MY LIFE AS A WHOOSH CONTRIBUTOR AND XENA FAN
By Laurie Sosna
50th Issue Project
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
Thoughts on Writing for WHOOSH (01-06)
Thoughts on Fan Conventions (07-09)
Thoughts on Fandom (10-16)
Editor Emeritus Rob Field at a XENA convention.
Thoughts on Writing for WHOOSH
 Congratulations on your 50th and keeping your sanity. What makes WHOOSH different is that it offers an outlet for both the intellectual and the fan. I've only seen one other fan site that matches that style and substance: millennium-compendium (http://www.millennium-compendium.com), a fan site dedicated to completing the "Millennium" story after the show had been cancelled. It's always managed to allow for humor and analysis. My dad, a newspaper editor, once told me when I was about 12 that journalism should always be about raising the bar, never about the lowest common denominator. WHOOSH not only raised the bar, it created a whole new event.
 When my friend Laura told me WHOOSH needed reporters to cover the Sacramento convention, I leapt at the chance. I'm a sucker for a press pass. I rarely think anything significant will come out of my writing. People who do are fooling themselves. Writers write for themselves first and foremost. We love the sound of our own keyboard. It really was fun going to the convention. Furiously typing on a spiffy G3 laptop in the half darkness of the auditorium trying to get every word gesture and emotion was really more fun than it should have been. I liked asking Brad Carpenter a subtle question about the then rumors about Gabrielle's "rape" in the season three story line and its effect on younger viewers. I saw the look in his eye, and I've seen it before: he liked the question. I'm not sure the audience got what I was going for, but I tried to raise the bar. The most extraordinary thing that happened was getting home and writing the article faster than I have written anything before or since.
 The difficulty came in balancing the two sides of my brain: how do you report on the minute by minute details of a convention which the more rabid fan wants and still include the impressions that give the article color and tone? The idea of a take off on the whole Pilgrimage/Scrolls/Greek Mythology thing appealed to me. It reflected the kind of writer I am: I'm more of an experiential reviewer trying to give an overall sense of place and feeling rather than specifics, i.e., what happened at what time and in what order. The article I wrote was a free flowing slightly ironic take-off on the whole second season high we were all experiencing and an overall sense of what a "first con" experience might be like.
 What I didn't realize was that it would become the basis for most of the WHOOSH coverage and would be cut apart and rearranged which I felt broke the flow of the piece. I probably should have asked what exactly would be done with it. Real world rules do not apply in cyberspace. I've posted it in its original form at: http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~emet/xenacon97.html. No one emailed me after it appeared. I didn't expect them to.
 My second article, "San Francisco Xena-Con Report: 'How Strange the Change From Major to Minor...'", never appeared (http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~emet/xenacon98.html). I went to the San Francisco Con in October 1998 and wrote what I thought was a pretty funny and insightful article which reflected my third con experience and how you reevaluate your relationship to fandom after a couple of years. The response that I got from the then "On the Road" editor was very enthusiastic, but it never appeared.
 I assumed, probably incorrectly, that the reason my second article was never printed was because it might cause a, dare I use the word, rift between WHOOSH and Creation that might influence WHOOSH's access to future conventions. I probably should have emailed the editor and asked why it never appeared and I take full responsibility for my part in perpetuating my own resentment with her. You'd think after not seeing the article after a year, I would have written the editor but I didn't feel that I had the right. I've written articles before that have never appeared, that's what being a freelancer is all about. My disaffection was never with WHOOSH as an entity, and h*ll, keeping anything on the web for 50 months with a bunch of volunteers spread all over the country is nothing short of a miracle.
Thoughts on Fan Conventions
 My disaffection stemmed from the sense I got attending the San Francisco convention that somehow the fans stopped "going with the flow", for lack of a more graceful phrase, and somehow thought they had some control over the content of the show. Also, I felt, and still do, that the conventions never were what they had the potential to be.
 My favorite moment at any convention was when Robert Field gave a talk on how he edits an episode, supplemented with original and edited footage. I would have loved a panel discussion with some of the writers talking about how they put together a script, how it evolves during the filming process (I have a degree in film studies, I love that stuff) instead of yet another moronic trivia contest. Better still, have the stunt people come with Peter Bell and give a demo on how they block out a fight. Okay, maybe they can't ship them all out to the con, but what would it take to videotape a segment and send it along?
 The final blow came during the Santa Monica Con when someone who obviously had never been to a con and certainly didn't seem to know the show at all interviewed Lucy Lawless. The stunned looks on the faces of the audience spoke volumes. After traveling 400 miles, paying for a plane ticket and hotel rooms, food and con tickets to see Lucy Lawless, it was downright insulting. I remember wanting very much to rush the stage and take over the interview. While the interviewer went on with endless questions about her childhood, etc. I think I remember Lucy Lawless saying something like: "I think they already know this". I just felt that it became more about making money for Creation than letting the fans inside the world of XENA and HERCULES. Which leads me to...
