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Lucy In The Sky

Advocate Magazine

10 October 2006

Scanned by Roger

Please note: There are some spoilers for Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica in this article

As TV's Xena, Lucy Lawless made lesbians swoon. Now she's singing on reality tv
and playing a sci-fi bad girl - and she still makes us swoon.

Lucy in the sky

As TVs Xena, Lucy Lawless made lesbians swoon. Now she's singing on reality TV and playing a sci-fi bad girl—and she still makes us swoon By Michele Kort

How do you know when you've really, really made it? How about when a dwarf planet is named after you? I think it's great," says Lucy Lawless. She's smiling, sitting on a street bench in the quaint Larchmont Village neighborhood on another hot Los Angeles summer day, reflecting on 2003 UB313, the recently discovered planet at the far reaches of our solar system. It's popular nickname is "Xena," for the "warrior princess" Lawless played for six TV seasons. "I ran into one of the astronomers at a baggage carousel—he recognized me—and he said he didn't think that [the name 'Xena' was going to get through," says Lawless. "He thought they were going to go for Persephone.'

"I'm like, 'Didn't 1 kill Persephone in the second episode? Did she have her own show? The whole thing is crazy, but it makes perfect sense—Xena was just as real as the other mythological characters. Xena knew them all—she belongs up there in their pantheon."

Xena's already in the lesbian pantheon, as is the tongue-in-cheeky Lawless, who deliriously brought to life a kick-ass heroine subtextually in love with sidekick Gabrielle (whose name, by the way, has been given to the moon orbiting "Planet Xena"). Since the show completed its run five years ago, the New Zealander has appeared here and there on TV and in movies, but much of her energy has gone to raising her two young sons, Julius, 6, and Judah, 4 (she also has a daughter, Daisy, 18, from her first marriage), with husband (and Xena creator and executive producer) Rob Tapert. Now she's back in force— honey-blond this time and living in Holly, wood—and once again filling screens with her 5*foot-10 alpha-female presence.

First up is Celebrity Duels, Simon Cowell's latest musical contrivance, in which actors and other celebs who can sing (mostly) pair with legendary stars such as Peter Frampton, Patti La Belle, and Smokey Robinson. Lawless will compete against the likes of who-knew-they-could-sing celebs Cheech Marin, Queer as Folks Hal Sparks, and Queer Eye for the Straight Guys "culture vulture," Jai Rodriguez.

"My peeps were really trying to talk me out of doing it—they were not happy I was going to do a reality show,* says Lawless, who looks yoga-fit but not Xena-buff in her white tank top. 'I said, There's bombing in Israel, the war is going on in Iraq.... 1 want to be part of something that has joy and an open spirit to it. I don't know how else to contribute to the world." (It didn't hurt, either, to get the rare chance to hold hands with Smokey Robinson and croon "Ooh Baby Baby"—"I was in awe," says Lawless.)

After Duets, she'll be seen in 10 episodes of the Sci Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica, a modem take on the late-"70s space opera. She plays D'Anna, a Number Three-model Cylon (part robot, part human) who. conveniently, can be downloaded into another body if killed. She describes her character as "extremely pragmatic, tough, callous," leaving out "hot"—but viewers will certainly notice, especially when she ends up in a "sort of menage a trois" with female Cylon Number Six (Tricia Helfer) and male character Baltar {James Callis). Is something happening between the women, or is it all for the guy?

"Well, we'll leave it to the audience to decide," says Lawless slyly. "You know how those things go, c'mon!*
Lawless spent four months filming Galactica in Vancouver, which is also the shooting grounds for The L Word. While in Canada, couldn't she have squeezed in an L Word cameo for her legion of lesbian fans?

"They came to me about The L Word early on," she reveals. Then they got some girl with a Xena haircut [Karina Lombard]. That's what often happens to me. They came to me about [the 1999 movie] Pushing Tin, and then at the last minute they said, 'Oh, never mind," because Billy Bob [Thornton] had met Angelina [Jolie]. So what did they do? They gave her the haircut! 1 can't use that haircut anymore, because everyone else has done it."

Lawless doesn't know yet whether she'll continue with Galactica beyond this season. "I like the diversity of what I'm doing," she says, adding in her best California patois, "I'm just going with the flow, man.

"Wherever I am. whatever I'm doing, it's my new greatest thing," says Lawless, who's as likable (and makeup-free gorgeous) in person as any Xena fan would have hoped. "My life isn't perfect by any means. I certainly have my troubles, but I'm good at spotting the fun stuff. 1 don't know about Planet Xena, this bloody-cold chunk of ice...but I'm telling you. Planet Lucy rocks!" ■