Whoosh! Issue 48 - September 2000

By Deborah Pankow
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
2735 words

"Adventures" With Claire (01-04)
San Antonio 1999: Claire (05-06)
Cherry Hill 1999: Breakfast and Claire (07-13)
Las Vegas 1999: Tim and Claire (14)
Pasadena 2000: Cabaret and Claire (15-16)
Orlando 2000: Claire (17-19)
Plano, TX 2000: And, again, Claire (20-22)
Convention Highlights: No Claire (23-29)

Xena Conventions

For my next trick, I'd like to convert you all to the forces of evil.

Claire Stansfield, on stage. Check out her website at: http://www.clairestansfield.com

"Adventures" With Claire

[1] There are many people who have never heard of Xena conventions. There are others who are planning to attend their first convention and have no idea what to expect. Some people have heard of Xena conventions but are still undecided as to whether or not they want to attend because they do not know what occurs or if it would be worth their time and trouble to attend. I had similar thoughts just over a year ago. Am I going to enjoy this or hate every minute?

[2] Attend a Xena convention? Me? Are you crazy? Why on earth would I ever want to attend a Xena convention? If you are like me, you probably have asked these questions yourself before you attended your first convention. Maybe you are still asking those questions and are still undecided about attending one in person. This Xena convention guidebook will answer questions that you might have about what actually occurs at these events and what makes people attend.

[3] I started watching Xena during the late summer of 1998. I was channel surfing one Saturday afternoon and came across an episode of Season Three, ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313). "Oh, this is that dumb Xena show I am sometimes hearing about. There's nothing else on, so I might as well watch it. WOW! What a great show". Luckily for me, fate was on my side. Just a couple of weeks later the USA channel started showing all the Xena shows beginning with episode one. By the time ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69- 70/401-402) started off the fourth season I was hooked. Who am I kidding? I was hooked after ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313).

[4] It was after watching ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69-70/401-402) that I got interested in joining the fan club. I had been a fan of Claire Stansfield (aka Alti) since I first saw her in Drop Zone (James Berardinelli, 1994). She is one of the most talented actresses I have ever seen. When I started receiving the fan club magazine, I discovered that the same company puts on Xena conventions at various places around the country. Xena convention. I wondered what they were like. I wondered if I would enjoy them. Did I want to go and check it out?

San Antonio 1999: Claire

[5] Fast forward to May 1999. Xena Convention. San Antonio, TX. Ninety minute flight from El Paso. Claire Stansfield. I am so there!!! Not knowing what to expect, I purchased a general admission ticket and planted myself in the last row so I could observe all the goings on as well as people watch. Claire Stansfield was the first guest. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time Ms. Stansfield was on stage.

[6] I was so impressed by how witty and entertaining she was in person. I changed my mind about not bothering to get autographs and went and bought a photo for Ms. Stansfield to sign. The crowd was small, so I got to her after only a half-hour or so. She is so awesome in person. So friendly and down to earth. She patiently waited for my disposable camera flash to warm up since the camera I brought with me died the day I arrived in San Antonio. I told her how much I liked her and Yancy Butler in Drop Zone (James Berardinelli, 1994). Ms. Stansfield replied, "Yeah, she's cool". I was too tongue-tied to tell her how cool I thought she was, so I just walked away with my thoughts flying a million miles an hour. That is the day I became hooked on Xena conventions.

Cherry Hill 1999: Breakfast and Claire

Separated at birth?

Jacqueline 'Lao Ma' Kim and Claire 'Alti' Stansfield at Cherry Hill.

[7] August 1999. Cherry Hill, NJ. Robert Trebor, Bruce Campbell, Jacqueline Kim, and the star attraction: Claire Stansfield. Okay, where the heck is Cherry Hill, NJ? Across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. Get on the Internet; find that Southwest does not go to Philly. The airfare from El Paso is $500. Okay, where else does SWA go that is near Philadelphia? Baltimore, MD. Only 100 miles away and I can rent a car for only $25/day and drive up. Then I will have transportation in New Jersey. Sounds like a plan. And only $214 round trip. That is all set.

[8] Ms. Stansfield was so terrific on stage, very interesting and entertaining. Just as expected. Bruce Campbell is an absolute riot. He can really get the crowd fired up with his energy. And especially energetic he was for someone who was still signing autographs at five a.m. when I left the movie theater where they had shown a midnight screening of EVIL DEAD 2 (Sam Raimi, 1987). Bruce stayed to sign for everyone who wanted an autograph. I had him sign my two Autolycus cards from Topps' Xena Series three.

