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Thursday, 13 May, 1999, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Star Wars' merry wives
Louisa Tambone in full regalia with her husband Lou
By BBC News Online's Jane Black

Louisa Tambone went in with her eyes open. Just a few months after she met Lou (T'bone) Tambone, she knew he was a Star Wars fanatic.

Star Wars
"I think it was about three months into our relationship when I realised," she remembers fondly.

"His room was covered with Star Wars stuff. He had Star Wars t-shirts, hats, posters, toys. You name it, he owned it. He can't just buy one thing, he always has to buy toys in threes. One to open and two to put away."

Hans and Leia top the cake
Han and Leia top the cake
Louisa, now Mrs Tambone, maintains that Lou's Star Wars fetish does not really bother her. Although she briefly considered starting her own Website dedicated to Star Wars widows, she could even be accused of encouraging him.

Instead of a traditional bride and groom on the top of their wedding cake, she made a special Han and Leia topper. The couple also once dressed up as Star Wars characters and drove around the neighbourhood on John's riding lawnmower.

Merry widows

With the opening of Star Wars Episode 1, The Phantom Menace, less than two weeks away, many predicted it would be an American-style World Cup scenario all over again. Wives girlfriends and female acquaintances would be abandoned, ignored or just irritatingly left out.

But contrary to what one might expect, the prequel madness is not pushing women over the edge. Not even those dealing with the worst Star Wars offenders.

Take Georgie Benson. Her husband John, known as Vader on his Internet, maintains the massive Internet site JediNet - catchphrase: For the Fans, By the Fans. The labour of love has 13 separate sections including prequel news, message boards and multimedia.

John spends at least four hours per day during the week and up to eight hours at the weekend maintaining the site. At worst, Georgie seems bemused.

"He's been into it for over 20 years now, and will continue for at least the next 10 while the new trilogy comes out," she said.

"It is nice to see John and his Website portrayed in so many forms of media," she adds. "As crazy as this Star Wars stuff may drive me, I couldn't be prouder."

Shopping and sympathy

It helps that these merry widows are not alone. Louisa and Georgie take solace and sympathy from each other at the Star Wars conventions they attend with their husbands.

Mr and Mrs Tambone
The Tambones: No sign of Chewbacca
"We usually go the first day and end up shopping till we drop for the remainder of the convention," says Georgie. "We both watch our husbands come home all excited with bags full of Star Wars goodies. We just shake our heads and laugh at the kids."

But there are lines to be drawn.

For Louisa, the main issue is holidays. The couple's last two trips have been Star Wars related. In September, they went to Dragon Con, a sci-fi conference. Last week, they headed up to Denver for the Star Wars convention.

"The next vacation belongs to me," she says firmly. "Also Lou and I are expecting our first child in December and I think we will have to decorate the baby's room in something other than Star Wars."

Then of course, there's every man's Star Wars fantasy: Princess Leia in the gold bikini.

"He's been trying to get me to dress up as Princess Leia in slave costume for years now," laughs Georgie. " I still haven't done it."

That will only happen in a life far, far away.

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