Whoosh! Online Edition Whoosh! On The Road

WarriorCon
September 12-14, 1997

By Bret Ryan Rudnick
WHOOSH! Report
Copyright © 1997 held by author
way too many words



The Trip Down
Friday Night Mingle with the Guests Reception
Saturday Events
Sunday


WarriorCon September 12-14, 1997



You needed one of these for entry.




OK, OK, I admit it. There are a lot of pics in this report because of the contest on the film rolls. Happy?



The Trip Down


[01] There was no way of knowing what to expect of WarriorCon. The adverts for it went out on the WWW back in May sometime, if memory serves. It sounded like a pretty exciting venture, even more so as the list of celebrity guests and schedule of activities grew. I made my reservation early, sat back and counted the days. I was not disappointed. WarriorCon was a truly unique experience, and unlikely to be repeated in the near future, if at all. There are a number of reasons for this, many I won't get into here, but suffice to say this was a con to remember.



It was a short and pleasant flight from Boston to Washington, D.C..


[02] I dislike flying. I do way too much of it. But in this case, things actually worked out pretty well. I arrived at Boston's infamous Logan airport at my usually anal early time. When I checked in at the ticket counter (unnecessary but I always do because I've learnt a few tricks or two about upgrading) I was told the plane I was *supposed* to take was running very late, but there was a flight to Washington National, my destination, boarding *now* if I wanted to take it. Sixty seconds later, I was on the plane and on my way. This was a very good omen, and things just kept getting better.



View of D.C. from the tarmac. Note the Capitol building near the centre of the pic.




Another view of D.C. from the tarmac. Note the Washington Monument near the centre of the pic.




Arrival at Washington National, a very nice airport despite its reputation.


[03] I really had reservations about flying in to Washington National airport. Years ago, there was a terrible accident when a jet, taking off from Washington National, slammed into a nearby bridge because icy wings prevented it from lifting to sufficient altitude. About a year after that accident I walked across that very bridge and the repair work where the accident took place was very evident. It was an eerie feeling to fly over that again.



Hanging out at the airport waiting for the hotel shuttle. You can tell I want to win that New Zealand contest, can't you?


[04] After a very short wait, the hotel shuttle conveyed me to the Hilton hotel, where WarriorCon was being held. It was a nice hotel as hotels go, and the room was clean, fairly spacious, and comfortable, with a better than average view as well.



The Hilton, where it all happened. There is a fabulous sushi place right across the street, so I survived quite handily. It's to the left of the pic, called Edoya II. Highly recommended.




Nice room.




Nice view.




If you get into D.C. way early and want to bop around town, try the clean and efficient Metro!



Friday Night Mingle with the Guests Reception


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Left to right, Robert Field and Tim Thomerson, engaged in a hot debate, Robert Trebor, looking dapper, Steve Sears in his trademark hat, Travis Wong, Mike Levine picking on Kevin Smith, Karl Urban, and Doug Wong.


[05] Prior to the Friday night reception, I passed through the hotel lobby a few times on my way hither and yon. I ran into Mike Levine on my way downstairs. Although we had corresponded and chatted numerous times before, we had met in person only once previously, yet he recognised me immediately, which I found very flattering. Also newly arrived were Rob Field and Steve Sears. I had never met Steve Sears before in person, but there would be time for that later. I didn't want to intrude on the guy -- he was busy slaving over his laptop!



A "better behaved" class picture at the reception. Standing, left to right, Robert Field, Robert Trebor, Mike Levine, Kevin Smith, and Doug Wong.
Kneeling, left to right, Tim Thomerson, Travis Wong, Karl Urban, and Steve Sears.


[06] The receptionwas the second most exciting part of the con for me. From seven to ten PM, in a large ballroom with only a few tables and chairs, we had the opportunity to mingle and chat with other attendees and also with the thing that made this event particularly special -- the celebrity invited guests. In attendance were : Robert Field, Master Editor, Michael Levine, Director Extradordinaire, Steve Sears, brilliant Producer/Writer, Kevin "Ares/Iphicles" Smith, Robert "Salmoneus" Trebor, Tim "Meleager" Thomerson, Karl "Maell/Cupid/Ceasar-Julius-Caesar" Urban, Doug Wong, Martial Arts Master and his son Travis, and a "celebrity fan" Jamie "Myrh" Murray. We could all mingle freely and talk with any and all of the guests, and during that evening I made new acquaintances and renewed old ones. I met many people there, and by the end of the evening, I came to truly regret that so many new-found friends live so far away. I can't begin to remember all the great things talked about during this evening, but in short, it was a wonderfully intimate setting and very unusual and unique. It would have been worth the trip for this alone.



There were lots of pictures taken at the reception. At one point while posing for the group photo, one of the guests, I think it was Steve Sears, suggested we all snap a pic at once. I think the resulting flashes may have induced sunburn. Note the stark shadows on the wall..


