Jacqueline Kim (Lao Ma)
Okay, I’m going to do these out of
order yet again. For my money, I felt that Jacqueline and
Claire provided the best experience at the con. (After Lucy
of course-she wins just by showing up. I truly think that
for a large number of the fandom, she could just show up,
smile at us, not say a word and we’d be all squiggly and
Claire – wait no, I’ll talk about what
I enjoyed about Claire’s appearance when I write her up
I was happy to see that Jacqueline Kim
was making yet again another attempt to visit with us. We
have a kind of checkered past with Jacqueline. I’ve seen her
I think maybe two times at the LA area Lucy cons. I’m not
sure what year the first time was but I do remember that she
was doing fine and seemed to be enjoying herself okay. Then
someone asked a question about where she lived and my
impression was that this scared her. It seemed to me that
she got cautious and less open to talking with us. I always
figured she was imagining Xena fans camping out in her yard
and peering in her windows, wildly waving and swinging out a
cheery, “Good morning, Jacqueline” when she tried to escape
out a window.
The last time I saw Jacqueline at a con
was apparently in 2009. I had to go look that up online
because I can’t find anywhere in my con reports where I
wrote about her appearance. I do remember that she sang for
us and that I thought she was very good at it.
NOTE: Sometimes when taking notes, I
lose a word here or there or I sometimes actually can’t read
words that I wrote down. So if that happens, I put potential
words/translations in parenthesis. I try to follow the
intent I believed the speaker was working from. Which has
its own limitations. Grin. As always, perfection in
transcribing is an elusive art that just gets more elusive
the older I get.
Jacqueline came out toting a guitar.
I’m pretty sure we gave her a standing ovation. (We do that
a lot-we’re generous with our SOs.) At first, she just stood
there very quietly and calmly looking around at all of us.
After a few slow, measured, totally silent scans checking
out the whole audience, she said, “I just want to take you
in.” Pause. And I think she smiled at this point-not totally
sure, but she shoulda if she hadn’t. “Wow. It’s like
Christmas. You’re like a gift under the tree.”
She tested her mike. “Are we on?” Then
she said, “Are we hot?” And then she laughed—not sure if she
laughed before the reprobates in our audience laughed or
not. But she was definitely amused at the double meaning.
She started to sing, but then she began
to talk and ask questions. I think she mentioned at this
point that she made a CD. The title of the CD is “This I
Heard” but that’s also how she referred to herself. She
said, “I’m AKA This I Heard”. (AKA means “Also Known As”
referring to aliases or perhaps something as non-dramatic as
what we used to call someone’s “maiden name”, in the days
when we still had maidens.)
She indicated that AKA This I Heard was
her singing persona. She said that one of the fans backstage
(I’m guessing one of the folks who pay extra to sit behind
the black curtain and get to have a meet and greet thing
with the stars before or after their performance), asked her
if it was a reference to a Buddhist concept. Jacqueline gave
the fan props for knowing about it. She said that there’s a
phrase, “This I heard the Buddha say one day”. (Though when
I just checked it out online, it appears that I misheard-the
phrase is apparently, “Thus I heard the Buddha say one
day”). Jacqueline said “Yes, this stands for that. Like a
student of the Buddha. I’m a Buddhist”.
She began to play and said, “These are
melodies I’ve heard. Music is incredibly natural and
incredibly (important?) in my emotional life”.
She told us that when she was here two
years ago, she sang for us. I believe she said because she
told us she was appearing in the play, “Passion” by Steven
Sondheim. And that after she sang, we suggested that she
should make a CD. And if she did, we would buy it. And so
she did. And so we did.
She talked about being at the Deer Park
Monastery. Which has “S.D” jotted next to it in my notebook.
By which I thought she meant South Dakota, but on the
internet, I see that it’s near San Diego. (Or as a bumper
sticker I saw there once had it, “Sandy Eggo”).
She talked about seeing young kids at
the monastery singing the “Two Promises”. She said that
first you try to live in peace. And then “You protect the
life in animals, plants and your own.” She mentioned Burma.
And then talked about the experience of having 80 children
sing the Two Promises to her.
She began to sing the song she wrote
that was named “Two Promises”. This was an extrapolation of
the concept of the two promises of peace and protection.
She said, “Feel free to sing with me”.
And being the accommodating souls we are, we did.
The song was very simple but very
moving. It was a simplicity that presented as authentic
rather than unsophisticated. She had set the words to a
simple tune and that went along with the words very well.
She sang with a very soft voice but again to me it wasn’t
that it lacked power, but that it fit with the message. It
enabled the message to be true. She was making powerful
promises with beautiful sincerity and mindful serenity. Like
the fitting beauty of a Japanese scroll, the “carrying” of
the message was as important as the message itself.
