Blogging the 15th Annual Xena Convention — to see all Xena Con posts, click here.
It’s cold and raining in Los Angeles, which means it must be time for the 15th Annual Xena Convention. And it also means that the airport shuttle and LAX Marriott are pretty much wall-to-wall lesbians. Gotta love our tribe.
The convention starts right around noon, with Xena: Warrior Princess writer Katherine Fugate, who is also the creator of Army Wives and writer of Valentine’s Day. And later this afternoon will be Xena herself, Lucy Lawless, along with Renee O’Connor (Gabrielle). (Renee will also appear on Sunday.)
I’ll be liveblogging from the convention floor, and AfterEllen.com’s KT Jorgensen, who has photographed the convention for the last three years, will be behind her cameras (yes, she has three) all weekend. AfterEllen.com also did exclusive interviews with Lucy and Renee, and we’ll be bringing those to you this weekend as well.
Just a word on how this works: I’ll be adding to the posts from the top down this year, so the new stuff is always on the top. If you want to read it in chronological order, start at the bottom.
We’ll have one post — this one — for the convention coverage. Just hit refresh from time to time to see the new information at the top. You can also follow #xwp on Twitter for update alerts.
[Update 14] Just how many beautiful women were on Xena over the years?
Too many to count. And here are three of them.
Left to right that’s Victoria Pratt, Gina Torres, and Jennifer Sky, who played Cyane, Cleopatra and Amarice on Xena, and Sarge, Hel, and Cleo in Cleopatra 2525.
The audience went nuts (who can blame them?) and the three of them had serious chemistry. And Gina referred to the trio as "the pussy posse."
Jennifer Sky’s had a rough couple of years. She had a liver transplant a little over a year ago, and last month divorced her husband. She chalked it up to the fact that he turned out to be gay, and no one I asked was completely sure if that was being said seriously or not. (Note: the webmistress of jenniferskyfans.net emailed us assuring us it was a joke.)
The transplant scar, however, was definitely real.
I’d like to see what Gina’s showing Vicky. I really would.
The three women were bantering with Xena writer Steven Sears, and asked him to write something for them. "Just write anything," Gina said. "We’ll make it dirty."
Before they went on stage, Gina posed just for AfterEllen.com’s KT Jorgensen backstage:
Another AfterEllen.com exclusive and yes, I’m aware this is bordering on the gratuitous but seriously… what do you expect me to do with photos like these?
Signing photos for her fans after the stage appearance:
And that was the end of the 15th Annual Xena Convention. Thanks to everyone who played along here and on Twitter, to KT for her great photos, to the fans who were there and who let me know they were AfterEllen.com fans, to Lucy, Renee and all the rest who spoke with and posed for us, and as always, to Sharon Delaney and Adam, Monica, Leticia and everyone at Creation Entertainment, who made it all work and gave us all the access and information we needed.
The 16th Annual Xena Convention will be held next year in Los Angeles. There’s even some talk about a con in New Zealand — if, that is, there’s enough interest, which Creation defines as 200 people. If you think you might want to pay homage to the land that’s both the birthplace of Lucy Lawless and the homeland of the Warrior Princess, give them a shout and let Creation know!
And until then, well, it wouldn’t be a Xena Con if I didn’t tell you to battle on!
[Update 13] First a Renee/Gabrielle tribute video, with songs by Lucy!
Renee makes an unusual entrance. A short film tells the audience that yes, Lucy and Renee are still friends, and "Fins, Femmes, and Gems" is her current favorite episode "because Ted Raimi (Joxer) looks cute in pink!", but that’s all old — how about something new?
To the strains of the Indigo Girls‘ song "Fleet of Hope" (Emily Saliers did the music for her film Words Unspoken), Renee comes on stage dressed as a fisherman, with lantern and pole.
She tells a story about when she was a teenager on vacation in the Bahamas, and was in the water. She had the feeling something else was in the water, but the water was perfectly clear and she couldn’t see anything.
A minute after she got out, a giant shark came up. "I knew it was there, even though I couldn’t see it and had no proof of it."
She said that for the last five years, she’s been on a journey to more self-awareness and she wants to share it with the audience.
She said she’ll always keep making films, because that’s what she does. But this is something new, to have the opportunity to know there is so much more out there all the time and we don’t have to go into the movie theater to see it.
