The science fiction world of Star Trek features many alien races. Without them, there wouldn't be much of a show! Some aliens are war-like and permanently angry, like the Klingons; others are more peaceful. The Ferengi, who hail from the planet Ferenginar, are a race whose main aim in life is to make profit. Their sexist culture is dominated by the males who abide by the Rules of Acquisition, the first (and obviously most important) of which is: 'Once you have their money, you never give it back.' They are the second-hand car salesmen of the universe, and their idea of Heaven is the 'Divine Treasury'.
One particular Ferengi, Quark, is a risk-taking entrepreneuring wheeler-dealer exhibiting an eclectic mix of hard taskmaster and compassionate soft touch - for example he'll cream off 30% of his workers' tips but then he'll sell food (illegally) to refugees at cost. Quark made his name on Star Trek: Deep Space 9, although he made a concurrent appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Ferengi host was played by human actor Armin Shimerman using a full-head prosthetic appliance. A family emergency call once meant that Shimerman had to leave the film studio in full Ferengi get-up. Non-Trekkers who saw him on the street must have thought they were having a close encounter of the fourth kind!
The elder son of Keldar and Ishka, Quark left home as soon as he became an adult, following rule #75 'Home is where the heart is, but the stars are made of latinum' to the letter. Quark is taller than the average Ferengi male at 5' 6" (1.68m), but is otherwise typical of his kind with an enlarged skull, deeply-grooved nose, sharp pointed teeth and large lobes (ears). Ferengi ears are their main erogenous zones, and the size of their earlobes is something they brag about. Like all Ferengi males, he considers himself quite the ladies' man; his extravagant and colourful clothing makes the most of his orange skin and blue-fingernailed large hands. He owns a rare first edition copy of Vulcan Love Slave and a Klingon opera recording1.
Quark's predicted golden future in the Ferengi business world was scuppered when he ignored a rule about fraternisation: he slept with a female relative of his boss. After a hasty departure from his homeworld, Quark served as chef on a Ferengi freighter. Fleeing an incident involving a food critic and a disruptor pistol, he opened an establishment called Quark's Bar, Grill, Gaming House and Holosuite Arcade (Quark's Bar) on Terok Nor (the Cardassian name for DS9) during the Cardassian occupation. Accusations of collaboration have never been proved. Quark's past sympathy towards Bajoran refugees under the noses of the hard-boiled Cardassians was probably the reason why Major Kira Nerys tolerated his continued presence on DS9 after the Federation took over control of the space station.
Quark and Odo
Quark, the Ferengi barkeeper, is a self-important con artist who's nowhere near as clever as he thinks he is. His bar is a centre for scams and illegal dealings.
– Security file report on Quark by Chief Constable Odo'ital (Odo)
On DS9, entrepreneur Quark had an adversary in security chief Odo, who was always submitting reports about the bar owner's possibly illegal activities. Quark's ultimate pleasure - perhaps greater than the thrill of knowing how close he was to realising his dream of purchasing his own moon - was outwitting Odo.
In one outstanding DS9 episode called 'The Ascent', Odo is assigned to deliver Quark to a Federation Grand Jury hearing, over a week's journey away by shuttlecraft. An explosion on board forces them to land on a frozen, uninhabited L-class planet with no working communication methods and few provisions. They decide to haul the subspace transmitter up a mountain, where they may be able to signal for help. Unfortunately they squabble, and in the ensuing fight Odo falls and breaks his leg. Quark continues the harrowing journey alone and succeeds in raising the alarm. Odo is dying when he is suddenly transported aboard the USS Defiant, and he has to live with the fact that his nemesis Quark saved his life.
When Morn leaves, it's all over.
– Quark's rule #286
Quark's Bar is the happening place on DS9, a part of the Promenade. There are areas to eat and drink, and of course there's a resident bar-fly, Morn. For entertainment there are Tongo boards and Dabo2 tables for gamblers, with attendant Dabo girls. If such activities are not to the patrons' taste, holosuites are available - for a price, of course. Prices range from cheap for basic holoprograms to extortionate for an unforgettable experience with the sexual partner(s) of your choice.
