CONVENTION MADNESS
FOR ONE OBSESSED XENITE

By Stephanie Wong (swong@global.california.com)
aka Taurus-Rat Xena-Fan
Content © 1997 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 1997 held by Whoosh!
3633 words


It was BEAUTIFUL! Even though is was raining on Saturday evening and pouring part of Sunday. It is now 9pm on Sunday, January 12, 1997, and I am on my flight home after an exhilarating weekend. Though most of my luggage did not make it with me, I am going home with my Kevin, Hudson, Bruce, Robert, Ted, and of course, the best, Lucy autographs.

I do not even know where to begin. I want to say everything. Everyone I met that was related to the show was wonderful. After meeting countless, previously faceless people, and a great deal of non-internet people, I am now thoroughly exhausted, but still on an adrenaline high. Before I go too far, I must say that I was unable to find Xenites to hang out with during the evenings. I could never figure out where people went, except Friday evening. So I spent a great deal of my free time at the con with HerKuleans and Iolausians. Now, on to the story.

I arrived in Burbank on Thursday night, with no real plans for convention events until Friday afternoon, when I was to meet my roomies at the Hilton. After going to the Burbank Media Center for lunch Friday, I returned to the Hilton around 3:30 to find that at least a dozen fans were already gathering in the lobby of the hotel. We sat there and talked, and I got my great name tag from Apollena, Queen of the Amazons, before getting my room. Afterwards, we went to bar to sit and do some more talking, mostly with HerKuleans and Iolausians.

For the next several hours, we did our fair share of the Xena yell in the bar, to the point where the HerKuleans started to demand their own yell! We seemed to scare off some of the bar customers, but we did manage to invited some of the other con-goers to our tables to sit and talk with us. Though the first official day of the convention was Saturday, we Xenites and HerKuleans managed to kick off the weekend pretty well on Friday night.

During the convention, I met people from Vancouver, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Texas, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and, of course, all parts of California. These are only the people who told me where they were from! It was even rumored there was someone at the con from London! It was amazing getting to meet people you have corresponded with for months, but never met in real life. I kept hearing, "OHMIG*D, you're xxxxxx?", then watching hugs being exchanged. At first it was a bit awkward looking at name tags or trying to ask everyone who they were (and even worse, to remember who everyone was!), but it was a friendly atmosphere to be in.

After mingling for a while, about half of the group decided to hit the mall for dinner and the other half decided to stay at the bar. I headed off with a group to hit the Burbank Media Center again. While downstairs waiting for the shuttle with pather, ephany, and tyche, I noticed a Neuf shirt. We walked over and said a cheerful Hi to Neuf the Goof.

By outside cheering and Xena yelling we got the attention of someone upstairs in the hotel who held up a "Fly Chakram" sign. We invited this room full of people to dinner too. This being too many people to fit in the shuttle, one group of HerKuleans took a car. The shuttle was filled with con attendees except for one lone soul who looked like she was a fly trapped in the spider's web.

We tried to be friendly, but I think she just thought we were too crazy. Arriving at the mall, we split up into two smaller groups. I had a pleasant dinner in the food court with about a dozen others. Lively chatter about Xena and Herc episodes filled all the time at dinner. One person, when I asked her name, told me she was a lurker. I teased her saying she must have a real name. She did eventually tell me, but I have such a bad memory, I don't remember it!

After dinner, losing Tyche, an unsuccessful run-by the KB Toys for doll, a quick run to the Vons, and the shuttle ride home, we returned to the bar to chit chat a bit longer before heading up to Kym Taborn's room, where I watched the end of RETURN OF CALLISTO (#29) and some great music videos. I finally got to meet people on the mailing lists, many whom I had corresponded with, such as SAL-FAN, Penth, Silver, Empower, Lord Nelson, Kym Taborn, etc. I also got to see Kittle and Lilac again. We also saw a lovely Chakram pendant that had been designed by a fan.

After getting kicked out of Kym's room a bit after 10, I returned to the bar and met up with several others to sneak into the convention center to look around. It was here that we watched Swordplay practice and revise their demonstration. These guys were serious about their work and their sword demonstration, but they, not unlike Lucy, had a "ham" side to them, enjoying playful banter with us. After their practice was done, a few of us even got to play and pose with their swords in one of the hotel halls. Pictures done, we returned once more to the bar where we talked until 3am.

