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Feb. 10th, 2007

dead, lexx, squish, brunneng, kai

Timeless Destinations: And so it Begins...

In true Canuck form, the official opening ceremony for the Timeless Destinations Multi-Genre Convention began with a nod to the native tribes of Canada and a traditional Native American invocation.



But it wasn’t from just any local tribesman. This blessing was delivered by the guy that uber-directors Steven Spielberg and John Landis go to for advice and guidance on Native American culture. Travis Edward Dugas – also known by his spirit name of Knighthawk – has appeared with David Bowie and Harvey Keitel in El Mio West, as well as the feature film Dreamkeeper. He’s no lightweight in the tribal community, either, as he travels the world as a motivational speaker and contemporary traditional dancer.

“When you shake someone’s hand, you are shaking the hand of every ancestor who has come before them as well,” he said “When we meet new people, we give of ourselves the very best of our people and those who came before us.”

Dugas came out in what looked like complete tribal accoutrement, but he actually said he “dressed light” for the opening ceremonies.

“We’ve got six more days to go, so I thought I’d start slow,” he said, promising us full regalia with feathered head dresses and paint later in the week.

And while the tribal benediction might have seemed out of place at some of the giant genre conventions, it fit perfectly here, and the crowd loved it. The Timeless Destinations vibe is very different from most of the American shows we’ve seen over the years, where fans go in search of that elusive collectible or the autograph from just that ONE guy. This show is more about experiences and interaction, and connecting with fans on a level beyond just a picture and a signature.

There’s a lot of that, too, but it’s not at the epicenter of the show, and if that wasn’t evident through an opening ceremony featuring a contemporary tribal dance, then it certainly became obvious in the first panel discussion of the con.

Emerging from the stage curtain to enthusiastic applause were Blu Mankuma (Saved, Cadence and X-Files, among a few dozen other credits) and Dean Aylesworth (Anubis in Stargate SG-1, young Bill Mulder in X-Files), and I was prepared to hear a protracted and predictable cadre of questions and answers about specific episodes, gossip from the craft services table, and “What is Gillian Anderson REALLY like?”

But, I forgot one thing. These guys are character actors.

I have always been a sucker for the characters actors, classics like M. Emmett Walsh, Strother Martin, Pat Hingle and the like. These were guys who had been everywhere and done everything. And they always had good stories, like the one about the Spanish coffee. Blu and Dean followed suit perfectly.



In this twosome, Dean was clearly the straight man, and Blu was the comic, floating one-liners like a bluesy, soulful Robin Williams, with a deep, gravelly voice so hypnotizing, you could get an all-day mellow just listening to him read stereo instructions.

And come on, how do you NOT like a dude named Blu.

One young actress in the crowd asked Blu about breaking into the business, and I could tell it was a question he gets asked a lot.

“When you’re in the room, you gotta let those people know you’re IN the ROOM,” he said. “I used to be very mellow when I got in the room, trying to be professional, and then – heh… I never told anyone this one before.. It’s a little trick I learned.”

Blu sat up in his stool and leaned over, so we knew this was gonna be good.

“I went to audition for a role in a teen movie, Klondike Fever, and I wasn’t even really sure I wanted it” he started. “And when I got there, they weren’t ready for me, and so I went back downstairs and had myself a Spanish coffee. Then I went back upstairs, and they still weren’t ready for me. So ---- I went back downstairs and had myself another Spanish coffee. So when they finally were ready for me, I was READY for THEM,” he added, making a little like Lou Ferrigno in the green make-up and shock wig.

“Now came the call backs,” he said. “And I get there, and this time they were ready for me, so I didn’t have no Spanish coffee. Well, the lady who was there for the first audition warned the producers about me ahead of time, apparently, -- you gotta watch out for this guy now – and all. I walked in and I was very ‘Hello, pleased to meet you,’ and she said, ‘Oh, a little subdued today, huh? Well, we can work with that.’ And I still got the part that I didn’t want, but I learned something – be aggressive. Attack the audition. Don’t be afraid and don’t sit there thinking you don’t have a chance because so-and-so is there, too – just attack. You walk in and you say ‘That’s my damn part. I don’t even know why you called all these other suckers in here, cuz this is MY part.’”

Dean, a lot younger than Blu, didn’t have as many stories to tell, but it was clear his inspirations weren’t ensconced in the genre.

“The theatre is the church, and I love being on stage,” he said. “That’s where you really get to delve into character and story, but that’s not to say I didn’t learn from being on X-Files. My experiences from this show gave me the strength to take things quietly and to learn subtlety in acting.”

Blu concurred, “If you can do stage, you can do film. But if you do film, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can do stage.”

But for Dean, his greatest inspiration comes from whatever’s next.

