The X Files Expo
Navy Pier Chicago • 4.18.98 -4.19.98
The sixth stop on a ten-city tour, this year’s larger and more elaborate version of the fan conventions, which took place in hotel ballrooms a few years ago, is more interactive to give the show’s intense cult following a feeling they’re physically linked with the show. “There’s such a huge following. Twenty million people watch this show every week,” says Sabrina Ironside, Executive Director of worldwide promotions for 20th Century Fox Television. “It’s very interesting to see. We’ll get there on Saturday morning, and there will be five thousand people lined up outside the door before they even open. And they stay all day long. So it’s been really interesting to see how dedicated these fans are to come in to see the stars, and to see what else they can learn about The X-Files. The purpose of the Expo was to give more back to the fans, allowing them to see it, touch it, feel it, and hear it even closer.”
So, as you enter the Expo (your hand stamped with an “X” to permit reentry into the venue), you find yourself going through a smoky maze of file cabinets to simulate the atmosphere of the show. There’s also evidence to examine, such as the liver in the jar from the episode “Tooms”; the finger in ice: a “trophy” of sorts Mulder discovered in a box of frozen vegetables being kept by death fetishist Donnie Pfaster in “Irresistible”; or the more “mundane” parka Special Agent Mulder wore in “End Game,” when he tracked down the Alien Bounty Hunter to an abandoned submarine in the Arctic.
One also has the opportunity to take a picture in Mulder or Skinner’s office (via “green screen technology”), or standing next to the car that Scully and Mulder drive in the movie, a black Oldsmobile Intrigue, which, no doubt, is the corporate sponsor of the event. In some cases, as in Washington D.C., the interaction is taken a step further, as attendees find the Expo taking place at an actual military base, or in an airplane hangar. Although David Duchovny (to my own disappointment) and Gillian Anderson (said to have appeared at the New York Expo some days later) weren’t in appearance, a limited number of fans were able to line up and collect autographs from actors Mitch Pileggi (Assistant Director Skinner), Chicagoan Steven Williams (X), Tom Braidwood (Frohike, one of the Lone Gunmen), and comedian Dean Haglund (Ringo Langley, one of the other Lone Gunmen), who treated the audience to an improvised X Files episode which included audience participation.
For the diehard fan, there was an auction (benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Fund) of autographed X Files merchandise. Or the X Files trivia contest where twenty people attempt to answer some of the show’s more subtle details:
1. What number Eve was Sally Kendrick in the episode “Eve?”
2. Frohike’s first name is Marvin. (T/F)
3. The “Hokey Pokey” is playing on the record player when Polly’s teacher, Jane, is killed in the episode “Chinga.” (T/F)
4. Scully tries to destroy the Chinga doll in the trash compactor. (T/F)
5. The vampire in “Bad Blood” laces the pizza with chloral hydrate. (T/F)
6. What is do the “10” and the “13” stand for in Ten Thirteen Productions logo that appears in the credits at the end of the show?
(My own personal favorite was the one that appeared on the 9 o’clock news that evening: “Do you believe the government conspires to cover up U.F.O.’s? Fifty seven percent said yes.”)
By process of elimination, via a wrong answer given, the pool eventually dwindles down to one winner, entitling him or her to win still more X Files merchandise, such as the X Files flashlight that shines on the “X” in the X Files.
I don’t watch the show diligently enough to have answered most of these questions. At times, I was a little bored by the event (which really is only for the diehard fan), but I can understand why there’s such an “X-citement” brewing for the show, as it’s very well written. The Expo is generating enough hype that I may even go see the upcoming X Files movie.
Mum’s the word on the plot of the movie. (The eight-minute teaser, shown exclusively at the convention, will only tell us that the movie will predominantly take place in an ice cave.) So we’ll have to be content with this, the X-philes’ answer to a Trekkie convention, until the PG-13-rated film hits theaters on June 19th. Thus, we’ll just have to wait and see if Scully gets knocked up by an alien. Until then, “trust no one.”
Answers: Eve #8; False: It’s Melvin; True; False: Scully kills the doll in the microwave oven; True; X Files creator Chris Carter’s birth date: October 13th.
(What’s a U.F.O.?)