Santa Monica Convention Report
SANTA MONICA 1999 - IMPRESSIONS
This was my third Xena/Herc convention and I have to say the experience just continues to be FUN! I wasn't really going to this con to see the celebrities as I've seen Lucy before and the others on the lineup, though all very nice and talented, would not have motivated me to spend $600 to travel across the country. The fellow fans were my reason for going and most of all - the bards :) I'm a bard stalker you see and for a bard stalker this con was just HEAVEN! I think SM 1999 probably featured the greatest concentration of bards ever at a Xena gathering.
I arrived at LAX on a beautiful Thursday morning and just 30 minutes later was meeting my first bard - Baermer of PELOPONNESIAN WAR fame - a long-time friend who is incredibly nice, smart and funny. We waited around for another bard to meet us - this fellow Floridian I know from Miami and who some Xenites may be familiar with...Missy Good ;-) We headed into Santa Monica and that evening I crossed off two more bards from my list after we had dinner with Katherine Colson and Suzar - one of the cutest twosomes I've ever met.
Friday was sort of calm in the morning. Missy and I did the early bird thing waking up in the wee hours and going down to see the Pacific Ocean which is quite different from what we have in South Florida. The surf was just gorgeous. In South Florida unless it's REALLY windy the water just tends to lap at the shore, not much of a surf. I found another good friend taking pictures around there - Donna Alexander. The Xenites were beginning to emerge! :) Missy and I then went on an impromptu tour of Santa Monica in search of a Radio Shack and a cell phone charger. Never did find the store but it was nice to see more of the area - including the residential neighborhoods which were quite pretty - very different from South Florida were everything is flat. Over there we kept going either uphill or down.
We went back to the hotel afterwards where Missy got busy writing a shower scene for HURRICANE WATCH. Being the sacrificing sort - I told her to just take aaaaall the time she needed with that while I went wandering around the hotel (thank you notes can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org :) Lunch was an opportunity to see some old friends, meet some new ones, and cross more bards off my list including C.L. Bactad and XWPFanatic. We went to the Santa Monica peer and had a good time with the arcade games and a Love Barometer which was incredibly accurate in rating the Lunatic as "Burning" >:) Actually - for any of you who try those things in the future - it's all in the grip - just be nice to the poor machine, pump it GENTLY ;-)
After lunch it was time to go see Wordwarrior and DJWP at the Doubletree hotel where security promptly asked us to change rooms because of the noise level. What can I say - it's a tradition now - it just would NOT be a Xena con if some Xenites didn't get thrown out of their rooms. The funniest part though was that we had to help DJ and Wordee move their stuff including this 6 foot stand-up of the Warrior Princess so one of the Xenites there Lisa, grabs that thing and just says "I'm outta here!". Hehehehe! Noooo she didn't abscond with the Warrior Princess but the idea sure made her grin! ;-) Many of the others there were also grinning because we got to hear Wordee say "Gaaabrielleee" in that oh-so-special way :) You have not LIVED 'til you've had Wordee whisper the bard's name in your ear. :)
Back at the Bay View Missy ran into her first Merpups who presented her with a basket of soap and cocoa butter body lotion. The Merpups I have to say are just THE coolest bard fans. They get as exited as I do around bardly types particularly their Alpha leader - you can just see the little tails wagging :) There were more of them back at the Pacific Shores hotel where we headed later that afternoon. I was also in fanfic Nirvana there with all the bards hanging around - Baermer and Missy where there of course, finally met the Nanomistress herself - Jules Mills, C.L. joined us along with XWPFanatic, Joanna, DJWP, Wishes, Katherine Colso, Suzar, Linda Fiorella (Scrivo), Llachlan, LN James, Bat Morda, Quest, Silk, Starwarrior/Rie, Themiscrya, Vada and Verda Foster, and I finally got to meet that indexer extraordinaire herself - Shadowfen. There were other bards hanging around which I saw during the early registration or later that night - Alwayslooking, Bongo Bear, Blue, S. Derkins, Hobbes, C. Paradee along with some familiar faces from past conventions, Spikus, Deb7, Mistopheles, Sal_Fan, and a number of other friends.
Saturday began with breakfast at the Pacific Shores after which a bunch of us just hung around together talking Xena and fanfic and catching up on things. Got to see again another very talented bard, Scarabae. We walked around the third street promenade area for a while - a couple of blocks filled with shops and restaurants and closed off to traffic. Then we all headed for the con. Saw more bards, Xero, Lord Nelson and Bitrsuite1, more Merpups wagging those little tales whenever the Merwolf was in site. The celebs were nice. Gina Torres is beautiful and very...spicy ;-) Alexandra Tydings was fun and also very cute but boy - different than Dite. Lets just say those wonderbras really work wonders ;-) Kevin was hunky as usual but he really didn't ingratiate himself with the Xena fans when he made sure to point out that if it weren't for his show there would be no Xena. The most interesting appearance for me was surprisingly that of Paul Robert Coyle who I believe has been a producer and writer on both shows. He seemed really upset that the local station that airs Xena and Herc in Los Angeles had just changed the time slots from prime time to Saturday afternoon. Seemed a little bitter about that but at the same time never seemed to acknowledge that perhaps ONE reason why not only in LA but in other markets as well the time slots have been changed is because the ratings have slipped and perhaps ONE reason the ratings have slipped is that the quality of the shows, Xena in particular this past year, have deteriorated quite a bit. As someone who's been generally disappointed with Xena since third season I would find it encouraging if the Xena folks acknowledged that perhaps some of the things they tried with that show have not worked and set out to change those rather than blame outside forces for the series slipping. Interestingly, Coyle did seem extremely relieved that the Dahak storyline is coming to an end making me wonder if some among Xenastaff weren't too thrilled with that whole plotline to begin with.
