Legacy Interview with Caren Parnes

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Legacy Interview with Caren Parnes
Interviewer: Legacy
Interviewee: Caren Parnes
Date(s): 2007
Medium: print, CD
Fandom(s): Star Trek TOS, slash
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In 2007, Caren Parnes was interviewed for the zine Legacy.

See List of Star Trek Fan Interviews.

Some Excerpts

When [fandom and K/S] became an obsession, though, was the summer I graduated from college (1982)— my goodness, that means I’ve been in fandom twenty-three years!! Anyway, if I remember correctly, I was in a used bookstore and found some Blish books and then began reading that whole series. I distinctly remember loving the specific episodes (I have since found they were actually written by his wife) that had relationship moments between Kirk and Spock... I then started reading through all the novels I could find and stumbled upon—as so many of us did—the “Star Trek Lives!” book, and the novels, by Marshak and Culbreath. They totally pegged what I was loving about ST and what I was looking for, and told us all on the outside there were these things called “zines” out there that you could get at conventions.
In reading the T’hy’la, I saw that the publisher—one [Kathy Resch]—was located in San Jose. Wow! I could get more of these locally! So I got Kathy’s number from information and called her. I was a little deflated by her not being exactly excited by the idea of my coming to her house to pick up the zines (turns out she had had some unsavory characters doing that not long before), but she said she would put them in the mail immediately and she invited me to a local, upcoming K/S party being held by Noel Silva. I still vividly remember that party, a rather compromising K/S cake that Laura L. (visiting from the east coast) had brought with her, and some rather shocking discussions of the fact that most of the K/S sex in the stories did not include anal lubrication and what that would feel like! I walked out of that first party with about 10 zines borrowed from Noel, and the beginning of several long-term friendships.
So in the summer of ‘82, in the Bay Area, where there weren’t many conventions anymore, I found a comic convention and, desperate to find these “zines” I had heard about, I went to it (having absolutely no interest in comic books). Well, I look back on what happened as “fate,” because I was looking through a Star Trek comic—not really in- terested in buying it, and a little gnome-like person walked up to me and said “are you interested in the Kirk-Spock relationship?” It was so eerie, since she might as well have been a Vulcan telepath reading my mind! That was Kathy G., and she happened to have a backpack full of relationship and K/S zines she was trying to sell. I distinctly remember her asking me if I was interested in “slash” or relationship, and I said, “what’s slash,” and she said “a sexual relationship between Kirk and Spock.” I was pretty blown away by this, as I hadn’t ever thought about that—just that I loved that they would give their lives for each other. She pulled out “The Price and The Prize,” and I was rather intimidated by the cover, so I decided to buy some of the Contacts she had instead as well as a T’hy’la. I remember not so very much later I went to great lengths to get my hands on a copy of The Price and the Prize. Of course reading those first zines I was hooked.
[At a 1984 con] I not only got to meet all these people whose creative work I had been fawning over for a year, but they embraced me and MY creative work whole-heartedly. I had drawn in my youth, and done a couple of portraits in college, but hadn’t really done a lot with my artwork. But my passion for K/S provided incentive for me to really refine my talents into my own particular style. That first Shore Leave I attended I sold a piece of artwork for $100 at auction. I was flabbergasted and overwhelmed. I had these same publishers I so admired asking for my contributions to their projects—it was a sense of inclusion in a group of women that I had never experienced before, and I think remains one of fandom’s great strengths. Unfortunately, the other side of that community was the bickering that often happens in any family, and the source of a lot of discord in those early days of fandom was the philosophical divide between “Gen” trek, Kirk-Spock relationship trek and K/S. K/S was very taboo in the mainstream fandom back then and somewhat marginalized. Given that zine fandom is almost entirely slash now, it is hard for newer members—in a more progressive, gay friendly environment—to understand the charge around positing that Kirk and Spock—these cultural icons— might have engaged in “deviant behavior.” A large part of fandom considered it character as- sassination and assumed this was a crazy fringe part of fandom that would simply “go away,” if they waited long enough. Well, it looks like the “deviants” won the day!
The other thing that I remember being very important in those days when I got into fandom (and remember, fandom proper started in the early 70’s, so this was already a decade into the phenomenon) was a respect for what “came before.” Everyone I knew wanted to read everything that had been written from the beginning of fandom and understand the origins and “history” of fandom—who were the seminal writers, artists and publishers, what was important to them in their work and how what we were doing now was influenced by that. That sense of tradition, for the most part, has largely evaporated now as far as I can tell. Although the fact that Legacythis project]] is being undertaken perhaps contradicts that assumption. I certainly hope so!
What I remember being even more important than the movie itself though, was the novelization, since Gene Roddenberry in his infinite wisdom opened the can of worms that was “T’hy’la” and the famous postscript about their “relationship.” It is entirely possible K/S would have died a quiet death without “The Maker” providing that fuel to the fire. By the time I got into fandom, there was a whole raft of “after Gol” literature that posited that Spock left because of his feelings for Kirk or their feelings for each other.... It provided tremendous creative fuel for writers! I personally remember “The Wrath of Khan” as being much more impactful personally, since I was in fandom by that point and we all underwent huge trauma when they killed Spock. For those who came after, you need to understand that Leonard Nimoy had made it VERY clear he wanted no part in any future films and his death was a way to allow him to exit the films. So there was absolutely no expectation that he would come back when the movie was released— imagine the sense of betrayal we felt that these cultural icons, whom the studio and Roddenberry had gone to the trouble of resurrecting, in the process providing a huge surge in renewed passion for the story, decide to kill off one of our heroes. There has been a lot of killing and resurrecting in movies since, but at that time it was truly devastating to us because that hadn’t become the norm and we didn’t expect him to come back. And you will see that reflected in some very gloomy zines during the early 80’s. Although some creative souls like Pam R. (Still Out of Bounds, Old Friend) wrote stories that resurrected him (and more creatively than they actually did in the film!) To this day I really dislike STII because of that choice—even if it is a beautiful death scene.