CONFESSIONS OF THE WOMAN
WHO THREW LUCY LAWLESS OUT
OF THE INFAMOUS CHAT
Special to WHOOSH!
By Ephany (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Copyright © 1997 held by author
If any of you are thinking about stoning the author of this paper, I suggest you drop the rocks and think about it for a moment. If anything, Ephany's tale is a cautionary one for all of us who surf the Internet. You really never know who you are talking to online. And, as Lucy Lawless learned, it is so very easy to be misunderstood.
[Diane Silver, assistant editor, WHOOSH]
Plus, it was an ACCIDENT! I didn't mean to do it, I swear! So put those chakrams away!
[Ephany, Hardcore Nutball, IRC dictator]
MY FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH LUCY IN BURBANK
 At the very first Xena convention, January, 12, 1997, in Burbank, California, I stood in the autograph line like everyone else, anxiously awaiting my moment of interaction with Lucy Lawless. Little did I know that very soon, Lucy herself would remind me that I played a key role in one of the most infamous incidents of the Xenaverse.
 However, my first encounter with Ms. Lawless was no different than that of any other fan. I was in the second row, and we were allowed to get into the line quickly. I do not even remember what I said when I got to the table. I had my big poster out and ready to go. I handed it to the woman sitting next to Lucy Lawless, who handed it to Ms. Lawless. She signed it (her handwriting was still pretty good) and I think I just said something original like, "Thanks for coming." I told her I thought she did a great job as Callisto. And she looked right at me with those incredible eyes and said, "No, thank *you*."
 And that was that. I took a few pictures of Lucy Lawless and moved to the other side of the room where Ted Raimi and Hudson Leick were signing autographs. My only regret was that because we were limited to one autograph each, I had been unable to get Ms. Lawless to sign a poster for my girlfriend, who was unable to attend the convention. She had recently been very ill and often XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS was the only TV show she would watch. Knowing how much she loves Lucy Lawless, I had really been hoping that I could bring her an autographed picture.
THE SECOND ENCOUNTER
 After getting my autographs, I returned to my seat and sat in the front row to watch Lucy Lawless. I was continually impressed with how she gave her attention to each and every person who came through the line. A little girl asked if her hand was tired. Ms. Lawless said, "No, not yet!" Lucy Lawless tried to look at everyone and thanked them for coming. She took pictures with people. She signed anything that was put in front of her, including pictures, posters, t-shirts, dolls, and, of course, the chakram.
 As long as she was still in the room I could not even think of leaving. I alternated between watching Ms. Lawless and socializing. Tyldus (Supervising Producer Steve Sears) and Avicus (Editor Robert Field) were both hanging around as well as Executive Producer Rob Tapert. I chatted with all of them. They were very friendly and all of them graciously took pictures and signed my program.
 I watched Lucy Lawless, and I schemed about how to get a second poster autographed for my girlfriend. Finally, I went up to the costume contest winners, who were standing behind the table where Ms. Lawless was autographing, and asked if one of them might take my poster back stage when they went to meet her. One said, "Hey you're standing right here, just get in line." So, with the gracious permission of the person behind me, I squeezed ever so quietly into the line and handed my poster to the taker of the autograph stuff.
 Seeing that I had this fabulous second chance to say something intelligent, I figured I should at least introduce myself. So this time while Lucy Lawless signed the poster, I said, "Hi Lucy, I'm Ephany."
 Well, the reaction that I got was certainly not what I was expecting! She looked up and said, "You! You kicked me off!"
 Now, I must digress.
 During the AOL chat with Lucy Lawless on December 6, 1996, Tom Simpson, the webmaster of Tom's Xena Page (the best Xena web site in the known Xenaverse, http://xenafan.com) asked Lucy Lawless if she ever got online. She said that she did not get on very often and, ironically enough, the last time she had been on, she was on an IRC channel and said that Hercules was better than Xena because Hercules was "real." After this, Ms. Lawless said "some girl" had kicked her off the channel. The next day, Ms. Lawless said, she got a really nice get-well card in the hospital from the same girl. At the time, I wondered what kind of a hydra would kick somebody off a channel for that?
