There were two kinds of cheerleaders lining the red carpet for the premiere of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" last night: those clutching compact, black-and-silver life-support modules attached at the waist to their grey Federation uniforms, and those clutching shopping bags from the Safeway next door.
The former, the serious fans, like to be called Trekkers, and the Trekkers like to call the latter Trekkies -- groupies, onlookers, star (as in Hollywood) rather than star (as in Milky Way) watchers. Last night, behind the ropes outside of the K-B MacArthur and beneath a drizzle so brightly lit it looked like snow, the Trekkies outnumbered the Trekkers 10 to 1.
The rain was blamed for the dearth of serious fans -- and of fans in general. Some had predicted a throng of 2,000 to 3,000, but last night's crowd of more like 200 t 300 barely out-represented the hordes of press and TV people.
And you know about them.
"I've never been to a premiere where the people standing on the sides can hardly see anyone who drives up," said Teresa Gallagher, a 24-year-old Trekker ("I've seen the episodes I don't like 20 times") who drove in from Annapolis with her father to take a few pictures. "If those photographers in the center here would've just fanned out a little. . . ." Gallagher was not one of those in uniform.
"O-ver HERE! O-ver HERE!" they chanted on the Gallagher's side of the carpet as the arriving stars were whisked in front of TV cameras on the other side, and the view was obscured by photographers and reporters with microphones.
The chants brought stars Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan and DeForest Kelley close enough to tough, and William (Captain Kirk) Shatner close enough to give a short speech: "If I sign one autograph, I'll have to sign them all, and they're waiting for us inside."
Did Gallagher get any good shots? She grimaced, shook her head and nodded toward the bobbing blue-wool hat of an 11-year-old who had somehow gotten between her and the rope.
"He shook my hand!" said the 11-year-old later. He was one of a group who had traveled to the premiere all the way from Our Lady of Victory school. The MacArthur Theater sits between the Safeway and Our Lady of Victory.
"We saw all the lights and the police on the way home," said another in the Our Lady of Victory group. "So we came back. How come this wasn't in the papers?"
For a certain group of others at the premiere, there was no need to read about the event in mere newspapers. For them, there are fan magazines (more than 400, nationwide) and club bulletins and the kind of grass-roots communications network that can inspire more than a million letter-writers to take part in a campaign, ultimately successful, to have NASA's first space shuttle renamed "Enterprise" after the ship in "Star Trek."
These were the members of the Virginia Association for Star Trek (VAST) and a related club called Battleforce who came to the premiere in costumes they'd worked on for the last 10 days or so. Some of the groups of about 20 were annoyed at having pushed back behind the ropes like everybody else -- "Paramount was just not properly informed that we would be here," said VAST president Jan Cox.
But happiness for Trekkers -- who've waited 10 years for the movie -- comes in small gestures.
"You look good with hair," said Battleforce member Darla Powell, dressed as the bald Ilia character, to Persis Khambatta, who portrays Ilia in the film.
"You look good bald," said Khambatta.