Masquerade (Professionals story)

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Fanfiction
Title: Masquerade
Author(s): Tarot
Date(s): Paper Circuit c. 1980-81, Online (2006)
Length: 265K
Genre: slash
Fandom: The Professionals
External Links: online here

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Contents

Masquerade is a Professionals slash Bodie/Doyle story by Tarot. It is part of a series of response fic stories written by Pros fans.

"Painting the Clouds" by Calliope in Uncharted Waters #11 is part of the Masquerade series. It is, in fact an alternate ending to Masquerade by Tarot. The other stories, in order are: The Decision by Fanny Adams; Who Will Buy? by Pegasus in the circuit library; The Ghost of a Shadow by Anne Carr; The Shadow of a Ghost by Anne Carr; and Ghostly Shadowy Ghost Shadow by O Yardley - in the circuit library.

The story sometimes appears on fan's Desert Island lists.[1]

More About Its Relationship to "Painting the Clouds"

"[J] asked how some of the early stories came about, so I'm grabbing the opportunity to say something about 'Masquerade' by [Tarot] and Painting the Clouds by PD. I remember when the latter was published, some fans thought it was simply a pale imitation of Masquerade, which had already been in circulation for some two years. In fact, the original idea came from PD. Having seen Martin in "Cream in My Coffee", she listened to a lot of 1930s and 1940s dance band songs by the likes of Al Bowlly, Ambrose and his Orchestra, Roy Fox, Lew Scone and so on, and had she idea of Doyle going undercover in a dance band, singing their songs. [Tarot] also wanted to write a story along the same lines and so, with agreement on both sides, they went ahead. The problem lay in the fact that PD takes a long time to finish stories. By the time 'Painting the Clouds' came out, fandom had grown and many people had no idea that the two stories had started out from the same plot, at the same time, and with both authors' knowledge and consent." [2]

Summaries

In 2000, two fans Cassie Ingaben and Dagger compiled an index of many of the circuit stories. They also wrote brief summaries:

  • Dagger: Bodie and Doyle set themselves up as the gay son of a dying, disapproving scientist and his lover in order to catch a blackmailer. By the end of the case, tension is running high and they've fallen rather deeply into their roles.
  • Cassie: Bodie and Doyle are sent undercover as a gay couple of musicians, very butch and femme, who has to be blackmailed for industrial espionage purposes. They manage their cliched roles with strain, esp. Doyle-as-femme; then the tension becomes sexual and towards the end of the case they end up together. They wrap up the case, help the real gay couple they were impersonating to be accepted by their family, and decide they are carrying on with the relationship."

Reactions and Reviews

Who, doing a list of B/D hatstands (or any slash stories, for that matter) could leave this big funny excellent story off the list.[3]
Masquerade [is] a sight more believable than Painting the Clouds.[4]
A reworking of Painting The Clouds, very well done, with plot and humor...I didn't always agree with the characterizations, but as long as they stayed consistent...[5]
Another nice, long, complex story, with good plot, dialogue, characterizations (of primary and secondary characters), descriptions, narrative, etc One of the best "first kiss" scenes.[6]
The story that got me hooked on The Professionals was "Masquerade" and I still think it's one of the best stories around. It's probably difficult for a lot of people now to imagine a time when there were virtually no B/D stories around -they just didn't exist. No Sebastian, no HG, no O. Yardley, no Rhiannon, no Americans or Australians. Just "Consequences" and two fairly bleak sequels. I had been lent them to read and my reaction was that I didn't know who the characters were, and that it was all so nasty I didn't want to know. Fortunately for me, friends were lent "Masquerade" and insisted I read it, and it was like opening a door on a different world. I eventually watched the programme on television, watched the following week, and the rest, as they say, is history. I still think I was lucky in reading that story almost at the beginning, because not only is it a lovely story but it's very well written. If I had read something that wasn't that good, I don't think I would have bothered to continue with Hatstands, and would either have avoided Professionals fandom altogether or got into it at a much later date, having missed all sorts of fun. And just to continue the story - the next story I read, some months later (yes, there were these horrendous gaps) was "Cause For Concern", which confirmed that here was a fandom worth investigating, because by that time I was fascinated by Bodie and Doyle. [7]
I started off as a Star Trek fan and read my way through K/S from 'Green Plague' onward. Then I was introduced to Bodie and Doyle by friends who gave me "Masquerade]" to read and I was lost. I'm first and foremost a Professionals fan. [8]
A wonderful undercover story; I didn't think it could be pulled off, but it worked. My favorite scenes are the Doyle makeover and the kiss and tussle backstage during the fake reconciliation scene, and the very male way the sex rises out of rivalry and competition.[9]
The lads, and Cowley, are totally in character. There is plenty of typical banter; for example when they are told they will need to audition as musicians Doyle suggests Bodie can play the triangle and Bodie says Cowley should hear Ray’s drunken rendering of Eskimo Nell. Both men are shown as hard, macho, highly trained agents, and there is only one point where Ray is referred to as ‘the smaller man’. The plot is complex; the agents (and the readers) need all their wits about them to see where things are going and second-guess the villains. Industrial espionage on a grand scale, using blackmail, sometimes to the point of suicide, against the children of researchers, is causing grief to one of Cowley’s old friends, and another friend has noticed a possible connection in one of the clubs where his band plays. But the lads must win their undercover roles in the band because the cover must be watertight to succeed. Tarot pays a great deal of attention to the setting up of the cover roles, which is why I think this makes such a wonderful undercover story. Ray is groomed by an expert so that he will appear fey and androgynous. I loved the bit where he was horrified at the idea of mascara and had to be soothed with the promise of dye for his lashes. He is to be a would-be model as well as a singer and there is a wonderful CI5 photoshoot for his portfolio - I’m sure we could all envisage the poses and the pictures! The fact that he never actually uses the model role apart from having an appointment to leave his portfolio with an agency shows us how exacting undercover details have to be, and gives the author the opportunity to describe the session! [MUCH SNIPPED] [10]
I'm impressed with the plotting, which works well, and I really love the build-up of Doyle's frustration with his role - you can feel the way he's itching to give people a good kicking on several occasions, and the way electricity crackles when he has to hold himself in check is palpable. Shades of the seven-stone-weakling from Stakeout! *g* And the result of this is that the scene where he finally, finally gets to pluck that gun out of the air - and you can just see him do that and spin and aim in one smooth move - that scene is absolutely explosive, because we've been building up to it right alongside him. For once, once in my decidedly, um, partial slash-reading life, that scene is the real culmination of the fic for me, rather than the carnal consummation of the B/D relationship![11]
This was the first story of Tarot I've read. (I liked it so much that I followed up with Of Tethered Goats and Tigers and then End Game Professionals story)
It´s one of my favourites!

