Not everyone liked the Dorsai

“We stood aside for them, because they were Klingons.” — Linda MacDonald

About 20 Dorsai Irregulars patrolled the halls of the Royal York. The volunteer security group was named for a work by Gordon R. Dickson, a guest at the convention.

The Dorsai were formed after some thievery at a convention art show, according to con volunteer Michael Wallis. “Elizabeth ran an art show at which someone swapped the tag on a $10 piece of art with the tag on a $3,000 Kelly Freas painting and walked out. The security guard checked the receipt on the way out and said ‘Fine’ and let her go. After the con, Elizabeth, Gordie (Dickson), Kelly (Freas) and Robert Asprin were talking and Kelly said ‘I can’t afford to go to conventions if I am going to lose money’ so Asprin suggested creating a fan group of people who knew the value of the art, sort of a fan security team. They asked Gordon if they could call it the Dorsai.”

The official Dorsai website places this event at the 1973 Torcon II convention in Toronto. 

The Dorsai uniforms were black berets and jackets or sweaters but they often dressed as Klingons, which impressed attendee Linda MacDonald. “The Klingon security guards were really cool. They weren’t mean or anything but it was cool that they were in Klingon uniforms, and we stood aside for them, because they were Klingons.”

A page from the convention program, showing a caricature of two Dorsai Irregulars.
From the con program
Walter Koenig guarded by a Dorsai. Photo by Conrad Felber.

Con projectionist Keith Williams had to head up to his hotel room regularly to swap episode reels and he kept running into the Dorsai. “They had coats and berets and they were a real pain in the ass because they always told us ‘You can’t come through here’ and I had to say ‘Yes, I can’ and they said ‘No, you can’t.’ We had armbands so you would think they would know I was part of the staff, but…”

Volunteer and Bakka co-owner Charlie McKee said the Dorsai liked the Klingon personas. “Back in the day, you really had to get in their faces, because they were playing the parts. They walked into the Royal York and they were Klingons, they were security, and you stayed the fuck out of their way — period.”

Bob “Doc” Passovoy, as Klingon Diplomat Corps character Kwak, goofs around with a con goer. Photo by Richard McDonald

The Dorsai web site acknowledges this history: “Have no fears of ‘overbearing Stormtroopers’ enraging your confolk. Uniforms and attitudes went out with the Seventies.” 

Debra Pearse Hartery was not enamoured. “My mom was a fan but I thought they were just an expensive pain in the ass. They weren’t trusted as security and I was not impressed. And no one could drink like the Dorsai. As far as I was concerned, they were useless. But that’s my opinion; my mom loved them.”

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