“I’m inspired by the next thing, whatever that is,” he said. “Not being complacent. It is the thing that will keep us going.”
dead, lexx, squish, brunneng, kai

Timeless Destinations: On the Set of SEED

Crazy People and Stunt Babies – On the set of the movie SEED



The filming of the movie Seed is a study in irony.

In most horror movies, they’ll shoot in a building that they have to decorate to look like a mental hospital.

With Seed, they’re shooting in a mental hospital, decorating some rooms to look like apartments.

In most horror movies, they’ll use dolls or mannequins for scenes involving children. In Seed, it’s “Bring in the stunt-baby!”

Seed is a horror movie being shot in Vancouver at Riverside Hospital. The brainchild of Uwe Boll (director of Bloodrayne), the movie stars Michael Pare (Eddie and the Cruisers) as a detective who has hunted a serial killer for most of his career, and finally watches him sit in the electric chair. But something goes wrong, and the killer, named Max Seed (played by genre veteran Will Sanderson, most recently of Bloodrayne and Smallville) comes back to get revenge on the folks who jolted him. Others in the film include German action movie hero Ralf Moeller and genre favorite Andrew Jackson (Stargate SG1, Taken, Smallville).

While it doesn’t seem like high concept horror, it’s all in the execution (sorry about that one, really). And if you have to start somewhere, shooting in a mental hospital is probably a good bet.

To be fair, much of Riverside Hospital is vacant now, owned by the Canadian government and leased out as film studio space. But not ALL of Riverside Hospital is a studio. Some of the buildings on the grounds are part of the real Riverside Hospital, and still house mental patients.

Which caused some logistical concerns for both doctors and directors.

“We had a graveyard that we built on the grounds that we had to cover in plywood at night,” said Jeff Elliot, location manager for Seed. “We had to take all the crosses down every night after shooting just in case someone would look out a window, we didn’t want them to start freaking out or something.”

He also said they had to post guards around the graveyard 24/7, just in case a patient with grounds privileges wandered over to check things out.

“There haven’t been many, but there have been a few,” he said. “We had one just today.”

But shooting in the hospital affords some amazing detail. The exterior could pass for a hospital, a school or even a prison. Some of the walls are replete with the obligatory pea green institutional paint, chipping away in the crevices between concrete bricks. The chamber they used for the electric chair scene had a great natural echo, and an inherent dank, dense quality that makes you want to get out of there the second you got in.

Another genre actor, Craig Veroni (Stargate Atlantis, Smallville, Tru Calling, Dark Angel) also sent in some reinforcements for a kidnapping scene in the film – his six month old son.

There’s a scene on a bus where Seed, the killer, is supposed to grab the baby, so they used Craig’s son for that scene. But he hasn’t earned his stuntman union card yet.

“For the dangerous scenes, they of course, substituted a doll,” Veroni said.

After they finished shooting for the day, Sanderson and Jackson – zonked after a 12-hour shoot that started at 5:30 a.m. – joined us for a few photos.

And then we all went for pie. No, really.

Jackson, Seed publicist Bill Wanstrom and a dozen fans who all took part in the set tour loaded up a bus and were driven to downtown Vancouver for a visit to Tartine’s, a local Vancouver favorite mom-and-pop homemade sandwich and pie shop.

Seriously, look at the pictures. We’re not making this stuff up. We stuffed our faces and then headed back to the hotel to rest, because we knew there would be more drinking that night.

www.tartine.ca
dead, lexx, squish, brunneng, kai

Timeless Destinations: The Longest Morning

He is a media ne’er-do-well who has consulted for the likes of William Shatner, Stan Lee and Michael Uslan. He’s been an editor, a journalist and a publicist. She is an award-winning artist and writer, currently designing sets and art for four different stage productions. She has worked booths and special events at every Comic Con, Chicago Con and MegaCon since the late 90s. Together, Tony and Diane Panaccio are much more than husband and wife – they are uber-geeks on the road. This week, they have trekked from Florida to Vancouver to one of Canada’s favorite science fiction/pop culture gatherings, Timeless Destinations, and they’ve agreed to blog their adventures exclusively for Now Playing. God help us all.




The Longest Morning

Among the elite who travel from convention to convention, there is a tacit recognition that east coast/west coast travel has a nasty side effect – mornings that are three hours longer than usual.

For me, that’s usually okay, because that just means I get to eat two breakfasts. Here, I am doing my best sleep-deprived Little Nicky imitation – “Popeye’s chicken is FRICKIN AWESOME!” It served to be more annoying than the three crying children seated directly behind me. I leaned back and whispered to the harried mother, “Give ‘em a few sips of coffee – they’ll be right as rain.” Hmmph. Talk about a tough crowd.

