BURBANK, CA—Paulette Osley, 24, a moderately attractive fan of the Sci-Fi Channel series Farscape, had her self-image inflated to dangerous levels during the three-day ScaperCon 2004, according to Pepperdine University professor of psychology Wes Martin.
"Let's face it, Paulette is pretty ordinary," Martin said, reviewing a tape of Osley's participation in a convention trivia contest Monday. "I mean, she's cute and all, but the men at ScaperCon treated her like she was [Farscape actress] Raelee Hill. Going from being someone who might get hit on once or twice a year to the belle of the ball and then back to nothing again, all within four days? It could be damaging to Paulette's long-term mental health."
Osley attended the convention from Friday to Sunday, freely and confidently mingling with the 85 percent male crowd at the Hilton Burbank Airport and Convention Center.
"From the moment she walked in the door, Paulette was the object of admiring glances," Martin said. "Everywhere she went, men were awkwardly trying to make conversation with her, flirting with her using Farscape dialogue, and inviting her to season-finale-watching parties in their hotel suites. Although she only came in 14th in the trivia contest, her adorable blush, her nervous giggle, and the fact that she was female earned her many admirers."
Farscape fan Jack Brisbois was among the men who noticed Osley.
"When I was in line waiting to get my Farscape David Kemper autograph card signed by David Kemper, there was this chick talking to me for the entire hour," said Brisbois, who said he would rate Osley "7 or 8" if he saw her on Hotornot.com. "She was from Oklahoma and really into Quantum Leap. She also knew a lot about Final Fantasy games. I was about to make a move, but then some other guy walked up and gave her a free copy of his fanzine, and suddenly it was as if I'd been transported to another galaxy. Damn, that chick was cold."
Bolstered by the attention, Osley began to actively seek more of it.
"Usually, Paulette is pretty shy," Osley's longtime friend and fellow Farscape fan Sarah Baltazar said. "But at ScaperCon, it was as if she was trying out a new personality. She adopted a louder laugh, and whenever men were around, she was rude to the hotel staff. She also kept making jokes about blow jobs. How could I convince her to dial it down a notch? The guys were eating it up."
"She kept reapplying this glitter makeup she had," Baltazar added. "At first it was just around her eyes, but through the night it spread to her chest, until it was all over her arms, and then on half the guys there."
Baltazar said that it was after being hit on by three different men at the hotel bar on Saturday night that Osley's ego reached truly perilous heights. The next day, Osley appeared dressed like Chiana, the straw-haired, pale-skinned, highly sexualized alien played by Gigi Edgley. The revealing outfit earned Osley the type of attention she lacks in her day-to-day life as a Target cashier in Tulsa.
"The night we went to Perkins really late, everyone was asking Paulette about her costume, even men who weren't from ScaperCon," Baltazar said. "At one point, she was smooshed into a booth with these five traveling businessmen. A couple of them wrote their e-mail addresses on napkins for her."
According to Baltazar, Osley hadn't received that much attention since attending the last Farscape convention a year ago, when she dressed as the blue-skinned, bald Delvian priestess Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan and received nearly nonstop requests to drop her robe, in reference to the character's actions in Season 1, Episode 4, "Throne For A Loss."
"There was a photo sticker booth in the game room, and Paulette was dragging everyone into it with her," Baltazar said. "Seriously, she went from lap to lap for about an hour."
The attention led Osley to flirt with Farscape actor Paul Goddard during an autograph signing. After handing Goddard a poster to sign, Osley said he could sign anywhere he wanted. Laughing coyly, she added, "And I mean anywhere."
"I don't think [Osley] would have the courage to approach Goddard for change for a dollar if he was some guy at work," Martin said. "He was in The Matrix, for crying out loud. How could she think she had a prayer with him?"
Martin said he was worried about the lingering effects of the weekend.
"A confidence boost for Paulette is a good thing, but I think she's headed for a crash," Martin said. "A girl who can spout detailed specs of leviathan spaceships appeals to a very limited niche. After having a man in every merch booth tell her how great she'd look in a Farscape half-shirt, it's got to be an enormous let-down to go back to having men bump into her because they didn't even notice her standing there."
"I assume she'll deal with it like she always has," he added. "By posting convention photos of herself to Farscape fan sites, then hoping for some drooling online responses to soften the blow."