Whoosh! Issue 13 - October 1997


A Whoosh! Archive Project
By Diane Silver
Copyright © 1997 held by author
13635 words all sections

Author's Note: This is a work in progress. Think of it as a web site that is always under construction. Undoubtedly this first attempt at a cyber history will contain some errors and omissions. If you find any errors or have any additional information, please contact Diane Silver directly at dswriter@idir.net. Corrections will be posted in either future issues of Whoosh! or XMR (Xena Media Review).

Introduction (01-13)
First Xena Web Site and Xena Chat On AOL (14-23)
The Xena Netforum (24-29)
The First Xena Mailing List (30)
The Term "Xenite" (31-32)
Xena Withdrawal Syndrome (33-34)
January 1996 (35-38)
March 1996 (39-44)
April 1996 (45-46)
May/June 1996 (47-49)
Acknowledgements (50)
Direct Links (51-196)

A Cyber History of the Online Xena Community:
Part I -- September 1995 To June 1996


I'm Fred, HAL's brother.  Gidday!

How many person-hours have been spent by Xenaverse inhabitants in front of one of these?

[01] Imagine a time when Xena: Warrior Princess was a hidden treasure. Most folks found the show by accident while they channel surfed, and if they became obsessive fans, they had no one to talk to. There were no XenaFests, no professionally run Xena conventions and no fan clubs. The NetForum did not exist. There were no mailing lists, no message boards, no chat rooms, no web sites and no online magazines about Xena: Warrior Princess. Few newspaper or magazine articles had been written about the show, and no one in the media had even begun to talk about its possible cultural significance. Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor were unknown actresses. No one even had a clue as to the actresses true hair color. An important point in early Xenadom. Trust me on that.

[02] The whole wacky net journey began a month after the show premiered on U.S. television. In September 1995, the first episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, entitled SINS OF THE PAST (#01), aired on U.S. television nine months after the debut of its parent show, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. On October 5, 1995, MCA-Universal debuted the Xena Netforum.

[03] "Everything was new," said Sandi-J (sandij@verinet.com), the current list manager of the Hercules-Xena mailing list and early online Xena fan. "When someone new showed up, we all noticed. It was a time when you knew everybody's name, or nick[name]. Any tiny bit of information about Lucy [Lawless] was received with glee. We knew nothing about her then. Same with Renee [O'Connor]. When a newbie came on to the Forum and asked questions, they got 15 people jumping in to answer questions. It was almost a mad frenzy at first to see who could find information about Lucy and Renee first."

[04] Carol Burrell, who runs the Xena site at Logomancy, called the atmosphere a "small-town feel."

[05] "The early days were cosy, safe, a small-town feel -- a special secret you shared with only a few other people, something to smile about in the middle of the day with a certain quiet pride. Politeness reigned perhaps because we were so close-knit."

[06] Robin Grinnell (rgrinnel@pop.calpoly.edu), another early online fan, said, "There was a lot of excitement and wonder at the series and its quality (the actresses, writers and producers), and there seemed to be more interaction between fewer members. I remember BBQ's search for a Xena hat, for example." (BBQ, or Dr. BBQ as he was later known, eventually did receive a crew hat autographed by Ms. Lawless. This happened long before Universal started selling the hats commercially.)

[07] In one sense, the early days of online Xenadom were easier, Artemis said. "Everyone was 'up to speed' and everyone watched the shows together. We didn't have too much of 'Who's Xena, and what are you guys talking about now' kinda things."

[08] Producers from the show and other Xena: Warrior Princess staff began posting to the NetForum. Sometimes fans even found themselves in lengthy e-mail conversations with staff who were hungry for any kind of feedback. At least one fan exchanged private e-mail with Executive Producer Rob Tapert.

[09] XenaStaff said they were first drawn to the Internet by their thirst for feedback.

[10] "This was the first TV show I had edited, so I was very keen to to find out whether or not people liked the show - and specifically what things did or didn't work for them," said Avicus, aka editor Robert Field, "anything that I felt I might be able to utilize to help make the shows better. Not only that, it didn't hurt any to hear good things and realize that the show was hitting an audience and succeeding."

I can't walk and load film at the same time!

Steve Sears, aka Tyldus.

[11] Tyldus, aka Steven L. Sears, writer and supervising producer, said he got more than just feedback.