Said she and Emily Saliers are good friends and she’s such a huge fan of Emily, and when she asked Emily if she could use the song with the film today, Emily said yes, she was honored and was only sorry that she couldn’t be here today.
She said it was a great match in her life to play Gabrielle, someone who was so loving and so strong. So now she wants people in her life who serve that. She and Lucy were talking yesterday about the "synchronicity of the role."
She said she used to compartmentalize her life. She could either be an actor, or a mother, and she didn’t know she could be both. She can be a mother, and a filmmaker, and an actor, and a teacher. How do you not get caught up in looking at yourself as a fraction?
She said she used to let people shame her, and then she chose Hollywood, of all places, where you have to look a certain way or weigh a certain amount, "And I chose that!"
Said she was a West Hollywood event where lesbians and gay men were fighting over the battle against Prop 8, and she was shocked to see everyone at odds who should be united. She said that she knows it’s a hell of a time for a lot of us, but we’re all in it together.
She asked to have the house lights brought up so she could see everyone, and started taking questions.
Said she’s been studying with Mary Rocomora, who "took me step by step and guided me" and helped Renee start to believe in her dreams, however big they are.
She asked everyone to get up and dance in their seats, took off her bulky jacket and went down into the audence and danced with them to a song I didn’t recognize… everyone clapped and danced and waved their arms in the air.
She wrapped up talking about her forthcoming film Fitful (see earlier update), and said a project she was excited about fell through because someone turned out to be "a shark, in a bad sense," and she felt bad that she didn’t pick up on that sooner.
But then she ended up doing Fitful, and it was a small budget but great film,and she thought, "Thank you. This is what it’s all about." It was being around people who are friends, and who love working together.
Then she said she would be working on another film (see previous update). "This one is about a family who are a shell of a family, going through the moves of life." She said she loves to be an actor, because you put yourself into someone else’s life and come out the other end having learned something."
She thanked everyone for letting her share herself, and left the stage to a huge, screaming standing ovation.
Coming later: Tons of photos, and the Xena/Cleopatra 2525 reunion with Gina Torres, Victoria Pratt, and Jennifer Sky.
[Update 12] Steven Sears is on stage, telling tales from the past. He said that at the first convention Hudson Leick (Callisto) did, she came out in a little sun dress and was totally overwhelmed by the audience response — "Oh my god, you’re here to see me? What can I talk about?"
"The next year, she came out in a cat suit and was all, ‘Hey, you bitches!’ And then she sits there and does nothing."
In keeping with Renee O’Connor day, he said that at first they thought of Gabrielle as a sidekick, but "when it became clear we had an actress in the role who could bring more than we could write," they elevated her beyond the "sidekick" role.
He also discussed watching Renee directing Words Unspoken, and said that her approach to both acting and directing is very deep, very thoughtful, and beyond anything he’s used to seeing despite all his years in television and film. Awwww.
[Update 11] Renee just wrapped up her photo op session with fans — garbed this year as an Amazon instead of last year’s astronaut.
And one more:
We were talking before she went on stage, and she said that she was just signed to a new film, due for release around Christmas time.
It’s called Beyond the Farthest Star, and it’s the story of a has-been television evangelist who has one last chance to regain the spotlight — or to sacrifice fame and save his wife (O’Connor), daughter and his own soul.
Renee’s character, Maurene Wells, is a romance-novel-reading mom of a disaffected 15-year-old Goth teenager. She and her husband, Adam, were childhood sweethearts who married despite his father’s objections when she became pregnant after being raped.
Renee’s incredibly excited about the project, and said to tell you: AfterEllen.com readers got it first!
Back later with more, including some of those Amazon photo op shots.
[Update 10] Gabrielle was the little sidekick who could, an innocent and idealistic girl powerfully drawn to a troubled warrior with a dark past. Before the six-year run of Xena: Warrior Princess was over, she’d lost her innocence, learned to fight, and made some dark memories of her own. More than that, she became a hero in her own right, and Xena’s — and possibly humanity’s — salvation.
So while the titular warrior princess probably has more name recognition in the culture at large, for serious fans of the show, Gabrielle, her staff, and her bilious green sports bra are right up there next to Xena, her chakram, and her whip.
The actor who brought Gabrielle to life, Renee O’Connor, appeared twice at this year’s Xena Convention: On Friday with Lucy Lawless, and again today on her own. Before the convention, she spoke exclusively with AfterEllen.com.
