Trekologist Raules Davies: ‘For a long time it was the quickest way to end a date. Hi, I’m a Star Trek fan’
Neela Debnath spoke to television presenter and Trekologist Raules Davies at the recent Destination Star Trek, a convention celebrating all things Trekkie.
It’s day two of the Star Trek convention in London and I am here to interview self-styled Trekologist and television presenter Raules Davies. I’ve already missed the Klingon wedding from the day before and the talk given by all five of the Captains of the show – a European first I am told.
William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk in The Original Series), Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard in The Next Generation), Avery Brooks (Captain Benjamin Sisko in Deep Space Nine), Kate Mulgrew (Captain Kathryn Janeway in Voyager) and Scott Bakula (Captain Jonathan Archer in Enterprise) were all together on stage to open the convention.
However, the atmosphere is still buzzing as Davies and I make our way through the crowds of Trekkies to the press room which is essentially a Perspex box set up at one side of the hall. Along with the way, Davies is stopped by a fan who asks if they can get a picture with the Trekologist, who has suddenly found himself at the centre of a burgeoning fanbase. From what he tells me, this is not the first time this has happened.
When we finally get to the press room Davies explains how he became a Trekologist. He was at another convention a couple of year ago, dressed up in his Star Trek costume, when he was approached by television channel CBS Action who wanted to interview him. The channel had sent a camera crew down to the event to interview him and others about their costumes. ‘Obviously, I said something right somewhere because they dropped me a line.’
Davies now presents a show on CBS Action before Star Trek: The Next Generation where he shares titbits of his vast knowledge of the programme. The title of ‘Trekologist’ came about after the studio wanted to give him a title. They were considering ‘super fan’ until Davies spoke to a friend who helped him come up with Trekologist. He’s never looked back since.
‘Everyone thinks that they know everything about Star Trek or so they think. But it’s not just that.’ Davies explains that his job involves researching the facts of the show and ‘clearing away all the cobwebs’ of Star Trek hearsay to inform viewers and give them little-known details about the show.
For instance, the show was the first to break a major social taboo and feature an interracial kiss on American television between William Shatner’s Captain Kirk and Nichelle Nichols’ Uhura. However, the executives were afraid that the kiss would force the show off the air. The studio executives wanted Uhura to kiss Spock instead because he was an alien and it would be more acceptable for her to kiss an alien than to kiss Kirk who was human.
So what is about Star Trek that he loves so much? ‘When I was a child it was a perfect way to shut me up for my parents. There were two sure fire ways that were going to keep me quiet, one was Adam West running through Gotham City. Yes, Batman and the other was Captain Kirk going through the galaxy. Even today my two biggest fandoms are Star Trek and Batman. There’s a lot to be said about things that affect you during your youth.’
He says that ‘you become like a sponge’ in the pursuit for knowledge about Star Trek. ‘The fact that I had no girlfriend as a teenager was so much better. I could concentrate fully on the show,’ he laughs as he says it.
‘For a long time it was the quickest way to end a date. “Hi, I’m a Star Trek fan. Goodbye.” She was out the door and down the street before you actually finished the word “fan”,’ Davies says. He is well aware of the perceptions towards but he knows that nowadays it is less of a stigma.
Davies goes on to explain how his love of the show first developed; ‘For me it started off with the ship, the Enterprise herself’. Initially, it wasn’t so much the people but seeing the ship travelling through space that intrigued him as a child. ‘Now, I’ve listened to the morality plays. I’ve watched the messages. I’ve seen the painting that they’ve put for the future.’
He cites iPads, mobile phones, video calling and injections without needles as ideas that have come directly from Star Trek. He even has a combadge with blue tooth that makes it function exactly as it does on the show. Whilst wandering around the convention I even stumbled across a props section and saw something from the 1960s that looked almost identical to a kindle. It is incredible the visionary scope and the imagination that the show had and the way in which it has inspired science. Many of the gadgets on the show have now come to exist and we are in essence living in the future.
‘It’s that feeling that we’re going to do good. Most Star Trek fans are the most generous, kind-hearted people you’ll ever meet on earth. You might see them in heated arguments over the best series or the best captain but you’ll never see them in a fist fight because it’s not in their core.’
‘They’re about cooperation, they’re about unity, they’re about stepping forward and acceptance – friendship is magic and all the rest,’ he checks himself, ‘did I just quote My Little Pony there?’ ‘Never mind,’ he adds absentmindedly.
He says that Star Trek is the only television show that painted a positive image of the future while everyone else was focusing on post-apocalyptic visions of the future. It is the positivity about the future that appeals to Davies. His favourite captain is Kirk who is ‘the epitome of the human condition, a paragon of all things that was man’ and Davies describes him as ‘a chess player’. ‘Kirk is Star Trek not just because he was the first but everything he stands for.’
I mention to Davies the following he has started to develop and he finds the experience surreal. This convention is only the second time that the five captains have been together – the first time was in Philadelphia – so this is no small matter in the Star Trek universe, which is why he is slightly bemused when fans come up to him and asking him to sign things and saying that he is one of the reasons they have come here. He is comically exasperated: ‘Kate Mulgrew…you’re here for them! “No I’m here for you, I watch you on TV every night.” I don’t see myself as a celebrity ’.
‘I feel honoured every single time it happens. I feel like I’m not worthy. I’m not going to get down and do a Bill and Ted here. It’s an honour and I’m grateful.’
As I’m interviewing Davies, every so often some fans will crowd round and peer through at us. From the people I’ve seen here today, Star Trek is an all-inclusive family that has fans of all ages and from all background, it is a heartening sight especially as one of the main tenets of the show is about acceptance. Creator Gene Rodenberry’s vision has extended further than he could ever have hoped. It is therefore unsurprising when Davies says that some of Star Trek’s biggest fans are from the gay and lesbian community because of this universal acceptance.
The show will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014 and it is incredible to think of the legacy it has created not only upon technology but socially and culturally. From the convention it seems to be going as strong as ever. Coupled with the die-hard fans is the popularity of J.J. Abrahams’ 2009 Star Trek which reimagined the franchise for a new generation. The film’s success is also a testament to its longevity.
Next year will see the release of Abrahams’ follow up Star Trek into the Darkness in which Benedict Cumberbatch is slated to play the villain. Far from being simply a geeky television show with people on it that speak funny and dress oddly, Star Trek is now cool and its warp speed ahead towards the future.
As we finish up the interview, I notice a young man walking past dressed as the Eleventh Doctor complete with tweed jacket. ‘There’s always one,’ Davies sighs.
Tagged in: Avery Brooks, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bill and Ted, Captain Benjamin Sisko, Captain James T. Kirk, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Gene Rodenberry, Kate Mulgrew, Patrick Stewart, Scott Bakula, Star Trek, The Next Generation, Voyager, William Shatner
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