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Screen Grab, In the Service of a Warrior Princess

Posted 01-12-99

The New York Times
By "Circuits" Page G8

A short but telling article on the presence of XWP on the internet. Quoted are Lucy Lawless, Betsy Book, and Tom Simpson. Calls WHOOSH "one of the most elegantly designed and irresistible 'Xena' comfort stations on the information highway". The following articles were mentioned: "Xena and Heathcliff: Classic Byronic Heroes," (Cathy H. McLain) and "The Female Hero, Duality of Gender and Post-Modern Feminism in 'Xena: Warrior Princess,'" (Rhonda Nelson). Also discusses Tom Simpson's (WHOOSH Consultant) Tom's Xena Page.


The syndicated television show "Xena: Warrior Princess" had its
debut on the airwaves in the fall of 1995, arguably about the
same time the popularity of the Internet began to explode across
America, and the two entities have been intertwined ever since.

Xena's weekly dose of evil-battling swordplay, skimpy action
wear and refreshingly saucy feminism is eagerly awaited by her
fans, and even the tiniest of plot points and nuanced lines are
dissected with glee across Usenet newsgroups, chat rooms and
unofficial but enthusiastic Web pages.  

"I think the Internet has given some really hard-core nutballs,
as I call them, a kind of community where they can bounce off
ideas," said the star of "Xena," Lucy Lawless, who has been
known to venture into cyberspace herself.

"I truly think that the show would not be where it is today
without the Internet fandom," said Betsy Book, a Web designer in
New York. "It enables fandom to grow so quickly. The ultimate
fandom granddaddy, 'Star Trek,' took two decades to develop. The
Internet sped all that process up." Ms. Book, 27, is also the
Webmaster for Whoosh (whoosh.org), a monthly on-line magazine
that bills itself as the journal of the International
Association of Xena Studies, a group founded by a California
lawyer, Kym Masera Taborn.

Whoosh, one of the most elegantly designed and irresistible
"Xena" comfort stations on the information highway, is a
thorough compendium of episode summaries, breaking news, gossip
and thoughtful articles written by fans and Xena Studies
association members. Treatises like "Xena and Heathcliff:
Classic Byronic Heroes," by Cathy H. McLain, appeared in issue
No. 6; "The Female Hero, Duality of Gender and Post-Modern
Feminism in 'Xena: Warrior Princess,' " by Rhonda Nelson,
appeared in No. 13.

One of the most popular "Xena" sites on the Web is Tom's Xena
Page (www.xenafan.com). Created by Tom Simpson, 24, the site is
jampacked with 800 megabytes of downloadable sound clips, image
files, video snippets and other digitized souvenirs, and it is
the first stop on many a "Xena" fan's Web crawl. "I average
about 5,000 hits a day, with 7 gigabytes of files downloaded
daily," said Mr. Simpson, who jokingly referred to his site as
"the Wal-Mart of Xena fandom."

Like Whoosh, his site also contains a sprawling section devoted
to the home-grown literary efforts of the "Xena" faithful. "Fan
fiction is the most popular area," he noted. Each site has a
trail of links leading to the others, but they are linked by
more than just hypertext -- Ms. Book and Mr. Simpson are
engaged to be married. Although they met through "Xena"-related
E-mail, the romance developed later, when Mr. Simpson, moving
from Utah last year, asked Ms. Book for help in finding an
apartment. Both now work at iVillage, a Web-design company in
Manhattan, so how can they avoid the common intrusion of work
into home life?

"Spend no longer than 10 minutes a day talking shop," Ms.
Lawless advised. She should know -- she is engaged to marry the
executive  producer of "Xena," Rob Tapert, in the spring.

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