Whoosh! Issue 57 - June 2001

By Dyann Esparza
Content copyright © 2001 held by author
WHOOSH! edition copyright © 2001 held by Whoosh!
2490 words

The Alpha and the Omega (01-02)
The First Xena Convention: A Brave New World? (03-09)
Pasadena 2001: What Happened? (10-15)
The New Xenaverse (16-18)


The Alpha and the Omega

More nuts than a fully laden pistacio tree

The NetForum began in late 1995 and has been going strong ever since.

[01] How does one determine the scope of five odd years? It has been roughly that since I became involved in the world of Xena. Way back in the day, I would log on to the Xena NetForum religiously to read the posts, and check my email for the latest witty, intelligent thoughtful analysis of the show I had become obsessed about. Then I would cruise by Xenafan.com for the latest and greatest tidbit. That was my life as a 'hardcore nutball' or HCNB as we referred to ourselves. The term was taken lovingly from an early public email from Lucy Lawless in describing the fans of the show, and how she expected they would be there 'until the very end'. Now, here we are, at the end, and the ride turned out to be nothing like I expected it to be. I cannot decide if that is a good thing or a bad thing. It is, however, like many season 5 Xena episodes: inconsistent, bittersweet, and not quite hitting the mark.

[02] Life changes for everyone, this is a truth, but how it changes is where the impact is always felt. If we go back to year 1, even year 2, there was something completely new, refreshing, and downright giddy about being around the Xenaverse. Here was a collection of people that came from other fandoms or, like me, had never been involved in any kind of fan community. These people were intelligent, well educated, witty, and thoroughly engaged in being a fan of this 'cheesy' show. In retrospect, perhaps many of them came to the Internet and the show for the same reasons I did, a bit of escapism from the pressures of everyday life. I cannot answer that part. What I do know is that, here it is 5 years later, and I am left wiser and enriched by the experience because I have met people and made friends that I will treasure well beyond the show.

The First Xena Convention: A Brave New World?

signed for only $500!

Miranda in Shakespeare's The Tempest found herself in a brave new world as well
(Miranda - The Tempest by John William Waterhouse)

[03] So, why then, this article? Allow me to recapture, if I may, what the first Xena convention was like. It was an epiphany (no not Ephiny, the Amazon), because that first convention was simply amazing. Amazing because there was almost no merchandise to be found, the cash value of Xena had not yet been realized. Also, most importantly, all these fans, almost every single one of them, were there from around the country and around the world, because of the Internet. Everywhere you went, people had badges with their on-line handles on them, otherwise, how would you know anyone? There was a message board set up for people to hook up with one another. It was like a first date and everything was perfect.

[04] Am I remembering it through rose-colored glasses? You bet, because there was something shiny, new, and magical about it. The convention was sold out by mid-Saturday. I have the pictures of the signs they made to post everywhere. I took pictures of the lines of people, locals from the area, in line waiting to get tickets, but there were none to be had because the Internet 'nutballs' had bought them. It was chaotic, poorly organized, and the schedule kept changing.

[05] It was the best convention of my life. Everywhere you went, there were people helping each other out, gathering, chatting, impromptu scene recitations, analysis, debates about the show. It was an astonishing sight to see. The guests blew everyone away. I sat in my seat almost every second of the convention, because I did not want to miss a thing.

[06] I remember when Hudson Leick stepped out onto the stage, timid and looking like a deer in headlights as 2,000 fans screamed at the top of their lungs for her. She announced herself, "Hi, I'm Hudson Leick and I play Callisto." She could barely be heard above the din from the audience. It was the only time I have ever seen Hudson Leick NOT totally come out and command the audience from the second she hit the stage. She found her groove soon enough, but look at photos from that convention: she is dressed in a nice dress, semi-casual. Then compare them to the pictures from Pasadena. Before the 'staging' and the 'performance' there was a young actor who stood in front of that crowd of screaming fans and announced herself because she was not sure we would know who she was.

