Starsky & Hutch

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Fandom
Name: Starsky & Hutch
Abbreviation(s): SH
Creator: William Blinn
Date(s): 1975-1979
Medium: television series
Country of Origin: US
External Links: IMDB
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Starsky and Hutch is a crime drama about two police detectives and partners, classic buddy cops. The show has themes of partnership, hurt/comfort, and homoerotic undertones strong enough that even mainstream critics noticed; the fandom takes these elements and runs with them.

Show Synopsis

Starsky and Hutch on the cover of Still the One

Detective Sergeant David Starsky and Kenneth Hutchinson are cops in Bay City, working Homicide, often doing undercover work. Rounding out the main cast were Captain Dobey and their informant and friend Huggy Bear.

Riding around in Starsky's red Torino, Starsky and Hutch are the most conspicuous undercover cops you’ll ever meet. Many episodes had darker elements amid the comedic tones, and it was often said to be the most graphic and realistic show of its time due to the issues it dealt with—racism, rape, and drug abuse (Hutch got hooked on heroin in one episode, "The Fix"). The women of the show didn't last long, almost always ending up getting attacked, killed, or scared away by the gritty reality of the job; sometimes all three.

The main emotional focus of the show was the relationship of the two leads, with many of the stories centering around the love, the devotion, the caring between these two partners and best friends (and possibly more). According to fans, the show's producer Merv Griffin said something to David Soul (the actor that played Hutch) about Starsky & Hutch being a cop show, and it is said that Soul replied, it's not a cop show, "it's a love story about two men who happen to be cops." [1]

In 2004 the show was remade as a movie starring the comedy duo of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, a pastiche playing mostly on the camp '70s aspects of the TV show. Many fans disregard this movie as any sort of canon or of particular interest, but they appreciate the interest it created for the fandom; the TV show was released on DVD along with the movie's release, helping it gain exposure among a new generation of fans.

Popular Episodes

Episodes that are fan favorites or which have a lot of impact on fan discussion and fanfic include:

  • The Fix (Hutch is kidnapped by bad guys and addicted to heroin. Starsky comes to his aid.)
  • Gillian (Hutch's girlfriend is secretly a prostitute, Starsky attempts to help, leading to an emotionally-charged confrontation between the friends.)
  • Shootout (Starsky is shot during a hostage situation, and Hutch comes to his aid.)
  • Survival (Hutch is trapped under his car after a murder attempt, and Starsky rushes to find him.)
  • Bloodbath (Starsky is kidnapped by a cult. Hutch comes to his aid.)
  • Starsky's Lady (Starsky's fiancee is mortally wounded by an ex-con with a vendetta against Starsky.)
  • The Plague I & II (Hutch falls victim to a plague epidemic sweeping the city, Starsky works to save him.)
  • A Coffin For Starsky (Starsky is injected with slow-acting but lethal poison. The partners search for the antidote.)
  • Hutchinson for Murder One (Hutch is framed and arrested for the murder of his ex-wife Vanessa, Starsky rescues him and they go on the lam.)
  • Partners (Hutch fakes amnesia and then eggs Starsky into telling him several stories about their friendship to help him "remember.")
  • The Game (Hutch dares Starsky to prove his ability to track criminals down by playing a game of hide-and-seek with him throughout the city, and eludes Starsky so determinedly that Starsky cannot raise him when things go dangerously wrong.)
  • Death in a Different Place (Starsky's mentor, John Blaine, is murdered and revealed to have been a closeted gay man. An early serious depiction of homosexuality on primetime TV.)
  • Targets Without A Badge I, II, & III (Starsky and Hutch quit the police force over the tragic mishandling of a major case, and work to solve the case on their own.)
  • Starsky vs. Hutch (Boundaries are crossed regarding a woman, and the two cops have their most serious fight in the series.)
  • Sweet Revenge (The last episode aired—Starsky is shot by a corrupt and powerful industry leader's hitmen, and it appears unlikely that he will survive. The episode is a jumping-off point for many speculative fannish what-ifs. Regarding "Starsky vs. Hutch":
    One of the most befuddling (and tragic) aspects of the Starsky & Hutch canon is the misplacement of the episode "Starsky vs. Hutch". Though it was filmed earlier in the season, and both the emotional tone as well as key visual elements would place it correspondingly, the episode was not aired until just prior to the series' finale, interrupting the obviously sequential plot arc of the last four episodes. Many fans flatly reject its airdate as canon; some, however, take a different approach toward explaining the confusing relationship "backtrack" that seems to occur when the episode is viewed as chronologically taking place after the "Targets Without A Badge" arc.[2]

The Fourth Season: Rifts and Opportunities

interior art from Suzan Lovett's The Thousandth Man, an influential post-"Starsky vs. Hutch" story

The fourth season. Some fans hate it. Some fans love it. And for many of the same reasons.

Many fans felt this last season was full of tension, somewhat uncomfortable to watch, and had a lot of implications to those who saw slash. The show itself was filmed in a different style with film techniques that made it stand out from the first three season. The characters appeared tense and moody. And then there was Hutch's Mustache.

The fourth season, for all these reasons, was also an incubator for a lot of fanworks!
On the simplest level, most SH fans despise the episode Starsky vs Hutch, yet this episode is directly responsible for more stories than any other episode, possibly more even than Sweet Revenge. If that episode had never been aired, we would be missing some mighty fine fiction. [3]

Reactions & Meta

  • Most theories about the tone of season 4, in both discussion and fanfiction, incorporate, to some extent, Hutch's disillusionment with police work, which he confesses in "Targets Without A Badge Part I" (sometimes this attitude is extended to Starsky as well). In several interpretations of the partnership's rough patch, the episode "Starsky vs Hutch" is portrayed as a last straw that causes things to come to a head before "Sweet Revenge." Slash fans often interpret their tension as UST or domestic strife, while gen fans lean towards non-sexual sources of interpersonal tension hinted at in the series, such as frustration and insecurity about the strength of their partnership in the face of increasing strain from their jobs, or fear that their affection and loyalty is an exploitable vulnerability. Most, but not all, fans concur that Hutch's demeanor is more strongly and negatively affected than Starsky's.
  • The 1985 gen story The Thousandth Man by Suzan Lovett, particularly Part 3, contains a lengthy and in-depth explanation of the reasons for Hutch's changing behavior and appearance during season 4 and especially the episode "Starsky vs Hutch," using a real Jules Feiffer cartoon as a partial metaphor.
  • In S and H #16 (December 1980) a fan argues for burnout after too many pyrrhic victories: "If they weren't fictional characters, they'd both have been in rubber rooms... and with only each other to depend on, it's no wonder the fourth season was so full of tension. If they didn't love each other so much, they'd have killed each other during 'Partners'."[4]
  • Starsky & Hutch Season Four: Condensed by KimberlyFDR, a slashy interpretation (but a very uncommon one) of the final season (2006). Sample excerpt: "It changes them, but they're trying like crazy to not let it change them. Hutch is ready, Starsky's not, and the lies that they construct to live their lives, to just pretend a little bit longer, is tearing them apart. And it will tear them apart and it will break our hearts to witness it, but it's time. It's time for Hutch to stop living in the closet and it's time for Starsky to stop running away. They have to deal with this and it's setting them up to do it. "[5]
  • merltheearl and several commenters voice a variety of speculations about the problems between the two friends on The Ollie Report's reviews of the key episodes "Discomania", "The Game" and "Starsky vs. Hutch". (2011-2014) [6][7][8] One theory speculates: "I like to go for the idea that something really big went down during the summer hiatus — some massive, ugly, and demoralizing case, maybe involving wrongdoing on the part of the police force...And maybe also involved a big partnership crisis, with one of their lives in peril and the other going crazy trying to save him, that was harrowing enough to make them freak out a bit over how much pain being so intertwined and dependent on each other could cause them and react by pushing each other away for space until the Targets Without A Badge arc brought them back around."[9]
  • In a post in the starsky-hutch livejournal community, a user says, "They're older in S4, and more worn out. Less idealistic, more disillusioned. More tired. And sometimes they take stuff out on each other, just because... you know, you always go for the one closest to you. And they are close. Just sometimes lost, and sometimes confused. But still, always, close. And then you get Targets Without a Badge, and Sweet Revenge, and OH MY FUCKING GOD. Those really say it all."[10]
  • In a thread on Fandom Secrets post #2697, an anon speculates on the aggregate impact of canonical trauma: "at some point I need to get around to writing that long meta essay about how season 4 was all about S & H being completely exhausted by the stress and fear and overprotectiveness all that hurt/comfort caused for them, and briefly forgetting that the benefits of their friendship outweighed its costs."[11]
  • Another Fandom Secrets thread that Hutch's behavior in season 4 ties into his behavior in previous seasons: "I always interpreted Hutch's increasing meanness - and what he did in Starsky vs Hutch - to be expressions of him having this slow, depressive breakdown where he's questioning the meaning of his life and the meaning of his friendship with Starsky. I see what he did in SvsH as essentially self-desructive behaviour. You can also add in him having this years long gay/ 'Oh shit I'm in love with my partner' freakout if you're on that side of the fence...Either way, it makes for fantastic fanfic that tries to explain then fix their relationship in season 4." [12]
  • A number of less-commonly-discussed observations regarding "Starsky vs. Hutch" come up in a fan's LJ entry here.[13]


Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

One Fan's View of the Show

A fan wrote this for The Paul Muni Special, a Starsky and Hutch convention in 1985:
Starsky and Hutch must be seen for what it is: a transitional -- and seminal TV cop show. Intended from the beginning (by creator William Blinn) to be a show with a different slant. it stands uncomfortably between "programmed" crime dramas like S.W.A.T., The Rookies, Hawaii 5-0 et. al, in which the leads are presented with 2-D characters. and expected to play out a weekly, formulaic story -- and the "non-programmed" show. Hill Street Blues being the most obvious example, where characters live and change. and have darker sides. You can sense the conflict Glaser and Soul must have dealt with. trying for something better, something almost like reality.

