Star Trek RPF

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RPF Fandom
Name(s): Star Trek RPF
Scope/Focus: RPF fandom from both the original series (TOS) and the reboot movie.
Date(s): 1966 to present
See also:
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Star Trek RPF is RPF (Real Person Fiction) which centers around the lives of actors who appeared in the original series (TOS) or the reboot films (aka Star Trek XI, AOS, Kelvin timeline, etc.). RPF stories about actors from other Star Trek shows do exist, but do not appear to be as numerous (at least on the AO3 archive, which does have a recentism bias).[1]

The TOS RPF fandom has its basis in the very close friendship shared by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy that has spanned more than 40 years.[2]

TOS

The most common type of RPF for the original series tended to center on various cast members being beamed aboard the Enterprise, and the characters being transported to the Trek movie set. These fics did not imply or feature any sort of a sexual relationship between the actors. [3]

One of the very first pieces of Star Trek fan fic to appear in a fanzine was actually RPF -- "Visit to a Weird Planet", written by Jean Lorrah and Willard F. Hunt [4]. In it, we follow the characters from Star Trek when they are swapped with their real life actor counterparts; as Kathy L. remembers, "There were also cameos by 'Gene' (Roddenberry) and 'Fred' (Phillips, the make-up man.)" A sequel, "Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited" by Ruth Berman, took place at the same time but followed the actors, who suddenly find themselves on the real Enterprise. This story was later reprinted in the professional anthology Star Trek: The New Voyages #1 (Bantam, 1976). Kathy L. notes: "As was the case with many early ST zines, the issues of 'Spockanalia' were sent to Gene Roddenberry's office, to be shared with cast and crew (some of who sent back LoCs). Plus, since Ruth's story was approved for printing in a professional anthology (with a foreword by Roddenberry and a story intro by Majel), it's reasonable to assume that this early version of RPF was not looked at askance by TPTB. What Shatner and company thought is not known, but I'd be surprised if they cared, as the story was quite harmless."

RPF for the original series that had a sexual component is much rarer. One fan reports that while RPF in Star Trek TOS mostly centered on Shatner/Nimoy and has been around as long as TOS slash, it has been a largely niche section of Star Trek slash fandom that remained underground until the early 2000s. [5]

In 2014, a fan commented on a mailing list that the only people she remembered in slash fandom back in the day who literally met in secrecy were fans of RPS, and they literally had passwords or "coded buttons" they wore at conventions. [6]

A fan in 2005 wrote:
Actor fic (the naughty kind) is still frowned on in Trek fandom much more than in other fandoms. I know it gets written, but almost nobody distributes it openly. I imagine that direct e-mails to friends are the most common distribution method: I know of no mailing lists or LJ communities, and I can only remember finding one story on the web that wasn't in Nifty Archives' celebrity section. [7]
In 1987, the Star Trek: TOS zine, Shadows in the Rain published an RPS story, something that caused a huge amount of fannish discussion:
The most disturbing thing about SHADOWS IN THE RAIN is that it encourages a basic tendency in fans to forget the separation between the character and the actor. I realize that this particular story emphasizes separation, yet at the same it undercuts our ability to keep Leonard Nimoy separate from Spock by bringing him into a K/S fantasy. If it is permissible to include Nimoy in a piece of K/S fiction, then why not Shatner? Why not both both of them together? In fact, what's to stop the next writer from coming up with a Shatner/Nimoy story, totally violating the separation between fantasy and reality in K/S?.... We may be sliding down a slippery slope here. There is a definite ethical distinction between fantasizing about fictional characters, and fantasizing about real people. The first is harmless, the second may be hurtful in many ways... It is important to understand where SHADOWS IN THE RAIN could take us. It that direction lies a K/S that is neither moral nor sane. [8]
Another early example of RPS Star Trek fiction, published in 1988, was Sojourns. In 1989, a fan expresses her discomfort, and fear, of the author's use of the Star Trek creators in a slash novel, despite the fact that it was only a brief mention:
My only actual "complaint " comes with the passage which includes the very real characters of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, as well as Gene Roddenberry. Even though the story Ms. Hinson is trying to tell is a beautiful one, I'm not sure it was a wise idea to use actual names. Since I'm not really sure where the law stands on this matter, I'll reserve judgment, but to say it made me uncomfortable would be an understatement. [9]
A fan in 2005 commented on the scarceness of this genre:
I've been hanging out [at alt.startrek.creative] off and on since 1997. Actor fic has been scarce indeed, is my observation. Very unusual even. Can't speak to other fandoms, though. [10]

