Rare 1980s Sci-Fi Con Footage

Segments seen in this video clip of Atlanta's DixieTrek 1986 convention!

Note: this resided in my VHS collection for 33 years before I finally transferred it into a digital format in December of 2019. I am tremendously happy to share it with the world today and am hoping that people will share the video to wax nostalgic about Atlanta’s con 1980s con scene.

As far as I can tell this is the only “full” version of GPTV’s DixieTrek footage on YouTube. Two other YouTubers have uploaded segments from this broadcast, with much better video and audio quality. Sadly, we did not have cable television so my footage was captured using an over-the-air antenna.

So, what was DixieTrek?

Held in Atlanta in the 1980s and early 1990s, DixieTrek (typically spelled as ‘Dixie Trek’ back then) specialized in the fandom of Star Trek and Doctor Who, and was operated thanks to The Atlanta Star Trek Society.

As with any other con it featured star-studded panel discussions, a fantastic dealer’s room full of toys and collectibles for sale, and had an entertaining costume contest (the term “cosplay” was more than 20 years away).

Program for DixieTrek 1986, most of the big names here appear in this video!

Atlanta’s PBS station GPTV Channel 8 was especially responsive to Doctor Who and British comedy fans, and it could be argued that the cooperation between the station and fan groups prepared Atlanta for its status as “the epicenter of nerd culture” in the United States. It arguably helped pave the way for the immensely popular sci-fi conventions now held in Atlanta, like Dragon*Con (dragoncon.org) and Cardboard*Con (cardboardcon.com).

All of the live on-site footage you see in this broadcast was transmitted during the Saturday night of the 1986 convention and coincided with the regular Saturday night broadcast of Doctor Who (in this case a black and white print of the 3rd Doctor, Jon Pertwee, starring in “Doctor Who and the Silurians”).

I was actually in attendance at the con the night of this broadcast and recall sitting in the audience with a girl (whose name I have long since forgotten), laughing at Peter Davison’s performance of his song Office McKirk.

Drewprops at DixieTrek in 1986
It’s as if all the really nerdy dudes like me received instructions on what to wear! LOL

This video is more than an hour long so I have provided approximate times for each guest’s first appearance on the live broadcast, so you can scrub to any particular point.

Kudos to hosts George Wern and Dana Middleton for bringing the fun of DixieTrek into viewers’ homes and for supporting our fandom for years at GPTV!!

10 seconds minutes

  • Peter Davison (the 5th actor to portray Doctor Who)

2:15 minutes

  • Bill Smith (Chairman of The Atlanta Star Trek Society)

9:45 minutes

  • Jon Nathan Turner (producer/showrunner Doctor Who mid-80s)

13:45 minutes

  • Michael Forest (actor original Star Trek episode “Who Mourns for Adonis?”)

23:15 minutes

  • George Takei (Lieutenant Sulu from original Star Trek cast)

36:00 minutes

  • Owen Ogletree (Founder and President of The Atlanta Star Trek Society)

39:45 minutes

  • winners of the costume contest (I still remember how much I enjoyed the group who did the “Ronco” skit with the Genesis device from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, which was still fresh and new)

43:30 minutes

  • Bill Mumy (actor from the original Lost in Space)

48:00 minutes

  • Maurice Maglan (sp?) – (representative from the Challenger 7 Fund, as the space shuttle launch explosion was still fresh)

50:25 minutes

  • Alex Lucyshyn (Chancellor of the Terminus Tardis, a Doctor Who fan club I actually joined at one point)

51:00 minutes

  • Peter Davison gives a live performance of a song he wrote as a kid called “Officer McKirk”.

1 hour 6 minutes

  • Billy Smith and Owen Ogletree join George Wern and Dana Middleton for a wrap-up of the night’s festivities

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