XENA AND ME: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF MY LIFE AS A XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS FAN
By Elizabeth "Missy" Ragona
50th Issue Project
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
The Dangers of Channel-Surfing (01-03)
Coping With The Obsession (04-05)
Entering the On-Line Xenaverse (06-08)
A Bitter Evening (09-11)
A New TV and a New Roommate (12-15)
Trouble in Paradise (16-20)
Subtext and Violence (21-26)
XENA Has Been a Good Friend (27-30)
The Dangers of Channel-Surfing
The results of too much channel surfing?
 One evening shortly after my roommate Cissy moved in, we were lying on opposite ends of the couch commiserating about how boring our lives were. Here we were, two women in their early 30's, spending Friday nights in our pajamas and socks, channel surfing. Then we stopped on what would eventually be the WB channel and saw two women taking a bath together in a hot tub. We looked at each other, swiveled toward the TV, and sat, elbows on knees, chins in hands for the next half-hour. We never moved. Who could? For us the universe had just changed. Here were two women, caring for each other, having fun, and fighting the baddies. A Bionic Sheena with a girlfriend! Wow! This we could watch.
 The next week, my friend Tammy told me all about the adventures of Xena and her sidekick. She told me about Marcus, Callisto, and Pandora's box. She told me about the kiss, well, two of them actually. First at Gabrielle's wedding, then again in THE QUEST (37/213), which Cissy and I had just missed from the week before. "On national TV they've let two women kiss? No way!" I argued. "Censors, advertisers, tele-evangelists would never allow that."
 She told me to wait for the reruns and I would be able to see them for myself. For the next three months, I watched the end of the second season and then the summer reruns. Faithfully every Friday night, Tammy, Cissy and I would gather around an old Zenith 20" TV watching Xena and Gabrielle battle warlords, get kidnapped, and be the end of several red-shirt fellas. We watched Draco fall in love with Gabrielle, and Gabrielle walk around the pole towards Xena, and we YELLED at the TV. "Xena! Turn around!" When Joxer popped up, we all groaned. However, in the end, we realized we were feeling the same, we were in love with the unattainable: the Warrior Princess and her Bard.
Coping With The Obsession
 Living in Birmingham does not give one many opportunities to participate in fan conventions, particularly with the financial situation we were all in. However, we did the best we could to get deeply involved, or rather obsessed with XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS. We began "Xena Hunts" every Friday after the show. Barnes and Noble became our Mecca for XENA books and magazines. I began haunting the baseball card shop across town waiting for the next comic book or box of trading cards. Toys-R-Us clears the aisles for us whenever we show up 15 minutes before closing in search of the latest Xena or Gabrielle doll. Did they put the Action Figure aisle in the back of the store for a reason? Today I have two complete sets of the 12" dolls, one I play with, and one still in the boxes. I even have the swivel-arm 6" Xena and Gabrielle dolls at work guarding my cubicle.
 We continued into the third season with friends occasionally joining us for XENA Night. I planned my week around the XENA schedule: Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Sunday afternoon, and Sunday in the middle of the night. Sometimes, it would even come on at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. during the week and I would set my alarm to get up in time to watch. If I went out of town, I always made sure I knew when the show aired there and forced my friends to watch with me. I began taping every new episode but I still needed more.
Entering the On-Line Xenaverse
 One weekend, Tammy was house sitting for some friends and invited me to join her. We rented ten movies and bought many TV-snacks. The first night there, she got on-line to check her email and let me surf. I did a search for XENA information and got a list of 600 websites or references. Jackpot! Here is what I had been looking for. A way to find out more about the show, the actresses, the fans and the episodes.
 My first two sites were WHOOSH and Jane's X:WP Alternative Fan Fiction (http://xwp-altfic.simplenet.com/). I discovered WHOOSH's episode guide, with Bluesong's synopses posted a week before we saw the show. Yeah! I began reading wonderful fan fiction stories by BL Miller, GreyOne, and so many more. That night I read GreyOne's story "Who Do You Love?" out loud to Tammy and we both were hooked on fan fiction. Later I read BL Miller's "The Cabin" and "The Show". The intimate parts of the stories were read aloud in super-fast mode, like playing an album on 45-speed.
