HOW CAN WE BE SO CRUEL
ON APRIL FOOL'S DAY?
Yes, perhaps it was too shocking to call up WHOOSH and find glaring in front of your sensitive eyes the ALL JOXER/PERDICAS ISSUE. That would have been bad enough, but the fact that it also was done BY POPULAR DEMAND easily was the last nail in the coffin. Well, buck up little camper, it was all a joke. It's April. You know, April Fool's Day???? And since it's such a good clean joke, we at WHOOSH CONTROL have decided to keep it up all month. Hahahahaha. We really do need to get a life.
AFTER YOU HAVE SEEN XENA,
YOU JUST CAN'T GO BACK
I received an e-mail a couple of weeks ago and the content was basically a xenafan bemoaning the fact that after watching XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS it is near impossible to tolerate how other women are portrayed on television. I have to support that sentiment.
The character Xena illustrates that a strong woman can be successfully portrayed on TV. So successfully that most other women on TV when compared to Xena appear whiny, wimpy, or as a mere accessory. The friendship between Xena and Gabrielle underscores the fact this show is about two women and who they are, not who they are married to or dating or what they do for a living or how they are helping their families. XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS is extremely subversive in this area.
Fortunately, the purveyors of television fare have noticed. This first was evidenced by the CAPTAIN ZOOM pilot from a year ago. It had a "Xena" type character in the cast. Also, even the inferior rip-offs of SINBAD and TARZAN, premiering earlier this season, attempted to each have a token "strong" scantily-clad female role. Now, after a season and a half of the warrior princess, television producers have introduced NIKITA and BUFFY. It is slow and the trail is fraught with failures and half-***** attempts but it is obvious that the cultural climate is changing. The only questions now are whether the change is happening fast enough and whether it is a permanent change.
And what about those who were around before Xena graced the TV screen? In the STAR TREK universe, Captain Janeway is buffing up and Major Kira Nerys and Lt. Dax are returning more to their logical roots. I only hope the STAR TREK writers watch more XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS episodes to see how it is possible for boys to write for women and not alienate half their audience. Lois Lane needs some severe Xenafication. In fact, all the rest of the women on TV need severe Xenafication.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS heralded in an age where at least on TV women stopped being the victims of the week and were portrayed as compelling and independent characters which had meaning and depth apart from who their boyfriend was, their family was, or what their career was? Hey! That's a challenge. Try to think of a woman character who is NOT defined that way. I can only come up with two: Xena and Gabrielle.
NEW YORK CITY XENAFEST
I had the distinct pleasure in attending the New York City XenaFest on March 22, 1997 at the Hotel Intercontinental. I hope this is at least an annual production. I am proud to have been associated with it. WHOOSH had a table manned by Bret Rudnick, WHOOSH's newest staff member, and me, Kym Taborn, the current editor-in-chief and chairperson of the board for the International Association of Xena Studies (IAXS). We had a great time meeting and talking with people from all over.
I also had the honor of helping out with a few of the activities of the day. I emceed the trivia contest (which is now on-line thanks to Tom's Xena Page at http://www.electroli te.com/xena_quiz/), sat in on the web page presentation, and moderated the panel discussion on the "Fan Experience of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS".
The terms XenaCon, XenaFest, and XenaGathering have been bandied about fandom now for over a year. XenaCon refers to the professionally ran conventions for which Creation Entertainment has purchased a license. They have only had one thus far, Burbank CA January 11-12, 1997, and plan tentatively to have two more in October 1997 in Valley Forge, PA and San Francisco, CA. More information can be had from their website at http://www.primenet.com/ ~outback/. These conventions feature castmembers and vendors and are highly organized. They seem to pop up once or twice a year.
A XenaFest is a fan ran meeting usually held at a restaurant which serves as a get-together for area Xenafans. It began with the first one in southern California. The ones in California have had some production staff in attendance in non-official capacities. There have been XenaFests in Northern California, New York, Florida, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, the Pacific Northwest, and the Atlantic Northeast, to name a few. The numbers of fans in attendance can be anywhere from 10 to 250. The content tends to be watching of videos, discussion with fans, raffles, and fan exhibits. They tend to be annual or seasonal.
