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Season 2, episode 11
Series 211
1st release: 01/20/97
2nd release: 06/23/97
1st strip release: 09/18/98
2nd strip release: 12/17/98
Production number: V0212
Script number: 215
Approximate shooting dates: November-December 1996
Last update: 09-15-99

COMMENTARY by Carmen Carter

Karen Dior (Miss Artiphys) aka Geoff Gann
Robert Trebor (Salmoneus)

John Sumner (Lord Claron)
Calvin Tuteao (Dhoge of Mesini)
Simone Russell (Miss Mesini)
Stan Wolfgramm (Palantine of Parnassus)
Jennifer Becker (Miss Parnassus)
Timothy Lee (Regent of Skiros)
Katherine Kennard (Miss Skiros)
Brenda Kindall (Pageant Matron)

Written by Chris Manheim
Edited by Jim Prior
Directed by Marina Sargenti

Disguising herself as a contestant, Xena enters the Miss Known World beauty pageant in order to flush out whoever is trying to sabotage the event.


1st RELEASE: 01/20/97
AA ranking 6.1
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) XENA ranked 11th with 6.1
(2) HERCULES ranked 16th with 5.1
(3) OUTER LIMITS with 4.1;
(4) BAYWATCH with 3.9;
(5) BABYLON 5 with 3.8

2nd RELEASE: 06/23/97
AA ranking 5.3
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
(1) XENA with 5.3
(2) HERCULES with 4.4
(3) STAR TREK: DS9 with 4.1
(4) BAYWATCH with 3.6


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

The show opens with Xena and Gabrielle walking along a peaceful beach. Gabrielle falls into a deep wagon rut; Xena declares only a war wagon would make such tracks. They are interrupted by scantily clad women fleeing down the beach; one woman is caught. Xena throws clams at the bad men and they run away. Salmoneus appears, and Xena fusses because he called her to meet him for a beauty contest.

However, this is a land with only a year of peace. The contest is being held on a "neutral" king's turf, with three other kings sponsoring women in the pageant. Someone is trying to unbalance things, however, and kill or maim the contestants of the kings. The kings are ready to go back to war.

Xena enters the contest as Miss Amphipolis; Gabrielle acts as "The Marquessa (?)" and her sponsor in the contest. Salmoneus introduces Xena to one of the contestants who plays a harp; the harp is rigged to set off a crossbow. Xena saves the day with her trusty chakram. Xena then goes to the steam bath, where she is snubbed by the other contestants. She is the last one to leave, and she finds she is locked in the steam room. Dressed only in a towel ... hmm. How does Xena escape? She takes the towel off and snaps open a vent covering with it!

A blond wig disguises our heroine, and she shimmies down the runway with the rest of the girls. Later, Xena discovers that one of the contestants, the one who locked her in the steam room, is really a man! A cross dresser who has had a lot of shame in his life because he has very large breasts, he asks Xena not to reveal his secret, and she agrees. Someone steals Xena's leathers and breast plate from the trunk in her room.

While Gabrielle checks out the kings/sponsors and the progress of the impending war, Xena has to parade around in a visual march with the other contestants while Salmoneus sings a song. Then, during the next part of the contest, someone says "That's Xena!" and Xena stops. But the person is pointing to the crossdresser, who has on Xena's leathers as her (his?) outfit. Xena's secret is safe. And of course Xena and the cross dresser are in the top five of the contest, as are all the girls sponsored by the kings.

Salmoneus gives Xena a really bad dress to wear; Xena rips it up with a knife ("I have many skills," she tells a matron) to make it look better. Then she goes outside and practices some sword play for her "talent" competition. (She refused to sing, even though Gabrielle begged her to do so.) While outside, she overhears another woman crying. She doesn't want to be in the contest; Xena offers some words of wisdom.

During the talent show, Xena sees that the platform has been rigged and she jumps in and saves a woman from a King Cobra during a charm dance.