God bless them, they tried. Rewriting scripts, exchanging parts as written, improvising dialogue and bits of action... See David and Paul hammer away at an old form. See them try to find room to breathe. light to grow in as actors. See them earn a reputation in the business for being "difficult". That there's more life in their show now than in any of its contemporaneous peers -- S.W.A.T., CHIPs, Charlie's Angels -- is due almost entirely to them! (Certainly producer Aaron Spelling learned nothing from their example. His shows are still programmed into utter lifelessness -- witness T.J. Hooker -- and boring with a capital B.)

Starsky and Hutch ended up beingmore not less And how rare that is on the tube -- or in any medium -- I don't have to tell the show's fans. You cannot program into a show a complexity like the look that passes between Starsky and Hutch over the roof of that car in "Pariah". or the resting of blond head against dark in "Shootout". You can't program cameraderie. and you can't manufacture love where it doesn't exist. Two-D characters are incapable of moments of tenderness. Two warm. sensitive three-dimensional men prove themselves capable of that and more in Starsky and Hutch, and that's something to celebrate.[14]

A Recent Perspective from Outside Fandom Culture

In 2009, merltheearl, author of the Starsky & Hutch blog "The Ollie Report" which is unrelated to and unfamiliar with Media Fandom and fanfiction, had this to say about the show, looking back at the era of television in the 1970s:

...there are mistakes, ad libs, repeated and pasted scenes, bad casting, lazy writing, and by the forth season the engine sputters badly. But that’s the magic of it. It’s not overwritten or over-produced. There are unexplored allusions and innuendos, holes and spaces. It’s these spaces, these holes, that become a mine of riches, allowing us to enter into imagination and extrapolation. Compared to the tightly scripted, music-laden, tougher and generally much better television today, Starsky and Hutch can be a bit of a bewildering mix of the astonishing, spontaneous, haphazard and leaden. The actors are fearless and instinctive rather than calculated or self-important. It probably never occurs to either of them they were doing anything unusual. Yet they take control of their characters from the first scene and never let go. Dialogue is improvised or altered, including uncredited changes to pivotal moments, like “The Fix” and in “Gillian”, when the confrontation following her murder (arguably the best single moment in the entire series) was extemporaneous...All this invention, this what-the-hell approach, gives the energy between the two lead actors a crackling electricity that is almost never seen any more. And add to this the thousands of subtleties – looks, touches, grins...they still care enough to imbue their characters with subtlety and consistency. There hasn’t anything remotely like it before, or since. Making what many at the time considered trash, what I suspect the producers, actors and directors might have considered – in their darkest moments – as trash, they were making something unique, complex, and surprising. [15]

One Fan's Thank You

In 2007, Flamingo had a three-page thank you in the very last ZebraCon program book. It stated her appreciation of the fans she felt had been especially supportive and influential in Starsky & Hutch fandom and listed many fannish activities and accomplishments, historical and contemporary.

One Fan's View of Very Early Fandom

front cover of Zebra Three #1, the very first S&H fanzine published
In 1985, a fan remembers her introduction to the fandom by way, of course, of zines. From A Short, Spotty History of S&H Fan Literature:
My earliest memory of the fan lit is lying on Connie Faddis's carpet in 1977. paging over the second draft of "Mojave Crossing" and thinking, what the hell is this stuff? It wasn't science fiction and it sure wasn't Star Trek, not even the K/S version. (Yet.) But since a quantity of people I liked to talk with were hoofing over into this new fandom, it was either hoof with 'em or forever hold my peace. There followed the quarterly excursions to Pittsburgh and Chicago and Columbus to crank out (sometimes literally) the latest mimeo zine: ZEBRA THREE, ME & THEE I, ONE-SHOT. Our vocabularies acquired new words and phrases like "scrod". "corflu". and "Die, you bastard!" We o.d'd on butterfly sandwiches and contracted blood poisoning from paper-cuts. Best of all, we got to read the stories as fast as they flew out of the Gestetner. Those were the days.[16]

Also see Star Trek and Starsky & Hutch.

Its History as a Closed Fandom

For all its longevity, the fandom itself had, at least in the print-era (1995 and before), a relatively small footprint in the bigger world of fandom. Its zines were rarely advertised in the adzines, and its fans tended to be a pretty tight congregation.

An extremely rare fandom pimping flyer from Fantazine #6 (1996): "Did you love the show when it was on the air? Do you think Starsky & Hutch are two incredibly appealing characters? Did you notice that they also happen to be extremely attractive men? (Come on, now, most of us weren't in it for the car chases!) Above all, did you love their RELATIONSHIP? Are you interested in reading stories about these two terrific guys and meeting fans with the same interests? If the answer to any of these questions is "YES," then we want to meet you! SH fandom has existed since the show was first broadcast in the late 70s. We are a friendly group, and we welcome all fans. The purpose of this flyer is to spread the word. If you're interested in learning more about the wonderful world of Starsky & Hutch, just contact one of the people listed below... Feel free to make copies and take [this flyer] to conventions! We want our fandom to grow and flourish." [17]

One of the reasons behind this may have been because this fandom was one in which there was very little contact, if any, with TPTB. Unlike Star Trek, there were no large cons featuring actors and other official creators. Fannish interests, then, tended to fold in on themselves and become very insular.

In 1990, a fan wrote:
small is beautiful. That's not to say we don't welcome new people. I'm sure we've never consciously sought to be exclusive. Yet, I'll admit a smaller, close-knit group attracts me more than the idea of a vast, impersonal fandom. However, there must still be fans of the show out there, who don't know we exist. They could provide us with a needed boost, even rekindle enthusiasm.[18]
A fan in 1992 wrote:
The smallness of the SH fandom appeals to me. I am not a small fish in a big pond. I feel like I know what is going on and that my opinion counts. I am involved in other farndoms (Please forgive me!) but I don't know about half of what is going on. This is the only newsletter I get. I can follow what is happening in this fandom. I really feel that my opinions count.[19]
In early 1993, a fan wrote of the recent tensions in SH fandom:
I haven't written to FRIENZ in a while, but I have been keeping tabs on what's been going on. Which is why, to be honest, I haven't been writing. And if all the bickering and arguing is turning me off, I can't help but wonder what it will do to prospective new fans. Starsky & Hutch is a small fandom, a closed fandom. No one advertises outside. But we need new blood if we're to continue to flourish. Is it that we don't want to flourish? Is it like the last season of S&H, we just want to get it over with? If so, the thing to do is step aside for the next generation. If not, we've got to show them that we can overcome our problems and pull together—show them the warm and open people that I encountered when I first ventured in all those years ago. I'm talking about most of you! Yes, believe it or not, there are new fans anxious to join in. Most of them never even realized we existed. I don't want this fandom to die, I don't want the message of love S&H taught us to be lost— disillusionment is rampant enough in the 'real' world... Love each other, be good to each other, respect each other. Failing that, don't spoil it for the others who are coming to bring us a breath of fresh air. They are our future. Remember your good experiences in the beginning, and let them have the same chance. Show them how special it can be. If you don't, eventually this fandom will cease to exist, and Starsky & Hutch will no longer live forever in our hearts.[20]
A fan in 2001 commented, and erroneously mentioned a password protected fiction site:
Even today we're still tippy-toeing around publishing S&H slash on the Internet because we're afraid of repercussions. I haven't seen that any other fandom. There's an absolute cornucopia of slash stories in every conceivable pairing and fandom out there (some of which I don't even want to consider <shudder>), but you still need a secret password to get to the S/H archives! If this fandom is tame compared to some, why are we so paranoid? [21]
Another fan replied:
that is absolutely not true!!! Have you even been to the archives (you've got a story there, you know!)? The slash archives is a completely public place, locateable on search engines all over the net, and linked in many places. It's not the least bit secret and never was. You never needed a *password* to get in it! You need a PASSWORD to get into VenicePlace's private website which is for VP's members only (which is why a password is necessary). I can see why you think this fandom is so screwed up because you're misinformed. I hope we've straightened that out.... Some veteran fans are paranoid because they've been personally threatened years ago. Veteran fans come from a time when slash was a dangerous new idea, not open to the entire world. To this day teachers, librarians and others need to be cautious about being associated with pornography in any way. However, the fandom itself is hardly paranoid. I can't *find* most of the veteran authors of early slash fic but whenever I do, these days, most of them give me permission to post their stuff. Many of them have simply dropped off the world. I can't put stuff up I don't have permission for. And many authors still prefer to publish in zines alone and don't want their stuff on the net, not because of paranoia but because they prefer paper publishing [22]
Another reason for the fandom's slight step out of the bigger fannish world was that it, along with The Professionals, was the first to step into the pool that was slash. Fans had watched this subject play out in Star Trek, a fandom that unlike Starsky & Hutch, had the varying support of TPTB. Perhaps, too, discussion and fiction featuring two characters in the distant future was easier to get one's head around than two cops who "lived" in present day. In any case, there was a lot of underground fiction, some of which morphed into zines, and much which did not:
The Black Notebook, by the way, is the big black three-ring binder, or expandable manila folder, or large cardboard box, in which are kept the early drafts, critique galleys, or complimentary copies of a fan's own or someone else's unpublished stories. The Black Notebook is an artifact of the second period of the fan literature. late 1980 to 1982, the hush-hush period. Not til The Professionals emerged was there a fandom with as many unpublished or downright subterranean stories about. There were secret series, secret round-robins, even a secret letterzine [23] for a while in 1981. Most of this underground stuff was S/H, and the reason that it was so encrypted was the fear and occasional paranoia that Spelling-Goldberg would sue the writers. Hence "The Zine With No Name"; CODE 7 1. There are no editors, no artists, no writers credited in this 1981 publication. Other stories remained buried because their authors gafiated before they were finished. From time to time some incanabula surface, but sadly, most may molder away, in obscurity, forever.[24]

