Whoosh! Issue 46 - July 2000


A Chronological Survey of the Fiction of Bongo Bear




Drama Redux

Hudson auditions for the QUEEN OF SWORDS role by skewering Perdicas

Callisto takes out some frustration on poor old Perdicas.


[66] JEALOUSY, released November 16, 1997, was a sudden turn from Ms. Bear's rash of goofy humorous stories. A controversial piece made more shocking coming after four comedies, JEALOUSY was a belated reaction to the Xena episode RETURN OF CALLISTO. JEALOUSY was plagued by accusations that it illustrated Xena sexually abusing Gabrielle. It was a dark psychological study of how Gabrielle's actions in RETURN OF CALLISTO could be resolved within the alternative theory of Xena and Gabrielle being lovers.

"Did you enjoy f*ck*ng him?" Xena's voice suddenly broke the stillness.

"What?"

"Answer the question. Was it good for you? Did Perdicus do you the way you like it?"

"Xena, why are you asking me this now?" Gabrielle turned to look at her.

   --from JEALOUSY

[67] Easily Bongo Bear's edgiest piece, JEALOUSY is a stark and bold experiment in expressing pure emotion touched by disbelief, hurt, and rage. It reflects the disappointment and anger many fans felt over Gabrielle's alliance with Perdicus. The show came out of nowhere in reintroducing Perdicus into Gabrielle's life. Many fans saw Perdicus as blatantly manipulating Gabrielle back into his life and making her leave her adventures with Xena, causing resentment over the reintroduction of this character and reassessments that he was not worthy of Gabrielle's love. The shock of Gabrielle blithely leaving Xena would have been better absorbed by the subtext fans had it been developed over a multi-episode story arc.

[68] As in many of Bongo Bear's stories, Xena was an entirely unsympathetic character in JEALOUSY. Some readers went as far to view Xena's actions as rape. Although the story was striking in its expression and intensity, this one aspect of the story no doubt has allowed it enter obscurity more quickly than would be expected, in spite of it being one of Bongo Bear's most jarring and thought- provoking stories.

"You, Xena!" Gabrielle collapsed as she came. "I called out to you," she quietly sobbed into the blanket. The dust of the earth clung wetly to her forehead. She laid spent and weary on the blanket. The drying sweat cooled her until she began to shiver.

"I know you did. Always knew you did," Xena whispered gently as she laid another blanket over her lover and held her close. A strange calmness settled over Xena as the rage burned down, satiated and cooled. The rage retreated into the murky recesses of Xena's mind and waited.

   --from JEALOUSY


A Sentimental Bear?

[69] A month after JEALOUSY was posted, the as- sentimental-as-Bongo-Bear-gets A CHRISTMAS WISH was released on December 18, 1997. This piece was a reaction to the developing Rift arc of Xena's third season, not to mention the then-current Christmas season.

Santa gratefully lifted the deliriously happy child from his lap and set her down on the floor. Again, he managed to get through another day with a dry pant leg. Sometimes those little kids get so d*mn*d excited! The child and parents beamed at him as he waved good-bye with a white-gloved hand. Santa looked down the long row of children anxiously waiting their turns, when he spotted near the end of the line a tall, determined looking woman pushing the little kids aside. When she finally made it to the front of the line, she straightened her leather mini-skirt and flashed him the most brilliant smile.

He grinned back, his false beard slipping a little. He quickly adjusted it as he looked the woman over. She was the most gorgeous brunette he had ever seen. She was about to take a step toward him when a one of the elves stepped in front of her.

"Sorry ma'am, but Santa's done for the day. He has to get back to the North Pole and get started on those toys, you know." Not realizing he had just shortened his life span considerably, the spunky elf gave the woman a wink and a smile. Scowling, she focused her crystal blue eyes on him like a laser. When he gently tried to steer her back into the line, the woman grabbed him by the Peter Pan collar of his elf suit. His upturned pointed shoes dangled above the ground as she brought him close to her face.

