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An "actor fan" is a fan whose focus is an actor rather than a particular show or character.
For some fans, this means they are more likely to follow specific actors from show to show.
A common topic of fannish conversation: what are the differences among "groupies, "actor fans", and simply "fans"? While the term may not be specifically used, where do these labels fall in the geek hierarchy?
Meeting the Actors: Yes, Please
On meeting actors: I liked Blake much better after I met Gareth Thomas at the first Who's Seven back in '92. For one think, GT is obviously extremely intelligent, a quality that I'm always a sucker for. I wasn't a bit surprised to find out that he'd done a year at Oxford on scholarship before he dropped out and went into acting. 
Meeting the Actors? No, Thank You
Some fans make a specific point of NOT wanting to meet the actors or know things about them or their personal life.
In 1978, a fan commented:
There seems to be an enormous tendency to confuse the actors with the characters. People try hard to get close to actor X because they'd so love to meet character X. The attempt is hard on the actor and the fan, and if the fan actually succeeds in meeting the actor, the results can be a terrific disappointment, which wouldn't have happened if the fans had actually stopped to think.
There are times when meeting an actor in person has left fans feeling disappointed in the "real person," and it becomes something that affects their interest in the fandom. In 1986, a Simon and Simon fan wrote:
I've grown closer to the so-called back office. This is not meant to sound like bragging, I chose to become involved with the Simon production offices, no one forced me to. But I've paid the price - the knowledge that real life problems such as networks, executives, ratings, production details and the personalities of all those involved all dictate what we see on the air. It's fun to totally immerse oneself in the fantasy world of Rick and A.J., but for me, it's become a luxury I can no longer enjoy. I know that we'll never see the type of episodes we talk about in this letterzine or in fan fiction and because I know that, I view Simon differently than I used to. Once you see behind the camera, it's hard to maintain the fantasy. I chose to see behind the camera, so I'm not asking. for sympathy here, but nothing destroys illusions better than visits to the set and talks with people involved in the show.
In 2012, a fan said:
I was not one of the fans who spent a lot of time socializing with actors or producers. I mean, it's not that I haven't enjoyed meeting actors, but on the whole, I really don't care about the actors or producers. To me, it's about the stories. And, after that experience, I would much rather go to cons that had no creatives there at all.
The separation between the actor and the character can also affect a fan's interest in a type of convention.
Cons without actors hold a special appeal for fans who feel their fannish activities and interests have nothing to do with the person behind the character, and in fact, dislike or feel uncomfortable about interacting with celebrities. The long-running MediaWest*Con specifically did not allow actors or celebrities. A fan in 2010 wrote:
have been to actor cons before. They’re fine, but it’s really nice to go to a con that doesn’t have to cater to actors’ egos.
For other fans, meeting and interacting with the actors is part of the fun of procons. Getting one's photo taken with an actor, getting a hug from an actor, or bagging an autograph is a pursuit unto itself.
The fans who run conventions often enjoyed the perks of procons, one of them being access to celebrities. This interaction, however, could cause stress in fan relationships. It could also lead to much bigger strife. See The Blake's 7 Wars.
Guests of honors at cons could also be pricey to host, something that also sparked much discussion, as well as dictated con planning and attendance.
There is a long history of fans going to lengths to meet actors (as well as authors and other people connected with the creation of shows, books, films, and other). Fans traveled great distances and paid a lot of money in some of these endeavors. A common activity for these fans was to write or otherwise describe their experiences for other fans.
Sometimes these descriptions are in the form of con reports. Sometimes they were articles in print zines. See many essays and discussion regarding Harrison Ford fans in the zine Rogue's Gallery. One example is "The Pennsylvania Expeditions, or The Search for Ford" in issue #16 (1984).
The Fourth Wall and The Chilling Effect
Keeping the characters and fanworks separate from the actors also touches upon the fourth wall.
Combining actors and other TPTB with physical fan spaces, in discussions, and with fanworks often has a chilling effect on fan conversations and creativity, as well as causing tensions among fans.
Where Does RPF Fit In?
