In what the editorial staff at WHOOSH! hopes and prays every night will become a beloved and regular tradition, I submit to you, gentle reader, the FIRST SOUVENIR CONVENTION issue of WHOOSH! covering the historic and renowned First Hercules/Xena Convention, at Burbank, California, January 11-12, 1997.
WHOOSH! Cub Reporters were everywhere making sure nothing too trivial escaped our observation. We wanted to re-create the feel, the excitement, the fellowship, the tensions, and the frustrations involved in any gathering of 2,000-plus people bent upon satisfying an obsession...gone wild.
And let's be frank, can there be anything more wild than XENA OBSESSION?
I think not.
My convention adventure started when I rented a car and drove over the Tejon pass into West Hollywood. I finally met in person the brilliant and creative designer and maintainer of the WHOOSH site (http://www.thirdstory.com/whoosh), Betsy Book. She had flown in from New York in the wee hours escaping what had been promoted as a blizzard. We then hung out in West Hollywood trying to look cool. After that, we still had an hour or so before we could check into the hotel. I then felt an urge to buy 150 disks, so we drove over to the Burbank CompUSA and I proceeded to buy 150 disks. Why am I bringing this up? Well, it is hard not to bond when trying to convince someone of the necessity to buy 150 disks in one visit. For me the convention was foremost an opportunity to gather with old XenaFest/Leno Line friends and to finally meet and experience in real time all those handles and aliases that have flashed across my screen the last year or so.
There was trepidation whether Creation Entertainment could pull off a satisfying convention; there was nervousness in meeting roommmates whom I did not know from Adam; there was anxiety about whether I would enjoy sitting in a room packed with 1800 other people; there was stress in pulling together the IAXS/WHOOSH table and making sure it was staffed and actually had something to offer to Joe Convention-goer; and finally, there was an intense anticipation of what was to become, in retrospect, one of the most exciting and fun events in my life.
IAXS sponsored two public parties, one on Friday to greet the weary travellers, and one on Sunday, to send them off into the cold, cruel world of real life. Saturday night, Betsy, Diane Silver, and I, had a few of our friends come over to our room to watch some more XENA episodes and wound up having an impromptu concert from one of our guests. You cannot buy memories like this, folks. During the Friday night party I went to greet the third Xenateeer, Diane Silver, at the airport. When she arrived and the triumvirate was clearly established, I knew the weekend activities were officially on automatic and what would happen would happen regardless of my input. I was determined to just sit back and enjoy the convention from that point on.
Enjoyment might be too tame a word for what I experienced. I cannot stress how wonderful it was to be able to sit and chat with Xena fans from all over. My most favorite moments were at the parties. Friday's ended ten minutes over the scheduled 10pm conclusion, even though we had been told by security to close up shop at 9:15pm. I merely screamed at everyone to be quiet every ten minutes. They seemed to rather enjoy it.
Saturday night was way quieter because it was a more intimate gathering. It allowed maximum viewing of videos and it was my favorite night of the convention. We did not turn the last person away until about 2am. I would have kept on going all night, but the roomies were semi-unconscious. I thought perhaps a little room-mate courtesy was called for, especially after getting intense body language from one of them.
Sunday's party was really laid-back. Lots of conversation and autograph-line and real-life encounter stories were traded and worshipped. Again, more tapes were shown. The most popular tapes requested that weekend were the fan made music videos and the rousing Incest Brother's "Corn". Of the episodes, there were three that were requested every night: ALTARED STATES (#19), DREAMWORKER (#03), and THE RECKONING (#06). RETURN OF CALLISTO (#29), THE WARRIOR PRINCESS (HTLJ #09), and THE GREATER GOOD (#21) were requested two nights.
My trepidation whether Creation Entertainment could pull off a satisfying convention was ill-founded. I met Sharon Delaney at 9am on Saturday morning and she was very friendly and helpful to us in setting up our table. Everyone associated with Creation was professional, friendly and even several times went out of their way to help us. The best time happened when we went in and they asked who we were. We said, "WHOOSH!" They said, "WHOOSH? Great. We've been waiting for you."
The only real problems associated with the convention were because the marketplace simply has not yet caught up with the demands of Xenamania. The merchandise was far and few between. Also, the hall was packed. Creation Entertainment had under-estimated the attraction power of XENA. However, everyone who desired to stay in the mainroom left with signatures.
Creation delivered two stars and four supporting castmembers, not to mention some wonderful presentations from the production staff of HERCULES and XENA. Okay, the food was terrible and they made the vegetarians starve, but they appeared very accommodating to both the guests and the audience.
