By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
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By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
View more photographs in the Xena Warrior Princess slideshow.
A hot young lesbian looking for a good time could do a lot worse than the Xena Warrior Princess Convention this past weekend at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel. Of course, Xena accommodates all: mythology buffs, amateur historians and those who don’t much care which way the sword cuts so long as it’s big and shiny. Like Lisa Marie Aagard, who has flown out alone from Salt Lake City, Utah, to meet the rest of the Xena warriors and introduces herself by her online name, “LadyLuck86.” She’s been telling herself she won’t be starstruck by meeting her gods, but then she winds up sharing an elevator with Hercules’ sidekick, Iolaus — who is technically only half-god (played by the very human actor Michael Hurst) — and emerges screaming on the inside.
“I’m not gonna dress up this year,” she declares. “I thought I’d check it out first.” A wise (or tragic, depending on your inclination) decision, because unless you count the “333-I’m Only Half Evil” and “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas” T-shirts, in fact only a handful of fans have come in costume.
“Is anyone here for the first time tonight?” the MC asks, and several young women bravely raise their hands. “Virgins!” someone else cries.
Various producer types ascend the dais and attendees ask incisive questions like, “Why do women of Xena still wear the Wonderbras?” On how he came up with the Xena opening-credit song, composer Jo Lo Duca says: “We thought about the warrior princess and where she might have evolved from. We used that whole strong Bulgarian women’s singing style. You know there’s that bagpipe in the beginning? That’s actually sheep stomach. The point is, that sound really turns the women on. Wait,” he says, as someone hands him a note. “A customized Xena hubcap was stolen from a Xena car in the parking lot. I don’t believe it was anyone from the convention who did that. We don’t travel like that.”
Then they air a music video directed by fans in which Xena and her naive sidekick, Gabrielle, snuggle by a campfire, wash each other’s backs in a hot bath, and consummate their secret love. It receives a standing ovation, an Amazonian whooping fit to bring the house down.
Speaking of which, the exhibition area has fliers inviting people out to New Zealand for Camp Amazon. “You’ll live and play in this authentic Amazon Village, complete with all the finishing touches” — you know, charging the beach in horse-drawn Roman chariots, nights of tales from the bard, kicking back in the steam room for seaweed wraps, and just generally chilling.
I’m perusing one such flier when the woman behind the booth selling non-Xena books asks, “So, what themes are you interested in?”
The themes in Xena: Warrior Princess, in no particular order, are: the primacy of friendship; redemption from sins of the past; fighting for the greater good; the natural cycle of life, death and rebirth; and intense, unrequited yearning for cute, sexy girls in medieval miniskirts.
That last one is not so much theme as subtext. When you brush aside the moneymaking aspect — the $119 yoga lessons, the soy candles, the $25 Xena calendars — girl-on-girl is the single most important subtext at the Xena convention. The displays of feminine support are overwhelming. A womanish man, or a mannish woman — it’s hard to say which — is patiently reading The Shack while his/her girlfriend gets her Xena on. A woman wearing a denim shirt with a portrait of Lucy Lawless on the back, airbrushed by her life partner, also does murals on motor homes. A septuagenarian lesbian couple, who’ve been together since the world was flat, regret that they both didn’t wear their matching fuzzy wolf sweaters.
Soon, Lucy Lawless appears. It’s Xena in the flesh. Or rather, flesh covered up in dark-wash, thigh-hugging jeans, black turtleneck, hair pulled back into a chic J. Crew ponytail, even more athletic and svelte-looking than in her old warrior days. She regales the troops with stories. She is wildly charismatic. Among many other things, she talks about rescuing squirrels, whose butts she cleaned with Q-tips. And inevitably, inexorably, the conversation circles ’round to Showtime’s The L Word, in which Lawless guest-starred. “Who killed Jenny Schecter?” someone asks.
“Why do you guys hate her so much?” Lawless asks.
“She’s a tramp!”
“Now, now. As we learned from Xena, to have a good hero, you have to have a good villain,” says Lawless, who is currently reading Best Crime Reporting of 2008. “I liked Jenny,” she says of actress Mia Kirshner’s character. “She was naughty. She stirred things up.”
Talk about stirring things up, the lesbians have been following Lawless to her rock concerts at the Roxy after convention hours, and last night she performed in a Catholic-schoolgirl outfit. She has them eating out of the palm of her hand.
“Hello, Lucy,” says a woman who used to be a man. His surgery went splendidly, thank you.
“Hello, dahling. Welcome to a new world,” Xena purrs.