Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Barbara Storey

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Barbara Storey
Interviewer: Megan Genovese
Interviewee: Barbara Storey
Date(s): July 29, 2017
Medium: aural, transcript
Fandom(s): Star Trek: TOS, Beauty and the Beast
External Links:
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In 2017, Barbara Storey was interviewed by Megan Genovese as part of the Media Fandom Oral History Project.

Interview length: 01:43:28.

The Media Fandom Oral History Project is supported by the Organization for Transformative Works, the organizers of Escapade conventions, and the University of Iowa Libraries. For more information about the origins of this interview, where it is housed, contact information, suggestions regarding future interviewee candidates, and how to become volunteer interviewer or transcriber, see the Media Fandom Oral History Project page.

Some Topics Discussed

Excerpts

People would make jokes to us about you should sell wheels with [the zine Nome] so that we can, you know, carry it away. It wasn’t so much the length, but we were definitely committed to the idea of good, superior quality art to go with the stories. That was something that was, you know, our intent from the start, yeah.

[snipped]

We had a lot of people that helped us, you know, in that time, with typing the things in and, you know, binding the zines. We had parties when we’d get the zine come in. Because we would have it printed but not bound because it was cheaper for us to bind them ourselves, and that’s where we started the screw post that we kind of became famous for, because the zine was too big for anything else, and we would invite people to come over and help us do that. (laughs) So, it took a lot of work. A lot of work.

...the zine ran from 1979 to 1991, so I imagine you saw quite a bit of change in the way that zine publishing worked and how fandom works.

When we first started, our first issue was actually, you know, pretty small, and then we got to be much larger because we just had good material that we wanted to get out there. Um. I think also when we started, for instance, slash was very new. When we first started, it was just around the time or just before the time that Thrust came out, which is one of the most famous slash zines, of course. People were very cautious about it, you know? They didn’t want to get into trouble with Paramount or the actors or whatever. It’s so strange to me, no, not strange but funny for me to see now how actors and franchises tend to embrace that kind of stuff and play along with it. Back in the day you were terrified that they would find out because you thought they would sue us, or they would get upset, or whatever. It was a very different atmosphere around that particular subject matter, and people were very cautious about selling it to someone, making sure that they were old enough, you know, and things like that. Every convention that we went to, there would always be panels arguing about whether it was acceptable or not. One of the strangest experiences I ever had was at a convention where I was on a panel, and we were talking about slash, and it was just after the first movie had come out. I don’t know if you remember it or not, but in the novelization of the movie, Gene Roddenberry put a footnote very close to the beginning of it, right? And it was basically saying, you know, “Live and let live” kinds of things. I was sitting on this panel once where the pro-slash and the con-slash were both arguing their position from that footnote. (laughs)