The autograph sessions that Saturday afternoon went REALLY REALLY slow. I was in row 9 and got out of there at 8pm. I believe they couldn't actually get to everyone who had purchased the gold circle seats. That evening though was PARTY TIME!! Lots of parties and get-togethers happening everywhere. I ended up going to one at the Doubletree which was just a hoot. Bards, old friends, handcuffs and music videos - perfect ingredients for a happening XWP party!
Sunday was Xena day at the con! It was sold out and there was a lot of excitement in the air. One of the most memorable moments for me was when I FINALLY got to meet my bard hero - Rebekah, author of ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT. I'd been hunting for her since I got there and at last I got to thank one of the talents that was instrumental in getting me hooked on XWP fanfic. Another highlight came when I met the very gifted artist Lunar. The first celeb that day was Claire Stansfield (Alti) and geee was that a shocker! Claire looks absolutely NOTHING like Alti - the woman is tall, gorgeous, young with a great figure and a rather endearing personality. She's still in that stage where she's very much impressed by other celebs and simply wowed by what's happening in her career. Told us some great stories from the set and spoke very highly of both Lucy, with whom she's become good friends, and of Renee - who she described as very intense and focused. Next up was Steve Sears who gives a fun presentation although he really didn't say anything that online fans don't already know. He did seem hopeful about the direction the relationship and the individual characters are going so lets cross those fingers. Robert Field came after him and was also quite funny as usual. Showed us the third season bloopers which I'd already seen BUT one new thing he did bring with him were a couple of scenes that were cut from the original episodes and had never been shown before. One was from SACRIFICE II and featured a very intense exchange between Xena and Callisto over a campfire while a supposedly sleeping Gabrielle listened. In the scene Callisto tells Xena that Solon's death made her feel nothing. The second lost scene was from GREATER GOOD - that scene right after Xena supposedly died in which Gabrielle starts hitting a tree. In the episode the scene ended with her sitting on the ground trying to get focused. The lost scene Robert showed had Argo approaching the bard at that moment and having a bonding moment with her. It was a good idea but they were probably right to cut it because Argo seemed more interested in the grass by Renee's feet than anything else. That Tilly has her priorities straight you know ;-)
Next came one of the most outrageous events at the con - the auction. Some years back people were shocked when Xena's chakram sold for over $8,000. Well - that was nothing compared to her sword which sold this year for $31,000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The bidding at the end was incredible with two Xenites raising those numbers in increments of $100-1000. The winning bid eventually belonged to Chris - the same Xenite that got the chakram a few years back. I cannot wait for Xena's leather outfit to be auctioned off one of these years.
Finally we got Lucy on stage and I have to say this was the most relaxed, most fit, happiest Lucy I've ever seen. Renown for her rather eccentric taste in clothes, this time she looked very stylish in dark loose pants and a green top. Her dark hair was hanging loose with a big flower on one side which gave her a playful look. The organizers, perhaps in an effort to limit the number of autograph/hug requests and senseless questions she usually gets, tried for a more structured approach to the appearance this time. They had an official interviewer first asking her pre-determined questions and then a few hand-picked fans got to ask some other pre-determined questions. I think the intent was probably a good one but I don't know that it worked in practice primarily because Lucy had NO chemistry with the interviewer they selected and because the woman kept asking stuff most long-time fans already knew. Although most people love Lucy and the other celebs I think the real interest lies in the characters and the show. Whenever the celebs would tell a set story or talk about the characters you would just see the audience perk up. Afterwards a bunch of us were talking and commented that if Lucy and ROC ever appear together it would be great if they interviewed one another. That is probably unlikely but I think at this con if Claire or Alexandra or Gina or Karl, even Steven Sears or Sharon had done the interviewing it would have been a lot more interesting and fun because they either work on the show or are familiar with the fandom. As far as pre-determined questions are concerned - the ones used weren't bad but I would love at future cons for Creation to solicit questions from the Net fans and then have the guest stars answer some of those. In any event, it was fun to see Lucy. Afterwards Robert Tapert popped from behind stage for a second and someone asked him what married life was like - he answered in two words - "paradise found".
The autograph sessions seemed to go faster on Sunday. I got out of there at 7 pm. I had a couple of party invitations that night but ended up getting together for dinner with Mist, CL, XWPFanatic, Scrivo, Minda and Misty. We had such a great time discussing the fandom, the series, the fanfic that by the time we finished it was past 11pm and most of us were too pooped to go anywhere else. Too soon Monday morning came and it was time to fly back home.
I have to say that the Xenites once again MADE the convention for me. The celebs were fun but NOTHING came close to the exhilaration of putting faces to those names I've seen online. Meeting those bards and webmasters I hadn't met before was particularly thrilling as was hearing about their future stories and projects. I had a lot of people come up to me and mention the fanfic reports also which was really sweet and very much appreciated.
Next year - Pasadena! :)
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