[12] "I don't look at the online fandom as being an extension of my work," Tyldus said. "I look at it as being a group of people who share a common interest. Some have become fairly good friends with me and I hope it remains that way after the series is over (whenever that is!)"

[13] In its first weeks of existence, the NetForum averaged nine posts a day. After a month, there had only been a total of 287 posts. One year later, the average number of messages posted on the NetForum was nearly 300 a day. "It was certainly a smaller group of people," Sandi-J said. "For a couple months, the Xena NetForum had only about 30 - 50 posters."

First Xena Web Site and Xena Chat on AOL

[14] Carol Burrell launched the first Xena web site, the Xena site at Logomancy. "As soon as I heard there was going to be a new program, I phoned Renaissance for permission to start a web site," Burrell said, noting that she did not want to "step on any toes." "The person I spoke with didn't really know what I was talking about, but told me to go ahead and do what I wanted. And thus an obsession started."

[15] For more information about Carol's launch of the Logomancy site, see Carol Burrell's interview.

[16] The first Xena chat anywhere in cyberspace happened on Sunday, October 8, 1995 in the Lawless chat room on America On-Line(AOL). GONEGRA, the founder of that chat, likes to laugh about that very first chat. She was the only person who showed up that night. A week later, on October 15, she had better luck. As she was waiting in the room and wondering if anyone else would show up, someone with the nickname of Tyldus arrived.

[17] Tyldus said the early chats were easy going.

[18] "Mostly, it was people asking me questions about the show and what I did," he said. "It was a 'feeling out' period, where we were all trying to see what each other was like. I think more than a few people didn't believe I was who I said I was."

[19] Eventually, two fans nicknamed Nitefall and Trillian also arrived and participated in that first Xena chat. In later chats, Avicus became an active participant.

Now if only I could use my magician skills to edit episodes.
Hey, wait a minute, I *do*!

Robert Field, aka Avicus.

[20] "In the early days of the AOL chats, I kept a low profile and didn't reveal for the longest time that I worked on the show," he said. "I was more interested in seeing what people to to say without revealing that a 'staffer' was in the chat room with them. I really wasn't trying to be sneaky, but I didn't want to appear to be someone who was looking for special attention or some kind of ego gratification. I also wanted to preserve (to some degree) my privacy. So, I kept quiet and just observed, for the most part."

[21] Avicus said that for a while he was able to remain anonymous.

[22] "However, after a period of time I started answering questions about specific things about the show and it became obvious to people that I must be working on the series in some capacity. In one particular AOL chat - Michael Levine - director: CRADLE OF HOPE and ALTARED STATES, etc. - caught me giving out some show-specific information about CHARIOTS OF WAR and asked me via IM (immediate message) who the he** I was. So, eventually it got out that I was a film-editor on the show."

[23] For more information on the chats, see GONEGRA on the Birth of Xena Chats. Click here for interviews with Tyldus and Avicus.

The Xena Netforum

[24] The NetForum, however, remained the focus of much of the early activity.

[25] "I posted maniacally in the MCA NetForum and exchanged a lot of private e-mail with other fans," Burrell said. "It was reassuring to know there were other people interested in the program; I needed that reassurance. I didn't feel so strange and alone."

[26] "Basically, every day, I would go to the forum and read all of the postings and replies," said fan Scott Anderson. "Can you even imagine a time when that was possible? After a few weeks, the number would exceed 20 or 30, so you would adjust the "get 10 latest postings" query to get the latest 40. Wow. I remember when someone posted that the total number of posts was around 200 and that the forum was closing in on the Hercules count."

[27] Richard Carter Jr. said, "I was able to read the entire online collected wisdom in about an hour ... then several weeks later, MCA posted the web address at the end of the show, and the NetForum exploded."

[28] MCA-Universal first posted the address of its official web site in the credits of the episode, THE TITANS (#07), which was released October 30, 1995.

[29] As more people discovered the NetForum, the small-town feel of the place began to fade. Trolls showed up, but they were often vanquished by a group effort, which was often led by Artemis. (Trolls are nasty critters who appear in human form, but delight in posting messages to cyberspace that lead to arguments, discord and flame wars.) The number of posts began to increase at a rapid rate.

The First Xena Mailing List

[30] But as the NetForum began to feel overwhelming, fans created other places for cyber gatherings. By the end of November, the alt.tv.xena newsgroup had been created. In December, Arbiter set up the first Xena mailing list, which was called "Xena" and was a moderated list. The first welcome letter was short and to the point.

