A few weeks ago, I headed West to go to the Xena Convention to meet one of my teenage idols, Lucy Lawless herself. First of all, I was pretty nervous meeting her, and I had been on a major diet/fitness plan to make sure my picture was jusssst right! All in all, I lost 10 lbs and felt great, so I was REALLY ready. The plan was to fly to Burbank, CA on Saturday. Tasha and Rachel would meet me later that night, so I had the entire day to myself to be at the Xena Convention and experience it alone. I was a little bummed out that I missed Friday since most of my favorite people were there that day (i.e Ted Raimi as Joxer, Hudson Leick as Callisto, and then Charles Measure who was on the V Reboot and Xena… yum!) When I landed in California, I was a bit disappointed with the weather. Unfortunately, L.A. was having a major cold spell and it was around 35 degrees. (When I had left Indianapolis, it was 65 degrees….. so not fair!).
When I arrived at the hotel (after getting into a fight with a cabbie because I’m that awesome) I went into the Convention Center to see the big party. I really had no idea what to expect. Xena has been off the air since 2001, so I didn’t know what kind of vendors would be there. I was hoping to snag an Official Xena Convention t-shirt and a poster. Well, when I got to the convention center, there was nobody around. Nobody! Granted, I got into L.A. around 10:30 AM, so the convention hadn’t started yet. There were a few vendors selling photos (for the actors signatures at the meet and greets) and a few jewelry places along with DVDs of earlier conventions. No t-shirts or posters, which I was pretty sad about. Actually, they had posters for sale, but they were seriously the same posters I had in my bedroom in high school. It was kind of eerie. Apparently, I was really early so I went back to my room and tried to sleep. After about an hour nap, I headed back over to try to meet people. I knew there would be a big lesbian population, but I didn’t realize the age of most women. I’m talking women my mother’s age. I was pretty bummed out because NOBODY WOULD TALK TO ME. I tried having conversations with the people I was sitting by, but I had no luck. There was a younger guy there eyeing me at one point, but he was running about with everyone else and other young kids. Basically, I later found out that Xena Conventions are like Family Reunions. This was the 18th Convention, so, I was a true stranger in a strange land. Sigh.
The first panel had Willa O’Neill who played Gabrielle’s sister. Willa was on both Hercules and Xena, and she hadn’t been to a convention in a really long time. Since she was the first panel for me to see, I was pretty excited to get things going. However, this is what I saw. WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? Flying babies? I mean? What? Apparently Willa discovered the magic of narcotics or something. I was pretty disappointed to be honest. I don’t usually panic, but I called Matt multiple times and exclaimed, “was this a mistake? Ahhh!” On top of all that stress, I was also battling the tail end of the flu. Luckily I had gotten a Z-Pak a few days before going, so I was trying to contain my horrible cough. Another thing about Xena Conventions that I learned: when nobody will talk to you and everyone is a lesbian: it is a true fact that you should probably get as drunk as everyone else around you. Again, since I was trying to feel better, alcohol was just not on my mind.
Well, everyone else around was pretty hammered and asking some INSANE questions to the panelists. “What’s you favorite sexual position? What color is your underwear? Have you seen your character on the new Xena XXX movie?” (I mean, REALLY?) I was pretty excited to see Adrienne Wilkinson (beautiful!) and William Gregory Lee (still hot!) who played Livia and Virgil. That panel was probably one of my favorites. It was actually interesting watching these people talk about their lives after Xena. Most of them aren’t really “working” per se, and William Gregory Lee even mentioned that he felt like a rock star once a year going to these Xena conventions. The other panels on Saturday got rowdier and rowdier as the day went on. Victoria Pratt was super rowdy and sexy, (and man, she wasn’t afraid to flirt with all the lesbians and be crazy) and Jennifer Sky (who played annoying Amarice and was on Cleopatra 2525) is now a professor. Her life sounded interesting. The big finale of the day was Claire Stansfield, who was awesome and inventive. She actually had a good set. For those that never watched Xena, she played Alti, who was an evil shamaness who lead Xena towards her dark side to become the Destroyer of Nations. Basically, Alti was a stone cold badass. She came on stage with her Alti voice (gravelly and sexy) and had some woman tied up in a sack. Nobody knew who this woman was, but it was Vanessa Angel. For those that aren’t a know-it-all in the Xena-verse, Vanessa Angel was the actress originally cast as Xena. She went through Xena training with swords and horse back riding and all of that. She had a sad turn of events that took her away from the part of a lifetime. She got really sick and her doctor put her on bed rest and told her she couldn’t travel to New Zealand for the show. So the producers cast Lucy Lawless as Xena because she was a New Zealand local and was available, and that’s how the cookie crumbles. I thought that panel might stray to awkward land because all of us were at a Xena convention waiting for Lucy Lawless, and not this woman. Someone even asked her how she felt being at the Convention since this could have been her life. (shudder). Overall, Vanessa Angel had a great response. “Everything happens for a reason. Lucy met her husband on the show, and they have a family. It happened like it was supposed to.” What a classy lady. As Saturday narrowed down, I was a bit sad that nobody had yet spoken to me (other than one of the writers on the show because his dog was smelling and somewhat humping my leg). I even went to the bar and tried to socialize while watching the Broncos play the Ravens. I learned something that day which I will never forget. If lesbians aren’t talking to you at a lesbian filled Xena convention, don’t try to talk to them during a football game either. Those bitches are mean!
