Sunday, April 20, 2008

Me and Xena: A Love Story

Perhaps love is the wrong word.

I moderated the Battlestar Galactica panel at the New York Comic Con over the weekend. Before me and the cast members I was "grilling"—Tigh (Michael Hogan), Anders (Michael Trucco), and Tory (Rekha Sharma)—went on stage, they asked me if I was nervous. I told them that whatever happened, it couldn't be as uncomfortable as the last time I did this, at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con. And I told them the story I'm about to tell you:

I get into the green room (really, just an inconspicuous, cordoned-off meeting room in the convention center) about 30 minutes before the "Women of Battlestar Galactica" panel was set to start, to meet the cast and to go over the protocol of the panel: how it was supposed to flow, etc. Meeting everyone was perfectly shiny; they were all, to a person, quite nice...and I've already made my feelings for Mary McDonnell known. I sat down to go over my questions one last time (and try not to vomit on anyone), and one of the Sci Fi Channel publicists comes over and says, "Okay, our big surprise for this panel is that we're going to bring out Lucy Lawless—who's returning to the show as D'Anna—mid-way through. How do you think we should do that?"

So I said, "Why don't I ask Tricia Helfer, 'What was it like to share Baltar with another woman?' And then the Other Woman would walk out..."

"Perfect," replies the publicist, and she bounded away to deal with something else, leaving me to stew in my thoughts and try not to look at the crazy-bare-backed dress that Katee Sackhoff was wearing. And continue not vomiting on anyone.

Showtime rolls around, and we all start walking to the San Diego Convention Center's second-biggest ballroom, which holds something like 6,000 people. We're in a loading hallway, all of us like NASA astronauts heading to the Apollo capsule. (Or Spinal Tap.) Just as we get backstage, the publicist runs through the order of the panel one last time: "First, you head out. Intro the clip, then intro the panel. Couple of questions, then 'What was it like to share Baltar with another man,' Lucy comes out, more questions, toss to the crowd for fan questions, wrap it up, drink heavily."

Of course, I corrected her: "What was it like to share him with another woman." "Yeah...duh," she said.

What do you think I said, in front of the 6,000 people sitting in the crowd (and the other 300-400 standing in the aisles)?

So, Tricia, what was it like to share Baltar with another man?

Out comes Lucy, who hugs everyone else on the panel, turns to me, and flips me the middle finger. And I just took it, because there's no coming back from that. You just gotta swallow the faux pas, take your shot to the nuts like a man, and keep on moving. Which I did.

But you never forget your first time...being flipped off by a warrior princess in front of the entire geek nation. (The fact that it lives forever in online-video infamy is just icing on the cake.)

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