Orlando Xena Convention
Memorial Day Weekend 2000
by Deborah Pankow
MY TRIP TO ORLANDO FOR THE XENA CONVENTION
When I heard that Creation was wise enough to schedule Claire Stansfield for
the Orlando 2000 convention Memorial Day weekend, I knew I had to go. This
was my fifth convention, I started attending them one year ago this month. I
have never been to Florida, so I was eager to see it. I arrived at the
airport in El Paso at 3 p.m. EST (1 p.m. local time). After a very long day,
I finally arrived at Orlando International airport at midnight EST. What a
HUGE airport. I saw ninety nine gates and they even need shuttle trains to
transport passengers from the gates to the baggage claim.
I went to Transtar shuttle and bought a round-trip ticket for the shuttle
van from the airport to the Delta Orlando Hotel where the convention was
being held. It was only nineteen dollars, not bad
considering the distance and the price of taxis.
The Delta Hotel was an okay hotel considering I only paid $59/night (thirty
dollars less per night than Creation was offering). Lucky for me I did not
have time to watch TV, the TV only had six channels. Claire Stansfield got
hooked on the Hotel channel that kept showing videos of people in the pool
and the hotel's activities. She said she kept running to the window trying
to figure out if the channel was live or pre-taped. (It was pre-taped). The
hotel had the air conditioner on in my room when I got to it. Good thing
too, since it was 1 a.m. and still approximately 150 degrees outside. I
thought El Paso was HOT!!!
After a long five hours of sleep I was up by seven a.m. and went wandering
around the property. The grounds are really nice. Three pools, hottubs,
mini-lake, fish pond, walking trails. It was really
nice. Heading back to my room I went through the restaurant and saw Susan
and Lynn from Creation and Barbara and Margaret eating breakfast. After they
finished I told them I 'd meet them at the hall to help set up. I spent the
next two hours unpacking boxes and setting up tables. I was talking to Anita
Ellis about how much I and many of the fans love the charity breakfasts. I
told her they are one of the highlights of the entire weekend for me. She
asked me if I wanted to escort Claire around to the tables the next day. Of
course, I agreed immediately.
The convention was scheduled to begin at 1:20. Of course, they started late
as usual. I got to see the Women of Xena video and the Second Video Salute
to Xena and her forebears for the first time. Those are really good videos.
The Xenaversity (most especially Matt) had a big part in creating those. We
only had an hour to kill before the star attraction came onstage: Claire
Stansfield! She came out in Jeans and a t-shirt looking as lovely as her. I
imagine Claire would look great in just about anything. Claire has said that
knowing Lucy Lawless has helped her very much to be proud of her height and
who she is. She said on stage that Lucy is so good about her self-esteem and
knowing who she is and what she has to offer. She is so sure of herself.
Claire talked about wanting to get more into directing and away from the
acting. She said she has difficulty handling the insecurity that comes from
dealing with Hollywood. It's really sad that someone as beautiful and
talented as Claire is so overlooked and underrated by TPTB in Hollywood. My
friend Chris has a really good posting about this very thing on Claire's
website fan forum. Claire said again how much she loves and appreciates the
Xena fans and how much we mean to her. We make her feel so special and have
fulfilled that part of her that needed and desired fame.
Claire talked about how she had been to a party at Lucy's recently for
Renee. Someone asked if Claire was going to the wedding. Claire said what
wedding? She was worried that she had leaked that, but we told her we
already knew. She said no one is going to tell her anything anymore because
she's such a blabbermouth. She said that Renee and her mom had gone shopping
in L.A. Someone asked when Claire was going to go shopping with her mom.
She said not for awhile.
Claire talked about how great it is working with both Lucy and Renee. She
and Lucy have become really good friends. Renee is so intense on set when it
comes to preparing herself for her scenes. Claire said she and Lucy will be
sitting around talking and laughing and Claire will look over and see Renee
studying her script intensely or reading. Claire will think to herself
"Should I be reading or studying, too. No %#@* it!" The crowd roared at
that. I only heard Claire swear once or twice on stage. She really held it
in well this year. I would most likely be cursing with every other breath.
Check out Claire's trailer for Chickmates on her website.
http://www.clairestansfield.com Aida has done a fabulous job revamping
Claire's website. I can't wait to see the finished project. There are
two really great photos of Claire on her homepage that I hope she will sell
to the fans. You can check out the photos I took of Claire in Orlando at
Between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. they showed the usual filler of videos, trivia
competition, etc. The first panel won $50 each and decided not to go for
double or nothing. That was a wise decision. The second Trivia panel did not
get any questions right. They were really difficult questions. I asked the
first panel "What was the first episode of Hercules that Joxer appeared in?"
