Whoosh! Issue 50 - November 2000

WHOOSH Readers Ponder Fandom
Page 4

A Cause For Celebration And Thanks by LeedsBard
Endless Epiphanies by Julia Noel Goldman

By LeedsBard
50th Issue Project
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
1007 words

Feelings (01-03)
Watching (04-06)
Discovering the Internet (07-10)



The evolution of the word 'creamed'.

Sometimes celebrations can get ugly.
From PUNCHLINES (101/511)

[01] I would like to say a little about how I feel about XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (XWP). Please bear in mind that this reflects my feelings about the first four seasons of XWP and not the fifth, since I'm writing an article about the fifth season for a future edition of WHOOSH.

[02] I've been totally gobsmacked at just how much an impact this show has had on my life. I can't remember what it was like B.X. (Before XENA, was there such a time?) It feels like XENA has always been there in some shape or form. Perhaps understandably, my feelings about the show have gotten mixed up with a whole load of personal stuff that's been going on for me over the past five years or so.

[03] Confession time: I am a survivor of some nasty domestic abuse. I was in a disastrous long-term relationship with a woman who regularly beat me up. I was very lucky not to lose an eye or end up with brain damage. Lucky physically but not emotionally, by the end of that relationship my head was completely f*ck*d. I had no friends and I was a complete mess. Worst of all, I didn't realize how profound an effect all this had on me until my current relationship with the sweetest woman I have ever known started to go very wrong. I started therapy, which was just about the hardest thing I have ever done.

Watching XENA

[04] About the same time, I began watching XWP on a regular basis. I'd originally discovered it by accident when I was channel hopping, and I was immediately drawn to its tall, strong heroine, and amazingly camp action. When I started watching it more seriously, I realized here was a show that managed to do it all.

[05] It was hilariously funny one moment and touching the next. It had dynamic and exciting action sequences, charismatic and attractive performers, thoughtful and innovative stories, and an all-round sense of fun that I had not seen anywhere else on TV at that time. It even managed to give the impression that it did not take itself too seriously, unheard of in American popular culture at that time! We Brits have always seen irony and sarcasm as our kind of thing, and thought that you Yanks just couldn't do it. What a revelation, must be all that Kiwi involvement!

[06] Then of course, there was Xena. I watched her continuing quest for redemption and forgiveness, and her struggle against her own dark side, and it inspired me. If this strong, attractive, intelligent woman could deal with all this and at the same time fight the good fight and have a positive effect on those around her, then maybe I could make the changes I wanted to in myself. If Gabrielle could believe in Xena all this time, despite everything, maybe I could trust that V. (my partner) would believe in me, that there was a way out, and that things could and would be okay.

Discovering the Internet

[07] XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS is very small here in England, and only shown on cable, satellite, or a terrestrial channel that doesn't cover the whole country. Then I discovered the Internet and I realized what a huge following the show had everywhere else. I read interviews with the cast and crew and realized that the tolerant and inclusive attitude I saw on the show extended to those involved with it, most especially to Lucy Lawless, whose behavior and attitude has been an inspiration almost as great as Xena has been to me. She has been as strong, confident and self-assured as Xena, welcoming all her fans no matter who they are, and displaying a refreshing lack of personal ego in the process. I'm a Renee O'Connor fan as well, but no one will ever be better than Lucy Lawless in my eyes.

[08] At this point, the less said about season five the better. Nevertheless, I know that whatever happens I will never, and can never, stop watching the show. It not only saved my life, it changed it beyond recognition, by showing me that I could change too.

[09] I am not completely out of the woods yet, so to speak, but I managed to save my relationship, I have made some extraordinary friends, and I have a job I love. I know that at least part of my good fortune is due to a tall, dark, inspiring character named Xena who appeared in my life at just the right time.

Red sky at morning, sailor take warning...

Xena and Gabrielle always look so cool when they get out of the woods.

[10] Thank you Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Steve Sears, RJ Stewart, Renee O'Connor, and most of all, Lucy Lawless.


