BURBANK, CA, USA
Fri., Sat. & Sun.
January 21-23, 2005
Hilton and Towers
2500 Hollywood Way
Celebrating 10 years of Xena
134 episodes, 6 Seasons and 10 Years of Xena Fandom
September 1995 - September 2005
Entertainment - Official Xena Convention 2005
Artwork by Lucia Nobrega
Convention report by
Con 05 Lucy and Renee
Boy, it seems like only yesterday that I finished typing up con 04 and yet
here we are at con 05 already. How time flies.
One of the first things that caught my eye when I first walked into the
con room was this very large
hiding-the-stripper-at-a-bachelor-party-fake-cake sitting to the right of
the stage. My immediate thought was, "Let's hope she's not dressed as Meg
when she pops out."
The video used to introduce Lucy and Renee was "Girl's Just Wanna Have
Fun". After the video ended, some exciting "pump 'em up" music started to
play. The house lights went down.
Suddenly, dramatically, a spotlight hit the
hiding-the-stripper-at-a-bachelor-party-fake-cake. And stayed there. . .
while nothing happened. The music ended. Then started again. We all still
stared fixedly at the cake. In a brave little homage to our national
anthem, the spotlight held its glare. The music continued to pump out.
Still nothing happened. Then the music stopped for a bit. Then we heard a
few muffled bumps and a little whispered, "Renee-keep going".
Then I believe that Sharon (who was standing in front of the audience)
asked, "Can you hear me?" There were a few more muffled sounds and then
there were some affirmative sounding murmurs. Just for a change of pace,
the audience began to chant, "Xeeena! Xeeena! Xeeena!" The music hopefully
restarted again. And then finally--success! Lucy pushed her way out of the
cake. Burbank, we have lift-off!
She hadn't shown up as Meg wearing whipped cream with a cherry (or two)
"on top", but was dressed instead in Renee's stand-in's white beaded
bikini from Lyre Lyre. She had on her huge old Afro wig and wore a
singer's head microphone. She stood waist-high in the cake for a minute,
arms waving hello. Then she came all the way out and climbed down the
layers of cake to the stage. She turned to help Renee out. Renee was
dressed in her own white beaded Lyre, Lyre bikini and she was sporting a
purple wig and a singer's microphone. After Lucy helped Renee down, she
said, "I just like to touch Renee."
Prudent disclaimer re my report: It was so dark in the audience, I could
barely see the pages in my notebook. But heck, I wasn't looking down at
the writing surface anyway since Lucy was onstage. So not only am I
writing in the dark, I am also staring fixedly at Lucy and writing without
looking. When I remember to write at all. Hmmm, I should probably check my
thighs for notes that I unwittingly continued over the edge of the pad.
Anyway with all of the above "complications", there will be a few errors.
Generally, I just scribble a few key words or phrases which hopefully will
kick off my memories when I take a peek at them later. Sometimes (though
sadly not always), a phrase will spark a little visual con rerun in my
mind. Things in quotation marks are not necessarily exact quotes. They are
approximate phrases, not dead right ones. Please keep all this in mind as
I try to reconstruct this. (KT stares fixedly at the wall, waiting for the
movie to start in my head. Oh hey-it's Bringing Up Baby-one of my
They danced around the stage awhile, singing "Let It Whip". Lucy sung lead
on the song, Renee did mostly the do-wops back-up.
They goofed around, Renee at one point standing behind Lucy, bending over
and ruffling the swinging beads dangling from Lucy's bikinied backside as
she stood at the edge of the stage in her
Xena-Dollie-Wide-Spread-Legs-Stance, singing away.
After the song, they started talking back and forth with Sharon. First
they discussed Renee's purple wig. (At which point Renee said to Lucy,
"Hey-you were supposed to wear a pink wig". Lucy murmured something about
always liking her Afro wig.) Renee somewhat reluctantly admitted that
Sharon had taken her to buy her wig at "Hustler's Hollywood." "Where
Sharon has an account." Lucy added.
Referring to their performance, Lucy said, "This is why people lip sync."
Lucy announced, "We're going to step into something more ugly." A small
discussion ensued about heading backstage to change. "Which way do we go?
