Strokes

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You may be looking for "stroke," an older British term for Slash.

Zine
Title: Strokes
Publisher: boojums Press
Editor(s):
Date(s): November or December 1982
Series?:
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Starsky and Hutch
Language: English
External Links:
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Contents

Strokes.jpg

Strokes is a slash 46-page Starsky and Hutch anthology. The art is by Carol Davis, J. Clissold and Paula Smith. An ad for this zine in Datazine #23 said an "age statement is preferred."

The majority of the zine is the story "Surrender." It is said the author took it on as a challenge, that done well, a good writer could make a troubling, and some would say, offensive, subject matter appealing. Some fans feel the story is the Starsky and Hutch version of the controversial Professionals story Consequences. In any case, the zine was mostly very poorly received.

Contents

Gallery

Rebuttals and Inspirations

"Surrender," was inspired by The Brass Bed, and in turn, caused at least one other fan to write a rebuttal fic, of her own: "Fountain of Sorrow," appears in Pushin' the Odds.

Reactions and Reviews

cover of The Who Do We Trust Times, issue #4, Merle Decker -- shows Starsky and Hutch sitting on Hutch's brass bed reading zines, one of which is Strokes.
The main reason to buy this zine was the story 'Surrender', by Paula Smith. Oh my! This was, to me, a perfect example of loving someone *too much*. It was so complex, full of conflicting emotions and misguided impulses! This is a partner rape story that pulls no punches, but makes you see the desperate, imperfect love each man has for the other. This was just too powerful! Brilliant characterization on this one, with in-depth exploration of the contortions of human emotions. A story that makes you feel your heart ripped out! [sigh!] I loved it! [1]
The zine Strokes has one of the most amazing partner-rape stories of all time, called Surrender. I still remember it with awe over 10 years later. [2]
'Surrender' is a joke. It must be. The characters (and I use the term loosely) are nobody I've ever met before, writing style is clumsy, which is unlike Paula Smith, who is a competant writer even at her worst. The theme seems to be that Love Forgives All, but comes off as that a sick relationship is better than no relationship or, more graphically, Rape is Okay if There's No Other Way. This kind of nonsense is unworthy of a writer whose poetry in particular has often been exquisitely evocative and sensitive. Such writing as we find in "Surrender, ... such lack of understanding or sympathy or even an interest in the characters; such offensive subject matter as violation of another person's body, dignity and self, are almost unbelievable coming from someone who's been around as long as Paula Smith has. So, I can only conclude that 'Surrender' is a joke. It is a cruel joke on S/H fandom which, for all its vagaries, believes for the most part in the givingness of the relationship, its tenderness, its caring. It is a nasty joke on characters of depth and constant fascination for reader and writer alike, characters whom the author doesn't even seem to like very much. It is a self-defeating joke in the end, for I personally found this story neither funny nor clever, nor a sharp parody of some of the more outlandish S/H material floating around [this is perhaps a reference to The Brass Bed]. I felt soiled after I forced myself to read it through once; offended and angry after I went through it a second time to see if I was overreacting or seeing something that wasn't really there. But it's there all right. The only possible explanation I can find for its having been written in the first place is that Paula was playing a joke on all of us, including the characters. And having reached that conclusion, I wonder indeed why she bothered to write it at all. [3]
Someone said that Starsky and Hutch could have rape scenes, but they don't think they’ve ever come across partner rape. Well, you have missed one of my all time favorite S/H stories! I can never remember the name of the story, but it is 90% of a small zine called Strokes. The story is a partner rape that I ab-so-fucking-lutely believed. All of the actions, even the most painful, are grounded in the characters and their canonical relationship (with some first wave additions). Hmm-good! Starsky becomes convinced that Hutch wants him but will never deal with it, so (big leap of faith here, but it was well done) so he ties Hutch to the bed, and as lovingly as possible (with someone yelling and saying 'stop!') fucks him silly, convinced to the end that Hutch is just saying 'no' because he 'can't face their love'. After he takes off the manacles and realizes that Hutch is still pissed, he gets pissed in return. He *knows* that Hutch wants him, and disagreement on Hutch's part is just seen as posturing and closetedness. I'm summarizing too tightly here, and not showing the power of this story, but anyway, I thought the Doyle of this story, a) knowing Bodie damn well and b) loving Bodie enough not to want to hurt him (much) was trying to make Bodie see something, and willing to step across some lines to do it. [4]
It's difficult to review a friend's zine, especially when what you have to say is less than wonderful -- but in this case I can't honestly do otherwise... Unfortunately, Strokes has as its major piece a story entitled 'Surrender' which is, I think the most dreadful S\H story I have ever read. The basic story line reads like something out of a cheap porn novel: S wants H and tells him so, H says no thanks, and after a couple years of frustration Starsky decides Hutch does too want him, and rapes him to prove it. Hutch is understandably shocked and outraged, but after Starsky goes catatonic on him, relents and decides that, rapist or not, Starsky is still his partner, and he [Hutch] must have really asked for it after all. In other words, rape is a drastic but acceptable means of communication if the victim wants it with that fine distinction to be left to the judgment of the rapist. Aside from the fact that I find this attitude appalling (substitute a woman--any woman--for Hutch, and it's back to the Dark Ages, friends), I could not accept this Starsky as anyone remotely related to the character we watched for four years. The incidents critical to the events of the story are entirely the author's invention--not unusual in S\H, but also not very convlncing--and we are told that Starsky has 'forgiven but not forgotten' Hutch's subconscious flirtations after Starsky's actions have made it clear that forgiveness is not a word he understands. I asked the author to explain the point of this exercise; she told me that the them is that love can forgive anything, even rape. That's a valid theme (I don't happen to agree with it) but I saw very little love in this story--only a neurotic dependence that, I think, would eventually destroy both the devourer and his prey. That kind of need is not love. This is a very personal opinion, but I cannot see any socially redeeming value in this story. It is better-written than The Brass Bed- story, but no more worthwhile. 'Encore', by Soliste is quite the opposite. In a refreshing contrast, Soliste shows us an older S & H who have gotten out of police work--Hutch into law, Starsty into teaching gym--and have built a life together. Naturally, for the sake of the story, complications ensue. The plot holds together well, the villain is evil but believable, and the kids in the story are people instead of standard moppets. The youngsters also serve as a nice but not peachy example of a childless S & H passing on some of their basic strength and decency to a new generation. This one is worth reading twice. Ima Fool's 'Boo Boos' was a mixed piece. A satire that pokes fun at nearly all the get-together and near-get-together stories, it has some howlingly funny parts, but a few spots that seem to get a little weary waiting for a punch line. I think it would have read better if it were shorter, but it's still fine comic relief after the serious stuff. All things considered, I would still buy the zine for 'Encore'. [5]

A Poetical Nod

A reference to Paula Smith's story "Surrender" also appears in Flora Poste's poem "Ode to Slash Fandom" in California K/S 4 Play. An excerpt is included below:

"As Hutch said to his partner, (with soul):
My fears have gone out of control.
Now, when we're in bed
And you're giving me head,
You must promise you won't eat me whole.''

Then Starsky replied, (with a grin):
I barely can wait to begin,
But I'm planning instead
To chain you to this bed--
So that you can be out, while I'm in.

(Obviously, he had been reading Paula Smith's justifiably
famous brass bed story.)"

References

  1. from SoHo Cafe
  2. Issues of Consent
  3. a review from S and H #37 (December 1982)
  4. in 1994, Sandy Herrold discussed the Brass Bed story on Virgule-L (quoted with permission)
  5. a review from S and H #37 (December 1982)
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