Since last year’s convention, O’Connor saw Words Unspoken, a film she wrote, directed, produced and starred in, make the rounds of a film festivals. She also starred in Fitful, an independent film by award-winning director Rich Brauer, which will open in Los Angeles later this month.
Fitful is a comedy/suspense feature set on an abandoned Michigan ferry. The caretaker, Vigs (Larry Joe Campbell), has applied for historical status for the ship, and O’Connor plays Paula, an inspector for the national trust who ends up being forced to spend the night on the ferry after her car is disabled during an inspection.
"I’ve been wanting to work in independent films for a long time now," O’Connor said. "And when something like this comes my way, with an incredible script and a great character, when you find work that just fits you, you have to do it. And I can’t say enough about Rich as a director."
"Career wise, I’m focusing mostly on producing, writing and developing, and also have considered a couple of directing projects that I ended up passing on, as they weren’t quite right. But I see a future in directing independent films, and some of those have come my way as well. We’ll see what happens."
O’Connor’s been busy off-screen, too, working on a personal growth seminar she’ll be conducting in London in May. "It’s not religion or philosophy or therapy," she said. "It’s just me sharing some experiences about how to be aware, tools I’ve learned that have helped me in life. It’s about getting out of your head and living in a more heartful place. Why do we have to go to the movies or listen to music to be feel like we’re in our hearts? Shouldn’t we just live that way all the time?"
More Renee and lots more photos this afternoon!
[Update 9] It’s Sunday, the final day of the 15th Annual Xena Convention in Los Angeles. First, I’m going to tie up a few loose ends from yesterday, including adding photos of Erin Cummings (Spartacus, Bitch Slap) to the previous update. After that, I’m going to declare this to be the first official Renee O’Connor Day on AfterEllen.com, with our exclusive interview of Renee, backstage, as well as on stage and photo op session photos of her and live coverage of her main stage appearance this afternoon at 1 PM Pacific Time.
Catching up on yesterday’s appearances, here’s Adrienne Wilkinson (who portrayed Xena’s daughter on the show — her other "biological" parent was Callisto (Hudson Leick), and her two mommies were, of course, Xena and Gabrielle):
There are plenty of reasons you could analyze in an academic paper on why Xena has so many diehard lesbian fans, including its strong female characters, portrayal of women heroes, and the solid bond of female friendship at its core. But it’s also because it was undeniably full of hot women, including Musetta Vander (left) and Paris Jefferson (right):
Musetta and Paris portrayed Ilianus and Athena — and in case you never watched the show, one fan’s question can sum up their relationship for you:
"Musetta, what was it like playing the special relationship of a goddess?"
Also from yesterday, Brittney Powell updated fans on her recent work on a web series and production, and said, "The world is perfect as it is, even my desire to change it."
Then she did her part to do just that, auctioning off her bra to raise money for the Desi Geestman Foundation for children with cancer — a convention tradition that brings in thousands of dollars each year.
This year there was a new twist (one that a fan told me first took place last May in London), as dozens of audience members gave money to the two competing top bidders, driving the ultimate total to $1600. Both women got a bra, too — the top bidder got the red one Brittney was wearing, and the runner-up got a black one she had backstage.
It’s always great to talk to Xena fans, and there’s no bigger fan on earth than Xena writer and co-exec producer Steven Sears.
He roams the halls getting positively Xena-esque on behalf of LGBT rights, and, although he swore to me last night that he was sound asleep in his hotel room at the time, appears to have dressed up as Elvis and performed at the cabaret Friday night.
Back soon with Renee, Renee, and more Renee…
[Update 8] If you’re ever looking for an auctioneer, give serious consideration to Xena alum Brittney Powell (Brunnhilda) — especially if you’re auctioning off lingerie.
I wasn’t there for the beginning of Powell’s appearance (computer woes while uploading the last update), but KT managed to text me the highlights while taking photographs. I did make it for her annual auction of her bra for charity. But all that’s going to have to wait for the next update.
Right now, a panel of talent from Lucy’s new show, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, including Rick Jacobson (director of more Xena episodes than any other, as well as the director of Bitch Slap); actor (and AfterEllen.com fan!) Erin Cummings (Bitch Slap), who plays "the love of Spartacus’ life," Sura; Spartacus executive producer and head writer Steven DeKnight, who has a long list of other cult hits under his belt, including Smallville and the Joss Whedon shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse and Angel; Peter Mensah (Hidalgo, 300), who plays gladiator and slave Doctore on Spartacus; Spartacus writer Brent Fletcher (Angel, Lost, Friday Night Lights).
