The Inspiration (01-02)
The Execution (03-08)
The Realization (09-14)
A radically different Xena costume.
The Inspiration The quest began with a simple TV Guide photo of Xena. She was not the familiar leather-clad Warrior Princess that fans are accustomed to seeing. No, this photo showed a "primal" Xena, decked out in a horned headdress and wearing animal skins. Basically, it was the screaming, savage face of a desperate, care-worn Xena in search of her beloved Gabrielle in the Amazon Land of the Dead. It was a scene from the 4th season opener, ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE I (69/401). For one Xena fan, the photo sparked an obsession that became a life-altering experience.
 "I looked at the picture, and I was totally taken by it," said Tamara Keeton, a self-described Xena "fanatic". "It was absolutely raw and primitive. That picture of her whacked out, screaming...it captivated me, and I knew I had to have that hat before SIN TRADE (69/401) even came on". From that point, there was no turning back for the Washington native, who considered herself on a "mission" to replicate what she called "The Berserker Hat".
Tons of work that pays off.
 Thus began her month-long journey that took her in search of animal skins, antlers, beads, shells, and feathers to create the hat. From a local taxidermist, she purchased an elk hide and a small set of antlers. She also bought four rabbit skins for a chest covering.
 "He (the taxidermist) was a little curious about why I wanted it," Keeton said. "I showed him the picture from TV Guide, and he had no clue, didn't even know who Xena was. But after looking at it, he actually started giving me advice on how to hook the antlers on, how to cut the hide, and everything".
 Then Keeton found just the right beads and shells from a Native American bead store.
 Next came the painstaking process of putting the hat together. She used the TV Guide photo as a model for her project and studied Xena's hat in ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE I (69/401) for the finishing touches.
 "I would sit in front of the TV and watch my tape of SIN TRADE I (69/401) while I did my cutting and sewing and beading," she said. "Me and Lucy... she in her cave and me on my living room floor... working together side by side, creating a reflection of the savage self that lies deeply buried within us all".
 A seamstress made the underneath headdress (the base), while Keeton spent countless hours stringing small beads and shells.
Climax of an 'odd' mission.
 Some of her friends found her mission a little "odd," she admits.
 "They thought I was nuts. They teased me about it, but they also liked it that I was doing it. It's just that most people don't go to those extremes".
 "I put so many hours into this creation," she added. I absolutely love it. And I'm proud of myself for following through on something that other people questioned - like the time, energy, and money spent on it".
 Keeton said making the hat had taught her an important lesson: "I felt like I had created something that brought me closer to understanding a part of myself that nothing before in my life had ever revealed to this extent...the part of me that is passionate, wild, savage, and primitive".
 She said she has always had a "fascination with costumes," an interest in "dressing up" which goes back to her childhood dream of being an astronaut. As an 11-year-old, she and her grandfather made an astronaut costume which consisted of ski pants, boots, gloves, an astronaut helmet, and a backpack full of "moon rocks". She also used to dress as her favorite heroes: knights, Robin Hood, and Christopher Columbus.
 "There weren't any courageous female heroes back then," she said. "Now there's Xena".
Xena in SIN TRADE costume.
I live in Texas, have a degree in journalism and English, am a former newspaper reporter and teacher, but am currently a stay-at-home mother of two. I'm also an occasional free-lance writer and musician.
Favorite episode: BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (48/302)
Favorite line: Gabrielle: "I'll rise, but I refuse to shine." BEEN THERE DONE THAT (48/302)
First episode seen: WARRIOR... PRINCESS... TRAMP (30/206)
Least favorite episode: TSUNAMI (65/319)