   --from A CHRISTMAS WISH

[70] A CHRISTMAS WISH has more anachronisms than you can shake a stick at. The entire story is one big fat anachronism. Xena goes to Santa in desperation for help in mending her relationship with Gabrielle. In another instance of eerie Bongo Bear prescience, there is a scene where Gabrielle drools just like she does in the episode IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL. Eeeww! The conclusion of this 1,591 word complaint about the Rift was that although it was hell to go through, it actually gave the character of Gabrielle some character.

Gabrielle's eyes fluttered briefly, then opened wide. Her face lost the tense pensive look she had been wearing for weeks. A relaxed, carefree expression fairly radiated from her face. Her eyes took on the wide-eyed innocence from two years ago. She smiled up at Xena. Her manner was so relaxed and open. But something was wrong. Gabrielle took on the innocence of a village idiot. She lost all the hard earned maturity she gained as an absent Amazon Queen, a sometimes faithless sidekick, the wife of a farmer-turned-soldier- turned-pacifist, and the reluctant mother of a psychopathic child. All those experiences, the beautiful and the ugly, the pedestrian and the profound, were all washed away by the magical solution of Rift-Away.

"This isn't what I wanted at all! Gabby may have been a pain in the *ss, but at least she was interesting. D*mn!" Xena exhaled in exasperation.

   --from A CHRISTMAS WISH

[71] ROOMMATES was released December 29, 1997, and was an interesting example of the author working out some pre-First Xena convention anxieties. In ROOMMATES, Bongo Bear returns to the first person for the first time since THE PRICE OF INNOCENCE. ROOMMATES even has an involved airport/airflight scene just like THE HITCH HIKER. And the character is even more cranky than Gwen!

When I finally made it through the queue in the gateway and into aisle, I checked my boarding pass against the little signs labeling the seat rows. Let's see: 10, 20, 21, 23, 24F. That's it! Next to the window as promised. Unfortunately, there was a small boy in my assigned seat. The kid was probably no more than six or seven years old. "Excuse me, but you're sitting in my seat," I smiled to the little boy. He looked at me, then stuck his tongue out. My left eyebrow arched upwards at the unexpected rudeness. "Ummm, you're in my seat, little man. There are people waiting behind me, so you would you please get into your own seat?"

"My mommy said I could sit here, so I'm not budging!" The little creep sneered at me.

"Well, who's your mother?" I asked testily, wondering what woman would claim this child. He thumbed behind him to a flustered looking brown-haired woman.

I spoke to her, "Would you please move your son back to his seat? He's sitting in mine."

"Can't you let him sit there? It's by the window and he gets so antsy unless he can see outside. Beside, he gets airsick so easily. Looking outside the window settles his stomach and he's only a little boy --"

I cut her off with a wave of my hand. I leaned forward, over the back of the seat in front of her, and hissed, " I don't give a d*mn about your kid's problems. The plane is full. There are no other seats. Move him!"

She gave me the evilest look known to mankind and gathered her poor baby into her arms. The brat sat next to his mother during the entire trip to L.A. His seat was right behind mine. But he didn't sit quietly. Oh no. The little shit pulled the folding tray down so he could pound his pudgy fists on it. Once he got that beat going, he kicked the back of my seat to another staccato rhythm. I could see a career as a percussionist in his future, assuming he lived that long. During session breaks, he punched the attendant call button repeatedly. Each time the flight attendant came to his row, he lied through his baby teeth and said he meant to hit the reading light button instead. Each time his mother said it wasn't her doing. Of course not, she couldn't be expected to control her own progeny. The only thing I despise more than bratty kids are their spineless parents.

   --from ROOMMATES

[72] ROOMMATES begins seriously and slowly evolves into a farce. This story is Bongo Bear's way of working out anxiety over meeting all those weirdos she had met on-line at her first Xena convention. It can be very scary, as this story illustrated.