 I was working at Kinko's in the computer services department during Season Three, and I began impressing my boss with my dedication to my work. I would go in on Sunday evenings and catch up on a little work, then spend the rest of the evening reading BL Miller stories, and catching up on the commentaries on WHOOSH. When I found TOM'S XENA PAGE (http://www.xenafan.com), I began checking out the screen captures and downloading audio bites. I cried through BL Miller's "Queen's Sacrifice" and I cried happy-tears when Eponin's leg was fixed at the end of "Hostage". I began creating my own stories in my head, sharing them only with Tammy. The summer of 1998 I was going through the dreaded Xena Withdrawal Syndrome so I wrote and posted my first fan-fiction story "Resurrections" (http://lynka.simplenet.com/resurrections.htm). It was my answer to how Gabrielle returned to Xena after falling with Hope into the fire-filled chasm.
Tom's Xena Page, an early on-line oasis for XENA fandom
A Bitter Evening
 Cissy eventually moved out, but Tammy and I continued faithfully. We mourned through Season Three. I have torn up more than one Khrafstar trading card. We fell in love with Lao Ma and mourned her death. We fell in love with Solan and mourned his death. We waited impatiently for THE BITTER SUITE (58/312) to air and bring us the reunion of our loving friends. We needed the healing as much as they did.
 However, that night the cable company had technical difficulties and about 20 minutes into THE BITTER SUITE, their voices went silent-movie mode. NO MORE SOUND! Right in the middle of the duet in Dahak's chamber! We called the cable company, but, wisely, they did not answer. I was mad! We had waited for this show for weeks! We could see the emotions and feel the sense of rebirth and homecoming at the end. Nevertheless, we needed the music! A friend of Tammy's who lived about an hour north of Birmingham had taped the show Wednesday night. Therefore, we called her, begged, and pleaded, asking her to allow us to borrow the tape. She reluctantly said yes, so at 9:30 p.m. we were on the road to North Alabama.
 We got there in record time. I am sure the state troopers were trying to find their own Xena-buddy with a tape of the episode. We only stayed 10 minutes, grabbed the tape, hugged her friend's neck, and flew back home. We watched THE BITTER SUITE three times that night, fast forwarding through the "Gab-drag" every time. After Tammy went home, I stayed up to watch it one more time and was up again a few hours later to see it a fifth time. By the end of the weekend, I had seen the episode nine times and Tammy had seen it at least seven or eight.
A New TV and a New Roommate
 When I graduated from junior college and began at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1998 I made myself one promise: the Zenith TV was going to pasture. I wanted a new TV, bigger, brighter, sharper before the fourth season started. My new roommate Scott and I wandered around Sears for an hour checking out size, color, options, and price. Finally, we settled on a 27" Magnavox with stereo, closed caption, and sleep timer for a decent price. We loaded it in the car and could not close his hatch. I thought "Cool! Big TV!"
 We bought the TV on Monday, and the cable guy came out on Wednesday to hook up a new, super-charged cable box. (Probably not, but they added two dollars to the bill every month, so it has to be better. Right?) By Friday, we were ready for the new season to start. Pizza had been ordered as on every Friday night. (I framed my Papa John's Valued Customer door hanger and I keep the plastic cup in a special place in the cupboard.) Scott and Tammy shared the couch and I sat on the floor propped up on a pillow.
 Scott continued to join us through the season whenever he had a free Friday night. He even watched tapes of Season One I recorded from the USA channel and he joined me willingly when I brought the Trilogy home from the mall one afternoon. His favorite show was HERE SHE COMES...MISS AMPHIPOLIS (35/211) because Miss Artiphys was one of the few characters on TV he could identify with at the time. It was long before Just Jack appeared on WILL AND GRACE. For Christmas 1998, Scott gave me a Xena stand-up, a Xena snow-globe, a Xena mug, and two Xena necklaces from Spencers. I gave Scott a sweater, a flannel shirt (he was going home to visit his parents and needed to look butch), and a Winnie the Pooh ceramic figurine. I think I got the better deal.
