Starsky & Hutch

From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search
Name: Starsky & Hutch
Abbreviation(s): SH
Creator: William Blinn
Date(s): 1975-1979
Medium: television series
Country of Origin: US
External Links: IMDB
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.


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

  • Survival (Hutch is trapped under his car after a murder attempt, and Starsky rushes to find him.)
  • The Fix (Hutch is kidnapped by bad guys and addicted to heroin. Starsky comes to his aid.)
  • Bloodbath (Starsky is kidnapped by a cult. Hutch comes to his aid.)
  • Shootout (Starsky is shot during a hostage situation, and Hutch comes to his aid.)
  • Starsky vs. Hutch (Boundaries are crossed regarding a woman, and the two cops are at odds.)
  • Sweet Revenge (The last episode aired -- Starsky is shot in the back, and it appears unlikely that he wil survive.)

The hurt/comfort episodes are popular for all the usual reasons.

The last episode, "Sweet Revenge," has been 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]

For twenty-three episode reviews written by Rebelcat and Elizabeth Helena, see Episode Reviews; WebCite.

The Fourth Season

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.

Kimberlyfdr wrote a meta essay called "Season Four Condensed":
So the thing is, Hutch has been feeling out Starsky for a long time. There's a gradual shift over the seasons, particularly season three, where Hutch is dropping hints or changing his focus towards Starsky. I've long said that Death in a Different Place is one of my favorite eps and it remains true because of how much depth you get from these characters. The scene in the car, where Hutch pointedly asks Starsky if it would have made a difference had he known John Blaine was gay. THAT SCENE is so overly telling of where these two men are in their lives. Hutch has been living in the closet, with the hidden truth, for all these years and he's just trying to get Starsky to notice, but he's afraid of the outcome and Starsky is not ready. Starsky knows, but he's not ready to know, you know?;) That look of "would it have made a difference, will it make a difference with us?" Starsky knows what Hutch is telling him, but he's not ready to accept it yet, so he doesn't. He just goes on with the knowledge in the back of his mind and it changes who these men are to one another because once you let that out, you can't not know. 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.

By the time we get to Season Four, Hutch is flat out not making any excuses anymore. He has changed his focus from playing along to playing against. He wants Starsky to confront this issue, to say "yes, I want this, too." But Starsky's afraid. The man is running away as fast as he can. The more Hutch pushes him to confront it, the more he's trying like crazy to prove the opposite. He's the one that's always had the whole domestic dream of a wife and a kid and a happpy little home. Hutch did that, it didn't work, he's come to understand what might possibly work and he's trying hard to make the other participant see it, too. But Starsky's almost on a crash course of "I have to prove that I'm not like that, I have to prove that this thing between us isn't what he thinks it is, I have to prove that there's someone out there that can give me that fantasy and she's just not come around yet." He's trying to prove that the happy fantasy is a mirror of what he was taught growing up. He knows how he feels about Hutch, but that frightens him more than anything. He can't be gay, he just can't. And his partner can't be gay, he's just confused. Yet, Hutch is not so much confused as he is reaching out over and over again. He needs Starsky to stop running away, he needs Starsky to be with him, he needs his partner's acceptance and hopefully his love." [3]

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. [4]

One Fan's View of Very Early Fandom

In 1985, a fan remembers her introduction to the fandom by way, of course, of zines:
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. [5]

Star Trek and Starsky & Hutch

There was a lot of cross-pollination and migration of Star Trek writers in the late 1970s and early 80s. There was much talk of the reasons why in the letterzine S and H. Some fans cited the in-fighting and rifts the slash/gen arguments in Star Trek fandom as a reason for making the move; many LoCs complained of the nastiness that had occurred in the pages of Interstat and constantly claimed this "new" fandom wouldn't fall into those pitfalls.

cover of the zine Half You, Half Me which had both ST and SH content
From a fan in 1982:
Please excuse the reference to Trek, but S&H fandom is a bastard child of Trek fandom. Without the talent polished and the experience gained by many S&H fans in Trek fandom, we probably would have a fandom. Also, Trek is older and has an established history which can be documented; S&H is too new. [6]
A fan in 1985 comments on what she perceived to be the narrowness of S and H fiction in comparison to ST fiction:
Something slightly unusual about S&H lit is the relative commonness of prequels, sequels, and remakes or "missing scenes" for other S&H stories and the original episodes. Possibly this is because there are fewer stories to be told about two men in one city than about, say, a shipful of folks in a galaxy. [7]
From a fan in 1999:
I also have to admit, with some embarrassment, that when I was in K/S, I (like many fellow K/Sers) looked down on other slash fandoms. Kirk and Spock was the only pairing that was... well... logical... in terms of the characters having genuine feelings of affection for each other that could realistically lead to slash (plus you have the 23rd century, where it's easy to make the argument that homosexual activity is no big deal). S&H had meant the world to me as a television series, but I had sampled some zines and they just didn't do much for me. Most stories seemed to have one character or the other as gay or bisexual, and it seemed impossible to have a 70's story without the 'gay thing' being an issue. It also seemed that most stories were full of cops n robbers plots (if there was any plot at all), and that also seemed inferior to the limitless science fiction realm of 'Star Trek'. Plus, the S&H h/c I'd sampled wasn't as good as watching h/c episodes. So, the fandom didn't do much for me at the time. I can't help but wonder how I might have felt differently if I'd read Suzan Lovett's novels back then. [8]

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 pool 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." [9]

One of the reasons behind this may have been because this fandom was one in which there was very little contact, if any at all, 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 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. [10]
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 [11] 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. [12]

Starsky & Hutch Fandom and Slash

"Lost in Love" by J. Jones, 1988?

