The desire to be regarded as "normal" is hampered some by their attachment to a show that features aliens, liver-eating mutants and forms of witchcraft as plot staples. But only about half of the fans she has met, said Mackey, believe in the paranormal--not inconsistent with Gallup polls during the last 20 years, which consistently have found that half of Americans believe UFOs are real.
The fans Carter has met are intelligent professionals. "People are always sure that I'm having to deal with the weirdos who have crawled out of the woodwork," he said. "That just is not the case."
Viewers don't like "The X-Files" because it validates specific beliefs; They like it because it validates their intelligence. "It's one of the few shows out there that doesn't cater to the lowest common denominator," said Guy Jackson, 39, an aerospace software engineer. "They try to stay on a higher level, [and say] 'Let's make you think a little about this.' "
Fans like Jackson, who has been to four conventions already, are more likely to discuss the show's stylish editing than the attractiveness of its stars.
That doesn't, however, mean there won't be some swooning going on when Gillian Anderson makes her X-Files convention debut. The GATB--Gillian Anderson Testosterone Brigade--undoubtedly will be out in full force.
Anderson, naturally, is a little nervous. In the last two years she went from unknown off-Broadway actress to TV star. She senses that more people recognize her in public; the number of people who approach her has tripled. She gets loads of fan mail from all over the world.
But none of that has prepared her for the X-Philes en masse.
"I'm not one for crowds," she said on the phone from Vancouver where the show is filmed. "It looks like it's going to be a huge event and I've got nothing to say. . . . Apparently I'm supposed to get up on stage and talk for a few minutes." She mocks herself: "Hi. Thanks for liking the show. I'm glad to be here."
All she really needs to say is: Any questions?
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
* WHAT: "The X-Files" Convention.
* WHERE: Burbank Hilton, 2500 Hollywood Way, Burbank.
* WHEN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
* HOW MUCH: $17-$50.
* CALL: Ticketmaster at (213) 480-3232. For information, (818) 409-0960.