Thankfully as the day ended, it was time for Rachel and Tasha to pick me up at the hotel. I love these girls so so so so much! They are so fun, adventurous, and just great girls to be around. Rachel lives in Silver Lake, so we explored one of her favorite places, which was called Sage Organic. I really didn’t know what to expect because I have never had only all organic vegan food, but DAMN, it was good (other than the little bug walking on my plate, but I guess that made it authentic). Don’t get me wrong, I love eating healthy, but I also love meat. I had these brocoli stuffed pierogies over a bed of kale. I am still to this day dreaming about that meal. So so so good. After dinner, we went back to Rachel’s place and I went straight to sleep. It had been a really long day for me. I felt bad because I kept coughing all night, but I eventually passed out. I had to be well rested to meet Lucy Lawless! On Sunday, we put on our “Sunday Best” aka feathers, fur, and stiletto heels to meet the one, the only, LUCY LAWLESS. I was feeling a lot better after sleeping so much. We headed out to Sunset Junction for a great breakfast. I had thought for weeks on what to wear, and I wanted to look good, ya know? I mean, what the heck do you wear when you meet one of your idols? So I bought some really nice tailored pants (size 10– finally!) an animal print tank top (I mean, it’s Cali, right) and my gladiator stiletto shoes that I love.
Since I didn’t enjoy the convention from Saturday, we decided to play during the day in Los Angeles and go to the Convention closer to 4 pm when Lucy Lawless was going to appear. It was still pretty cold outside, so we didn’t go to Santa Monica or Malibu to see some of the famous sights. We went and grabbed Caroline after brunch for a fun adventure. Instead, we headed to Griffith Observatory where they filmed Rebel Without A Cause. Funny enough, we went through one of the most famous tunnels in my imagination, aka the tunnel from Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the Back to the Future movies. When we were riding in the mini cruising through, I knew we were finally in HOLLYWOOD! We trekked up to the Observatory and got a picture with the Hollywood sign far in the back ground. It was a nice day to go to the top of the world and just clear your lungs a bit. I hadn’t seen the girls, i.e. babies since Farmer’s surprise 30th birthday party last year, so it was a nice reunion. Rachel and Caroline are just so nice and giving women. I had a good time talking to them. I love really inviting women, and again, this weekend jaunt was a trek for sistahood! After our little trek, we dropped off Caroline and headed back to Sage for some of their famous vegan milkshakes. I was really intrigued to see how these would taste because there would be no milk or dairy at all. Surprisingly, they were delicious (although the did inspire some crazy things in my body, but yeah, that’s what vegan food does, right?)
I know I complained about my experience on Saturday, but man, Sunday was a completely different day. First of all, I was dressed to the nine’s. Tasha wore my bird collar, and Rachel was channeling Jackie O. When we walked into the hotel, it was like a light switch had been turned on. The kid who was looking at me on Saturday was sitting in the bar, and he exclaimed, “Are you girls here for the Xena convention?” We looked at him in unison and said, “Yes” and he went bananas. “Hot girls never come to a Xena convention… omg!” So we met Zach, and basically we were then thrust into the world of Xena-ites. He introduced us to TIGER, who was this small woman with a walker, Xena shirt, and apparently her body was covered in Xena tattoos. Basically, Tiger was legit, and the most fierce woman I had ever met. Also there was a lesbian wedding taking place after the convention, so I met Penny and her bride/bridegroom/whatever you call the other person. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty strange having an 18-year-old boy be my sherpa of all things Xena. (Considering he was a child when Xena ended… a child!) Apparently this was his fifth convention, and he explained to me how it all worked. I am a die-hard fan, and I think it is interesting that people still like to quiz on geekdom. Last year there was a huge backlash for female geeks/comic book readers/cosplayers, so I still find it interesting that even though I flew halfway across the country, people still don’t know if I’m a real fan. Tasha and Rachel got pretty drunk, and I had a beer to take the edge off a bit. I mean, I had to look PERFECT for meeting Lucy, right? One of the highlights of my entire trip was when Tiger totally flat-out scolded Rachel and Tasha. They wanted to get a beer before the Lucy session, and Tiger literally stood up in the aisle, all Gandalf style and told them, “Lucy Lawless is coming on stage in seconds… YOU SHALL NOT PASS.” Omg, I almost peed my pants. If you look at the picture above, you can see Rachel cringing and Tiger is the older lady in the background. That is the ONLY picture I got of her.
