SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA XENA GATHERING DEBUTS WITH GREAT SUCCESS
By Grace Yoshimoto (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Copyright © 1997 held by author
 On Sunday, February 23, 1997, thirteen hard-core, die-hard Xenites gathered in Pasadena, California to kick off the first official "XenaGab" meeting of Southern California. XenaGab is a group of diverse and devoted fans who assemble once a month to celebrate the phenomena of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, an internationally syndicated TV show. The idea grew out of the desire of a few Los Angeles Xena-lovers to meet regularly, face-to-face (versus in cyberspace) to discuss, analyze, and simply share in the fun and fantasy that Xena inspires. We wanted to capture the energy and spirit that comes with meeting with other Xenites without dealing with the huge size and hassle of a Xena Fest.
 The group name, "XenaGab" was cleverly coined by Xenites Anne and Jim Miller. It reflects the fact that we gather together to "gab" (for endless hours if need be) about our favorite dynamic duo, Xena and "Gab"/Gabrielle. Presently, there are about 35 Xenites from the Southern California area who are part of the group. The members come from all walks of life: bio-chemist, deaf interpreter, teacher, computer programmer, bank accountant, high school student, and more. There is a mixture of singles, married couples, straights and gays, introverted and extroverted. You name it, and we welcome you!
 Our first meeting, as expected, was a great success. Many of us were still glowing from the revelry of the first Burbank Xena Convention. We all eagerly gathered at the Good Earth Restaurant to share our wealth of Xena knowledge, memorabilia, and overall enthusiasm for the TV series. Albums of pictures from the convention were passed around and pored over. A prized, autographed photo of Lucy Lawless graced the head of our table. Mystcloud very proudly displayed her collection of articles and pics taken from the numerous Xena websites.
 Hot and heavy talk of the day centered around A DAY IN THE LIFE (#39) and the trilogy episodes, DESTINY (#36), THE QUEST (#37), and A NECESSARY EVIL (#38). Kryptos had read some of the written scripts and gave us insight on what the original direction of the episodes were and how they changed in the final filming. A myriad of fascinating details and threads about the different episodes came up. For example, Kym Taborn, our resident xenalogist, mentioned how the final scene in ALTARED STATES (#19), where Xena playfully teases Gabrielle, was a nice precursor to A DAY IN THE LIFE (#39) where that playfulness comes out in full force. Big pluses were given for the hot tub and kite-flying scenes in that same episode.
 We also discussed various topics and posts on the numerous mailing lists. The netforum post on myhero's trip to the New Zealand Xena set generated appreciative dialogue on how friendly and supportive the Xena staff has been with us "slightly obsessive" fans. Like Minya, we thought Xena is ('Oh my gosh...') "the main thing, the real deal, the number one attraction...the hottest warrior in the butt-kicking biz." At the same time, however, we shared how important it is to understand the difference between who Lucy Lawless and Xena are and the need to respect Ms. Lawless' and Ms. O'Connor's privacy.
 The highlight of the gathering was Grail Quester's authentic Xena chakram. Christi Clogston was gracious enough to bring the chakram she acquired after a thrilling and intense bidding battle at the Burbank convention. We were all amazed at how gutsy she was at the auction and were extremely excited to examine the chakram up close and get our pictures taken with it. With cameras flashing, we discussed things like: what the stones were made of, how Christi was going to display it at the New York XenaFest, how important it was not to smear the autographs of Lucy Lawless and Hudson Leick, how appropriately frenetic Ms. Leick's autograph was, and who was going to try to throw it first. Debate about those life-affecting issues made for an incredibly entertaining time. DISCLAIMER: No waitresses or busboys lost their heads or were harmed in any way while serving our table---although one might have gotten a close "chak" shave.
Kym with chakram
 I myself was thoroughly impressed by the "lethal" weapon and it's magical effect. As I carefully held it I started experiencing severe cravings for sashimi (raw fish). Very strange! Then flashbacks of scenes in A DAY IN THE LIFE brought a fresh idea. I suggested to Christi that after she does her New York and U.S. tours with the chakram, she should go to Japan! She would be a big hit slicing and dicing fish (ala Gabrielle-style) at the local sushi bars!!! After more thought, however, we nixed this idea. After all, as Ares painfully discovered in XENA SCROLLS (#34), you never know when Xena will show up, and she does not like her chakrams used as a fish carvers.