The woman at gate security, however, thought I was strikingly original when I approached her with our passports and IDs and asked for a table for two on the patio, non-smoking please. I guess at 5:30 in the morning, just about anything that’s not expected can be funny.

What can I say? We were a little wired. We were pretty excited about this trip. We’ve done the comic con and pop culture con circuit for years, but it was mainly for work and booth duty, so there was very little time to relax. This time was going to be for fun. Timeless Destinations had a really strong list of science fiction names lined up, like Michael Shanks from Stargate SG-1 and Richard Hatch of Battlestar Galactica, but the one we were stoked about was the LEXX reunion.

LEXX was a show created for television through a joint venture between Canadian and German production companies, and it delivered science fiction in a very tongue-in-cheek, satirical manner. American science fiction took itself very seriously, even when it made fun of its own conventions. But these darn foreigners waltzed in and showed us something we didn’t know, yet – that science fiction could be character driven, funny and dramatic, yet still refuse to take itself so damn seriously.

And the cast was about as unlikely a bunch as you’d ever watch in a show that lasted four seasons internationally. But more on that later. We’ve landed, we’re at the hotel, and we want to get to the show floor and check in.
dead, lexx, squish, brunneng, kai

Timeless Destinations: Just across the Border!

Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore, and Slater works in customs!



It didn’t take long for Dorothy to figure out that she wasn’t in Kansas anymore. All the farm animals were gone, there weren’t any liquored up farm hands whistling at her, and, well, EVERYTHING WAS IN COLOR!!!

Well, visiting Canada for the first time, we felt quite a lot like Dorothy today.

First of all, let me say that Vancouver is a beautiful city, and clean. Really clean. Even the trash cans don’t stink. And the people in Canada have to be some of the most accommodating and friendly people we have ever met in our travels. Granted, since most of our travels have involved hitting every comic convention in the country, that may not be setting the bar as high as we’d like, but truthfully, the Canadians are a very tolerant and kind people.

In fact, the very first reference that assured us we were definitely no longer in Kansas anymore was when my husband and I passed muster in customs. Passing through customs in Florida usually involves standing across from Jabba the Hutt stuffed into a cheap uniform, eating a sandwich dripping condiments all over your documents. Not here. Our customs officer just stepped off the recruitment poster, and reminded us of Slater from Saved by the Bell.

“What brings you to Canada? A convention you say? Well, okay then, get along you two, and have fun!”

I checked my watch. Two minutes and change. It took me longer to get past three security checkpoints at Tampa airport, and I LIVE there! And all I wanted was to get on a plane. Here, they’re letting me into a WHOLE COUNTRY. Strung out and paranoid from 10 hours on planes and in airports, I looked at my husband, and we ran from the counter just in case Slater changed his mind.

So now we decided to exchange a few of our own dead presidents for some of that colorful monopoly money they like to call currency up here. And it really IS monopoly money, and it has this pretty gold band on it. It’s almost a shame to give to someone just so we can get a burger in exchange.

So we’re standing at the ATM in the middle of the Vancouver airport awaiting our turn in line when suddenly Tony notices a little boy at the front of the line wielding not just a toy pistol, mind you, but a rather realistic looking rifle. And he was alone, just waiting in line at the ATM. When I saw his father approach, we waited for the inevitable smack on the head with dad screaming “What the hell are you thinking??”

Nope. Didn’t happen.

He had sent his son to stand in line for him at the ATM. With his toy rifle. And, this bears repeating.. With His Toy Rifle. So I look around the room nervously (my husband and I are sweating this, mind you); halfway expecting the walls to open up and a team of swat men to converge upon this rifle toting 9 year old and drag them kicking and screaming into the nether regions of British Columbian security ala post 911 paranoia.

Nope. Didn’t happen.

Hell…nothing happened at all. Except, I think a security guard might have yawned somewhere. That can’t be ruled out definitively, though. But certainly as far as we were concerned, nowhere else could the rift between Canadian and American sociologies be felt more strongly than in that one surrealistic moment of clarity. We were in the land of Oz, and Dorothy was waiting to have a drink with us at the bar.

Actually, Dorothy wasn’t alone. She was with Ellen Dubin (Lexx, Napoleon Dynamite), Michael Shanks (Stargate SG1 and Slacktwaddle), and Micheal McManus (Lexx, The Adventures of Jules Verne) and about 100 fans. But we’ll get to that next blog. Until then --- Diane
dead, lexx, squish, brunneng, kai

Timeless Destinations: Make-A-Wish Charity Dinner

Timeless Destinations: Wishing on a Prop

Michael McManus ended Tuesday night staring into the void of an empty bottle of White Rum.



But it’s not what you think. He did it for the kids.

Tuesday night’s Make-A-Wish Charity Banquet at Timeless Destinations brought out the fans, the stars and the props. And anyone who remembers Phil Hartman’s classic sketch as the acting teacher (“This is something, this is nothing”) knows that there are few things funnier than watching actors improv with props.

