Yesterday was Xena Warrior Princess's 18th birthday. 18 years. Wow. I cannot believe that it was 18 years since the first episode, "Sins of the Past" aired. I discovered the show one Sunday while I was getting ready to go to the Rescue Squad for my duty shift. I tuned in in the middle of the show and it made me laugh so much that I frantically tried to find out what show it was. Mind you, this was before the true advent of the "Internet". This was back in the days of Compuserve before even AOL really got going.
I was never a "fan" of a TV show prior to Xena and was mortified to discover that I became a true "hardcore nutball" as Lucy called us. I found myself logging on to read the conversations on the Netforum. It was a very small community of fans back then. Everyone was so excited about the groundbreaking episodes and the Netforum was a place to share all that. Some of the producers and staff, such as editor Rob Field (Avacus) and writer Steven Sears (Tyldus), started posting to the Netforum and the fans were able to interact with them. A fan started the first Lucy Lawless Fan Club and stopped when Creation took over and created their own. Mama ROC created one for her daughter, Renee O'Connor. Email lists were started. People started writing fan fiction .... first General Fan Fiction and then the inevitable Alt Fan Fiction, Filk, and Uber fan fiction. Email lists were started the biggest one being the Xenaverse (which eventually became the Xena Verse). Websites were born such as Tom's Fan Fiction Page, Logomancy, and the fabulous WOOSH! The fans became very protective of the actors. Both when Lucy Lawless and then Renee O'Connor married their respective husbands, the fandom clamped down hard on anyone who was talking about the location & time so that their weddings would not be marred by unwanted guests. When Lucy Lawless broke hip on the Tonight Show, she inspired Sword & Quill to get started as a way of fans raising money for various charities. Over the past 18 years, over 15 MILLION dollars have been raised for charities by Xenites.
XWP changed the lives of so many fans myself included. I dove into the internet and it's technology, I made life long friends all over the world some of whom I have only me online and others face to face. This shy introvert took a leap of faith in 1997 (I believe) when I drove up to Valley Forge to the Xena Convention....my very first convention ever. At one point, I made the decision to leave early as I could not afford a second night in the hotel thereby missing the appearance by Renee O'Connor the following day. A couple of fans who I had never met before came up to me and offered me a spot in their room so that I could stay. I ended up staying.
A couple of weeks later travelling up to NYC to see Lucy Lawless in Grease.Save & Close
I travelled across the country to the "big" convention in Santa Monica.
It was right after Santa Monica that I flew to New Zealand and stayed with fellow xenites I had only met online.
I continued to go to the yearly conventions reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones. Eventually was offered the opportunity to shoot for Lucy Lawless.
So thank you for the past 18 years. You have no succeeded in making me feel old .... but I would not change it for the world. Now I have to rewatch the series.