San Antonio Express-News
Ihosvani Rodruguez, News Staff Writer
GRAPHIC: PHOTO: TOM REEL/STAFF Xena and Gabrielle; Gail Futoran displays some of her Xena collectibles. 'It hasbecome less expensive to purchase diamonds than to purchase theamount of Xena stuff I've bought over the years,' she says.
A promotional article about the upcoming San Antonio Con on 05/16/99. Petra de Jong's On the Road report is mentioned.
Xena, really darling, is this any way for royalty to act? Screeching like a frantic banshee, OK. All that swordplay, sure.Chuckin' the chakram, cool. And that two-fingered " Xena touch" -whoa! But crushing the head of a man-eating Cyclops - between yourthighs? Hey, it works. You - and your alter ego, Kiwi actress LucyLawless - are certainly the most formidable and famousleather-clad, breast-plated dominatrix ever to commandeer theworld's devotion. You slay us. Your exploits - on " Xena: Warrior Princess," whichairs nightly on USA and on Saturdays on KRRT - are tops in theweird world of syndicated TV, where you've conquered thosebikini-clad lifeguards from "Baywatch." In the five short years since you were spun off the "Hercules"series (originally evil, you underwent a radical conversion),you've electrified the globe with your bravery, wisdom and loftymoral standards. (And you are truly global, worshipped in atleast 65 countries. Take Turkey, for example: With a populationof more than 50 million, 60 percent of the market tunes in eachweek.) With plucky Gabrielle at your side, you travel ancientlands defending the powerless and atoning for the sins of thepast. (Your legend has even spawned college courses.) In theprocess, you've been tagged a feminist role model. What's more,you're a hit with the kiddies. A lesbian icon. And men, well,men get a kick out of you in more ways than one. "That's her biggest appeal. That she can appeal to everyonedifferently," says Sharon Delaney, editor of the official Xenafan club newsletter, The Chakram. "Most of all, it is thequality of the character that people are in love with. It's whatshe does. What she stands for. That, and she can kick some butt." This weekend, the center of the Xenaverse, as true believersrefer to your realm, is the Four Points Sheraton RiverwalkHotel. Of course, you'll be out battling tyrants and monsters,but you are sending emissaries Alti (Claire Stansfield) andCleopatra (Gina Torres) to spread the Xena gospel. And yourapostles will be here in force. Here's the really weird part: The Xena convention comes just oneday after those futuristic eggheads from the "Star Trek" secthave their own clambake - in the same hotel! The mind reels. Imagine the spectacle of Xenite and Treker, eachoutfitted in period dress, going to fist city in the hotel'sbuffet line over the last turkey leg. Say there is a rumble of intergalactic proportions. Judging fromrecent conventions, the sword could prove to be mightier thanthe phaser. Xena conventions have quickly reached the zenith setby those legendary freakazoids with Vulcan blood (green, ofcourse) flowing through their veins. The organizer of both conventions - a company called CreativeEntertainment - has witnessed up to 4,000 Xena junkies willingto travel uncounted miles to these gatherings held sporadicallyaround the country. According to Gary Berman, president ofCreative Entertainment, there are many documented instances inwhich Xena pilgrimages have outdrawn Star Trek conventions. Berman, however, is quick to note: "I don't know if Xena will bearound another 30 years like Star Trek. But by the popularmomentum the show has now, you can bet we'll be doing these( Xena) conventions for a long time." Much like their space-age counterparts, many Xena followers showup in garb. They dish out trivia answers in forms of questions. They discusscritical issues such as violence on the show. They foam at themouth as they watch never-aired scenes and outtakes. In fact,behind-the-scenes footage and blooper reels are possibly thebiggest draws at Xena conventions. And Xenites are willing to part with hard-earned lucre topurchase action figures, coloring books, novels, magazines,games, calendars, Christmas ornaments, videos, CDs, jewelry andanything else associated with the Xenaverse. "It has become less expensive to purchase diamonds than topurchase the amount of Xena stuff I've bought over the years,"says Gail Futoran, whose house in Guadalupe County is filledwith comic books, action figures and assorted Xena booty. How does a popular media character such as Xena achieve cultstatus? (How's this for devoted? In one of the hundreds of XenaWeb sites, www. whoosh. org/road/xcvac97/index.html, Petra de Jong of the Netherlands published a 3,370-word diary about a trek tothe United States in search of Xena. She found Lawless in aBroadway production of "Grease" and even visited Katy,birthplace of Renee O'Connor, who plays Gabrielle. "Believe itor not, I was tired of Xena at this point. Guess that's whatthey call 'overkill,'(" reads the diary's last entry. Yeah,guess so, Petra.) Briefly, the good-vs.-evil story of Xena goes something likethis: Xena is this villainous, mad-cat army leader who pillages andplunders at will, remaining steadfast in her determination toearn glory by doing a number on her nemesis, Hercules. Then, oneday, she rescues a baby. Her bloodthirsty troops, horrified bythis show of maternal instinct, abandon her. She hooks up withHerc. Consumed by guilt over her previous, unprincipled ways, Xena seeks redemption through good deeds. Her life becomes anendless series of battles and skirmishes with evil warlords,gods, monsters, and assorted freaks and goons with hairyshoulders and backs. Yuck. And always, always there is this underlying theme: Xena wouldrather reason than rumble, but if an enemy of justice throwsdown, she's there. In an interview a couple of years ago, Lawless explained thesuccess of the show like this: "All I can say is that I'mthrilled and honored and I'm holding on white-knuckles, justtrying to ride this tiger. I think the show's popularity amongwomen stems from the fact that Xena carries the message, 'Yes, Ican' in both her actions and her demeanor. 'Yes, I can,' allalone, with no visible means of male support. That's a verypositive, affirming thing for women. We haven't had this kind ofrole model in the popular media for quite some time, and notever in episodic television. As far as men are concerned, Ithink they regard Xena as a woman they'd like to sit down andhave a beer with. She's a huntin'-shootin'-fishin' type woman.They could drink their beer and wouldn't have to talk much. Andkids like heroes. They hope there's a hero out there like Xenawho will protect them." The Xena arena What: Will feature behind the scenes footage, on-stagepresentations, trivia and costume contests, blooper reels, plusa merchandise emporium. Where: The Sheraton Four Points Riverwalk North Hotel, 110Lexington Ave. When: 1-7 p.m. Sunday Who: Celebrity speakers include Claire Stansfield, who portraysAlti on ' Xena: Warrior Princess' and Gina Torres, who portraysCleopatra. Cost: General admission tickets are available in advance for $17through Ticketmaster outlets; $20 for adults at the door; $10for children 7-12; and free for children 6 and younger. GRAPHIC: PHOTO: TOM REEL/STAFF Xena and Gabrielle; Gail Futoran displays some of her Xena collectibles. 'It hasbecome less expensive to purchase diamonds than to purchase theamount of Xena stuff I've bought over the years,' she says.
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