happy to accommodate hoax bids. Indeed, he has
been involved in some himself. Having been defeated by a campus-based bid in the
1991 Westercon election, Kevin launched a bid for his alma mater, Chico State,
for the 2001 Westercon. The convention was to be called VelveetaCon, for reasons
that are probably best not divulged. When an official Portland bid for 2001 was
started, Kevin used his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Westercon constitution
and trains to explain how the con could be in both locations. With July 4th
being midweek that year, it was legal for the convention to be on either
weekend, and Kevin proposed that both be used, with fans travelling by train
from one site to the other during the week.
Portland's OryCon convention recruited Kevin to do their daily newsletter. At
the one pre-convention meeting he managed to attend, the head of Opening
Ceremonies mentioned that they needed more committee people to be part of the
traditional OryCon function. Kevin said, "I'm game."
"But you haven't
even heard what we're doing," protested the department head.
"That's okay; I
trust you," said Kevin, whereupon the rest of the committee broke up in helpless
laughter. And that is how Kevin found himself as part of OryCon 16 Opening
Ceremonies, Plan Nine from Jantzen Beach, in a blonde wig, short skirt,
fluffy sweater, and high heels as part of the "Ed Wood Memorial All-Transvestite
Kazoo Band." Never one for half-measures, Kevin did the best he could with the
outfit (unlike the other members of the band, including David Levine, none of
whom could be persuaded to shave their beards), and he ended up with a Hall
Costume Best of Show for his "Ed Wood Wannabe."
Oh, and he managed
to produce four issues of the convention newsletter, too.
That same year
Kevin moved to the Bay Area and was soon appointed President of BASFA, a job he
held for two years. BASFA is a fun-loving organization and, in view of Kevin's
interests, the members quickly developed the concept of Recreational
Parliamentary Practice, whereby they would contrive new and amusing procedural
puzzles to test Kevin's mettle. Having survived the worst that mischievous BASFA
members can throw at him, Kevin finds chairing the WSFS Business Meeting a
relatively straightforward job.
That same year
Kevin worked as WSFS Division Head and Deputy Chair of ConAdian, the Winnipeg
Worldcon. It was here that he acquired fan artist credentials as the co-designer
of ConAdian's Hugo base. The job also earned him the deep suspicion of Canadian
immigration officials when he flew to a ConAdian pre-con planning meeting in
early 1994. They could not believe that anyone from the Bay Area would come to
Winnipeg in the middle of winter to see friends for the weekend. They took a lot
of convincing that he was not a highly paid software consultant on a lucrative
In 1996 at L.A.Con
III the San Francisco in 2002 Worldcon Bid was launched. Kevin, who was already
a director of San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc., the parent
corporation of ConFrancisco, was chosen to lead the bid. This led to three years
of hard work, travelling the world to promote the bid. In 1999 Kevin attended an
Eastercon in Liverpool, England and was one of the select group of fans who
participated in the exhausting 2-week convention experience formed by the
Anaheim NASFiC and Melbourne, Australia Worldcon.
For much of the
three years Kevin's bid had endured strong opposition from Seattle. Kevin and
his fellow bid chair, Pat Porter, were determined that this competition should
be conducted in a friendly manner. Their policy was a great success; perhaps the
most obvious example being the afternoon at Bucconeer in Baltimore when fans
from the two bids were seen staffing each other's bid tables. Sadly Hotel
Trouble struck. Seattle had to pull out, and the San Francisco bid ended up
moving to San José.
Despite a late and
highly amusing challenge from Roswell, New Mexico, the San José bid duly won the
site selection vote in Melbourne. By this time, however, Kevin was physically
and emotionally exhausted, not to mention deep in debt from travelling to too
many conventions. He passed the leadership of the convention to Tom Whitmore and
took a number of minor jobs on the convention committee. However, in 2002, as a
result of concerns about the progress of the convention and a certain amount of
internal strife on the committee, Kevin was asked to join Tom as co-chair.
ConJosé had its problems. However, most of them were minor. One of Kevin's
leadership mantras was that if you make sure that you don't make any big and
obvious mistakes then most people will be happy. And so, it appears, they were.
Due credit for its success should, of course, also be given to Tom Whitmore, the
vice chairs, Cindy Scott and Craige Howlett, and the many fans who worked so
hard on the convention.
Kevin, of course,
is not yet satisfied. "It could have been so much better," he keeps telling me.
Perhaps it could. One of Kevin's pet projects right now is to find a way to make
Worldcons more accessible to new members. At its current size, Worldcon is very
expensive to run. The huge overhead of paying for a convention center is spread
between too few fans. If we attracted more people, Kevin believes, we could make
Worldcon cheaper. And attracting more people inevitably means outreach to
younger fans: kids who might be comics fans, media fans or anime fans. In other
words, people very much like the young Kevin Standlee who was so over-awed by
L.A.con II. It will be fascinating to see where this project takes Kevin, and