 You can imagine how mortified I was when Lucy Lawless looked at me and said that I, in fact, was the offending hydra! I was totally stunned. At first I denied it, but in fact there was no one else with my handle on IRC, and I did send several get well cards to the hospital after Ms. Lawless' accident. Before I am shunned from the Xenaverse entirely, let me just say that it was an ACCIDENT. Any clueless newbie (and I definitely fit into this category!) could have made the same mistake.
 My memory of the actual event is extremely fuzzy. At the time, I was constantly chatting in one room or another. Trying to figure out just which chat was which was difficult. Recently I talked to someone also who was in the room and remembers it very well. She told me that Lucy Lawless' screen name was Hercules and I laughed. Count on Lucy Lawless to be mischievous! I still do not remember all the details but I do remember talking to Hercules who was generally saying how much better "he" was than Xena. At the time I thought 'the nerve of that guy! We don't go on your channel and diss Herc (we do it on our own channel, ha ha).' Other than that I don't remember what I said (gee, I hope I was not too bad!)
 Lucy Lawless, of course, was not really mad. She was just giving me a hard time. I quickly got over my dismay at the thought that Lucy Lawless knew who I was before we even met, and that she remembered me! Now I would have a great story to tell to my friends in chat. I would be infamous in the Xenaverse! Cool.
 Now, totally satisfied with myself for getting my girlfriend's poster signed in the face of overwhelming odds, I sat back down to watch again. After three solid hours of signing, the end of the line was now in sight. In that time, my respect and admiration for this incredible woman had gone up exponentially! Perhaps as many as 2,000 people had passed before her, and she was charming and gracious to everyone of them. It was truly amazing to watch. It was a display of class that is hard to find these days.
 As I was scanning the last of the line, I saw Penth, the co-warlord of the Xenaverse mailing list and a few other familiar faces. I went over to them. "Hey Penth," I said, "didn't I see you guys in this line before?"
 They all looked kind of sheepish and said, "Yeah, but we want pictures."
 That sounded like a great idea so I hopped into line with them again, followed by Panther. The woman behind me asked if I would take her picture with Lucy Lawless also and I said sure.
 So once again we got up to the front of the line and we all leaned across the table to pose with Lucy Lawless, which irritated the security people no end, but Ms. Lawless did not seem to mind.
 Finally every single person that wanted an autograph had one (or two), and Lucy Lawless was done. She did not even seem to be any worse for wear. I suppose after a year and half of 14-hour days, stunts, dealing with unpredictable weather and a fractured pelvis, signing a couple thousand autographs is a piece of cake!
 Tyldus was still hanging around so I went back to the little group that surrounded him and listened in on the conversation. Soon Lucy Lawless went off back stage to take pictures with the volunteers and costume contest winners. All of a sudden, I saw a flash of orange underneath the flap of Tyldus' shirt. It was a VIP pass. The magic item that let's you go anywhere in the convention hall (like backstage to meet Lucy Lawless). A small hope began to form. I think I may have drooled a little.
 Finally, during a lull in conversation, I said in my best casual voice, "Hey Tyldus, you know if you're not using that little sticker anymore, I'd could, you know, take it off your hands."
 He gave me a look like Argo gave Gabrielle just before the horse kicked the staff out of Gabrielle's hands in THE GREATER GOOD (#21). I thought to myself, "Oh well, it was worth a try." Then he ripped off the sticker and handed it to me! Not wanting to press my luck, I thanked him heartily and took off.
THE FINAL ENCOUNTER
 "Backstage" was a little room filled with tables chairs, a big table of food and drinks and lots of people, and reporters and photographers. Lucy Lawless was talking and standing next to Robert Tapert in the middle of the room. At one point, she leaned on his shoulder for a moment. It was the first time I saw her give any sign of being tired.
