Whoosh! Online Edition Whoosh! On The Road


STARFURY
CHARIOTS OF WAR,
PART THREE
London, UK
June 30 - July 1, 2001

A WHOOSH! Report
By Andrew Shaughnessy
1801 Words
Content copyright © 2001 held by author
WHOOSH! edition copyright © 2001 held by Whoosh!








You are all now under my control...

Yeah, Hudson Leick was there...
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Starfury Conventions staged "Chariots of War, Part 3" during the weekend of 30th June-1st July 2001 at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, near London's Heathrow Airport. I'd never attended a convention before, but with a guest list headed by Hudson Leick, it seemed worth taking the plunge. Like a fool, I also volunteered to be a steward - some people will do anything for preferential seating, and I'm one of them! My recollections of the weekend are a little hazy, due to something I've named the "Hudson Effect", but I'll do my best.

Apart from Hudson Leick, the guests included Ted Raimi (a veteran of previous Starfury conventions), Adrienne Wilkinson, Karl Urban (who stepped in when Jennifer Sky was forced to cancel due to work commitments), William Gregory Lee and Jennifer Blanc (Kendra in "Dark Angel"), the only non-Xena cast member.

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Ted Raimi and Hudson Leick
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Arriving on Friday afternoon I did all the things newbies do, wandering around, getting lost, and wondering if this was all going to be a big mistake. I needn't have worried. My first duty was an hour outside the "green room" on Saturday, making sure no unauthorised person went backstage. Luckily I was stationed outside the main hall, so I was able to hear Ted's first session through the door. It began with the audience being asked to stand for the National Anthem, which turned out to be "The Ballad of Joxer the Mighty"! This pretty much set the tone for the next hour, and I only wish I could have seen it.

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Please stand for Joxer's Anthem.
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I was in the hall for Hudson's first appearance, actually sitting on the floor in front of the seats. This turned out to be ideal, since I'd brought my entire camera outfit with me and I now had somewhere to put the lenses I wasn't using. When the lady herself emerged through the giant chakram stage entrance, I experienced the "Hudson Effect" for the first time, and at a range of only 10-12 feet it was devastating. I'd been warned, but I still wasn't ready for it - not only did all my higher brain functions shut down, but my camera was suddenly possessed by a demon! As a result, I burned my way through half the film that was supposed to last me the weekend in just under an hour.

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Just out of a chakram
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For those of you who haven't met her, Hudson is one of the few women I've seen who qualifies for the overused epithet "stunningly beautiful". It's not just her looks - there's an indefinable quality about her that makes you want to just sit and stare at her. Whatever it is, it made a hard-core Renee O'Connor fan seriously consider transferring his affections! Once she managed to coax a few questions out of the audience, Hudson really hit her stride. She's not only beautiful, but witty, intelligent and articulate. When asked if Xena was glad that Callisto had killed Gabrielle's husband, Hudson replied "She was very grateful" then added with a wicked grin "But she didn't pay me in money!", which brought the house down. Her demonstration of yoga techniques on a member of the audience had to be seen to be believed - I'm just glad the pictures came out!

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Ms. Leick demonstrates a popular yoga position with the help of an audience member.
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Hudson also actively supports a cancer charity, and auctioned off several items on stage. The first dress, a black and white striped number, was modelled by Ted Raimi. Thank God he kept his trousers on! Hudson was wearing a stunning silver blue dress in a snakeskin pattern and this, too, was auctioned. First, however, she had to swap clothes with Sean, the convention organiser. While they went backstage, Ted led a group of fans in a rousing chorus of "Joxer the Mighty". Hudson emerged wearing Sean's trousers, shirt and waistcoat (and until you've seen her in men's clothes, you haven't lived!), followed by Sean in the dress. I can't help feeling he should have ditched the socks! At any rate, it went for 500, which was no bad thing.

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Ted Raimi modeling Leick's dress
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More auction hi-jinks
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The final high spot came when a girl named Fay asked Hudson if she would give one of Callisto's chilling screams. Hudson agreed, on the condition that Fay joined her. Sean made it a trio, and together they raised a scream that would have shattered glass in a smaller room. Whatever else happened that day, I know one little girl went away very happy. Hudson then started going through Sean's pockets, and proceeded to give away his loose change! Easy come, easy go....