In desperation, I finally left a post on the Net Forum: Will share a room and expenses with any female who shows up Friday at 5:00 pm at the Burbank Airport Hotel. Snorers and smokers need not apply.

   --from ROOMMATES

[73] The unnamed narrator reads an Anne Rice novel on the flight. This was a playful reference to Anne Rice's long-standing influence on Bongo Bear, which can be seen in Bongo Bear's early works and as late as THE PAINTING. This can explain why Ms. Bear chose the topic of Bacchae to write about in her first attempt at fan fiction, TEARS OF SILVER. The Bacchae were portrayed in the Xena episode GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN as pre-Mycenaean vampires. Also, Bongo Bear no doubt was attracted to the Lilith myth, used in her other earlier story QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS, because of its vampiric and decidedly Riceian undertones.


1997 in Review

[74] Bongo Bear literally exploded onto the Xena fan fiction scene in 1997 and kept on running. She released over thirteen stories from July to December 1997, averaging two stories per month. Unfortunately, she did not receive contemporaneous credit for presenting the first public Uber. She did not belong to any private writing lists, where most of the significant and eventually trend-setting Uber was being beta-read, at the time, and thus missed out on the inspiration and cross-fertilization which other writers got from them. Consequently, Bongo Bear built a reputation for writing dark and difficult stories which did not readily meet the popular romantic tastes of her contemporaries (TEARS OF SILVER, QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS, THE HITCH HIKER, and THE PRICE OF INNOCENCE), and quirky, sometimes anachronistic, short humor pieces, which were off-the-wall and often surreal (THE WEDDING GIFT, XENA GOES ON STRIKE, A SHOWER SCENE, and THE PERSONALS).

AMAZON QUEEN needs a consort and champion. Wants protection from former Amazon queen turned crazed goddess. Prior military experience a plus. Big, bad warlords a major plus! 555-bard.

   --from THE PERSONALS

[75] The two most significant literary acts of Bongo Bear in 1997 were posting of the first public Uber and the release of the Alternative Fan Fiction Cliche List. Sadly, it was not until a year and half later that Bongo Bear received public acknowledgement for her pioneer contributions towards Uber when Lunacy's history of Uber was published in the October 1998 issue of Whoosh! (http://whoosh.org/issue25). Nonetheless, by merely posting THE HITCH HIKER in July 1997, Bongo Bear inspired others to see the possibilities that laid within Uber. Even though she is not necessarily one of the first names thought of when someone thinks of Uber, Bongo Bear clearly heralded the beginning of an independent branch of Uber evolution.

"Alex, Xena, whoever you are, we just met yesterday. You can't possibly love me. You love Gabrielle. You made love to Gabrielle last night, not to me. You've used me for your own selfish pleasure." Alex winced at that comment, but continued to listen.

"You easily seduced me and I probably even let you. I might even come to love you someday," I said as I stroked her hand. "But Gabrielle will always have your heart. Not me, not the person I really am. Remember how you hated how the gods meddled in your life. You're doing the exact same thing to me. You and Gabrielle will just have to work something else out."

I turned, grabbed my coat, shirt, and sword, and stomped back to the SUV to get warm again. The look on Alex's face was like I had just killed her best friend. Maybe I just did.

   --from THE HITCH HIKER

[76] Her more immediately successful project was the CLICHE LIST, which inspired a new generation of alternative fan fiction writers to go beyond the stereotypes. The CLICHE LIST's influence even pervaded the halls of academia. Dr. Christine Boese used it to structure her discussion of alternative fan fiction in her doctoral thesis, "The Ballad Of The Internet Nutball: The Xenaverse In Cyberspace" (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, August 1998), and Kelly Rowett referred to the List in her paper "Warrior Fictions" (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, July 1998).

16) X delivers, all the time, every time. G is a very satisfied, happy customer.