A note about terminology in the TOS fandom:actorfic was the term in the late 1990s. [11] "RPS" was specifically mentioned in 2003 by a slash fan who distanced herself from RPS, but did not specifically refer to that genre in Star Trek: "I don't want to rain on anyone's writing parade and I certainly make no judgement [sic] on idividual [sic] tastes, but to weigh in on someone who has spoken to a number of actors on the subject of slash in general and RPS in particular, I have distanced myself from the latter in a big way. I've found that actors that shrug at or even are amused by slash do get offended by RPS. It's an issue of folks reading something on the net and thinking it's true and in some cases, an issue of stalking." [12]

Also see Shatnoy.

Also see Spirk.

Early TOS Examples

  • "Do-WHAT??" by Jenny Elson, a story in STAG #34, the crew and the actors switch places, no sexual component (1979)
  • "The Sun Plays Tricks," Star Trek RPF in the zine Diplomacy, a Shatner finds himself aboard the Enterprise, mentions his then-wife Marcy (1977)
  • Shadows in the Rain, in this story, Spockʼs life becomes intertwined with the actor who portrays him in another reality as they “visit” each other over the years, contains suggestive/mild Shatner/Nimoy (1986)
  • Sojourns, another "Spock and Kirk know each other through time," includes a passage which includes Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner and suggestive K/S, as includes Gene Roddenberry in a non-sexual way (1989)

AOS

It was with the release of the reboot movie that Star Trek RPF really took off[13]. The most popular pairing is, by far, Pine/Quinto (widely known by their portmanteau Pinto), who are the RPS counterpart of the very popular reboot Kirk/Spock[14][15].

The popularity of Pinto is likely fueled by the fact that Quinto has gone on record as saying that he and Pine have become close off-camera[16]. This is attested by the fact that the pair have been seen socializing together both in Los Angeles [17] and New York [18][19]. Further speculation by Pinto fans dwells on the fact that both actors live near each other in the same neighborhood of Los Angeles[20][21] and neither actor appears to have a partner - all the women linked to Pine since the release of the movie have been transient and Quinto was widely rumored to be gay[22] (publicly supporting gay rights[23], and in October 2011, Quinto officially came out as gay[24]).

While less common, other favored RPS pairings continue to include Shatner/Nimoy, as well as Urban/Yelchin and Pine/Urban. Given the enormous popularity of the Kirk/McCoy pairing in reboot fandom -- in no small part due the fans' admiration of the actors themselves -- the RPS fandom for the two actors is surprisingly far less widely supported. Possible reasons may be that Karl Urban is married with children, and also when not filming, continues to live in his native New Zealand.

Very few threesome stories have been written -- the most popular is Pine/Urban/Quinto.[25].

Het stories that include Zoe Saldana are exceedingly rare.[26]

RPF AU

In a curious twist, there have been a number of RPF AU stories written in reboot fandom, in which the actors are placed in different settings, leading different lives, but are still recognizable as far as their public persona allows[27][28][29]. This is distinct from one particular genre of reboot AU stories in which members of the crew are removed from the Star Trek universe and placed in a contemporary setting, leading 'normal' -- and for Spock, human -- lives[30].