Getting up early, a small group of five of us took a jaunt to Hollywood Boulevard to see what other paraphernalia we could find. Our search resulted in one Iolaus doll, but most of the other stores were not open until around con time, so we headed back to the Hilton, where we helped set up the Michael Hurst and Kevin Sorbo Fan Club tables.

...

Dealer table
Photo courtesy of Betsy Book



After doing this, we took a quick stroll around the dealers' area. There was not as much merchandise as I was hoping for. Along with fan club tables for Kevin, Michael, Renee, Xena, Hercules, Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, and IAXS (WHOOSH), there were also tables set up by Swordplay, Renaissance Faire, Software Sculptors, Federation Comics, and Creation. Other dealers sold tarot card readings, decorative bottles, swords and weaponry, clothing, and chainmail. The dealers area was not really large enough for all the fans to comfortably browse and shop, and it did get very packed during both days. But at least there was enough Xena and Hercules related merchandise to whet the appetites of everyone there.

Creation also was advertising and selling membership for the two clubs, the Official Hercules and the Official Xena Fan Clubs. This membership included a welcome video, membership scroll letter, a bloopers tape, four color 8x10s, membership card, poster, and some others items. The cost was about $30 and the kits are supposed to ship in March.

...

Robert Trebor
Photo courtesy of Catherine M. Wilson



Robert Trebor started off the first day of the con with a bang. He was a pleasure to listen to. When asked what his favorites scene was the Hot Tub scene in THE FIRE DOWN BELOW (HTLJ #22). When asked if he would be back on XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, he mentioned he would be, for those of us who have really missed him there, in the beauty pageant episode, HERE SHE IS...MISS AMPHIPOLIS (#35). He also stated that he enjoyed doing both shows when asked which was his favorite.

Robert also talked about working with both stars and what they added to his life. He discussed a cut scene from CENTAUR MENTOR JOURNEY (HTLJ #36), where Salmoneus join Hercules sitting on a rock talking about their childhoods. Robert was a nice young humorous personality.

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Bruce Campbell and Robert Trebor
Photo courtesy of Catherine M. Wilson



Next up was Bruce Campbell. He admitted that he felt Xena was a guilty pleasure and that he enjoyed it's big epic episodes. He answered questions with sarcastic humor, and even responded to one little kid who asked him if he really stole in real life.

One thing he did caught my eye and made me laugh. When asked, "So do you love Xena?", Bruce proceeded to take a card from his back pocket and pretended to read, in a monotonous voice, "I love all good television." When asked if he wanted to be Hercules, Bruce read from the same card, saying "No, because there is only one Hercules. Kevin Sorbo is the best Hercules." He added, "He was a lot cheaper too." He also admitted, "I'd like to direct again. I like bossing actors around."

...

Sword Fighting
Photo courtesy of Betsy Book



After Bruce came the swordfighting presentation by the men we saw practice on Friday night. It was roughly the same act we had seen on Friday, but it was nice to see it completely seriously performed in costume. I enjoyed watching these men and women stage convincing fight scenes.

...

Rob Tapert
Photo courtesy of Catherine M. Wilson



Robert Tapert proceeded to speak next. It was during this time that I got my autographs from Robert Trebor and Bruce Campbell, so my memory here is a bit hazy, but Robert Tapert was also an enjoyable speaker to listen to. One of the cuter things he did was, when asked "When will you marry Lucy?", he gave a hug to the child who asked.

...

Kevin Sorbo
Photo courtesy of Apollena



Kevin was great! During his question and answer period, he took the time to shake hands and give out hugs. He as a great crowd-pleaser. Of course, he was asked if he was married, and he responded by saying, he replied by saying he was single and had no plans for marriage anytime soon, at which point the auditorium erupted in applause and cheering. Kevin stuck me as an extremely kind man. By the time I met him at the autograph table, he looked haggard and red-eyed, but was still pleasant and joking with the fans. I was not even at the half way point of all the people waiting. Even with the exhaustion plain on his face, he not only signed autographs for all the fans waiting, but made the time to pose for pictures with his fan club.

A small group of us quickly broke down the Kevin Sorbo Fan Club table and took the stuff to the vine room where we were supposed to meet Kevin. When he walked into the room to meet his fan club, he looked a bit wide-eyed, smiled, and blushed a bit at the mass of people waiting in the room to take a group picture with him. He took several pictures with us before he had to run off to catch his flight.

The tired, but excited group slowly left the room. We eventually moved all the club stuff to our room and then met Lady Pegasus for her hoolie (dinner). After some good food and pleasant conversation, there was a re-creation of a visit to Kevin's softball game that day, during which some HerKuleans showed off the skills of their hairflipping club. This tale included loud shouting on the softball field, wild driving, and limo- chasing.