Thoughts on Fandom
 When I was young, fandom was sending in box tops and $2.00 to join the Monkees fan club. Later, it was scotch taping the pictures from the White Album over my window or holding a tape recorder up to my AM radio to record my favorite songs because there was no such thing as a tape recorder with a radio.
 The thing about fanhood is that the individual's feelings about a show are very personal and like life, it takes a lot of courage to share those feelings. Some fans use the "anonymity" of the Internet to vent their everyday powerlessness through the vehicle of a mailing list or bulletin board. If there is one thing I hate, it's a bully. In addition, I really object to the complete lack of style and consistency in the people who post. Some people never clip anything causing endless repetitions and others clip too much so you lose the essence of the original message that they are commenting on. The Internet makes it all too easy. What I most objected to in the mailing lists, and never in WHOOSH by the way, is how instantaneously people would bicker and argue instead of thinking about what the person had written. It became more about being the first to respond to a post and less about what was being said. What happened to manners? Am I the only one who spell checks my emails?
 I've never really been a part of the rest of the collective XENA fandom. I really find most of the fan fiction too far afield from the show's premise to carry my attention. I like my subtext to be "sub" and not "text". I have no interest in being the first person on my block to have a picture of Renee O'Connor's new haircut nor do I care anything about Robert Tapert and Lucy Lawless' baby, which is none of my business anyway. I honestly believe that the whole third season caterwauling was a tempest in a teapot. Don't like it? Don't watch. Don't complain and howl that the "Powers That Be" (a term I abhor: they are called "Producers" or "Creators") have betrayed the viewers. The only time I get in a snit over a TV show is when the networks underestimate viewers and pull an episode. I wrote a rather scathing letter to Warner Brothers over the whole "Buffy" debacle, but that's another story.
 I also absolutely believe the "Powers That Be" could and should care less what we think of the cast, characters, the stories, or anything else. Hey, IT'S THEIR SHOW. Watch, tape, discuss to your heart's content, just don't expect it to count.
 What ever happened to the simple pleasure of anticipating the next episode of a favorite show and calling your best friend the next day to talk about it? That I still do, and I am grateful to my friend Laura Irvine for her insight and humor and for getting me to go to the conventions in the first place.
 My hope for next season is that it is still fun. If not, there's always Buffy. The thing I couldn't have made it without are the episode lists and broadcast information available on the WHOOSH site, they have proven invaluable in organizing my videotape collection. Keep it up.
 I don't record every XENA episode anymore and I still love to write.
Laurie Sosna with Jacquie Propps, Christi Clogston, Cheryl Frost, and Melissa Meister. "HERCULES/XENA Convention, Sacramento, May 31, 1997" WHOOSH #10 (July 1997)
Full-time: Webmaster: San Francisco State University AV Center. Part time: Pyrotechnician (I shoot fireworks shows). Present obsessions: Tau neutrinos, faster than light theory, the origin of the universe, superstring theory (there are a few minor details I haven't grasped yet), movies made before Star Wars, the blues, Angelique Kidjo, Invincible Asia from "Swordsman III: East is Red", Anita O'Day (who is one of the greatest vocalists of all time), Nikita (who will be missed very, very much), Buffy (who reminds me that I'm still 22 inside), the lost tribes of Israel, Xena, Voyager, "Playing the Field" on BBC America, my beautiful niece Jessica Nicole and my soon to be niece or nephew, watching anything on TV with my surround-sound system. Personal motto: "Forget the candles, eat the cake." -Edith Berk
Favorite episode:I don't do that anymore. It starts arguments. It starts arguments. Who needs another argument? P.S. I liked the third season.
AN ADMIRER, A FOLLOWER, A FAN
By Xiomara Suro
50th Issue Project
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
An Admirer (01-12)
A Follower (13-24)
A Fan (25-30)
A scene from the ill-fated skit in which Lucy Lawless was injured on THE TONIGHT SHOW.
 How and why did I become a XENA fan? I took three very distinctive steps. At first, I became an admirer of the show. Then I became a follower. Finally, I became a fan.
 How can I explain this process? It all started late one night in July 1997. I had taken a very bad spill on my motorcycle the previous month and I was still home recuperating from the fall. I could not go to work and I was, by this time, experiencing a very heavy case of "cabin fever".
 On this particular night, as I was channel surfing, I came across this very funny show. I watched it and I laughed my head off. I could not believe this show had passed the censors. This show had to be a syndicated show. There was no other explanation for it.
