MY FIRST PARTY AT THE CONVENTION
By Joanna Sandsmark (JSandsmark@aol.com)
Content © 1997 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 1997 held by Whoosh!
Not willing to wait all the way until Sunday for the convention to start, I was compelled to attend the first party of the XenaCon -- the Friday night bash held by the Three Xenateers: Kym Taborn (ktaborn) [editor of WHOOSH!], Betsy Book (bsquared) [WHOOSH website designer], and Diane Silver (Silver/dswriter) [assistant editor of WHOOSH].
The Three Xenateers
Photo courtesy of Besty Book
I arrived around 7PM to a room [room 312, for trivia buffs] with just a few people in it. Was I too early? For a Xenafest? Nah! Immediately I noted that they were in the middle of watching THE RECKONING (#06). "Xena hasn't hit Gabrielle yet -- you're just in time." Ah, you don't hear heartening news like THAT every day! I immediately took a seat on the floor beside the far bed, just in case I felt like being invisible (Ya never know when this particular superpower will be necessary, y'know).
As I watched, I wondered where the tape had come from and was immediately shown drawers full of tapes, all categorized neatly. Yes, Kym had brought her *entire* collection of videotapes. Wowzers. I was near to drooling. (but I didn't, as I am first and foremost a lady. So there.) But oh man, the temptation. You see, I live very near Burbank, and that meant my two VCRs were sitting home alone and empty and this amazing, crystal clear collection of episode tapes, hard-to-find interviews, TV guest appearances, etc. was staring at me; hungering for a chance to be copied. But that much of a creepy party guest I ain't, so I refrained from mentioning it. Instead, I watched Xena whack Gabrielle upside the head. Dark Xena -- gotta love her.
It was fascinating to meet the people whose correspondence and posts I've been reading. It was a lot of fun to sit around laughing and chattering with a roomful of Xenites. It's tough to be obsessed. Finding a roomful of fellow obsessees was very therapeutic. First place I've ever been where instead of tolerant stares, my stories of Xena worship were met with joyful nods of approval. However, I have determined that I am *not* the biggest nutball, as everyone there seemed to be able to outdo my stuff with their stuff (lots of comparing of stuff went on). I was outclassed at every turn. Note to self: get more stuff.
As the night progressed, more people wandered in. Soon, we were watching WARRIOR PRINCESS (HTLJ #09) and greeting a steady stream of Xenites. Is this a great party or what? I asked myself. Dark Xena on the tube, obsessed-fans-with-stuff all around me. Ah, bliss.
By the time RETURN OF CALLISTO (#29) was popped in the VCR, the room was overflowing with folks from all areas of fandom. One young gentleman asked me my name, and when it didn't ring a bell with him, he said rather insistently "where are you from?" I sort of looked around and said "here" (being from the area, I figured he wanted to compare how many miles we'd travelled so he could win that contest as well. He looked the sort who had lots of stuff already and found that no challenge). He frowned in frustration and said, "aren't you on the net?????" I stammered a quick "yes" realizing that -- may the gods forbid! -- had I not been, I would surely be deemed unworthy of the party and probably thrown out on my stuffless kiester. He asked my screen name, which is way too boring as it's my real name, then he asked my Netforum handle (which is a secret -- hee hee) and finally turned from me in disgust. He never told me his name, as I wasn't interesting enough (not being recognizable) to bother with. He immediately accosted Kym, and found her worthy. This encounter, I found, was the exception. Most of the people were warm, welcoming and a lot of fun.
Back to the TV I turned, as who can keep their eyes from a Xena episode for any length of time? Many snide comments were exchanged during the viewing of RETURN OF CALLISTO. I'm not sure who was less welcome on screen: Joxer or Perdicus. Cheers and laughter erupted at Perd's death (yeah, that was *exactly* the reaction the filmmakers were trying for, I'm guessing) and more than one person felt the need to reach for the remote during Joxer's lines. Ain't a roomful of Xenites grand?
Theodorus was a popular subject and I'm proud to say my impersonation of him met with lots of approval, thenk yew, thenk yew veddy much. But I wasn't quick enough to say all the lines before the actors had a chance to emote, like many of my fellow Xenites. It was almost like chanting. You'd hear the line from several voices and then from the screen. Not like any of us watch these episodes more than once, mind you. We just, um, have really good memories.
By this point, the room was crowded with folks, all chattering at once. I kept waiting for security, as the door to the room stood open and the noise drifted into the hall. Heck, I've had security called on me for less, believe me. Am I sharing too much here? Anyway, a good time was being had by all.
When I decided to leave I opened the door to find -- you guessed it -- Mr. Security standing in the hall. Being a cowardly sort, I always leave when the cops come. Nah, it was just a coincidence. I said my goodbyes to one and all while Kym sweet-talked Mr. Security. When I managed my escape (the room was *packed*) I saw that Mr. Security was waiting at the elevator, having finished pistol-whipping our hostess. (I'm just guessing on that part) We rode down together and he was as sweet as he could be. Said he hated to intrude on the fun, but there was a flight crew next door who had an early flight. "If I had my choice, I wouldn't have even gone up there," he explained. I thought this was very nice and immediately suspected him to be a closet Xenite who'd rather be mocking Joxer than barging in on the fun.
And that was my thrilling "Day One" of the XenaCon. Live the dream, folks. Make sure the next con doesn't leave you reading silly reports like this instead of experiencing the power, the passion, the danger... of a hotel room stuffed with nutballs.
January 10, 1997