Xena then goes to the castle and conks each king on the head. She then goes to find the "neutral" king who is hosting the pageant. He says he is responsible for the accidents because he needs another war so he can sell stuff to all parties. The three kings hear this, since Xena has them tied up under the table.

Miss Amphipolis wins the pageant, but she has withdrawn (poor Salmoneus). Then the next 3 contestants, those belonging to the kings, also withdraw, leaving the cross dresser as the winner. She/He takes the crown, and then suddenly grabs Xena (now as herself), pulls her on stage, and gives her a big ol' long kiss.

So, Miss Known World is a cross dresser, and peace reigns in the area, courtesy of Xena.


This commentary is by Carmen Carter.

MISS AMPHIPOLIS is definitely one of my favorite episodes of second season.

The gender-bending fun -- especially from what I presume was a somewhat hastily written script -- was delightful, and the one-liners flew fast and furious. Like first season's WARRIOR...PRINCESS, the satiric comedy in this show served a deeper and sharper purpose than sheer entertainment. It was the vehicle for some very pointed social commentary that is almost impossible to address in any other fashion. Those who don't want to hear the message can tune it out and enjoy the show anyway; the rest of us can revel in the double-entendre's and frequent allusions to camp culture.

The opening beach sequence of the contestants running through the water is a classic T&A situation. However, in this epsisode it became a metaphorical setup for the journey to come. The story opens with this all too familiar, stereotypic depiction of women as decorative filler, then scene by scene strips off the facade to reveal a different landscape beneath, until at the end of the show we are treated to the decidely *atypical* shot of a man dressed as a woman aggressively kissing a woman dressed in leather. If you're not extremely flexible in certain attitudes, this contortion could cause extreme dizziness.

The parallels between Xena and Miss Artiphyse are quite striking. The other contestants appeared relatively consistent in their gender behavior both on and off stage; their extreme femme personna was completely internalized. In contrast, both Miss Artiphyse and Xena were assuming a role -- the minute they stepped "off stage" their body language and speech was significantly transformed. So what we saw from those two was their somewhat clumsy attempt to mimic the appearance of the societally acceptable "natural woman" that was far from natural for either of them. So, although I don't consider Xena to be completely butch by any means, I still thought of her as in "femme drag." Ironically, when she finally stepped out of her role for good, pulling off her blond wig and rumpling her hair, she looked far more beautiful and feminine than she had while playing the part of a contestant.

Granted, beauty contests are an easy target for satire, but I think applause are in order for the deft way this was handled. One of my favorite scenes is the dress rehearsal for "A woman is a natural thing," in which the contestants prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that being this particular kind of a "woman" takes a *lot* of practice.

Another of my favorite scenes -- because it contains such a topsy-turvy take on gender skills -- was Xena's transformation of the dress. Being a seamstress is a traditional skill for women, but Xena executes that skill with a decidedly atypical tool -- her knife -- and with a decidedly butch-practical attitude. Also a standout in that scene was Gabrielle's despairing wail of "What *can* you do?" Now we all know that Xena can "do" many things that defy ordinary mortals, but in the context of the beauty pageant, Xena is suddenly at a decided disadvantage. Which is a clever way of underscoring the absurdity of the talent event for judging the worth of women.

Of special note, Robert Trebor was *wonderful* in the emcee role; he's a natural musical comedy star. I'm still trying to figure out how he managed to steal the show without overshadowing Xena & Gabrielle, but it's another of those mysteries that falls under the category of "chemistry." I have always enjoyed his interaction with the duo, and this episode is no exception. Trebor has very firm control over the tone and nuances of Salmoneus, and I admire the way he is able to shade his portrayal to suit the needs of each episode and each scene, ranging from broad slapstick ("Those boots, that leather, those legs!") to the most touching drama (his goodbye to the Warrior Princess in TGG). In a season that has introduced far more comedy to X:WP than I care for, I nonetheless welcomed the return of Salmoneus.