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 else gen smarm; 99% of them 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." [13]
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. [14]
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...


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.

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 says,

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.).[15] 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. Annette H. 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, had been published.

In 1982, a fan comments 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 [16], 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. [17]
April Valentine describes 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. [18]

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[19] and one can see how the latter tried to shift the discourse into the more positive territory.

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.[20]

Note: But is that the entire story? What have been the other major areas of conflict and how has fandom responded? Has the shift to LJ changed how fans interact? --FanloreFan 21:24, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Transition to the Internet

Needs more: were SH fans early adopters? was there a difference in how gen vs slash fans approached the Internet. Was there resistance to the Internet by older fans? What clashes (if any) between later net-savvy fans and early fans? Any efforts to bring earlier out of print offline content online for later fans?

a few fans managed to migrate 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.

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.[21] 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.

cover of Zebra Three #4, the guys and the Torino


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 included Suzan Lovett, Connie Faddis, Warren Oddsson, Jean Kluge... [needs more!] [add section re: Notable Art]

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


Two Starsky & Hutch fans, Diana Barbour and Kendra Hunter[22] are credited for making some, if not the, earliest songvids set to live TV footage. [23] 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 she 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."[24]

She then 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 eraseheads. 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 J. Clissold and Kendra Hunter and Diana Barbour's "The Rose." [25]

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." [26]

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."[27]

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."[28]

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]


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:

  • Dobey Con - UK in the 1980s
  • The Paul Muni Special‎ - held once in the US in 1985 (celebrating the 10th anniversary of the show)
  • Reunion Con - held once in 1990 (celebrating the 15th anniversary of the show)
  • Zedcon - a UK convention held 1997-2001
  • Bay City Bash - a UK gathering of gen and slash fans in 2002
  • VegaSH Con - 2010, held in the US
  • SHarecon - gen and slash - US convention that started officially in 2000 and is still ongoing
  • Cabrillo Con - gen - US event that started 2005 and is still ongoing

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


Starsky and Hutch Fanon

Need examples and commentary on:

  • their family background
  • Hutch's middle name
  • Hutch's schooling
  • Starsky's military background
  • 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.
  • Hutch's fear of needles

Common Tropes

  • H/C
  • drug addiction
  • Sweet Revenge fanworks


The Most Popular Episodes and How They Play Out Fanworks

Fanfiction Archives/Mailing Lists


Mailing Lists:

Fanzines and Fiction

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:



  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. more here/WebCite, posted 16 September 2006, accessed 25 April 2012
  4. by Lynna Bright in the program book for {{The Paul Muni Special]]
  5. from Paula Smith in 1985 from the program book for The Paul Muni Special
  6. S and H #29
  7. from Paula Smith in the program book for The Paul Muni Special
  8. Venice Place, accessed 12.15.2010
  9. The names, addresses (except for the zine's P.O. Boxes) and phone numbers have been redacted on Fanlore.
  10. from Frienz #22
  11. This is possibly a reference to The Purple Pages.
  12. by Paula Smith, in 1985, for The Paul Muni Special program book
  13. "The History of Our Fandom", dated Friday, October 7, 2005.
  14. from Not Tonight Spock! #6
  15. 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.
  16. The "smash" had already come in another fandom the previous year -- see Open Letter to Star Wars Zine Publishers by Maureen Garrett
  17. from Hanky Panky #1
  18. from The Herstory of Sharecon, April Valentine (2000)
  19. 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)
  20. Morgan Dawn's personal notes and remembrances taken from multiple mailing lists in 2005, including Loveofmeandthee and VenicePlace.
  21. The Starsky & Hutch Lending Library, last updated January 16, 2007
  22. 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.
  23. The first songvid, Both Sides Now was made by Kandy Fong a Star Trek fan who put music to a slideshow in 1980.
  24. "Booklet accompanying the "Starsky & Hutch Historical Vid" songtape shown at Sharecon 2000, accessed April 16, 2011.
  25. "Booklet accompanying the "Starsky & Hutch Historical Vid" songtape shown at Sharecon 2000, accessed April 16, 2011.
  26. "Booklet accompanying the "Starsky & Hutch Historical Vid" songtape shown at Sharecon 2000, accessed April 16, 2011.
  27. Flamingo's "Starsky & Hutch Historical Vids," accessed April 16, 2011.
  28. Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed April 17, 2011. For further discussion of these vids go to Morgan Dawn.
Personal tools

Browse Categories
Shortcuts for Editors