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‘Star Trek’ franchise transports Phoenix fan to better world

Phoenix — The new movie “Star Trek Into Darkness” is now showing at theaters across the country.

One Valley businessman couldn’t wait for the lights to dim and the movie to start.

Matt Lehrman is the head of marketing firm Audience Avenue in Phoenix. which specializes in nonprofits and cultural organizations.

That’s his day job. Away from work, he’s something else.

He’s a Star Trekker. Don’t call him a Trekkie.

“To be a Trekkie is to be a shallow fan,” Lehrman said. “To be a Trekker is to be a serious fan. To really be thinking deeply about the themes that are being explored, and the situations and the personalities and the implications of all of that.”

He’s been a “Star Trek fan most of his life. He and a friend went to one of the first “Star Trek” conventions in New York City. “I must have been in the sixth or seventh grade,” said Lehrman.

“I met some of the cast members, and bought the posters and had them all over my room when I was a kid. There was just something about ‘Star Trek’ that really connected with me, even at a very young age.”

The study in his home now is filled with ‘Star Trek’ memorabilia. He’s got uniform, Spock ears, and a Tribble (the furry critter that multiplied and caused problems in “The Trouble With Tribbles” episode of the original TV series.)

Lehrman even has a tricoder, a scanning device that show characters used to record and analyze medical or scientific data.

He’s also got a cake base that is shaped like a starship. Lehrman’s father used it to bake a cake for Lehrman’s 40th birthday.

“My birthday cake sat over the saucer section, and dad did the frosting in the font of the starship Enterprise, wishing me a happy birthday,” said Lehrman. “That’s a great dad!”

Lehrman said his wife tolerates his enthusiasm for all things Star Trek, though she won’t let him wear the uniform.

He doesn’t think he’s obsessed with Star Trek. “I’m a mature adult. I have a real job, and a real career,” Lehrman said.

“The thing that connects with me about ‘Star Trek,’ even as a 50-year-old adult, is that the characters are a group of people who are committed to solving serious problems, and working together as a team to make that happen.”

His favorite movie in the franchise is 1982’s “The Wrath of Khan.” The death of Spock “actually had me crying in the movie theatre,” he said.

He was excited while waiting for “Star Trek Into Darkness” to open.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, I was 1,000. This move has been on my calendar for over a year to go see as quickly as possible. The hardest part might be leaving the theater after the movie is over,” he said before seeing the film. “I just might want to see it over and over.”

Lehrman saw the movie on Thursday. He said he loved it.

As for the possibility of future movies, Lehrman hopes that Star Trek will, as Mr. Spock would say, “Live long and prosper.”