FAN ADVENTURES IN THE XENAVERSE
By Ann Reddecliffe
50th Issue Project
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
Getting Hooked (01-03)
Getting Involved (04-05)
The American Connection (06-07)
Getting to Know the Police (08-10)
Seeing the World (13-15)
Visiting New Zealand (16-21)
Xenafests and Conventions (22-24)
What is It All About? (25-26)
Even Gabrielle has a lot to look back on in her life.
 When you look back on your life you realize that there were certain points when it changed course. For me, Saturday, January 31, 1998 was one of those days. That was when the season 3 episode THE DELIVERER (50/304) was first shown on UK TV. Up until then I had watched XENA on and off, but it did not grab me. I could not relate to Xena killing six people before the opening credits and acting as if nothing had happened, and, Gabrielle was an irritating kid. It was a pleasant little show, but nothing more. I was definitely wrong there.
 This show was to take me around the world, to strange places, and let me meet all sorts of people and have my adventures. Everything from eating octopus in Mexico to standing on Cyane's rock in the Amazon Land of the Dead to raising money for a women's refuge.
 THE DELIVERER was definitely when the show changed. A lot of people hated Gabrielle's first kill, but it shocked me into connecting with the character. The way she reacted, decided to kill, and then fell apart afterwards was exactly how I would have reacted. I was completely taken in by Khrafstar and, yes, in the heat of the moment I would also have felt that it was right to kill to defend him. Then I would have been devastated too, realizing that I had been duped and experiencing the guilt for doing it, no matter how good the cause. The scene with Xena and Gabrielle at the end of the episode was very emotional for me. I could not get it out of my mind and was wondering how they would handle it next week. Would they press some sort of reset button, like STAR TREK, or would they go with the changes? GABRIELLE'S HOPE (51/305) did not disappoint me as they went with it and followed through on the changes. I was hooked. So began the adventure.
 I was already familiar with online fandom, so I got down to checking out websites to find out more. That is how I eventually found my way to UK Xenanet, which has become my spiritual home in the Xenaverse. I may belong to other mailing lists, but this is where I do my posting, everything from the factual ("ROC's NYPD Blues ep is being repeated on..."), to the serious (comparing Cleopatra from CLEOPATRA 2525 with the early Gabrielle), through to the downright silly ("the IQ plummeting effect of the white go-go bikini in LYRE, LYRE...").
 Part of the fun of fandom is meeting people and I had a lot of stuff to catch up on. I started to meet up with other local fans. I should say that at this point I did not know any police officers.
The American Connection
 We have a lot of problems in the UK with TV stations cutting episodes. In the UK version of THE DELIVERER, Gabrielle does not actually stab Meridian. We have also had such classics as DESTINY (36/212) without the leg break, GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN (28/204) without the Bacchae bite, and a 37 minute version of ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313). Where would we be without generous Americans?
 This is where Jan comes into the story. Jan comes from California and decided to take pity on us here and started supplying some of us with copies of episodes she taped off the TV in California. I am absolutely amazed how many episodes she has on her TV in a week. I have seen the listings from Click TV, it is incredible. She taped a copy and sent it to us. America has a different video format from the UK, so our VCRs can play American videos, but not copy them. What we have, we share.
Getting To Know The Police
In Canada the police are, um, different (not like, say, in the UK!).
 I had been doing my grocery shopping one Saturday and I was unpacking the car when my neighbor flew out of the front door, "Ann, Ann. The police are looking for you." I live in a very quiet street and it is an event when a police squad car even drives along the street, let alone actually stops. The gossip alone must have kept the street going for days! I got back home and there was a tape waiting for me. "The Visit" was some of the officers I know down the local station returning the latest XENA tape they had borrowed.
 I am now known down at the local police station. I even got invited to a police barbeque! I walk in and get the comments. Cheeky lot.
 One time I took a tape in and the young rookie officer on the front desk wanted to book it in as evidence. Evidence of what? A station full of police officers deprived of their Xena fix: that guy would have been working the worst shifts forever.
 Different people get involved with different bits of fandom. I am constantly amazed by the way some people can name practically every non-speaking extra from an episode and tell you who directed what. I got involved with locations. I wanted to know where these events were filmed. There is very little information available on the web about this. The best site is one run by one of the UK Xenanet guys. This can be found at http://mrvideo.vidiot.com/Contrib/Xena/locations.html.
 This gave me some of the information I needed and I decided to go out to New Zealand myself. I spent about a year planning the trip and making clips to sort things out. Even getting hold of good local maps was difficult.
Seeing The World
 I never do things the easy way. Having made the decision to go half way round the world (New Zealand is as far away from Britain as you can get and still stay on this planet) I was determined to go for broke. I even arranged to stop over in California on the way out to meet Jan.
 I had never been to California before, but I finally found an American city where I felt comfortable enough to live. San Diego is great. Jan took me to the annual gay Pride parade and we met "Gabrielle" at the festival afterwards. Definitely Deja vu. I got introduced to Mexican food: nothing like having breakfast burritos at dawn in an Oceanside caf‚! Where I live in Britain is right in the middle of the country. It is about the furthest place from the coast.
