Star Wars Celebrityhood: Be Careful What You Wish For

Here at Tierfon Rebel Base we had a family wedding a few weeks ago. Family members came in from across the galaxy. Most of ‘em Navy-types. I’m at the cantina ordering bantha milk, and cousin Tom Mustin comes up to join me, asking, “What’s shakin’, Dak?” I tell him I’m gonna write posts for the Star Wars blog. So, he tells me his sea story. I should say Tom is another family member who put his thumb out on the road instead of going down to the sea in ships. [Note the link to the ship named after his family.]

Bantha milk in hand, Tom draws one from his time as an actor. One of his gigs was in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Says Tom, “I’m in the elevator with another doctor when Shatner and Deforest Kelley enter, wheeling in Catherine Hicks on a gurney.” According to Tom, the scene goes like this. Tom (an intern, talking to other intern): “So Weintraub says radical chemotherapy or she’s going to croak, just like that.” Second Intern: “What about Gottleib?” Tom: “What do you expect? All he talked about was image therapy. I thought they were going to punch each other out. Hahah.” Bones: “UGH!” Tom: “You have a different view, doctor?” Bones: “Sounds like the g-ddamn Spanish Inquisition!” Kirk (Shatner): “Bad Day.”

After taking a swig of his bantha milk, he continues. “I was a news anchor for WXLV, the ABC affiliate in Greensboro, North Carolina. I was contacted by the Star Trek convention people in 1999, I believe. They told me they were having a convention in the city and wanted to know if I was interested in attending. Somehow they knew that I had been in the movie. The station thought it would be fun, so I agreed.

“I was ushered in to a nice hotel and placed next to an attractive woman who also was signing autographs. She had some connection to Gene Roddenberry. Very soon there were hundreds of Trekkies [okay, he should’ve said Trekkers — John] in line to greet us. One man in his 30’s recited the entire scene to me, as I signed his copy of Star Trek IV. The person behind him in line chimed in. It was impressive. Several people were dressed in full Vulcan and Star Trek attire. They also peppered me with questions about the other movies — none of which I’d seen.” Over to you, Dak.

So, now I have the con. I tell him how from some 18 years way beyond the galaxy I reconnected with Star Wars when the re-releases came out in 1997. It’s like this, I say. I just want to take my two girls to see daddy the one time he will be on the big screen — for the first night of the re-release of The Empire Strikes Back. The kicker is that opening night is my youngest’s sixth birthday. Great birthday present, right? But it’s rather late in the game to come up with this genius idea, the first night being just days away. Ah, but I got this cute lady friend of mine who knows her way around Charm City, and she does a deal for me. She connects with the venue: Baltimore’s historic Senator Theatre. So, here’s the deal she cut: for a bunch of free tickets for the girls, me and a few family friends, I have to make an on-stage speech before the movie runs. Fair enough. Free tickets for some eight of us on a first night — what’s the problem?

Well, the Senator knows it has a good thing and puts the word out to a regional media desperate for a Star Wars angle. As the only Star Wars personality in the mid-Atlantic, from out of nowhere, I find myself a hot media draw. In the run-up, I appear on every TV station and a number of radio stations in the Baltimore and DC broadcast markets. Suddenly, I’m a celebrity in Tierfon, Charm City, and DC. Life is suddenly getting out of hand. So, I give the speech, have the audience sing “Happy Birthday” to my daughter, whom I can see way in the back, slinking down as far as she can go into her seat. Tell a few more Star Wars anecdotes, get wild applause when I finish, and walk off stage left. Hey, this being a star is way cool. And the clamor continues. As I walk up the stage-left aisle to my seat in the very back of the theater, there is this deafening cacophony of fans screaming at me. Great for the girls to see their familiarly flawed dad getting some praise, methinks — points in the minds of these two who matter most to me. Finally, I sit down, thinking I done good. A cousin — another cousin, yes — leans over to me and shouts over the din, “What are they saying to you?!” “I have no idea!” I yell back. Just then a young fan, maybe 17, sitting right in front of me leans over the back of his seat and says off-handedly in disgust: “Your lines.”

John appeared as Dak, Luke Skywalker’s back-seater in the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. He also appeared in the film substituting for Jeremy Bullloch as Boba Fett on Bespin when he utters his famous line to Darth Vader, “He’s no good to me dead.” Follow him on Twitter @tapcaf.