AUGUST 6-9, 1998
A WHOOSH! Report
By Daniel Charles McDeavitt [01-21]
Copyright 1998 held by author
Glad Tydings from GenCon98!!!
Card inviting attendees to the Wizard of the Coast table to play the XENA card game
 The self-proclaimed largest gaming convention in the world, GenCon98 lived up to its promos this year as over 19,000 people attended the four-day event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from August 6th-9th. The event centers on the promotion of fantasy game playing of all sorts, and is one of the more intense gatherings of testosterone in one place outside a major sports arena.
 Not to say that there were not any women present. On the contrary, the female presence in the gaming industry is getting larger every year. But the over all focus was "boys with toys".
 That's why I went. My invitation came from my brother who manages a game store and a friend whose role-playing game I helped play test, adding my 2-cents for storytelling. Sounded like fun, as I do not regularly attend these events.
 Now this was a GAMING convention, not a sci-fi/fantasy con. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there was a celebrity guest list. And not just one or two people. There was four of the original LOST IN SPACE cast (June Lockhart is very cool), Jeri Ryan, Robert Picardo, and John Delancie from STAR TREK, Claudia Christian from BABYLON 5, but most noticeably there was Alexandra Tydings, the lovely Aphrodite herself.
GENCON attendees play numerous collectible card games, including XENA and HERCULES
 During the pubic Question and Answer session on Friday afternoon, Ms. Tydings gave very animated answers to the 40 or so fans in attendance. For those of you who wonder, she is very warm and charming in person. Watching her respond and interact with the audience, I was greatly reminded of the character of Dharma from ABC's "DHARMA AND GREG". I mean that in the positive way.
 She covered many subjects during Friday's and Saturday's sessions, some which may be old news to some of her fans:
 She lives in Los Angeles and has two large dogs named Stella and Maggie. She swear this was not in reference to Tennessee Williams.
 This was only her second convention. The previous con was the week before. This is all very new to her. She is wowed, weirded out, and flattered by the overwhelming experience. Most of her acting roles outside of XENA/HERCULES have been with low profile, independent films/productions. She never knew this kind of fan support existed. Although a little coaching from Renee and Lucy helped prep her.
 Her background is in dancing. She wanted to be a ballerina, but soon became too tall. She is trained in many forms of dance, including Irish folk 'step' dancing. She loves to dance anything Latin!!!
 She LOVES New Zealand. She is going back for more shooting later this fall for both XENA and HERCULES.
 When auditioning for the part of Aphrodite in HERCULES' episode THE APPLE [H30/217], she got the script thinking that this was a 'serious' action adventure drama. After calling her agent, she learned of the unique style that was being taken with the show. Luckily she had worked with some of the crew from the early "Action Pack" show, VANISHING SON, and was able to get a better heads-up on what the part required. When she showed up for the audition, the other actresses were all dressed in leather outfits, skimpy and otherwise.
Actual card from the XENA deck
 She also learned that they were playing Aphrodite as a ditz and not very smart. Alexandra said to herself, and I paraphrase here: "This is the GODDESS of LOVE! Entire wars have been fought over her and she controls the strings on everyone's heart. She is not stupid." Damn straight. She got the part that day and was off to New Zealand the next week.
 In the HERCULES episode, STRANGER IN A STRANGE WORLD [H64/405], the cake fight with Lucy Lawless had to be done in one take or they had to get a new cake. Shooting happens in the middle of nowhere and takes hours to get to. The fight was FUN! But the cake/icing melted and dried under the hot production lights. In addition to being very uncomfortable, she and Lucy also smelled like icing for days.
 She hopes to have more roles like "STRANGER" where she can switch character types. She would even like to play Xena!
 She collects Tea cups.
 She has an armband tattoo around her right arm. The imagery is taken from the drawings in "The Book of Kells", an Irish mythology/history source. This is why Aphrodite always wears armbands, silk or otherwise.
 Pranksters on the set? She is not there as often as the others, but she has heard recently that Renee O'Connor and Kevin Smith (Ares), have been engaged in almost legendary pranks with each other on the set. And they have been escalating.
Alex signs autographs on Saturday
 Alexandra has started her own production company. She has a strong interest in independent film.
 She was off for New York for a role in a film after the convention. She spent a good part of Friday and Saturday signing autographs as well. Hundreds of fans lined up for this chance.
 All through both days, her vivid smile was maintained and it never seemed forced. I think we will be seeing much more of her in the future, in many incarnations.
 This site has good coverage of the GenCon event and the XENA/HERC card games.
BiographyDaniel Charles McDeavitt
Daniel lives in Bloomington, Indiana where he is completing his last year of graduate school at Indiana University as a Masters of Science candidate for a new Telecommunications Degree, Immersive Mediated Environments. His undergraduate came from the Individualized Major Program at Indiana University as a self-designed major entitled MultiMedia Production Design. His interests include ballroom dancing, martial arts (purple belt in hapkido), religious and spiritual freedoms, travelling, and writing. He is currently writing for television, screen, and interactive environments. With his representation with the WGA, he trusts he will sell material soon.
Favorite episode: THE PRICE [44/220], THE DEBT [52/306], and CALLISTO [22/122]
Favorite line: Xena to Gabrielle: "Scratch my nose, will ya?" THE DEBT II, [53/307] (More for when it was said, why, and the reactions given, than for the line itself.)
First episode seen: CALLISTO [22/122] (Other episodes seen in part, but THIS one got me.)
Least favorite episode: At the bottom of the list I'd probably have to put FINS, FEMMES, AND GEMS [64/318] (as a writer, can I say ACK?!!)