LeedsBard LeedsBard
LeedsBard lives in one great Yorkshire city (Leeds) and works in another (Sheffield). Not quite Bronte country, but pretty close! A native southerner, she has lived in the north for 16 years, but people still pick up on the accent. She works for a local charity helping community groups with their bookkeeping. Before this, she used to work in a specialist beer shop, an interest that continues to this day, especially on a Friday night in the centre of Leeds! Besides XWP, she combines a love of Victorian sensation fiction with a passion for forties film noir and detective novels, the perfect combination for a very warped outlook on life!
Favorite line:Xena: "Please don't let the light that shines out of her face go out. I couldn't stand the darkness that would follow." RETURN OF CALLISTO
First episode seen:MORTAL BELOVED

By Julia Noel Goldman
50th Issue Project
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
2632 words

Introduction (01)
First There Was The Show (02-04)
Then The Show Took Over My Life (05-10)
Resonating Philosophy and My "New Spirituality" (11-17)
Sex, Politics, and Changing The World (18-23)



C'mon, Gabrielle, let me take care of those split ends.

Xena got pretty crazy in THE FURIES (47/301) and threatened Gabrielle.
Oops, Xena does that all the time now. So much for the crazy theory. (47/301)

[01] I am no crazier than anyone else is, though I have always been prone to obsession. It all started with Barbra Streisand and Raquel Welch when I was eight, almost thirty years ago. My love for this show is so deep, and its effect on my life so far-reaching and profound, that the thought of sharing it with others makes me feel like I should add a thousand disclaimers regarding my sanity. Xena and Gabrielle move me so much and the show resonates within me so intensely, that I am driven to share it.

First There Was The Show

[02] The show first changed my life by providing me with the perfect piece of entertainment. I caught the first showing of THE EXECUTION (41/217) and was hooked. I loved the show for many reasons: great production values for TV, the opportunity to indulge and examine my life-long obsession with the Greek gods and heroism and good verses evil, and of course my immediate attraction to and identification with this extraordinary hero, Xena. I identified, as time went on, almost equally with Xena's darkness as with Gabrielle's optimism, but more than anything I identified with their strong desire to dedicate their lives to the greater good.

[03] For the first time in my life, I saw people who I identified with, whose values were like mine, and people who I wanted to be like. They lived their lives according to their beliefs and without compromise. The show was magical to me and watching it became a pleasure. The world the show created was beautiful, lush, and atmospheric, with a fascinating and complicated mythology of its own. It was campy and spiritual at the same time. It was unique.

[04] The icing on the cake was the incredible epic romance between Xena and Gabrielle that formed the core of the show. I first noted this in BLIND FAITH (42/218), the second episode I saw. The reunion scene at the end hummed with this passionate intensity. It was like nothing I had ever seen on any screen between two women before. Xena was presented as the ultimate hero, endlessly brave, strong, and smart, better than everyone at everything and beautiful on top of it. Moreover, she loved a woman. I never thought I would get to see anything like that on TV.

Then The Show Took Over My Life

[05] For the past three years the show has been the focal point of my life. I watch it all the time. I have seen most of the episodes between fifty and two hundred times, and probably more than two hundred for a few of them. I have memorized dialoge and trivia. I am the kind of person who finds meaning in even the simplest moments. I make detailed analyses of everything and can rationalize anything. I buy merchandise, I go to conventions, and my apartment and office are decorated in a strictly XENA-theme. I think about the show all the time, especially about my theories of the characters and the themes. Every single day for three years I have listened to a tape of music from the show on the train to and from work. It still inspires and transports me so that sometimes I wish the ride were longer!

[06] In September of 1998 I was at the right place at the right time and took over responsibility for running the legendary XENA Night at Meow Mix in New York City. Every second Tuesday of the month the XENA Night Triumvirate, which consists of Tory the Celtic Menace, brown bettie, and me, put on an entertaining evening of episodes, trivia, skits, sword fighting, and whatever else fits the theme of the month. For the last two years we have had our infamous Bacchae Bash party at Meow Mix the Saturday night of the annual February NYC Creation convention, and plan to do so again this year. Not only has it been surprising to become a club promoter in my thirties, but it is the first time I have ever hung out on a regular basis with other lesbians, though please note that XENA Night is very welcoming of non-lesbians of all types.