When we finished, she smiled widely at
us and said, “A real hootenanny. Reminds me of my college
days. But I used to mumble more.” We older folks in the
audience laughed at the hootenanny reference
When she said “Hootenanny, I suddenly
remembered the year when Sharon Delaney played the guitar
while Lucy sang to us on stage. This was before she did
concerts for us. Music features strongly in these Xena
cons-unexpectedly on stage but also in the cabaret and
certainly in Lucy’s various concerts.
Now the stars at the cons always talk
about the community that Xena fans have made. And we are a
community. And just like any community, we experience life,
simple and grand, aggravating and sublime, glorious and
At the big charity breakfast that
Creation holds every year, the designated charity is the
James Ellis Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to
help kids whose family have been hit by cancer by giving
them financial aid so they can continue their studies at
Every year at the breakfast, they ask
the cancer survivors to stand up. And a lot of people stand.
Some of them are “over it”, some of them are currently
fighting it. And many of us know or at least know of members
in our Xena community who have already passed.
So in our community are people who have
cancer, people whose loved ones have cancer and people who
are gone from cancer, leaving their loved ones and their
My spouse and I are both cancer
survivors. So I know the terror of cancer from both sides,
from the side of the stricken and from the side of the
beloved facing the loss of their partner. And this song just
spoke to me. But in a very soothing way. It is a validation
of both aspects of facing a life-threatening disease, from
the side of the diseased and from the side of the one who
loves them. And it speaks to just how common a human
experience is the pain, fear and incredible sadness a
serious illness brings to your life. That’s what love of
life and of others does to ya.
I kept thinking about this as
Jacqueline sang this song. And I saw a number of people in
the audience crying and some couples holding unto each other
and comforting each other as she sang it. It was deeply
It’s called, “Everything changes”. It
was incredibly beautiful to me. And Jacqueline’s voice was
as lovely and powerful as the words and the melody.
Here are the lyrics:
Everyone moves on
No one’s to blame
So let us live in
The moment that’s here
And change together
Till we disappear
Please don’t change. I’m afraid
Please don’t change. Stay the same
Please don’t go. ‘Cause I won’t
Make it here on my own.
I am changing as I sing this song,
My life is moving further along
Towards things I have thought of
And spoken upon
This is what singing the things I have
In my dreams
Clear and warm
Are your eyes
And you know
You wait to
And it remains
Everyone moves on
And everyone stays
So let us live in
A moment that’s here
And change together
Till we reappear
I looked around on the internet—you can
hear the song here:
www.myspace.com/thisiheard (And after I looked around
on the internet, I discovered from my notes that Jacqueline
gave us this URL before she left the stage. D'OH!)
Jacqueline talked about performing in
I’m not sure if it was a bar or hall or what. But that it
was a loud place. “A REALLY loud place. And I have this
little music.” She laughed. And said that she could see
people looking bewildered and going, “Huh?” (I think kind of
in the sense like, “Is that music I hear? Who’s doing
A fan got up and said something.
Jacqueline laughed. And then kind of diffidently said, “She
said that I was perfect for Lao Ma”. She smiled and said
with a little bit of a flutter, “It’s hard for me to say!”
She was asked how she got the part.
“I was sent the script. I hadn’t really
watched Xena.” She added, “And to be going to New Zealand!”
as a point in favor of taking the job.
“I didn’t understand the power of the
show and the narrative”. She mentioned flying through the
air I think in terms of what a WOW! thing being on Xena was.
She told us something I hadn’t heard
before—that The Debt was meant to be a feature film. But
that hadn’t worked out so they made it a two parter on TV.
But that does explain why it was so grand and so epic—the
beginning battle on the “steppes” of New Zealand’s North
Island featuring galloping armies shot from a helicoptor
—there hadn’t been anything like that in the series before.
I think someone asked her something
like if she was like Lao Ma, maybe?
“A lot of what she was saying, I didn’t
understand at the time. Wow, she was WISE.” She talked about
the scene where we see that she keeps her husband in a coma.
She said that she did agree with the
dialogue in that scene. When Xena asks why she gives him the
credit for her work. “It’s great she gets to help this
person in his name. That resonates with me and the women in
my life-like my mother. It’s karma. It doesn’t matter in
whose name it's done, the effect on others is the same.”
(You know, I think Jacqueline must talk
slowly—I have a lot more quotes and full sentences than I
have for other folks.)
Ah, but then the very next note is
“Argo! Why is she like this?” (Maybe it wasn’t Argo, but
“RJ was (trying to bring this out),
that this whole question of a person getting credit is
somewhat immature. Thank you, very wise. I have since
learned more.” She was very complimentary about RJ’s
She was asked if her study of Buddhism
helped in her role of Lao Ma. “It’s really Taoist. I study
with monks at Deer Park Monastery. They are the opposite of
sequestered monks and nuns. They play basketball. I don’t
think there are (mistakes?) anymore. I just don’t.”