Then it was finally time for Lucy Lawless to appear! I can’t even describe how excited I was. I didn’t know what to expect because every panel was different. Most of the people talking were raising money for a project they were working on and such, but in past years Lucy would have a skit with Renee O’Connor to complete the weekend. Unfortunately, Renee was only there Saturday (and for a brief time at that) so there was no skit. Instead, there was a question and answer session. Lucy was giving free stuff away (and Tasha screamed that she was from France to try to win something… hahaha). Here was my moment of truth!! I have fantasized about asking Lucy Lawless a question MY ENTIRE LIFE!! Here was my chance! I ran up to the line and had to come up with something to ask. When Lucy got on stage, she mentioned a few things that had happened to her since her last visit at the 2012 convention. She had been arrested for protesting on a Shell drill ship, she went back to school, and she had a few miscellaneous projects like her new stint on Parks & Recreation (which I’ve only seen one episode).
I was in the middle of the line, and I figured I’d ask her about her further education endeavors since I work for the world’s largest book publisher/learning company. Unfortunately, someone ahead of me asked this question. Then I planned to ask her about her appearances on Parks and Recreation, but then thought “No, I can’t ask her about her involvement of a show I don’t even watch! She could have been killed off or something! No No No!” At this point, I started to fucking panic. My turn was coming up, and I was behind 3 precocious girls all dressed in fairy tale dresses that would most likely ask something sweet and adorable. I had to ASK SOMETHING. At that moment, it was like my entire life flashed before my eyes. All those times in high school when I did the Xena yell in the cafeteria like a freak, all the times I gave speeches about feminist icons, Greek Mythology with clips from the show, I MEAN, THIS IS REAL. I couldn’t screw it up! Then, the muses above called to me and helped me out (thanks Muses.) As I was approaching the microphone, I saw Rob Tapert, i.e. the Executive Producer of both Hercules and Xena and Lucy’s husband) along with Marissa Janet Winokour (random celebrity, but cool I guess). For Christmas, Matt’s sister got me the Kevin Sorbo autobiography, which I read on the plane before arriving. In the book, Kevin Sorbo lashed out about his relationship with Mr. Tapert, and Eureka, a perfect question for Lucy Lawless. Had she ever considered writing her own personal memoir? (I did have a split second thought go through my head to even ask this because who knows if they read Kevin Sorbo’s book? I don’t want to bring up negativity?)
As a typical Mid-westerner, I had to first thank her for coming to the convention, and then I asked the question. Tasha recorded the question and most of the answer (thanks girl!) and then screamed her head off. I LOVE THIS VIDEO. THIS IS AMAZING. IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY SEEING IT EVERY TIME. You can witness it here. It was truly thrilling. People were cheering, and as I was walking back to my seat, people grabbed me and told me I asked a great question that NOBODY had asked her before. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.
So after the panel, I stood in line with about 500 other people for my big Meet and Greet with Lucy. Tasha and Rachel went back to the bar (without Tiger shaming them, haha). Again, I was getting really nervous especially when I got into the room. There was a huge table where you could put your purse and stuff. I was standing with a really nice man from California, and we were having a fun time chatting about the Indianapolis 500. I was about 4 people away when my damn cough started violently coming. At this point, I did fucking panic. I CAN’T BE COUGHING. The nice guy behind me just patted my back and was like, “don’t be nervous, you’ll be fine,” and seriously, it was as if he fixed me. So I swallowed my flu, and boom, it was my turn. It went so fast. She said, “Oh hello again Darling!” and literally grabbed me… I MEAN XENA GRABBED ME AND LIKE TOTALLY BEAR HUGGED ME. As you can see from the picture, I had a lot going on in my brain. I was wearing 4 inch stiletto heels so we were the same size. We were CHEEK TO CHEEK. I stuck my boobs out, moved my chin down, kept my eyes opened, smiled, and didn’t cough in her face. Mission accomplished!! When she grabbed me, I didn’t know what to do with my left arm, so I just kind of went limp, lol. When it was over, she clutched my hand and said she had thought about my question (really??!!!) and then she thanked me for coming to the convention. I almost burst into tears and said, “ohhhkkkkkk thanks Lucy Lawless” and then ambled towards the door. As I left the room, I saw Rachel and Tasha on “congratulations control” to talk to everyone as they left. So yes, I met Lucy Lawless, and it was amazing. She was truly stunning in person. She didn’t even have to wear any make-up. Just a wonderful experience. I loved every second of it!