[07] The reception itself was just delightful. I was surprised by the relatively low number of people in attendance. Everyone could mingle pretty freely, and there was ample opportunity to speak with guests of all stripes, the guests of honour, and the "regular" guests too!



Rori Klion, who organised WarriorCon, is carried on the shoulders of Kevin Smith and Steve Sears. Jamie Murray, "celebrity fan guest of honour" is seen at the far right (first chance I had to get a pic of him that evening).


[08] It was a delightful evening. Old acquaintanceships were renewed, and new ones made. Tim Thomerson and I had a lengthy and fascinating conversation about his XENA experiences (look for much of this in an upcoming WHOOSH! interview with him). Robert Trebor and I met in person, after having spoken to each other on the phone at length doing a very in-depth interview. We ended up doing an imprompty comedy bit as people came by wanting a picture with him, and I kept switching seats during the conversation! Doug Wong and his son talked to me about their martial arts experiences. I introduced myself to Kevin Smith who knew who I was right away from our previous telephone interview, which was again very flattering. But the cool thing was that I wasn't doing anything anyone else at the reception couldn't do! It was a very intimate yet open atmosphere, and a rare treat. I doubt very much something like this would happen anywhere but at a privately/fan-organised event.



If you want to find Kevin Smith, just look for the tall guy at the centre of the crowd of women! Karl was similarly surrounded.




Kevin Smith and Karl Urban during a moment of calm at the reception.



Saturday Events




The WarriorCon hall where the action took place. The con seemed lightly attended, which was great for the attendees, but didn't do much for balancing the books in terms of expenses.


[09] First of all, let me say that Rori Klion, who organised this whole affair did an excellent job from what I saw and experienced. My only "complaint" about the entire WarriorCon was the fact that events usually didn't start on time. This is said more as a personal observance and less as a criticism. Rori and all the staff of WarriorCon were never anything less than friendly, helpful, and accomodating. I just wanted to be more sure of event starting times so I could run a short errand or grab a bite to eat without fear of missing something. Saturday was a *very* full day. Virtually all of the celebrity guests gave a talk or presentation of some sort. [10] Kevin Smith and Karl Urban were very, very popular, and they were both very charming, witty, and fun. Their time on stage was taken up with question and answer sessions mainly, and they really got into it!



Kevin Smith


[11] Kevin Smith told a number of funny stories, not the least of which is the reason he doesn't like dancing. He said we can look forward to more Ares appearances, and he'd really like to play Othello on stage again, as he has done once before. There is no substitute to see him in person, making jokes, singing bits and pieces of tunes, and demonstrating his patented Ares laugh.



Karl Urban


[12] Karl was also a master storyteller. Karl was the unfortunate target for a number of (good-natured) sheep jokes, but his quick wit carried him through and just endeared him to the audience. He is quite the impressionist, and his Jim Carrey is not to be missed. He mentioned that we might see Caesar-Julius-Caesar again, even after his upcoming DELIVERER episode in a yet-to-be-filmed ep after hiatus (this is still in discussion phase). And right after WarriorCon he had to get to work on AMAZON HIGH in a small part in which he plays a cannibal!



Tim Thomerson


[13] Tim Thomerson is a character! The Xenaverse knows him as Meleager, but he is a very hard-working actor with a number of credits to his name (much more will be revealed in an upcoming edition of WHOOSH!). His "Stagecoach" standup routine, which he did in full at his second appearance on Sunday, was a highlight that had the audience almost helpless with laughter. He too is an amazing impressionist, but, like every other Xena celeb I've met, he's also a very nice person who always worries about giving as much to the audience as he possibly can.



Robert Field.


[14] Many of thes guests had footage they wanted to bring with them but weren't allowed to at the last minute. But being smart and talented people, they improvised. Rob Field delivered a fascinating "Editing 101" talk and after that discussed "bloopers" in detail based on the observations of fans.



Mike Levine demonstrates his method for solving vector multiplication problems. If you haven't taken advanced physics or mathematics, the joke will be lost on you, and for that I apologise.


[15] Mike Levine brought some of his home videos from the set of XENA, which showed a little of what life on the set is really like. Some of this footage was priceless, such as moments where Lucy and Renee were playing with big plastic "Hercules" swords.



Doug Wong




Travis Wong


[16] Doug Wong brought a home video of his training sessions with Hudson Leick and also showed some video of his appearances on television with Kevin Sorbo. His son Travis gave an impressive martial arts demo.



Steve Sears


[17] Steve Sears told some interesting and amusing anecdotes about some of his writing experiences, and gave us an idea of what a writer for the show actually does and some of the process involved. In one case, he told us that the word for the weapon "chobos" in HOOVES AND HARLOTS was an accident. He needed a name and was stuck for one. He was looking out a window and saw someone eathing a "churro" and stuck in the name "chobo" with the idea of doing a "search and replace" later. It wasn't until he saw the dailies and heard Alison "Melosa" Bruce say "chobos" that he went "Oops."



