The Truth Is Right Here

"The Truth," as they say in the opening of each episode of The X-Files, "Is Out There." Now, just where out there it is they don't say, but we know: It's at the Stouffer. Yeah, the big hotel up at The Arboretum right here in Austin. What's more, it will be available for you to behold this coming Sunday afternoon.

Well, okay, maybe the Truth on display won't be the big Universal Truth, or even the Truth About the Government and all those covert alien encounters and experiments, to which agents Mulder and Scully devote so much effort investigating every Friday night, but it's the next best thing: It's the Truth About the Show! Sunday, 11am-6pm, the Stouffer Renaissance, 9721 Arboretum Boulevard, will be the site of an official X-Files Convention, at which fans can view behind-the-scenes footage, get a close-up look at props, and ask questions of people who actually work on The X-Files. Actors Mitch Pileggi (Skinner) and Nicholas Lea (Krycek), and story editor Frank Spotnitz will all be in attendance, giving presentations and fielding questions from attendees. (Also on hand will be plenty of X-Files T-shirts, stills, comics, cards, posters, and coffee mugs for sale.)

This Sunday's convention is the first in Austin and only the second in Texas. Creation Entertainment, the company sanctioned to produce the "official" conventions, staged the first one in San Diego in June and drew approximately 3,000 people. Since then, Creation has mounted some 30 conventions across the country, with the response being, in the words of Creation spokeswoman Mary Anderson-Harris, "amazing." Typically, thousands have shown up for each event, and Creation has been swamped with interest in future conventions. When the company aired a convention ad earlier this year that featured the Creation address, it received 10,000 cards and letters. From that response, Creation determined which cities contained significant numbers of fans and began to set convention sites in those cities.

Austinites interested in attending might want to make arrangements sooner rather than later. In other cities, huge numbers of fans have been turned away. Anderson-Harris reports that the Stouffer is equipped to handle 1,400. Austin Books, which is selling advance tickets, reports that sales are brisk and phone calls for info have been heavy; they expect to move 600 tickets by Sunday, which is as much as they have ever sold for a local Star Trek convention.

By the way, if the popular image of a Trekkie get-together is putting you off to the idea of attending the X-Files confab, you might be interested in knowing that the two are aliens from different planets. Anderson-Harris notes that "you don't see people in costume the way you do at a Star Trek convention. It's a little more low-key. Fox is very much involved with making sure the tone of the convention is exactly the tone of the show."

Tickets to the convention run $13 in advance or $16 at the door (children 7-12 $10, children six and under free). You can purchase them at Austin Books, 5002 N. Lamar, or take your chances trying for free tickets in a contest sponsored by local Fox affiliate KTBC, channel 7, during the 10pm Friday newscast. -- Robert Faires

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