It began innocently enough when Andrew Jackson (Stargate SG1) strode to the front of the packed banquet hall with a microphone and a large duffle bag.

“We thought we’d play a different game this year,” he said, as the actors in the crowd eyed him with equal amounts of curiosity and paranoia. “What we’re going to do is ask the actors to close their eyes, reach into the bag, and pull out a prop, and then they have to tell a story about how that prop changed their lives.”

He added that the story didn’t need to be true, but that didn’t matter, because by then just about every actor who hadn’t sank down about a foot in their seats was headed toward the cash bar.

“Who wants to be first?”

Andrew Jackson thought he had his first victim when Ellen Dubin (Napoleon Dynamite, LEXX) raised her hand, but that hand quickly pointed a finger across the room at Michael McManus (LEXX), who had just flown up from Calgary during a break in his engagement there playing MacBeth.

“Ah yes, Michael – no doubt this will be in iambic pentameter,” said Andrew, practically trotting toward McManus.

Closing his eyes and reaching in, McManus unerringly pulled out an empty bottle of Lamb’s White Rum, and stared into it, probably imagining himself smacking Jackson on the side of the head with it. Instead, he told a story.

“Now, those of you here who have had the pleasure of drinking with a Newfoundlander probably already know what “bubbling” is. Well, not too long ago, I was in a show, and I was staying in the artistic director’s apartment, which was a very large apartment – in fact it was the last time I ever remember getting that place to stay in,” he started. “And after the show, we all went to have a few drinks, and as it started to wind down, someone had purchased two very large bottles of white rum, and it was suggested we all go back to my place – the artistic director’s apartment – to drink them. And so, 25 of us head back to the apartment. Now, at that time, I didn’t know what ‘bubbling’ meant. You see, when you drink white rum out of the bottle, you can tell how much you’re drinking by the number of bubbles that rush up the bottle. That’s called bubbling. And so, we all bubbled. And I don’t remember much else of what happened after that – and it was all very innocent – of course, except the next morning I can remember waking up with two rather large women on either side of me – I don’t remember them liking each other particularly, but they both seemed to like me a little. But you see, that’s the type of thing that can happen only on a snowy night in Canada when you’ve just learned how to bubble.”

And as the crowd of about 200 fans cheered that story, the gauntlet had been thrown. Follow that, suckers.

After that, there were some solid efforts from people like Blu Mankuma (X-Files, Stargate SG1), Rick Faraci (Andromeda, Smallville) and others, with 10-year-old Conchita Campbell (Scary Movie 4) making the best impression with the story of her pet (a small noisemaking toy) that made her a millionaire.

But behind the games was the purpose of the night – to raise money for the Make A Wish Foundation.

“We’ve done this for a few years now, and every year, 100 percent of the proceeds goes to Make A Wish,” said Bill Wanstrom, organizer of Timeless Destinations. “The show doesn’t take a penny, and the actors who show up never take a fee. This is all about the children.”
dead, lexx, squish, brunneng, kai

Timeless Destinations: the Non Convention Convention


It’s strange drinking in daylight. Not that I’m against it, in principle, but it can sometimes feel not right.

But in Vancouver, the sun doesn’t set until about 9:30 p.m., so there we were, at the opening cocktail party of Timeless Destinations, decked out in suits and cocktail dresses, drinking very expensive beer and wine and elbow-rubbing with the TD guests.

Keep in mind, this was not an invitation only party or a private affair. This was a cash bar, open party for convention pass holders of Timeless Destinations, and it helped illustrate the primary culture of this gathering and why it is different from every other con we have ever been to. It comes down to one word: Access.

Having worked larger conventions like MegaCon, Chicago Con and Comic-Con International San Diego, we’re used to tens of thousands of fans converging on autograph tables and paying $50 for a day pass and $25 for an autograph at a belt buckle signing (so named, because the most that the stars see of their fans is their belt buckles as they pass through the autograph line). This gathering was different.

At this party, convention guests such as Andrew Jackson (Stargate SG-1), Ellen Dubin (Napoleon Dynamite, Lexx), Dean Aylesworth (X-Files), and Michael McManus (Lexx) were just walking around, talking to people, taking pictures and, well, just hanging out with the fans. They weren’t surrounded by publicists or sycophants “handling” them, and they weren’t being walked around by wranglers in organized “meet-and-greets.” There were no more rules for this gathering than there would be at my local bar, and for me, that’s setting the bar below sea level.

Jackson, who is very tall and boisterous, took an endless stream of photos with fans for most of the evening, barely even sitting down. You could hear him from across the room, laughing and joking with fans.