We both thought that there was justification for our point of view in that footnote. You know, I think it was very typical of Gene. He was very into what we called “open texture.” He gave us a world, a universe, someplace to create, and he didn’t really get uptight about how we did that, you know? He was, like, “Oh, not what I would have done, but okay,” you know? To me, that was part of the attraction of fan fiction, that you could take your favorite character, your favorite situation, your favorite episode—you know, whatever—and just expand on it. Put yourself, you know, give some of yourself to that creatively.
[Nome wasn't] really a slash zine per se because that wasn’t all that we did. Personally, we were probably more relationship fans than we were slash fans. And, you know, not that we didn’t like slash or anything; it was just more our focus. I found a copy of Nome 1 anyway. When I look back on this now, I think oh my gosh, what a primitive sort of effort, you know, especially when you think of the covers and things that we had later on. Let me see if I can come up with some names here. In the first issue, we had Toni, and we had Crystal Taylor and Ginna LaCroix. I always liked her writing very much, and Gerry Downes. Teri White was another good writer. There were some in later issues that were not in our first issues, that I wish I could find. We always were excited when someone new would come up, too, because that was another thing that we were very much into—promoting new authors and giving them a chance to have their work out there.
[We didn't accept explicit art for Nome's covers] at the beginning, but I think that we had some covers that were more explicit than others. Maybe not explicit, you know, as some others were, but I think we may have started out that way because we didn’t want to—um, we wanted to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, basically, I guess you could say. We wanted everyone to feel that there was something for them in the zine because that was, you know, what the name Nome meant, you know? An infinite variety of things combined to make to existence worthwhile. So that was kind of our guiding principle in the beginning. I think that’s why we called the zine Nome, that we wanted to have a variety of fiction so that anybody could find something that they liked. We were really trying to live up to that idea.
Oh dear, Nome 3. Umm. I can explain to you why there was no Nome 3, actually. It’s a little bit embarrassing. Nome 3 was supposed to be a novel-length zine written by me. We started advertising, saying that the next issue was going be, like, all one story, and blah-blah, you know. I got the most severe case of writer’s block (laughs) that I think I’ve ever had. I could not finish that story. It just—I don’t know exactly what it was. The subject matter was very difficult for me at the time because there was a personal element to it. I just couldn’t finish it. So we said, “What do we do? Do we hold on to this as a placeholder with a note that it’ll arrive someday?” kind of thing. I think we tried that for a while, and then when I realized that there was a likelihood that I was never going to get it finished, we decided to substitute Broken Images, I guess you could say, for that. That’s the reason there is no Nome 3—my writer’s block. Sad to say.
we always had an editorial kind of thing at the beginning of zine page, which we called “Multiplicative Proclivities,” which was a quote from Spock, but also, we felt it was very indicative of the way the zine had grown, you know, that it just kept multiplying and getting bigger and bigger and bigger, so that was kind of like an in-joke for us, too, yeah.

[...our preference for relationship stories]. It wasn’t any judgement about slash. It was just we found those stories—at the beginning anyway—were more compelling to us or whatever, but then we did get into it more. We certainly read all the slash that was out at that time. I mean, we published slash as the zine went on. I think that in the beginning, because we were so new to fandom, we hadn’t really explored it all, and we hadn’t found the really good writers yet, you know? Certainly, “Broken Images” was slash, and we published that, you know, as a standalone issue. So I think it was just a matter of evolving tastes, you know?

[I don't think this was fairly unusual]. I think most people picked the names of their zines according to the focus that they had for the content. Obviously, as you know, Thrust is self explanatory. (laughs) Then there was the companion series, and that focused on not just the slash side of their relationship but the emotional side of their relationship, too, that they were companions. Trying to think of some other names. Sometimes the names, for example, were a reference to a favorite episode. Umm. Trying to think. There was a zine that Gerry Downes did, Alternatives, I think that was called, yeah. Usually, the name reflected in some way the content of the zine that the editors were going for, or it was a reference to a famous character or episode. I think that’s the way most of them went, you know?

[snipped]

... at that point, slash was still pretty new, and what happened eventually was that a lot of the people who started out in Star Trek became interested in other fandoms, and then they went into slash in those other fandoms, like Star Wars, like Starsky & Hutch, like I eventually became—it was later, but—eventually became involved in Beauty and the Beast fandom, and I think in each fandom, according to the characters and how they related to each other, people found, you know, a way to express the emotional side of their relationship or the physical side of their relationship, whatever it was, or other relationships within secondary characters, you know, became more popular as time went on, too. I think it was a normal progression.