Starsky & Hutch and Hurt/Comfort

The show spawned a great deal of hurt/comfort attention due to having several episodes that heavily featured canonical hurt/comfort scenes and storylines, and the closeness of the two main characters. Get em stories that highlighted the main characters' friendship were the most prevalent type of story in early fandom,[25] with influential stories such as "Mojave Crossing" and cross-pollination with Star Trek spawning an enduring tradition of hurt/comfort.

Issue #2 (April 1986) of the zine The Who Do We Trust Times had a TOTM that elicited several comments about the appeal of the hurt/comfort stories in the show and its fanfiction:[26]

For me, the h/c in S&H is simply beautiful. The touching of foreheads in SHOOTOUT, the stroking of throat in THE FIX, the butterfly-light touch of hand on knee in THE TRAP, the head-hug in COFFIN, the incredible hug in GILLIAN - the list is endless. What we saw on the screen was nothing short of perfect. And that is just some of the dramatic physical comfort. This blockbuster type of h/c shows us the heroic side of the characters and their relationship - look how bravely he bears the pain, see what his partner will go through for him. Seeing the boys being wonderful and strong is terrific on its ovn, but this h/c also allows us to see their vulnerability, too. Their greatest strength is also their Achilles' heel -- as all the bad guys seem to know -- cut one and two bleed.
a classic hurt/comfort scene in Mojave Crossing, by Connie Faddis (1977) (in Zebra Three #1)
...the reason [h/c in SH] works is because the emotions of the characters are there. It's not only the physical demonstrativeness that we look for in h/c, it's the feeling. We all look in our zines for those stories that grab us by the gut and hold on and don't let go. The kind of hurt/comfort that works best in fiction is the kind that is so powerful that we worry and care and hurt along with the characters and that leaves us (and the characters, too) feeling satisfied when the conclusion is reached.
... when someone first "discovers" S&H, there's a very strong tendency to become immersed in writing or reading h/c, because, at the beginning, there's a "rush" you feel that's almost like being in love... Sounds corny, I know, but that's what it was like for me, over ten years ago. You want to write situations in which the two characters you love so much are thrown together, as much as possible, in as demonstrative a way as possible - thus h/c!
Many of the old, perennial favorites deal with h/c as their focus; their plot mover; the detour to lead into deeper psychological explorations; or the means to test the metal of the famous friendship. In later (and especially "/") fanfic h/c often a starting point, a trauma which strips away pretense, false machismo, and gaming, to provide an emotionally satisfying and psychologically valid shortcut to true feelings, desires and needs. Besides... love IS a helluva comfort, and sex ain't bad either!
Someone, a while ago, labeled h/c an expression of 'sublimated homoeroticism'. Sadomasochistic tendencies; a yearning to express tenderness; the safest device to break down inhibitions and bring out the drastic/dramatic in characters - all these have been mentioned, pondered and debated as reasons for 'hurting the ones you love', then 'making it all better'. Undeniably, h/c carries a strong, sublimated sexual element. It can also satisfy a more overt need, (with romantic leanings), for tactile and verbal expressions of love, belonging and tenderness. The hurt serves both as sexual gratification in itself, (portal gates have always held a strong link to the libido); and as justification to overcome our own ingrained inhibitions and allow free rein to the tenderness/comfort component. S & H, with their police work and daily life of danger, provide a perfect framework for h/c scenarios, both from the series and the fertile minds of the writers. Add to it the legitiaizing aspects of a fandom - the mildly demented throng of like-minded people who all 'do it' - and you have the perfect setup. Which might explain, to a degree, why fandoms like S&H have such resilience, and why they rely so much on fanfic for their continued existence.
One other issue I'm curious about is the theory that h/c as a substitute for sex in a lot of the fanfiction. I don't buy that in S&H literature. I know that when I'm looking for a "sexy" read, I do not reach for "Mojave Crossing," or "Wilderness," or the like. And the reverse is also true. Hurt/comfort conjurs up none of the feelings and emotions that come from "/" stories. I read each to satisfy a certain mood. I guess I tend to read h/c when I need comforting, it's been a particularly hard day and I need a hug. Those are the feelings which these stories recall.

Starsky & Hutch Fandom and Slash

illustration from the early slash novel "The Cost of Love" (1982)

The Starsky and Hutch fandom is ongoing and has managed to sustain itself for more than thirty years. In the '80s and '90s, SH fandom never got as big as Trek (and S/H, never got as big as K/S), but it was a major fandom with an extensive zine culture. Most stories in the fandom are slash or friendship-related gen; though het subplots are not rare, 99% of fics are firmly focused on the relationship between Starsky and Hutch.

From Flamingo:
Most of the early SH fan writers came out of Star Trek fandom where they already had been producing very excellently written and edited zines with amazing artwork. There were certain kinds of fans, mostly women, who were mostly interested in the relationship aspect of Trek fandom, and in the hurt-comfort aspect of the relationships. Many of these fans were drawn to SH due to the intense relationship, and the hurt-comfort episodes. Many of the earliest writers can be found on the S&H Gen Archive -- Teri White, who had written in Trek, and eventually became a pro writer, was the first person to produce S&H stories that were put in zines, and shortly after other Trek writers and zine producers came into the fandom. At this point, everything was gen, though Trek had already produced the first slash stories and slash zines... So, it wasn't too long before some of the writers started exploring a slash relationship between S&H. Many of those first SH writers were Teri White, as I said, Connie Faddis, Jan Lindner, Dargelos, Karen B, and a number of writers who've gone on to the pro ranks. You can find a lot of the early writers in the Starsky and Hutch Archive, but there are many more who can't be found for archiving approval, or who don't wish to be archived. Early slash writers were people like Alexis Rogers, Terri Beckett & Chris Powers, Dargelos, Pamela Rose, Rosemary C., Billie Phillips, Peruvian Gypsy, Elizabeth Lowry, Cheryl M. and Lucy." [27]
In 1984, a fan wrote of the transitions and growing pains the four major slash fandoms of the time were experiencing:
The appeal of Starsky and Hutch, for me, lies in the open closeness of the characters. And, in reconciling that with the restrictive environment they live in, not only in the sense of them being cops but in terms of today's social values. I do think though, that many writers of S/H have tended to focus on the question of sexual preference. For K & S, gay is a difficult label to apply because Spock is a Vulcan from a different value system and both are men of the galaxy. With S & H, that label can allow for the production of great stories as the characters come to understand them selves, each other, their love. I tend to see Hutch as gay despite his marriage. Starsky is a heterosexual who may have bisexual tendencies which come to the fore when he accepts his love for Hutch. But I must admit that it is fun to change this scenario—to make S & H more like K & S in that both were primarily heterosexuals who find the love they share so compelling that they risk everything for it. I elaborate on this because I see in S/H stories a tendency to focus on this question and the permutations of sexual preference rather than on the much larger, potential S/H universe which includes cop plots, LA's weirdness and the like. I think this may be, in small part, why there is a writing crisis in S/H fandom. Maybe now that so many stories dealing with the issues of sexual preference and the revelation of true love have been written, writers can move on to the fascinating universe there is to play with if one writes S/H. ... I wonder if each new fandom doesn't extend what we learn. K/S was the beginning. It often did, and still does, focus on sex/sexual preference. Many stories never stretch beyond these topics (which is fine if the underlying aspirations weren't for a "real" story). S/H seems to have carried on the tradition yet, because the characters were so open with their Love, there were more stories that didn't just focus on these issues. With H/J, the issues were resolved immediately and became rather lame plot lines so other stories were written. In B/D we see the next stage, one we'd like to see K/S in. One where the issues of preference and sex are not so important. What is important is getting and keeping the characters together in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, till death do they part (with K/S there is the wonderful opportunity to realistically extend the relationship beyond "death"). Maybe we're on the verge of closing a circle. Writers who've begun in TREK, moved through S/H and into B/D may come full circle and bring that maturity as writers back to K/S. As a result, there may be more maturity in the characterizations we see in K/S if these writers can be lured back into the universe. Ultimately, I think some will gafiate back because they will see from writing other characters new challenges that Kirk and Spock's more mature versions present. In stories such as "Resting Place" and "Cycles", we see a more mature form of writing and characterizations; the characters are living the life they've chosen. The challenge is one of stressing their commitment and seeing if the love can endure. I think that eventually other writers may see this sort of challenge in K/S again.[28]
In 1985, a fan named Ima Fool wrote a tongue-in-cheek history of the fandom for The Paul Muni Special program book. An excerpt:
"/" is not some kind of crazy Chinese writing, nor is it a lopside #1 with ears. It is possibly the straw that broke fandom's camel and deals with the off-duty orientation of our erstwhile guys (or, in some quarters, gays). I refer, of course, to the extremely long-winded They Do/They Do Not debate. The Do-ers made much of the fact that Starsky had curly hair, drove a red and white car, and everybody thought he was cute. The Do-not-ers argued that Starsky had curls, drove a white and red car, and everybody thought he was cute except Hutch. Touche! (Wars have been fought over less significant