 The show was about two women, two very beautiful women, who were close friends, traveled together, and defended the underdog. This episode depicted a day in their life.
 The episode in question was A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215) for the program XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS. After the show was over, I called my husband, who was in the living room and asked him if he had ever heard about this show. In a very matter of fact tone, as he started to fix my pillows and my covers, he said, "Sure, it's not a bad show. The star, Lucy Lawless, had a bad fall from a horse while doing a skit for the Jay Leno Show." He finished straightening the bed, gave me a kiss, and left.
 After he left, I began to rattle my brain. Where in the world had I been that I missed this program? It seemed like a breath of fresh air.
 For the next few weeks I tried to find this show that had peaked my interest, but I was unsuccessful. It was summer reruns and the stations I watched had a bad habit of moving things around. Finally, when I was just about to give up, there it was again. Only this time, it was the episode BLIND FAITH (42/218).
 Gabrielle was kidnapped and Xena went after her, but not before capturing the person whom arranged for Gabrielle's kidnapping. On her way to rescue Gabrielle, Xena fought with a guy and got something in her eyes that made her go blind. Even blind, Xena nonetheless continued her search for her friend and eventually saved her. In the end, Xena also recovered her sight.
 That type of dedication and friendship toward each other by these characters fascinated me. There was ease about them, something that made the audience feel that their friendship was real. I was also fascinated by the mental and physical strength of Xena. She was strong, focused, intelligent, and drop dead beautiful. Nevertheless, what attracted me the most was that the producers of the show were allowing the character of Xena to be sexy, beautiful, strong, dedicated, focused, and emotional. The scene where Xena finally got to Gabrielle and saved her touched me deeply. Xena did not care for her own safety. She was worried about her friend and that was the only thing that drove her.
 I was taken by this, so I found my TV Guide, searched for the show, got the time and the station it was on, and set my VCR to record it the next week. I wanted to make sure I would not miss it again.
 The next few episodes that followed drew me closer to the show. It was the strength and devotion to each other of these two characters that kept me watching. The strength of Xena to face things directly, and not to take "no" for an answer, was appealing. Xena would not be defeated. She would fight to the end and there would be only one end for her.
 As I watched each one of the shows that followed, I began to identify myself with this female warrior. She touched that hidden place in my heart that had not been visited for a long time. This drove me to take my still injured body to the computer and begin to search for things related to the show and its stars. This was the moment when I changed from being an admirer to being a follower.
 I read about Lucy Lawless' accident and about her life before she became Xena. I read commentaries about previous shows, which fueled my appetite to see and read more. When the third season opened, I began not only to tape the show, but also to keep the tapes. My identification with Xena became even stronger and my admiration and respect for Lucy Lawless became stronger.
 Like Ms. Lawless, many years back, I had to fight an injury that put me in a wheel chair. I was told directly by several doctors that I would never walk again. To their surprise, as well as my family members, I not only walked again, but I was also able to run and ride a motorcycle.
 Like Xena, I was working and living in a world dominated by men. Every day when I woke up and looked at myself in the mirror, I had to tell myself, "I can do this, things will change". However, every day I had to prove myself all over again.
 I liked Xena's dark past. The mention of this dark and evil Xena intrigued me. Up to this point, I had not seen the first episodes of XENA, or the episodes that introduced Xena to the audience on HERCULES, THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS.
 Most of all, though, I liked the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. Their friendship felt good to me. Their love for each other as friends also touched a nerve in me. I could identify with that type of friendship because, for many years, you could say a lifetime, I have had a friend who has shared with me the good, the bad, and the ugly in both our lives. Outside of my husband, she was the only person who I have allowed to reach that inner core of who I really am. After seeing that deep, dark place she still stayed.
 By the time the third season started, I was starving for more information, both about the show and how the show started. I was hungry for much more. I continued to tape the show religiously. At the same time, I was searching for the first episodes frantically. I finally found a place where I could order the HERCULES trilogy in which Xena makes her appearance. Without even thinking about it, I ordered it. I could not wait to get them and when they finally arrived, I could not stop watching them.
 I was so intrigued by this character and by this brilliant actress, but I still had not seen the first episodes. I still had no idea how Xena and Gabrielle had ended up together. Then came a telephone call with an offer that I could not resist, the full first season of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS. Again, I did not even think about it. I got them. This is when the door opened wide and I came face to face with a great program. However, not just any program. One was able to combine love, action, and adventure. The characters gradually grew, each independent of the other, but each helping the other at every turn in a program. Gabrielle gradually grew from a simple companion to the calming force behind Xena. She developed strength of her own. At the same time, Xena gradually started to change from the stoic person to a person willing to trust and give love and caring.