... the only thing that has ever concerned me about slash fandom is when people—okay, I’m probably going to offend someone by saying this but—when people use characters to people their own fantasies rather than having characters express what we saw. You know what I mean? When people saw the connection and the devotion between Kirk and Spock, and so you could take that in an organic way and “would they do this/would they do that” kind of thing, and I think that in any fandom, there are always some people who are more in love with the slash than they are with the characters, if that makes sense. No, that doesn’t sound right. Um. Not more in love. It’s that, that’s more their focus, is the slash, and so any fandom that they get into, they look for the slash possibilities in it, and sometimes it just doesn’t work, you know. People have done slash things of characters, and I’m just, like, “No, I can’t. You can in no way ever convince me that those two were involved in a physical relationship. I just don’t see it.” And, you know, I think that’s always been my only concern about slash fandom is that people were not being treated as characters, I guess. In my opinion, in my opinion, okay. Obviously not in theirs. But I think that that is the only thing that has ever concerned me about slash fandom, is when I felt that the characters were suffering from being sort of forced into that scenario. Like I said, not everybody’s going to like that, but, you know, that’s the way I feel.

Like, for a modern example, there are people who write slash fiction between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, and I’m like “where do you get that from?” These people were enemies. They hated each other. They were so diametrically opposed in terms of belief and morals and ambitions, there is no—I cannot see… My problem was not that they were having sex. My problem was that I could not see how those two people would ever get to that point. Does that make sense? It’s like I cannot see those two characters having sex. You know, I can see Kirk and Spock having sex. I can see Starsky and Hutch having sex, you know, I mean, that was to me a logical progression, but you take characters like that or some people write fan fiction about Snape and Hermoine in Harry Potter fandom, and I’m like, “No.” (laughs) First of all, she’s a child; he’s adult, you know, but it doesn’t make sense to me as a writer that those characters would move in that direction, and then I can’t buy it.... My personal preference was to see slash and character development at the same time so that—basically, make me believe that these two got together.

I think there had been [bootlegs made of Nome] mainly because we could have stopped and didn’t keep the zines in print. I have no problem with someone else printing it and selling it as long as they ask me, and that if they are making any kind of money from it, I think that, you know, that they should share that with us. I have found a couple of occasions where people did not. They did not ask permission. In one case, someone who’d ask permission of Vicki, who is also, sadly, no longer with us, and that after she passed, they didn’t bother to try to get in touch with me and ask me if it was okay. Because I had not been active in fandom for a long time, and I guess their excuse was that they didn’t know how to get in touch with me. Well, you should make the effort. I just think that that’s unfair to publish someone else’s zine and make money off of it without ever asking their permission. I’m big on things like that, maybe because I worked in publishing for so many years. It’s someone else’s intellectual property, and you can’t just take and say, “Well, I’m gonna print this.” Yeah. That’s my problem with bootlegging. I understand that people wanted copies of the zines, that, you know, we weren’t providing them anymore, and they were like, “Well, we’ve got to get them someplace” kind of thing. I just don’t think that’s the best path. No.... I try to do something about it, but basically, that person ignored me. So, what was I going to do? I’m trying to remember if it was a problem back then or not. Not as big a one, I don’t think? I mean, you know, as we said before, these things that we put out were huge, so, you know, for someone to actually bootleg them would involve some expense of their own kind of thing, and not everybody wanted to, you know, devote that much money or time to something that huge. Yeah, I just—generally speaking, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.

[snipped]

She’s [1] got copies of the zines, she’s printing them. You know, I mean, I’ve asked her stop, you know, and she hasn’t, so, what am I gonna do? Hire a lawyer? I don’t think so. It’s not that big a—it’s not something I could devote my money or time to either, and I just think it’s wrong. I wouldn’t do it. I would never publish somebody’s—someone else’s work—without asking their permission for it.

[1985-1988] was a very big, confusing time [regarding the zine Courts of Honor]. Basically, Syn had written it, wanted to publish it—I’m trying to think of exactly the sequence of events here. She was not able to afford to publish after a thing she was going to—basically—she had good intentions. There were no bad intentions at all, but it was just the way her life went at the time, and she found that she was unable to fulfill that obligation. So a group of us, which we called The Group of Six, decided to take that over, and we took the manuscript, made the cover or whatever for it, and six people, “Okay. You’re going to have to trust us. We will publish this.” You know? “I know you feel like you’ve already” --I think that people who had already paid for it, we honored that fact. People who hadn’t paid for it already, you know, paid for it, and they got their copy. We just wanted it to get out into the world so that people could read it because it was, you know, such a good story. And, so we were responsible for getting it published. We were not responsible in any way for the editing of it or anything like that. We were just trying to save what we considered to be a work of art for fandom.