 We even went down into Mexico to Encenada and more Mexican food. I really liked octopus. What was Gabrielle complaining about in LOST MARINER (45/221)? We went as far south as La Bufadora, which is a natural wonder and very beautiful. Mexico was really nice, but I would not recommend getting lost in Tijuana at night as we did!
Visiting New Zealand
 Nice country, and they even drive on the correct (left) side of the road!
 One of the local fans showed me some of the local Auckland sites. One of the "rules" for location hunting is never trespass, but it is surprising what instantly recognizable sites are actually public sites. We went up to the Waiti river [CHARIOTS OF WAR (02/102), DELIVERER, (50/304)] and the sand dune behind it [RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205), SACRIFICE (67/321), MOTHERHOOD (112/522)], and to Lake Wainamu [FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS (64/318), MORTAL BELOVED (16/116)].
A highly recognizable place.
Gravity is rarely a problem for Xena.
 There are a lot of hilly ridges around Lake Wainamu and one of them is public property with a public footpath, so I decided to climb it. This was not one of my better ideas and unless you are extremely fit, I do not recommend it. It is high for a start. The footpath is clearly almost never used as I was thigh deep in grass some of the time. At other points bushes had grown across the path and I had to crawl along the path to get through. To really make things perfect it began to rain when I was at the top: it rains a lot in Auckland! But when I was at the top I did see the spiral staircase tree from SACRIFICE II (68/322). It was a long way away, but I could see it. This was considered a major find.
They just don't make staircases like they used to.
 Bethells beach is just amazing. They have filmed about every inch of it, apart from the lifeguard station. The cave from RETURN OF CALLISTO exists and you can walk all the way to the back of it. One of the headlands still had a scorch mark in the grass from where Perdicas's funeral pyre was.
You know, considering what was to come, ol' Perd wasn't THAT bad after all.
 I went to Hunua Falls where the fishing scene from ALTARED STATES (19/119) was filmed. Lucy and Renee deserve medals for going in that water. It was a sunny day in Auckland, but there was frost on the ground in Hunua. There is even a notice "WARNING. This pool can be hazardous due to sudden change of depth". It was so dirty, you could not see the bottom. I was talking to one of the park rangers who told me that "HERCULES and XENA have been filmed here, but I don't watch those kids programs". I was polite in my reply.
If this scenery doesn't make you want to fish in the nude with your best friend, NOTHING WILL!
 I also went south to Taupo where they filmed part of ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69/401). It was so cold there that the shutter on my camera started to freeze. I was wearing lots of layers of clothing and was freezing. There is a photo of me standing on Cyane's rock and the only part of me visible are my eyes, peering out from under the woolly hat. AMAZON HIGH (T.J. Scott, 1997) was filmed in the same area and now I understand Danielle Cormack's description of it as the coldest place in the country. T.J. Scott is a miracle worker.
Cyane the 1324th, one dead but nonetheless seriously perturbed Amazon Queen.
Xenafests and Conventions
 Xenafests started in Birmingham in December 1998 and they have been a lot of fun for us. Essentially a group of fans get together and watch the latest episodes that Jan sends over from America and we raise money for charity. So far we have had 3 Xenafests in Birmingham supporting a local children's hospital and the 4th one in Leicester supporting a local Women's refuge charity. We have raised over $3000 for charity. I had never been to anything like this before and I had a blast. We took over the function room at a pub and had a projector and watched the episodes, had a meal, a quiz, etc. It was great to meet up with other fans and get to know more people. The 5th one will take place in December this year.
 Conventions have long been a part of the UK fan base in this country. The way we do things here is very different from America. Our conventions are run by fans, for fans, to raise money for charity. They are non-profit-making. The latest convention we had here had Danielle Cormack and Claire Stansfield come over specially to attend. Jan also came all the way from California to attend and meet all the Brits she had heard so much about.
 At our conventions you cannot buy front row seats, you have to earn them. Jan ran the registration desk for 5 hours to earn hers. Security is also done by fans. Serving police officers, who are fans attending the convention, do the security and that is all we need. It is very low key, they just wear XENA T-shirts and jeans and look like any other fan. Sometimes we were overstaffed with three of them. I think their biggest challenge was getting up on Sunday morning after "working" the party until 2 a.m.
What Is It All About?
 This is a show that has challenged me and let me learn. It has made me interested in a number of things that I was ignorant about before. But more than anything, I have made a number of friends and got a lot of great memories. You cannot ask for much more than that.
 If I ever do get to meet Renee O'Connor or Lucy Lawless, I would simply want to say "Thank you".
Ann is a science teacher working in England.
Favorite episode:I love the epic dramas, like the India arc, especially THE WAY, ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE, THE DEBT, and SACRIFICE
Favorite line:I don't have a favourite line, just favourite scenes - final scene from THE WAY, Ephiny's funeral from ENDGAME and the finale from LYRE, LYRE HEARTS ON FIRE.
First episode seen:CHARIOTS OF WAR
Least favorite episode:IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL
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