Back in the cake?" The idea was that they could answer questions while
they were back stage changing. Sharon told them to be careful to get into
the right clothes or else Lucy might come out wearing short shorts and
Renee would come out with a shirt down to her knees.
Lucy said, "If we undress where we're supposed to undress, everyone will
Renee: "Let's just go on out there. G'wan."
Lucy picked up some postcards advertising the Dare Devil movie that Zoe
Bell had left on stage earlier. She began to fling them out into the
audience, saying something about "supporting my friend Zoe".
They told us, "We've been working on our go-go dancing." And, "We haven't
been jumping out of enough cakes." And "This is our first time doing that
stuff. We have genius, man."
Sharon had print outs of questions that she had received from fans and
also asked if anyone in the audience had a question they'd like to ask.
They talked about Renee's movie, "One Weekend a Month" which is playing at
the Sundance Festival. The director wants to expand it into a feature
length production so it could possibly be more widely distributed. I'm not
sure if this project is a definite go or not yet though.
I believe it was Renee who suggested that they take turns changing. Lucy
demurred, "It's no fun alone." Lucy moved a tad and stood squarely behind
a mike on a typical skinny mike pole stand. And made a joke about how she
could change right there because, "No one can see me now." (indicating
that the mike pole would successfully hid her from our prying eyes.)
Sharon, who was standing off the stage on the far right again suggested,
"You might want to go in the back and change". Lucy turned and looked at a
crew guy who was standing behind her on the far left and said, "She's
talking to you, mate." The guy looked around confused. Lucy said, 'You, in
that outfit-she's talking to you."
Sharon read a question from a fan about an episode. And Lucy said in a
very dry tone,
"Now Sharon, you know I don't remember anything."
Sharon told Renee that the artwork she'd provided for Creation to make a
t-shirt from for the 10th anniversary wasn't ready. Renee was very
concerned. Apparently it was a picture of Lucy (as Xena?). And Renee
talked about how it started out so beautifully but that she began to layer
it and that it turned out to be a very dark piece. Sharon explained that
because it was so complicated a piece, they had needed more time than they
had expected to get it done right. But that it would be ready as soon as
Renee said, "I want to show them my tattoos." And disappeared to change.
Later she came back in jeans, a t-shirt and with arms totally covered with
tattoos. (How'd she do that so fast-is Akemi backstage somewhere?)
Lucy still didn't want to change. Just like last year, she wanted to stay
in character. She most certainly didn't want to take off her wig. Renee
encouraged her to remove it as she did last year, but Lucy held out.
A fan asked Lucy, "Who was the best kisser? Kevin Smith? Kevin Sorbo?
(Pause) Or Renee?
Lucy murmured to herself, "What do I think?" She said something like, "As
a serious question, Kevin was just too much of a friend. For those six
years, I was having love scenes with Kevin Smith and it all just went
right over my head." She indicated that no matter what they did on screen,
their feeling as friends towards each other was the main focus for them.
"So. . .for a lot of reasons. . ." She shook her head. She added in that
sort of rhythmic cadence people use when they're listing things, "So it
would be, Kevin and I would walk to that stand of trees and stop, then
we'd walk again and stop again, then we'd kiss, then we'd walk somewhere
else. . ."
"Kevin (Sorbo's) really good. Tough as nails." She made her decision. She
picked Sorbo. I believe that Renee said in a soft, kind of disbelieving
undertone, ""Sorbo beat me out in a kissing contest?"
We began to say, "Awwwww" and "C'mon". So Lucy walked over to the edge of
the stage and said, "Okay. I'll give you Renee."
Again, there was a suggestion that she go get changed. Again she turned to
the crew guy and said, "Do something about that shirt."
She talked about how she wanted to stay in character, that she liked being
a character better than just being herself on stage.
She reminded us how quickly she had left last year after she was unwigged.
She said, "So if I change, I'm outta here."
Some people in the audience began to bug her to change. She dismissed
that, saying, "It's my party." She said to ask the fans who were at the
con last year if she should take off her wig or not. The fans were
divided, or at least I heard people yelling for both possibilities.
I THINK she said next, "Villains get the best wigs." Not sure though. She
did say villains get the best something, I'm just not sure it was "wigs".
Then Lucy added, "You think you want her, but you don't." (Referring to
Lucy as opposed to Lucy in Character.)
