From the Editor-in-Chief:
How Does One Debrief Six Years of Xena Fandom?
From the Graphics Editor:
The Night Of The Jocular Joxer
From the Guest Editorialist:
An All-Joxer Issue in April?
From the Editor-in-Chief:
HOW DOES ONE DEBRIEF SIX YEARS OF XENA FANDOM?
Ever since the Big Bang, life (and its eager precursors) has been out of control. At first an exciting anomaly, then a pesky weed, and finally a very hardy parasite, life defined the Universe by sheer force of its will. Life then determined itself a brain, an opposable thumb, an upright (and perhaps, at times, an uptight) posture, and a purpose. Not to mention an arrogance, as well. That arrogance is in full force today and it has many manifestations. One manifestation is called popular culture. Most Xenites have been in the midst of an on-going popular culture experiment that has been running since late 1995. I have been in it too. It has been a most interesting roller coaster ride.
I am writing this on a very old and shaky plane, some 30,000 feet up in the atmosphere, flying across a continent, from the right coast (where "right is might") to the left coast (where "gauche is, well, gauche")., concluding a visit to New York City (in all its agonizing and sublime glory), which has its roots in a television show that premiered September 1995. Or maybe it all started when I first began playing around with the Internet in the mid-1980s. Or maybe it all started when I played my first Star Trek game on a clunky mainframe in high school in the 1970s. Or maybe it was when I was captivated by the space program and the quest for the moon as a child in the 1960s. Wherever the roots were from, I was nonetheless leaving the physical remains of a cybercolony of Xenites.
The heart and soul of Xenite fandom is found on the Internet. The Internet is the life vein of all communities that exist in cyberspace. The cybercommunity exists, however, not only in cyberspace, but also in "real life". I had just spent a week in New York City as a real life person interacting with other real life people. Reality interfacing with people whom I met during my sojourn through Xenite cyberspace.
I love LA. I love California. I was not born or raised there, but came to it as a graduate student at age 23. I stayed for the degree and then foolishly left, but thank goodness I returned at age 28. I got married, spawned, and then planted my roots (yup, bought a car and a house...eek!). Los Angeles has a dynamic that I am completely attuned to. It is the only geographic place on Earth I have discovered that I sincerely feel "at home" with. It crackles with an energy, a vision, and has a sense of the future that is so potent, it feels like it could literally explode any moment. I like those feelings. But, if there were no LA, I would probably be irresistibly attracted to NYC. New York City is in many ways a polar opposite to Los Angeles: LA is sunny and upbeat, NYC is overcast and dour; LA is warm and does amazing things with pastels, NYC is either cold or muggy and does amazing things with dark colors; LA is the land of strip malls and manicured lawns, NYC is the land of brownstones and well planted fire escapes. No doubt about it, there is a rush I get from being in NYC one moment and then LA the next. Yet, that is a rush I perhaps would have never experienced had it not been for that television show premiering in late 1995.
With the last new show of Xena: Warrior Princess airing within the next two months of this writing, it is difficult not to look back over the last 6 years and ponder the people, places, and things that are now in my life that would not have been otherwise but for this show burning such a blaze on the Internet.
The people will haunt me the most. So many interesting, refreshing, challenging, and memorable people. I met them first on-line and than at the multitude of conventions, fests, gatherings, and eventually just to visit them. I truly feel blessed to have been a member of such a community of diverse and enthusiastic fellow humans.
The places really add up: NYC, Houston, San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, Toronto, San Antonio, Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas -- just to name a few. Sure, I had been to some of the cities before, but they took on a special charm when the visit was part and parcel of a visit with the Xenite community.
The things really added up, too! I should think most of us have already run out of room for our Xena collections. If the Xenite community is anything, they are a massive group of happy consumers. They will buy anything, anywhere, at any price. It can get scary at times.
Like many people who have woken up after 6 years and discovered themselves joined at the hip with a television show, I have begun a process of debriefing. The show is ending. The vibrancy of the fandom will change, it will become more pondering, nostalgic, self-centered, and internalized. DO NOT PANIC. I have no plans to cease production on WHOOSH, but as a personal need, I will have to debrief. This show and the fandom has been a major part of many people's lives this past half decade, whether they want to admit it or not. My debriefing is not only personal, but symbolic as well. I am commencing it with a trip to New York City in March and concluding it with the Pasadena Convention in May.