[snipped]

I think that there were some people who were very upset, that they felt that, you know, Syn had misrepresented herself, but she didn’t. As I remember. I wasn’t as close to her as, let’s say, Mary Ann, was, but there were literally no bad intentions in her not getting that out the way she wanted to. Umm, none at all. But you know, people were upset because they paid money, and, you know, it’s totally understandable, and that was, I think, one of the reasons why we wanted so badly to get it out there, so that those people that had trusted her would get what they paid for, you know.
And you know, as much as we hated Spock dying at the time [in one of the films], and, again, we were involved—I was involved in another campaign at the time to bring him back even though Leonard said that he didn’t want to, you know, whatever. It was a big brouhaha about that at the time. It still, speaking as a writer, as an artist, it was beautifully done, you know? I didn’t want to see Spock die, but the way they did it was really good. You know, just looking at it as art, I guess.
[We] more being active in those days and very keen to say what we wanted, you know (laughs). I remember going to a convention after the fact, I think, after the third movie when he came back. I went to a con in St. Louis. I can’t remember what they were called now, but Harvey Bennett was there as a guest. Someone introduced us to him as being the people who had done that campaign, and he just kind of looked at us and said, “Oh! So you’re the ones.” (laughs) I’m sure we caused a lot of hassle for him at the time because, you know, he had his own ideas of what he wanted to do, and we were saying, “Nope, we don’t want that.” Which, I think, is our right as fans, you know? They’re making the movies for us to consume, you know? They’re not making the movies for themselves; they’re making them for us, you know, and they’re not buying the tickets, you know? So I think we have a right to say what we want to see. But yes, he did give us a look. (laughs)
...it would have been very, very difficult for me to not see a Star Trek movie at that point in my life, because fandom was everything at that point in my life. Everything that I did, you know, revolved around fandom in some way. I was in my early 20’s. I discovered this wonderful world where there were so many creative, you know, weird people. I like weird people. You know, people who were being themselves, and I felt that it was my opportunity to be myself, too, you know, to do what, you know, what I felt I wanted to do. So, I loved fandom. I love fandom, and I was very, very active in it at the time....Things change, you know. We get older. We move. We do things. I had some bad experiences in fandom of people (sigh)—how should I put it: Jockeying for position, you know, and like, thinking that they were like, “Number One Fan” kind of thing, and being very nasty to people they felt were in their way kind of thing. That kind of put me off fandom. I haven’t really been involved actively in a fandom in quite a while. There are things that I like—certainly, movies, you know, fan fiction, whatever, but I’m just not as involved as I used to be because I don’t have time for that kind of stuff...
I think one of the first things that I remember about my first con was that they used to show the episodes, like, with a projector and a screen, you know (laughs) kind of thing, and sitting in a room full other Star Trek fans, watching the episodes, seeing them react to them for the first time is something that has always stayed with me because it is that sense that a lot of people have, when they’re in fandom, is that “I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who likes this. I’m not the only one who understands this.” You know, you felt like you were part of something, so that would be my first really amazing memory of a convention.
We decided we wanted to do a convention, and we didn’t go very far with it. Putting on a convention is very expensive, and it was a lot of work, much more than anything else that we did in fandom, and we just didn’t have the resources or the time, I guess, or whatever to really stick it out and, you know, keep going and hope that we would become more popular and, you know, well attended. And we called it Fan-Out because we were trying give the idea that it was truly a media convention, you know. It was, like, anything that you were a fan of could show up here, you know. Because at that point, we were also into other things ourselves, and we just wanted it to be a more—it wasn’t just Star Trek even though we had all started out as Star Trek fans, and there wasn’t just Star Trek anymore, so… But unfortunately, it didn’t really work out as well as we wanted it to, so (sigh) what can you do? [snipped] Our vision was bigger than the reality of the situation, you know? Unfortunately.
Of Beauty and the Beast, yes, and it just sort of went from there, and I was very active in that fandom, yeah, very. I went on a trip to LA once, and I actually went out to the studio and talked to the — the producer that I knew the best was Alex Gordon who went on to produce, like, Homeland and, you know, other things like that. He worked on The X-files and stuff. We were actually kind of close. I mean, I could call him up and talk to him about things. George Martin, I knew him a little bit at the time, and they knew who I was. I used to work for Creation Con, actually, and host conventions for them and advise them on, you know, merchandise and stuff like that because they were not fans per se. They were just in the con business, and they were, like, “what would make the money?” kind of thing, so, I was kind of their advisor on what it was that people really wanted, you know.
I really enjoyed the show [Beauty and the Beast]. I loved the fact that they had so many literary references in the show. I actually did a concordance for the Beauty and the Beast fandom at one point, which was like sort of a catalog of all the literary and musical references and things about the episodes and whatever, for the first two seasons anyway, I think. That was pretty big, too. It was more like Nome sized. But that was one of the things that attracted me to the show, too, was that they quoted poetry. They referenced authors and poets and things like that, that most people didn’t even know about, and I really liked that. I thought Ron Pearlman was really great as that character, but for me, fan fiction has always been the primary focus of being in the fandom, you know. I really like something. If I want to get involved, the first thing that comes to my mind is fan fiction. So. I’m not a cosplayer. I’m not, I don’t know, any of the other expressions of creativity that people have for fandom. I’m, you know, into writing.