I'm starting to appreciate why Alt. Fiction is so appealing. Xena is portrayed as the perfect lover. Gabrielle never goes wanting because Xena's always giving and rarely demands. She's always available. She never has a headache and never complains about not being in the mood. I've read stories where Xena has broken bones and can still perform better than most healthy lovers! Reality has nothing on people's imaginations.

   --from ALTERNATIVE FAN FICTION CLICHE LIST


Got a Life

[77] Sadly, Bongo Bear's fantastic 1997 output would not be repeated in 1998, 1999, or 2000. In early January 1998, she began work on CONSPIRACY THEORY, the conclusion of THE HITCH HIKER trilogy. The work is still as yet unfinished; however, Ms. Bear was gracious enough to allow me permission to read the unfinished draft and to post that draft on the Uber uber Alles website.

[78] The CONSPIRACY THEORY draft began with a scene highly reminiscent of the opening of the episode SUCCESSION. This was impressive, since the Bongo Bear scene was written in early 1998, almost a year before the airing of SUCCESSION. The initial emphasis of the story was about Alex's difficulties in adapting to life without Gwen. This fragment showed promise, and I look forward to the eventual conclusion of THE HITCH HIKER trilogy.

Meanwhile, Alex sat in a corner of the dreamscape with her arms wrapped around herself. She rocked back and forth on her heels as she remembered the first time Gwen and she made love. Gwen was so shy, so quiet during sexual intimacy. Even while shuddering in the throes of passion, she scarcely moaned aloud, preferring instead to softly breathe the sounds of pleasure into Alex's ear. At first, Alex thought that she wasn't satisfying her new lover. Quite to the contrary, Gwen was very pleased indeed. She simply developed a habit of quiet declarations from her experiences in a crowded college dorm with thin walls. One embarrassing moment with a particularly boisterous lover taught her to mute her verbal passions. She made up the difference with her physical ardor. Alex came to appreciate Gwen's quiet, but intense manner as it made her a more attentive and careful lover.

But now, Alex's own passions burned without any hope of relief. She could not satisfy her needs with Gabrielle in Gwen's body. While the ancient lovers rested from their exertions, Alex regained control of her own body. She found herself half draped over Gabrielle and covered with a thin sheen of sweat. She felt sticky all over. Gabrielle's bangs were matted against her forehead and her hair was well tousled. The bard was fast asleep. "Looks like someone enjoyed herself," Alex muttered bitterly.

   --from CONSPIRACY THEORY

[79] Bongo Bear's output radically shrank to only five short stories in 1998. Of these five, one was a non- Xena short story, INTIMATE STRANGERS, and two of them she declined to allow in my edition of her works: A DAY WITH Xena AND GABRIELLE and SWITCHING SIDES.

[80] INTIMATE STRANGERS, released February 24, 1998, was a collaborative work and was Ms. Bear's first non- Xena and currently, if you do not include a few poems written as part of a dare, only publicly released story. The story, however, can be seen as an Uber fragment, or a piece on fandom, or, more appropriately, a psychological exploration on the par of JEALOUSY, but without the rage, on the topic of the types of relationships that cyber communities have encouraged.

I did not know enough about her, this woman for whom sleep was an unwelcome state. So much was still a mystery and she wouldn't talk about her horrible dreams, only telling me in a sober tone that they are always with her. I wondered what kind of darkness haunted her each night, sapping her energy for living. She delayed sleep by keeping me on the phone. We stayed up all night and I struggled to keep up my end on the conversation. It was almost sunrise. I had been her shield once again, keeping the nightmares at bay.

"Please, stay with me a little longer," she asked while I hovered in the twilight of consciousness. "I want to meet you. I want us to be together."

