Xena has been off the air for well over a decade, but lesbians can often subsist on subtext alone (even though we shouldn’t have to). The topic recently re-emerged in an Autostraddle reply-all, so I offered to lend my geekery knowledge to this list of little known Xena trivia.
1. Xena and Gabrielle have a complicated history of mouth-to-mouth
We all watch Xena for the famous “lesbian subtext,” so just how many times have Xena and her partner in crime Gabrielle kissed? Well that depends on how you look at it. In Season One, Episode 24, “Is There a Doctor in the House” Xena gives Gabrielle mouth to mouth. But in Season 2, Episode 5 “Return of Callisto” she gives a tender smooch when Gabrielle is leaving to marry Perdicus. The second Season 2 Episode 13 “The Quest” they kiss in a dreamscape scene in between life and death before Xena turns back into Autolycus. But the real kiss doesn’t come until the series finale Season Six, Episode 24 “A Friend in Need” where the two share an emotional kiss before Xena’s death.
2. Gabrielle wasn’t the only lady Xena sapphically locked lips with
She also got some screen kiss time with mentor hottie Lao Ma in Season Three Episode 6‘s “The Debt.” I’m having a hard time verifying that this is the only other woman Xena puckered up to on the show but certainly she was one of the most influential people in Xena’s life, having been a main signpost on her path to redemption, and probably the most important lesbian love next to Gabrielle. Her amount of screen time certainly doesn’t do her justice.
3. Xena was represented at NYC Pride…
Xena has inspired entire conventions but also a group that consistently marched in NYC’s Pride Parade for several years (approximately 2001-2004 it seems), called the Marching Xenas.
4. …and had her own monthly dance party
The MXs also spawned a monthly dance party, Xena Night, at Meow Mix that ran from 1996 to 2006 is some capacity. And you really really must check out their website that is somehow still semi-live, because it is the best/worst most 90s amazingness you will ever behold. People my age will have possibly nostalgic/possibly disturbing flashbacks to things like Geocities and neon repeating backgrounds. If nothing else, you’ll want to check out their plain text Top 10 lists, which include such gems as:
- Top 16 Titles For The Eventual Xena Movie: Son of Xena and Gabrielle: A How-To Guide For Pre-Mycenean Artificial Insemination
- Top Ten Reasons We Keep Doing Xena Night December 2002: Barb has some photos of us we’d rather not see published
- And if you still just can’t get enough the webring of Xena sites is still up.
5. Xena’s child has an interesting genealogy
Speakinng of Pre-Mycenean alternative birthing, in the first episode of Season Five, “Fallen Angel” Callisto touches Xena in a moment of forgiveness and this marks the baby’s conception. It isn’t until 9 episodes later that we learn the evil goddess gave Xena the child as a strange way of making amends as well as reincarnating herself. So she’s both father and child.
6. The true identity of Xena’s horse is complicated
Early episodes refer to the equine as a “boy” but by episode 21 they pretty consistently refer to Argo as a mare. In reality Argo was portrayed by several horses and according to the Whoosh International Association of Xena Studies:
Tilly does the riding and standing, Aztec is the rearing specialist, Honey takes care of the kicking and running, and Mac is the stand-in. Despite persistent rumors, there is no horse named ‘Daisy.’
7. Her costume should be coming soon to a museum near you
Lucy Lawless donated her costume to the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History in 2006, but so far it hasn’t been put on display. I mean, I checked the “Costume Collection: Women’s Dresses” and it was not to be found. Tragic. But it did appear in Science Fiction Museum in Seattle on loan.
8. Xena is partially based on an “evil warrior princess” from early 90s Hong Kong action films
The character was played by Taiwainese actress Lin Ching Hsia/Brigitte Lin. Lin was also famous for playing several gender bending roles in movies such as Peking Opera Blues, Swordsman II and III and more.
9. Producers initially wanted Xena’s battle cry to be based on the ululations of Arab women, but Lawless couldn’t quite master it
So, instead, it went through various arguments about and changes in spelling such as ayiyiyiyi, alelelelele and more, evetually getting as far as calling it Alalaes, the female personification of wark cry in Greek mythology. Way to successfully (sorta) spin away from cultural appropriation!
10. I Won a Xena trivia contest during a screening of the final episode at the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Community Center when I was living there in the summer of 2001
Share your favorite Xena trivia and/or feelings in the comments!
I’m actually pretty sure the “real kiss” was masked as a water transfer. Even though we all know it was more than that. I mean, come on, after the show ended LL herself said they were totally married. There was also the time in “Return of the Valkyrie” that Xena, as Gabrielle’s soulmate, had to kiss her to wake her up out of her magical slumber.
That! I was gonna say, this list of times X & G touched lips is lacking. Also also Callisto may have been the bio dad of Xena’s kid, but Gabrielle was definitely Eve’s dad-dad. Even Ares acknowledged that, with a wink and a pervy statement, in Season 5.
LOOK I HAVE FEELINGS ABOUT THIS SHOW OK
Not trying to be rude…. but spellcheck, yo.
Otherwise, great article!
Sometimes I feel like one of those deep sea worms that live in the Mariana trench and eat sulfur, except with lesbian subtext.
