From the Editor-in-Chief:
Why A Convention Issue and My Post-Convention Musings
From the Graphics Editor:
The Night Of The Incredulous Irony
From the Editor-in-Chief:
WHY A CONVENTION ISSUE AND POST-CONVENTION MUSINGS
Why A Convention Issue
Originally, we were going to do no more convention issues after our highly successful WHOOSH #5 (February 1997) (http://whoosh.org/issue5). I was planning to run some con reports for the "On the Road" section, but then it occurred to me. This last convention was as amazing and significant as that first con, not to mention that many people were experiencing it as "The Last Con". So, in my finite wisdom, I thought, "This might warrant an issue, Kym". It did. I thought, "Let's do it in July." So, I put out the word looking for solicitations. Then I thought, "It's better to do it when it is still fresh in everyone's minds". I decided to run it in June. This was around May 18th! My staff for the most part was done with their work and they had other commitments. Bret said he would help, but he was going to be in New Zealand for a week or so. Therefore, this issue is essentially all produced by me. I did the editing, the formatting, the coding, and the choice of graphics. So you now know whom to complain to. Bret, bless his soul, said he would help with the alt tags on the couple of days he will have free after getting off the plane. So what does this all mean? It means that this is a very special issue for me.
We had about a fortnight to prepare this entire issue. I put out a notice on mailing lists, boards, and on the website. The response was incredible. People from all occupations, coming from all different places, decided to share their experiences with the other fans, on literally a couple days notice. I also received graphics and videos from many fans who were very kind in allowing us to use their wonderful pictures.
What we have put together is a collection of observations, reports, and memories of a weekend that was like very few others. Since more people did not attend than attended, we propose that by reading these memoirs, the WHOOSH audience will be able to get a feeling for what does happen at such a large gathering of Xenites. Some were star-struck and others were dumbstruck. Some were spiritually renewed and others were deflated and disappointed. The Xenite experience was as diverse and passionate as is the Xenite community itself. This issue captures what in part has made this fandom so wonderful and empowering.
I was hoping to write my own convention report, but the duties of producing this issue vetoed that idea. What I present instead are some of my post-convention musings.
On the Monday after the Pasadena convention, when I got back from the airport after dropping off a Xenite, I felt a strong sense of loss. Moreover, it was not merely a linear loss, it was a full-bodied multidimensional loss. I must have had some morose moments at the convention foreshadowing this sentiment, because I remember people telling me to stop being such a wet dishrag. Nomad even told me the same thing (in so many words) during my Sunday night tarot reading. It was a rather grim reading too, my friend card was upside-down and the death card popped up. Apparently I was drenched in this sense of loss.
What does the future hold for Xena? Oops, she's not a real person. Nevermind.
When Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor had left the stage, I felt like a burden had lifted, like a spirit or demon (your choice) had decided to vacate my body. I felt lighter. It was as if I had finally taken that stressful final exam and now I was free of it. I was surprised how nice that felt. However, the next day I was feeling tired, aimless, dazed, and confused. Yet, the day after that, I understood that I could look at it in both ways simultaneously. It was a terrific run that was fun and incredible, yet it was also the end of an era in my life, with all its whistles and bells, its associations and connections, and highs of success and lows of defeat. Gone were the obligations, but sadly, gone were the privileges as well.
Yes, I am hovering near that love-hate territory, that bitter and sweet land. I am in the process of debriefing myself of some six years of sublime obsessiveness that transcended egotism and self-definition. The Xenaverse has been a real, vibrant, and life-changing experience for me. Yet, it was always precariously based upon a "knuckled-headed" TV show. A TV SHOW! Why could I not have my mid-life redefinition resolved by reading great literature, or studying the monuments of humankind, or throwing myself into charitable acts, or making a small but pertinent contribution to the betterment of humankind? But no, I had to chisel my mark in life by embracing an ephemeral piece of popular culture kitsch. I was sucked in and devoured by essentially an intellectual, emotional, and sensual artificial sweetener.