I do love the lads as Tarot writes them, and I love the way she makes Doyle change into somebody else. Somebody who has to depend for his "security" on another person. Which just doesn´t really match with his real self. But that´s the fun in this story, the way he acts and get´s back at Bodie when his needling gets too far.

The piano sequences are just hilarious.

I think Bodie´s switch from teasing to serious is written very good. I read it like this: Bodie wants it to be serious from the start, or quite from the start, but isn´t at all sure about how Doyle would receive a serious pass. So he jests and needles. And then his bluff is called. [12]
I enjoyed this story nearly as much as Of Tethered Goats and Tigers. I've often wondered if the author got the idea from the story not just from the earlier story Painting the Clouds (hence the song reference at the end of the story) but from MS's role in "Cream in my Coffee" as well. [13]
Some friends and I had a discussion about Painting The Clouds a while ago. It can be found [link]. Scroll down almost half way. Here's what I said about it:

I have been told that Tarot and Calliope had discussed this story idea and Calliope started to write it. But when it went unfinished for whatever reason, she agreed that Tarot should go ahead and write her version, which became Masquerade. This was put out on the paper circuit. Much later Calliope published her own story in Uncharted Waters 11.

The lads are sent undercover as a gay couple to catch a blackmailing ring. Doyle is a singer and Bodie is a piano player in a night club.

Some more early fandom tropes mentioned here: Doyle is irresistible to all who see him, The Game (though not by name), B’s mercenary past troubles him enough to give him nightmares enough that he can’t keep a girl. The author obviously liked Star Trek; D wears a ST t-shirt, and he once attended a ST convention (with a girlfriend)!

In this story the neighbor couple plays a much more prominent role than in Masquerade, which I find unnecessary and distracting.

The main difference between this story and Masquerade is D’s attitude. Here he is fairly willing to go along with the necessary playacting to give the impression that he is gay, whereas in Masquerade the atmosphere fairly crackles with the tension between the lads as B seizes every opportunity possible to push his partner to the limit and D grows angrier and angrier. I find this story far more boring and less enjoyable. [14]
I loved this story. Ray's undercover role and how both he and Bodie dealt with it was the best part. Loved when Ray had to switch "personalities" quickly because they had a visitor at their flat. Ray getting "training" for his role was very amusing and the piano bits... [15]
I enjoyed the story, the humour of the piano and the banter between the lads. I agree Bodie’s realisation of his genuine attraction for Doyle could have had a bit more depth - it was obvious he felt that attraction from the start, even if he didn’t acknowledge it to himself so more of a reveal would have been good:) But overall the story was well written, interesting and full of details and well developed characters. Very nicely done. [16]
Yes - the masquerade works at various levels, the general undercover roles, the masquerade of Doyle as fey and ethereal and the way they have to behave differently towards each other. And Bodie's pretence of being Richard, of course. I was impressed by the way Tarot handled all those and wove them into the tension that sweeps the story along. Like you, I wished Bodie had shown us more of his thinking - perhaps Doyle's thoughts while he was held hostage highlighted the lack of Bodie's thoughts? Anyway, a satisfying read... [17]

References

  1. Close Quarters Desert Island Episode/Zine/Fic dated July 18, 2009; reference link.
  2. from DIAL #16
  3. from The Hatstand Express #6 (1985).
  4. from The Hatstand Express #6 (1985).
  5. from The Hatstand Express #6 (1985).
  6. from The Hatstand Express #6 (1985).
  7. from DIAL #8 (1998)
  8. from DIAL #3
  9. a fan commenting on the story on the Virgule-L mailing list in 1993, reposted anonymously with permission/
  10. 2009 comments to the CI5hq dated March 10, 2011; reference link; archive is
  11. 2009 comments to the CI5hq dated March 10, 2011; reference link
  12. 2011 comments at CI5hq
  13. 2011 comments at CI5hq
  14. 2011 comments at CI5hq
  15. 2011 comments at CI5hq
  16. 2011 comments at CI5hq
  17. 2011 comments at CI5hq
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