issues. after all.)

Experts (who are no longer of this fandom and were never of this world) were called in to enforce the absolute-truth-proof-positive-yessirreebob-position (which is related to the missionary, but not quite as straight) that They Do! They asserted that it was proven fact that. S&H met in the army while attending Police Academy together but at separate times, and while driving around one day looking for a place to park, a stray cat ran into the road. and, they were, thus, irrevokably bound by the blood 'n' guts all over the front left tire. only to find that they desired each other every few accidents/illnesses/gunshots or so, and, gazed upon each other in lust/love/like meaning-fully. but unbeknownst to the other/other, and, consummated same said passion some time between 1966 and 1990. The Do-not-ers scoffed. shrieked. and created a whole new language for the homophobic generation, but the trend of love in the backseat of the Torino could not be curtailed.

Soon, stories of illicit love, meaningful moustaches rides. and unbelievable dialogues came to light...

[snipped]

S/H (who used to be called S&H) became so busy having sex, and talking about sex, or wanting sex when the other didn't want sex, or having sex but enjoying it less, or talking about sex and enjoying it more, that they no longer had time for minor things like police work, plot lines, or plausible characterization. But, no matter, the partnership survived. As has fandom.

And, so on this decade anniversary of S&H, S/H, S%H, S#H, S?H, or what have you, it is good to recall what it is really all about... no, not buns tightly encased in faded denim that clings to... or ruggedly worn blue jean fabric that strains with the blond manliness of... but, caring. On this, at least, we all agree.
lamardeuse wrote:
To be honest, I resisted this one as long as I could, because, well, I lived the '70's, and even as a kid I knew I was living in a pretty shitty decade. I mean, my god. The hair. The clothes. The music. Did I really want to go back in my time machine to that bell-bottomed and macraméd era?

Apparently I did, because I started reading some fanfic by Flamingo and Rosemary and others, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I would have to rent the DVDs. And then I sat around and stared at my TV screen until my jaw found a home on the floor.

Because, yes, the hair and the clothes and the music. But also: the slash.

Holy mother of K/S. This is as slashy as they come, folks.

You want real, undeniable, painfully obvious man-love? This is it, kids: the groping and the fondling and the hugging and the banter and the bitching and the looks they give each other as though no other relationship they ever find will even come close to this. And they'd be right, because Starsky and Hutch are as canon as you can get without being Queer as Folk.[29]

Tensions Between Gen and Slash

Because of the close relationship between the show's main two characters, slash developed quickly in the fandom. The first gen fanzine, Zebra Three was published in the fall of 1977, with the first slash zine appearing a few years later.

Klangley56 said:

Code 7 #1 (1981). Quote from the title page: "This is a privileged and private publication; it was sent to you because you know the value and the need for discretion. You are being trusted, if you misuse this trust, you will be harming not only the contributors but all of S/H fandom. Please keep this zine entirely to yourself! Thank you."

S&H was the next big US fandom to publish slash. S/H fandom went through some of the same do they/don't they debate that had rampaged through K/S fandom, but a lot of S&H fans also were ST fans, so they had heard it all before and fewer people expressed shock at the concept. The first S/H zine was a non-explicit single story British publication, Forever Autumn, by S. Meek and Sue S., (March 1980). The next published S/H piece was also British, a short story, "Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn," by Pamela D. (10:13 Vol. 1, 1980/81, Terri B. and Chris P., eds.).

The first US S/H zine was Code 7 #1 (1981, Karen B, ed.).[30] Karen had been advertising this zine (and some other S/H zines) for upcoming publication within the pages of The S&H Letterzine when suddenly it was listed as cancelled with no explanation. In reality, the zine hadn't been cancelled. Word had gone through fandom of troublemakers who were planning to "out" these slash zines to TPTB. So Karen went underground with the zine, publishing it with no names listed: no authors, no artists, no editor. In the meantime, however, other S/H was going forward, such as Graven Images by Jane Aumerle (pre-S/H, 1981). Terri and Chris published a "Statement of Intent" in the Letterzine, stating that they were not going to be intimidated into pushing any slash material in their zines underground. [Billie Phillips] and Pam R. began advertising Trace Elements (which was published in 1982). Leslie Fish jumped feet first into the fray, asserting she would publish a fanzine that couldn't be used against the fandom. This resulted in Pushin' The Odds (which didn’t see publication until 1983), a mixed gen and slash zine, with slash stories printed in blue ink on red-patterned paper to render them "copy-proof." It also made them almost unreadable without the sheet of red plastic that was included to put over the page. She also required a signed "statement of compliance," numbered the copies, and used coded hole-punches on the pages, supposedly to identify the purchaser of any copy that "fell into unauthorized hands." However, by the time that zine saw print, everybody was going ahead with their S/H zines anyway, regardless of threatened repercussions. Later issues of Code 7 (there were four total) were published openly in fandom. There was supposed to be a second issue of Leslie’s zine, but that never materialized. (See also "One Finger on the Mouse scroll bar", Kelly Boyd (1997))

What was even more ironic is that while several contributors to the S&H letterzine bemoaned the rising tide of slash and worried that it would overrun their fandom, for the first few years of the letterzine's existence only one slash zine, Forever Autumn, was published.

In 1982, a fan commented on the arrival of the first published S/H fiction, but also expressed her fears, as well as hopes that if trouble were coming, she hoped it would hit someone elses' fandom instead of Starsky & Hutch:
It's nice to see a little cautious (emphasis on cautious!) pubbing going on. There's really a lot more at stake than the risk of financial ruin. I suspect that few of us really fear that particular bogey very much longer. I for one, though, don't feel like becoming embroiled in any unpleasantness. Nor do I feel like causing it. There are a great many more important things in this world beyond the matter of do we have the right to rip off characters for fannish use... but the fact remains that the characters do belong to someone else, and that is, in a purely technical sense, copyright violation. Ferchrissake, every time you xerox a page from a book, or reprint a cartoon or quote in the Lz, without permission, that's copyright violation. EVERYBODY does it. What I'm getting at... is this: I'd like to see the smash come in another fandom,[31] and if it comes in ours, I'd like to see it happen over the straight stuff... There are no medals for conspicuous bravery in fandom. The race is to those who know the shortcuts. We do what we have to do, but if we're wise, we'll shut up about it.[32]
April Valentine described the difficulties facing early Starsky & Hutch slash fans:
Those who are new to fandom may not realize what those early slashers had to go through. The theme was unconventional, daring, even illegal in some states. Friendships were broken up over whether someone "saw" characters in a slash relationship or not. Printers were throwing out masters of zines, threatening to destroy photographs of illos. In SH fandom, you could only find the slash if you knew someone who knew about it. It was like a secret society. The first S/H zine was published without names of either authors or artists. One editor published her slash pages on paper with wavy red lines making it practically impossible to read the pages, much less to Xerox them. (You needed a little pair of 3D glasses or even a piece of red acetate to hold over the page would do.) I heard a story that at ZebraCon people were secretly holding a slash party — but it turned out that most of the fans at the con ended up at the party after all.[33]
In 2001, a fan was perplexed that the zine she'd bought on eBay had had the slash fics removed. Another fan speculated as to why this had been done and of the zine's origins:

