MY TAKE ON THE SANTA MONICA CONVENTION BY TIGER
I don't think I was really prepared for the SM Convention. I have seen pictures of the Star Trek Conventions and attended a XenaFest this past August. Even after the first day when Kevin Sorbo attended, I only had a hint of what to really expect.
I arrived at Pacific Shores Hotel Friday night to meet with some online friends from Subtexters and Merpups for dinner and to pre-register. When I entered the hotel it was like coming into a group of people I had known for years. I knew at least one thing about these people....they were Xena fans too.
Friday night pre-registration made it easier the next day. I had already seen what was for sale and most of the dealers wares, so I could decide what I really needed to buy <G>. On Saturday the excitement of the convention was infectious. I had seen most of the merchandise online from the Creation catalog, but actually seeing the physical objects, i.e. bust and figures, made it hard not to buy. They also had some sword and dagger dealers and I gave in. I bought the sword that I had been lusting after for the past two months (without shipping and handling!)
The crowds on each of the days of the convention were very different. On Saturday, Hercules day, it had a different feel and was much smaller than the crowd on Sunday which was sold out and people were turned away. On both days, however, I knew that the people around me were friends even though we had never met before. I want to stress how important it is to wear name tags. If Rebekah, the first writer whose work I read had not been wearing a name tag, I would not have been able to thank her for turning me on to fan fiction.
I wish Creation would sell the music videos. I know a lot of people would buy the "Sisters," and the Xena videos "Wind Beneath My Wings" and so would a lot of others I am sure. (editors note: Sharon Delaney said they do not own the rights therefore they cannot sell these videos.... :-( The blooper tapes were wonderful. That's the main reason I purchased the Fan Club Kits #1 and #2. It was also interesting to see the previews of the next episodes.
I was sitting in the Gold Section both days. It was expensive, but I think it was worth paying the money so I could get closer to the stage. I wasn't really interested in getting autographs. I just wanted to be able to see and take pictures. I personally wasn't interested in Kevin Sorbo or the Young Hercules stars, but seeing Gina Torres (Cleopatra and Nebula) and Alexandra Tydings (Aphrodite) was really a treat. Both were very warm and generous with their time and in the way they interacted with the audience. Gina has the greatest smile. She told us how she "loved" having all that goo thrown at her in the episode with Arachne. Alex was especially charming....she just bubbles. Her dad was in the audience and she brought him up on stage. Seeing her in person I now know why she wears that gold armlet. She has a tattoo armband that has to be covered. She also has a tattoo on her shoulderblade. She wouldn't tell us where her other tattoos were because her dad was in the audience. <hmmmmmmm> I'm not sure if she really is that flighty and hyper, or if that is what she does to keep up the persona she portrays on the tube. Although, Karl Urban made a remark that you have to remember that Alex is a blonde. <G>
Claire (Alti) is gorgeous! It really is a shame to cover her up with all that make-up and costuming; and Gods is she tall! It didn't register on me in the eps that she was so tall. When she first read the script she didn't realize that she was up for Alti, the old hag, bag of bones. She also talked about flying from the crane in her battle with Xena in the trees. She is scheduled for more eps this season. I can hardly wait.
Karl Urban, (Cesar & Cupid), of course was cute and funny. Dropping his pants to answer the question of whether he wears boxers or briefs was totally unexpected and the audience of course really came unglued. I think that made the internet within minutes. <G>
I really enjoyed hearing what the production people had to say. Steven Sears, of course is wonderful and he again stated that Xena and Gabrielle had a relationship that transcends a mere sexual relationship. They are closer than most married couples. *Yeah* Also, the editor, whose name I can't remember, gave us some good examples of how editing works with the show.