 Scott passed away from AIDS during the summer of 1999 and every time I go into my study and see Xena standing proudly in the corner I think of him. I think he was a lot like the Warrior Princess and her bard. As an actor, puppeteer, and drag performer he brought laughter and happiness wherever he performed, and he believed that he could change the world, not in big statements or big battles, but one-on-one with people. Not to mention that he was tall, dark (okay it was Miss Clairol Dark Auburn) and had a deadly tongue that could kill a drama queen's ego in less than three snaps.
Trouble in Paradise
There was more than just trouble in the Xenaverse when IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL aired
 If you can have a love/hate relationship with a television show, Tammy and I definite did with XENA during Season Four. What were they thinking with IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404)? Ew, ick. And did you not just want to shake Gabrielle every time Najara came around? Nevertheless, I loved all the India episodes, and I hope Minya and Paulina are still very happy being thesbians.
 Will someone please tell me when Renee O'Connor grew up! Oh my gawd! I think the camera operators and costume designers are in love with her. From close-ups in A GOOD DAY (73/405), DEVI (82/414), and FALLEN ANGEL (91/501); her costume and performance in LOCKED UP AND TIED DOWN (75/407); and her performances in ENDGAME (88/420) and IDES OF MARCH (89/421), O'Connor has shaken off any remaining ideas that she could still play a teenager. It may be the haircut, the new costume in Season Five, the go-go outfit in LYRE, LYRE HEARTS ON FIRE (100/510), or her photo layout in FHM, but she has definitely matured over the last five years. Have I already said "Oh my gawd"?
 During the summer of 1999, I began another fan fiction story, "The Stars are the Same Here", again trying to battle XENA Withdrawal. When several of what is now thousands of XENA websites began posting pictures of the new Xena and Gabrielle costumes, I got inspired to create my own XENA calendar. I spent nights downloading images from dozens of websites and created a full-color, weekly planner that I proudly gave to Tammy this last Christmas. I made three planners in all, one for her, one for me that I keep at work, and one to add to my XENA memorabilia collection. I wanted to email it to Sherrie Butler from the XenaRulz.simplenet.com website (http://www.XenaRulz.simplenet.com), because I used one of her wallpapers on the cover. However, even pdf'd and zipped it was 25 meg. If anyone has any idea how I can share this with other XENA fans, please let me know.
 Here in Birmingham, Alabama, the cable folks moved the show to Saturday nights at the beginning of Season Five and my evenings watching XENA with Tammy have slowly died down. However, I still looked forward to each new episode. The child who played Eve was enchanting, the conversation in the Amazon bathhouse was wonderful, I "aw'd" with everyone else when Xena finally read Gabrielle's scrolls and told her so. I might actually jump over the fence for a guy like Antony. I was redeemed beside Eve as she came to terms with her birthright, her past, and her true destiny.
 Once again I am facing withdrawal symptoms and writing a third fan fiction story while I wait for the sixth season of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS. I am looking forward to watching the episodes written by Missy Good, seeing Renee O'Connor's sophomore effort as director, and watching a renewed (meaning "not pregnant") Lucy Lawless bring the warrior to life. The pictures posted on Creation Entertainment's Sixth Season Spoiler page (http://www.creationent.com) are magnificent, awesome, and fabulous! Hints of the episodes leave me begging for more. Every day, I take a few minutes to check WHOOSH, XenaMedia.com (http://www.XenaMedia.com), and Creation Entertainment's websites for bits and pieces of new information about episodes, interviews, and articles. I caught up on BL Miller's uber-alternative story "Crystal's Heart" (on her own website) and CN Winter's "Changes of Hearts" alternative fan-fiction series on LynKa's Xena Page.
Subtext and Violence
 Several months ago, I went to a conference of Metropolitan Community Churches and I met another XENA fan that asked me what I thought about the mixed messages by the XENA producers and actors about the "subtext issue". She said that several people involved with the show have trashed the lesbian fans and laughed at the subtext debate. I do not really care what those folks think about the fans. This show is a success not just because of the actresses, writers, and producers. It also owes its popularity to the fans who work to maintain thousands of websites, create stories, games, computer paraphernalia, music videos, and thousands of screen captures and video captures to share freely. These fans traveled thousands of miles to support Lucy Lawless in GREASE, go to conventions from Georgia to New Jersey, from Virginia to California, and support charity causes in response to Lucy Lawless' accident and the birth of her child.