I can give you the most likely scenario regarding this zine. There is another lending library besides the S&H Lending Library that The Committee runs. This other lending library is a gen only library that will tell you right up front that it not only limits its selection to gen material, but it also will take mixed zines, like Bonaventure, remove the slash content, and then offer the zine to its members with only the gen content. They do not remove the indexes. Many of its library members, like ours, copy the zines that they borrow, so it's not unusual for these altered zine copies to be passed on from fan to fan. This library also offers in-print zines, and we have obtained copies of mixed in-print zines, like TLC, with the slash removed. It is likely that the fan who sold it may have gotten this altered copy passed on from another or even a third hand, and may never have compared the list of stories in the index with the actual contents and may not have realized it was censored. I know Bonaventure has lots of very short stories in it. Also, it is most likely the way she got the zine from whomever sold it to her. These censored zines are floating around fandom and will surface from time to time, so be aware of them. The people who do this (remove the slash from mixed zines) feel very strongly against promoting slash material. I've been told they will even remove the slash content from an individual story. I have not seen these individual stories altered, but I have seen altered zines. This is the most likely scenario regarding this particular zine. My experience is that most slash fans would not *remove* stories from a zine, but rather copy it, since most slashers promote slash fandom and selling a zine without the slash certainly won't promote it....

The situation with mixed zines is kind of interesting, when you go over the history of it. Of course, when Star Trek came out there was only gen, and then the Trekkers invented slash. It was so outrageous, so revolutionary that I don't think initially anyone would have considered mixed the two...

By the time SH became a fandom with zines to publish, slash had been around a little while. But SH had always been a small fandom, especially in comparison to Trek (remember, we're talking of a time when there were 2 fandoms essentially -- Trek and then SH), so SH people weren't fussy -- they read everything since there wasn't but so much being published (and there was no net. In fact, there were no computers. In fact, early early on there were no photocopiers. Can we say mimeo machines?) Since there was less slash than gen being written, and since editors often didn't have enough stories to fill a zine anyway, and since zines were so hard to produce, and since SH fans were just damned glad to get any kind of story, mixed zines were the only sensible way to go. There were always editors who would not take slash stories, but it wasn't like today where there were lots of places to put a story so you could make a choice. It was the editor's choice, and if you were lucky, your story would fit her zine and people would get to read it. Even today, there are only so many SH zines (and the net is a newer phenomena, and many of the out of print zine material will never be presented on it since the authors can't be found), so if you want to read SH, especially classic SH, you've got to get your hands on out of print zines like Bonaventure, so you don't really have a choice. The way people strongly opposed to slash expressed their choice was to remove the slash. I know that the editor of Bonaventure received an envelope of shredded pages that were the slash stories from Bonaventure, and a very nasty letter, as a protest that she had permitted slash in the zine. Another thing was that these zines were almost always produced in very small quantities, maybe 100 if that many, and the way most people got them was through copying one other fans. So, usually buying the zine or not buying the zine only impacted the reader, not the producer.

Because SH has been around so long, some of these issues do seem rather strange in light of today's multitude of zines, internet access, etc. [34]

In spite of slash fandom's perseverance, the legacy of caution regarding openly discussing slash fan fiction continued in the fandom. Early mailing lists were not well advertised and a few required sponsorship in order to join along with dire warnings about publicly discussing the lists' existence. See VenicePlace and The Pits. Only with increasing online exposure of all types of slash fan fiction in the late 1990s to early 2000s were Starsky & Hutch fans emboldened to more openly make their presence known in the online world.

Today, Starsky & Hutch gen and slash fans are significantly more tolerant of each other. However, there are still gen only mailing lists that exclude any discussion of slash (SHGFanFic and Hutchfans).

The Fandom of Nice?

Starsky & Hutch fandom has always seen itself as friendly and welcoming to newcomers. One of its early online communities VenicePlace is centered around fans becoming virtual tenants in a fictional apartment complex that just happened to also be the home of the show's two main characters. New members were welcomed and an informal mentoring took place.

However, some fans paint a different picture. Certainly in its early days Starsky and Hutch fandom was small and most members knew each other. The pages of the S and H letterzine show a robust - if at times sharp and caustic - debate on a variety of issues, including the presence of slash in their fandom, the relative quality of fanzines and the role that reviews should play in fandom. After the letterzine folded in 1983, fandom lacked a central place to meet and greet although several letterzines did try to fill the gap.

It is not surprising then the arrival of the internet was welcomed by many fans as a means to reconnect as well as a means to recruit new members. Perhaps this may have been the reason that many Starsky & Hutch mailing lists felt uncomfortable with their fellow fans expressing differing or critical views about the show, the writing or fan culture. Contrast the fan fiction review policy of the The Pits (mailing list) with that of Loveofmeandthee[35] and one can see how the latter tried to shift the discourse into the more positive territory.

When a fan in 1999 wrote and posted a sequel to The Thousandth Man to The Pits mailing list without permission from the story's original author, there was much discussion. One fan, Flamingo, explained:
I don't know who contacted Sarah originally, but I feel very comfortable in saying that their intentions were honorable. How can I know this? Because I know SH fandom. I've been in and around other media fandoms since the early 70's and science fiction fandom before that. I know how clannish and cliqueish most fandoms can be. I know of fandom discussion lists where people will flame you if you *agree* with them! I've been told by a fan in another fandom that on their lists, "those people eat their young." There's a lot of insecurities out there. Honestly, though, SH fandom has much less of this than any other. (We're not perfect, heaven knows.) I'd like to think that we take after our "founders" and so we know more about love than they do in other fandoms, but that's my conceit. I'm sure whoever spoke to Sarah was just trying to enlighten her about a common practice, especially among most of the original SH fans, like Suzan. (Suzan came up through original Trek, so she has been there for most of the active media fandoms.) Because SH is such an old fandom it has many traditions that some of the newer fandoms may not, yet fan etiquette, especially regarding the "ownership" of story lines is fairly common. I'm sure they had the best intentions. If this were some other fandom, I might not say that. Besides, SH fans are greedy for stories and would only interrupt one for the strongest of reasons. [36]

Participation in The Pits began slowing down in the mid 2000s and by 2005, some fans felt that "cult of nice" had held sway for so long that it had become the norm. Many felt that there was a reluctance to say anything bad about any story and believed they ran the risk of being publicly reprimanded "for daring to suggest that a story was not perfect in it's entirety." As one fan put it, the general consensus was that all writing was "a gift from "the gods" and not to be judged or seen wanting. Negative words were going to scare all the writers away! So negative words weren't allowed. (Or were very strongly discouraged)." If any stories were to be critiqued, it had to be done in private conversations and email.[37]

The Fandom of Content Restrictions?

The vast majority of fic in the fandom has traditionally been those that feature happy endings, and in the case of slash, Starsky and Hutch together, exclusive and forever.

There is very little RPF.

In fact, the fiction had the reputation of being so "safe" that a fan decided to publish a series of zines that included pointedly "unsafe" stories. See Dangerous Lives, Dangerous Visions.

In 2000, editor of Dangerous Lives, Dangerous Visions, explained how this non-edgy culture lost some people in the fandom:

[Some Pros fans] will tell you they left the fandom because they could write things in Pros they "could not" write in SH. They will tell you that SH was too restrictive, that the fandom didn't want certain kinds of stories. They will tell you there are no restrictions in Pros which is why so many writers went over to it, and, more significantly, stayed with it all these years. I am not making it up, and I sure don't like hearing it, and I haven't just heard it from one person, but over and over and over.

And I've come from another fandom where there were absolutely no restrictions, and I do find SH much more restrictive than Vice ever was. That's reality. It happened in my first SH story when it was not canon-faithful -- not that I had any trouble getting it published, but I've had a fair share of criticism over it, and you have to remember this wasn't even an issue in my old fandom, so I was pretty weirded out by it.

SH is an old fandom, and fandom itself has changed. Many of the fans on this list can't really appreciate this argument because it's hard for them to realize that before the internet what you wrote and what happened to it was largely dictated by how or even if you could get it published. It was *hard* to get things published. It could take a long time to get a zine out. There were only so many editors. You didn't have all the options for self-publishing you have today. Fandom was a very small place. Things you worked on were influenced by other fans in this small society, many times for the better, but not always. Anyone can publish anything today on a website or even a zine since they are far more easier to produce, but in the past, these were not options. I just had this discussion with a zine-published fan who told me a story I'm about to put on the Archive originally had a different ending. But it was a downer and the people she'd shared it with really objected to it and told her no one would publish it, so she changed the ending but she wasn't happy about it. (Now, mind you, this is just from discussion with other fans through snail mail or phone or in person. The editor had nothing to do with it.) Because of this fan pressure, she changed the story, and it was the changed story that was published. I asked her to send me the other version so that we can have both for the Archive along with her story of what happened in the development of the tale.

