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World Con 2007

Say Da To Moscow

The Commodore (aka Michael Sinclair) has been involved with science fiction fandom since the early 1970s. He's been sharing anecdotes about his fandom days, and here is his recollections of Moscow's bid for a World Con, "Say Da to Moscow."


Index to The Commodore's Ramblings
The Ramblings

  • Introduction to the Commodore
  • Kublai Kahns and More
  • Hotel Horrors: A comedy of errors and more in the life of a convention-goer
  • Say Da to Moscow: The Tale of the 1995 Moscow Bid, Masterminded by Mikhail & Christa Sinclair
  • The Commodore's Collection - Photos

  • Convention Badges
  • Convention Programs
  • The Trains
  • Nola Con Photos 1984, 1988
  • Say Da To Moscow - Moscow Bid for WorldCon
  • Miscellaneous Convention Photos
  • The Moscow bid started when Christa [Sinclair's wife] and I were at MidWestCon and noticed that the upcoming WorldCon bids seemed a tad boring. We had not participated in fannish activity much after NOLACON, and Christa said something about a WorldCon in Moscow?

    She typed out a brief comradely message (the first pink flyer) in the "Say Da to Moscow" bid. This I think would be an interesting MidWesCon, as we put out our flyers on the flyer table. As a lot of our friends were at MidWesCon we recruited them to our Central Committee.

    Christa Sinclair, Chair; Craig Miller, Party Member; the late Bruce Peltz, Hotel Liaison; Tony Ubelhor, Minister of Propaganda (and one hell of a graphics designer, I might add); Genny Dazzo, Party Member; Jon Stopa, Agent; the late Joni Stopa, Agent; Maureen Dorris, Minister of Defensive Camouflage; Jack Reed, Chronicler Emeritus; Mikhail Sinclair, Party Theoretician and General Secretary.

    Some names may sound familiar: a former World Con Chair, the perpetual Chairman of the World Con Business Meetings, well-known fans from both coasts, and the midwest.

    Christa's story of how the idea came to her!
    We were listening to NPR cover the Reykevik summit with Reagan and Gorbychev, when I turned to Mike--"They are having a GorbyCon!" More silliness ensued, but we concluded that the thaw in relations meant that you might--maybe--be able to have a Worldcon in the USSR. And that would mean Moscow, with the space museum, etc. Mike had stayed in Moscow at the Hotel Russia, and since we knew that the largest hotel in the world was the Hotel Russia in Moscow. . . 5,000 rooms under one roof? With HOW much meeting space? (You must remember we had been up to our eyebrows in this sort of thing for several years, so scoping out venues for a possible convention was almost a reflex at this point.)

    We started with a Xerox of a Kremlin tower and the legend "When you wish upon a star. . . ." We think Tony Ubelhor of Evansville came up with the "say Da to Moscow" line, with the big star. He did the rest of the Moscow flyers. I thought up the passports, did the layout and pseudo-translation, and Neil Rest of Chicago very kindly provided Cyrillic fonts for the page headings and language guide. You must remember, this was late 1980s, and it was difficult to find the fonts! I typed the rest of it up on an electric typewriter, and printed it out at Kinko's.

    Back to Michael's narrative
    Our next flyers were going to set the pace in flyer design at the time. Tony Ubelhor was a wizard with computer graphics (remember this is about 1989). I can only say that "Say Da to Moscow" had the best flyers in that cycle of World Con bids.

    Christa thought we should keep it simple, so the parties were going to be iced vodka in communion cups. She started experimenting and making pepper vodkas, sesame seed vodka, citrus vodkas, and of course we had Solichnya Vodka to start every party. Mind you when we ran out of the Stoli we would pour our cheaper brands of vodka in to the Stoli bottled back in the bedroom of the suite. A rather well-known writer swallowed a cup of our iced vodka and said there was nothing like Stoli. I refrained from telling him that the vodka was travelling under false colors and was Gordon.

    Another thing Christa added was homemade black bread with butter and salt - a traditional Russian greeting, we had been told.

    Then we came up with the idea of the passports and I think it was Neil Rest and his computer wizard keyboard that allowed us to print in Cyrillic lettering. We were charging $5.00 for the passports and supporting memberships. If you ask people for $5 at a con and are offering hospitality, they will fork over the money.

    The passports were issued: Jack Reed (our ghost of honour) was #1, Christa was #2 and I was #6. Christa and I were big fans of The Prisoner. Anne Chancellor wanted to be #6, but Christa said that number is already taken. Anne wanted to know by whom? Christa said by our General Secretary and Party Theoretician.

    After a couple of conventions, we bought an antique Samovar, and we would always put a bunch of red carnations in the top. We had envelopes printed up from the US post office, with a three-dimensional stamp of a space station. We also printed up business cards wit the Red Star Say Da To Moscow logo. I even had a few watches run off with the Red Star, and "Say Da..."

    Meanwhile, Christa also experimented with borscht and we served that up.

    Lynne Aronson would sit behind the desk, hair in a bun, issuing passports, looking everyone in the eye and saying, "Do you wish to obtain papers, comrade?" with a pretty good accent, I might add. She looked every bit a Soviet bureaucrat.

    We were going to conventions in Chicago, Washington and Louisville. Plus we acquired agents on the coasts to issue passports and throw parties.

    Christa had to become the "Bettski Rosski," because the local flag store grew suspicious when she called and asked the price of a Soviet flag. The lady said, "We don't have any," in an angry voice, and then said "Let me have your name and telephone number." Christa hung up the phone and laughed. Shades of J. Edgar Hoover, still alive and well in Louisville in 1989.

    She bought some red and gold satin and proceeded to sew the flag. She also sewed up some red neckerchiefs for the party crew to wear. David Chaulker became our Young Pioneer, and wore a white shirt with red neckerchief, and would greet people at the door, with "Welcome, Comrades." I think he was seven years old at time.

    Small ribbon, 3" X 6"
    We were having a great time, and at a Washington, D.C. convention we had some people from CIA or NSA, who just put down an alias for their passports.

    Which brings me to another story about the bid. Scott and Jane Dennis were going to cross into Canada for the World Con being held that year, and t hey forked over their regular passports to the Canadian officials. Scott kept his Moscow Passport -- with all our stamps on the various pages -- in his regular passport and had forgetten about it until the customs people held it up and said, "What is this?" He apparently explained to their satisfaction and they allowed them to proceed.

    All in all it was a lot of fun. Alas, we never could get the Hotel Russia to give us a letter of intent. It would have made for an interesting vote, because the World Con where the voting would take place at was in Scotland.

    At any rate, Christa and I had other things to take care of as she was with child. We decided to pull the plug on the bid and exited the party scene, as Alexander [their son] came along in 1990.

    Report respectfully submitted by Colonel Mikhail Sinclair, aka The Commodore

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