So anyway thanks for this article.
Little Carmen SD taped the entire series on VHS from the tv as they aired. I even paused the recording during the commercials
Don’t know how my mom was surprised to find out that I was gay…
This. Me too. Oh man.
I loved the shi* outta Xena back in the day! Still do!
The editor-in-chief of WHOOSH! went to my alma mater. I only hope that I accomplish a fraction of what she has before I die.
Dear Alley, the very gay Rhine Gold trilogy included the very real kiss of Gab’s true soul mate/Love, which woke her from perpetual slumber.
I don’t know if I can put “Lesbian kisses Trivia from the 90’s” on a job application under “special interests”, but you know.It was either that or dominoes.
Anyways, i would have loved a count of “I Love You”s,but I can see, as they were too numerous that this would have been too ardent ans impossible a task.
By the way, this will make your day, if you haven’t seen it,yet:
Man,Lao Ma, that was pretty special. I do miss this show.
Just started watching this show. Only on the first episode, but that show is so gay, it’s wonderful.
Dwarf planet Eris and its moon Dysnomia were almost named Xena and Gabrielle.
I remember watching this show when I was a kid, I loved Xena because she was so kickass. I still love her! And Gabby is awesome :)
I built the Xena Night at The Meow Mix website. I’m not saying I was coder or anything but the vibe that we wanted to give was “Red Light District”. A lot, and I mean A LOT of beer went into coding that site. I was also paid in beer at the XN events. For those who used to go to XN, I was the one who ran the drinking game.
I watched the show all the time as a kid, but most of the subtext flew right over my head. I’ve been rewatching it over the summer and /damn/. So much gay. It’s beautiful.
Considering how obsessed I was with this show when I was a kid, I don’t know how anyone was surprised that I ended up a queer Pagan.
XWP will always be near and dear to my queer heart.
also: the episode Heart of Darkness where everyone is in hell and all bondagey/more lusty than usual? YEP
That dance. THAT DANCE. That has to pretty much count as a euphemism for them doing it.
There was another kiss between Xena and Gabrielle (well, sorta). Spoilers –> In “Déjà Vu All over Again” there’s this woman played by Lucy Lawless who thinks she’s Xena’s reincarnation, but her boyfriend was Xena in his past life, so he kisses future Gabrielle and end up together because they’re soulmates.
Also, “When Fates Collide” is one of those TV moments that has made me go “aww-OMG-too-sweet!”. Gabrielle realizes in an alternative life that she doesn’t want her dream life If Xena isn’t part of it -ok, that sounds a little codependent, but I promise it’s romantic!
Oh, and Xena once gave Gabrielle a Sappho poem for her birthday.
XWP was very important for me as a teenager; I wrote a couple of cheesy articles for a site called “El mundo del subtexto” when I was like 14. Also reading fan-fiction, good times!
Oh yeah, there’s that too
Xena got me into fan fiction. Thanks, Xena!
fun fact – beloved comedian and gay lady Tig Notaro was Lucy Lawless’ assistant on XWP.
Oh, Xena. I love her. For my senior trip in high school my class went to Disney and Universal Studios and I insisted on going to the Xena and Hercules ride/exhibit by myself and was endlessly mocked for it, but I didn’t care because Xena.
I remember as a young teenager making a huge fuss about how rubbish Xena was, mainly because I was uncomfortable with how much it turned me on. I watched it when I was alone in the house or with my brother when I had protested his choice for a while.
In retrospect that much denial must have been very exhausting.
This is an important list, thank you for putting it together.
Also, someone needs to organize a Xena trivia contest STAT so I can prove my utter dominance in this field.
This. Just, this: http://youtu.be/uRnnFw2jTh8
My little known fact is that I was so uber obsessed with the show. So when it ended this nifty, rather new website called EBay was auctioning off set items. So I hurriedly created an account and bid on everything. It seems every lesbian knew about the auction as I was outbid again and again until the last day, I scored a leather handled molded war knife for $75.00. It has been behind glass on display in my house ever since…and I’ve become an EBay addict. Proud Xena was my first purchase.
So my first real lady-crush-makeout-relationship was about 10 years older than me and was a major Xena fan. She had – no joke – a life-size cardboard cutout of the Warrior Princess herself. I never really watched the show, so I didn’t really get it, but we did find common ground in our shared affection for Dana Scully :)
I also had a cardboard standee of Xena in college that my mom got me for Xmas. It had a motion activated sensor that said one of six things when you walked by it. I hope it is still wandering the halls of Smith College somewhere…
I’m actually so stoked to see such a recent article about Xena. I didn’t watch the warrior princess and Gabrielle and her fabulous six pack until all of two months ago. I’m knee deep into season three and don’t understand how I went so long without either of these ladies, their lessons, their adventures. I had no idea I’d ever be such a fan of anything, like I like lost girl and orphan black, but Xena’s got me totally geeking out.
You just read my mind!!! I watched Xena for the first time 4 months ago and I have no idea how life was before Xena.I’m already watching it again. I can’t get enough of it now na this article made me so happy!!!
I am a lesbian because I love girls