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Gay Shock For Xena Star

Woman's Weekly
(New Zealand)

2 September 1996

Transcribed by Jester

New Zealand TV star Lucy Lawless has been stunned to discover that over in America she's turning into a gay sex symbol. Her show Xena: Warrior Princess has gaind a cult following. And the sword-swinging, man-bashing beauty portrayed by luscious Lucy is so popular with gay women, lesbian bars have taken to holding special Xena viewing nights.

Hollywood lesbian bar owner Janet Thompson says the best night of the week at the Strumpet Bar is when they have a showing of Xena on the big-screen TV.

"The gals come flooding in, they drink more and they shout and cheer as sexy Xena's wild battles take place," says Janet. "They just love those skimpy leather-skirted outfits, and quite a few women have arrived dressed similarly - looking very butch indeed."

And that's not all. Apparently, gals behind prison bars have made Lucy their pin-up queen. In women's jails, some framed colour pictures of the Kiwi beauty sell for as much as $50. Additionall, pictures of the brawny Amazon circulate widely on the Internet.

Sources close to the show's produces say the bigwigs are in shock that they've drawn the gay crowd into such a fanatic following.

But Lucy herself has told them, "Relax, I don't mind. If I please women as well as men, that's great. I'd be delighted to be a sex symbol for both sexes. What this is about is getting as many viewers as possible for the show."
But how far will all this go?

According to one American report, gay fans on the Internet computer network are now pressing Xena producers to write a gay love affair between Xena and her curvy blonde sidekick Gabrielle, played by Renee O'Connor. "I've proposed that to the writing staff, but I have to tread carefully," producer Robert Tapert is reported as saying. "We don't want to alienate
people. We don't want to alienate kids."

More than that, the show is starting to draw fire from the Christian right in puritanical and hypocritical America. "I think the costumes are far too skimpy, that the obvious lesbian thrust of the show is disgusting," says the Rev Paul Bannister, a Baptist minister.

"If they push for more of an under-lying gay theme, we'll have to strive to get this show banned. We know the series is attracting a lesbian following and we don't want that kind of thing on national TV."

Leggy, leather-skirted Xena was originally supposed to be a heroine for little girls and a sexy draw for male viewers. Show producers stress at the moment there's no hint of passion between the Warrior Princess and Gabrielle. "Early on, the studio came down on me because they wanted to make sure no one perceived Xena and Gabrielle as lesbians," Tapert is quoted as saying.

But gay viewers, who are drooling over sleekly muscled Lucy in her provocative Xena outfit, see plenty of sexual chemistry in the way the raven-haired warrior protects willowy Gabrielle, say sources. "Show star Lawless, who is estranged from her husband and has an eight-year-old daughter named Daisy, looks like a fascinating woman," says
lesbian writer, June Preston.

"We just wish she'd make an official visit here. She'd be a mega-hit with West Hollywood's lesbian community. "TV's hunkiest woman warrior is a new lesbian love goddess," says June.

But suggestions that Lucy become the Grand Marshal of the next Gay and Lesbian Pride parade were met with horror by producers of the TV show.

Says a Xena insider, "We would never put Lucy in a situation like that. It's one thing to have a gay following - but it's another to make it official. That would bring down the Christian right and could wreck the show."

"In fact, we already think this gay connection is really getting out of hand. We want as many viewers as possible, drawn from every grouping."

"I'm sure Lucy realises there's real danger in being associated with any one specific sexual persuasion."