At 5:15, Ted Raimi came out to a Joxer friendly crowd. He did his usual
prat-falls with the chair. He spoke for several minutes before he realized
he wasn't using the microphone. He asked if everyone in the back had heard
him. He said anything you didn't hear, you can ask the people in the front
to tell you what he said. He talked about how everyone is always taking his
picture and how boring it is to see himself on the internet. If he wants to
look at himself, he can simply look in the mirror. He dug into his backpack
to find his camera and took a picture of the audience. Later, someone asked
him to sing the Joxer song. He was gracious enough to do it when ten people
came up on stage and helped out. Someone asked him about jokes on the set and he
said the best one he ever pulled off was on Tim Omundson. He got Lucy and
Renee to be mean and cold to him at the read-through on his first day in New
Zealand. When Tim came on the next day, he told his version. The entire
audience was in stitches. I had heard the story twice before, but I was
still laughing. Tim tells it so well. He is a really good speaker.
After Ted finished speaking, they set up for autographs. Gary Berman said
that since they have previously gotten so much negative feedback on the
internet about rushing the crowd through like cattle, today everyone could
take their time. I was in the first row, but Xena from Tampa who was working
the door told me Sunday that the entire crowd got through in about two
hours. There were only eight rows of gold seating this year and six rows on
Sunday. There were only about six rows of preferred seating both days. In
Cherry Hill last year, there were thirteen rows of gold seating on Saturday
and eleven rows on Sunday.
I told Ted I saw his cameo in Postcards From The Edge recently. He said it
took about an entire day to shoot that five seconds of film. Compare that to
the Xena or Hercules production company shooting an entire fourty-five
minute episode in five to fifteen days. I then got to Claire and her whole
face lit up with recognition. The look was priceless and I will never forget
it. She asked me twice how I was doing and seemed genuinely glad to see a
familiar face. She's a real STAR.
The next day at the breakfast Claire talked a lot about Lucy and Julius. She
spent a bit of time with them recently going out to eat. Julius grabs
anything within reach and starts swinging or throwing it.
Claire said that she was a lot less nervous on stage this time. Which I
could tell on Saturday because she only ran her hand through her hair once
or twice. That's a nervous gesture I have repeatedly noticed her doing at
the other three conventions I've been to with Claire as a guest. Claire
also talked about her freezer and how her boyfriend buys the whole cow and
stocks the freezer. But, I won't say any more than that about the "freezer."
Claire did give a two fingered salute to Tim Omundson when he said something about Claire really is as evil as Alti. She did it again when someone asked her to pose that way so that they could get a picture of it.
Tim and Ted spoke on Sunday. Tim and Ted were beating each other up and
yelling at each other in jest at the breakfast. You can tell that they are
buddies. It seems to me that women bond by talking and men bond by trying to
kill each other. Ted was pretty much the same as the day before. Did his
usual pratfalls with the chair. Did not want to sing Joxer the Mighty again,
not that I can blame the guy. I saw "Galaxy Quest."
At the breakfast Claire was mentioning that she told Ted when she does two
day conventions she comes out the second day and runs through her entire
spiel from the day before and her life story (especially regarding Xena) in
one breath. When Ted came out on Sunday, he did exactly that. Someone asked
Ted if he was related to Sam Raimi, he just rolled his eyes and the crowd
groaned. Other than that, the questions were pretty much the same. Asking
about the makeup for Old Joxer. Long and tedious. Who's better to kiss Xena
or Gabrielle? Ted said it's like kissing your sister because he knows them
both so well. He was an interesting speaker & nice guy. But, Claire will
always be my favorite. To each his own I guess. The second day Creation
showed the better Joxer Video. The song is "I Want To Be A Cowboy." It's
really great and was created by my buddy Matt from the Xenaversity of
Minnesota XOMBIES. He has created dozens of great videos.
Tim came out about five o'clock. He talked about his first day on the set in
New Zealand. Said he had thought about getting Ted back by sending him a fan
letter from a guy pretending to have a huge crush on him. Or by calling him
at three in the morning. But, he hadn't done anything. Tim is an extremely
nice guy. Very funny and entertaining on stage. He's very personable. He is
one of my favorite Xena guests even though I really didn't care for the
character Eli that much. I did like Eli much more after meeting Tim in Las
Vegas, however. He talked about his roles on "Seaquest, Jack and Jill, Early
Edition, and Judging Amy. He doesn't know yet if he will be back on Judging
Amy next year. I hope he is.
All in all, the convention was a blast. Well worth the time and expense of
going. I missed seeing the Xenaversity, but I did get to see Chris and some
other people I knew from Cherry Hill and Pasadena. I also got to know Xena
from Tampa and a few other people when we were hanging out with the Xena
crowd at Studio 70 at the hotel Sunday night. Seeing old friends and meeting
new ones is such a huge highlight of traveling to the conventions. I don't
plan on going to any other conventions this year until the big one in Xena
convention that will now be held in May 2001 instead of January 2001. Most
of the conventions this year are Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi and I've
already seen both of them.
The biggest surprise of the weekend was Monday morning. I was out front at 8
a.m. saying goodbye to Susan, Lynn, and Barbara while waiting for the
shuttle van to pick me up at 8:10. I saw a white s-t-r-e-t-c-h limo pull up
in front of the hotel instead. It seems all the shuttle vans were busy
transporting other people to the airport so Transtar sent the stretch
instead. I am SO GLAD the hotel was thirty minutes from the airport and not
five. It was so much cooler riding in the back of a limo instead of a van to
the airport. What a ride! What a weekend!!!
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