The NYC XenaFest was significant in that it was the first real fan ran convention (as opposed to a 'professionally' run one) in Xena Fandom history. The Fest occurred in a hotel and was organized with workshops, demonstrations, panel discussions, costume and trivia contests, children activities, outside vendors, and the like. Perhaps fandom needs to come up with another term to cover this new form of XenaFest. XenaFanCon seems too long, and XenaCon is reserved for Creation Entertainment type productions.
A Xena Gathering is the most informal and usually occurs in someone's house. Does the word pot-luck terrify you? If so, a Xena Gathering is perhaps not the best place for you. It is a party where Xena tapes are played, Xena gossip is shared, and fans get to socialize on a more one to one level than at either a XenaCon, XenaFest or Uber-XenaFest.
In this month's issue of WHOOSH we have an article about the NYC XenaFest and a Xena Gathering in Southern California. Next month we hope to have news from the first Pacific Northwest XenaFest. WHOOSH would enjoy hearing from any of the XenaFests or XenaGatherings occurring all over the world. Just send a report with pictures to us and we will share it with our readers.
The website presentation at the NYC XenaFest consisted of a panel discussion with Carol Burrell of Logomancy, the first significant XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS website, if not the very first ( http://plaza.interport.net/logomanc/XENA/); Thomas Simpson of the world famous highly frequented "Tom's Xena Page" (http://xenafan.com); Betsy Book, the designer and maintainer of the WHOOSH website (http://www.thirdstory.com/whoosh); and me, the tagalong. Carol represented the lonely Apple user and Tom and Betsy encouraged all comers to add their distinctiveness to the collective of websiters. One hundred and ninety websites are easily not enough to cover the XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS experience. There is room for thousands more.
The evening discussion on "XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS and the Fan Experience" welcomed the following panelists: Maria Erb (firstname.lastname@example.org), a freelance journalist from New Hampshire who has written for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the Middlesex News, the Needham Times, and the Christian Science Monitor; Gary Goff (email@example.com), an educator from Brooklyn, NY; Maureen McGowan (firstname.lastname@example.org), a civil servant from Washington D.C. who is involved prominently in STAR TREK fandom; and Ed Baker (email@example.com), a telephone employee from Ohio. The panelists were asked four general questions: (1) what changed them personally from a casual viewer to a serious fan; (2) did they think Xena fandom was different from other fandom; (3) did they think Xena fandom was changing; and (4) how they felt about the media coverage of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS. The panelists all gave thoughtful answers all within their allotted three minutes. This warmed the heart of their moderator to no end.
From the Friday evening dinner to the tearing down of posters and the packing away of the WHOOSH table at 9:50pm on Saturday night, I was impressed by the fellowship and civility of the fans. As a group, Xenafans are used to being made fun of and being sensitive about getting so much enjoyment out of a sword and sandal show. To be with hundreds of fans who understand and appreciate another fans interest in the show, whether it be for the marital arts, the scenery, the top-notch writing, the actors, the friendship, the humor, the subtext, the portrayal of independent women, or what not, is just as good as any shot of ambrosia.
Finally, my thanks must go to the NYC XenaFest organizers. They pulled off an incredible accomplishment and should have their names sang out in praise with great merry-making. I will list them all in case someone wants to name their children after any of them: Debbie Cassetta (Mistopholees), Susan Barnes (Alaska), Bonnie, Danielle G. (DanniYell), Songeeta Guha, Betsy Book (bsquared), Thomas Simpson, Michele Anish, and the amazing Rinah/Sandy.
Kym Masera Taborn
Chairman of the Board,
International Association of Xena Studies
March 31, 1997
NOTE TO IAXS MEMBERS: The e-mail edition of Whoosh #7 will be released whenever I get around to it!!! Bwahahahhaha.