 Also at the XenaGab, JADAX announced the formation of a new organization: "The International Xena Fan Association." She shared that the association links Xena fans not only in the United States but throughout the world as well. "Its purpose is to unite all people with or without internet capabilities." In the chaotic and often alienated world that we live in, it is encouraging that something like "Xena" could bring people together in genuine harmony. Anyone interested in joining the club should log on to the IXFA website at http://personal.riverusers.com/~xenafan
 In the same spirit, many of us remarked on how incredibly fun it was to watch the Xena bloopers and XENA SCROLLS with 2000 other Xena-lovers at the Burbank convention -- the ultimate in fan viewing. Because of that, a brave Xenite (Sharon Squires) offered us her Long Beach home complete with a large television viewing room for the second XenaGab meeting. (Yippee!!)
 At that March XG meeting (March 16, 1997), about 23 rabid Xenites converged like the marauding -- "Xena! Xena! Xena!" -- army in TIES THAT BIND (#20) on Sharon's house. We pigged out on pizza and Chinese chicken salad and even some wonderful AMBROSIA Jell-O, discovered in a hidden catacomb by JADAX. Being well aware of the fact that immortality could be hazardous to one's health, we carefully checked if anyone's eyes were looking weirdly white, and our bio-chemist was on hand to do an immediate DNA test if needed.
 We were totally absorbed in watching the early Xena/Hercules trilogy (the copy taped off of an Australian broadcast -- yes the end credits were readable!) and loudly applauded when Xena -- after miraculously surviving the gauntlet -- spits at Darphus and gives him the "I'll be back, you scumbag" look. Lucia Correa and Lilac shared some fantastic Xena music videos. We were rockin' to "Friendship" and "Separate Ways" from Warrior Bard Productions and other videos. We also viewed some Lucy tapes that showed her versatility as an actor -- e.g. Lucy Lawless as Amazon (HERCULES AND THE AMAZON WOMEN), and as a helicopter pilot and vice cop (HIGH TIDE).
 There was much conversation and speculation about such topics as: what did Tyldus' really say in his Xenaverse posts and how mad was he; what happened to the "Lucy Lawless Fan Club" and why did it have a name change; what direction will the upcoming Xena-Gab rift take and will Xena be going bonkers because of it; and even the ever-present: how many kisses have Xena and Gabrielle actually shared. All in all, we had some spirited and insightful discussions that day, leaving all of us hungering for more.
 We took a great group picture complete with a huge "Xena" beach towel and Xena and Hercules full-size stand-ups (compliments of Daryl/Kimba). The stand-ups looked so life-like that no one dared get too friendly and put an arm around Xena ("Are you suicidal?") for the picture.
 Networking among XenaGabbers was extensive at the gathering. Part of the whole idea of banding together in "XenaGab" is to help each other enjoy the show fully. We share Xena pictures, trade magazine articles, copy early episodes for those that do not have them, get Xena dollies for each other, and encourage fan fiction writers (like Aisa) to "write on." Bret Rudnick traveled from as far as Boston, MA. to share his ruminations on all that is Xena. With him we have indeed discovered what a wide and resourceful community of Xenites we can be!!
 Definitely in XenaGab, we laugh a lot together. And very likely, we will wring our hands and cry together when Xena dies again for the third time in some future episode. As Christi says, "the real joy in having the chakram is being able to share it with other Xenites ... who else can truly appreciate it's worth." It is true. Who else but Xenites will count how many times the chakram "hits" in one throw or go manic over Xena's arching eye-brow, her war cry, or her "I have many skills" wit. Although we cannot begin to match the exhilaration of something like a Xena convention, we know our get-togethers are experiences to remember. For me, these "XenaGab" gatherings are logged in my journal as being some of the best Xenite days EVER! Battle On Xena!