Do you find yourself sitting around on Sunday nights (or any night, if you have cable) watching The X-Files and laughing at how many times Agent Scully screams for Mulder?
You are not alone.
The X-Files has grown from a quirky show centered around two FBI agents' obsessions with UFOs and paranormal activity into an entertainment phenomenon that has spawned eight years' worth of television episodes and produced a big-budget Hollywood movie. Like any pop-culture touchstone, The X-Files has birthed a large fan base -- "X-philes" -- who fill chat rooms on the Internet and can recite lines from five-year-old episodes.
In 1995, a subset of this cultish following -- fans focused particularly on the Dana Scully character -- formed a worldwide Internet club celebrating the "sainthood" of Gillian Anderson's fictional persona: The Order of Blessed Saint Scully the Enigmatic. The club's Web site, www.obsse.com, is stuffed with intricate games and trivia that range from variations on Hangman to a version of Spin the Bottle that might make you kiss a mass murderer or an alien. For someone to join the club's "Abbey," he must pass an animated nun brandishing a musket who says, "We welcome new members, we love them, we adore them, we make sure they get their newbie implant chip."
The nun also urges new members to beware of "the evil Mulderists," who "are another matter entirely. They are those fiends who try to infiltrate the Abbey, with the intention of destroying equipment, leading young sisters and brothers astray, and drinking all of our orange juice."
The club boasts 2,000 members worldwide and has official chapters in nineteen U.S. cities, two in Canada, and one each in Perth, Australia and Oxford, England. This weekend, Denver's OBSSE-ives will host their second annual Scully Marathon at the Holtze Hotel.
The festivities are a benefit for Neurofibromatosis Inc., a worldwide organization that helps fund research, counseling and treatment for neurofibromatosis, a condition that damages the peripheral and central nervous systems (and is commonly confused with Proteus syndrome or "Elephant Man's disease"). The disease can cause skin tumors, mental retardation, learning disabilites, visual impairment, hearing loss and spinal tumors. Gillian Anderson's brother has it, and she is a spokesperson for the organization.
The Scully Marathon is "for the children," says Susan Moore, spokeswoman for the Denver chapter of OBSSE. "It's a lot of fun, I gotta tell you."
Last year the marathon was held in someone's home, and its success prompted this year's move to the hotel. But Moore promises the setting -- including a conference room with a six-foot projection screen on which to watch twelve Sullycentric shows -- will be very informal. The plan is to play games, laugh at how many times Mulder has a puzzled look on his face, count how often Scully gets shot (Moore says it happens more than you might think), critique the snazzy outfits Scully wears when she tromps through the surf off the coast of Africa or runs through the woods of the Pacific Northwest -- and watch television for charity.
"We love the show, but we're not over the edge," Moore says. "Folks should bring their sleeping bags and pillows, because we expect to spread out and move the chairs to the side."
One activity, however, is being discouraged this year. "Usually, we have a few [drinks], but the Holtze is discouraging us from having alcohol in the room," Moore says. Even so, there should be plenty to keep people occupied.
The most popular game is the Coin Toss, a twist on college drinking games based on popular shows like ER, Seinfeld and The Simpsons. Whenever Scully tells a lie, makes a call on her cell phone, screams for Mulder, does an autopsy or finds some green ooze in the middle of a forest, Moore says, partyers will toss coins into cans instead of taking swigs of beer or wine. The Fox Network has also donated T-shirts, original scripts from two X-Files shows -- including the episode "All Things," which was written and directed by Anderson -- and little flashlights that emit green lights. Moore is also trying to get a Scully Barbie, and has made a piñata in the shape of a UFO for X-philes to whack around later in the night.
Pizza is about as fancy as the food is expected to get, but most of the attendees are planning on bringing potluck dishes. So far, 28 people have RSVP'd. One is flying in from England, with another trekking in from New York City. "We are realistically hoping for forty people this year," Moore says.
Last year, OBBSE raised more than $13,000 in tax-deductible donations by holding marathons in all 23 cities where there are chapters. Although club members are soliciting sponsors to pledge money to each Scullyphile who attends the marathon, it's not necessary for all attendees to round up sponsors or donate, says Moore. "Attendance is free, but we encourage people to donate whatever they can. This is for fun, but there is a purpose behind it."