Quark never could work out 'hyu-mans' - he was particularly perplexed by their lack of imagination; although he tried many times, he never managed to persuade regular golfers to try mountaineering or such. Then there's their ability to attain a state of happiness where no illegal or dangerous substances are involved. One visitor from Earth who asked for a tranquil lake so he could go fishing looked positively offended when offered a cane toad to lick for hallucinogenic purposes - some people just have no sense of adventure.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Quark's caters for all tastes and mine host aims to please - if the requested item isn't available then a corresponding substitute will be offered at a discount. On the menu are:
- aubergine stew (a favourite of Captain Sisko)
- beans (Earth speciality)
- bregit lung (Klingon speciality)
- caviar (Earth speciality)
- chocolate (Earth speciality)
- coconut and pineapple ice cream (favourite of Major Kira Nerys)
- gagh (Klingon speciality)
- Haggis (Earth speciality)
- heart-of-targ (Klingon speciality)
- jumja (glop-on-a-stick)
- Kaferian apple pie with Talaxian spices (vegetarian option)
- Kohlanese stew (basic fare issued to staff)
- larish pie (Cardassian staple)
- Mantickian paté (Betazoid speciality)
- plomeek soup (unseasoned - Vulcan speciality)
- Risan honey (it's from Risa - enough said?)
- rokeg blood pie (Klingon speciality)
- strawberries and chocolate sauce (Earth delicacy)
- Thalian chocolate mousse (expensive, but worth it)
- yamok sauce (spicy Cardassian condiment)
Happy Hour is particularly popular due to drinks being half the normal price. Beverages include:
- blood wine (at twice the proof of whisky it is rarely ordered by anyone other than Klingons celebrating a battle win)
- chech'tluth (smoking Klingon drink)
- Finagle's Folly (original concoction by Dr Leonard McCoy)
- Gamzain wine
- kanar (Cardassian alcoholic drink 'which takes some getting used to')
- Mondela aperitif
- Muskan seed punch
- prune juice (special request by Worf)
- raktajino (Klingon strong coffee)
- Romulan ale
- Root Beer (favoured by Nog and Jake)
- Samarian Sunset (skip the ice for longer-lasting colour)
- Saurian brandy
- Slug-o-Cola - 'the slimiest cola in the galaxy' with 43% live algae in every bottle (Ferengi best-seller)
- synthale (for Bajorans)
- Tarkalean tea
- Trixian bubble juice3
- warnog (Klingon ale)
Quark's younger brother Rom is the 24th-Century equivalent of MacGuyver. Although smart and ingenious, he is easily manipulated by Quark, who thinks nothing of invoking family loyalty when it suits him. Rom is a repair diagnostician extraordinaire, and a member of DS9's maintenance crew. If he can't fix it, nobody can. Rom is also a bit soft: though he performs well under pressure in his capacity as an engineer, when stressed or under duress he screams for 'Moogie' (his nickname for their feminist-rebel mother). In his time off duty Rom helps Quark run the bar and maintains all the systems, including repairing the holosuite with an odd assortment of articles like kitchen utensils.
Rom acted as Quark's bodyguard when Quark was briefly installed as Grand Nagus in 2369. Rom's personality has interesting hidden depths. He's not driven by profit like the rest of Ferengi males, and he organised a union for better conditions for workers in his brother's bar. In later DS9 episodes he successfully woos and marries the drop-dead-gorgeous Bajoran Leeta, and eventually becomes Grand Nagus (the Ferengi leader).
Rom and his first wife Prinadora had a son called Nog, whose best friend Jake Sisko was the station commander's son. When Rom wouldn't allow Nog to enrol at Keiko O'Brien's school on the Promenade, Jake gave him lessons and taught him to read. This was in addition to his working full time as a busboy in the 'family business' at Quark's Bar.
Despite objections from both his father and uncle, Rom decided to sign up to Star Fleet Academy as soon as he was old enough. His application was accepted on Commander Sisko's personal recommendation, making Nog the first Ferengi to join Star Fleet. In 2371 Quark and Rom escort Nog to Earth but, thanks to Quark's cousin Gaila sabotaging the spacecraft, end up in Earth's past in the year 1947. The three 'Martians' are subsequently captured by the military and give rise to the Roswell Incident. During their captivity Nog tricks a nurse into rubbing his lobes by saying they hurt. What she was actually doing was performing 'oo-mox' - Ferengi males find this action intensely pleasurable.
In the DS9 episode The Visitor, Nog fulfils his dream and eventually captains his own ship. He reveals that his uncle Quark succeeded in getting his own moon and Morn is in charge of Quark's Bar. Of course, that timeline changes when Nog helps the elderly Jake learn how to reverse the accident which killed his father Ben4 and their success effectively restarts time at the point of the accident, when Jake is 18. Only Ben Sisko remembers - he avoids the plasma discharge which 'killed' him the first time around, and a new timeline is created in true Star Trek fashion.
As already stated, the Ferengi are a sexist race. The men are in charge, they deal with business, they are in control. Females are not supposed to make profit, and never wear clothes. They aren't supposed to leave their homes. Then there's Ishka, Quark's mother. Not only does she appear clothed, shocking younger son Rom, but she also dabbles in business and makes a profit, much to Quark's extreme annoyance.