 The XENA producers have never shied away from serious issues like rape, domestic violence, religious freedom, sexuality and gender freedom, and warfare. Over the last five years, the producers continue to give us different perspectives and mixed messages of these issues.
 We keep getting red-shirts like Borias, Talus, Marcus, and Antony; and a few live ones like Joxer, Phyleus from THE TITANS, Homer, Ulysses, and even Hercules and Iolaus, while we also get tons of subtext. Not just between Xena and Gabrielle, but Najara and Gabrielle, Thalassa and Gabrielle, Callisto and Xena, Alti and Xena, Lao Ma and Xena, Miss Artiphys and Xena (okay, that was a bit of a stretch). Do the producers want us to believe that Xena and Gabrielle are lovers or not? I say, power to the people! Believe whatever feels good to you. I know I do.
 However, sometimes these mixed messages can be painful and then I think the producers need to be consistent and responsible. I think they expected all of us to ride the rollercoaster of Season Three and want another ride. Aaant. Wrong answer. Khrafstar's deceptions to Gabrielle and Dahak's rape were aired without thought of their impact on women around the world. Xena's Gab-drag, the beatings during Season One in THE RECKONING (06/106), and THE TIES THAT BIND (20/120) do not match the anti-domestic violence message in THE FURIES (47/301). It is a good thing that Gabrielle is not Tony Soprano's sister.
Only Khrafstar's mother ever thought that he was a good boy.
 Over the years, violence and warfare have been a major theme of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS. Are there times when fighting back and participating in a war are acceptable and necessary? That depends entirely on your own moral code. For some people, protecting your family, your economic interests, and yourself are acceptable no matter the cost. For others, any violence, including fighting back to save your own life, is unacceptable. Both views are a matter of choice. However, what I expect from a show that markets toys, coloring books, and tutorial games to children, is that they portray the cost and images of war and violence as realistically as possible. Staffs do cripple and maim. Chakrams and swords thrust into bodies do kill and come out bloody. People are killed in wars and it is not a "good day" no matter what side of the moral argument you stand on.
 I have a ten-year-old friend who has watched XENA for several years now. When it was aired nightly on USA, she rushed home from school and finished her homework so she could watch the show. She does not understand that there is any subtext between Xena and Gabrielle. She did not understand the dream sequence in THE QUEST (37/213). She does not see what offended many female viewers or Hindi people. She wants to flip and twirl like Xena. She wants to practice the Xena warcry during dinner. She wants Aphrodite's pajamas and fluffy slippers. Her favorite episodes are A SOLSTICE CAROL (33/209), IF THE SHOE FITS (80/412), LITTLE PROBLEMS (98/508) and MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS (105/515). For her, XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS is pillow fights, fairytales, mermaids, twirls, flips, and dancing.
XENA Has Been a Good Friend
 I am 35 years old and for me XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS means all that and much more. XENA is a chance to create a fellowship with friends, meet new people, become inspired to write my own stories and poetry, and get involved with charities. Through XENA I can discover and discuss my views on a wide range of very serious issues. I can laugh with and mourn the loss of good friends. In the last five years I have created adventures and calendars, and fallen in love with a cast of characters. I can still dream of meeting Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor and getting an autograph.
 My mother once asked me if I just watched the show for the pretty women. See, wisdom does come with age. However, I had to think about what I really liked about the show. I like the stories, I like the characters, and I like the music. I really like the fact that the producers use what is an ensemble cast to give us different show every week.
 What I like most is that I remember the night that I stopped being afraid to walk through the parking lot by myself. I stopped being afraid of what "might be" and realized that good or bad I could handle whatever life hands me. I stopped being afraid to be "me" and began to celebrate myself as a woman. For that, I am eternally grateful.
 Thank you to the producers and crew for creating the show each week. Thank you Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor for giving me characters that love, cry, laugh, and struggle for the greater good in their world and let me know it is okay for me to do the same in my world. Moreover, wherever you are, thank you Xena and Gabrielle for giving me heroes, romance and adventure. I hope in the end all of you feel that it was worth the effort.