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Nothing like primal therapy to get the conventioneers happy.
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In case you're starting to think this piece was written by Hudson's agent, I'll move on. Jennifer Blanc deserves a medal for coping with adversity. Not only was she suffering from "first con" nerves, but her voice started to give out on Saturday. By Sunday they had to move her back so she could appear with Greg Lee who, as well as playing Virgil, appeared as Zack in "Dark Angel". This cut down on the amount of time Jennifer would have to spend talking, and she came though with flying colours. I particularly enjoyed their experiment to see who were best at crying on demand, men or women. Apparently, this is one of the most difficult things an actor can be called on to do, and the results obtained from an audience panel were surprising, to say the least.

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Jennifer Blanc from Dark Angel slumming.
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At the time of the convention I had seen Adrienne Wilkinson in only three episodes, LIVIA, EVE and MOTHERHOOD. I loathed her as Livia, and didn't know what to make of her as Eve, but I have to say she's a real sweetheart! She stood on a table to compensate for her lack of height, and her answers were both funny and informative. She was slightly contemptuous of Eve's mission to Ch'in ("Okay, these guys have had religion for 7,000 years, but I'm going to bring them a better one!"), and hated the burlap outfits she had to wear in Season 6. During one scene she, Greg and Lucy were all trying to pull her free after she'd got snagged on a nail yet again!

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Adrienne Wilkinson
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Midway through Adrienne's session a woman in the audience suffered a severe asthma attack. Adrienne immediately offered to help, and her concern was obvious (she has an asthmatic sister). Eventually the woman's distress became such that Adrienne called a break because, as she said, "This is what's important." The audience clearly appreciated her action, and she made a lot of friends that day.

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Adrienne Wilkinson
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I missed Karl Urban's solo appearance on Saturday, but I saw his hilarious double act with Ted Raimi on Sunday. When Ted was asked what he'd miss most about the show, he talked about the family atmosphere among the cast and crew, to which Karl retorted "What about the sheep?" Ted loftily replied "I don't think I'm going to miss them as much as they're going to miss me!" His next sentence was interrupted by Karl bleating "Wh-e-r-e-s T-e-d? T-e-d, a-re y-o-u m-y f-a-th-e-r?" I'll make no comment on this, I'm just reporting what was said!

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Karl Urban
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Their final improvisation act was brilliant. The audience chose the movie genre they would act out, followed by the language in which they had to perform. Have any of you ever watched a Chinese horror movie? It's impossible to describe what happened, you really had to be there. Suffice to say, I nearly fell out of my chair laughing!

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Ted Raimi
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The real high point of the weekend came on Sunday morning. I know I look awful in photos (I simply can't relax in front of a camera), so I just booked a single photo session with Hudson. I was near the front of the queue, so I didn't have to wait long. I thought I'd be nervous meeting her, but I was just excited. Hudson was wearing a red and saffron sari, a totally different look from the previous day. Her hair is short these days, but she had a false ponytail swept forward over one shoulder. When my turn came I asked "You will catch me if I faint, won't you?" Hudson laughed and said "Don't worry, you won't faint." We put our arms round each other, the picture was taken and the waiting began. That afternoon I learned that we still live in an age of miracles. The pictures came back, and when I was given mine my first thought was "That's not me!" I actually looked presentable, not to mention almost indecently happy! The "Hudson Effect" strikes again....

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William Gregory Lee
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Hudson signed the photo later that evening, and personalised another of her as Callisto. That was the icing on the cake and, apart from the closing ceremony, the end of an exhausting but enjoyable weekend. Would I go to another convention? I really don't know - it would depend on who the guests were. Renee O'Connor would be a definite draw, but her impending motherhood makes future appearances doubtful. I regret not meeting Adrienne Wilkinson, and I'd like to see Jennifer Sky on stage. Other than that, I can't see myself becoming a regular convention attendee. I do know, however, that I wouldn't have missed CoW3 for anything!

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Crying on demand
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