So, I think a lot of this argument about the restrictions in the fandom has lost some steam, because publishing is so much easier, but I think writers restrict themselves in this fandom, and the general fandom itself is not as open to a lot of ideas as other fandoms are. [38]

Contact with The Powers That Be

The fandom had no or very, very little contact with the stars, writers, or producers of the show.

Conventions were all fan-run and did not have celebrity guests.

The controversy regarding the zine Code 7 stirred up discussion about possible contact, but the only fall-out from that ended up to be perception rather than reality: In 2001, a fan wrote:
I was told that in SH during the letterzine era you're referring to, people *threatened* to send zines to the PTB and the stars, but I was told either it never actually happened or that the people receiving the zines so didn't care that it amounted to nothing. According to my source it was a tempest in a teapot that had repercussions in the fandom for years for no good reason (her words not mine). Immediately after Code 7 NO 1, the anonymous issue, came out, fans who thought this was an unnecessary reaction put out a zine complete with their full, real names on it and nothing ever happened. Yet, the fear alone kept many SH slashers from being open about publishing fiction while other people continued publishing fic and selling it at cons with no repercussions at all. [39]

At one point, a fan proposed putting together a zine of appreciation and sending it to the actors, but there is no record of any reaction from TPTB about it.


A Fandom of Less Feedback?

In 2001, a Pros fan who'd written in that fandom complained to a mailing list that the Starsky & Hutch fandom (specifically S/H fandom) was very ungenerous with its feedback. Another fan, Flamingo, replied:
I've been around fandom long enough and on enough lists, and have enough friends on enough other lists to know that fandoms are very different in their membership, their reactions, their culture, and their methods of communication. What started this was the fact that a lack of LOCs is a particular problem in SH *slash* -- SH gen generates many more LOCs. So if there is that big a difference between SH slash and SH gen, your getting a lot of LOCs in Pros or UNCLE -- regardless of the reason -- seems irrelevant to SH slash, just as my getting no LOCs in Miami Vice slash fandom meant nothing when I started writing SH slash.... Why are we're lacking in LOCs and acknowledgements in this fandom specifically.? I was not actively in fandom when SH was new, when there were letterzines dedicated to story reviews and LOCs and the culture was very different. (Though having read the letterzines, I know the editors had to dun people for LOCs even though. But at least they got them.) Back then there were two primary fandoms, Trek and SH and then three when Pros showed up. There was no internet, not even computers yet. Producing zines was an arduous, expensive, multi-person process (just getting it collated could take a crowd), and most fans were used to waiting years for promised zines they had to pay for in advance. I think if there were 5-10 zines a year produced it was a banner year. From all the years I've been around fandom, in fandom, and involved with internet fandom, there's been a huge evolution of fandom itself. There are now hundreds of fandoms and literally thousands and thousands of stories available instantly at no tangible expense. If you want to read slash you can find it by the pound. It's everywhere. SH is not a big fandom and the majority of its fans are also into other fandoms -- fandoms with far more fiction in it. There are only a small percentage of fans on VP who identify themselves *only* as SH fans or who only *read* SH, like me. So, the fact that there aren't that many stories available in SH doesn't bother a lot of fans who can enjoy reading tons of stories in Pros, Sentinel, Phantom Menace and other fandoms with large archives. And because slash fic, which was once a rare and threatened commodity spoken of only in whispers and passed secretly from fan to fan, is now so blatantly and easily available, it's simply not appreciated that much. Its common. It's always there. Just reach out and download it. Slash fiction is taken for granted by fans these days. When you take something for granted, you don't bother acknowledging it. And when a fandom is only one of many you enjoy, you're not going to focus on what's happening or not happening in it as much. We all only have but so much time. I think that if the writers sending unacknowledged stories to VP were writing in Pros and UNCLE, many of them would be getting LOCs, too, as this fandom has always been blessed with good writers. Pros is a much, much bigger fandom than SH and its fans have a tendency to be more focused and UNCLE, which may be around the same size as SH, has a high percentage of fans who've been in it from the beginning and never got into other fandoms, so they're pretty focused, too. I think this issue is specific to this fandom. [40]

Transition to the Internet

In 1990, a fan brought up, for the first time in a Starsky & Hutch letterzine, the Internet:
The growth question comes up in part because of an offer I made to Pat Massie to publicize this letterzine on the Internet, a wide-area computer network that reaches hundreds of universities and organizations world-wide. (If any of you are affiliated in any way with a college or university, there is a fair chance that you have access to the Internet newsgroups.) In the year or so that I've been reading the Internet newsgroups. I've never seen any mention of SH. But I'll bet there are plenty of people out there who remember it and who love the boys just like we do. If we do decide to grow, we face some challenges that other fandoms don't. Most people haven't seen SH in over ten years. It's difficult to remember the episodes in any detail. And since the show isn't being aired anywhere, it's hard to get people caught up with fandom as it exists here and now. Fan fiction demands an intimate knowledge of the episodes, whether you're a reader or a writer.[41]
Her question went ignored.
some fans made the move to LJ, (sample LJ icon depicting a classic scene from Starsky & Hutch)

Flamingo has been instrumental in getting older zine fiction online and encouraging earlier members of the fandom to make more use of the internet. Despite frequently declaring herself hopeless at using sites like livejournal, she ran a panel at SHareCon 2010 that covered web resources for SH fandom.

New Fans and New Perspectives on Fandom

Starsky & Hutch fandom still has the ability to pull in some new, younger fans. In October 2014, one fan whose profile lists her birth year as 1992 wrote a lengthy reflection, entitled Reading a 1977 Zine in 2014: Zebra Three #1, about the experience of buying an old copy of the first ever Starsky & Hutch zine, her appreciation for the long documented history of Starsky & Hutch fandom, and the contrasts between fandom during the show's era and fandom in the internet era.[42]

A fan in 2001 missed the passion of pre-internet fandom, and the passion of the desperate:

To me, it seems the biggest loss in the metamorphosis to an online existence (which, by its ease, allows many more people to find fandom) is passion. Because it was, for starters, so difficult to even find *out* about fandom -- let alone figure out how to be a part of it -- fandom was restricted to those who were highly passionate about their particular show. There was too much an effort in being a fan to attract those who were only casually interested. Most all fans gave back to fandom, because they realized how rare and precious it was, and looked upon it as something special and unique.

Now, the net allows the most casual of fans to participate, and they come into it wondering what each fandom has to offer them. They want to know what fandom is going to do for them, rather than what they're going to do for fandom. The sense of shared passion about a mutual obsession is gone. I think, for many fans, fandom is just another one of many interests -- which is why they're puzzled as to why some old-timers feel so strongly about "bashing" a story -- and there isn't that feeling of sharing something unique with others who are equally obsessed. I miss that most of all But you can't fight "progress". [43]
In 2002, a fan responded to another fan's complaint that too much fiction in this fandom was only available as zines, hence a "gate-keeping, elitist" fandom culture. She said:
You have to realize also that SH has more zines and more old zines than some fandoms because it is a fandom that began before the internet ever existed. I did the first 3 issues of [zine name redacted] on a typewriter and didn't even own a computer until then. I wasn't on line until about six or seven years ago. I'm delighted that SH has an online presence because that means the fandom is still alive and growing, but it distresses me that the fanzine publishers are now being considered criminals and net authors are considered okay. In my humble opinion, the same respect should be given to all authors of fanfiction, whether its in a zine or on the net. [44]

The Consequences of a Small Fandom and Competition

Starsky & Hutch, while a long-lived fandom, has never been very large. Some fans feel that its smallness is one of its charms; fans tended to congregate in the same areas, tended to be familiar with each other. That same smallness could also be a source of tension.

In 2001, when the fans who were behind the Starsky & Hutch Virtual Season created a new mailing list, and made the announcement on an existing list, there was much discussion. The mod of the original list, Flamingo wrote:

as I mentioned before, I've seen good discussion lists, lists that other listmoms worked on for years, completed gutted with the formation of a new list. After all that work, it's painful. And every list does compete with existing lists, often lessening their membership and their activity level, sometimes shutting them down completely. Sometimes that's a good thing. I was *grateful* when it happened with my Miami Vice list because I did not have the time and energy to run it properly, and was happy to shut my own list down in the face of a new one that served the fandom better. But the list was totally shut down by the formation of the new list and it was a list I'd been working on for several years. So the issue of "competition" is very real. No one likes their time and effort to be for nothing....

I disagree with the need for another SH list, and have disagreed with it in the past. My disagreement has done nothing to prevent anyone from starting any other list, as the large proliferation of lists in this small fandom can attest to, nor has it stopped anyone from wanting to from joining them...