[07] Contrast that with when Lucy Lawless bounded onto the stage. She was so happy to be there, because she was loving the show, loving the fans, she totally interacted with the audience, and it showed. It showed in ever fiber of her being, every answer that she gave, every pause, every little joke. She was thankful and grateful and wanted the fans to know that she appreciated their being there. This came shortly after her accident on the Jay Leno show and she wanted everyone to know she was ok, because she had been deluged with letters, cards, and flowers.

[08] This was the only convention that Lucy Lawless ever signed autographs at, and as a recipient of one of those autographs, I can tell you, it is a moment I will not forget. I remember thanking her for coming to the convention and she looked up from the picture she was signing (1 of 3 glossies I think that were sold at that convention) and she said, "No, thank you for coming, I appreciate it." Not a big deal, a simple courteous exchange, but I was struck by A: How very blue her eyes were, and B: That she sounded so very sincere. Lucy signed for every single person in that auditorium. That evening the entire place was electric, every person had their moment to recollect, their quote, and their 'goober' moment.

[09] Every person was charged, it was truly a life changing moment for me. That moment cemented my loyalty to the show and the actor. I would indeed be a fan until the bitter end, and certainly, there have been moments since that night that have made me question that loyalty.

Pasadena 2001: What Happened?

tapped for the roles of Skipper and Gilligan originally

Michael Hurst's and Kevin Sorbo's farewell at the 2000 Pasadena Con brought a few tears to many Xena fans

[10] I realize not everyone was there for the first convention, and given that, I understand if this final convention was satisfactory. It was not for me. I came to Pasadena because I was ready to put the 'Xena' chapter of my life behind me. I wanted the end to be at least as memorable as the beginning. It was, but for reasons that had nothing to do with Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor on stage together. What was memorable about the weekend was every other guest who stepped on stage thanked the fans, said the farewells, because the roller coaster had pulled into the station and the ride was over. Lucy and Renee, on the otherhand, felt like guests of honor whom were there because they were paid to be.

[11] The stage set up was not so great, thanks to keeping the house lights down and keeping the audience at an arm's length. The interview style was even less interesting this year than it was for Lucy Lawless' last convention appearance in 1999 in Santa Monica. At least in Santa Monica, Lucy took control of the stage and engaged with the audience. Truthfully, I was more emotional at Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst's time on stage saying farewell to the Hercules fans, and I was not nearly as huge fan of their show.

[12] I have read people's convention reports, I have seen the justifications that people were presenting as to why their time on stage felt stilted. My only question is why should there be justifications for why their performance was lackluster? Why were the reports not like the first convention when it was all anyone could do to spill the moment out onto paper, to try, albeit poorly, the magic and the power of that moment, in this instance, the final goodbye? Could it be because there was no power and magic in that final goodbye? That it felt more like a 'thanks for coming, take care". Lucy in Santa Monica when she said, our paths may not soon cross again felt more sincere with the fans.

[13] Not all the fans are freaks, not everyone is a potential stalker, but given the way they acted on stage, the group of fans sitting in the audience were nothing more than a side note. The same 'fringe group of freaks' dismissed as a whole by TPTB (the powers that be) when some of us disagreed with them. The same 'fringe group of freaks' who are probably a decent microcosm of the whole that helped to catapult those involved with the show to success. A resource to be tapped into when the whole "The Way" fiasco erupted. The walking credit cards that merchandisers have tapped into to make untold fortunes not only on our willingness but our financial ability to buy Xena merchandise.

[14] It was a very disappointing and anti climactic end to such a dynamic, groundbreaking, and phenomenal television show. This good bye felt like a break up long overdue, and one that was delivered on an answering machine instead of in person. That is how connected they appeared on stage. I know all good things come to end, I was hoping for a good end I suppose. I agree with endings, I have long since packed up my Xena paraphernalia, wondering what I will do with it, knowing that in 5 years time I will pull it out and laugh at myself. For buying all the pictures, all the posters, anything and everything I could get my hands out to help me capture some of that magic. I wonder, was it so much for me to expect that Lucy and Renee actually say good bye to the fans? Not 'say' the words, but to say goodbye. This is the end of a long journey for many of us.