Subject: Welcome to xena!!!
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 95 22:49:47 PST
Welcome to xena, the Xena: Warrior Princess discussion list!

Now, for the rules: There aren't any. Well, not strictly true. Don't post things that aren't (at least vaguely) related to the show. Don't say mean things to other people on the list. But, I don't expect any problems, again, though I do reserve the right to boot people from the list for excessive abuse, but I've never had to make use of this before.
Yours in Xena,

your friendly neighborhood list admin

The Term "Xenite"

[31] By the end of the first week in January, 1996, IRC (InterRelay Chat) Xena chats had begun. Online Xenadom was embroiled in a debate over what fans should call themselves. Fans from Lord Nelson to Artemis, Venator, Athena, BBQlight and Heparin argued, joked, cajoled and spluttered irritatedly about whether to use the word XenaPhile, Xenamaniacs, Xenaholics, Xenai, Xenatistas, Xenuts, Xenites or one of several other terems. The term "Xenite", coined by Venator, was the favorite of many fans. Other fans opposed it. Lord Nelson complained that the word "Xenite" was the same as a term used on the original Star Trek for a harmful mineral that was mined by slaves. The Xena mailing list took up the debate. Here are just two of the posts.

From: artemis@inlink.com
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 1996 20:38:18 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Xenites

Actually the term Xenite is more than a star trek reference (I don't think trek has any influence on this show at all). Xenite is what you would call a worshiper of Xena. Like temples, or churches.

I like the name.

Date: Mon, 8 Jan 1996 22:25:35 -0600 (CST)
From: Richard Gonzalez (gonzalez@freenet.msp.mn.us)
Subject: Re: Copy of: Re: stepping out of bounds

On Mon, 8 Jan 1996, Rita Schnepp wrote:

> For what it's worth, I like the sound of XenaPHile
> more than Xenite.
> Glad you used it, Karen.

OH, come ON!!

For once, a pair of shows come on like no other. Hercules comes on and it is quite an intriguing thing to us. Hercules takes the US by raincloud. Then, a character captures our imagination like a fly to a light. She's sensuous yet in control, a warrior and yet a hero, down-to-earth yet mysterious. Xena takes us...by STORM! (Is there a NetForum for Hercules???!!)

This mailing list now reaches 100+ members, and the show's ratings continues to rise. We find new converts. Meanwhile, the X-Files is running also. The show is extremely popular, and is in a class of it's own. X-Philes rise up, a new name for a new genre of mystery.

Now, I ask you--are we to be so unoriginal as to manipulate the name of X-Files fans and make it our own? No! Let us continue to be imaginative and set our class of fans apart from all others. We are Xenites. We're starting to make a name for ourselves. Let's not ruin it by changing it now. "Xenites" is perfect name for a perfect group of fans.

But then, I will remain with you guys through whatever. If we do decide to change our name and classify ourselves as "just another name," I'll still follow. But I'm asking you guys to be a leader--stand up for whatever name you want yourself to be known as. But, if we STILL want a re-naming, I want it to be official. It should be something we all want, NOT what just a few people decided.

So, I *urge* you to input your feedback!! Let's hear from you other 75 or so who we haven't heard from and let's settle this before it becomes a disaster, like the "redwolf incident."

Now a Xenite, forever a Xenite,

[32] In the end, of course, the term "Xenite" became the preferred name and was later used by Jetthead for the Xenite Club, which produces the Xenite Newsletter and was briefly the Official Lucy Lawless Fan Club. For more information on some of the first activities of the Xenite Club, see an interview with Brette on Fandom and the first Xenite Club Fan Mailing to Lucy Lawless.

Xena Withdrawal Syndrome

[33] Meanwhile, fans began to identify a strange illness that seemed to be sweeping their ranks. A fan who went by the nickname of Gambit first mentioned it.

Date: Sat, 6 Jan 1996 01:00:21 -0600 (CST)
From: Richard Gonzalez (gonzalez@freenet.msp.mn.us)

Xenites everywhere--

It's happened again. I get to Tuesday, and it starts. Wednesday, it grows. By Thursday, it's worse. And now it's Friday night and I'm in my 4th stage of Xena weekday withdrawal syndrome. (XWWS--Medical Term) Where I live, Xena's on every Sunday night and every Saturday they replay the one from last Sunday. Now I only have about 10 hours until my cure is prolonged, but only until it will inevitably return every weekday. What a rush. 8-o

[34] Heparin entered the discussion with the first "clinical" description of this strange disorder.