 I was not quite ready just to walk up to her. Now that I was there, I could not think of a single intelligent thing to say. So when she walked over to the food table I just wandered over there too and tried to look really interested in the drink selection at the other end. Then she left the table, so I actually had to pick a drink, so as not to look like some kind of stalker. I think I picked iced tea, which I hate.
 Turning around with drink in hand, I spotted a guy who looked just like Tapert talking to a woman I did not know. They were in the middle of some kind of joke and I went over and started talking to them. The guy was Jeff Tapert, Robert's brother. I talked to him and his friend while I watched Lucy Lawless go over to a small table, sit down and begin signing a huge stack of 8 x 10 pictures. No one else seemed to be talking to her and I figured it was now or never, so I went over and kneeled down next to her.
 "So have you seen Roo? I heard she was here." (Roo is a well loved regular in the Xenite Hardcore Nutball Chatroom and Pub on UTV. She was in a bad accident at the same time that Lucy Lawless' accident occurred. Ms. Lawless later telephoned Roo to see how she was doing.) This seemed to be as good an opening as any. Ms. Lawless said that she did not think Roo was here, but she had talked to someone who was going to see her. (I found out later that Roo was not at the con, but Ru was. The "Ru" in attendance was Ru Emerson, author of the first three "official" Xena novels.)
 Ok, I thought, on to the next subject. I told Ms. Lawless that I thought she was a real trouper to come see us and sign all those autographs. I told her I was sorry about that unfortunate little IRC thing, but really it was an accident...I would have gone on but she cut me off and told me not to worry about it. "It was stupid of me to diss on Xena on a Xena channel," she said, "and anyway, it was Rob's idea to say that."
 I said, "Well, we are very protective of you."
 I was quickly running out of stuff to say, but there was something I wanted her to know. I told her about my girlfriend. When she was so sick that she literally could not get out of bed, she would get up to watch XENA. Her friends would turn the TV up really loud and then drag the mattress out to the living room so she could watch. I wanted Lucy to understand that even though it's "just TV," people's lives have been affected for the better. I know my heart is happier seeing a solid relationship between two women (take that however you like), a relationship that is more profound and committed than anything I have ever seen on TV or in movies before. I wish I'd had an hour or a day, to tell her all the things I love about Xena.
 When I was done she asked me my girlfriend's name. I told her, and she said, "How do you spell it?" So I told her, and she signed the next picture in the stack, personally and wrote: "With love, Lucy Lawless."
 There was nothing left to say after that, except thank you. I was stunned at my utter good fortune and at the boundless generosity of this woman. And, I could not wait to see my girlfriend's face! I left Lucy Lawless to her signing and went to show my picture to Tyldus, who had made it backstage just fine without his little sticker. I thanked him again (and again) for this golden opportunity. (Thanks again, Tyldus!).
 The stack of pictures were signed, and there were a few more rounds of photographs. I thought about going for my camera, but I already had a picture and time was getting short. The poor winners of the costume contest had been standing against a wall, waiting quietly for their turn all this time. They just barely got to have their pictures taken before Ms. Lawless had to leave.
 I got between Lucy Lawless and the door, hoping to ask her a question I had been wanting to ask all weekend, and knowing this was my last chance. All the pictures got taken, and she turned to head for the door and found me standing in front of her. It was my last chance so I took the plunge. I figured if I got rejected, at least it would only be in front of 30 people rather than 2,000.
 "Lucy, can I give you a hug?"
 She gave me a look I could not read and then said, "Sure," and hugged me. It was a good hug. Must have lasted at least eight seconds. I would love to say I thought noble thoughts the entire time, but the truth is that she's 5'10" and I am 5'4" and I probably enjoyed it a little more than I should have, seeing as there were no brass swirls to get in the way! With a final smile for all of us, Lucy was on her way.
 Later when my friend, Kit, found out, she gave me a squeeze and said, "Two degrees of separation!" Hey, if it gets me more hugs, I do not mind being used!