It was Erin Cummings, who was in an episode of Dollhouse, who told DeKnight about Rick Jacobson. He called Rob and said, "Rob! I found this great guy." Rob said, "Oh yeah, I know Rick."
Rick said he wanted to create a show that paid homage to films like 300 and Gladiator, but did something very different.
Erin spoke about her character and the show:
Sura was one of those characters I fell in love with. I have a background in Shakespeare, and there was a little element of that. In the audition with Andy (Whitfield, who plays Spartacus), we were able to bring both the characters and the relationship to life. That connection and chemistry was going to be the heart of the show.
One of the things I love is how all the female characters are portrayed. There are no "weak ladies" on this show. Still, Sura is the only female in this season who was able to do any fight scenes, and that was very exciting for me.
This is not a show where you just show up and say your lines. It’s very exciting, very intense. One day Andy and I were in the hot tent, and the makeup artists were covering us with blood and mud. (Spartacus producer) Rob Tapert walked in, and I was crying, with tears running down my face. I asked him, "What will I do after this? I can’t just put on khakis and button-downs and do procedurals after I’ve done this."
I expected Rob would be comforting and consoling, and say I’d go off and do wonderful work in the future, but he says, "You? What are you going to do? What am I going to do after this? This is it, this is as good as it gets!"
A fan asked Erin about the process she uses to get to the emotional place she needs to get with Andy:
First of all, it starts with the script. If you believe in the material and it makes sense for the character and the story, it puts you in a place where you understand why you need to get to the emotional place; it has a foundation. Then also, going in with a strong director you feel confident with, who has the ability to both intepret that script and bring those things to life that aren’t actually written.
Also, Andy and I really made a commitment to the relationship between the two characters. With a lot of actors, they say, it’s not real, it’s just acting, but I don’t buy that. When I’m on the set in those clothes at that moment, it’s real.
Then she laughed. "And it helps to have a playlist on your iPod of really depressing songs."
Fan: Steve, can we hear more about Sura? will we see her in slavery or just in the visions?
DeKnight: "One of the great things about the show is the opportunity to showcase the actors. Throughout the series, we will find out bits and pieces of what actually happened to Sura, in flashbacks and snippets and Spartacus finding out more."
Fan: Can you comment about the historical accuracy of the show, both events and costuming, especially of the non-Romans?
DeKnight: "We always like to say we’ll bend history, but we try not to break it. There are lots of little bits of historical accuracy peppered into the show.
"We’ll mention historical events and figures. There is a lot of historical accuracy and a lot of characters created for dramatic reasons. For example, Lucretia (played by Lucy Lawless) is a fictional character, her husband is a real historical character — it’s a blend of both.
"The costuming is a bit outside my expertise, but Rob called me one day and said, ‘Steven. The costuming, do we want to be accurate on that?’
"I said I like to be as accurate as possible.
"Rob said the accurate costumes were not pretty and not flattering. So the costume designer created incredible costumes that aren’t 100 percent historically accurate, but they’re beautiful and feel of the world.
"With the gladiator outfits, we were as accurate as we could possibly be."
Rick: The costumer for Spartacus was the one who designed Xena’s original outfit.
I asked the panel about the show’s inclusion of same-sex sexuality, given that the world in which the series is set had no real concept of homosexuality as we do now, but the show is being watched by people in the modern world with our own perspective. DeKnight responded:
We had a lot of discussions about that and talked to our historical consultants about it. There was not a lot of social and religious stuff about the subject then, so that’s how we portrayed it. No shocked, "Oh, he’s gay!" It’s just people with people. We don’t make a big deal out of it any more than if it were a man and woman, becuase in our world, and in the real world, that’s the way it should be.
(Much applause from the audience, who also applauded when I said I was from AferEllen.com. Hi, everyone!)
A fan asked why there was so much female frontal nudity, and DeKnight said, "Get Rob Tapert on the phone!" Then he got serious, and said that while it’s true that people in that era and class were sexually much freer than we are, not all nudity is sexual in nature, and he wants to show people together naked just as they might be in real life.