[my letterzine Tunnel Talk] got taken over by the third season controversy]. Which was kind of unexpected. I guess my thinking was, because I’m so character driven, and again, this goes back to our discussion about slash before, to me, you have to make believe that those characters would move in that direction, you know. Then, I have no problem, you know, but it’s all about character. It doesn’t have anything to do with, you know, gay sex or anything like that, you know. It has to do with the writing. It has to do with the characters. Would they do this? Umm, for me, it just never occurred to me that anyone would be okay with Catherine being killed off and replaced. It never occurred to me for someone to say, “That’s all right. Let’s just go on.” So it was kind of like a shock to me when people were, like, “No, I’m okay with that!” And I was, like, “What?! You’re okay with that?” So it was real clash, and to this day, to this day, there is still a B&B fandom. It’s small, but it’s very strong. To this day, it’s still divided by that line.

Do you like the third season or not, you know, kind of thing. And it’s not that people are judging; it’s just that they know what they’re interested in and what they’re not. You know, to some of us, the third season just really doesn’t even exist. I have DVD copies of the first two seasons. I have no interest in owning a copy of the third season, umm, because it just went so against what I understood the show to be. I was not interested in that. So, I was criticized a lot for that at the time. People thought that those of us who did not want a third season because it didn’t include Catherine were spoiling the show for them. We were taking away the show from them. I’m, like, “okay!” Umm, but it was a particularly bitter time, yes.