This is not Sentinel fandom or Phantom Menace, it's not even Pros. All of these fandoms are considerably larger by many times than SH. SH has always been a small fandom, from the very beginning, and its numbers have largely been stable with people coming in and going out, often reducing down to a very small amount (usually when the show wasn't on anywhere at all) but the overall fandom has never been very large. A fandom that can have a *list* of 1100 people can well afford to have multiple lists, as each person on that list might well represent 5 others who aren't interested in any list activities. SH fandom is simply not that large, not by half, and to host 12 lists or more in this one small fandom is to divide its membership up into smaller and smaller groups. [45]

Lending Libraries

The S&H Lending Library, started around 1990 by Linda L Cabrillo, was a collection of out-of-print zines assembled by Linda and many other SH fans to make these zines available to those who had never had an opportunity to see them. Their intention was to ensure that this classic fiction would not be lost to the fandom. The library was run by different SH fans over the years. The library hosted both gen and slash fan fiction. Zines were always presented uncut, uncensored, and unedited.[46] As fans migrated to the Internet, many zine stories (slash and gen) became available online at the S & H Archive and the S&H Lending Library went on hiatus in 2007. In 2010, a few fans stepped in to informally fill the gap by offering to loan and/or copy out of print fanzines on an individual one-to-one basis. Discussions on whether - and how - to resume the S&H Lending Library have been ongoing.

Fanart

Like other early fandoms, most S&H fanartists did illustrations and covers for zines, as well as some standalone art destined for art shows at conventions. Early(-ish) artists includ Suzan Lovett, Connie Faddis, Warren Oddsson, Jean Kluge, and Jean C..

In 2009, a new online fanart archive opened: Still Life, to gather online S&H gen and slash art in one place. It went offline sometime in 2013.

Sample art gallery of Starsky & Hutch art, showing a variety of styles and subjects:

Vids

Two Starsky & Hutch fans, Diana Barbour and Kendra Hunter[47] are credited for making some, if not the, earliest songvids set to live TV footage.[48] At Sharecon 2000, Flamingo put together a vid show of the history of Starsky & Hutch vidding. Below are excerpts from the booklet accompanying the songtape Flamingo later made available to fans.

How Place and Time Shape The Early Vids: 1970s/1980s

Flamingo begins by offering the reader some background on the fandom and the limited technology and limited source material available when the first Starsky & Hutch vids were being made:
The first VCRs were called VTRs, and showed up around 1978. Blank tapes cost $25 apiece. SH was in its heyday. It stayed in syndication — mostly uncut — for many years. Many [fans] can still only find uncut eps [episodes] from tapes made by generous fans in the early 80's. About the only source of uncut copies of The Fix [episode] are from these tapes as every station in recent times has cut the bedroom scene and often the scene of Hutch's addiction. Likewise, the charming tag of [the episode] "Starsky & Hutch Are Guilty hasn't been seen in almost 25 years except on these uncut tapes.[49]

Flamingo goes on to describe how these limits shaped the format of the earliest vids:

In the earliest vids—then called "song tapes" — there were less story vids since it was difficult to frame one with the limits of the equipment. There were no flying erase heads. Every time a vidder cut in a clip there was usually electronic garbage left on the tape, some of it altering the soundtrack. Some early equipment could do fadeouts. What VTRs could do was hold a freeze frame cleanly, and this was used a great deal. Some of the earliest vids consisted of a freeze frame of the guys' faces over an entire song. Early vidders would use a scene even if it had credits over it if they needed it. They would use freeze frames and stills to extend the desired clip so it would be as long as they needed it to be. These are not things vidders could get away with today, but even with the wobbling soundtracks, freeze frames, and very long clips, fans greeted these early vids with astonishment and appreciation. The fact that it was possible to overlay a different soundtrack over familiar scenes gave fans an outlet to view familiar footage in new ways. This is demonstrated very well in early [single frame] vids like "Somebody's Knockin'" by Jean C. and Kendra Hunter and Diana Barbour's "The Rose." [50]

As Technology Improves, So Do The Vids: 1980s

The advent of flying eraseheads meant that vidders could insert clips with less tape distortion and vidders began telling more complex stories with mutiple parts and punchlines. It also mean fans could start visually exploring the concept of slash in Starsky & Hutch fandom:

"The Laughing Torino" by [?] was this kind of vid and also incorporated pornographic footage of men ejaculating or men stroking other men's bare rears with dialog of the guys taped over it. "The Laughing Torino" was originally broken up into its individual jokes and scattered throughout a collection of song vids so that the tape was broken up by these short moments of humor. Another early vid was built around seven frames from [the episode] "The Fix" from the hug in the alley in The Fix. These frames, when shown slowly and advanced one at at time, made it look like the guys were kissing. The frames were called the "Magnificent 7" and debate raged around it in letterzines and among fens at the time.[51]

The 1990s: Song Choice Helps Drives Vidding Forward

In her booklet, Flamingo points to several musical selections that vidders used to illustrate the relationship between Starsky & Hucth. Music by the rock group Air Supply was a favorite and she points to April Valentine's vid "Just As I Am" as a vid that uses the music particularly well. Gay themed music also helped slash fans visually create their version of Starsky and Hutch, with Megan Kent using the music of Romonovsky & Phillips in "(Don't Use Your) Penis For A Brain." Her vid set to the Indigo Girls "Secure Yourself To Heaven" is "considered by many to be one of the best of all SH vids—excellent use of black screen, and incorporates a frame-by-frame slowdown (not just an advance) of a scene. Most VCRs can no longer do this effect in this way." [52]

2000 and Beyond

[advent of a new generation of digital vidders]

In her booklet, Flamingo reports that the first Starsky & Hutch computer vids were made by Cindy R. and were shown at the Connexions 2001 vid show.

Overall Trends In Starsky & Hutch Vidding

Flamingo argues that because Starsky & Hutch fans focused on the intense bonds between Starsky & Hutch, "...it was rarely that a sad vid was made. SH may have the smallest percentage of melancholy vids." Notable exceptions are Linda Brandt's 1980s vid "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?." Flamingo describes this as "Possibly the first altered reality vid — very early story vid — early use of black fade — at the time it was shocking to suggest that things might not work out for the guys."

In the mid 1990s, Morgan Dawn made "Don't You Need" a vid set to a Melissa Etheridge song that had both men questioning each other's commitment to one another and ending with the implication that perhaps their reconciliation may have come too late. "I remember at the time there was little support for stories - or vids -- that focused on the real challenges facing any couple - let alone a closeted gay couple serving on the police force. This surprised me because many of the earliest Starsky & Hutch fan stories had offered a more complex and "meaty" characterization of the Starsky & Hutch relationship. But by the time I found the fandom, sweetness and light and loving kindness was what was on the menu. I think that's why I made "Don't You Need" and "Testify" and why I wrote my short story "Snapshots." I wanted to broaden the characters - and the reader/viewer's - horizons."[53]

Additional Reading

[need to add: section on what newer digital vidders are focusing on]

[need to add: more vid stuff here -- other early vids, notable vids, current vidding trends]

Conventions/Awards

SHarecon con zine for 2000
Media West 2010 - Starsky & Hutch Forever, cannellfan

Starting in 1979, Zebracon was for years the main Starsky & Hutch fan run convention. As more and more fans migrated to other fandoms, Zebracon branched out into other 'partnership' cop/spy/science fiction shows, but Starsky & Hutch remained an important focus.

Other Starsky & Hutch conventions:

Numerous small informal gatherings have taken place worldwide over the years, including TomatOZ (Australia 1982) and Ten Years On (UK 1985).

Awards:

Starsky and Hutch Fanon

cover of Ten-Thirteen issue #1, Connie Faddis (xerox copy) -- A fan writes: "Honour...like my all-time favourite of SH zine covers -- '10-13 (i)' with its twin swords of strength and justice." [54] This cover was the winner of an Encore Award

Popular topics of fanon speculation include (needs more examples):