I think it was Renee who brought up the story of when Lucy first wore that
costume in Lyre, Lyre. That she was about 8 months pregnant, with a huge
belly. And Ted was onstage leading a conga line. Lucy said that she
couldn't wear Renee's costume because there was too much of a size
difference between them. But that Renee had a double who was quite a bit
bigger than she was. So Lucy put on that outfit and then came running out
onto the set as a practical joke. (Which was shot and shown during the
ending credits for the episode.) "I've had it ever since. Comes in handy."
Lucy talked about having just been in Bangladesh. She filmed a short
information piece on WorldVision in support of their program. Creation had
actually run the promo for us to watch earlier. She was her usual
heartfelt self, talking about the hardships of the people and especially
the children there. The promo will run in New Zealand for fund raising
Someone asked them if they had any cute stories about their kids. Renee
said not really but then talked about Miles enjoying music and enjoying
hanging with Renee. "One of his favorite things to do right now is to go
bike-riding with Mom."
Lucy said she didn't really have any either but that she and Julius were
in an "I love you more" contest one day and he said, "I love you through
space, past all the stars and out through the other side of space were
there are no stars or air."
Lucy said that her two year old, like most two year olds, can barely talk.
"But he's picked up from me, sometimes I talk and I'll say something like,
"Yeah and then we'll go there and blah blah blah."
"And the other day during our hellish drive to school", she interrupted
herself to say, "The S Word. In our house, the S word is 'Stupid'. And
Julius is saying something and I hear Judah in the back of the car saying,
"Blah, blah, dupid Ju-Ju dupid." That drive out here is just horrendous."
Someone asked Lucy how the Gentlemen Prefer Blonds show was going. She
said, "I only know it's in May. I'm glad you reminded me." She really
hasn't started preparing for it yet. And she said something about if she
did it. The woman told her that she had five tickets. So Lucy said, "Then
I'm there, I guess." (Nice little "I do things for you" moment.)
They talked about the irregularity of acting jobs. She got a new job
offer. "They want you for something. I'm so GLAD they do. I say, I'll take
it. I'll do anything! Like. . . 'Locust'!" And she struck a pose of a
person bending over backwards, arms up in the air, palms out to push away
the invader, showing a person in fear of assault. "It seemed like a pretty
good idea when I was in a slum in Bangladesh. I haven't really signed
yet." Renee asked, "You play a scientist, right?" And she answered, "A
scientist in the Ministry of Agriculture. Whatever you call that here."
"I'll just be running from bugs. I won't tell you how it ends." She
continued in a fake uplifting voice, "But it's VERY exciting."
Renee laughed and said that she on the other hand would be fighting off
termites in her film. (I guess she was talking about Alien Apocalypse?)
I was thinking about rejection, how as actors they live constantly with
rejection and failed opportunities. And then suddenly every January we
appear as sure as the swallows return to Capistrano. And we love them, we
love their work, we treasure what they created. No wonder they keep coming
to the cons just the way we do. When I talked this over with my honey, he
said, "Yup. Nothing quite like a shot of adulation."
A woman got up and said, "I'm a Xena virgin." Lucy said, "Renee-over
here". And then she pointed at the woman and said, "Sic 'em Ren!"
Then Lucy said, "I cannot believe it. I never even thought of that until
you said it. That you all come back." Renee breathed out, "Yeah."
Lucy said then, "I'm going to change. My mind." And walked backstage.
Renee was asked which artist was her favorite. She answered, "Van Gogh. It
used to be Monet but now it's Van Gogh."
About a minute after Lucy went backstage, the fire alarm went off. It's
amazing what a stripping Warrior Princess can do to your infrastructure.
Anyway, luckily it was a false alarm. Especially luckily for Lucy since
had we all had to evacuate the hall, so would she, clothed or not. Can you
just imagine the web images-us scurrying out of the convention hall
alongside a racing, naked Lucy Lawless? Boy, I bet that would have made
the L.A. Times.
Renee talked about the drawing she had done of Lucy for the 10th
anniversary T-Shirt. "It started out as a really clean, beautiful picture
of Lucy." Then she decided to layer her. And as she worked, the picture
showed Lucy changing. And ultimately it became very dark. Renee commented,
"What does THAT say about her?"