[15] Maybe I was sitting too far away, to really 'capture' the emotion when Lucy thanked the fans for our charitable spirit. Or maybe it was the completely discontinuous segue way that the interviewer interjected afterwards. Something about hair? Nice flow there, one minute asking, how do you feel about the fact that fans of your show have raised probably over half a million dollars, if not more, for charities in the name of Xena? (Note: This is an estimation on my part, since Sword and Staff has raised over $250,000 dollars for various charities and I am assuming that money raised for Creation sponsored charities is at least of equal value since they auction off props etc. from the show.) The next minute asking something completely unrelated.

The New Xenaverse

[16] For everyone who thinks I am a naysayer, a negative, bitter disgruntled fan, that is fine to think. I treasure things about the Xenaverse. I will never forget the early days of camaraderie and kinship. I remain especially proud of WHOOSH and Sword and Staff as testaments to what Xena fans can and have accomplished. I have made friends that I cherish. I have discovered the capacity to love someone with all my heart and it is working out just fine. I even have my memories of the first convention, before the fan base fractured into a million pieces, before stalkers, threats, and freaks made the stars have to keep all of us at an arm's length, before TPTB felt betrayed by the fans and subsequently turned their backs on them, before the fans felt like the show and the stars owed them something all the time every time. If you think that is an ironic statement for me to make, realize that I did not think that Lucy or Renee owed me anything. I was just hoping, the key word would be hoping, that they would want to say goodbye to the show with us because we all showed up to say goodbye.

[17] I guess the world is a different place now, just run by eBay, and see what the 'fans' of the show are selling their 'candid' photos for. What is the highest bid for a good picture of Lucy and Renee these days? Moreover, I try not to think about the autographs that Lucy and Renee could not sign for fans but did sign on all the items that merchandisers will be able to sell for a small fortune later.

[18] In the end, it does not matter that this show I loved and the conventions that were so amazing have become so commercial, that the actors associated with the show have become 'stars' and cannot be bothered anymore, or that fandom itself has degenerated into the lowest common denominator. The people I met early on are almost all gone, none have stayed to witness the demise, the ones that remain, well, we salute each other like battle worn soldiers and carry on. What does matter is that once upon a time, the world cried out for a hero and each of us strived to be one. What I will always have are the memories of a time in space where battling on and changing the world were taken to heart.


Dyann Esparza. Examining the Depth of Xena and Gabrielle's Relationship. WHOOSH #33 (June 1999) http://whoosh.org/issue33/esparza2.html

Dyann Esparza. Is There a Correlation Between the Explosive Growth of the Internet and the Xenaverse? WHOOSH #50 (November 2000) http://whoosh.org/issue50/esparza3.html

Dyann Esparza. The Warrior's Path: A Survival Guide for Modern Day Heroes as Gleaned from Xena: Warrior Princess. WHOOSH #17 (February 1998) http://whoosh.org/issue17/esparza1.html


Dyann Esparza Dyann Esparza

Once there came into the world a fledgling li'l geekling, who wandered the world over and meandered here and there and there and here. Until lo, one day, she-now a full fledged GeekGrrl-found the fledgling Xenaverse and discovered, to her endless delight, a site call International Association for Xena Studies and their publication WHOOSH. "Magnificently Kewl," she thought and promptly volunteered (or was swayed by the editor; I can't remember how the story goes) to become a staffer. Still not sure what it is I do, I continue to meander, and that seems to be enough.
Favorite episode: THE DEBT (52-53/306-307)
Favorite line: Lao Ma: "And you will be my Warrior Princess." THE DEBT I (53/307)
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST (01/101)
Least favorite episode: FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS (40/216)

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