We all migrated back to the bar again and eventually made it up to our room, stating we were tired and wanted to get some sleep before Sunday's con. Of course, we sat and talked until past 3am again! I woke up Sunday morning brimming with anticipation of meeting the Lady herself! I was only checked into the hotel till Sun. So before we went to the con, my roomies and I moved our luggage to a friend's room for storage, then went down to help set up the Kevin Sorbo Fan Club Booth. After which, I proceeded to buy the stuff I had been eyeing previously and then some stuff for friends back east who could not make it to the con. Though, at the time I thought I had bought everything I wanted, I still now wish I had bought more. Can you really ever have enough stuff that says Xena on it?

I was finally able to meet up with JAQRAT and GinaT1000. I also introduced some new fans I ran into in the dealers' area to the mailing lists and to the North Cal Herc-Xena Fest. I also ran into some people I met previously at the Leno show when Lucy had her accident. One of these people, I had been corresponding with for about a month. We had agreed to meet at the convention and played message tag for all of Saturday and part of Sunday. When I saw her, I realized I already knew her. But it was great fun meeting new and old friends. Eventually I sat down to enjoy the second day of con events.

...

Steve Sears and Liz Friedman
Photo courtesy of Catherine M. Wilson



Tyldus, AKA Steven L. Sears, and Liz Friedman spoke. Steven only works on XENA, while Liz works on both XENA and HERCULES. They spoke a bit about Lucy and stated that the writers were already talking about the third season of XENA. They also gave a quick breakdown of the process from the script to the actual showing of Xena episodes. It takes 1-3 months to write and revise a script before it goes into production. Then there is a Production breakdown, followed by casting. Lucy and Renee get the script and do a read through. The production and shooting of the episode takes somewhere between 6-9 days. Then the film is sent off to the editors who take this footage and the special effects footage to edit the first cut. Then a director's cut is made, and finally the episode is shown.

...

Liz Friedman
Photo courtesy of Catherine M. Wilson



Liz admitted that she and Bernie (sorry I can not remember this person's last name) write the hilarious disclaimers shown at the end of the episodes. They were asked about their favorite episodes, to which Tyldus named DREAMWORKER (#03) and PROMETHEUS (#08). Liz replied her favorites were CALLISTO (#22) and AS DARKNESS FALLS (#06). They also stated that the most difficult production was the ladder fight in CALLISTO.

Ephany did ask about Kate's Dixie Cup, and though was not rewarded with the tiara of the MacGab clan, she was given an MCA Xena Cap. (Note: this is different than the one that was sold at the con). Liz addressed the question of the missing female centaurs. When they started, in their world of mythology written for the show, there were no female centaurs, and they found no reference for ones in Greek and Roman mythology.

They confirmed the rumors of the change in the ending of INTIMATE STRANGER (#31). It was written and taped before Lucy Lawless' accident. Once they realized Lucy Lawless would not be able to film for a while, and the five scripts they had prepared were not going to work, they quickly re-assessed what they already had filmed. They realized they could re-write the end of INTIMATE STRANGER to give more time without needing Lucy Lawless on the set.

They finally let us in on the secret of why Gabrielle does not have a horse! As Liz said, while they were talking about the concept of the show, they knew that Gabrielle would be in every show. Horses cost a lot and it would take three different horses for her character to have one. So Liz and the group felt, "I think Gabrielle likes walking." They also admitted that the Amazons are coming back.

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Steve Sears
Photo courtesy of Catherine M. Wilson



When asked how come every guy Gabrielle kisses, dies, Tyldus said that there is no real curse on these guys, but they "will be identifying her boyfriends with red shirts" making a reference to jokes about Star Trek, in which the security team members, wearing red shirts, always got shot and died.

After Liz and Steve finished speaking, I walked into the dealers area when the Xena Scrolls presentation started, thinking it would be about the "scrolls" on the MCA Official Site. Then the hoots and hollers brought me racing back in to discover, to my great delight, that they were showing an a shortened version of THE XENA SCROLLS (#34). It was hilarious! Usually I watch XENA episodes alone so it was a great joy to be able to share the Xena experience with a room of at least 1500 other people.

