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Women cheer the loudest for Xena, warrior princess

Xena August 1, 1997
Web posted at: 11:55 a.m. EDT (1555 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The TV series "Xena: Warrior Princess," about a mythical female action hero who bravely battles giants, monsters and all other forms of evil, has become one of the highest-rated shows in syndication.

Xena has also become a hero to many fans, particularly to women, who see her as a role model and much more. They admire her strength, her fearlessness, her cunning with a sword.

But even more than that, the women who frequent the New York nightspot Meow Mix just think she's exciting. "Meow Mix," a bar with a predominantly lesbian clientele, holds a "Xena night" the second Tuesday of every month.

"There are a lot of lesbian undertones, I think, definite lesbian undertones in the show, and so that sort of makes it within this community here, very interesting or exciting," said Liz Carthaus, "Xena night" host.

sword fight

In fact, women come in droves to watch taped, back-to-back episodes of "Xena: Warrior Princess," taking in the show with the intensity of die-hard sports fans watching the Super Bowl.

"Xena night" is capped off by a good old-fashioned swordfighting competition, complete with plastic swords and some uncanny look-alikes.

Are these fans reading something into the script that isn't there? Xena's producers acknowledge a lesbian subtext to the series, particularly when it comes to the relationship between Xena and her sidekick Gabrielle.

But the suggestive storylines are no problem for the show's star, Lucy Lawless.

"Why should it bother me that I'm a sex symbol to women more than men? It doesn't mean that I'm in the market for either," she said, laughing. "But no, I don't have a problem with that sort of thing at all."


And to her fans, Xena is more than a gay icon. "It's just fun to watch a woman who is very independent," said one of the patrons of Meow Mix.

Another agreed. "It's the first time that I've seen a female play that sort of role, and be believable in it. Lynda Carter did Wonder Woman, she was lame. Lucy rules, man!" she said.

For female actresses, roles portraying a strong, independent character like Xena are still the exception rather than the rule. Lawless says she thinks the character is appealing precisely because of her strong-willed nature.

"She's empowering. She has a real 'I can' message or 'you can' message," she said. "It's a great honor to be part of something that is really a positive influence."

Correspondent Bill Tush contributed to this report.  

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