Graven Mirages

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Plays and Skits
Title: Graven Mirages
Author: Paula Smith
Dates: 1981
Location: ZebraCon
Focus: Starsky & Hutch
Troupe: various fans
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Graven Mirages was a Starsky & Hutch-themed con skit written by Paula Smith.

It was a takeoff on the zine Graven Images and encompassed references to fanon and fandom

The play was performed at ZebraCon 1981.

The script of this play was printed in 1981 in Ten-Thirteen #2, and again in 1995 in Play by Playbook: Collected ZebraCon Plays.


Author's Comments: 1995

From Paula Smith:

I've been writing or helping with fannish plays since 1976. In 1981, Kendra Hunter phoned me and said that for ZebraCon 2, there should be a Starsky & Hutch play. "And we think you should write it" She suggested a scenario of S&H as really old, still out there solving homicides —"The Rocking Chair Murders." I demurred, saying that musicals and parodies are a jot easier to write than actual plots. "What you really want," I said, "is an all-singing, all-dancing version of, say, Graven Images ... hmm..." Kendra was also responsible for us doing the "kiss in the alley" in stop-start freeze-frame mode. I have never heard an audience belly laugh like that before. Or since. [1]


A Filk in Response

A review in filk by M. Raunch (to "Cowboy's Lament", aka "Streets of Laredo"):

Jane A. wrote a novel, she wrote it most slowly.
She wrote it allusively, great care taken with,
It took her two years to refine and perfect it --
In twenty short minutes it was demolished by Smith.
Blonde Paula, of course, took Hutch's part in this.
Though all "of his parts she could never portray";
And Jan, playing Starsky, waved slender hands nicely;
Her hanky was blue and her jeans aptly frayed.
And there was C. Faddis, the Princess incarnate.
The dolphin cavorted appropriately.
And poor Laurie Haldenan, covered in ketchup —
I lost count of how many arms had Kali.
This wonderful, demented musical lambast
Was taped, Ghu be praised, to the "Was It A Kiss?"* —
I've only one plaint, and that's rather minor —
That the Eyes of Texas were not upon this!
* This might have been remedied by a judiciously-placed pair of socks. White, of course. [2]

Fan Comments


The highlight of the banquet, and, maybe even the con, was the perfor mance by The Not Ready For Z-Con Players of "Graven Mirages." Paula, stand up and take a bow. Take several. You deserve an Emmy, an Oscar, a Huggy, A "Q". From a tiny acorn...

Best supporting role goes to Edith Crowe. "I lost my pen two weeks ago." Special thanks to each of you for duty above and beyond the call. The play was a royal success even if it never makes Broadway. [3]

Going into hysterics during the Not Ready For Con Time Players rendition of "Graven Mirages" It's amazing what a "Wouldn't it be fun... can do, isn't it, Kendra?! [4]


Judging by the comments, "Graven Mirages" reached its audience, and an intelligent, perceptive bunch they are, top. Should there be any interest in the play surviving, take note: it will be printed in Terri Beckett's and Chris Power's 10-1311. [5]

I found "Graven Mirages" quite clever, and urged Paula to have it published so that others not present at the Con could enjoy it. [6]

Also enjoyed 10-13 ii ... "Graven Mirages" huh? I think I almost understand GI after reading the parody, though it's still foggy to me (I couldn't see the Emperor's new clothes, neither.) [7]

Thish [8] opens with Paula Smith's "Graven Mirages", the skit performed at the last Z-Con banquet. It's mainly a takeoff of Graven Images, but also manages to get in some well-aimed licks at the oh-comma-God-comma-Starsky syndrome, hurt/comfort and a few other fannish targets of opportunity. The cruelty and obvious contempt for her audience that have marred much of Smith's other humor are absent here, replaced by a light touch and a genuinely witty sensibility. If the piece has a flaw, it's a certain unevenness of approach. I think most readers will find GM funniest where it's most sophisticated: Hutch's speech beginning "The body is a house of the soul, says the Church", certain of the stage directions that comment upon the action as well as describe it. Even the more crudely vaudevillian bits, though—Starsky's cardboard "Q" and such -- probably play better than they read. On the whole, the piece is clever and nicely turned. [9]


I'm not sure if this is from ZCon 1 or 2, but it was one of the Kalamazoo cons. Saturday night, we all gathered in the ballroom for a banquet. [Melanie R] came out in an evening gown and sang some amazing songs to us. Afterwards, several of the con members performed Paula Smith's Graven Mirages, a takeoff of Jane Aumerle's Graven Images, which was the funniest thing I'd ever seen. I have a clear memory of the Starsky character holding up his hand and asking 'Why is there an eye in my hand, Hutch?' - a reference to the Connie Faddis artwork which showed Starsky with an eye in his palm. This was the first fan play I and most of the con had ever seen. We were laughing so hard, we nearly lost our dinner and I was wheezing with asthma and barely able to breathe from the non-stop laughter. By the time that play was over, I was glad I'd brought extra underwear with me! [10]


  1. ^ Play by Playbook: Collected ZebraCon Plays
  2. ^ from S and H Letterzine #29 (1982)
  3. ^ from a letter of comment in S and H Letterzine #28 (1981)
  4. ^ from a letter of comment in S and H Letterzine #28 (1981)
  5. ^ from a letter of comment by Paula Smith (the play's creator) in S and H Letterzine #29 (1982)
  6. ^ from a letter of comment in S and H Letterzine #30 (1982)
  7. ^ from a letter of comment in S and H Letterzine #33/34 (1982)
  8. ^ "thish" refers to Ten-Thirteen #2
  9. ^ from Jane Aumerle (the original novelist's author) in S and H Letterzine #33/34 (1982)
  10. ^ Rosemary C from ZebraCon/Memories (2007)