Friday on a three-day convention is typically slow. The one-day price for a Friday is usually less than for any other day of any convention. Today was a slow day at the annuall Xena convention, except for one thing: Hudson Leick.
I've missed a few years, I must admit, of this annual event. But I'm grateful I was around for the first couple of years, where I saw a young woman change before my eyes. Her slow take on us as fans changed to a masterful manipulation where we all had outrageous fun.
Hudson - whose birth name was Heidi - started out as a young actress who wasn't sure why she was on stage. She seemed mystified by it all. She tried to answer the fans' questions about Callisto, her infamously evil character. She has told a story of flying to New Zealand and reading the script for one of the Callisto shows - perhaps the second one where she kills Gabrielle's new husband, Perdicus. When she reached the part where she is unfathomly cruel to Gabi in a game called Truth or Dare, Hudson starts laughing, right there on the plane. She was perfect for the part.
After a few years of appearing year after year to mostly the same fans at the convention, she dresses to the nines, entices us, engages us, in a totally unscripted conversation. And then she auctions off the dress for charity, usually to benefit the James Ellis Foundation, which allows kids with cancer or whose family members have cancer continue in college.
This year, the young woman from Russia bid $400 for the dress. A couple in the second row kicked in another $300 so that the Russian woman could have the dress. There have been no other bids, nor would there be. All of a sudden, other people kicked in $50 here, $20
there, so that she would get the dress and Anita could go back home to New York with $900. It was very touching.
By the way, I saw the young woman who won the dress in the restroom later. She said to anyone who would listen: "I have two dresses. But now I have three!"
I was touched by something else as well today, as slow as it was. Steven L. Sears is also at every convention. Steve was a producer and
writer on the original Xena. I always enjoy his talks very much because he talks about the writing process and storytelling.
This time someone asked him if he used real-life experiences when he wrote. He hearkened back to his memory of writing "The Price," a
particularly hard-hitting Xena episode where our 'hero' kills without mercy and the effect that ultimately has on her sidekick, Gabrielle.
Steve told us that he wrote that episode about his father. His father was a military man as a career. He was a sniper in the Korean War and a special forces member in VietNam. In short, "My father killed people for a living." Steve has spent a great deal of his life sorting through how that killing machine could be "the same man who tucked me in a night," and was a super father to him. So he wrote The Price to speak to that issue. Awesome.
I guess I'll have to go home and watch that one again.