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It was a bright and sunny day in Los Angeles, yet inside it felt dark, like a storm was about to roll in. The Shrine Auditorium is old and full of character, but has very poor lighting, you see. So poor, in fact, that every time I turned around I expected it to be raining right there inside the building.
But no, there were no aqueous aggressors there to drench my S-emblem finery as I manned the Superfan Homepage table at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Sci-Fi convention. But there was a storm of another sort -- fanboys.
Yes, you know them as well as I, for like me, you are one of them. They stopped by in a steady stream to shoot the breeze and tell me how incredibly awesome I am (replace "me" with "SupermanHomepage" and you'll actually find a grain of truth to that sentence).
If you're one of those fine folks who stopped by to say how much you loved the site, speak up and let me know. We can reminisce about that convention where we saw each other, so, so long ago.
Several folks even said they found out about the convention from this here Jim dandy Superman site, which was doubly cool with... something even cooler on top. I have a way with words, don't I?
We had a fine table, in the middle of the floor and facing the door. Thanks to Bruce for that, we really couldn't have had a much better location. The location was so good, in fact, that I had the good fortune of seeing Supergirl walk by our table several times.
I have no idea who she was, but her wig looked cheap and her costume expensive. Pretty movie-accurate, except for the boots which looked a little like Supergirl was headed to a gentleman's club afterward. But who am I to judge?
Oh yeah, and the original Supergirl, Helen Slater, walked past our table too, on the way to her own table where she was signing autographs and generally looking so radiant that she provided the room with a second source of sunlight.
But back to the Supergirl with stripper shoes.
No? Fine, I'll talk more about Helen then, you zealous fanboys! I'm not even done writing this article and I've already got three people telling me to talk more about Ms. Slater or assassins will be called in. You guys are quick.
About halfway through her autograph signing session I sauntered on over to her table. I arrived as she was signing an autograph and talking with a fan who'd seen everything she'd ever been in, even television shows he never watched otherwise. She seemed quite touched by that, and just as I was about to introduce myself, another fella walked up to the table.
Earlier in the day, this same guy had sat himself down at a chair at the Homepage table and proceeded to show me two full memory chips full of photos of people in costumes that he took at Dragon*Con. Nice fella, just a little forward. It's a character trait he decided to dust off and use again at Ms. Slater's table.
He approached the table on his cell phone, a goofy smile on his face. He apologized for interrupting me, but I waved him off and let him continue on. This was already a good story and he hadn't done anything yet.
"Helen?" he said, apparently already on a first-name basis with her. "I know this is strange but my friend Clint, that I had you sign an autograph for, is on the phone. Would you talk to him really quick?"
She looked shocked, but smiled and agreed. She took the phone, said hello, and sat there looking confused and shrugging for a few moments. Then she said it was a pleasure talking to Clint and handed the phone back to Mr. Forward, who looked like a kid at Christmas, thanked her, and ran away talking about how embarrassed he was.
She looked up at me, a curious expression on her face.
"Does stuff like that happen often?" I wondered aloud.
She smiled. "That was a first."
And lo, I asked her if she had a few minutes and if she would mind doing a quick interview for SupermanHomepage. And yea verily she did accept and I went behind the autograph table and one of her helpers gave me his chair, and thus it was the evening and the morning all at once with the poor lighting, and how it came to be I spent five minutes with Supergirl.
Q: It's been over twenty years since you filmed Supergirl. How odd is it for you to be sitting here signing autographed photos of you as Supergirl some two decades later?
Helen: Well "Supergirl" wasn't a huge hit when it came out, so it's surprising. But twenty years ago? I couldn't have anticipated I'd be sitting here signing autographs and taking photos.
Q: You did voiceover work as Talia on "Batman: The Animated Series" and are going to be on "Smallville" this season. You realize that now the fans will never let you go.
Helen: (Laughs) The fans have this... encyclopedic knowledge that's really extraordinary. This is only the second one of these [conventions] I've done, but now I can really appreciate the impact it has on the fans.
Q: Did you enjoy the voice acting? Is it more difficult for you than acting on screen, because there's no one to bounce the lines off of?
Helen: You use the same acting skills whether it's on-screen or voice acting, so I didn't find it more difficult. But it is a lot of fun. I did voice acting one other time, for a movie... like the "Prince of Egypt" but the exact title slips my mind at the moment. I'm friends with the director, I'll have to ask him (laughs again).
Q: And "Smallville" this season, how many episodes are you doing?
Helen: I've shot two so far, but there could always be more.
Q: How did that come about?
Helen: They just called me up completely out of the blue.
Q: Was it a lot of work filming those scenes?
Helen: You know, it wasn't too bad, they're very efficient. But any one-hour drama... I've done "Grey's Anatomy" and "Law & Order" and they are just a lot of work. I'm raising two kids, so acting roles are hard for me to do.
Q: So you've been working on your music more?
Helen: Yeah, the CDs are expensive to make, but I have two, "Crossword" and "One of These Days" and they're available through CDbaby.com and I'm actually making money on them now, which is nice. I'm also working on some children's musicals that I'd like to see done at performing arts schools. I have one I wrote about Cupid and Psyche, and ideally I'd want the kids to write the music in the future. It would be performed by high school kids.
Q: You also appeared on an episode of "Seinfeld". Jerry Seinfeld is a well known huge Superman fan... did he call you up and ask you to come do the show?
Helen: Actually Jason Alexander is a friend of mine, and he directed that episode. He just called me up and asked if I would do it, it was a very last-minute thing.
Q: I've taken up enough of your time, but one last thing before I go. You met Christopher Reeve before filming "Supergirl", right?
Helen: It was while I was filming "Supergirl", actually. I was at the studios filming and he was there shooting "Superman III", I think it was.
Q: What was that like?
Helen: (She pauses for a moment, looking a little sad) He was a kind, intelligent, warm, remarkable man. I really miss him.
I thanked her again for her time, and she smiled and shook my hand.
And this will sound cliché, or fictional, but I assure you it's nothing but the truth. The woman has a grip of steel. My hand hurt afterward.
And be sure to stop by her official website at HelenSlater.com
Thanks again to Bruce Schwartz for the table at the con and for being an all-around great guy to talk to, and a very special thanks to Helen Slater for taking time out of her schedule for the interview.