 Again, this show played some heavy music in my heart. I remembered how I first met my best friend. I recalled how at that first meeting I really wanted her to go away and how gradually that we became friends. I also recalled how many times in the twenty some odd years of friendship we have both picked up the phone or taken a plane to be by the other's side, how we have shared secrets, good times, bad times, and some very dark moments.
 By the time season three was almost at the halfway point, I was absolutely and totally hooked by this show and its characters. However, I still lacked information. I felt like a starving kid who had reached a gourmet restaurant, was told to come in, and told to eat all she could eat. The more the kid ate, the more the kid wanted to eat.
 Again, the telephone rang and the voice on the other end was making an offer I could not refuse: the second season on tape. Again, I ordered it without hesitation. When it finally arrived, it was like getting the best and most expensive dish in the world's greatest restaurant. I had the greatest XENA feast ever.
 Several shows in the second season really hit home for me, especially THE RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205). It brought back some very strong memories. I can still remember the day I called my best friend and told her, "I'm getting married". This was coming from the person who said she would never be married again. However, I had found my soulmate and was doing what everyone who knew me could not believe. My friend understood though. I knew she felt intimidated by the facts that now, not only distance was going to be an obstacle, but also the presence of someone else in my life. I tried very hard to reassure her that our friendship would withstand anything and everything and time has proven me right. No matter what or where I am, she has and will always be a huge part of my life.
 After watching the second season in its totality, I could say that all the pieces of the puzzle were complete and I could really enjoy the future with this show. However, the future was not going to be a very happy one. The third season had some episodes that just did not do justice to the show and its characters. As with any good relationship, though, you have to wade through the bad times to be able to move forward, so I stayed with the show.
 Then I took the next major step in this process, the step that led me to becoming a fan. I went to my first XENA convention. I have to admit I had a blast. I could not believe all the fun and excitement there was at one of those conventions. Up to this point, I could never understand how people could go to conventions like these. I always thought they were great wastes of time and money. Yes, I was a convention bigot. I have to admit it. I had gone to work related conventions and really did not find them very exciting or uplifting. I had learned a lot when I attended those conventions, but other than allowing me to go to new places and gain some knowledge, they did nothing for me as a person.
 However, going to this XENA convention was a blast. Both my husband and I had a great time. It had been his birthday present to me and I could see that he was a bit on the worried side. He was not sure how I would react to the idea and how I would react to the convention as a whole. He knew and understood my dislike for crowds and crowded places. He also understood that I had never been drawn to this kind of activity. Nevertheless, his choice was great and we had a blast.
 Then came the final step in this process. After the convention I ordered my first fan kit. This was something I myself could not believe. If someone had told me in July 1997 when I first saw the show that I was going to become a fan, I would have laughed in his or her face. Me, a fan of a show? Oh please, get real.
 There I was, however, telephone in hand, ordering the fan kit and waiting impatiently for its arrival. It was then that I realized I had gone from a follower to a fan with just one telephone call. It felt good.
 Now, as season six is about to start, with the grim possibility that this might be the last season, I look back at all the great moments this show has provided me. I look at the gambit of emotions I have felt from this show, from moments of great laughter to moments of deep, overwhelming sorrow. I feel privileged that this show has been on the air. I fell privileged that there is a group of producers out there willing to take the risk of showing the world strong, self sufficient, energetic, proud women. Most of all, I feel proud to be one of their fans. They have shown the world that women can be strong, self sufficient, and proud, as well as beautiful, both on the inside and the outside. They have shown them struggle every day to make life easier and better, not only for themselves, but for others as well.
 Now I will get off my soapbox because today is my day off and I have planned a great XENA fest with all my favorite episodes. Soon I will be lying on my couch, lemonade in one hand and VCR remote in the other. I am going to turn off the telephone ringer and enjoy the peace and quiet with something I really love to do.
Xiomara Suro, "View of Xena: Warrior Princess, A" WHOOSH #42 (March 2000)
Xiomara is also a reviewer for the WHOOSH episode guide, writing under the name "Beboman".
Xiomara Suro (Beboman) was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. After retiring from the military and a 10-year stint in law enforcement, she went to hide in Nevada and now works in the surveillance department of a casino in a Nevada hotel. When she is not writing short stories, poetry, or commentaries for Xena episodes, she enjoys riding her Harley-Davidson in the company of her husband "Wolfman". She is the mother of two and the grandmother of two.
Favorite episode:A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215) and IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (24/124), LOCKED UP AND TIE DOWN (75/407), LYRE, LYRE HEARTS ON FIRE (100/510)
Favorite line:Xena: "Be Nice". THE GREATER GOOD (21/121)
First episode seen:A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215) (after a bad spill on a Harley)
Least favorite episode:IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404)
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