  • Common assumptions about their lives:
    • Starsky is the child of poor Brooklyn Jews, and his extended family was large, eccentric, tight-knit, loving and happy.
    • When young, Starsky was a troublemaker at best and a teen gang member and juvenile delinquent at worst, until John Blaine straightened him out.
    • Starsky's father was a police officer who was killed by the mob (in a conversation about him in the episode "The Set-Up," it was revealed that Starsky's father was murdered, and that mobster Joe Durniak stood for everything Mr. Starsky fought against.) Other theories include the idea that Starsky's father was an old friend of Durniak's who was killed for not joining the mob too or for not paying protection money, or that Starsky's father was in fact a mobster who was killed by a rival family.
    • Starsky's military experience: in canon, he only references having been "in the army," but it is widely presumed that he Served in Combat during the Vietnam War, and suffered great emotional anguish and trauma there. See also Starsky's Military Background.
    • Hutch had well-to-do parents, ranging from suburban middle-class to obscenely wealthy country estate dwellers.
    • Hutch's family was unsupportive, stifling, and dull, ranging from merely somewhat cold and demanding to outright emotionally or physically abusive, and he had a somewhat lonely and friendless youth, of varying severity.
    • Hutch's parents and his ex-wife Vanessa pressured Hutch to have a lucrative career, and disapprove of his decision to become a police officer, sometimes disowning or disinheriting him.
    • Hutch's schooling: He canonically went to college ("The Omaha Tiger"), and fanonically studied pre-med or pre-law, or dropped out of law school or medical school.
    • Canonically, it appears that the writers had one idea for Hutch's past or present marriages in the pilot and another later in the series. Fanonically, the question of how many wives Hutch has had (and what their names and personalities are) has excited nearly as much fanwank as Watson's marital history.
    • Starsky's longtime girlfriend and almost-fiancee Terry Roberts and Hutch's short-term but serious girlfriend Gillian Ingram (both deceased in the same episode they are introduced) were the (female) loves of Starsky and Hutch's lives, in both gen and slash fanfics and interpretations.
  • Perpetual speculation, controversies, and theories:
    • The emotional ramifications of the numerous traumas and tragedies the two cops suffered in canon, but which were never followed up on due to the Reset Button.
    • Pre-series era: the development of Starsky and Hutch's early friendship with each other and John Colby at the academy, their time as rookies before being partnered, and their early partnership as detectives.
    • The aftereffects of Hutch's brief forced heroin addiction in "The Fix." Hutch often develops a phobia of needles and a powerful aversion to opiates and narcotic painkillers, resulting in heightened angst in fics where he is injured or hospitalized. He is almost always extremely guilty and ashamed for giving his kidnappers the location of his girlfriend under duress and of his begging and threatening Starsky to give him more heroin. Sometimes, sequels to "The Fix" depict Hutch as struggling with lingering cravings or even falling off the wagon again; or have someone discover his secret and try to blackmail or discredit him and Starsky.
    • Depictions of Starsky's homophobia prior to the episode "Death in a Different Place" and his process of dispelling it.
    • Starsky's stormy relationship with his petty-criminal younger brother Nicky and Hutch's stormy relationship with his ex-wife Vanessa.
    • Explorations or explanations for why Hutch slept with Kira in "Starsky vs. Hutch" and how he got Starsky's forgiveness, often apologyfic or Partner Betrayal.
    • Many, many, many theories abound regarding the motives behind Hutch's often belittling and abrasive treatment of Starsky, phrased at least as early as S and H #8 (1980): "why does “The Golden Boy” (Hutch) play those “prove you love me games” with “The Street Kid” (Starsky)?"
    • Many, many fanfic explanations abound regarding the characters' bickering and tense relationship in season 4 (also see meta section above).

Common Tropes

Characters

Fanfiction Archives/Mailing Lists/Journal Comms

Archives:

Mailing Lists:

Comms:

Fanzines/Fic

Notable Zines:

cover of Forever Autumn, art by Min
cover of the first issue of the long-running and influential letterzine S and H, artist unknown

Non-fiction Zines:

Episode Reviews by Fans

  • For reflections/reviews of every episode, with many notes on the filming, atmosphere, environment, social issues, and analysis of both the leads and one-shot characters, as well as 29 "Character Studies" and auxiliary posts about various facets of the show and its internal universe, see The Ollie Report.

Resources

See also

References

  1. Similarly, in a TV Guide interview, August 13, 1977: "'Starsky & Hutch' is listed as a 'crime drama'," says David, "but in my opinion the show is a love story between two men."
  2. a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  3. a May 2001 comment by Flamingo, from VenicePlace, quoted on Fanlore with Flamingo's permission
  4. S and H #16, December 1980
  5. "Season Four Condensed" by KimberlyFDR, posted 16 September 2006, accessed 28 May 2014. WebCite.
  6. "Discomania" by merltheearl, posted 19 June 2011, accessed 20 May 2014.
  7. "The Game" by merltheearl, posted 14 July 2011, accessed 20 May 2014.
  8. "Starsky vs Hutch" by merltheearl, posted 21 May 2012, accessed 20 May 2014.
  9. "Discomania", posted 17 March 2014, accessed 9 June 2014.
  10. "season 4", posted 11 October 2012, accessed 9 June 2014.
  11. "Secret Post #2697", posted 23 May 2014, accessed 9 June 2014.
  12. "Secret Post #2795, posted 29 August 2014, accessed 8 May 2015
  13. "SvH-- a sore subject, I know. (Nancy made me do it)", posted 19 February 2015, accessed May 8 2015.
  14. by Lynna Bright in the program book for The Paul Muni Special
  15. merltheearl, "Character Studies 1: On The Outside" The Ollie Report, December 5th, 2009.
  16. from Paula Smith in 1985 from the program book for The Paul Muni Special
  17. The names, addresses (except for the zine's P.O. Boxes) and phone numbers have been redacted on Fanlore.
  18. from Frienz #10
  19. from Frienz #19
  20. from Frienz #22
  21. a June 2001 post at VenicePlace, quoted anonymously
  22. Flamingo, comment on VenicePlace, quoted on Fanlore with permission
  23. Most likely a reference to The Purple Pages.
  24. by Paula Smith, in 1985, for The Paul Muni Special program book
  25. Elspethdixon: "My general memory/impression is that pretty much all Starsky & Hutch fic of reasonable length is h/c of the old school variety." On wickedwords' journal
  26. The Who Do We Trust Times #2, April 1986
  27. "The History of Our Fandom", dated Friday, October 7, 2005.
  28. from Not Tonight Spock! #6
  29. when the world is puddle-wonderful: lamardeuse's Starsky & Hutch fanfiction
  30. Because Code 7 issue #1 was as an underground publication (see Code 7 vs. Trace Elements), other fans consider Trace Elements as the first published US S/H zine.
  31. The "smash" had already come in another fandom the previous year -- see Open Letter to Star Wars Zine Publishers by Maureen Garrett
  32. from Hanky Panky #1
  33. from The Herstory of Sharecon, April Valentine (2000)
  34. Flamingo, December 5, 2001, VenicePlace, quoted on Fanlore with Flamingo's permission
  35. The mailing list currently has an "opt-in" approach to writing feedback - both via private mail or online: "Me and Thee welcomes authors of all skills--new writers, dabblers, and those with years of experience. We acknowledge and respect that some writers are more comfortable with critique than others, and many follow a 'less is more' philosophy. Still others would love to have every story dissected. Some writers want responses onlist; while others would rather have a root canal than go through that. In an attempt to keep the peace, we ask that readers check the posting template of each story before offering comment. The template will clearly indicate whether this writer is interested in your feedback or critique. For this list's purposes, 'feedback' is used to describe light commentary, while 'critique' encompasses the positive attributes along with the readers' observations of areas that might benefit from more work. Honest, well-developed critique is invaluable, and we highly recommend you offer it…but only where it's welcome. Please read the author's posting template and honor her request. Failure to do so is a big no-no." (Mailing List FAQ, accessed Jan 15, 2011)
  36. December 26 comments by Flamingo at The Pits, now offline, quoted at Fanlore with permission from Flamingo. See more at No Bull.
  37. Morgan Dawn's personal notes and remembrances taken from multiple mailing lists in 2005, including Loveofmeandthee and VenicePlace.
  38. comments by Flamingo, June 2000, at VenicePlace, used on Fanlore with permission
  39. Flamingo, June 27, 2001, quoted from VenicePlace on Fanlore with permission from Flamingo
  40. Flamingo's comments in May 2001, at VenicePlace, quoted on Fanlore with Flamingo's permission
  41. from Frienz #9, May 1990
  42. Reading a 1977 zine in 2014: Zebra Three #1, Archived version
  43. a 2001 post at VenicePlace, quoted anonymously, August 15, 2001
  44. May 4, 2002, comment on VenicePlace, quoted anonymously
  45. Flamingo, June 26, 2001, VenicePlace, quoted on Fanlore with Flamingo's permission
  46. The Starsky & Hutch Lending Library, last updated January 16, 2007
  47. Credit is also given to Terry Adams for coming up with the concept, with Diana and Kendra doing the hands on editing. Additonal credit for song choice and clip selection also went to Melanie R and Carole Huffman.
  48. The first songvid, Both Sides Now, was made by Kandy Fong, a Star Trek fan who put music to a slideshow in 1980.
  49. "Booklet accompanying the "Starsky & Hutch Historical Vid" songtape shown at SHareCon 2010, accessed April 16, 2011.
  50. from the booklet accompanying the Starsky & Hutch Historical Vids songtape shown at SHareCon 2020, accessed April 16, 2011.
  51. from the booklet accompanying the "Starsky & Hutch Historical Vid" songtape shown at Sharecon 2000, accessed April 16, 2011.
  52. Flamingo's "Starsky & Hutch Historical Vids," accessed April 16, 2011.
  53. Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed April 17, 2011. For further discussion of these vids go to Morgan Dawn.
  54. from Frienz #5