Sooooooo, I used to be able to visit and drink and party at cons until ohhhh, say about 2:00 am or so and then sit down at the old laptop and bang out a con report as happily as if I were playing a duet on a Steinway with Victor Borge at Carnegie Hall at nine o'clock at night. (We’re playing "Heart and Soul", that stalwart opus magnum of inexperienced piano fingerers—uh, that would be me, not Borge, who is happily playing using only the edge of one fingernail.)
Some of my reports were quite cogent. (Okay, okay, a tiny percentage were.) Others were barely coherent. And still others were chaotic misrememberments that resulted in many fun e-mails being sent my way. And I do quote, "Marissa wasn’t the one who became a table for Lucy, that was a fan!" (With the "you dolt" MOSTLY just implied)
However, those days were apparently numbered and this year their number has come up.
The above constitutes my apology for the delay in prying my notes out of my notebook and getting them onto the internet. A mea culpa from a now apparently ancient crone (or drone, as the case may be), who now is barely able to make it to the bed when arriving in my room at 2:00 a.m. in the morning.
Lucy as always came striding out on the stage to a huge wave of indrawn breaths, cheers, and thunderous applause. She's almost always the last guest of the con (I can only think of one time when she wasn't and that was when she had to leave to go back to New Zealand for work I think it was) and she seems to generate a huge release of total pleasure for most of the fans when they get to see her again in person. As always she had to gesture for us to sit down a couple of times before we quit clapping and screaming and finally dropped into our seats. (We always do that while staring up at her--I'm always expecting someone to miss the chair and slide off onto the floor, most likely taking out much of the row with her, like a good hit in a bowling alley, since the seats are coupled together so closely.)
My first note on Lucy reads, "Don't ask her to cook". Renee had just left the stage and now I'm just not sure if Lucy was talking about Renee or herself. I'm thinking herself since she's talked in the past about being a lousy, totally disinterested cook. At one con she even said that once when she made her sons' sandwiches for school, the boys asked her to let somebody else make them in the future.
Lucy looked around the house. Then she said, "How do the same 18 people get the same front seats?" There was a small back and forth with the front row sitters and Luce on this and then someone told her that when you have a gold seat, you can claim it for the next year when you register for this year by putting your order in for it and putting a credit card number down to hold it.
Some people have been in the same seats for many years. There have been "newbies" in the front row recently—the economic downturn saw to that. People tend to grab a hold of the seat but then some year they may let someone else pay them for it so that their friends get the benefits of the first row in the future. Some seats actually have rotating fans who share the seat and take turns sitting there depending upon who is onstage. This year, I know a number of people who gave up the gold—they just can't afford it anymore, and especially feel they can’t justify paying for it if Lucy and/or Renee are not going to do cons in the future.
Renee declared a number of times that this is the end of her journey (the con's name was The Final Journey or something like that), that even if the Xena con does continue, she’s not going to be part of. Lucy didn't mention anything about continuing that I remember. Personally, my thoughts on that are that a year is a long time and who knows what people may decide to do a year from now.
Lucy said she's been on a "Crazy publicity tour for Sparty Pants". I don’t know if she's used that term before but I thought that was really funny.
"As you know, I don't prepare questions so on to the Q&A."
A new fan at the mike said that she wanted to emigrate to New Zealand and would Lucy please sponsor her?
Luce: "Get in line, sister".
A fan brought up her service dog and asked Luce to sign the dogs little vest.
Now I have to digress. This was the third day of the con. It was VERY apparent that we had masses of newbies or, as we've called them since at least 1999, "Con Virgins". I would estimate that most of these new fans are very young. Not all, but a significant number of them are.
Now I'm talking also about the newbies we've gotten over the last 2-3 years. Overwhelmingly, they are I'd say in their twenties, with some thirties and some teens. We also have some new say 30-40 year olds, but the biggest clump of newbies seem to be very young-and many of them are not living in North America. Or at least, these "youngsters" are the ones who want to run up to the mike and talk with the stars the most and the ones who scream the loudest when hanging out in the hotel lobby at night. Which is kind of odd—the oldies are the ones going deaf en masse so you think we'd be the ones screaming at each other in the loudest voices. Funnily enough, the rap from the "oldies" is "Stop mumbling, wouldja!" (which I think is actually obviously related to the hearing issue.)
AND as I've talked about for the last few years, there are also a ever-increasing number of young men. Some gay but mostly straight (or at least not out). As we older fans (or as some ‘90's Xena sites used to call them tch—what the hell was it? Amazon Elders?—I always just called us "Old Fartesses") get even more elder, we are now looking at turning the fandom over to these young whippersnappers, in terms of sheer numbers. Which is exciting and poignant at the same time. (Just like just about every other thing in life for those of us over 60.)
So anyway—most oldtimers are totally over people asking for hugs, trying to give gifts to the stars, talking about how much Xena meant to them and asking for special favors. We had had all of this and more during the three day con. By this point (and I also think especially because it was Lucy) we especially didn't want to squander her time with us by special requests and or people babbling about themselves. So quite a few fans had started saying, "NOOOOO" when people asked for hugs or special signatures.
BUT—we're looking at a service dog here. Who had been at the con the whole three days and had been really well-behaved – giving off a serious though not antagonistic, "I'm working here!" vibe. Sooo, we didn't yell out "NOOOO!" or at least me nor the people around me didn't. And Luce (who ignores our suggestions most of the time anyway) signed.
Next note: "I'll be Renee. I'll try to give the answer Renee would give". Sadly, I don't know what inspired Lucy to say that.
Someone had a gift for Luce. Lucy: "Cool—is it chocolate?"
