Convention Report from StarFury '99 by Tomihawk
"Hi. I'm Bruce. How are you?"
How cool would it be to be standing in a bar and have Bruce Campbell come up to you, shake your hand and introduce himself? Well, I was one of 200 people attending the celebrity cocktail party at StarFury '99 and after he bought his drink he came up and done just that to me!
Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi and Robert Trebor were mingling with the attendees of the Xena, Herc & Evil Dead convention at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel in London, chatting, joking, teasing with season 5 spoilers and hopefully enjoying the relaxed setting at the poolside bash. Only the first 200 people to book their tickets had been invited and what an incentive to book early!
There was a strange atmosphere when they first arrived. Nobody was sure whether to approach them or not, so for the first few minutes everyone was pretending they weren't there, watching them out of the corner of their eye while trying to look natural. They went to the bar, ordered their drinks and then Bruce turned, commented "I guess I better go and mingle. I think I'll start...here." Then he reached out and shook my hand. "Hi, I'm Bruce. How are you?"
And that set the tone for the evening. The three stars wandered through the crowd making introductions, asking questions, answering questions, soaking up the atmosphere and generally enjoying themselves, it appeared. Under strict instructions from the management, no pictures were taken and no autographs were requested, which made the event more personal than the onstage sessions due to take place over the rest of the weekend.
Robert fitted in immediately and it only took a simple question to start him off. Then, like his onscreen persona, he rattled on with a flurry of facial expressions that are so characteristic of the part we all know and love. All that was needed was the costume and Salmoneus would have been standing there in all his enterprising glory, plugging his new book and happily discussing his upcoming role in Tropical Storm with the few pups who made it to the convention. It's reassuring to see so much of the character within the actor. It makes the show more real, in a strange sort of way.
Bruce had a more commanding presence. Perhaps not so much with those who only know him as the quirky and witty King of Thieves but to those of us who have followed his career outside of ancient Greece he will also be the guy who cut off his own hand before making short work of hoards of undead creatures, spilling as much blood as possible. Most of the chat revolved around Xena and Herc, naturally. He mentioned that he likes to have control over the direction of his scenes and that he doesn't like directors who demand complete control over cast and crew. "There are times when I'll turn up on the set and there'll be an X on the ground where I'm supposed to stand."
Ted has an incredible likeable quality. He appears to love the attention he gets but on a level somewhere far from arrogance. His animated recounts of stories from the sets are like mini plays of their own at times. He was the only guest who ventured into season 5 spoilers (details later), appearing to revel in the hungry look on our faces when he would tease us with a season 5 snippet and refuse to elaborate any further. When asked if he prefers working on Xena or Herc he revealed that he prefers the atmosphere on the Xena set. He explained that on a TV production, the atmosphere on the set is determined by the star and the director but, since the directors change, the star has the most influence. Kevin Sorbo is a very professional actor but he's a man's man. Lucy, on the other hand, is renowned for her practical jokes and so a much more light-hearted air resides on the Xena set, which results in a friendlier working environment.
On their own, both Bruce and Ted could keep the crowd entertained for hours but on the few occasions they got together it was like watching a double act. They worked so well off each other that it sometimes appeared like the act would go on even if there were no on-lookers. The jokes ranged from pretending to slap make-up on each other, quipping about who needed the most, to the completely surreal involving sounds and movements that were obviously sampled from an in-joke that had developed over a life-long relationship. Stabbing each other with pretend swords and "leaking" blood reminded me why I love these characters so much. Bruce even admitted that they were expelled from the set of one episode by the assistant director because of the constant distraction they were causing for the rest of the cast.
Finally, the cherry on the cake for me was the way Bruce and Ted remembered me at the end of the evening. I was standing beside Bruce, Ted came over and Bruce told him "Hey, have you met this guy from Ireland." and then turned to me and said "Belfast, isn't it?" Ted shook my hand and said, "Yea, I was speaking to you before." I was the first one Bruce spoke to and now, about an hour and a half later, after everyone else he had spoken to, he remembered where I was from. He didn't have to. They didn't have to. They could walk around for the evening, listen to people tell them who they are and where they live and forget it by the time they turn to the next person...but they didn't. Ok, so they probably won't remember me this time next week but for a few hours they did!
And last, but not least, the season 5 spoilers...
Ted revealed that Joxer is the first person to find the ill-fated Xena and Gabrielle as they were left at the end of season 4 and he ain't too pleased about it. He also revealed that in the fifth episode of the season, Joxer openly declares his love for Gabrielle but wouldn't give any indication of how she reacts to the news. On the musical episode, he told us that it won't have the dark tone of The Bitter Suite. Instead, it will be a comedy episode starring Jase, the flamboyantly gay brother of Joxer and Jet and his cabaret style outfits have to be seen to be believed. On a final note he told us that the season's episodes swing from one end of the spectrum to the other. The comedy ones are completely off the wall while the serious ones are very dark.
That's it for now. Tomorrow starts with a 9am video screening of the Herc episode Men In Pink. Do we really want to see those hairy legs at that time in the morning?
Continued - Part 2