Differing Community Foci
Fans gravitated toward communities that share their interest.
A "Starsky & Hutch" Case Study
An example of two types of fans battling for the hearts and minds of its members took place in the mid-1980s in the Starsky & Hutch letterzines: APB and Shootout, both published in the UK. There are many, many comments in "Shootout" especially that have a focus of fan loyalty and fealty towards actors and those who felt strongly that the characters should be the main area of discussion.
Some comments from Shootout:
- "As you say about the comments made of David and his marriage, those of us who know David and won't hear his name blackened, are surely his true fans, as we know how kind, honest, fair, just and good he can be, and would be worth trying, possibly, to show those who don't know, just what a nice person he is."
- "I'm sick to the back teeth of hearing cries of how beautiful David is, or what a wonderful person he is and how desperately some of you love him. Oh, I understand how you feel, believe me. I had similar feelings about John Lennon — I was twelve at the time!! Now my 'love', physical and emotional is directed towards the 'someone' who's here for me. Oh, I fantasise, ladies — some of us do, but I prefer the real thing."
- "I am an S&H fan as opposed to a Paul and David fan and I must say I get a little disappointed when, to some people all S&H means is David and Paul. I feel a little sad that they seem to be missing out on so much by only being interested in the actors instead of the series and its characters. However, that's the way the cookie crumbles and I don't believe we should condemn or criticise people's beliefs, or personal feelings, in such a way as to cause them unnecessary hurt or upset."
- "David Soul's a great actor, and deserves a hell of a lot more than he gets, he works so hard. And another thing, you said you're sick to the back teeth of hearing cries of how wonderful David is, and how much we love him. Well, I think he's wonderful, fantastic, gorgeous, brilliant, I love him, he's generous, lovely, kind, caring, the list could go on and on, but I'd better stop there."
- "I agree about David and those who won't have his name blackened are his true fans and know what he is really like... Those of us who really care about S&H care about David and Paul more since they were responsible for bringing those fantastic characters to our screens. If you think David has changed then you don't know how kind he is to people and how he still lights up their lives his personal problems are his own but his real fans would never put him down and as some people said in previous issues a lot of the story was sensationalised as in the past."
- "I'll say yet again, most of as DO love David. You say you don't love him, it's more lust, but some people do have genuine love for him and you can't doubt it. I'll also say again, I have the greatest respect for David, and all the good things he does...
- "Yes, I do know the difference between love and respect, and I realise they are not the same thing, that's why I wrote love and respect. I was stating I love David, as do many others as a friend,of course you can love your friends as well, and that's what David etc. is to me, a dear friend. David has said himself, he loves his fans, and regards them as his friends... You can love friends of course, you don't seem to be able to see that, as you keep saying I'll grow out of it! You don't grow out of loving your friends and as I said before, David I do regard as a dear friend. Of course I admit as a teenager I had dreams of marrying David etc., but don't we all. But no, I haven't and never will grow out of loving him. "
From fans in APB:
- I agree totally with your comments about the 'actor fans' -- that's why I've tried to stress that APB is about the CHARACTERS. To be honest I'm personally not attracted to either DS or PMG ; the former is a neurotic who's other acting talents I don't really appreciate, and the latter is a 'big headed star' of the worst kind. As Starsky and Hutch, they had a magic which took - and still takes - my breath away, and that's what I want to discuss, though I'm not averse to throwing in the odd article on either actor for information. But if only the actor is important to a reader of APB then I think they're wasting their money and should join (or start) a fan club type letterzine."
- "Let's hope we have gotten rid of the 'groupie' element in S&H fandom and we can completely repair the damage they've done."
- from the Blake's 7 apazine Rallying Call #16 (1996)
- a fan's comment regarding The Glory and the Dream, printed in Spectrum #38
- from Details at 11 #12
- from Cynthia Jenkins, Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Henry and Cynthia Jenkins
- bradygirl-12's MediaWest Convention report, dated May 2010.
- "DS and PMG" refer to the actors who portrayed Kenneth Hutchinson and David Starsky.