[07] One of the greatest achievements of the XENA Night Triumvirate has been to create and organize the Marching Xenas contingent in the New York City Lesbian and Gay Pride March. We have marched the past two years, and will march again in June 2001. Being able to blend two of my greatest interests by creating this kind of XENA visibility at a queer rights celebration is something that I am incredibly proud of. There is no feeling in the world like marching down Fifth Avenue doing the war cry while thousands of people cheer you on and scream "Xena!" at you.

I'd like to buy a vowel, Barbra.

Barbra rules!

[08] I also write XENA fan fiction, under the name Xena's Little B*tch. As a writer, it has been wonderful to be inspired to write again after many years of not writing, and my enthusiasm for my subject is helping me develop better writing habits, including writing more regularly than I ever have before. Writing stories about Xena and Gabrielle allows me to indulge, examine, and celebrate my obsession with their relationship in a productive, creative way.

[09] It is amazing, as well as inspiring, to be able to share my work so easily with people all over the world via the Internet. It is beyond cool to get letters from people who love my stories. That I can give someone that special "Xena and Gabrielle feeling" through my writing is exhilarating. Actually receiving positive feedback on a regular basis is another wonderful thing the show has helped bring me.

[10] Because of all these things, from XENA Night to the way my office at work is decorated, many people identify me with the show and ask me about it. There is no part of my life that is not somehow related to or effected by the show. I even sleep with my metal chakram in my hand. Whoops, that was one of the things I was not going to mention.

Resonating Philosophy and My "New Spirituality"

[11] I have always been obsessed with heroism. I believe that heroism at its core is the desire to always do the right thing, the willingness to sacrifice yourself to help others, and the commitment to live up to your moral code no matter the difficulties and the pain. In a culture that values selfishness, materialism, and status above all else, I have always felt alone living my life like a hero, and that has always made me both angry and sad. Then came Xena and Gabrielle, both striving so hard to be their best selves. To put it simply, they have inspired me and helped me to feel less alone in my endless quest for truth and justice.

[12] Two philosophical quotes from Gabrielle affected me deeply early in my obsession. In IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (24/124) she told Marmax, "The true secret of life is to find peace in yourself and to share it with the world." That inner peace is so powerful that simply finding it and sharing it is the key to life suddenly seemed shockingly clear to me.

[13] Gabrielle also said, "Every day is a new challenge, a new adventure. You just have to look forward to that" ATHENS CITY ACADEMY OF THE PERFORMING BARDS (12/113). I had been looking at life as an endless trial, when really it was a series of challenges to be met. You can know something but until it truly resonates, it does not really matter. Because of the show, I finally realized I was in control of my own life, because I was in control of how I felt about it.

[14] After watching THE DEBT (52-53/306-307) my life was truly changed in a way I can still feel every day almost three years later. I identified strongly with the Xena in the flashbacks, not with her behavior but with the way she felt about herself and the world. I finally learned that it was not the world that was making me feel angry and trapped, but my perception. I could not change others but I could change how I reacted to them.

[15] "To conqueror others is to have power," said Lao Ma, "To conquer yourself is to know the Way." Watching Xena reject her offer of salvation and be unable to internalize her wisdom broke my heart. I realized that what I needed to do to be truly happy was what Xena had been unable to do at that time, conquer my own inner demons. These episodes resonated for me so deeply that after watching them I was finally able to begin to love myself the way I could love others, with compassion. I was able to truly start conquering the parts of myself that wanted me to be unhappy. Moreover, I quit therapy.

[16] All these feelings and ideas and the show itself came together in me and produced a feeling of spiritual euphoria. For the first time in my life, I understood some of what can be gained through religious belief. I came to a new, resonating, and simple understanding of love and life through the examples of others. Xena and Gabrielle, and everything they symbolize, is exactly right for me. They are my Way.

[17] I have found the key to everything through them. Every day of my life thoughts of them inspire and entertain me, and bring me such ecstatic happiness. Some days I meet my challenges better than others, but in both the failing and the succeeding, I am like them and thus content.

Sex, Politics, And Changing The World

The kid is sitting on my $@&! bladder!