A fan asked about the scene where both Lucretia and her husband are being aroused by female slaves while getting ready to have sex with each other. DeKnight said, "There’s been a lot of talk on the Internet about the ‘fluffer scene’ and how graphic it is, but you don’t actually see anything. We created this scene to show that the slaves were like pets, or furniture. They weren’t seen as people, but as tools. That’s what that scene was about."
Fan: Will there ever be a "sanitized" version of the show for airing on a network, as happened with Dexter?
DeKnight laughed and said, "Yes, and it will be 5 minutes long." Then he said, "Seriously, a lot of international markets did not want an R-rated version, so there is a PG version being cut together for foreign markets and syndication. I had lunch with Lucy the other day, and she said she saw an edited version and she liked it, because they had to use a lot of close-ups of the actors." He laughed again. "When we get to episode 9, which I like to call the most naked episode on TV ever, that version is going to be all close-ups."
I’ll be back later with a photo update and report from Brittney Powell’s appearance.
[Update 7] It’s been 15 years since the warrior princess made her first appearance on our television screens, nine since Xena: Warrior Princess finished its six-season run. Certainly none of the viewers who turned in during that first season, or even those who started watching when it became one of television history’s most unlikely hits, could have imagined that fifteen years later we’d still be talking about the show, let alone seeing packed auditoriums of its fans hanging on the words of its stars and creators.
As part of AfterEllen.com’s coverage of the 15th Annual Xena Convention in Los Angeles, I spoke with series star Lucy Lawless about the amazing longevity of Xena.
"It’s really surprising isn’t it? " she said. "I couldn’t have imagined it back then, but even though I haven’t worked on the show in 8 or 9 years, the show just has a life of its own."
So what turned a somewhat campy story about two female heroes in a quasi-fantastical ancient world into the fandom that refused to die? "It’s the friendship between Xena and Gabrielle that sustained the fan base," Lawless said. "The connection between those two women was at the heart of the series. It gave a positive message about the transformative power of love, and had a heart that’s missing from a lot of television today. "
Lawless is currently starring in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, produced by her husband and Xena producer Rob Tapert. I asked her if that series, also set in ancient times and also featuring a legendary hero, had some of that heart.
"Spartacus doesn’t have the same heart," she said. "Spartacus is not a hero just because he’s part of the liberation of oppressed people. He presides over an extremely bloody revolt, so there isn’t that same heart story. But it’s about a man in conflict, a man far more a product of his time.
"The Xena and Gabrielle characters are essentially timeless. Even though the story was told in modern idiom, those characters and their friendships and battles translated into nearly every language in the world. Everyone understood what they were up against.
"Spartacus is a bit more focused on mere survival, whereas Xena and Gabrielle were actually working for peace and the good of all humanity."
Lawless and her family have moved back to New Zealand, and she’s hoping to do some theater before resuming filming the second season of Spartacus in May. "I’m getting back to basics," she said. "To be good at something you have to do it every day. And my kids are older and don’t need me the same as they used to, so there’s more time for me to go back to school, in a way, whether that’s in professional theater or doing some classes, I don’t know. "
As far as television beyond Spartacus, she’s not sure. "I have writers who want to write something for me, but I will say that I do not appear to be exactly to the taste of network television – and I take that somewhat as a compliment."
Lawless’ roles in Battlestar Galactica and Spartacus have been primarily dramatic, as have been most of her guest appearances on other television series. But comedy was as much a part of her portrayal of Xena – is that something she’d like to do more of?
"I was actually offered a role on Ugly Betty, which is a great show, very smart and funny. But they wanted me to come in and kiss this one girl. It was right around the time I was doing L Word, and I was staring to feel like every time someone wanted a lesbian icon, they wheeled in Lucy Lawless.
"Regardless of what the role is for, I’m done with stunt casting. I want to do jobs because they’re inherently interesting, not because it’s sweeps week.”