Then we got on the ever popular topic of merkins. For those who don't know, a merkin is a pubic wig. Many prostitutes used it in the past to cover up any signs of current disease or scars from past diseases, whatever. But merkins are not a new concept in XWP fandom. In the early years, there were big discussions on that little piece of fur on the top of Gabrielle's staff. And that's when the suggestion, "Perhaps it's a merkin" first introduced the Xenaverse to a new word and interesting concept for many of us.
Someone brought up Lucy wearing a merkin or just asking about her merkin. She repeated the story she'd told in a number of interviews, how at the end of Spartacus' season one, she was presented with the merkin the prop folks had made for her. They had put it in a frame and it was stretched out and pinned for display, looking like a little pelt.
"They asked for it back for the prequel". Lucy said that she was totally grossed out by that. And added that she had never worn the merkin.
Next note: "You're Xena. No YOU'RE Xena!" Doesn’t ring any bells at the moment...
Lucy: "Renee does not have a merkin".
Then I have a note that Lucy is making faces and talking about beautiful eyes? Possibly teasing a fan at the mike?
Of course, as always, anyone who wants to help out with corrections or additions for this report is very welcome to jump right in and set things straight. (I'm talking about people who were at the con or people who have seen bootleg videos of it—don't be coming around making stuff up—I can do that all on my own, thank you very much.)
Okay—I didn't totally hear the next question (the toddler asking it was mumbling no doubt) but it was something like was Lucy really naked in front of all those women and children? We along with Lucy had a thoughtful moment and then fans began to mumble (and it really was mumbling this time), "Oh-in The Furies".
Lucy (who apparently didn’t realize the fan was talking about Xena) said, "Sweetheart—have you ever seen our show?" Then I think maybe responding to more explanatory murmuring from us, she said, "It's terrible that I have to ask, 'What show?' I was naked in front of women and children?" Pause. "If so, it must have been written by RJ or Sears". (And she's right—RJ wrote that one—okay, okay, I DID have to go look it up. I used to know this stuff, right off the top of my head she said mournfully.)
Then I'm pretty sure she said something like if it was Xena, it was a stand-in. (Or, again as we used to call them on the Xenaverse list, "A stunt butt".)
Inevitably, a fan asked her, "Will you do the Xena cry?" Luce: "The Xena cry?" There was a little ripple of laughter from the audience. As far as I can discern, nobody minds that hoary old request. To me, it's different from "Give me a hug" or endless treatments of the "You mean so much to me" theme. I think because at least the spotlight is on the star, not on the fan. But the stars are not all that enamored of doing it. We'd already had Adrienne and Hudson do their screams. And just as an aside, I remember when Lucy was doing her concerts, at least once if not twice, Renee had been on stage with her when the she was asked to do it. And Renee immediately ripped it out for her—which I think was a way of protecting Lucy's voice for that evenings' singing.
When Lucy said, "The Xena cry?" the fan said something like "Yeah, the Xena cry". So Lucy opened her mouth and gave a little tiny whining cry like a fretful baby might make. It was hilarious. And then she stated, "There--did the cry. Glad to get that out of the way."
She was asked which she enjoyed more—comedy or drama. "I enjoy doing comedy more—it's a more fun environment. But I CRAVE the drama". (Note: I THINK it was "crave" she said—I've got that underlined with a question mark beside it in my notes. But whatever the word, it was along those lines.)
Okay—things are going all to hell. My next note says, "Whoopie Stool pen…"That is cool". After a few pondering moments, I suddenly pull out of the debris in my mind that it was something about Whoopie Goldberg doing something in response to a fan. Could beeeee….
One thing about being a long time con goer, on some of the questions new fans ask, I've already heard the story. So I can just jot down, "Ax story", "Audition story", "How I became an XWP writer story", etc. Then I just listen to see if the star has added anything new while stretching and exercising my fingers. It's a nice break for my writing hand.
Lucy's "Ax story" is a response to the question, "What was the weirdest thing you've ever autographed?" I believe it was at the first L.A. con in 1997? The one where Lucy signed for everyone who was there. (And some selfish fans got on line two, three and one person at least, four times to get some more time with her. She was there for hours. No wonder she never signed for the whole hall again.)
This big dude brought up an ax all wrapped up in plastic and then carefully took the wrapping off and handed it to Luce to sign. "I was so kind of horrified that I did it". She added something about her signature someday being found on the murder weapon of a serial killer.
Sharon Delaney came up to the mike. She asked Lucy about it having been posted on Twitter or some social media thing and then being "reported" on TMZ that "Lucy Lawless was arrested at Occupy Oakland because she threw a shoe at a police officer."
Lucy laughed and said that she first heard about it when her manager called to ask her something along the lines of was she in jail at the moment? She replied, "I'm in bed". She laughed and said, "All my reps weren't entirely sure it wasn't true." She said something about there being a picture of one little red shoe on the ground and she immediately said, "Oh, that's too small!" (to be hers).
Now I think it was on Lucy's official yahoogroups list, there was a secret plan laid out. At the con while whiling away time between stars, Sharon primed us on the secret plan in person. This is why Sharon had set up that question to Lucy. So after Lucy told the story, someone in the back suddenly yelled out "I've got the shoe!" while holding up one of their shoes. Then someone else yelled out, "No, I'VE got the shoe!",holding up their own shoe and it went around the room till lots of people were yelling and brandishing shoes. The big finale was that everyone in the audience who wanted to waved one of their shoes at Lucy while yelling out the line. She had a good laugh over it. But the best part was that part of the secret plan was that people would do this but would also bring along a pair of shoes that would then be given to homeless shelters in Los Angeles. I heard that Sharon took off with a number of trash bags filled with shoes.
On that up note on the generosity of the Xena fanbase, I'm taking a break.
More to follow.