Xena fandom has been a force in my life for over five and half years. I have been immersed in it. I have become one with it. I have made sacrifices for it. I have reaped benefits from it. It has been such a constant presence in my life that there is no way I will not miss it. But I do know, painfully at times and ecstatically at others, that nothing ever stays the same. We must all move on or risk being trampled upon in the process.
I chose a trip to New York City to begin my debriefing process because it symbolizes many things. It was at the First New York City Xenafest that I came out of my fan shell and allowed myself to join the social offerings of fandom. New York City is also home of Betsy Book, my sometime partner-in-crime. The trip itself, across an entire continent, symbolizes the distance (both figurative and literal) between most Xenites, and yet the fact that I was making the trip, nonetheless demonstrated the power of the Internet and its community in making the cyberword flesh: making typed symbols on a screen into living, breathing, three-dimensional individuals who have hopes, fears, aspirations, disappointments, likes, dislikes, feelings, frustrations, strengths, weaknesses, and did I mention, eccentricities? (And I do mean eccentricities)
As part of my "debriefing", I am methodically going through WHOOSH!. It is like going through a high school yearbook. I look at the letters and early articles and see people who I did not know then but became friends with later on. I see names I have not seen for years. I wonder what they are doing now, how they have fared. I am making connections that eluded me before. I am doing some heavy duty industrial strength reminiscing. I am surprised at how I was back then, so much younger, less jaded, more buoyant. My experience with fandom has definitely matured me, yet even though negative and hateful things have happened, I still feel the good far outweighs the bad. As the saying goes, I would not trade my experiences in Xena fandom for anything in the world. They are too much a part of me, both the good and the bad.
Putting out WHOOSH! month in and month out has taken a toll. But everything has its price. I shall be evaluating these past 6 years for the rest of my life. I sincerely doubt I will again be as passionately involved in a communal activity such as Xena fandom. But the Internet is like a wind of great force, which brings change and infectious ideas in its wake. An isolated spark can feed off that wind, burst into a flame, and burn through the entire planet before your morning coffee has finished brewing. Ultimately, no one knows what their fate will be. Perhaps this is what makes me in even more awe of the uniqueness of the whole experience. Moreover, I am very proud to have contributed to a specific fan endeavor that has added to Xena fandom's many achievements. I am speaking, of course, of WHOOSH!.
No other on-line fandom has created a journal even remotely like WHOOSH!. There have been episode guides, fan fiction, graphic archives, and the like, but fan non-fiction (a very lonely orphan on its own) in such numbers, such regularity, and such diversity -- only WHOOSH! has done so. No other fandom has created, supported, or maintained such an on-line project, commercial or non-commercial. I am very proud of this contribution to fandom, and I am very proud of those thousand plus Xenites who have helped create, conceive, and maintain this unique contribution Xena fans have given to the world.
Another thing that I personally am proud if is that I was one of the first of a small group of people (hi deb7!) to recognize and understand how revolutionary the Uber genre could be to Xena fan fiction and to fan fiction in general (Uber has affected fellow fan fictions in vibrant and critical ways). That realization made me a somewhat rabid promoter of Uber. Through that rabidness, I has profoundly honored by having my coinage of the term "uber" universally accepted as the term of art to describe that genre of Xena fan fiction. I remember the first time I saw the word "uber" used in context with Xena fan fiction and used by someone I did not know. It was unnerving and somewhat shocking. I remember thinking indignantly, "Hey! That's MY pet name for it. Why are THEY using it?" Luckily, the complimentary nature of it hit me soon after.
I had never had the experience of "naming" a phenomenon before that had such broad usage. It was a jarring and at the same time euphoric experience. Then I had some separation anxiety (yes, I am more than neurotic enough to live in New York City, thankyouverymuch) when I no longer could control the use of the word. My baby had grown up and gone to college! It had dared to become independent! Yet, whenever the word is used in context of Xena fan fiction in my presence, I feel a surge of parental pride. It is one of the weirdest things I have experienced, but also one of the most fun.