Kym, Betsy, and Diane at the Whoosh! Table
Photo courtesy of Debbie Cassetta
My nervousness in meeting my two unknown roommmates was wasted as well. I have met two very wonderful people who I hope will remain in my life for the decades to come. I have been involved in various fandoms before, but Xena fandom seems to excel in connecting people who should be and need to be together. If I am grateful for XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS for anything, it would have to be for being the catalyst for my friendships with both Betsy and Diane.
My anxiety about whether I would enjoy sitting in a room packed with 1800 other people was lessened when some kind soul traded me their reserved ticket in seat K-9, for my reserved ticket in C-3. That meant I could sit by Betsy and she could hold my hand during the scary parts of the convention. And there were some scary parts in the convention.
The stress in putting together the IAXS/WHOOSH table was very real. I was contacted by Sharon Delaney only a couple days before the convention that there was room for WHOOSH! They considered us for a table a few months before, but they had enough paying dealers to edge us out. However, as more dealers came in with dinars, so they enlarged the dealer area and, viola! WHOOSH! was again a player.
Kym, Betsy, and Cynthia
Photo courtesy of Betsy Book
With the hard work of Cynthia Ward Cooper, Betsy Book, Diane Silver, Karen Allman, Tom Simpson, Debbie Cassetta, and others who donated their time to sit at the booth, we were able to pull together a flyer, business cards, sample hard copy WHOOSHes and XMRs, name tags, Cub Reporter tags, and lots of disks filled with everything I have ever been associated with that had the name Xena on it. It was an incredible effort and our success as a booth was a monument to that effort.
Tyldus at the Whoosh! table
Photo courtesy of Betsy Book
Hundreds of people stopped by the booth and several booth attenders were interviewed by the press that mingled with the conventioneers. I was amazed and touched at how many people took the time to stop by the booth and say hello. It was a very special time for me.
Liz Friedman at the Whoosh! table
Photo courtesy of Betsy Book
I know it was a very special moment for quite a few others as well. That is why I wanted this issue to be devoted completely to the convention. I apologize to Clayton Power ("Battle of Corinth") and Deborah White ("Changing Times") whose wonderful series have been bumped to the next WHOOSH so that this WHOOSH would keep its manic all-convention essence.
This Convention issue is a drastic change for WHOOSH. We tend to delight in the pseudo-analytical and pseudo-intellectual, but this month we decided to go for the gut and try to capture the pure, orgiastic lure of convention going.
We hope you enjoy the ride.
BANNED IN INDIANA & WHOOSH'S FIRST CONTEST
It has come to my attention that WHOOSH! The Journal of the International Association of Xena Studies is blocked from student and faculty web access at the Indiana Vocational Technical College (aka Ivy Tech). Ivy Tech's main campus is located in Indianapolis and is the third largest college in the State of Indiana. Did I mention it is also state ran?
This information has inspired the VERY FIRST WHOOSH! contest. WHOOSH! will offer a fabulous prize (to be disclosed later) to the person who correctly identifies the reason WHY WHOOSH! is blocked from a State ran center of higher learning!
Please send what you think is the reason in an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "WHOOSH CONTEST". I will collect these opinings until March 1st, 1997 and then write to the Dean of Ivey Tech to ask him/her why WHOOSH is blocked. Then, when armed with that precious knowledge, I will locate the lucky reader who correctly guessed why. If more than one person gave the correct reason, I will then randomly choose a name, only using the most fair methods.
BEST OBSESSIVE MOMENT OF THE PAST MONTH
The First Xena Creation Convention in Burbank on January 12, 1997!
NEXT MONTH'S WHOOSH!
Next month's WHOOSH, scheduled to be released March 1, 1997 (be there or be square!!), will include the following articles:
"XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS and the Mortality Rate of Significant Others" By Tricia Murphy
"Xena and Heathcliff: Classic Byronic Heroes" By C.H. McLain
"Bacchae and the Successful Mixing of Traditional and Contemporary Vampires" By John Beckwith
"Chainmail and it's uses on XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS" By Christi Clogston
"In Praise of Bards: Missed Opportunities and The Xena Scrolls" By Kate Maynard
Thank you for reading and supporting WHOOSH!
Kym Masera Taborn
Chairman of the Board,
International Association of Xena Studies
January 31, 1997
NOTE TO IAXS MEMBERS: The e-mail edition of Whoosh #5 will be released in a week or so.