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Xenites Gather in Burbank

[384] From England, Australia and New Zealand, they came. From New York, Kansas, Texas, and Pennsylvania, they came. From Northern California, Southern California and points in between, they all descended upon Burbank, California on January 17th and 18th, 1998. Who were these travelers headed for the Burbank Airport Hilton and Convention Center? They were HERCULES and XENA fans from all parts of the world. And, what caused this group of people of all ages, races, both genders, and differing sexual orientations, to journey to Burbank from so many different places? It was the opportunity to see their favorite actors from their favorite television shows, HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS and XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, not to mention the opportunity to purchase memorabilia, get autographs, meet fellow Xenites who were previously only handles on a computer screen, and the chance to line up to ask their favorite stars questions, take photographs, party and just generally schmooze with like-minded people.

The Beginning

[385] When I attended the first Burbank HERC/XENA Convention last year, I did it on a lark. I liked the show and was curious about the convention; after all, it was only 10 minutes away by freeway and I wasn't doing anything that weekend. Besides, I had bought a ticket for my roommate as a late Christmas present. Well, we received quite a surprise when we arrived at the Convention Center. I couldn't believe the number of people waiting outside in the rain, even though the convention had been sold out. I sympathized with them but the hungry glances they were casting at our tickets encouraged us to hurry inside where we were overwhelmed by the size and diversity of the crowd.

[386] That was the beginning of what has been a wild and exciting year for me. If anyone had told me a year ago that I would attend a Xenafest and other gatherings of Xenites, I would not have believed them; nor, would I have believed that I would take a day off from work just to catch a taping of the Jay Leno Tonight Show because Lucy Lawless was on. I would not have believed that I would fly out of Los Angeles to San Francisco to attend a convention featuring Renee O'Connor, catch a 10:00 p.m. flight that night out of San Francisco to New York to catch Lucy Lawless' last performance of Grease, and fly home to California the next day, jet-lagged and stupid from fatigue, but happy.

[387] There were no surprises this year. I was prepared for the number of people there and excited about seeing people I had met both on-line and at other Xenite functions. This year it wasn't a lark; it was an almost obligatory drive to the anniversary of the grand daddy of all the HERC/XENA conventions.

[388] So, with pen, pad, and camera, I set out on the 18th (having had to work on the 17th) to gather input from other Xenites for us all to share. I hope what follows will give you some idea of the magical and electrifying experience it was. It left me with a good, warm feeling about myself, other people, and the world in general. It was too special to miss and I intend to attend every anniversary convention in Burbank.

[389] It felt wonderful not to have to explain your feelings to other people. Almost everybody there would appreciate and respect other's reasons for being there. We knew that other peoples' reasons would overlap our own at some point.

Heparin from the Pacific Northwest

[390] As Heparin from the Pacific Northwest, whom I met last year in July at So. Cal. Xenafest III (my first) stated, "I mostly came to LA in order to hang out with other fans, learn a bit more about how XENA is put together technically, and to see Lucy. I met my girlfriend through Internet XENA fandom and she lives in LA so going to fests and cons is sort of an event for us. It's also the time when we can get together and meet Internet friends(like SandiJ!) who we don't get to see so often.

[391] XENA fandom feels pretty comfortable to me... heteros and gay folks and people of a variety of racial/ethnic groups can come together. If it were almost all white, or all lesbian or all hetero I wouldn't feel that comfortable coming to the fest or hanging out on-line. It wouldn't be a priority. It's nice when one's entertainment events reflect to a degree one's other values; values such as strong, nontraditional women, a variety of types of loving, interraciality in one's outlook and (chosen) family. Not all Xenites feel like this, of course, and many of us aren't as emphatically political as I am, but that's okay. I do have to say it was more fun in the earlier days before the factions and infighting amongst people, but I'm glad to still be around.

[392] One of the most fun and informative parts of any con are the creative/technical presentations. I enjoy learning about how XENA is created and put together and I enjoy interacting with the folks that make it all happen. Robert Field in particular has been very generous with his time and energy, as has Steve Sears. And, of course, it's always a thrill to see Lucy Lawless live, and in person as Lucy."