Then came Lucy, the Flawless One herself. She is beautiful, gracious and generous to her fans. I had never seen her in person, but I had seen online pictures of her at conventions, so I knew what to expect. I was very disappointed with the structure of Lucy's appearance. I think most of the audience was. We were resigned to the fact that she was not going to sign autographs because that had been posted. I wish she had been going to sign autographs, but we all knew that was not to be ahead of time. What was not posted and came as a surprise to all of us was that Creation handpicked 10 people to ask "canned" questions, and Lucy was to be interviewed. If it had been anyone but Lucy, I think a revolt might have occurred. People were definitely not pleased. It also seemed that Lucy was not really pleased about being interviewed rather than interacting with her fans. She appeared somewhat uncomfortable just sitting in a chair talking, but really came alive when she got up and started moving about the stage and interacting with people. She said several times during the interview portion as she answered a question that was old information that "they" meaning those of us in the audience, all know about that. When she was on her feet she answered questions tossed out from the audience, as well as the one's from the handpicked people. When someone in the audience and the rest of us joined in asking that she sing, she sang something totally unexpected, at least by me. She sang "Loch Lomond." It was the jazz arrangement from the 40's and she said she heard a black girl sing it that way once. She certainly knows how to sing! Even A Capella. It was wonderful (do you get the feeling that Lucy can do no wrong? <G> I wish she would put out a music CD <sigh> One thing that she said that I really found interesting is that Xena is part of her and she is part of Xena. She brings her own unique qualities to the role. She doesn't just "turn on" the character in front of the cameras. She puts herself into the role. This is part of why she is a success in the part. Bless the Gods, she spent extra time with us. When she was told that it was time to leave, she knew that not all the "Creation" questions had been asked, so she said she would stay and answer more questions. Of course, all of us wished she could stay even longer, but she did give us more time than she was scheduled.
I was surprised at the audience in the two days with respect to house security. On Saturday, the only security was the regular staff for the auditorium. On Sunday, there was a lot of extra event security personnel. They really didn't have too much to do until Lucy came on stage. At that point I was in my seat, so I was happy to have them keeping the aisles clear so we could all see the stage.
All in all, the convention was a good experience, and I would certainly go again next year, in fact, some of the friends I met in person for the first time this weekend and I have already put in reservations requesting seats in a block. I do think, however, something needs to be done about getting tickets out sooner and about hotel reservations. I got my tickets before the convention, but was told if they didn't come they would be at "will call." There was certainly enough time between when the tickets were ordered and the convention that they could have been sent out. Also, although it wasn't a problem for me since I live in L.A., I heard there were some problems with hotel reservations. I'm not sure Creation should handle the hotel reservations. It should probably be the hotels themselves. That way each person could make his or her own reservation, stating they are part of the convention and get the block room rate.
Not having Lucy at a Xena convention would be like making a chocolate cake without the chocolate. Although, if Renee attended instead, it would be very acceptable to me. What would be even better would be if both Renee and Lucy would attend next year in Pasadena, California, AND not have interviewers; that they would both be available to answer real questions. The questions could be monitored and pre-selected the day before, if absolutely necessary. It would take a lot more time for the con staff, but they would still be able to protect the stars and give the fans what we want. I also think it would be interesting to have more involvement with fan fiction writers. I know there are legal problems about presenting a story. That's not what I mean. IMHO at least some of the bards should have the chance to personally meet their heroines.
After Lucy left, I stuck around to see the costume contest. The junior contest was wonderful. There was a little Gabrielle that must have been all of 2 years old. She was darling. There was also a great little Callisto, as the Fool in "The Bitter Suite." However, the adults were amazing. Of course our male Xena was there. He really is good. I had heard about him at other conventions. In fact, Kevin Sorbo was about to leave when he saw 3 Xenas at the microphone and went over to let them ask questions. First up was our "drag Xena." The look on Kevin's face was priceless when "Xena" asked the question in a very deep voice. <G> Kevin told "her" that she had great cleavage. A couple won the adult costume contest; Conqueror Xena in the original costume, dragging her own Gabrielle behind her by a rope. They really deserved to win, although some of the others were really good too, i.e. Madame Twanky and a Cupid, (who got his cheek autographed by Karl Urban.)
It was really hard to leave after the convention and I didn't have to go far to go home. For the past few days I have been suffering XWS and ConWS. The complete immersion in such intense fandom is a heady wine and hard to get over.
As an aside, the Merpups had their own Missy Good Con on Saturday evening. Missy spoke at the dinner and gave us all grab bags that contained....<gasp>...actual sand from the beach park where Dar and Kelly first got together. Missy really is a special person. While we were watching videos after dinner, we tried to call MaryD so Missy could speak with her and we could all yell "Hi Mary" but we got the answering machine and didn't have a chance to try again before Missy went to see Lunacy.
just some thoughts.