The Singapore Xenafest

Whoosh! Online Edition Whoosh! On The Road

If this is JUNE, 1997,

The Singapore Xenafest,
June 8, 1997

SPECIAL to Whoosh!
By SuZilla
Copyright © 1997 held by author
2101 words

Author's Note: This is a report of the events leading up to, including, and following the first Singapore XenaFest on June 8, 1997. This account is rendered from my imperfect memory and the minor details of which may not be exactly the same as someone else might remember.

Introduction (01-05)
Tuesday, June 3, 1997 (06)
Friday, June 6, 1997 (07-08)
Saturday, June 7, 1997 (09-10)
Sunday, June 8, 1997 (11-13)
Postscript (14)
Transcript of Television Coverage (15-38)

The Singapore Xenafest, June 8, 1997


[01] It all began when I planned to visit Singapore, and feared Xena Withdrawal Syndrome (XWS). I wanted to meet up with what Singaporean Xenites there were, and so e-mailed Karen (karguo), who I knew from Xenaverse. I had also previously been in contact with Wai Leng, and had already planned to meet her to give her some Xena stuff. I e-mailed them both about the possibility of getting together one afternoon to do some Xena-related activity, and someone also suggested we bring friends along.

[02] As things developed, we realized that there were going to be about 11 or so people, and that Karen's apartment would not accommodate that number. So the decision was made to bring it to a hotel. Karen did all the hard work of calling around for rooms and prices, and we decided on the most inexpensive one we could find with a maximum capacity of 30 people.

[03] I set up an informational webpage, and Mary Draganis (MaryD) was kind enough to put up a link from her webpage in Australia on very short notice. This link was later to draw 2 people who brought 3 friends with them. Karen and Wai Leng made and printed posters, which the owner of Entertainment Reality (store selling TV and movie related merchandise) was gracious enough to allow us to display in her store.

Wai Leng, Karen, and Jenny

[04] At the store, Wai Leng bumped into Jenny, who was buying Xena stuff. Wai Leng told her about the Fest. Jenny was extremely excited and went out to buy a whole bunch of staffs and plastic Frisbee things, with the intention of making Gabwhackers and chakrams. The plastic chakrams were spray-painted sliver, then painted with gold, black, and blue at the appropriate places. The staffs were painted brown, and brought to the Fest where they would be fitted with white rabbit fur and cotton twine.

[05] There was also the possibility of the media being present, as the owner of Entertainment Reality knew of a reporter from the national TV station, TCS, who wanted to do something about fan clubs in Singapore.

Tuesday, June 3, 1997

[06] On 3 June, Tuesday, Wai Leng, Karen, and myself went to take a look at the proposed hotel function room. We found it smaller than expected, but approved it anyway, as the other choices were easily twice the price.

Friday, June 6, 1997

[07] We three met again at Entertainment Reality at noon, where the reporter from TCS was supposed to interview us. She was late, and the interview happened about 45 minutes later. She came only with note pad and pen, and asked us some basic questions regarding the appeal of Xena, and how Xena had affected our lives. The interview lasted about an hour. She was interested in the possibility of a costume exhibit on Sunday (which we were unable to do with such short notice), and said she would talk to the producer and let us know in the afternoon whether or not she would be filming the Fest.

[08] That evening I spoke with the reporter again, and she said that yes, the Fest would be filmed, and asked if we could be interviewed on Saturday 7 June, as her time on the 8th was limited. We arranged to meet at 10am at the control station of the Bishan MRT (subway), and from there we would be driven to a nearby park, as an outdoor interview was desired. I discussed this with Karen and Wai Leng, and Wai Leng tried to get two other people to come, as the reporter wanted more people.

Outdoors in the park, Saturday morning shooting personal interviews.

Saturday, June 6, 1997

[09] I arrived at the meeting place five minutes late. Wai Leng was there. She said that Karen and Jenny had already been driven off, that there was only space for them in the station wagon, and that it would return for us. Timothy was also supposed to be there, but twenty minutes after the scheduled time, he had still not arrived. The vehicle returned, and we left without him after waiting an additional five minutes. Wai Leng later told me that he had apparently overslept.

[10] We arrived at the park, where Karen, Jenny, and the TV crew were waiting. I was the first to be interviewed, then Wai Leng, then Jenny, and then Karen. We were asked the same questions as on Friday, only this time in front of a camera. I spoke about the viewership Xena had in the United States and made a point to highlight Gabrielle as a good role model for women and girls, and did this especially with the Handpuppet and Clan MacGab in mind. This affair went for about 3 hours, after which we went to buy some supplies for the Fest, such as masking tape and cotton twine.

Hotel room: cameraman shooting the gabwackers we made.

Sunday, June 8, 1997

[11] The Fest was scheduled to start at 9:30am, and we arrived at 9 to prepare. Wai Leng brought her sister with her and Jenny arrived with an armful of staffs and painted chakrams. We hung posters on the walls, played the soundtrack CD, and displayed Xena stuff including photos from NYC XenaFest, Pitt XenaFest, and Bardo's. We began the Fest with six music videos, followed by the Hercules trilogy, and worked on the Gabwhackers while watching.

[12] The reporter and TV crew arrived just before noon. They filmed us making the Gabwhackers, then filmed us watching Xena as it aired at 1pm. Following this I did a short staff demo using one of the completed Gabwhackers. This was filmed as well. Later, they drove 3 of us (Karen, Wai Leng, and myself) to Entertainment Reality, where we did a mock-up and filmed us shopping and looking at the Xena stuff (most of which we supplied) in the store.