McManus (shown above) wandered into the party as if he happened to just be walking by the ballroom and said to himself, “This seems like a cool party. Think I’ll crash it.” Of course, my first encounter with him was at the cash bar, and I took the initiative and bought him his first beer of the night. We toasted with expensive microbrews (I recommend the Honey Brown) like two discreet gentlemen who were in on the same joke. If he was going for the incognito look, he had a head start on his camera-ready brethren. His role on Lexx had him sporting a giant bee-hive wig, pasty-white make-up on his clean-shaven angular face, and a black wool body suit. Dressed in jeans, a cotton shirt, and sporting a full salt and pepper beard, he looked more like drinking buddy than undead assassin.

We chatted about his commute to the venue for a few moments before one of the show staff brought up a young, blonde woman, announcing loudly, “This poor girl is too afraid to just walk up and introduce herself, so I thought I’d help her out.” A few flash photos later, she emerged glowing and starry-eyed. I resisted the urge to offer her a cigarette.

Dubin, however, was a whirlwind. She approached everyone like she had known them all her life, slapping away people’s hands held out for the handshake hello, and grabbing them outright in a hug usually reserved for old friends. She was effusive in her interactions with fans, and upon realizing I was with Now Playing, insisted I give a shout back to Now Playing Senior Editor Chris Wyatt, with whom she worked on Napoleon Dynamite.

“You tell that little Hobbit I said hello, will you?” she said. And so we stood there and talked for a very long time about everything from theatre to charity causes. A long time — well, it might have felt longer than it actually was, as she caught me on the way to the men’s room. I finally had to excuse myself, as the combination of expensive beer and holding my knees together in the locked position was having an adverse affect on my balance.

But there was something else that hit me. A lot of the fans here were already acquainted with the con guests. They had been here before, and for them, this was less a con than some kind of class reunion. The celebs here were of a different class, communing with fans as road buddies, and greeting every newcomer with a sense of belonging. This was less a cocktail party than it was a club meeting, with everyone being on equal footing, and the sense of distance between fan and celeb almost completely eliminated.

And so, the kick-off of Timeless Destinations 2006 was comprised of a scene I had never seen at a convention — 100 fans in a room with a half dozen genre


celebs with no table or stanchion between them and those they admired. Just a cash bar, evening wear and a sunlit ballroom that rocked long past twilight had fallen.
dead, lexx, squish, brunneng, kai

A Recent Interview with Michael McManus

Timeless Destinations: Michael McManus is pooped

Written by Tony and Diane Panaccio
Thursday, 03 August 2006


Continuing our coverage from Vancouver’s Timeless Destinations, blogger Tony Panaccio takes a moment to catch up with actor Michael McManus, from the cult-favorite series Lexx…

I mean what I say in the headline above. Michael McManus is really beat, but you’d never know it to talk with him.

The actor, who is best known worldwide for his iconic turn as the undead assassin Kai from the off-beat satiric sci-fi series Lexx, has spent the last few years ensconced in his roots—the stage. His current project is one that epitomizes the dream of just about every actor to tread the boards.

“I’m playing Macbeth,” Michael says, as I cringe with superstition. Actors generally don’t say the title of that play out of an old superstition that uttering the name is bad luck.

“You mean, the Scottish play,” I reply.

“Oh, I say it at least 20 times a day now,” he laughs. “If something was going to happen, it would have already.”

Macbeth (looking up at the ceiling to make sure it isn’t caving in) is a project he has aspired to do for years, so he’s pulling out all the stops.

“We’re doing it outdoors, with eight Clydesdale horses and full costumes,” he explains. “And outside of a few rainstorms and the occasional car alarm going off, we’re doing pretty well. Rehearsal time has only been about three weeks, but I started working on getting off-book on the lines since I learned I was going to do this last March. There are a lot of lists in this play, and there’s no faking it once you get lost.”

And to prove it, he becomes Macbeth. In a hotel chair, dressed in jeans, a cotton shirt and a floppy hat that looked like it had been lifted from Carol Burnett’s prop room, Michael McManus becomes Macbeth.


“How now you secret, black, and midnight Hags?
What is't you do? I conjure you, by that which you Profess,
(How ere you come to know it) answer me:
Though you untye the Winds, and let them fight
Against the Churches: Though the yesty Waves
Confound and swallow Navigation
Though bladed Corn be lodged, and Trees blown down,
Though Castles topple on their Warders heads:
Though Pallaces, and Pyramids do slope
Their heads to their Foundations: Though the treasure
Of Natures Germaine, tumble altogether,
Even till destruction sicken: Answer me
To what I ask you.”

The man didn’t even stand up. I mean, hell.

Just to put this in perspective, however, it’s important to know the boy’s roots. He has acted at the McManus Theatre in Toronto—named for his grandfather’s first cousin.