Chris Manheim scored more high marks for the episode's clever resolution in which Miss Artiphyse won, but only by default. This scenario avoided the proposition that men in drag are better women than genetic females, the prevailing attitude in today's fashion world where men like RuPaul are being used to model clothing supposedly designed for women.


01-31-99. Chris Manheim was interviewed by WHOOSH in the February 1999 issue. Here's what she said about HERE SHE COMES...

...I believe Miss Artiphys was a character inspired by your brother, is that right?

[75] Yes. My brother was gay, and when we were growing up, he'd go to these clubs in Daytona Beach and do drag acts. It just kind of fits that Keith [Walsh] would inspire a character like that in a beauty pageant. [laughs]... I must say, all my gay male friends like that episode best, and it's the only episode we were nominated for a GLAAD [Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation] award over. I went to the GLAAD awards that year. We didn't win, but it was a fun thing to go and be a part of. We also got an award from a transsexual group. It's probably the most awarded show of the series. [laughs]

[80] Interesting and kind of ironic, too, since it's the ultimate feminist action episode. You wrote it, and you had a female director. It was also kind of an indictment of the Baywatch (1989-) type shows too, since Xena wasn't going to let that happen.

[81] It got me into ASCAP [American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers]. I got to write a couple of corny songs. Joe [LoDuca] did the music and that's what made it terrific, but I did the lyrics.

[82] What about that scene where you had that kiss between Miss Artiphys and Xena? Was that deliberately scripted?

[83] Oh yes. Very deliberate. It was a way we could get away with a full kiss looking like it was between two women...

...Thank God this show is set up the way it is, because I don't know how many shows would survive such a thing [Lucy Lawless' accident in October 1996]. MISS AMPHIPOLIS (35/211) came about partly because of that because Lucy [Lawless] couldn't fight much

11-24-98. On an airing of ths episode in the United Kingdom on or about 11-14-98, the episode was lacking the the usual disclaimer of "No ribbons..." but had in its place: "In loving memory of Keith K Walsh". The official response from the XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS office was that Keith Walsh was Chris Manheim's brother who passed away in 1992 due to complications from AIDS. He was the inspiration for the Miss Artiphys character in the show.

11-11-98. When asked whether he enjoyed playing Salmoneus in HERE SHE COMES...MISS AMPHIPOLIS (35/211), Robert Trebor at the Phoenix Creation Con (05-31-98) said that he enjoyed playing opposite Lucy Lawless who played a very dishy blonde, and that he enjoyed singing in the episode. Robert told us that we could find all of his film credits at his web site. This is also the site where you can find information on joining Robert Trebor's fan club.

From Nike. At Caesar's party in WHEN IN ROME, the purple dress worn by the serving girl is the same dress that was worn by one of the contestants in the episode HERE SHE COMES...MISS AMPHIPOLIS.

PRE-COMMENTARY: Xena goes undercover at the Miss Amphipolis Beauty Contest. MISS AMPHIPOLIS is also a Salmoneus episode! Also, it will feature a character named Artiphys.

And!!! Is this a woman director???? Too good to be true. A first for XWPdom!


09-15-99. From Daniel. In "Here She Comes...Miss Amphipolis", when Gabby is dressed in her fancy clothes and pretending to be Miss Amphipolis' sponser, she has a little eyeglass charm that looks an awful lot like the magnifying glass necklace Ash gives his girlfriend, Linda, in "Evil Dead". And I'm sure we are all aware of the parallels between "Xena" and "Evil Dead".

03-06-99. Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor appeared at the The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras of February 1999, and Lawless wore the gown Miss Amphipolis wore in HERE SHE COMES, and O'Connor wore the gown she wore as Tyrella in IF THE SHOE FITS, including tiara! To see before and after pictures, CLICK HERE to visit MaryD's site.


Click here to read a transcript of HERE SHE COMES...MISS AMPHIPOLIS.


No ribbons were harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, several experienced severe motion sickness.


The following WHOOSH! articles discuss this episode:

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