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Fans of John Travolta are causing a run on pre-registrations for Starfest 2000, a massive science-fiction convention to be held this weekend at the Holiday Inn DIA. Along with Kate Mulgrew (aka Star Trek Voyager's Captain Kathryn Janeway), Travolta is the featured star power at this year's big bang. And while it might seem odd that the oh-so-hip Travolta plans to spend the weekend hanging out with 10,000 sci-fi geeks (perhaps he'll even get to witness one of the traditional Trekkie weddings), it's a perfect opportunity for him to promote his new movie Battlefield Earth, based on the L. Ron Hubbard bestseller.
"The conventions are not just run-of-the-mill science-fiction shows," says convention coordinator Steve Walker. "They've developed into an industry thing, where people can find out about the movies coming out. We were approached by the studio because we've had Francis Ford Coppola and Tom Cruise; we've had Dean Devlin, the producer of Independence Day, the Godzilla movie and Stargate."
Travolta has devoted the last fifteen years of his life to bringing Battlefield Earth to the big screen, and because of his devotion to Hubbard's Church of Scientology, Walker imagines Travolta has "a personal stake in the film and wants to make sure people understand it and go see it. There might be some sort of a Scientology tie-in, but that hasn't been presented to me at all. It's a science-fiction movie -- that's why it's at our convention."
Also guaranteed to be there is Laurie Marie Muha, aka Shelvis. The Denver entertainer known for her Elvis Presley impersonations also does Vinnie Barbarino, Danny Zuko, Tony Manero and Bud Davis. She calls Travolta one of her "biggest idols."
"I do the Grease skit and do 'Greased Lightning,' 'Summer Nights,' 'Sandy' and 'We Go Together,'" Muha says. "It's uncanny -- if you saw me do him, you'd think we were related -- that's how good I do John Travolta. In the past I have done Urban Cowboy -- in the '80s I'd dress up like Bud Davis and do the whole John Travolta cowboy dance. When he did Saturday Night Fever I'd get into the white jumpsuit and do that whole thing. John's gonna be...I think he just turned 48 on February 18, and I've pretty much followed him throughout his career."
And John isn't the only Travolta she's followed, hoping to get close to the man himself. "He didn't live too far from me when I was a teenager in New Jersey -- he was in Englewood, and I lived in Irvington. I used to send a lot of newspaper clippings about me impersonating him, and his sister June Travolta used to run his fan club, and she would write letters to me saying John's doing really great and he appreciated my work. I got to meet Joey Travolta, his brother -- he was in a play in Atlantic City. He was a real nice guy. I gave him my resumé, but it was kind of hard to meet the family because they were so busy." Muha continued her efforts to break through, however, eventually earning a rebuke from family representatives: "I wrote a letter to his home address in Daytona and got a letter back asking me not to write to this address because it was a personal address. It probably had to do with his wife, Kelly Preston, because they're very private people. I don't think he liked having fan mail sent there."
Like the contingent of anti-Scientology protestors who are certain to picket the convention, Muha plans to get there early. "I hope I get to meet him. I'll bring a biography of him, a Vinnie Barbarino doll I got off the Internet for $75, intact -- now it's worth about $500. I have a baby picture of him that somebody gave me, posters from all his movies, autographed pictures that June sent me.
Those fans who don't get to see Travolta at the Starfest might find consolation if they can wait until July 21, when Muha will present her one-woman show, "Laurie Marie Muha As Her Legendary Boys," at the Holiday Inn at Centennial Airport. "I'll do all my characters -- Buddy Holly, Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond and Tom Jones. John Travolta's a big part of that show. It's very different from any entertainment here in Denver. I don't think there's any females in town doing what I do. I do Shelvis, but I'm really an all-around entertainer, and this one-woman show shows all of my talents. I come out as myself, play my drums, strip on stage until I come out to be me: Laurie Marie Muha. People who don't know I'm a woman get blown away by the show. I'm not blowing smoke, you know -- I'm just trying to be honest about my talent."
A page from the playbook
Spring must have sprung, because Columbines keep popping up all over. After a sermon at the Arvada Community Church on Sunday, former CU Buffs football coach and current Promise Keeper prez Bill McCartneyrevealed to a group of worshipers and a Rocky Mountain News writer that he knows people are ignoring God because "when Columbine happened, within a month there were 6,000 similar incidents around the United States. Evil was provoked."