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Xenites vs. Trekkers;' Xena' followers making pilgrimage to S.A.

Posted 10-21-99

San Antonio Express-News
Tuesday, 05/11/99
Ihosvani Rodruguez, News Staff Writer
Page 1E
GRAPHIC: PHOTO: TOM REEL/STAFF Xena and Gabrielle; Gail Futoran displays some of her Xena collectibles. 'It hasbecome less expensive to purchase diamonds than to purchase theamount of Xena stuff I've bought over the years,' she says.

A promotional article about the upcoming San Antonio Con on 05/16/99. Petra de Jong's On the Road report is mentioned.


    Xena,  really darling, is this any way for royalty to act?  

   Screeching like a frantic banshee, OK. All that swordplay, sure.Chuckin' the 
chakram, cool. And that two-fingered " Xena  touch" -whoa! 

   But crushing the head of a man-eating Cyclops - between yourthighs?  Hey, it 
works. You - and your alter ego, Kiwi actress LucyLawless - are certainly the
most formidable and famousleather-clad, breast-plated dominatrix ever to
commandeer theworld's devotion. 

   You slay us. Your exploits - on " Xena:  Warrior Princess," whichairs nightly
on USA and on Saturdays on KRRT - are tops in theweird world of syndicated TV,
where you've conquered thosebikini-clad lifeguards from "Baywatch." 

   In the five short years since you were spun off the "Hercules"series
(originally evil, you underwent a radical conversion),you've electrified the
globe with your bravery, wisdom and loftymoral standards. (And you are truly
global, worshipped in atleast 65 countries. Take Turkey, for example: With a
populationof more than 50 million, 60 percent of the market tunes in eachweek.) 
With plucky Gabrielle at your side, you travel ancientlands defending the
powerless and atoning for the sins of thepast. (Your legend has even spawned
college courses.) In theprocess, you've been tagged a feminist role model.
What's more,you're a hit with the kiddies. A lesbian icon. And men, well,men get
a kick out of you in more ways than one. 

   "That's her biggest appeal. That she can appeal to everyonedifferently," says
Sharon Delaney, editor of the official Xenafan club newsletter, The Chakram.
"Most of all, it is thequality of the character that people are in love with.
It's whatshe does. What she stands for. That, and she can kick some butt." 

   This weekend, the center of the Xenaverse, as true believersrefer to your
realm, is the Four Points Sheraton RiverwalkHotel. Of course, you'll be out
battling tyrants and monsters,but you are sending emissaries Alti (Claire
Stansfield) andCleopatra (Gina Torres) to spread the  Xena  gospel. And
yourapostles will be here in force. 

   Here's the really weird part: The  Xena  convention comes just oneday after
those futuristic eggheads from the "Star Trek" secthave their own clambake - in 
the same hotel! 

   The mind reels. Imagine the spectacle of Xenite and Treker, eachoutfitted in 
period dress, going to fist city in the hotel'sbuffet line over the last turkey 

   Say there is a rumble of intergalactic proportions. Judging fromrecent
conventions, the sword could prove to be mightier thanthe phaser.  Xena 
conventions have quickly reached the zenith setby those legendary freakazoids
with Vulcan blood (green, ofcourse) flowing through their veins. 

   The organizer of both conventions - a company called CreativeEntertainment - 
has witnessed up to 4,000  Xena  junkies willingto travel uncounted miles to
these gatherings held sporadicallyaround the country. According to Gary Berman, 
president ofCreative Entertainment, there are many documented instances inwhich 
 Xena  pilgrimages have outdrawn Star Trek conventions.

   Berman, however, is quick to note: "I don't know if  Xena  will bearound
another 30 years like Star Trek. But by the popularmomentum the show has now,
you can bet we'll be doing these( Xena)  conventions for a long time." 

   Much like their space-age counterparts, many  Xena  followers showup in

   They dish out trivia answers in forms of questions. They discusscritical
issues such as violence on the show. They foam at themouth as they watch
never-aired scenes and outtakes. In fact,behind-the-scenes footage and blooper
reels are possibly thebiggest draws at  Xena  conventions. 

   And Xenites are willing to part with hard-earned lucre topurchase action
figures, coloring books, novels, magazines,games, calendars, Christmas
ornaments, videos, CDs, jewelry andanything else associated with the Xenaverse. 

   "It has become less expensive to purchase diamonds than topurchase the amount
of  Xena  stuff I've bought over the years,"says Gail Futoran, whose house in
Guadalupe County is filledwith comic books, action figures and assorted  Xena 

   How does a popular media character such as  Xena  achieve cultstatus? (How's 
this for devoted? In one of the hundreds of XenaWeb sites,
www. whoosh. org/road/xcvac97/index.html, Petra de Jong of the Netherlands
published a 3,370-word diary about a trek tothe United States in search of
 Xena.  She found Lawless in aBroadway production of "Grease" and even visited
Katy,birthplace of Renee O'Connor, who plays Gabrielle. "Believe itor not, I was
tired of  Xena  at this point. Guess that's whatthey call 'overkill,'(" reads
the diary's last entry. Yeah,guess so, Petra.) 

   Briefly, the good-vs.-evil story of  Xena  goes something likethis: 

    Xena  is this villainous, mad-cat army leader who pillages andplunders at
will, remaining steadfast in her determination toearn glory by doing a number on
her nemesis, Hercules. Then, oneday, she rescues a baby. Her bloodthirsty
troops, horrified bythis show of maternal instinct, abandon her. She hooks up
withHerc. Consumed by guilt over her previous, unprincipled ways, Xena  seeks
redemption through good deeds. Her life becomes anendless series of battles and 
skirmishes with evil warlords,gods, monsters, and assorted freaks and goons
with hairyshoulders and backs. Yuck. 

   And always, always there is this underlying theme:  Xena  wouldrather reason 
than rumble, but if an enemy of justice throwsdown, she's there. 

   In an interview a couple of years ago, Lawless explained thesuccess of the
show like this: "All I can say is that I'mthrilled and honored and I'm holding
on white-knuckles, justtrying to ride this tiger. I think the show's popularity 
amongwomen stems from the fact that  Xena  carries the message, 'Yes, Ican' in
both her actions and her demeanor. 'Yes, I can,' allalone, with no visible means
of male support. That's a verypositive, affirming thing for women. We haven't
had this kind ofrole model in the popular media for quite some time, and notever
in episodic television. As far as men are concerned, Ithink they regard  Xena 
as a woman they'd like to sit down andhave a beer with. She's a
huntin'-shootin'-fishin' type woman.They could drink their beer and wouldn't
have to talk much. Andkids like heroes. They hope there's a hero out there like 
Xenawho will protect them."  

   The  Xena  arena  

   What: Will feature behind the scenes footage, on-stagepresentations, trivia
and costume contests, blooper reels, plusa merchandise emporium. 

   Where: The Sheraton Four Points Riverwalk North Hotel, 110Lexington Ave. 

   When: 1-7 p.m. Sunday  

   Who: Celebrity speakers include Claire Stansfield, who portraysAlti on
' Xena:  Warrior Princess' and Gina Torres, who portraysCleopatra. 

   Cost: General admission tickets are available in advance for $17through
Ticketmaster outlets; $20 for adults at the door; $10for children 7-12; and free
for children 6 and younger.


    Xena  and Gabrielle; Gail Futoran displays some of her  Xena  collectibles. 
'It hasbecome less expensive to purchase diamonds than to purchase theamount of 
 Xena  stuff I've bought over the years,' she says.

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