Hotel room, XenaFest, Sunday. Some of the stuff we displayed and us watching Xena episodes on TV.

[13] Meanwhile, back at the Fest where we had left Jenny holding the fort, they watched A DAY IN THE LIFE (#39) and THE PRICE (#44). We returned from our trip to Entertainment Reality, and continued with DESTINY (#36), THE QUEST (#37), and A NECESSARY EVIL (#38). The Fest ended at 8pm, one hour later than scheduled. Thus concluded the first Singapore XenaFest, which, I am proud to say, happened before any Hercules Fest.


[14] The fest coverage was aired on Singapore National TV Thursday 12 June at 8pm during "Talking Point", towards the end of the show. According to my contacts in Singapore who viewed it, it was some 5 or 6 minutes long, and was well put together. They showed shorts of Xena, snippets of the interviews, two snippets of my staff routine, us touching up the chakrams and making the Gabwhackers, and shots of Karen, Wai Leng, Jenny, and myself walking along a path in the park. They also flashed my webpage address on national TV, although I had not intended that to be done when I gave the reporter my homepage url. And so it was we had our few minutes of fame on Singapore national television. Long live Xena!

More of the outdoors in the park, Saturday morning shooting personal interviews.

Transcript of Television Coverage

[15] The following transcript came from "Talking Point," broadcasted on Singapore National TV on Thursday, June 12th 1997. Karen (karguo) transcribed this in the wee hours of the morning. It is incomplete, because her tape cut off the ending, so she will complete it at a later date when she gets the rest of the tape from someone.

[16] Now we've come to the time in our program where we highlight facets of life in Singapore. Interesting people and places which you may not know about. Star Trek has them, The X-Files has them. Now, Xena, The Warrior Princess has got them too. Fans devoted enough to spend hours watching the programmes over and over again and discussing it on the Net. In Singapore, Xena fans met together to celebrate the start of the 2nd season last week. Meet the Xenites of Singapore.

[17] [Shots of the Xena stuff and Tom's Xena Page. Also clips of ORPHAN OF WAR (#25) -- all the clips of Xena shown are from this episode. Shot of us watching the show in the hotel room.]

Us in the hotel room watching episodes

[18] Sunday, 1pm. A ritual for every Xenite in Singapore. Last week, they celebrated the return of the Warrior Princess for the second season on Channel 5.

[19] I grew up watching male action figures and action people. The men saving the day and the damsel in distress. And then all of a sudden, this Xena came along and it's like 'Wow!'

[20] The last time something like that came on TV was in the time of Wonder Woman and Bionic Woman. But none of them came close to Xena.

[21] [Cut to clip of Xena fighting Dagnine in ORPHAN OF WAR (#25) and then clip of SuZilla giving a Gabwhacker demo.]

[22] Xena: Warrior Princess reigns supreme in their hearts and minds. And their fascination with the Warlord turned saviour goes beyond watching the program every week.

[23] [Us clapping wildly after the demo.]

[24] I'm on several Xena mailing lists. I get several hundred email messages a day. I buy a lot of Xena stuff.

[25] [Clip of us climbing up the stairs and into Entertainment Reality. Followed by clips of us at the shelves, picking the stuff up and 'chatting away']

[26] The programme is barely half a year old in Singapore and its following is just starting to build up. But in this shop in Holland Village, Xenites have already invested thousands of dollars in anything Xena they can get their hands on. The range is smaller than, say, Star Trek or Star Wars, but Xenites still find great delight in what's available. And if they can't buy them, they make them ...

[27] [Clip of us making Gabwhackers and 'chakrams'.]

[28] It sure looks like they're preparing for war but really, they're just having a bit of fun. They talk about anything from the color of Xena's outfit to the similarities between our society and Ancient Greece as depicted in the show. Contrary to what may appear to be just a nutty obsession, Xenites put their fixation on some very sound beliefs.

[29] She's a really good role model for young women and little girls because when they watch the show, they're seeing a woman who's strong, who's not afraid and they learn to think of themselves as possibly being a hero.

[30] [Cut to clip of Pamela Anderson in Baywatch.]

[31] The stereotype of the heroine woman is often blonde and beautiful and drop dead gorgeous.

[32] [Cut to shot of Xena]

[33] And Xena isn't those things. Yes, she's beautiful but that's not the main thing about her. The main thing about her is her strength and the depth of her character.

[34] Be more assertive, you know, don't get all shy around people. It's not gonna get you anywhere.

[35] [Clip of us walking]

[36] Clearly for many Xenites, the programme has made some real and positive impact.

[37] The best thing is that she isn't too thin, so that women don't get the idea that you've got to be thin to be beautiful.

[38] I've been here for a long time but I haven't really made any local friends or Singaporean friends and now suddenly, I know all this people and I feel more part of Singapore, the whole thing.

[Tape ends]

SuZilla in action SuZilla
28 years old in August, obsessed with Xena. Likes Celtic rock/filk (fave artist Heather Alexander), fantasy novels, computer games, and Loch Dhu (single malt scotch). Martial artist, feminist, lesbian, wiccan, part-time leathersmith/craftswoman, and reluctant full-time physician.

Favorite episode: A DAY IN THE LIFE (#39)
Favorite line: Gabrielle: "She likes what I do." A DAY IN THE LIFE (#39)
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST (#01)
Least favorite episode: FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS (#40)

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