Quark's father was a useless businessman, an attribute he passed on to his son Rom. Quark was more like his profit-hungry mother, although she favoured Rom. Quark's resentment of his mother lasted well into his adulthood, and one argument ended with Ishka suffering a heart attack.
After her husband's death Ishka began an affair with Grand Nagus Zek, and literally became the power behind the throne while he slipped into dotage. Ishka instigated a feminist movement which eventually succeeded with the help of her sons.
Brunt and Lumba
Quark and liquidator Brunt clashed after Quark was misdiagnosed as terminally ill. Brunt purchased Quark's future remains, only for Quark to later discover he wasn't ill at all and he reneged on the contract. In response Brunt revoked Quark's business name and seized his assets. The populous of DS9 had a whip-round to resupply Quark and he was able to continue serving customers aboard the space station.
Another episode called for Quark to assume the guise of a woman, 'Lumba', with substantial help from Dr Bashir. In order to gain an ally in their quest to prevent his enemy Brunt from assuming the title of Grand Nagus, Quark/Lumba agrees to have dinner with Commerce Authority Commissioner Nilva, the influential chairman of Slug-o-Cola. The Commissioner falls for Lumba's charms after 'she' suggests a new advertising slogan for the flagging product. Nilva is convinced to support deposed Grand Nagus Zek's feminist policy, and his reinstatement as Grand Nagus. Armin Shimerman chose to portray the female part of Lumba the way Dustin Hoffman acted the female lead in Tootsie, rather than how Tony Curtis played an overly-emphasised woman in Some Like It Hot.
Captain Picard's ex-girlfriend Vash arrived at DS9 after her trip around the Gamma Quadrant with Q5. Vash asked Quark if she could sell some of the artefacts that she had acquired on her travels, in his bar. As the auction would garner extra custom in the bar, Quark waived rental payment for the attractive archaeologist - although, when they were discussing the profit-sharing ratio, Vash performed oomaks on him, which could have influenced his decision to be generous. Vash would have been listed in Quark's romances, but romance had nothing to do with it.
One of her treasures, which Vash thought was a radiating Promethean quartz, was in fact an unknown lifeform. It almost ended up destroying the space station when it generated a graviton field. Against Vash's objections, the creature was transported off DS9 into space, where it emerged from its cocoon as an energy being, not unlike a glowing dragon. It activated the wormhole and entered it to return home to the Gamma Quadrant.
Quark's main love interest was Cardassian Natima Lang, but she left him after he used her access codes for an illegal venture. He harboured a secret desire centred upon the attractively-mottled (they go all the way down) Jadzia Dax. In that, he wasn't alone; she also had a fan in Dr Bashir. However, Jadzia never gave either the time of day romantically, preferring to remain aloof (until she met Worf). Quark's affection is clear when he volunteers6 to host the memories of one of Dax's former hosts for Jadzia during a Trill ritual.
When Quark married the Lady Grilka, a Klingon female, in 2371, both had ulterior motives. They divorced after their business was concluded, but when she subsequently visited DS9 two years later Quark won her heart with Worf assisting in a Cyrano de Bergerac-type role. Quark liked a lot of the Dabo girls who worked for him as well, often trying it on with the most gullible by stressing that sex was part of their contract.
Odo: You're disgusting!
Quark: 'Til the day I die!
Despite her protestations that she thought he was an ugly troll, Quark was convinced that Major Kira Nerys was secretly in love with him. During the Dominion War, Quark was a spy, serving the Cardassians in his bar and passing information to the Bajoran Major. After Major Kira was arrested, Quark plotted with fellow Resistance member Tora Ziyal, Gul Dukat's half-Bajoran daughter, to break her out of jail. Quark, armed with two phasers, shot dead two Jem'Hadar guards, mimicking his Alternate Universe7 persona where Quark is a freedom fighter who fought for the Resistance (but then died for the cause). When the prisoners, including his brother Rom and Jake Sisko, were freed, the grateful Major tells Quark: 'I'd kiss you except there isn't time.' The look on his face is priceless!
The Spirit of Quark
I've always thought Quark would make a great math teacher.
– Yedrin Dax 'Children Of Time'
The Dax symbiont honours Quark in the episode 'Children of Time' by using his image for the children's holographic schoolteacher. Despite his deviousness and all his faults, Quark remains a favourite of Trek fans throughout the genre. There is a bar in Las Vegas complete with Ferengi barman in tribute to Quark, and Armin Shimerman continues to attend Star Trek conventions to the delight of fans.