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FHM Magazine (Australia)

November 1999

Lucy Lawless

Way back before Lucy Lawless slipped into the leather garb leather garb she's made famous as Xena: Warrior Princess she was watching Whoopi Goldberg host the Academy Awards. The imposing Kiwi with the glacier-blue eyes was 22 years old and in her own words, "Lying in a malaise on a beanbag at four in the afternoon - alone."

She was pretty pissed off she wasn't cutting it as an actor herself and barely conscious to the telecast when Goldberg switched her on. "To all those kids out there dreaming about being up here with me and Oscar - you better believe it can happen."

Despite this cliche-to-end-all-cliches, Lawless snapped to the problem. "I thought: Yeah, it's your own lack of faith which stops you from having a bloody good crack at anything. It's go hard or go home!"

So she did. As a result her success as the mythical Xena: Warrior Princess, a spin-off from the now defunct Hercules series, has made her one of the world's best known pop-culture icons and put her into New Zealand's "10 Wealthiest People list". Not that it's apparent on the dank Auckland film set during FHM's visit. Above the hubbub of moviemaking one thing rings most true Lucy's mother-of-all Kiwi accent especially when you're expecting Xena's Midwestern drawl.

"Why would I lose my accent? I value it, eh," she says over (wait for it) a roast lamb lunch with the crew. "I liken it to driving a flash car. You've almost got a duty not to be a wanker if you're driving one. Enjoy it, but don't be a moron."

But while the twang stays other things are changing. The size of her belly for one. Heavily pregnant and draped by a full-length Mandarin- style outfit to disguise it in Series Five, Lucy (and her most valuable cargo) are preparing for the show's 100th episode where the make-believe father (lucky bastard!) will be revealed to Xenaphobes across the planet. Three episodes later, "Xena-Junior" will be born and only God and the scriptwriters know what sort of impact that will have.

But what's been the immediate effect? "I'm much more Zen. Focused. And everything's a whole lot sexier. There's a fear of 'the belly' for men, sure. Pregnant women are rushed off to hospital where mysterious things happen. We're all accustomed to seeing flat bellies and big breasts not that there's anything wrong with that I intend to have them myself one day! But boys, men can get real lucky when women are like this."

And with that worldwide sales of contraceptive pills hit rock bottom...

So all your husband Rob has done is impregnate you, his one great moment...
That's quite a tricky feat when it's planned!

And you're saying that because of the very obvious outcome of that moment he walks pasts and...

I jump his bones in the corner.

Excellent. Bang on, Rob! Similarly, Xena's had some big moments in history herself, hasn't she?

We like setting people straight on that - history. Xena was solely responsible for the Ides Of March and for setting Brutus on a path against Julius Caesar and for making sure a certain pregnant woman on a donkey got a lift!

You realise that if we put a video of Xena into a time capsule, whoever opens it a thousand years from now might call bullshit on accepted history books?
People are more likely to believe what they see than what they read in print and that's fair enough. Maybe there was this pre-Hellenic bitch in leather running around. Ha!

Let's talk about your outfits, which are a big deal for your male audience...
Oh, are they...?

Er, yes. Is leather underwear comfortable?

Yeah, leather's good because it doesn't crumple and it breathes... ah... not at all like latex. I would choose leather over latex any day, but oh!, lycra's the best. I've come to appreciate modern fabrics. But right now? Xena would be wearing a bloody muu-muu if she could.

What about being outside in leather undies?

You're lying in a corset in the mud and it starts to rain. And you're freezing an you think it can't get any worse and that's when they release the rats! Ant the rats are so afraid they defecate everywhere. So you're freezing and you're covered in rat crap. Ha! You gotta laugh.

Legend has it you were known as "Unco" at school. I can't believe that watching your action scenes?

Very unco. I'm not now because I've been smacked around enough to get good. A kid that is habitually frightened has reflexes like a hare, it's a naturally-occurring phenomenon. They used to train spies like that, with short, sharp shocks. Really, I'd always be fifth to get picked in the netball team at school. People thing I'm being modest when I say this, but I'm not prone to false modesty!

Is Xena a good role model for women?
Yeah. She's the archetypal feminist, because she says "I can", but she'll beat up a female baddie just as soon as a male baddie. There's not sexual discrimination with Xena. If you're askin' for trouble you're goin' down!

She's not the type to suffer from penis envy?
There were a few remarks as to whether she had one herself early on! People were insinuating. Noooo.... No penises, envy or otherwise, there.

She's no man hater, though. She's a fan of men.
Some men some of the time; some men all of the time, ha! She's a hot-blooded woman, but you don't often get to see that. Although, as she says when she's diagnosed as being "up the duff" which is a decidedly un-American term, "Doctor! I've been a love-free zone for QUITE some time!" We're putting more antipodean sayings like that into the show as we go too. I love that. For instance Xena is always calling Joxer "Dumbarse!" We'll have them all saying it in LA. soon.

Why are men threatened by powerful women?
It takes a man with a great self-esteem and sense of his own personal ambition to play second fiddle to a woman in a relationship. Most men would like to be manhandled by Xena, but I don't think they want to marry her.

How do you handle being such a huge star?
New Zealanders love to sort you out and bring you back down to earth and that's what's kept me from getting too carried away with myself. "Don't be up yourself!" New Zealand doesn't let you get away with that too much. Which is kind of a flaw in our national character. It's lovely to be self-deprecating, but you've got to dare to dream big and I did. I always planned to be where I am, but you just go on quietly and work bloody hard and be professional. I think it's better to stride out with too much confidence than too little, because life will soon beat you up otherwise.

You were once a goldminer in Kalgoorlie, how was that for a girt from NZ?
Good! It was a rough tough boys town, but I never heard anything rougher than growing up with my brothers, but the work on the core saw was tough.

The what?
Think of a circular saw with a diamond blade and they're boring down into the earth and they pull out two miles of rock cylinders and you have to cut them into bits all day from seven until whenever with that saw. The rest of the time I was running around the outback, jumpin' over snakes, mapping the earth with a compass. It was bloody great.

You were at uni before that. What did you study?
French, German, Italian and some other crap. I had no intention of finishing. When you're 17 four more years in the slammer seems like too much!

Is there anything else you'd like to say?
I feel like I've answered you too responsibly: what do your readers really want to know?

What's your favourite sport?

Ice hockey. It's mesmerising. The rhythm, the shushing back and forth, that's really sexy. And of course it's totally unpredictable.

Like women. And the only thing our readers like more than one woman is two women.

I get more letters from guys who want to be beaten into submission by Xena on her own than from guys who want both Gabrielle and I to go at them. I did get one proposition in Vegas from a woman and her husband who invited me back to their room, but sadly I didn't investigate. I made myself unavailable that night. They were there selling their own videos I think. They would have had a peephole camera for sure.

Are you a flanno pyjama girl or do you sleep nude?

I'm a tight white T-shirt girl in bed.

What's your best physical attribute?

My feet. I have great feet, eh?

Struth, what size are those plates of meat?

About eight-and-a-half


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