“Well, they really didn’t go back to that name until after I started acting there again, so that was kind of cool,” he says, smiling wryly.

His aunt, by the way, is Helen Shaver. Yes, that Helen Shaver, of more than 80 film credits such as The Color of Money, The Amityville Horror and many, many others. The Helen Shaver who has appeared in countless genre vehicles on television and elsewhere, and who has made herself a name as a television director, as well, with credits including Judging Amy, Joan of Arcadia, Soul Food, The Unit, Medium and more than a dozen others.

So, pedigree is a tiny word here. To say that the stage is in his blood is to say that Paris Hilton ain’t making it into Mensa anytime soon. McManus has the chops, and just about any fan of Lexx will tell you, he brought those chops to the genre in a big way.

“There was this great book by Oliver Sachs, in which he discussed the element of the obligatory autistic character in science fiction,” he says. “Like Spock in Star Trek, that one character where emotions don’t rule their actions. When I read that, I knew where I wanted to take Kai. I wanted to make his problems be mechanical, like in the episode where his body went ‘out of alignment,’ and he tries to fix it twice, and he just spazz’s out.”

Did he just say episode? Did the Shakespearean actor just invoke the “specific episode” clause that genre actors are forbidden to touch, unless asked by a 55-year-old woman in a “Got Kai” T-shirt? So, I take the bait.

“In the next episode, you also threatened to kill a bunch of bureaucrats, too, didn’t you?” I ask.

“Oh yes, that was very cathartic, as I remember.”

Okay, we’ve just gone from literary to geek in 4.5 seconds. Hell, go with it.

“That was actually a good day,” he adds. “We were second unit, the first unit had left to go on location someplace else, and they hadn’t even finished writing the episode. So, we got the pages in the early part of the day, we rehearsed them while the wardrobe people were scrounging up whatever costumes they could, and then we went to make-up and wardrobe and then just shot it.”

McManus explains that he wanted his approach to Kai to be different from the typical genre archetype without emotion. In Star Trek , Data’s journey was all about becoming more human. Spock was always evolving into his human half, even though it somewhat insulted him outwardly. McManus wanted Kai to take a different road.

“Theatre is very character driven, and this show was very character driven, and one thing an actor can do in that environment that he can’t do in theatre is stand up for his character with the writers,” he says. “I started talking to the writers immediately about how I wanted Kai to develop. I didn’t want them to go all ‘Data’ with it because his whole thing was that he wanted to be human. Kai’s opinion was that he just wanted to be dead, and have it over with. He didn’t see what all the fuss was about.”

Of course, Kai was only one part of the triumvirate that comprised the main cast of Lexx, with Stanley Tweedle being the everyman schlub who didn’t always do the right thing, and the wayward love slave Zev (later Xev when the original actress Eva Habberman was replaced by Xenia Seeburg in the second season).

In the show, both Zev and Xev were in love with Kai, but Kai could not reciprocate. Love to him was an intellectual concept, and sex was quite impossible, as he was both decarbonized and gutted as a cyborg. There were to be no Wuthering Heights moments across a field of wheat in this romance. It was no-go from the beginning, which opened the door to some sprightly writing and some interesting set dynamics.

“When we first started, it was very complex,” he muses. “Eva was very much into me, not just as Kai, but as me, the actor, so it was easy for her to show her affection, but Kai was not one to be absorbing that affection. Here I am, this 40-something actor being admired by this pretty 17-year-old actress, and it was just a complex situation.”

When Seeburg took over the role because Haberman’s star status in Germany was on the rise, she wasn’t as star-struck. Seeburg studied at the Lee Strasberg Acting School in New York, as well as with Joan Costopoulos at the Actors Studio in New York, not to mention Margie Habor, Cherry Franklin and Annie Grindley of Hollywood Actors Workshops (HAW). She attached the role with a lot of talent and a lot of drive, and she was used to getting energy from her other stage performers to help energize her performance.

“Early on, Xenia went to Paul [Donovan, creator and executive producer of Lexx] and said that she wasn’t ‘feeling the love’ from Kai, and it was making it difficult for her,” he says. “And so Paul came to me and asked me why I wasn’t giving more on set, and I said, ‘Kai’s dead. Why would he? That’s the whole point of their relationship.’ And Paul thought about it for a minute, and then he said, ‘Oh, yeah.’”

McManus developed Kai in the theatrical tradition of creating a character from the ground up, starting on the page, and moving into the unwritten history of the character.

“This was a dead character, and the dead lose personality, but in this context, the dead don’t lose the potential for personality,” he says, focusing tighter on what made Kai interesting to him. “Everyone else around him approached life with an agenda, with things they want, and what Kai did was absorb and adapt those agendas from the people around him. He reacted, demonstrating that the dead are simply a mirror of the living. But that didn’t mean he aspired to be alive. His attitude was what’s so good about having feelings? What’s so good about living this life?”

