They've got the X-Files movie, "Fight The Future," the X-Files Interactive computer game, the Unrestricted Access compendium of X-Files information (see review following this article), TV series, books, magazines, toys and more. But how many people took part in the X-Files EXPO?
The EXPO was a major event in the 10 cities it visited in the U.S. Not because it related to the X-Files, but because it was a gathering of a unique kind. Instead of the usual setting in a convention center or hotel ballroom, the EXPOs took place in decommissioned military bases or airplane hangars. Fans became totally immersed in the "X-Files experience" in more ways than one in an environment suitable for families (not just the rabid fans one expects to see at events like this). On the day I attended the Washington, D.C. EXPO in May of 1998, I saw babies in carriages, older kids, teens, parents and grandparents together in groups. Many of them called the EXPO an "indoor theme park" and some purchased tickets for both days of the EXPO to take it all in.
Planning the EXPOs on former military installations was a stroke of genius. EXPO-goers had to pass through gates with guards stationed at the entrance, the buildings were surrounded by fences and barbed wire, interiors were left intact with original signs such as "Radiation Area" or "Testing Lab," and windows covered with metal grates. As you entered the building you were given an "Evidence Bag" filled with EXPO goodies. Before entering the main exhibit areas, you passed by rows and rows of filing cabinets and the sound of the X-Files theme music in the air. All this added up to the mystique that *is* the X-Files.
As Virginia fan Debbie Burgess enthused, "One felt as though you should be looking for clues around every corner."
And that's what the X-Files is all about - the fans. If there were no fans, there would be no TV series, computer games, etc. But the EXPO was so popular a Canadian tour is being planned and another U.S. tour - possibly with more cities.
So, what did fans experience at the EXPO for their $25? Here's a look behind the scenes at the X-Files experience that was the EXPO.
The celebrities at the D.C. EXPO included Nicholas Lea (Alexander Krycek in the series), Dean Haglund (Langley of the "Lone Gunmen"), Steve Williams ("X") and producer Rob Bowman. Each of them did something different from the usual Q&A sessions. Nicholas Lea sat in a chair and talked to the audience like he was a favorite uncle telling stories and jokes; Rob Bowman was a bit nervous (this was his first EXPO) but told some funny stories about the cast and crew of the series and movie; Dean Haglund did an improv skit with audience members; and Steven Williams prowled the stage, his voice booming and his enthusiasm infectious.
Steven Williams (left) aka "X" in the series
I managed to spirit three of them away for exclusive interviews and you are the first to experience them. Meeting Nicholas Lea, Dean Haglund and Rob Bowman in person wasn't as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be. Each of them were very normal, down-to-earth guys. I was a bit surprised, having interviewed other celebrities who were less than normal and a bit too filled with themselves, if you know what I mean. But these three made the interviews fun, then enthusiastically signed photos for me. It made me wonder if they really *were* aliens.
As fan Debbie Burgess said, "My favorite part, if not the best, was meeting the 'stars.' Mr. Bowman was especially entertaining with a story behind the poster I acquired by joining the fan club that day. Would I go again, yes I would. I liked the tidbits of information you picked up and to see what other X-File fans look like. And it was definitely worth the $25 ticket price."
Read the review of The X-Files - Unrestricted Access
J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at jahitchcock.com.