Arts & Culture News

There Was a Sci-Fi-Themed USO Show at a Piano Bar, and We Were There (Photos)

It was a night that would make the lurkers of a Tatooine night club proud. An intergalactic hoedown hosted locally at Louie Louie's Dueling Piano Bar.

Stormtroopers mingled alongside Starfleet cadets and the two groups cast glances of reserved respect for one another. They are two collections of collectors and geeks that are connected by their passion for science fiction, but separated by the universes they choose to admire. The sequestered sets of nerds decided to put their sabers and phasers away for the night, and join forces to raise funds for the USO, and help the lives of American veterans in a unique night of unification.

Cody Glenn, organizer and fleet captain of the USS Navras, the fan group that hosted the event, described the event as a party with a purpose: "Tonight is about raising money for the USO and celebrating our inner geek at the same time."

Glenn gathered the inspiration for the night from his personal passion: Star Trek.

"I had always wondered if they ever did USO shows in Star Trek for Starfleet members, and if not, I wanted to see what they would look like," he said. They would appear to be a clashing of galaxies that agreed to make the drinks strong, and the entertainment lively, but against all drunken odds, kept the party about the troops.

"This is one of the bigger events that we have done, and If we can pay back the troops at all, then that makes it even better," he said.

The night buzzed with the intoxication of excited fandom and drunkenly swaying storm troopers who had just enjoyed one too many drinks. An unknown storm trooper got on stage and danced to Elvis' hit "Blue Suede Shoes". A random Klingon sang "You bitch, you slut, you whore" in his native language, and a Star Trek cadet raffled off door prizes for the eclectic crowd.

The real stars of the show were not named Peter Mayhew (although the Chewie actor was there) or wearing pounds of Klingon makeup, but instead a pair of robots that innocently harassed those in attendance, particularly those representing The Empire. After following the replica R2D2 unit to a dimly lit corner, we caught up with its creator, Jerry Chevalier.

"I've always enjoyed science fiction and the creative process," he said. "I've built more than just the Dalak, and the R2 unit [attending the USO show]. I've built a lost in space robot, C3PO, mouse droids, pit droids, battle droids, I've built quite a bit of robots."

He builds robots, a lot of robots. He builds them with a perfect eye for scale, and operates them with a pristine understanding of their character. Robots are his hobby, but making those around him feel better is his profession.

"I'm a nurse. I've taken R2, R4, and R5 into hospitals and entertained sick kids to help get their mind off of being in a hospital," Chevalier said. "We entertain kids, and special interests group like the cystic fibrosis group, and the muscular dystrophy group."

He is a sort of real life Patch Adams, a caring human who uses his natural technical gift and easy manner to relieve children sleeping in bleak hospital bed sheets of their morbid reality.

The USO show provided a worthwhile social service in a wildly unique fashion. Nerds, geeks, Romulans, cadets, and storm troopers all came together and decided that the needs of American soldiers supersede any minor disagreements they have on which universe is best. The night was a rousing success. The piano players provided sing-along anthems, the bar gave the crowd space-themed brews, the nerds debated the credentials of their beloved galaxies, and the USO gained support. What more could one want from and interstellar hoedown?

Next: More photos from the show, including one really grabby Klingon.

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Matthew Lawson
Contact: Matthew Lawson

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