She was asked how she felt about being lusted after by all these women.
"It's an odd thing to think about. I don't do navel gazing like that,
don't think about people lusting after you. But thank you. Gay or
straight, thank you."
Then someone commented, "You and Lucy look tremendous." Renee replied,
"Thank you for giving me a compliment."
Lucy returned as Lucy. She said, "That's what happens when the wig comes
Although it's always an exciting treat to see these guys, there was a very
relaxed and informal feeling during their appearance. Most people seemed
to be pretty laid back, perhaps entranced would be the word for some. So
after a while, nobody was leaving their seats to go up to the mike to ask
questions. Sharon was working the audience with a hand mike and Lucy also
began to pick out people who had their hands raised to answer their
questions. The last couple of years, there's been a lot of relaxed, just
yelling out questions from our seats during the Q&A. This year most folks
were going up to the mike for the other performers but for Lucy and Renee
most of the questioners stayed in their seats.
They were asked "What story do you want to tell?"
They answered, "We won't know until we've done it."
There was some kind of question about how the show was an action adventure
show and yet there was a lot of focusing on the characters and their
They said that this was because those types of stories were just more
beautiful and had more life to them.
Lucy has always mixed her short, snappy joking replies, with thoughtful
serious answers. Some people see this as detached or unengaged but I enjoy
it. I liked it when they would sometimes evaluate carefully what was being
asked. Like when Lucy was asked who was the best kisser, Smith, Sorbo or
O'Connor. The possible intent of a question like is not getting an answer
so much as the expectation that Lucy will pick Renee and there can then be
gleeful reports on the web about her answer. But Lucy didn't go for the
easy, give-away, hoped for jokey answer. Instead, she talked about her
relationship with Kevin Smith and gave us more insight into having to fit
the acting life into your real life. Particularly in such a very small and
very isolated community of actors such as they have in New Zealand, where
"everybody knows everybody" and so would have connections outside work.
And unlike a larger country or one with a greater population, there's no
likelihood that on some projects there might be "fresh blood". All the
fresh blood is already there.
Someone asked Renee if she had had to be careful when hugging Lucy because
of the breastplate. She answered, "I had puncture wounds. Like I'd been
playing Tic Tac Toe on myself." (You know, my whole notation for this
exchange was just a few wildly scribbled words which on my first attempt
at translation came up as, "Renee - picture words. Tic tac toe" Picture
words, puncture wounds, what's a little creative remembering among
They were asked, "What's your favorite ice cream." Lucy said there was a
particular ice cream bar that she loved. It was about 270 calories per
bar. And that she had been up to about five a day before she cut herself
They were asked if they'd ever had any fights during the show. There was a
short silence as they looked at each other. Then Renee said something
about working together for six years, and over six years, "It becomes like
a marriage." Lucy added, "The sex was sporadic." Then Lucy cackled out her
laugh and said, "Have you guys heard of LBD?" There was a general swell of
noise, some amused sounds, some bewildered sounds. Lucy continued, "It's a
condition." (LBD stands for Lesbian Bed Death and refers to a lack of sex
between long term couples.) Lucy shook her head and said, "It's a
fallacy." Then someone yelled something out to her from the audience and
she replied, "Do you spell that with an 'F' or with a 'Ph'?"
They talked about having to keep a grip on reality when you're starring in
a television show. The amount of attention paid to you is outside the
normal experience. Lucy said, "It's a hyped up, surreal position." Then
she laughed, teasing Renee about how in the early days, she always acted a
little awed by Lucy. How she was always kind of staring at her in
wonderment. "You were all, 'You're so pretty!'"
Lucy said they had to find a balance. "Renee had to get a higher status."
And then she laughed as she added, "And I had to get a lower one."
One of them said, "By the eighth episode we were thick as thieves".
I think Lucy asked Renee, "Do you want to do 'Locust'?"
Renee answered, "I did "Alien Apocalypse" and "Alien Apogee" (?)
There was some talk about enduring the elements while filming and one of
them said, "I've gotten so lazy now."
One person asked what surprised them the most, what was the biggest thing
they learned about themselves when they first started filming.