   --from INTIMATE STRANGERS

[81] INTIMATE STRANGERS dealt head-on with the uncertainty involved in forging human relationships with the twist of setting the age-old problem in the world of cyberspace. It was also a story about co-dependency and the delusions of the co-dependent. As in most her stories, there was the Bongo Bear twist. In this case, it was where the characters' roles were switched and the one who was "experienced" was eventually comforted by the "inexperienced".

We drove to a hotel in the heart of her city. I was nervous. Memories of my thrills and discomforts on first dates as a teenager were nothing compared to this fascination. We were experienced adults, but this was something new. I knew this beautiful person beside me, and yet I did not know her. Anticipating what the night would bring caused an unnamed excitement to course through my veins. We arrived at the hotel and when I stepped out of her car I felt lightheaded for a few seconds, my heart racing uncharacteristically.

   --from INTIMATE STRANGERS

[82] Written before Bongo Bear's first convention experience and revised afterwards, this story described the first time meeting of two souls who found each other on the Internet. The style used was reminiscent of JEALOUSY, PRICE OF INNOCENCE, and THE HITCH HIKER.

She knew I was nervous. She reached out and placed her hand on my arm. She moved behind me and sat up on her knees. Shifting her hands across my shoulders, she kneaded the tense, sore muscles she found there. I felt the warmth of her hands sink in through the cloth of my shirt. She reached around the front and unbuttoned just enough for her to spread my collar open and let her hands touch me directly. She skillfully found each knot and relaxed them all. Slowly, gratefully, I melted into the firm but gentle rolling against my neck and shoulders. I let my head loll forward and closed my eyes. Her touch was hypnotic. She brushed my hair aside and kissed the back of my neck lightly. Her lips were soft and so very welcome that I inhaled deeply, shivering with responsiveness that I could not have controlled even if I had wanted to.

   --from INTIMATE STRANGERS

Actually a recipe for lintel soup

Words are taken literally in THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER.


[83] Five months passed after INTIMATE STRANGERS before anything by Bongo Bear was to show up on the Internet again. THREE WISHES was released July 14, 1998, and was a reaction to the Xena episodes WARRIOR...PRIESTESS...TRAMP and THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER...and the popularity in the media of the drug, Viagra. Ms. Bear was again trying to resolve character flaws introduced in the show (this time for Joxer) with the Alternative fan fiction convention that Xena and Gabrielle were lovers destined to be together. THREE WISHES was a bizarre parody based upon the apparent character assassination done to Joxer in the TV show. It involved Joxer's painful collision with the goddess Viagra and the old folk tale of the three wishes.

Joxer mumbled through the gag. "You want to say something?" She waved her hand again and the gag disappeared.

Joxer coughed out, "Three wishes, please."

The goddess' left eyebrow twitched upwards, peaked then settled back down. "Alright, I grant you three wishes to be used within the next twenty-four hours. Not valid in conjunction with other wishes granted by any other god or goddess or supernatural being. Only redeemable through me or one of my temple representa-tives. Void where prohibited."

"Thank you, thank you, great Lady," Joxer said sincerely. "By the way, who are you?"

"What? You don't know who I am?" she exclaimed indignantly. "Why, I'm the goddess Viagra."

   --from THREE WISHES

[84] On July 22, 1998, exactly one year after the first Uber was posted publicly, Bongo Bear was interviewed briefly about some of her stories and her opinions about some fan fiction issues. This interview was eventually published in Whoosh!'s fan fiction edition of October 1998 (http://whoosh.org/issue25).

Question #01:
[170] What has been your inspiration for writing fan fiction?

Bongo Bear:
[171] The challenge is the reason why I started writing fan fiction in the first place. I read alternative fanfic extensively prior to even thinking about writing one of my own. I read some of the general fanfic, but frankly didn't find that genre nearly as inspiring. It wasn't until I read about Iapetus' Second Annual Bard Contest did I feel the impetus to take the plunge and put something out for others to judge.