DATE: 1/17/96 11:54 pm.

XWWS Bulletin

XWWS, or Xena Weekday Withdrawal Syndrome, was first identified and described on the XenaList, January 6, 1996 by a sufferer named Gambit. His words: "I get to Tuesday and it starts. Wednesday, it grows. By Thursday, it's worse. And now it's Friday night and I'm in my fourth stage."

Illness appears progressive, feverlike. Undulating, cyclical qualities.

Symptoms include: bringing Xena into every conversation, acute restlessness, computer overuse syndrome, web page building, calling every comics store within a hundred mile radius in search of magazines, posters and dolls, (I mean action figures!), preoccupation with Thracian music and, in extreme phases, requesting of head lopping by Ninjas (see case study Athena/1).

Sufferers have described something they call "the look" given to them by friends, family and passersby in response to the behaviors described above. A measurement team has been dispatched in order to quantify and track these "looks."

A hot tip about its contagion lead, for once, to immediate attention from the National Science Foundation, who immediately dispatched an investigative team. When no reports were forthcoming, it was found that the initial investigators had succumbed to the syndrome. Strict precautions were taken to avoid the infection of the second team, whose report follows:

Interim Report on NSF study on XWWS...(#1)

Submitted hypothesis re: worsening of syndrome in late December and perhaps in summer. Control (No Xena) group and experimental (Xena) groups assembled, but control group mutiny during experimental group's Xena screening resulted in everyone receiving the experimental treatment and having a really good time. Security video camera tapings show scientists and security running from the building, followed, shortly thereafter, by tall, dark-haired woman and her blonde female companion.

Interim report on NSF study on XWWS...(#2)

The remaining, uninfected members of the scientific team regrouped and explored the hypothesis that support groups may alleviate XWWS. Then found out, that's how it spreads!!!

Interim report on NSF study on XWWS...(#3)

Entirely new team of scientists formed from area that does not receive television.

Interim report on NSF study on XWWS...(#4)

National conference called in cyberspace by coalition group of scientists, the infected and ancient healers, who propose participant observation of the phenomenon. Swordplay ensues, and, under threat of bringing in a certain "Problem Solver," NSF capitulates. More reports to follow.

Respectfully submitted by Dr. Heparin

January 1996

[35] Online Xenadom continued to grow at an ever-quickening pace. Every day new things happened and new forums for discussion appeared. In January, Artemis launched her web site.

[36] "I taught classes at MoTech on internet and web design, so it was a calling at that point. I had wanted to put up a web site, but didn't have a drive until Xena came about," Artemis said.

[37] For a brief period, the Xena site at Logomancy developed by Burrell and Artemis' site were the only Xena web pages in existence. "For a while, Artemis and I were in friendly competition, trying to best each other's web site each week," Burrell said.

[38] For more information about Artemis' adventures with her web site, see her interview at Artemis on Fandom and Her Web Page.

March 1996

[39] By the end of March, Arbiter had started a second Xena mailing list known as Xenaverse, which was a bit sillier than the Xena list and allowed fans to engage in "fluff" role-playing.

No one knows it yet, but I'm really that new Borg chick on VOYAGER!

Kym Taborn, aka Ruthless Taskmistress.

[40] In March 1996, our very own Kym Taborn, International Association of Xena Studies top dog and Whoosh editor, gave birth to the Xena Media Review (XMR). She said she decided to launch XMR because of her fascination with the series.

[41] "By the time I had seen my 4th or 5th episode I was doomed," said Kym. "From that point on I instinctively tried to find out as much information about the show as humanly possible. I started a database of references to the show, especially newspapers and magazines. The database grew and grew and I used it to refer to things online. Some peers noticed and asked for copies. Pretty soon I was doing a side business of supplying people media references to XWP. Then it occurred to me that I could make a newsletter out of this material.