I think I watched [the third season], like, the first time. You know, when it originally aired. Umm, and I hated it and knew that it was not going to last, and it was a big, you know—everybody was, like, “No, no, we must have the show at all costs” basically. That’s the people who didn’t mind that Catherine was gone. That was their opinion. “We must have the show at all costs because we want Vincent.” In my mind, as a writer, as a creative person, you couldn’t have that show without the two of them because it was called Beauty and the Beast, you know. It was why I couldn’t understand someone being willing to accept something else. But they felt that I was being close minded, or me and other people who felt that way were being close minded. That we were destroying any chance of the show surviving, you know, blah blah blah. Umm, I don’t think that we had quite that kind of influence, and I talked to the producers about it, and like I said, that was the one fandom where I had actually relationships with the creators of the show. I have never had that in any other fandom. Like, I did go out to LA, and I did visit them, and Alex, you know, said, “Oh come on in, come to my office and talk,” and he even, at one point, was considering telling me what was going to happen in the third season, and then he thought, no I’d better not or I’ll get in trouble. And, then he took me into a meeting with all the writers, and talking to them, and George Martin was there because he was the executive producer, I think, at that point, and then someone said, “Maybe she should leave now because we’re going to talk about, you know (laughs), like episodes and things like that,” and he was like, “Oh. Oh yeah. Okay. Yeah, I’m afraid you’re gonna have to leave, Barbara.” I was like, “Okay, fine!” you know. No problem. Umm, so that, to me was my most intense, in some ways, experience of the creative side of that fandom….no, not the creative….the official side of that fandom because I knew all the people.

George called me to tell me that the show was being canceled. Because he said he didn’t want me to find out on TV. (laughs) I still can’t believe that when I think about it, but that’s how involved I was in that fandom, and I think the important thing to remember about that, lest I sound like I think this is impressive or something is that I have always had, umm, a saying about fandom when people get too caught up in it and put too much importance on it, and that is “this and a subway token will get you on the Metro,” if that makes sense. You know, yes, it’s wonderful to have people know who you are. It’s wonderful for people to love your writing. This does not make you better than anyone else. This does not make you more important than anyone else, you know, and I think that’s what eventually drove me away from fandom is that there were too many people who thought that being a big name in fandom made them important or made them better than someone else. And, umm, I got a lot of that in the Beauty and the Beast fandom, to people basically attacking me because they didn’t like the fact that I was as close as I was to the producers, you know, that I was as well-known as I was, you know, which is stupid. To me, it’s stupid. I’m a person. You’re a person. We both love this thing. Let’s just do that, you know? I could never understand that need to define yourself by how important you were in fandom. That’s just not my thing. Anyway, I’m sorry. I just started raving about that because I just remembered the experience at that time. I was really, by a couple of people in the fandom, really vilified because they didn’t like the fact that I had more, they thought, influence than they did or whatever, and to me, that’s just silly. Silly, silly.
I just, I can’t even relate to [conflict by BNFs], you know, and people actually attacking other people because they were feeling their thunder, or whatever. I’m just, like, “Nope. I’m out. This is not what I signed up for. At all.” You know, to me, fandom is about being creative, about finding other people who feel the same way you do, and enjoying, you know, certain shows or whatever, you know, together, because you have common interests. That’s what fandom is about for me. The community and the creativity.

I’m proud of the zines. I’m proud of, you know, being a part of that whole world and bringing other people’s creativity, you know, out, in terms of their fiction in zines and their art in zines. Umm, I’m proud of the friends that I’ve made, some of whom I’m still in touch with. People that I met in, like, 1977, that I still know, that are still important to me. Umm, yeah. Again, it’s the community and creativity thing to me. That’s always been the draw of fandom, and that’s still the draw of fandom, to me, and those are the most important parts.

Regrets. I regret that I didn’t write more. Umm, I think that part of that was that I was so involved in the production of the zines that I didn’t have the energy and the, you know, time left to create myself sometimes. Umm, do I regret anything? I regret that I let some people bother me (laughs). Umm, people who, you know, we were just discussing, who had their own agendas, whatever, that were different than mine. I wish I had not let them upset me or influence any decisions that I’ve made. Umm, I’m a lot stronger than that now, but, you know, especially when I first started out in fandom, I was still pretty young and pretty inexperienced in a lot of things, so, umm, speaking up for myself more, you know. I think I would grab that, but I wasn’t able to. I was younger. I was much younger then. Now I’m not afraid of other people’s opinions.

References

  1. "She" is likely Mysti Frank.