[9] Robert Trebor was interesting as well. Quite a character. Jacqueline Kim was a very thoughtful and inquisitive person. She took a moment to think about the question before she answered it. An interesting guest with great background information about and behind the scenes information on THE DEBT (52-53/306-307).

[10] Sunday morning was the debut of the charity breakfasts benefiting the James B. Ellis Foundation at Hofstra University in New York. The founder is Anita Ellis. I did not know a soul, so I was checking out the people waiting in line out front. The group directly in front of me seemed like a friendly bunch, so I asked them if I could join them. They gladly let me. What a great bunch of people. They included people from Houston, TX, New York, Pennsylvania, Cleveland, and New Hampshire. We had a great time chatting and getting to know each other.

[11] I do not think I ever would have gotten to know them if not for the breakfast. I am much too shy to go up to people at the conventions and make small talk. I can barely talk to the people I am sitting around. I never know what to say. The breakfast provides a great opportunity for the fans to bond not only with the guests, but also with each other.

[12] Another person who stood out at the Cherry Hill show was Cupid (MrJamester) himself. On Sunday, he offered Ms. Stansfield a birthday card from the Xenaversity of Minnesota (XOM) and a birthday kiss from Cupid. To Cupid's delight, she accepted. After the convention, I found the XOM website and began communicating with Cupid via the Internet. I met up face to face with XOM at the Pasadena convention in January 2000. Another bunch of really great people I would never have become friends with if not for the Internet and Xena conventions.

[13] Most everyone I know does not understand, like, or watch Xena, nor do they understand why I like traveling to these conventions. They just do not get it. The first three times I went to a convention, I could not even bring myself to tell people where I was going. Now, I willingly offer that information to anyone who will listen. I have changed so much in the last thirteen months. I have been able to come out of my shell so much and actually carry on conversations with total strangers. I am only partially out of my shell, but it is a start. I stopped talking about going back to school and just did it. I am starting my third semester this fall. My life is more full than I could ever explain or imagine. I have never been happier.

Las Vegas 1999: Tim and Claire

[14] In November 1999, ten days before the show, they announced that Claire Stansfield and Tim Omundson were last minute replacements for Gina Torres and Alex Tydings. Las Vegas, here I come! I had third row seats, took a lot of great pictures, and had an absolute blast. Tim Omundson was so funny and entertaining. I did not really care for the Eli character until I met Tim in person. What a great guy! Claire was her usual, wonderful self. She seemed to remember me when I got to her at the autograph table, and we talked for a few minutes about her Yahoo club I had founded and what was happening. I floated away from the convention and flew back home. Another fabulous experience to store in my memories. The smaller shows really allow for a lot more interaction.

Pasadena 2000: Cabaret and Claire

[15] At the big show in Pasadena, January 2000, I got to meet up with a bunch of my new friends from Cherry Hill and cyberspace. All the guests that weekend were a delight: witty, bright, and entertaining on stage, and Nice, warm, and personable at the autograph tables. I missed Kevin Smith and Gina Torres because they had to leave for the cabaret. They did not go on stage until three hours later, so I failed to see what the big rush was.

[16] Despite this, I had a fabulous weekend. Hanging out with my buddies at the Charity Breakfast was a big highlight. Seeing Claire Stansfield hosting the cabaret Saturday night was another. I cannot wait until next year.

Orlando 2000: Claire

[17] Fast forward to May 2000. Orlando, FL. So what if it was 1800 miles and an eight-hour trip from El Paso. Claire Stansfield is going to be there. Enough said!!

[18] I again met up with three friends from Cherry Hill and Pasadena. We had such a wonderful weekend. Claire is the absolute best person I have ever met. She is so special. She does not even begin to fathom just how special she is to us. I had front row sets for that show. I was around the twentieth person in line for autographs. Claire's entire face lit up as soon as she saw me. The look she gave me was priceless, and I will never, ever forget it. She asked me how I was. I was too shy to say much more than fine and tell her that things are good for me. I gave her the information on the Millennium Wall in New Zealand and moved on.

[19] Highlight of my weekend was again the charity breakfast on Sunday. I got to escort Claire around to all the tables and make friends with "Xena". I had seen her at two other conventions but had never approached her to talk. That shyness was rearing its head again.