"I’d love to do a comedy series, but I must say I’m going through a phase where I don’t feel funny. Maybe I’m just really tired from doing so much publicity on Sparty, maybe I’m just getting more introspective after being really open all these years. I know last year I hardly blogged, I don’t do Twitter because I know I can’t keep it up, and I just think maybe as we start getting older, we have less things we want to share with the world. "
One thing Lawless does still want to share is her commitment to making that world a better place. "I’ve been very involved in raising awareness around climate change. I’ve cut back on international travel, because its impact is so huge, and there are so many things to do politically, ecologically, economically – this is something my fan base is already really switched on by, and I really encourage them to go even further in their search for solutions. "
Even after 15 years, Lawless is still happy to be at the convention. "Because I don’t blog or Twitter or something, this is one way I can visit with my fans and say hi and thanks. These guys have been there for me, and I want to be there for them. And thank you at AfterEllen.com for being a part of it, too. "
[Update 6] If this post looks different to you this morning, it’s because we spent the night going through and uploading the potos KT took. (Be sure to scroll down and check out Renee’s black leather pants. Really.)
The all-nighter is why neither of us is at Hudson Leick’s yoga class this morning. I’m huddled with a cappucino from the lobby Starbucks, transcribing our exclusive interviews with Lucy and Renee and going through some pretty incredible backstage photos.They’ll be going up in the next couple of updates, and after that: a panel with the writers and director of Lucy’s new series, Spartacus; fan favorite Brittney Powell (Brunnhilda), Xena writer and co-executive producer Steven Sears — also a passionate straight ally; you should have seen him ranting about the injustice of Prop 8 last night — and Xena editor Robert Field, along with Paris Jefferson (Athena), Musetta Vander (Ilainus) and Adrienne Wilkinson (Eve/Livia).
[Update 5] Lucy Lawless is in the house, and the audience stands,
applauds, screams, yells, whistles and ayiyiyiyis while the theme music
to the television show plays.
She said, "Ren said to me, ‘I’ve got this play,’ and I finally got
around to reading it and it had way too many people. So I ran off to
Barnes and Noble and bought something that’s just for me and Renee."
So they’re going to perform a play for us!
Lucy said that she and her family have moved back to New Zealand.
Someone yelled about her nude scene in Spartacus, and she said she
wanted to do it in a bodysuit like the one Mr. Tumnus wore in the Narnia
Today, Lucy’s wearing jeans and a black jacket over a t-shirt, with her
hair (brown again) tucked up in a knot. She looks relaxed and happy.
Lucy fielded a couple of light questions from fans, and then talked
about a recent trip to China with her daughter. Lucy said she realized
how like us the Chinese are when she saw her daughter "playing cards and
yucking it up with a bunch of Chinese teenagers…. we have such
Another fan asked if Lucy had ever become close friends with a fan, and
it was a bit of a stalkery moment. She said that the people she becomes
close to don’t see her as a "star," or expect her to be a hero or make
their dreams come true.
Lucy talked about how her character on Spartacus has challenged her to
find ways to get inside her head — she’s a "bad" character, and yet,
she’s not all bad. Said that any sparks of humanity in her character are
constantly snuffed out by greed and fear. "And I’m enjoying it a lot."
Does Lucy like her red hair? "You know it’s a wig, right?" Then when she
becomes close to (Alythia?), she starts being more like her — becomes a
How does Lucy feel about watching herself, especially the explicit sex
scenes in Spartacus?
She admitted it’s "cringe producing," but said it’s very choreographed.
"There’s always two layers of clothing between the two of you, so it’s
not like you’re going to accidentally have sex. Try explaining that to
The line to ask questions is amazingly long. In case you were wondering.
And it’s amazing to me how young so many of the fans in that line are.
A very young woman just came up and asked how Lucy feels being a role
model for young women — she actually used the phrase "next generation
fans" — like her and her sister, who watched the show when they were
six and eight years old, and saw Xena "kicking ass."
Lucy said that she was the face of Xena, and it’s Xena who is the role
model, not her.By the way, when I say there are young fans here, I mean
ten-year-olds. It’s amazing.
Lucy said that she lost her temper once and went from "zero to Xena in
one minute" when she thought she saw a man pushing his child. Said if
she saw someone hurting a child, "without a shadow of a doubt, I’d hope
I’d have a cleaver handy, and if not, my bare hands would do."
What would Lucy do if she couldn’t act? "I’d love to be like Dr. Gee" –
is that the forensic pathologist on A&E? I must research my
cultural references better next year!
Does Lucy get recognized a lot? She said she went years as a blonde, and
no one recognized her, but once she cut bangs into her hair again, and
let it go dark, she’s recognized all the time. Said she gets a lot of
guys coming up and saying, "Are you who we think you are?" and when she
says yes, they run off.
