AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Files - Flawless Print - Lucy Articles

Lucy Lawless - Thank You, Xena. May We Have Another?

Esquire Magazine

August 1997

Scanned / Transcribed by MaryD



Lucy Lawless has been the subject of more frenzied exegesis than any actress in the history of prime-time syndication. But there's nothing particularly complicated about why her character, Xena, is so wildly popular. She's the first mass-murdering, bisexual homeless woman to capture the hearts of America's families. The only mystery is why no one thought of it before. C'mon—a diabolical hybrid of Joan of Arc, Bettie Page, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Aileen Wuornos ... of course it's gonna be huge!

Is Lucy Lawless Xena or simply the most recent of innumerable avatars of Xena? I say the latter. I first met Xena thirty years ago. I was eleven. My parents, who belonged to a Maoist synagogue on the Upper East Side, had just finished getting dressed to go to some congregation gala when the new baby-sitter arrived. As soon as Mom and Dad were out the door, the brunette doffed her parka, and Oh, my God.... There was this big, fleshy girl in a leather bustier with metal breastplates, a short leather-and-metal skirt, wrist- and armbands, and boots, with a huge sword in a scabbard down her back. She was the sexiest girl I'd ever seen, a real girl—a demented, sweaty, hometown gifl living in some primeval dreamworld.

Thirty years later, I'm sitting in my office with three graduate students from the Department of Syndicated Drama at Stevens Institute of Technology here in Hoboken, and we're analyzing a videotape of the Xena episode in which the Warrior Princess subjugates the Horde, a bunch of miscreants who look like New Guinean Kiss impersonators. And we discover, to our astonishment, that we all have the identical Lucy Lawless fantasy. It goes like this: You're at home, just kicking back, watching TV, flipping through a magazine, and you hear this "Yi-yi-yi-yi-yi!" and there's Lawless doing this midair somersault through your front window, and she decapitates you with her chakram, and then she throws a Getz/Gilberto CD on the stereo, and your headless body goes at it with her, and then she hauls you outside and throws you into the pit with the others.

See, it's all about surrender. Ceding control. Letting go.