[172] What is inspiring about altfic is the emotional intensity. Deep personal relationships are always at the heart of the altfic, whether explicit like a tryst in an Amazon hut or tame like a quiet meal around the campfire. Xena and Gabrielle are like two sides of the same coin. They are destined to become as one.

[173] I don't much care for being subsumed by anybody, even if she's Xena. I like the ideal of an equal partnership in an intimate relationship. The altfic had the greatest potential for exploring just such equalities. Love among peers is harder to achieve and maintain, but I think it's more honest than love based on dependency.

   --from Whoosh! #25 interview with J.C. Wilder.

[85] August 11, 1998, SWITCHING SIDES, a collaborative effort with hobbes, was finished. The story tried to explain why Xena periodically wanted to go off with men when she obviously was meant to stay with Gabrielle. In the story Xena tried to find a man (any man) but had difficulties. Gabrielle, meanwhile, pondered the situation while visiting the Amazons and having her own temptations. This story was not included in my edition of Bongo Bear's short stories. The original ending had Xena choose to be exclusively with men, but Ms. Bear realized that such a conclusion would never be accepted within the alternative fan fiction community. She fought her own natural inclinations and rewrote it to meet that audience's expectations, but was unsatisfied with the predictable ending as a result. Thus the complete version was never released onto the Internet.

[86] Also in August 1998, Ms. Bear wrote some sequences for an 'automated' write your own Xena fan fiction site. Of these three vignettes, two showed up in an off-net collection called A DAY WITH XENA AND GABRIELLE and dated August 31, 1998. The vignettes are "Bathing" and "Dining". Other than some butter jokes and vigorous thigh humping, nothing in these vignettes stand out. This story was not in my edition of Ms. Bear's works either.

[87] Over five months from the release of THREE WISHES had passed before Bongo Bear released FURBY LOVE on December 31, 1998. FURBY LOVE was a very belated parody of Xena's intractable position that Hope was evil. It was based upon events in the episode GABRIELLE'S HOPE which was first released October 27, 1997. Although GABRIELLE'S HOPE was not in the rerun schedule of December 1998, THE DEBT and other Rift episodes were, so this no doubt refreshed Ms. Bear's memory of Xena's inexplicable behavior in that episode.

The pains came closer now; each contraction only heartbeats away from the next. Gabrielle clutched desperately at Xena's arm. With each labored breath, she willed and pushed the life inside her out into the world.

"My gods!" she cried out as she made the final triumphant push. The exhausted bard dropped her head back onto a sweat- soaked pillow. She waited for the child's plaintive first cry, but heard none.

"Xena," she said, "is it all right? What is it?" A slow, buzzing whine answered her question.

Xena deftly cut the umbilical cord with her breast dagger. Then she pulled the newborn away from her mother. "Gabrielle, I don't know quite how to tell you this."

Alarmed, Gabrielle barked, "Let me see our child!"

"It's... it's pure, unadulterated evil. It's a Furby. I must kill it now."

   --from FURBY LOVE

[88] FURBY LOVE revisited the frustration that many fans had over Xena's obsessive and seemingly irrational belief that Hope was evil to the core. By using the artifice of parody, Bongo Bear attempted to satirize Xena's position, make fun of the then current furby craze, reinforce the importance of Xena and Gabrielle's romantic relationship, and still have a punch line worthy of any of Bongo Bear's other short humor pieces. She succeeded on all counts. FURBY LOVE is reportedly Ms. Bear's personal favorite of her fan fiction.

Xena paused and said, "Obviously, the lab screwed up. There's no way, that... that thing is a product of our DNA. No furkin' way!"

Gabby gazed lovingly into the little Furby's eyes. "Oh, I don't know. She has your eyes."

"She does?"

   --from FURBY LOVE


1998 in Review

[89] Whereas the second half of 1997 exploded with Bongo Bear parts everywhere, 1998 hardly saw any Bear parts at all. Dare we project that Ms. Bear may have "gotten a life" in 1998?



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