I think she was asked if she had
watched the episode again. “I watched it two days ago.”
Then I have written down, “I want to
say lucky. But I think it was meant to be. A lot of it has
to do with being present, being in yourself.”
A fan said that fans had differing
interpretations of Lao Ma’s actions. (Heck-what DIDN’T we
have differing interpretations on? Laugh!)
That some folks felt Xena was taking up
the slack for Lao Ma which she felt obligated to do because
she, Xena, had created the monster. And so was responsible
for cleaning up his mess. The second theory was that Lao Ma
had not wanted Xena to kill him. Because she was his mother
and so had strong feelings for her son.
I think this is Jacqueline speaking
now. “Xena had left a strong, strong mark on him when he was
little. Gods come here to your life to help you.” (And I
have the words, “Ordinary/extraordinary” written above the
Jacqueline thought it over and said,
“It’s not A. Or B. I guess…D.”
We laughed – we enjoyed that. (Actually
just this minute thinking of it, that is SO a Lao Ma answer.
And one that would have driven Xena nuts.)
I think in answer to a question,
Jacqueline talked about the fact that she chose not to speak
with a Chinese accent. (Note: Jacqueline is Korean by the
way.) This was after she had been hired and got to New
“There are so many battles in
Hollywood. A person of color can be (dehumanized) in many
ways. There were two Kiwis playing (other Chinese roles). I
talked American. The Kiwis said (Jacqueline here put on a
thick and very well done, I thought Kiwi accent), ‘Is she
gonna talk like that?’ They’re like, (laughing), we’d like
you to try to do an accent.;”
“Will you hire me a dialogue coach
then? If you give me time, (like weeks), I can do it.” Then
the coup de grace, “But Xena is Greek and she doesn’t have
an accent. They were like, ‘Ahhhhh’”.
Then I THINK she said they (or maybe
somebody in the audience?) asked if she could do an English
I have a note here that says,
“Applauding Jim.” I think that refers to one of the Creation
staff who came close to the stage and did something. I’m
pretty sure she said, “Thanks, Jim” so we applauded him.
We’re total fools, what can I say? Though at least we didn’t
give HIM a standing ovation.
A fan asked something about Lao Ma and
Xena. Jacqueline said, “She’s supposed to be like water
moving through Xena’s mind.”
(Now THAT’S interesting…hadn’t heard
that before either.)
Back to the accent issue, she said
about the other two actors playing Chinese characters,
“Damn, those guys hung me out to dry! They’re doing the
accent.” Then, “They decided they had to”.
“Art is a creative sadness”.
Jim came back and gave her the five
fingered, five minutes left of her time onstage sign. This
time we screamed at him, “Five minutes! Get lost”. (Oh how
fickle and transitory friendly fame is.)
“(There is a) responsibility as an
artist to plant wholesome seeds. Film and TV are very
powerful mediums. They can affect people’s minds. Be
mindful. The director’s mind set covers the film. I want to
be mindful. I want to be pro-life.” Then she laughed and
said something that indicated she wasn't using that phrase
in the current political usage people have labeled pro-life.
“Pro-life is not what I am at all”.
“Be very mindful of sadness-you take
people with you. I hope this album makes people feel light
She was asked about working with Lucy.
“We didn’t discuss things. We just worked together. The part
was so physical. We had to practice moves over and over.”
She talked about shooting the Xena
underwater in the pool needing air scene. Something like the
crew was worried about the technical details of shooting it.
“Lucy said to me, close your eyes, I’ll find your mouth. It
was very murky water-if you put your finger in it, you
couldn’t see your finger. (I said), “That’s so generous of
you” and then she said something about a mouth. Mimes?
“Lucy is so present. I just want to
play with her. (Giggles and snorty agreement sounds from we
cheerful audience sluts.) “That’s definitely there in the
“Lucy took me out to dinner. (Laughing)
She picked me up in a helicopter and we flew over the
southern part of the North Island.”
I think Jacqueline asked us, “Have you
seen her? I saw her in a blond wig.”
We yell out, “She’s good!” Jacqueline
asked, “Have you seen her lately?” Some of us scream out,
Then Jacqueline really did need to get
off the stage.
She ended her stage time by telling us
how we were so inspiring to her in encouraging her to make a
CD. And indicated that our appreciating her so much when she
sang to us at the last con she went to was a real impetus
for her having done it.
She said, “I just want to say from the
bottom of my heart that your enthusiasm and your courage
have meant the world to me.” And she got teary and her voice
broke as she said this to us. It was very sweet.
I think maybe we don’t scare her
anymore. (If we ever truly did.)