Several very youthful fans identified themselves as being new fans, and
Lucy said, "Fresh fans! They’re not disillusioned yet! I love it!"
One asked about working with the late Kevin Smith (Ares, God of War),
and Lucy said they had an asexual brother-sister relationship. "He was
very wonderful man, and everyone feels he’s still present in their
Lucy cut off the questions because Renee O’Connor came out on stage, and
we got the theme music, standing, screaming, applauding thing all over
"Ren and I only get to see each other on Skype these days," Lucy said
when it died down.
Okay, Renee is wearing black leather pants and high heeled black boots. Just picture that for a moment
A fan asked who they look up to and who inspires them. Lucy said
Julianne More, Judi Densch, women who are great actors and haven’t had
plastic surgery. "I love seeing these women who look real and beautiful
at any age."
Renee said she looks up to someone who she works with, but that
expecting someone to be your mentor is somewhat overwhelming. "I always
look all around me to see who’s right there — these gems are all
around, you just have to look around you."
Lucy: "If you’re lucky enough to have had a great mother, that can be a
great source of inspiration. So, my mum."
They introduce the play, and Renee said, "We considered doing ‘Love
letters from Xena to Gabrielle.’"
Lucy: "And why didn’t we do that, exactly?"
They did a cute little reading about two friends, one of whom (Lucy) has
fixed the other (Renee) up on a blind date with a guy who dies while
they’re in bed together (possibly because Renee’s character erotically
asphyxiated him with a pillow)
Best line was Renee’s: "Yes, Wilma, I was on top. We have the vote now,
Or maybe, "He sucked the paint right off my toenails."
And then there was Renee’s character’s stint in prison with her lesbian
I gotta find out what play this is. The final line:
Lucy: "You know, Janice, I’d like to hear more about your lesbian
experiences one day…"
Renee: "Let me get my pillow."
[Update 4] Sitting now while Xena memorabilia is auctioned off. I’m not into fangirl loot, but there are some spectacular banners and huge promotional posters, all autographed. The proceeds are going to charity, and apparently Xenites have quite a bit of disposable income.
I’ve noticed that when the media (she says as if she did not go to journalism school, shhhhh) shows up to cover a Xena convention, they focus on the tiny handlful of fans who dress up as the characters. I’ve so far seen one person in costume, a pretty hot Xena who was speaking German in full, show-quality warrior princess garb. Otherwise, this could be almost any meeting of the Lesbian Nation. There are even babies here in strollers with their two moms.
The fans who look to be first generation (ie, we watched the show back when it first aired) are overwhelmingly white and female. But the younger fans are around 20 percent male and much more racially diverse.
There are also lots of fans here from Europe — I’ve spoken to fans here from the UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
[Update 3] I came in just as Hudson Leick, Xena’s uber-bad girl,
Callisto, was teasing the audience with her naked toes. She was spangled
with a glittery diadem and what looked like a bronze satin negligee,
and her feet were bare.
Then she taught the audience how to swear in French. "This is what I’m
here for. Screw all the Xena stuff."
She said she and a friend want to create a line of Xena-themed
vibrators. "The Gabrielle one that just makes you cry, I love you, I
love you.’ The Callisto one that goes
‘AAAAAAHHHHHHHHRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHAAAAA’ all the time. The Xena one that
is all stoic, ‘I want to, but I won’t,’ and gazes longingly at Gabrielle
the whole time."
She then told a joke I can’t repeat here, but check out #xwp on Twitter
later and I promise I will.
She said that she loves being a beautiful princess with long blond hair
on stage and everybody loves her, but she’s afraid one day she’ll wake
up and find she’s really a delusional large man named George. (Let’s
just say Hudson Leick is not extremely focused in her approach to public
Hudson has had a terrible year. A relationship ended, she was out of
work (she’s a yoga teacher as well as an actor), she was in a car
accident — she even got stuck in a broken elevator. "Wow, this is like a
hard yoga pose; how much can we do?"
But as soon as she got out of the bad relationship, things started
happening for her. She got a job in a film, and is being flown to Paris
to "play movie star in a film called Paris Connections."
"There is such a beautiful humility in life.
Sometimes we get our heads handed to us, and our egos go ‘no!’ and god
says, ‘oh, yes.’ And we survive it. And that’s my secret of what’s going
on with me right now."
