By Moira Sullivan
Probably one of the astonishing phenomena in entertainment history is the longevity of the Xena Convention, now in its 15th edition.
Held at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott hotel, the estimated number of patrons this year was between 800 and 1000 guests, an increase over last year, with a lot of newbies. Virgins as we are called, and I am one. Claps for virgins are an important ritual, but so are the twists and turns of a three-day rally back in time with updates on the lives of the people today who played the characters on the Xena show.
This year Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor were in attendance on opening day. After 15 years on the show, and nine years off, the dynamic duo has earned the spotlight and will always hold the respect of fans for the amazing Xena: The Warrior Princess episodes.
The attraction of the show to fans is a constant love affair but Lucy Lawless wondered how much more she could say about Xena that hasn’t already been said. Her new role as Lucretia on Starz' Spartacus: Blood and Sand is nothing like her character in Xena. She has no fight scenes, she is not the lead, she is heterosexual, she has a husband, and a lover and her scruples are low.
Today it is a doubtful if a show like Xena could be made. According to one Xenite, there was a ready-made audience just waiting to be mirrored in a show like Xena. Xena writer Katherine Fugate, one of many guests this year, claims it all about subtext. "Subtext is the only way to write", she told the audience. Steven L Sears, another writer took another tack: "Why not hit the nail on the head? Xena and Gabrielle were a same sex couple. They lived together, fought together, and fought for each other". That this is the major pull of the series cannot be underestimated. There are also plenty of other kinds of relationship for spectators to identify with. But all of the Xenites assembled in Los Angeles are in agreement that Xena and Gabrielle are the main attraction.
Some of the questions that came from the floor reveal the star/fan relationship. A young Xenite asked Lucy if she ever had been so taken with a fan that she became friends with him or her. “No,” was her straight from the hip answer. To be enamored with an image that reflects a part of yourself is ordinary, but to meet your idols live is a powerful twist.
Lucy Lawless decided to do something different this year. She and Renee read from a script about a relationship that Renee had with an older man whose body is falling apart. A truly unlikely episode for Xena and a bit cheesy, but which did the job of pulling the audience away from the traditional images of Xena and Gabrielle.
Hudson Leick as Callisto however gave to the audience in a way that evoked memories of her character and revealed the woman of today. Her sense of timing and ability to tune into the audience was brilliant, with a lot of raw jokes that she clearly got away with. In real life she is a yoga teacher and she gave a two-hour workshop at the convention.
A trio of actresses culled from the annals of Xena and Cleopatra 2525 - Jennifer Sky who was Amarice, Gina Torres, Cleopatra and Victoria Pratt as Cyane should really have their own talk show and played off each other and the audience with incredible humor.
The Xena Convention is an opportunity for fans worldwide to gather for one of the most intriguing TV shows in television history. At the end of the convention guests scrambled for upgrades on there Gold passes, so the 16th annual Xena Convention is in the works as we speak.
For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Los Angeles
© 2010 - Moira Sullivan - Airdate: 02/10/10
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