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Dispatches from Alex Poindexter

Uber News from Across the World
May 8, 2001

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Tuesday May 8 2001 9:00 pm

By Alex Poindexter - Uber Media Writer

Xena Drives Women into Each Other's Arms

Houston (UM) - Researchers studying an increasingly common phenomena that triggers dramatic changes in sexual orientation said they have pinpointed a part of the brain that controls a person's sexual desire.

An area in the front portion of the brain's right frontal lobe appears to harbor personal tastes -- in other words, personality, beliefs, likes and dislikes, and, of course, sexual orientation said Dr. Helen Carter, a neurologist at Baylor Medical College.

Carter said she began looking into the anatomy of sexual desire after noticing that several of her patients who obsessively watched the popular television program, Xena: Warrior Princess, underwent a stark transformation, changing their preference in sexual partners as well as other aspects of their personality suchs as tastes in clothing and food.

Carter and her colleague, Andie Travers, carefully examined 100 people with what she dubbed the Xenite's Syndrome, which is quite similar to the Trekkie Syndrome, but far less geeky. The researchers used advanced brain imaging techniques to determine which areas of the brain had the most activity while the patient viewed a First Season episode of XWP involving a camp fire scene.

Several patients had undergone a dramatic change of sexual preference, the study found. A handful of those had their preferences shift immediately after attending the XWP Pasadena Convention in which two supporting actresses, one tall and dark, the other short and fair, shared an intimate kiss before an audience of wildly cheering dykes.

Of those patients whose original sexual orientation had been preserved, the majority were self-described fans of Ted Raimi.

Carter said the findings indicate that a VCR playing XWP episodes in an endless loop can induce people to change their sexuality. She also said the findings demonstrate that repeated readings of Mil Toro's alternative fan fiction can break down well-established patterns of sexual behavior and create in their place a desire for leather implements.

"This is kind of a mysterious area in the brain," Carter said in an interview. "The ultimate question is whether or not the trade in toaster ovens has increased in the last six years. And the answer is: We don't know."

An Incurable Obsession

It strikes about 1 out of 1,000 viewers and is more common in women than men. It usually begins between ages 25 and 45. The few men afflicted with this syndrome dress in drag as the Warrior Princess and often find themselves the object of wolf whistles from construction workers.

A growing disinterest in the opposite sex represents an early manifestation of the syndrome in some patients. Later symptoms include the ability to recognize Uber Xena or Gabrielle in any fictional account about two women.

One patient involved in the study was a 35 year old woman, described as cheerful and intensely homophobic, went from wearing gauzy flouncy dresses and loud costume jewelry to donning dark leather tunics and wielding sharp objects. Once a lover of men, she switched sides and is now often found loitering around San Francisco's numerous dyke bars.

It may be deflating to some people that the very essence of who they love can be so easily swayed by a mere television show. "I'm far from a philosopher and I'm a pretty simple gal," Carter said. "I don't know the answers to all of your questions. But right now Xena's coming on and I don't want to be bothered."

You can write Uber journalist Alex Poindexter at alexpoindexter@whoosh.org.

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