They thought for a while about it, looking at each other for a bit. I
think it was Lucy who said, "I never would have thought that I could cope
with the physical action on the show." Then they talked about how they had
changed in terms of the lessons of the show. That the family they made on
set, they kind of carried the Greater Good within them, the crew,
everybody who had the common goal of making XWP.
Renee talked about the twenties as such a period of enormous growth for
anybody. And how they had both been in their early twenties, in that prime
time of change when XWP started.
I've noticed for a number of years now that Lucy often stands very quietly
when Renee is talking about herself or her projects as opposed to when
they're just chatting back and forth or answering questions. When Renee
discusses things, Lucy takes herself over to a far side of the stage and
stops moving. She often puts her head down, hiding her face from the
audience and looking at the floor as she listens. I find this extremely
courteous and very generous. She just seems to want to be sure that she's
not distracting the audience. Or even Renee.
Renee was asked if the tattoos all up and down her arms were real. She
explained that they were "tattoo sleeves". That she'd seen someone else
wearing these and found herself a pair. And really enjoyed wearing them.
Either she was asked or she volunteered that she was considering getting a
tattoo. Because she found it intriguing how differently people treat you
when you're tattooed.
A female soldier who had just returned from Iraq asked a question. I
believe that she asked how Renee had come to do "One Weekend A Month", her
movie about a single mom in the National Guard being called up for duty in
I believe Renee said that she'd had a friend who had a friend whom this
had happened to. So Renee was aware of this reality for some families. And
she had talked over it a lot with her friend.
Lucy asked the woman, "Are you Debby? We've read your letters with fixity
and concern". Actually, that woman wasn't Debby, but Debby, another female
soldier, was also in the audience.
You know, I hadn't really thought about that. How XWP as a story of female
warriors would hit real life female warriors. How affirming it must be to
watch a show where female warriors are celebrated, honored and yeah,
successful. An Amazon society that's both respected and feared is a normal
part of that world. Being a warrior is so entwined in the daily lives of
these characters. It's how Xena defines herself, as an "angry, ass-kicking
warrior". And also of course, XWP shows how much these characters struggle
with the emotional fall-out from their jobs.
A couple of months ago, a fan on some of the Xena lists posted that she
was on a "Books for soldiers" list and a soldier in Iraq had requested the
Xena seasons DVD sets, since he was a great fan of the show. She had a
number of offers almost immediately to send the sets to him. I wonder now
how many soldiers are Xena fans. For whatever reasons. And I dearly love
the thought of Xena: Warrior Princess being watched in any country where
women are not respected and treated as children to be taken care of. How
Meanwhile, back at the con:
The grrls were talking about the artwork they'd done for the convention.
Renee had created the layered picture of Lucy. Lucy had drawn a cartoon of
Xena and Gabrielle riding on a 10th Anniversary logo, as if on a horse.
Sharon asked Lucy where she got the phrases she'd used for the captions.
(Xena: "Live long and prosper! Er, wait. Um. . . Kill 'em all! No . . .
hang on, it's coming to me. . . Shine on, you crazy diamond!!!" Gabrielle
answers, "You go, big girl! Nut bread a rama!!")
Lucy said, "They were just epithets that came out for no reason". But that
"Shine on, you crazy diamond" had come from a Pink Floyd song.
Lucy said, "I labored over Renee's nose." She just couldn't seem to get it
right. She'd draw and erase and draw and erase and draw and erase
endlessly. She said "It was like playing hangman."
I think someone asked what their greatest fears or something like that was.
They answered, "Anywhere you have to put yourself up for rejection". And,
"Being open to such a large group".
It's odd to get a glimpse into seeing this from their side. Other stars
who appeared this weekend also mentioned that. That they're never quite
sure if we're going to like what they do, that they worry about not doing
a good job at entertaining us. And hell, ya know, if they sneezed, we'd be
all, "Damn! That was the BEST sneeze I've ever seen!" (And be writing
reports about it so that those who hadn't been able to go could share in
the glory of the sneeze.)
Someone asked the classic question, "Did you pull any practical jokes on
each other?" They talked about trying to get each other all the time-all
of them, all of the crew. Renee talked about her jokes not being very
successful. That if she greased the doorknob of Lucy's trailer, Lucy would
still be able to open it without even noticing that the grease was there.