Other Treks

A fan in 2001 asked other fans about some Star Trek: VOY fic featuring two of the actors"...recently [sic] I read an actorfic tittled [sic] Turning Point by lzclotho. It was about a love affair between Kate/Jeri on the Voyager set. If anyone knows of any stories of this kind, please let me know." [31]

Fandom Communities

Archives

Notable Fanworks

TOS cast

AOS cast

Meta/Further Reading

References

  1. For example, on the AO3 the most popular ship outside of TOS or AOS in the Star Trek RPF tag was Robert Beltran/Kate Mulgrew with 22 fanworks.
  2. Interview with Shatner in which he describes his 'great' friendship with Nimoy as something he 'cherishes'.
  3. One example of this is "The Sun Plays Tricks," 1977, in the zine Diplomacy.
  4. From Spockanalia 3, ed. by Devra Langsam and published in 1968
  5. Kristina. Real People Fiction, Fanfic Symposium, 10/30/05.
  6. MPH, paraphrasing a comment from KirkSpockCentral.
  7. May 5, 2005, Mark Stanley Star Trek Actorfic, at alt.startrek.creative
  8. one fan's opinion from On the Double #5, for more fan reaction to this story, see Shadows in the Rain.
  9. from a review in On the Double #10, see the Sojourns page for more reactions.
  10. May 5, 2005, Michael Roy Holliman Star Trek Actorfic, at alt.startrek.creative
  11. "Circa 1998 to 2002, most mailing lists I was on actively stated NO ACTORFIC BASED ON STAR TREK ACTORS." -- May 5, 2005, Laura Hale, Star Trek Actorfic, at alt.startrek.creative
  12. Trekkies And RPS, NovaD, April 16, 2003
  13. 9 RPF communities were created on Livejournal in 2009 following the release of the reboot movie
  14. startrek_rps tag page as of July 2010 indicates 336 uses of the Pine/Quinto tag. The second and third most popular tags are Pine/Urban and Urban/Yelchin with only 51 uses each, while Shatner/Nimoy trail in at fourth place with only 40 uses of that tag.
  15. The Pinto pairing has two dedicated LJ groups, pinto_fic with over 1600 members and ontd_pinto, with over 800 members, compared to pinecity, the Pine/Urban community, which has less than 300 members (figures as of July 2010)
  16. Interview in which Quinto describes his friendship with Pine as 'close'
  17. Pine and Quinto leaving a winter party in Los Angeles
  18. Pine and Quinto strolling and chatting on a New York street
  19. Pine and Quinto attending the premier of a Broadway play
  20. Pine's home in Silver Lake, CA
  21. Quinto walking his dog near his home in Silver Lake
  22. Gossip columnist, Perez Hilton, describes Quinto as supporting 'his fellow gays'
  23. In support of same-sex marriage, Quinto acted in a one-night production of "Standing on Ceremony" at the El Portal Theatre
  24. What's Up, Spock? article in New York magazine, 16 Oct 2011 (Accessed 25 Nov 2011).
  25. 20 Stories are listed in startrek_rps for this threesome, as of July 2010
  26. Only 3 stories of 486 listed on startrek_rps involve Saldana, twice paired with Pine and once with Quinto and 3 threesomes listed between Saldana/Pine/Quinto, as of July 2010.
  27. Story in which Pine & Quinto are members of a band
  28. Story in which Pine & Quinto are school teachers
  29. Story in which Pine & Quinto are relief workers in post-earthquake-torn Haiti The novella-length story was removed from the author's LJ journal after a story in another fandom, also set in Haiti, received considerable criticism for its inappropriate setting for a fandom 'love story' and for racial stereotyping. The link is to the author's explanation as to why it's no longer available.
  30. Educated Diferences, a story set at a 21st century college in which Kirk and a human Spock share a dorm.
  31. Lois, Newbie, October 26, 2001
  32. The kirk_mccoy LJ community allows Pine/Urban RPS to be posted.