[393] What a year it has been. I have done some of the goofiest things I've ever done (purchasing a sword because I liked the sword demonstration last year and wanted to know how to do it), joining a fan club (the first one I've ever joined, at my age!), and comfortably walking up to perfect strangers and initiating a conversation based solely upon the fact that they're Xenites. I could go on but at some point it still becomes embarrassing. I've also acted on dreams that I was previously too afraid to pursue. I started my own business, with confidence that it would be successful. Somehow, I had more faith in my ability to handle whatever obstacles might crop up. But, I have had such fun, it prevents me from taking the whole thing too seriously. I've been scandalous in my efforts to lure friends, family, co-workers, and mere acquaintances into the Xenaverse, regaling them with my on-line adventures and keeping them posted on TV appearances and other Xenitish activities. Eventually, they became just as enthused as I am. I had no shame. I even converted my father. He needed a change from his chauvinistic attitude towards women and I thought that X:WP would be a good start.

Marty's Experience

[394] Marty, from the East Coast, told me why he was here. "Last year, against my wife's advise, I didn't go to Burbank because I thought it would be too expensive, and too big. Then I read the descriptions, saw the photos and promised not to miss it again, no matter what.

[395] I wanted to meet people I had met at other fests, and rarely have a chance to see. I enjoy talking and arguing about Xena, Gabrielle, Callisto and X:WP in general. I was most anxious to meet people I knew only by e-mail. Burbank seems to be the big CON, and I learned many of these people were planning to be there.

[396] I wanted to see the stars on stage. I had seen Lucy Lawless and Kevin Smith and Hudson Leick once before, which I enjoyed. I wanted to see them again. Mainly I wanted to find out how I would react to Hudson. I had not been engaged in any kind of fan activity before this X:WP stuff started. Seeing Hudson Leick in Detroit was the first time I had seen in person anyone I had admired as a fan. I was amazed by her appearance and respected everything about the way she conducted herself there. There was a bit of a personal aspect in a kindness she extended to me. To make a long long story short, I was surprised at the intensity of my own reaction, but though she was the first one, and the first one is always special. Since then I have seen Lucy Lawless, Kevin Smith, Karl Urban and others, and thought maybe I am more experienced now. Maybe my reaction would be more reasonable."

[397] Marty continued, "I was just as amazed by Hudson's beauty, and just as impressed by her immediacy, kindness and general LeickWow ness. Someone said they like her more in Burbank than at Valley Forge (which I didn't attend) because her personality showed more. I thought that's it. That's what I like so much about her. She has a great personality. Whew! Does she ever.

[398] Hudson was about as amazing as she was in Detroit, but the audience was not as much with her. In Detroit I saw her on the floor with some little boy autographing a photo on stage, saw her kiss a young man and saw her sitting on her heels to get to eye to eye level with people when the microphone wasn't working too good. This time she asked for company on stage, said she wanted to play, but not many people volunteered. However the spirit of the closeness she always manages with people was there. Again she said something unexpected to me, and again I was completely stunned by it.

[399] Lucy Lawless was as impressive in Burbank as she was in NYC. In fact I liked her more. There is an intangible star quality to her. She accepts the sudden fame and adulation so easily, and manages it so gracefully. I could not help but think, again, that if I were to ever admire anyone as a fan, I am thrilled it was Lucy Lawless first.

[400] It all worked out as good or better than my high expectations lead me to anticipate. The old friends, new friends, stars and the rest all made me happy I kept my promise not to miss it this time.

[401] I came away from it all hardly believing the whole X:WP experience was just two or three years old. So much has happened. All good."

Barb Shares her Comments

[402] Barb, also from the East Coast had this to say, "The reason(s) I was in Burbank: 1) to see friends that I met at WarriorCon in DC last September; 2) make new friend (such as yourself); 3) to see Lucy ( I was disappointed that she didn't sign since I flew out in a d*mn icestorm for the Con)." A Xenite will endure considerable discomfort in order to attend a HERC/XENA convention.

[403] This whole phenomenon has become something special for me. I have a skin condition known as vitiligo and I was very self conscious about being around people who did not know me. The comfort I feel around other Xenites who are otherwise strangers to me is amazing. There is a sense of family that creates a trusting atmosphere among Xenites. Without it, I would never have met the many wonderful people whom I now call friend."

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