Plano, TX 2000: And, again, Claire

[20] June 2000, I went to a science fiction show in Plano, TX. Claire was going to be there, so of course I had to go also. I connected with two friends from Cherry Hill, and we had a wonderful weekend. The crowd was not really "big into" Xena or Claire (they have no idea what they are missing), so we were able to spend a great deal of time on Saturday and Sunday hanging out and talking to Claire. I talked to her more on Saturday than I think I have spoken to anyone in a long time. What a fabulous weekend.

[21] I knew before I went that this might be my last convention. Except for the big show in Los Angeles, I am not going to anymore conventions unless Claire a scheduled guest. I will probably go to the annual shows in Los Angeles for as long as they hold them, but that is it.

[22] Those are the highlights of my various excellent adventures in Xena conventions. A convention really has to be experienced first hand to be understood. They are so much fun. I will have the memories of these great trips and experiences for the rest of my life. Even if I never attend another convention, I will always have my precious memories. I will have also have the great friendships I have made with so many different people from all over the country. We can easily keep in touch through cyberspace and email.

Convention Highlights: No Claire

Spell my name right this time!

Danielle Cormack and Claire Stansfield at Chicago.

[23] Now to what actually occurs at these events. The shows are usually scheduled from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. I usually fly in Friday afternoon and fly out Monday morning. I am so lucky to have a job that allows me to take days off when I want to. I usually rent a car and stay somewhere more affordable, somewhere close to the convention site. Only in San Antonio and Orlando did I stay in the hotel where the convention took place. Travelocity is a great place to make all your travel plans. I have had great success.

[24] The various videos shown include musical video salutes to Xena, Gabrielle, Alti, Joxer, Ares, Callisto, and Iolaus. There are also musical salutes to the women of Xena and their forerunners - superheroes such as Catwoman, Batgirl, Xena, Wonder Woman, etc. My buddy Matt has created many of the videos that are shown. He has created close to a hundred super videos saluting various characters and TV shows.

[25] They show media clips like "The Making Of THE BITTER SUITE", Australian 60 Minutes report, Xena on The Simpsons, highlights of the Pasadena convention, blooper reels from Xena and Hercules. There are also videos of top ten moments from the show for Xena, Gabrielle, and for the show itself.

[26] They have a trivia competition where three brave people try to win $50-$100 each by correctly answering questions from the audience. If a questioner can stump both the panel and the crowd, that person gets a prize. If someone in the crowd can answer, then they get a prize.

[27] There is a costume competition also. I have seen some fabulous costumes: Cleopatra, Caesar, Cupid, BITTER SUITE Callisto, Golden Hind, baby centaur, Sunny Day, Xena, Hercules, fifth season Gabrielle, earlier seasons Gabrielle, Joxer, Autolycus, Ares, Gabrielle as The Pearl, Naima, Amazons, etc., etc., etc. There have been so many great costumes. You are only limited by your imagination. If you have any original ideas for costumes, go for it! You just might win first prize.

[28] At the end of the day, usually between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. the guest stars come out to tables to sign autographs. Autographs are done row by row with gold and preferred seating first. There are usually 24 seats to each row (50 at the big show in Los Angeles). Autographs take different lengths of time depending on the size of the crowd. They can take one to three hours. Most guests will stay and sign for everyone. Sometimes, they have to leave to catch planes, so they may not be able to sign for everyone. At all the smaller conventions I have been to, I have always gotten autographs from all the guests.

[29] You can usually, but not always, take photos with the guests after they are done signing. Sometimes, you can take a quick photo with them during the signing. For personal reasons, I have never wanted to take a photo with them, but I usually take photos of them while they are signing.


Deborah Pankow Deborah Pankow
I'm a native Texan, born and bred, with all that implies. I work for the special education records department of a local school district. Xena is one of the few television shows that I actually watched, as I've always been a big-time movie buff. I have always loved to travel. Xena conventions have just given me a new excuse, motive, and opportunity to do just that.
Favorite episode: BETWEEN THE LINES (83/415) and THE DEBT (52-53/306-307)
Favorite line: Xena: "Gabrielle, I want you to understand something. We both have families we were born into. But, sometimes families change, and we have to build our own. For me, our friendship binds us closer together than blood ever could". TIES THAT BIND (20/120)
First episode seen: ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313)
Least favorite episode: THE TITANS (07/107)

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