I have been very lucky in my experiences with Xena fandom. I really only have one regret, and that is I wished I would have solicited more humorous articles for WHOOSH!.
The ride has had its ups and downs, but it is a roller coaster I will never regret having boarded.
Kym Masera Taborn
Somewhere over the Great Plains, or at least that's what it looks like
March 28, 2001
From the Graphics Editor:
THE NIGHT OF THE JOCULAR JOXER
Joxer. The very name strikes terror in the hearts of some fans, joy in others, and indifference in the rest.
Love him, hate him, or not care either way, Joxer is the most recurring character in the Xenaverse (after Xena and Gabrielle) and therefore a force to be reckoned with. As such, he deserves an issue dedicated to him, and this is it.
Joxer has his fans and his detractors. His fans love his humour and his persistence. His detractors agonise that every frame of him on screen detracts from Xena and/or Gabrielle and/or anything else.
The character of Joxer would be a good gig for any actor, but it now seems difficult to think of anyone but Ted Raimi in the role. From start to finish, through all his incarnations, the part of Joxer has been played by Ted Raimi in a very consistent fashion. Some might say stringently consistent, but then, the character owes his words and actions primarily to those who write the script.
Ted Raimi should be given a lot of credit for playing a part that gets so much flack. Personally I recall several moments where the actor took what he was given in the script and made it look like solid gold ? moments when he was defending Xena's horse, feeling the pain of his unrequited love for Gabrielle, carrying out a vitally important mission, defending the remains of his deceased friends, and bringing much-awaited dignity to a character shortly before a brutal death scene. Of course, the Joxer character has had less proud moments too, but that is not the fault of the actor.
In addition to simply playing Joxer, Ted Raimi got to flex his acting muscles in similar parts, such as Joxer relatives or descendants (of his character or other characters). We got to see him in all manner of costume from his trademark "made in Korea" armour to fanciful tarot garb to WWII uniform to modern dress to Hawaiian shirt.
Who among us has not had our "Joxer moments" from time to time? I'm sure there are times when I've been annoying or stuck my nose in where it wasn't wanted, even if it was meant good-naturedly. I've had my share of "unrequited love" experiences. But then again too, there have been times when I've truly wanted to do my best, despite my poor talents in whatever milieu I was in at the time or the fact I was woefully outclassed by those around me.
So perhaps the best lesson we could learn from Joxer is both how to be and how not to be, and to know the difference. Despite some encouraging progress from time to time, it was Joxer's lot to never really learn from his mistakes or his experience. Maybe there's a message for all of us there after all.
Hermosa Beach, California
20 March 2001
From the Guest Editorialist:
AN ALL-JOXER ISSUE IN APRIL?
Jennifer Broulliard was invaluable for her contributions to this issue from solicitation to editing.
Some of you may be thinking, "An All-Joxer issue in April? This must be part of WHOOSH's annual April Fool's joke, right?" In this case, those waiting for the punchline will have the joke on them. Issue 55 is entirely dedicated to the Mighty One himself.
Joxer entered the Xenaverse in CALLISTO (29/205) when he could not murder Gabrielle at Callisto's bidding. Four seasons later in EVE (111/521), a reincarnated Callisto murdered him as he tried to save Gabrielle. Sometime in between, Xena: Warrior Princess fans developed a wide range of emotions for and opinions about the character Xena herself deemed in FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS (40/216), "not the best swordsman around, but he's always had the heart of a lion."
This month's issue covers a wide variety of Joxer topics. Some articles focus on Joxer's role as hero, sidekick, or defender of subtext. Some explore his self-esteem, relationship with Meg, perceptions of the world, history and family background. Others examine the online Joxerverse (web sites and fan fiction), what it's like to be a Joxer fan, and why Ted Raimi is more than just Joxer.
Though the sixth season episodes have barely even mentioned Joxer, rumors have been circulating that he may return by the series' end. Whether he will or not remains to be seen. But whatever feelings Xena: Warrior Princess fans harbor for the warrior wannabe, he has appeared in almost one-third of the episodes aired to date, thus immortalizing him in the Xenaverse as a prominent recurring character.
Jennifer K. Brouillard
Providence, Rhode Island
March 29, 2001