But it’s been 10 years since the series began, and four years since they wrapped production on the last episode, and Kai is but a beehived icon and a lasting image in the genre firmament. But the character and the show has resonated so much, that the 10-year Lexx Cast Reunion taking place this weekend is one of the highlights of Timeless Destinations. And so McManus, on the eve of opening a production that will be one of the highlights of his career, traveled to Vancouver to meet with his fans and pay respect to the people who kept the show alive for four years internationally.

And pay his respects he does, speaking with some fans for 30 or 40 minutes individually, answering every question with focus and respect. This is McManus’ first convention, and so his frame of reference has yet to be spoiled by the massive cons we’re used to enduring. But maybe that wouldn’t matter, either, as the man who will be Macbeth goes off to share a smoke with yet another ardent female fan.

Even though he is, quite frankly, pooped.

Copyright © Tony and Diane Panaccio, edited by Eric Moro
dead, lexx, squish, brunneng, kai

Bonding, the Brunnen equivalent of Marriage

Bonding is the physiological joining that occurs between two Brunnens who wish to share a life together and bear children.

Question posed: What exactly is "bonding" and how could it be considered dangerous?

First and foremost, it is important to make a distinction between bonding practices on the original Brunnis, and bonding practices on Brunnis 2.
On the original Brunnis, there was no such thing as immortality. Our people were just as vulnerable to disease and death as other mortals.
On Brunnis 2, we no longer had these fears, as we were immortal now, and no longer had to worry about bonding complications.

I shall take up the topic of sex and bonding on the original Brunnis first.

When two unbonded Brunnens of similar interests and compatible personalities first meet, they will generally sense they have a "receptivity" to each other. This would take the form of emotional ties...feelings of a deep kinship and common frames of reference. This initial friendship alone would not be enough to drive them to desire to bond, however. There would also have to be a willingness on the part of both to share their lives and secrets with each other.

Generally, young Brunnens were not willing to do this until of a significant age. On the original Brunnis, most couples did not bond until they were at least 35-60 years of age (typical lifespans of Brunnens were on the order of 250 years). Bonding could occur as early as mid twenties, however, but it was generally frowned on before 30. Up to that point, most Brunnens were still trying to discover themselves and weren't mature enough to handle an entire lifetime with a soulmate.

You must understand, there really was no such thing as casual sex on Brunnis between unbonded partners. Sex (or at least act) always resulted in full bonding - that when combined with something known as "Synesthesis"(sin-es-thee-sis). It involved both partners touching each other's temples during the act of lovemaking. This solidified the psychic link between partners, and facilitated merging so that memories would flow freely between the two.

Of course, there were ways to get around the solidified bonding, as in avoidance of the final phase (the act itself), but generally this was only done by those highly practised in deep meditation techniques to discipline one self to not give in to the biochemical signals deep within one's brain compelling them to mate and solidify the bond. Even something as innocuous as a kiss, depending on the level of passion involved could bring about strong sexual feelings if the proclivity was already there.

Once these urges were initiated, the biochemical changes in the brain would begin to affect the emotional state of the bonding partners. Since Brunnens were highly empathic, they would begin to link up psychically, sharing images of memories and strong emotions. These emotions would inevitably grow stronger as the passion grew, until like a drug, it would eventually become overpowering.

Feuled with the intense desire to bond, the two would likely feel feverish and generally unwell until they finally gave in to their desires. Metabolically, their bodies, by this point, would already be feeding off of each other, and giving them a measure of discomfort. To be apart for long would be utter hell. The act of bonding, a blissful and welcome release. In that single act, they would become one psychically and physiologically.

They would begin to share memories, feelings, and even pick up a measure of the other's skills. Metabolically, they would experience radical changes in their bodies' chemistries. Males would then share a measure of their immune system with females. Females would share a measure of their empathic abilities and stamina. Thus, once bonded, males benefitted by gaining increased stamina and empathic receptivity, while females benefitted by gaining enhanced immune systems.

The reason for this was twofold. First, when a couple procreated, the enhanced immune system of the female helped her to ward off disease and illness for both her and the unborn child. For the male, enhanced stamina meant he could be a better protector and endure hardship more efficiently. Secondly, a weakened stamina in the female was hardly a hindrance, since the males actually tended to suffer more during the female's pregnancy than she would. As his immune system was weaker, he was the one to empathically experience "morning sickness" whereas females tended to feel great during pregnancy....a source of amusement to women everywhere, I am sure.