Or Rob would be the one who'd open the door and it wouldn't faze him
Lucy said that Renee's attempts were particularly lame. Renee said, "What
do you mean?" and Lucy answered, "She's laughing like,
"Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo", thinking she's got a great one going. But if it was
equal to putting a "Kick me" sign on a person's back, that would be an ace
I think they were asked about reality shows. Renee said that reality shows
were just the death of television. Lucy replied, "And you don't want to
incur Renee's wrath. She might come and put Saran Wrap on your toilet."
Many people had applauded and hooted in agreement when Renee reamed
reality TV. Lucy looked out at us and said, "Oh yeah, right. C'mon now,
don't try to tell me that nobody here has never watched reality TV." Some
people loudly denied it. Lucy asked for a show of hands of who had never
watched it. I was near the front, so I don't know what the result was.
Renee mentioned The OC and Desperate Housewives as some of the few bright
spots on TV. Lucy said, "That's nice, isn't it?" And then, "I am Teri
Lucy looked at us and said something along the lines of, "Can you believe.
. . " then she stopped and said, "Well, actually, YOU would believe.
Renee, can you believe that people are still interested in the show ten
Someone asked about how much input they had into scripts and production.
Lucy answered, "Actors are known as 'warm props' in New Zealand." But she
added that there was a lot more freedom than you usually get on most
Someone asked Renee if there was ever any time that she had problems with
things that happened to Gabrielle, if she ever voiced concerns over some
of the script points.
Renee thought a bit and then said yeah, on Helicon and Back (and then she
added, "I'm going to suffer the wrath of Liz"). "The path I wanted
Gabrielle to go, I just remember I wanted to do it differently, having
them do it differently. I saw Gabrielle as very different than where the
writer thought we were." NOTE: remember that I'm reconstructing notes
scribbled in the dark. Though I THINK I have the intent, the words are not
exactly what they said. And probably, when the DVD of the con comes out,
we'll find out that Renee said nothing remotely like this. . . )
They were asked what they did to keep in shape. I think it was Renee who
brought up pole dancing. She giggled and said she just imagined Lucy doing
one of those Xena moves, spinning around a pole. (Grrl should write
fanfic.) They said they did whatever they could accommodate in their
lives. Lucy said, "I do yoga". Renee said, "I've started cycling." One of
them said, "Whatever's easy."
They began joking around and they were trying to remember what Rob called
them. "Mutt and Jeff" was one possibility. "Amos and Andy" was another. I
had the impression they couldn't quite remember. It also wasn't clear if
he was talking about Lucy and Renee or Xena and Gabrielle.
Lucy said, "Damn, I wish I'd had good answers. There were some good
Someone asked about how you created a monster mentality, like when Lucy
did Boogeyman. She said, "You spend hours in make-up. You get your head
into that space to be evil during that time." She talked about the horrors
of horror make-up. That there's some kind of astringent stuff they put on
your face to stretch it tight and then they apply stuff over it and then
when your face relaxes, the stuff gets all wrinkled and sagging. Lucy said
she's always afraid her face'll stay like that.
Sharon said something about the menagerie of little animals in Lucy's
house. (A gerbil, maybe a lizard? I don't remember.) Lucy said she wants a
dog. But Rob doesn't think that's a good idea because they travel to New
Zealand so often. (I believe that New Zealand is VERY strict on bringing
animals into the country. So that's a real problem if you're going back
They talked about gay marriage. I believe it was Lucy who said, "Things
will change. What's the threat? What are we losing?" She talked about how
many of her friends in L.A. are gay and that they were "incredibly stable.
Talk about commitment."
Then she added, "Save the children. (Pause) And the whales. (Pause) And
And I believe someone in the audience brought up the legalization of gay
marriage in Canada. One of them said, "You know, somebody's got to do it."
"It's an honor to be a part of something that keeps going. To be a part of
the Greater Good." I believe the use of the term The Greater Good was in
reference to the good works and the support of charity that Xena fans
Lucy told us one of her favorite quotes, "Hope is a low probability event.
There is no hope without action." (She amended the phrasing a few times,
but I think this was her final quote.)
And then they were out of time. And so they slipped away as we cheered and
stomped and hooted.