George Takei talks Hollywood, homosexuality and Howard Stern in Philly

by Matthew Ray

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday August 25, 2009

"Star Trek" fans and LGBTs alike all descended upon Philadelphia's Franklin Institute last Thursday for a once in a lifetime meeting with a sci-fi legend George "Mr. Sulu" Takei.

The Franklin Institute is currently playing host to Star Trek: The Exhibition, a multi-room display of costumes, props, set pieces and bits of one-of-a-kind memorabilia from all the Trek federation. Takei was the featured guest at "An Evening with George Takei." And it provided a chance for trekkies to gather to see their favorite star answer questions, take pictures and sign autographs.

"I love having any opportunity to meet with fans," the 72 year-old actor said."Whatever community turns out at these events, I am always touched by the outpouring of heartfelt affection and honor. I have had a long career and it is all thanks to you."

The crowd, both gay and straight, was quick to ask the icon how he felt about J.J. Abrahams reboot of the Trek franchise.

"The situation now in California has created three different and unequal classes."

"I loved it! Absolutely fantastic, imaginative, and so true to the spirit of the original," he said.

The rest of the session meandered comfortably from discussion of Klingons and phasers, to domestic partnerships and gay rights. Takei's lengthy career goes far beyond the helm of the Enterprise. The openly gay actor has performed numerous projects. They include a recent run on prime time hit "Heroes," and a regular gig as an announcer and guest on Howard Stern's satellite radio show.

"In Hollywood, if you're not reinventing yourself you're going to be retired," Takei said in response to a question. "You have to take risks and put yourself out on a limb. To quote Star Trek -to boldly go where no one has gone before. I did "Howard Stern Show" for that reason. My partner, Brad [Altman,] is a fan, and he encouraged me to do it, and it has been a fantastic and hilarious experience. My experience on "Heroes" was basically the same, an incredible production and cast."

Takei married his longtime partner last year. And he has worked extensively as an activist with the Human Rights Campaign, Japanese American National Museum, California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and the Frontrunners and other organizations. Takei has also been a visible player in the battle against Proposition 8.

"While Brad and my marriage stands, we are concerned about equality," he said. "The situation now in California has created three different and unequal classes. Straight people who can marry or divorce at whim, gay people like myself who are married now and locked in, and gay people whose future marriages will not be honored. It is very unjust. "