Katherine Fugate wrote the Xena episode "When
Fates Collide," which many
fans (including me), consider the "true" series finale — because
Xena’s not dead, thanks. She took the stage to huge applause — said she
puts Xena quotes in many of her scripts, but isn’t sure if it survived
the Valentine’s Day script writing process.
She took questions from the audience: How has motherhood changed you?
Opened her heart and put on ten pounds she can’t lose. What is your
greatest achievement and biggest disappointment? Greatest accomplishment
is that she overcame her origins — if she was a character, she’d
think, "Good on you for pushing through." Biggest disappointment —
always wanted to be taller. "You’re not done until you’re done.
Valentine’s Day was put into turnaround… and wasn’t going to be
made…. and now it’s in the theater."
Fan asked her how she deals with fans connecting with her on social
"I only have Twitter to follow the Saints’ members." (Laughter.)
"Facebook I really love, and I’m pretty much just who I am…. and say
what I’m going to say, no matter who reads it."
Said it’s good she left Army Wives because she was able to make
Valentine’s Day and Room in Rome," a "lesbian independent film," "and I
always wanted to do one of those."
A fan asked about the character of Ceasar in "When Fates Collide."
Katherine said that no one can re-set someone else’s life, only their
own. And no one could change that Xena and Gabrielle would meet and fall
in love with each other, and no one could change that Ceasar would be
betrayed and killed by someone he trusted. "And of course, he’s a little
A fan asked if there is an actor she’d like to write for.
"Because I love the Saints almost as much as Xena…." and the impact of
Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans, and the Saints winning now, "It’s
like your family member finally doing well, showing the good in us
rising to the top and being winners." They are representing the
She said she was down there at a game, and because she knows the owner
of the Saints, and there were a lot of celebrities in the box. There was
one seat next to her that was empty, and suddenly this actress sat
down. "I looked at her… am I allowed to use curse words?…she sits
down and I say, ‘Are you sh***ing me?’ It was Patricia Clarkson."
She told her she was one of the top five actresses she wants to work
with, and then they went out and got drunk together, and now they’re
friends. "Some actors act just the words, but others put in the
subtext…. A good actor can do that."
"She for me is one of the best actors we have… so strong and so good."
A fan asks if there is any hope for the Xena film, and if not, would
Katherine consider writing it as a novel? (Katherine wrote the script
for the proposed Xena film.)
"Honestly, I don’t know if I’m allowed to…. I think that’s a legal
She talked about the challenge of weaving all the story lines and
characters involved, and said it’s an "ancient history road pic" to "get
Xena and Gabrielle back together."
Another fan asked how she got her ideas for Xena stories.
She said that in Season Six, they were having problems finding writers
who really knew the show.
Fan asked about "Room in Rome," which is coming in May. Would Katherine
ever work with Renee O’Connor as director?
Katherine said that Room in Rome is very erotic, may even be NC-17.
It’s based on a film called "In the Bed" about a man and a woman who
meet at a crossroads in their lives, meet in a foreign country, and
spend a night together talking and having sex, getting out things
they’ll never be able to deal with in their regular life.
They are concerned that the film, because it’s about two women, will
have ratings problems. "I’m going to hell, and if anyone wants to go to
hell with me, we can all go together."
Would Katherine ever work with Renee O’Connor as director?
Said that she would love to and they talk about it. They’re good
friends; Renee gave Katherine her baby shower.
A fan asked if the subtext would be main text in the film if it were
made. Katherine responded that they were "pushing it as hard as it could
be pushed." (Laughter and applause.)
Said she’s leaving tomorrow morning at 7 AM to go see the Saints play in
the Super Bowl. "This week is the best week of my life — seeing all of
you here today, then on Sunday being at the Super Bowl."
Then on Monday she flies back here and does the ET red carpet for the
premier of Valentine’s Day. "This whole weekend until Monday
like a fantasy dream weekend…. I’m so grateful for all your support
and love, and helping me get here. I’d never have done it without you."
We’ll be back with photo updates shortly, and live with Hudson Leick
(Callisto) at 1:20 PM Pacific Time.
[Update 1] We’ll be starting right around noon Pacific Time with Katherine Fugate. Here’s her photo from last year to tide you over.
Photos by KT Jorgensen for AfterEllen.com. Xena stills courtesy of Creation Entertainment.