On Monday, Tasha and I spent the day together touring some of her favorite places in L.A. Unfortunately, Rachel had to work, so it was us in the Mini driving around L.A. I knew I wanted to go see the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and see the Walk of Fame. I didn’t have any interest in going to Rodeo Drive since it was still pretty cold. Our first stop was The Grove, which was a lot of fun. We actually saw Arnold Schwarzenegger’s car since he was filming something for EXTRA, which films at The Grove. We walked around and window shopped after having a great breakfast. I really wish Tasha and I lived closer. She is an amazing person, and I love spending time with her. Even though we haven’t known each other for a long time, we just really hit it off. It amazes me that I have made such great and deep friendships with people I haven’t known very long. Life is interesting in that way, wouldn’t you say? After The Grove, we headed to West L.A. for a fun French bistro with amazing macarons! I am obsessed with macarons, and there aren’t that many places where I can get them in Indianapolis. Well heck, The Little Next Door is my new favorite places! I ordered two of everything (and these came home with me too). My favorite macaron to date has to be their passion fruit one. I mean, WOW. I’m still dreaming about that macaron.
I convinced Tasha to go to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum too. She was a bit sketched out, but she then started liking it. I mean, wax statues are so weird, but they are a lot of fun. I still have fun memories of going to the one in Vegas. It was awesome seeing all the big Hollywood star ones like Charlton Heston, the Marvel ones— holy smokes Hugh Jackman and Chris Helmsworth (drool!) but my favorite had to be the one of Daniel Craig dressed as Bond. I told Tasha that I had a dream a day before going to L.A. that Daniel Craig was helping me make a decision, and boom, it was fate. “Jennifer, you’re a wolf.” Indeed, Daniel. Indeed. Tasha is so photogenic, so it was fun seeing her with all of these kooky statues. We have some amazing pictures, which I swore I wouldn’t share on the internet. All I gotta say is that Farmer is one lucky dude, hahaha.
After our fun day out, we picked Rachel up and got ready for the huge finale! A few weeks ago at our NSM, I talked with my co-worker in crime, Micah, and apparently she has magic connections. I don’t know much about L.A., but there’s this amazing place called The Magic Castle, which is a huge mansion looking place in the middle of town. It’s an exclusive club where you have to know somebody to get an invitation! I mean, this was insane. Micah told me she’d hook us up, and wow, the girls were excited. Tasha and Rachel were stoked. So we had to wear glamorous clothing and be gorgeous. I put on some crazy fake eyelashes and a new dress, and boom! I invited another work co-worker, Christine, to meet us since she wanted to go too. I tell you, I live a very fun and amazing life. I’m glad I know so many people everywhere I go!
Now, the Magic Castle is amazing. I had never experienced anything like it before. We got in, and Micah was waiting for us at the bar looking chic as ever. She showed us around to show us the mansion, and we watched the first sleight of hand show. We had a few drinks (and the drinks were AMAZING!) and headed to the Chris Corn show. Now, I don’t know if it was because we were a little tipsy, but I had a vision of Rachel and Chris Corn getting married and having a zillion babies. She was called on stage to help him, and they had this chemistry!!! One of the tricks involved her writing her name on a dollar bill, and he did an awesome trick with it involving a lime. When the show was over, I kept the magical dollar and took it back to Indianapolis. I still haven’t spent it, but I vowed to buy something truly magical with this dollar. Micah didn’t stay very long, and I was a bit bummed out I didn’t get a picture with her — but man, it was so awesome!!! We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, so the only one I got was of us gals in front of the Magic Castle before going inside. We definitely color-coordinated without meaning too. Christine is so freaking adorable!! I just love her!!! I’m so glad I got to spend some time with her. The end of the night took us to el Ropo, who did amazing tricks with, you guessed it, ropes. Overall, I had to say The Magic Castle was a huge hit, and I’m so glad we got to experience everything together. I wish I could see magic shows around here. And I am still holding out hope that Rachel and Chris Corn will make a love connection one day.
We ended the night going on a Taco Zone run (in about 20 degree temperature…. oh yeah) and pigging out before sleeping shortly since I needed to get to the airport by 5:30 AM. Overall, it was an amazing trip filled with teenage wistfulness realized, high lesbian drama, friendships and sistahood, and of course, magic!! Hopefully I can see the babies sooner rather than later! Matt and I are getting our finances in order and hope to make it West at some point this year. We do plan to go to Virginia Beach this summer.
Want to see more pictures? Check ’em out here.
And as Xena would say, “i yi yi yi yi yi!” And no, I am never going to another convention again, lol.