But WHAT an artificial sweetener. It created a culture, a community, and an economic bloc! It created new families, broke up relationships, brought people together, and created so many cliques that even a junior high school student would be horrified. It was a force of nature. It was one of the most magnificent obsessions I have ever had the privilege to suffer through. And, it made me a man. Well, not a real man, but I feel like I went through a major rite of passage with this experience. I was 37 years old when Xena started, and I honestly did not expect anything to come along and test and reward me as much as this fandom has. I am going to miss it. But I am also going to stay with it until the bitter end. This is family after all.
What we felt and created might have been energized by a television show coming back season after season, but maybe we are strong enough to survive on our own now. We have fan fiction, we have Xenafests, we have barbecues, we have the Internet, and we even have Claire Stansfield and Alex Tydings doing traveling shows of dramatic fan fiction readings. Can they successively become the new Xena and Gabrielle for the fans, now that the television screen avatars are gone? We have the means, we have the resources, and we have the creativity to keep this fandom alive. Will we choose to? Ask me again next year at this time. We all might be surprised by the answer.
Kym Masera Taborn
Calabasas, CA May 28, 2001
From the Graphics Editor:
THE NIGHT OF THE INCREDULOUS IRONY
As I compose my editorial for this month, I am sitting in my New Zealand hotel room whilst CLEOPATRA 2525 and JACK OF ALL TRADES are playing on TV4. Earlier this week, I saw XENA and HERCULES on NZ TV as well. How ironic that since all these series have ended, now they are all getting airplay in the nation that gave them life.
Unless you're in the entertainment business in New Zealand, you're likely never to have heard of Pacific Renaissance Pictures, though many people here know names such as Kevin Smith, Michael Hurst, Joel Tobeck, Danielle Cormack, Angela Dotchin, Karl Urban, and of course, Lucy Lawless. The kiwi actors we have come to know from Pac Ren productions are well known to the theatre-going public in New Zealand, and have appeared in local shows where they are featured prominently. Late last year Joel Tobeck especially gained local notoriety when he appeared in a brilliant Malcovich-esque television spot for an online yellow pages advert (he played all the roles). Indeed, he expressed to me with some sadness that at the time he had done numerous plays, films, and television programmes, not to mention being a musician of some note (get it?), but he was now even more widely known as "the guy in that TV commercial".
So it is with more than a little irony that NZ TV is giving wide airplay to the shows that introduced most of us to a wealth of New Zealand talent at a time when production of all those shows has shut down.
The dust was still settling from all the auctions held at Pac Ren when I arrived in New Zealand. Items from said auction were already finding their way onto e-bay. A few mementos were graciously distributed to some of the supporting players and crew who had shown up at the auctions hoping to get a small piece of their history to remember it by, only to be stymied by huge prices of things sold in large lots. Mercifully a benefactor or two noticed them and demonstrated once again the generosity of XENA and HERC and CLEO and JACK fans.
Someone asked me recently why, now that the shows were over, did I continue to take a holiday in New Zealand? After having been here a few times I've made some friends, and it's always good to catch up with friends. Having grown up in England it's interesting to note how similar the local culture and customs are that I have missed, and New Zealand is fewer time zones away and much better value for money. There are many things I like to do here, including horseback riding and tramping through gorgeous countryside. If you like fish and fishing, this is certainly a good place for it. Some of the golf courses are breathtaking. The local music scene is fresh and lively. Some of the clubs are very interesting and a lot of fun. I never fail to enjoy what is on offer in local live theatre. The air is clean, the food is great, and there are a variety of cultures from ancient to modern, Maori to Colonial.
So while Pac Ren has created entertainment that I have very much enjoyed, they've done something even better -- introduced me to a country that I have dearly come to appreciate, and will likely spend several years getting to know even better. Kia Kaha!
Auckland, New Zealand
27 May 2001