Robert Trebor explains how to read one of the XENA comics he wrote. It turns out there was an assembly mistake. Instead of pages facing each other like they were supposed to, you have to flip two pages back and forth to read them properly so they'll make sense.


[18] Robert Trebor brought some video of his non-Salmoneus work. As the "Son of Sam" he was truly frightening. The depth of his performance was beyond words.




Saturday evening costume contest participants and winners


[19] There was a costume contest Saturday evening in which there were about eight to ten participants, and all of them were declared to be winners of one category or another, which was very nice.




Costume contest panel judges were Karl Urban, Kevin Smith, Mike Levine, and Robert Trebor.




There was entertainment in the form of skits Saturday evening as well, but the high points by far of the skits were Kevin Smith doing a voice-over commercial for "Ares Extra Dry", and Karl Urban as in impromptu Cupid, shown here saying to "Calfrodite", "He had it comin', Mom!" You had to be there.



Sunday




Jamie "Myhr" Murray hosted the charity auction.


[20] There were some more appearances by celebrity guests and a panel in the evening by Steve Sears, Mike Levine, and Rob Field about how a show is made (which I had to miss in order to catch a plane, alas) but the highlight of the day was the auction.

Folks, words fail me here. Xenites are known for their generosity, friendliness, accessability, and overall good nature. But one event at the auction stood out as an example in microcosm that sums up what Xena fandom is all about.

The auction was hosted by Jamie "Myhr" Murray, a "celebrity fan" and very good-natured guy who took the multitude of cat jokes in stride when he hosted the auction (and costume contest the night before) as his special character "Myhr" (think "cat man" and you'll get an idea).

There were examples thoughout the auction of Xenites and their generous nature. The auction was a benefit for the House of Ruth, a charity that helps women, children, and families.

SAL_FAN was his usual generous self, and more than once he out-bid someone on an item (sometimes himself) to fetch an amount that would help the charity. Sometimes he gave his prize away. Near the end of the auction, he and Suzilla were bidding on a set of scripts but he outbid her only to share the prize with her at the end. This sort of thing happened more than once.

At one point during the auction a little girl wanted to bid on a replica chakram she would have liked to have. The bidding quickly went well beyond the means of her and her parents, but Mike Levine saw the look of disappointment on the little girl's face and himself took the high bid to win the chakram and give it to a very grateful and lucky little girl.

But there was magic in the air when the last item came up for bid. Steve Sears told the story about how he was in NYC and stopped by the theatre where Lucy was rehearsing GREASE. They ran into one another and he mentioned he had a Xena action figure with him that he was going to give to the WarriorCon charity auction. Lucy volunteered to sign it -- she ended up signing the front and back of the package and I think there were other things special about it.

This was the last item up for auction. The bidding opened up fairly low, around $25 I believe, but it went up and up and up, and soon two people were bidding at well over $300 for it.

One of those two people was Sylvia, a woman from New Zealand (but who hailed from the same area in England where I grew up, oddly enough) who had bid on several items earlier in the auction. She was a very animated and fun bidder, sometimes winning and sometimes losing an item, but always very good- natured about it and certainly having fun.

The other person bidding on the action figure at this time was Donna, and she was determined to win the prize as well. Up the price went, 400, 500, 600 dollars. Donna was clearly reaching her limit.

Sylvia suddenly went up to an even $1,000. Donna was clearly crushed, but simply yielded good-naturedly.

The bidding was over on the final item at the WarriorCon auction. Sylvia had won.

What did Sylvia do? She immediately took her prize and *gave* it to Donna.

Donna was stunned. She couldn't believe it, and did not at first accept it.

But Sylvia persisted, and Donna graciously accepted.

The room went wild. Standing Ovation puts it mildly.

There was such an outpouring of sustained applause and cheers you would have thought Lucy Lawless paid a surprise visit. More than one celebrity guest was moved by the tribute and spoke to the group about it. This is what XENA fans are like. This is the sort of thing XENA fans do. XENA fans tend to think more of others than they do of themselves.

But that's not the whole story.

Turns out that Donna and Sylvia knew each other.

Sylvia is in the US on an extended holiday, having not had a holiday herself in many a year. She's seen many XENA episodes because people like Donna have sent them to her. She herself has gone out of her way to make her holiday "Xena themed". Sylvia and Donna met early on at WarriorCon and bonded, becoming fast friends. And this tale of friendship met a high point with Sylvia's selfless act.

After seeing something like his happen before at other XENA gatherings, it never fails to move or impress me. XENA fans are indeed special people, as are the people who make the show who take their valuable personal spare time to share their work and experiences with us.

Would that all of us could find a little more Sylvia and Donna, SAL_FAN, and Mike Levine inside ourselves, at all times, everywhere. XENA, it seems, can teach us *all* a valuable lesson.



Donna (left) and Sylvia (right) display their prize.








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