BiographyElizabeth "Missy" Ragona
I am a 35-year old gypsy, graphic designer, and accounting major at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (graduating in 2001). I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, but I found my heart in Providence, RI, my best friend in Mobile, AL, and my soul in Paris, France. I am a preacher's kid, Native American pipe-carrier, and 26-year member of Metropolitan Community Church. I am currently single and petless, however I am enjoying a fulfilling menage-a-trois with my TV and computer. My hobbies include watching Xena, writing and reading Xena fan fiction and collecting Xena paraphernalia. I also enjoy teaming up with my mother to beat her lover and sister-in-law at the card game Hand-and-Foot. Other favorite TV shows include: "Buffy: Vampire Slayer", "Farscape", and "Judging Amy".
Favorite episode:HOOVES AND HARLOTS, A DAY IN THE LIFE, THE DEBT I & II, The scene between Xena and Gabrielle at the beginning of ENDGAME, LYRE, LYRE HEARTS ON FIRE (except for Draco's songs) and FALLEN ANGEL. But my most favorite of all episodes is ONE AGAINST AN ARMY.
Favorite line:Gabrielle: "Take me with you. I want so much to be like you." ONE AGAINST AN ARMY. Xena: "Even in death Gabrielle, I will never leave you" ONE AGAINST AN ARMY.
First episode seen:A DAY IN THE LIFE
Least favorite episode:IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL
THOUGHTS OF XENA
By Carla Capizzi
50th Issue Project
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
The Perils of Channel-Surfing (01-07)
The Perils of Channel-Surfing
Sometimes we are forced to do drastic things to get the best reception possible for XENA.
 In the not-too-distant past, I was channel-surfing one evening, very unsuccessfully, when I came across something that looked intriguing. There were many strange religious fanatics in wild costumes, and a sexy man in black with a beard. In addition, a strange blonde was coated in some type of goo that looked like the alien slime from the movie ALIEN, and I saw a second blonde who looked just like her, but without the slime and without the bad attitude, but with a much better hairdo. There was another blonde who appeared to be both insane and the "bad guy", along with a very tall woman with the most unusual blue eyes I had ever seen. She was trying hard to kill the slimy blonde but was also obviously a friend of the non-slimy one.
 I was intrigued and watched, getting more intrigued along the way. During the commercial break I learned the show was called XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, and I remembered the blonde had called the tall woman, Xena. I spent several minutes trying to figure out which country Xena was princess of and what had happened to her crown, then paid attention to more important matters, like the plot of the show.
 I discovered I greatly enjoyed this escapist action show -- especially the smart, tough heroes who happened to be the women named Xena and Gabrielle -- when suddenly Gabrielle took a nose-dive into a pit full of flames and became toast.
 Talk about killing a mood! I went from enjoyment, to shock, and then to confusion in a split second. I decided then that I must have been watching the last-ever episode of the show. I reasoned they must want to go out with a bang. Why else kill one of the two stars?
 Fortunately, a few days later I went on-line, did a search for XENA, and found WHOOSH. From WHOOSH I learned:1. I had been watching Part Two of an episode called SACRIFICE (68/322);
2. The show would return the following Fall;
3. NO ONE stays dead in the Xenaverse (WHOOSH also taught me the word "Xenaverse"); and,
4. The name of the guy in the weird armor who cried when Gabrielle took the header into the pit (Joxer, of course).
 Assured that XENA would return, I started reading the episode summaries from Season 1 ("I missed three seasons already?") and I learned so much from WHOOSH that I have not stopped since then reading WHOOSH or watching XENA. I have never regretted it.
 Thanks for helping a very confused and distraught TV viewer become a major XENA fan.
I live in New Jersey, and after past lives as a newspaper reporter/editor and a corporate communications professional, I now am working in PR/marketing for a major state university in New Jersey. When I am not watching Xena, Star Trek or Jeopardy, I am rooting for the NY Yankees and the New Jersey Devils (the world ice hockey champs, Go Devils!), walking and stargazing, or harassing my young nephews Josh and Andrew. (And reading Whoosh, of course.)
Favorite episode:ONE AGAINST AN ARMY
Favorite line:Gabrielle: "I want so much to be like you," to which Xena relies: "And I want to be like you". ONE AGAINST AN ARMY
First episode seen:SACRIFICE II
Least favorite episode:MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS
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