[42] "At the time I was editing a Star Trek fan newsletter and I wanted to start another. I had researched a few ideas about doing a ST novel-based one, a B5 one and an MST3K one. None of those really panned out, but then XWP barged into my life. It was an early fandom and I felt this was an opportunity I could not miss. I had felt I had missed jumping on the boat with early ST fandom. I felt that Xena fandom had great potential and that I would not be wasting my time taking on such a huge (and I mean huge) project. The gamble was not only whether the Xena fans would be interested in reading essentially old news about the show and its primary actors, but whether they wanted to read commentary as well. I discovered that not only is there a demand for that, but I can't even keep up with it! Even with a staff of 5 people working at it."

[43] XMR was the first regular X:WP fan magazine to be published that was not associated with a fan club. Actually, XMR may have been the first Xena publication to be produced by any group in any media. For a complete interview with Kym on the birth of XMR, go to Kym Taborn on Xena Media Review.

[44] On March 31, Tyldus posted Lucy Lawless' first message thanking fans for their support. (To see the text of all Lawless' messages to her fans go to the Whoosh! FAQ .)

April 1996

[45] In April, technical problems forced Xenaverse to shut down, but two weeks later two new list administrators, Spikus and Penthsilia, started a temporary by soon-to-be permanent XenaVerse mailing list. At about the same time, Arbiter announced that he could no longer run the Xena mailing list, and shut it down. Meanwhile, SandiJ launched the Herc-Xena mailing list for folks who want to discuss both shows.

[46] For more information on the birth of XenaVerse, see an interivew with Spikus at Spikus on Fandom and the Birth of the XenaVerse Mailing List.

May/June 1996

[47] In May of 1996, IAXS was announced and officially formed May 31, 1996. It eventually published the first issue of its Journal in September 1996, which it has been doing monthly every since. A webpage, designed by Tricia Murphy, was online by June 1, 1996.

[48] In June, Tom's Xena Page appeared and Venator launched the Chakram mailing list, a moderated list. For information on Tom's Page and Chakram see an interview with Tom at Tom Simpson on Fandom and the Birth of Tom's Xena Page and with Venator at Venator on Fandom and the Chakram Mailing List.

[49] But that was only the beginning.


January 1995
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (the series) debuts on U.S. television
February 1995
  • Hercules NetForum debuts
September 1995
  • Xena: Warrior Princess debuts on U.S. television.
  • Carol Burrell launches the first fan web site, "Xena at Logomancy."
October 1995
  • Xena NetForum debuts .
  • GONEGRA starts the first Xena chat (AOL chat in the Lawless room).
November 1995
  • Alt.tv.xena newsgroup created.
December 1995
  • Arbiter begins the first Xena: Warrior Princess mailing list, known as "Xena"
January 1996
  • Artemis launches her web site.
  • Fans pick the name "Xenite" for themselves during online vote.
  • IRC chats begin
March 1996
  • Arbiter starts second Xena: Warrior Princess mailing list, "Xenaverse"
  • Kym Taborn's Xena Media Review (XMR) premieres.
  • Lucy Lawless' first message to her fans is posted online.
April 1996
  • Technical problems with the server force "Xenaverse" to shut down.
May 1996
  • A new version of Xenaverse, "XenaVerse," is launched by Spikus and Penth.
  • Arbiter shuts down his original "Xena" list.
  • Sandi-J launches the "Herc-Xena" mailing list begins.
  • The International Association of Xena Studies (IAXS) established.
  • Kym Taborn's This Week In Xena News begins.
June 1996
  • Tom Simpson starts Tom's Xena Page.
  • Venator starts a new moderated mailing list, "Chakram".
  • Kym Taborn and Tricia Murphy's IAXS Webpage goes online.


[50] A heartfelt thanks to Don Frozina for his amazing statistics on the NetForum, Ted Turocy (Arbiter) for preserving posts from the first Xena mailing lists and passing them onto other fans, Rita Schnepp (Athena) for providing the early posts and to all of the wonderful Xenites who responded to my plea for information. I wish I could have used all of it.

Direct Links

Link to the following interviews directly:

Appendix A: Carol Burrell [51-61]
Appendix B: Gonegra [62-75]
Appendix C: Steven L. Sears [76-84]
Appendix D: Robert Field [85-102]
Appendix E: Lillian Varissi [103-110]
Appendix F: Artemis [111-128]
Appendix G: Kym Masera Taborn [129-141]
Appendix H: Spikus [142-162]
Appendix I: Thomas Simpson [163-176]
Appendix J: Venator [177-196]

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