St Louis Post Dispatch
5 September 1996
FOR THE LOVE OF LUCY
She comes to me in the the late-night glow of the tube, and I am transfixed. She's buxom, she's brawny, she's clad in a leather skirt and bronze breast (and I mean breast) plates. No one can conquer her‹not evil kings, not fickle gods, not filthy hordes of gnarly barbarians. On foot or on horseback, swinging on ropes or flipping through the air, she is the ruler of my TV universe.
What can I say? I love Lucy. No, I'm not talking Ball. I'm talking Lawless, as in Lucy Lawless, as in star of the syndicated television show "Xena: Warrior Princess." Xena's official web-site (http://www.mca.com/tv/xena) describes the superwoman of ancient Greece this way: "Surrounded by enemies, barbaric tribes, slave traders and a host of other evils, Xena is on a mission to help people free themselves from tyranny and injustice."
She is also, according to the tabloids (which I read as religiously as I watch this show), a major sex symbol for lesbians. In fact, the show "Xena: Warrior Princess" has apparently become the "Melrose Place" of lesbian bar communal TV watching. Instead of gathering to watch who Heather Locklear will destroy next, gay women gather to watch Xena kick scummy male butt and hang out with her faithful female companion, the demure Gabrielle. I understand these women's fixation, because Lucy/Xena's appeal cuts across all age, gender and sexual preference lines.
To paraphrase Dennis Miller, I'm not gay or anything, but Lucy Lawless is hot. She uses her goddess-like strength to grind dirt-bags into dust. As in the great comic book tradition of all superheroes, Xena puts herself in constant jeopardy, yet always wins in the end. An icky barbarian ties her up and holds her hostage in his tent? Not to worry‹she escapes from leather strap bondage by popping a knife blade out of her ample cleavage and into the air, where it slashes down and snips right through her ankle restraints.
A man slaps Xena's face? No sweat‹she head-butts him into unconsciousness. An angry army attacks her with spears in a castle? The woman improvises with aplomb‹she grabs two wet towels, flicks them in circles like twin twisters in a locker room, and uses these make-shift whips to lash the army into submission. You can't keep Xena down, and you can't stop her. And once hooked on t his TV wonderwoman of the '90s, you can't ever look at ancient Greece the same way again (because, frankly, Xena's ancient Greece looks a whole lot like exterior shots of Northern California and interior shots of Cecil B. DeMille reject sets in a Burbank back-lot). Like I said, I love Lucy. Hail, hail, Xena, Warrior Princess, ruler of my late-night heart.
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