SunCon (35th Worldcon)

(Don - 7th)[Don - 3rd Worldcon]

1977: September 2-5

Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach, FL

GOH: Jack Williamson
Fan GOH: Robert A. Madle
Toastmaster: Robert Silverberg

Attendance: 2050

It was a hell of a drive. And the worst part of it is, you reach the Florida border and then you realize that your trip is only half over.

Nonetheless, Don adored the SunCon. He was young and in love; his whole life was changing as he took larger and larger steps into adulthood. The long drive to Miami Beach (two days, with a stopover at a hotel on the way) gave him a necessary distance from his day-to-day life.

The SunCon is the smallest Worldcon Don has ever been to: the official records put its attendance at just over 2000. Odd, when you consider that sf was on the brink of a major explosion, caused by Star Wars and its successors....

The programming at the SunCon was "officially" two-track, with both "Special" and "General" programming. The Hugo Banquet was Toastmastered by Robert Silverberg, and he filled it with Star Wars jokes. When Elaine Wojciewoski won the Big Heart Award, Silverberg mangled the pronunciation of her name to "Woojski" and then said, "We decided to Let The Woojski Win."

At this Worldcon Don did one of the most stupid things he's ever tried -- he donated blood and then, half an hour later, went swimming. He was happily swimming along, when suddenly he lost all energy and couldn't even lift his arms. Fortunately he was near enough to shore that the waves carried him in; he can still remember sitting there at the waterline, letting waves crash over him while he struggled just to breathe. A few minutes of relaxation brought his strength back, and he returned to the hotel for a nap.

This was the year of Anita Bryant, and Miami Beach is in Dade County. An organization calling itself "the Lavender Mafia" (I believe Ctein was at its head) had a gay fans party and gave out pink buttons saying "Happy Gays Are Here Again." Don wore his proudly, and had a number of supportive comments from various hotel employees.

Don met another gay fan at the SunCon. They watched Flesh Gordon together and Don remembers wanting to ask him back to his room but not knowing how to do it. Apparently the other guy was just as naive, because they never did manage the seduction that Don thinks they both wanted. Ah, well, c'est la vie. C'est la guerre. C'est la grille-pan.

Don was in room 586 of The Fontainebleau, which was a "luxury" hotel and was, apparently, beyond the experience of most fans there. The daily newsletter, at least, found it necessary to caution fans not to be upset if they entered their rooms and found that the maid had turned down the bed.

Filthy Pierre conducted singalongs at ten most evenings, and Don remembers joining one or two of those.

On the "In Memoriam" page were Edmond Hamilton, Fritz Lang, John Rackham and Werner von Braun.

The Sunbeam has a few interesting articles. One brings the distressing news that the Fontainebleau has no ice machines available to guests, and no Coke machines either. How did we survive? Monday's Sunbeam also notes that "Wendy Pini sold a painting for $980 yesterday, a new Worldcon record."

There was a Southern Baptist convention booked into the hotel after Worldcon -- they started arriving on Monday, as Don recalls, and they apparently found the con a bit hard to take.

On the drive home, the road was deserted; a Florida trooper caught Don doing 85 and so Don received his first speeding ticket.


Janice Gelb's Suncon Report