Even when pregnant, Xena can still kick some serious hinder.

[18] I had never really believed that there were qualities that were inherent in males or females, and Xena's gender expression finally proved it to me. All my life I had resented it that men were so often stronger than women were, and I longed for a truly strong female character. I had always longed for a hero who, if not a lesbian, at least did not generally need or desire men. Then Xena walked in, a woman clearly uncomfortable in traditional women's roles, with few traditionally female interests. A woman who lived in a man's world and thrived.

[19] She automatically takes control of any situation she is in, and others cede her that control unquestioningly. She has complete confidence, she believes in herself and others follow her because of it. Uncomfortable with her body unless she is using it as a weapon or a tool, and then so graceful and again such a mix of gender in her expression. Her character is written as a person, not as a woman. The fact that in almost every close up of Xena, you see the hilt of her sword next to her head shows a strength and character that transcends gender definitions.

[20] Lucy Lawless is an unusually lovely woman, but when in character as Xena, her beauty is magnified, and comes from so many places deeper than her skin. In the fifth season, it seemed as if to make up for her being pregnant, they brought out more of the strengths of Gabrielle's character, both physical and mental, making her look much stronger and sexier than she ever had before. I must admit I fell for it. Her grace, her confidence, her new hair cut, and the way she looked in that outfit, all came together to make her suddenly breathtakingly lovely to me. It felt to me that either Renee O'Connor was coming into her own as a woman, or she was purposefully playing Gabrielle that way. She is both peaceful and violent. She is a strong, brave, and confident person, yet still the loving, trusting woman we first met. Ready to either sacrifice herself or to kill for the greater good or for Xena, she has always been innately heroic, but now she wears it more comfortably. Because she is so sexy and so strong, because she has these incredible muscles and yet she is Gabrielle, for the first time I have felt both the desire and the comfort to refer to a woman as "hot". Because of O'Connor's interpretation of Gabrielle, because of the dynamics between the two characters, and because of fan fiction, my own sexuality is forever changed and enriched. I will spare you the details but would be happy to discuss it if asked politely.

[21] The show is a great work of art with a life of its own. I believe that the show being so extraordinary has been a happy accident. Just as the chemistry between Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor creates the intensity between Xena and Gabrielle, so the others who work on the show come together to create something that, to me, seems to be much more than the sum of its intentions. Even now, listening to The Powers That Be (the creators/producers), it is clear many of them still do not understand how good the show is and can be, or how strong its messages are.

[22] XENA changed the world as it claimed in the credits. Certainly it made history by remaining unclear whether or not its main characters were lovers, as well as by portraying an incredible romance between two women, intentionally or not. See the 4th season in particular on that point.

[23] The subtext is not what matters to me, but the maintext. The maintext says to me that these women are in love, though not yet lovers. If that is denied, then what I see as the truth of these characters is betrayed, and the chance of again making television history is lost. It is the positive portrayal of same sex relationships on TV and in other media that more than anything helps people see that there is nothing weird or wrong about them. Though I would love to see a love scene between Xena and Gabrielle on screen, or at least have it stated clearly that these characters have become lovers, I would settle for it being clear that they were committed to staying together as partners for life. I feel that committing to each other romantically is part of their destiny, for I believe the story of Xena and Gabrielle is as they told it in ATHENS CITY ACADEMY OF THE PERFORMING BARDS (12/113).

"I only remember one story told me when I was young. It was about two orphans who decided to search the world for their families. And it's all about their adventures and how they kept searching. But the part I remember most is the end. And when the first man reached the end of his journey, he found himself at the beginning. The family he had sought had travelled the world with him. The only family he had ever known-- ever needed-- was standing right beside him."

Gabrielle levitates a candle.

Gabrielle on a roll.


Julia Noel Goldman Julia Noel Goldman
Julia Noel Goldman is a native New Yorker and is employed at an organization that actively works for the greater good.
Favorite episode:ONE AGAINST AN ARMY
Favorite line:Xena: "I want so much to be like you."--Gabrielle, "And I wanna be like you." ONE AGAINST AN ARMY
First episode seen: THE EXECUTION
Least favorite episode: KINDRED SPIRITS

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