I skipped presentation on special effects to have lunch since I had seen them talk the previous day. I wanted to have plenty of time to see Robert Field's, AKA Avicus', presentation. Avicus opened his presentation with overheads and a story about a conversation with his mother concerning his job as a Film Editor, and her lack of understanding the immense about of work it takes to edit every episode.

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Robert Field
Photo courtesy of Catherine M. Wilson



I had asked him previously about film editing, and Robert had given me a short introduction into his world of editing. His long version at the convention was great and very informative. He showed us flowcharts of the production process and the editing process. He also showed us a the raw footage used to do a Callisto scene and show how it all fit to make one scene. During his presentation he admitted that he absolutely hates the question: "Did you pick the best shot?" He has always been tempted to say, "No."

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Robert Field
Photo courtesy of Catherine M. Wilson



Avicus ended his session with a blooper reel of XENA, showing such things as Lucy and Renee singing "Down in the Heart of Texas" in their bacchae outfits, and Renee attacking with a Hercules Toy Sword, complete with "Bong" and "Twang" sounds. Some of these bloopers can be found on the Hercules and Xena CD Rom, others will only be found on the bloopers tape that is included with membership in the Official Xena Fan Club.

...

Hudson Leick
Photo courtesy of Catherine M. Wilson


After Robert's film editing session, Hudson Leick appeared. She was very demure-looking, very different than Callisto. She was very pleasant to all the people asking her questions, trying to calm the nervous ones. When asked, "How does it feel to be a bad person," she responded, "Honestly, I love it." She admitted to dying her hair. She also said that she has never played a good character. She replied, "He's hot," when asked about Kevin Smith. When asked what she thought about Callisto's flirting with Xena, she responded, "I like it that way. I think Callisto is obsessed with Xena in EVERY way."

...

Hudson Leick
Photo courtesy of Catherine M. Wilson



Hudson was asked if she was like Callisto, and she replied that she was. "Parts of me are like Callisto, but I don't go around yelling and stabbing people." She stated that playing Callisto was like therapy, in that she is able to release rage and tension by portraying Callisto. When Hudson did her famous Callisto yell, she had to take a few breaths and prepare herself, she even shyly admitted to being nervous, but did execute the yell, to be followed by a room that erupted in cheers and applause. She was a pleasure to watch.

The charity auction followed Hudson's talk. Here is the list of Hercules-Xena related merchandise and the final bid prices:

Herc Standee$50
Herc: Wrong Path script$60
Xena 10" Doll$130
Xena: SINS OF THE PAST script $200
Herc: WARRIOR PRINCESS script $250
Xena: CALLISTO SCRIPT$800
Chakram $8500

There was some confusion on the final cost of the Xena Standee. The bidding was fierce between two parties and reached $570 before the Creation MC said that was way too much. He had the Xena Standee from the lobby brought in and said that something would be worked out for the two parties involved.

Honestly, Ted Raimi was a very nice man and a pleasure to listen to, but I can not remember one specific thing he said during his talk. I was much too excited about seeing Lucy.

I missed the most of the costume contest, as I was checking on my friends running the fan club tables. Also, a bit of pacing on my part, due to nervous anticipation. I came back into the auditorium just as the contest was ending. It was won by Kimba1999, dressed as Gabrielle, and LauraJ, as Xena.

...

Lucy Lawless
Photo courtesy of Catherine M. Wilson



Finally, the moment I was waiting for came. Lucy was introduced and stepped out in a tight fitting light blue top and pants that seemed to match the colors of her eyes. Unfortunately, watching Lucy speak is a bit of a blur. By this point, I was so excited, I could barely concentrate. Diva, who was sitting next to me the second day of the convention, will probably attest to this. I was whoopping and hollering, not to mention jumping up and down from my seat to try and take pictures. Lucy was gracious and patient while taking questions, especially with nervous little kids. She even sang for us. It was terrific!

After Lucy finished talking, we all milled about or sat down to wait for our turn to get autographs and, well, by the time I got my autographs from Lucy, Hudson, and Ted, it was about 8:30 and my flight was at 9:15. I couldn't find the people with the key to the room, so I asked my friend, Ceallach, who that was driving back on Monday, to bring my stuff back to the Bay Area. Thanks to her I got my luggage and Xena stuff back home and intact! As I rushed out to catch the shuttle, I met a pair of Xenites headed back to Arizona. It was a very pleasant way to end a terrific weekend. Talking to more people about my obsession.

All in all, it was a great weekend. I do not usually get to share my obsession with people in the flesh, just in Cyberspace. So it was a very enjoyable way to spend my time. See you all next time!


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