However, with these benefits also came drawbacks. For one thing, there really was such a thing as being incompatible. If a couple chose to mate without paying close attention to their own receptivity...which was known to happen particularly amongst the young and inexperienced who weren't attuned to their own psyches...let alone that of another, they would find themselves longing to bond with a mate that physicologically and psychically resisted merging. When this happened, both would become gravely ill as their metabolisms, closely linked to their psyches, resisted completing the bond. If their metabolism was sufficiently affected, death would generally follow. For this reason, offworlders were strictly, although not exclusively avoided.

Most offworlders did not possess enough empathic ability to bond with a Brunnen, and the Brunnen would end up dying in the process. Many Brunnens have died this way in battle too. It was not unheard of for captured Brunnen prisoners to be subjected to forced sex with an offworlder as a form of mental and physical torture. Death was generally inevitable in this case. As for male warriors, all warriors in active service were forbidden to bond. This was because, once bonded, couples could not be apart for too long without their metabolisms becoming unstable.

Also, if a partner were to die or be killed, the other would soon follow. Even children under the age of 2 were still physiologically linked to both parents, and if either died, the child would die too. Thus...you can imagine what would happen to a family if a bonded Tuath soldier were killed in battle. His lifemate would soon die, and so would their newborn child. This is why Tuaths were compelled to remain celibate, and partly why women did not become Tuath warriors. For one, as a matriarchical society, the women of Brunnis were highly respected, and they took their roles as nurturing parents, caregivers, physicians, and senseis very seriously. Brunnen children were not simply raised by the parents...but by the entire community as a whole. Women were seen as the lifeblood of Brunnis, whereas males were considered more or less expendible.

Just a quick note as well, for those wondering about same sex bonding. Just as in traditional bonding, the same metabolic joining occurs. However, if two males join, they both gain enhanced immunity. If two females join, they both gain enhanced stamina. However, they are just as capable of bearing and caring for offspring as traditional couples.

As for bonding on Brunnis 2, the same metabolic desires and shared dreams/memories and the like still occurred, although the heath issues were no longer a concern. However, sex also became less interesting to immortals, and most stopped practising it altogether once they reached an advanced age. Only younger Brunnens and Newborns still cared to bond and have children.

And of course, on Brunnis, just as anywhere else, prophylactics and contraceptive therapies existed and flourished. After all, even couples with children occasionally wanted to have sex without the complications of offspring. However, on the original Brunnis, couples were encouraged to bear at least one offspring that would carry on at least one parent's name. Couples inclined to bond, yet not inclined to have children were often looked down upon in a society that placed great value on raising the future of Brunnis.

Keep in mind, with all our genetic expertise, we had managed to do away with infertility long ago. Anyone was capable of having children if they wanted to do so...and surrogates were readily willing to serve as receptacles for those too weak to carry their own children to term... or incapable of doing so on their own, such as in the case of two bonded males. It was traditional, however, to not use protection during the act of bonding itself, as this was considered a sacred act. If a child was produced from this first union, it was believed the bonding had been blessed by the Prophet herself and the couple would be destined to have good fortune bestowed upon them.

On Brunnis 2, chemical sterilization took the place of most forms of protection. Only the newborns and younger Brunnens chose to occasionally bear offspring. The rest either chose abstinence or had themselves chemically sterilized. The traditional act of bonding without using protection was left up to the couple in question by this point.

As a tangible example of the power of Synesthesis, you can see I once requested the same of Zev when I attempted to acquire the many memories of His Divine Shadow in my search for the ultimate source of my protoblood, as demonstrated in the image below. As I was already bonded with Xiara, and no longer living, there was no longer any threat of my desiring to bond with Zev during this exchange. However, had I been alive, this act would have likely felt intrusive.

Dec. 20th, 2006

dead, lexx, squish, brunneng, kai

Sex and Bonding Issues in Brunnen Culture

Bonding is the physiological joining that occurs between two Brunnens who wish to share a life together and bear children.

Question posed: What exactly is "bonding" and how could it be considered dangerous?

First and foremost, it is important to make a distinction between bonding practices on the original Brunnis, and bonding practices on Brunnis 2.
On the original Brunnis, there was no such thing as immortality. Our people were just as vulnerable to disease and death as other mortals.
On Brunnis 2, we no longer had these fears, as we were immortal now, and no longer had to worry about bonding complications.

dead, lexx, squish, brunneng, kai

The Destruction of Pau, Brunnis' Moon

The Original Brunnis: A scorched and barren planet that inadvertently led to a reinvention of the Brunnen G culture and it's subsequent dependency on the Insects.

The destruction of Pau from an ancient massive comet (The Ipai
Bornal:white umbilicus) caused tremendous devastation to the original Brunnis on a global scale. As indicated before, it generated massive dustclouds that would blot out the sun, runaway greenhouse effects, uncontrolled wildfires, mass extinctions and epic pandemics. It was a wonder the Brunnens managed to survive at all during this period.

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