Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Connie Faddis

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Connie Faddis
Interviewer: Meagan Genovese
Interviewee: Connie Faddis
Date(s): August 16, 2017
Medium: aural
Fandom(s):
External Links:
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In 2017, Connie Faddis was interviewed as part of the Media Fandom Oral History Project.

Interview length: 1:19:10.

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, see the Media Fandom Oral History Project page.

Some Topics Discussed

Excerpts

I really got into fandom by a roundabout route. In the 1960’s, the early 1960’s, when I was in high school, one of my escapes from my crazy family was to watch a lot of television as a lot of young people did, and I became enamored with The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and then the years that I went off to college, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was canceled, and Star Trek, the first season of Star Trek was put on, and I was living in the dorm and had no access to a television, but I had already seen a few of the episodes at friends’ house, so chased around and saw some people on campus who had dorm apartments, and they were science fiction fans, and they were watching Star Trek. So, every—I don’t remember what day of the week that it was on—I would go down to their place, and, you know, we would all sit together, jammed—probably a dozen or more of us—jammed around one of these little, teeny-tiny televisions, and we would watch Star Trek.

Well, some of these folks had been in science fiction fandom, and through them, I learned about fandom. I learned about fanzines. I learned about, you know, if you contributed something to a fanzine—and they were all print fanzines then, and a lot of them were just mimeographed. They were really very, reproduced cheaply and simply. If you did some art or some writing or a poem or something, you’d get a freebie. Well, I was enamored of Star Trek. This was the kind of world that I wanted to live in, that I wanted our future to be. And I began to eat, live, and breathe Star Trek.

I taught myself how—because the artwork was mimeographed, you had to do black and white artwork. So I taught myself how to do pen-and-ink. I had some art talent, and I started at—Oh I think, you know, not work I would certainly put out there for people to see today, but it was relatively competent for fan stuff, and over the time, I did change, and then some of the early news zines came out, and letter zines, and Bjo Trimble’s whole campaigns that saved Star Trek after it was canceled, and I talked myself into going to the first New York convention, Star Trek convention. Oh boy! After that, I was hooked. That was it. I was in.
I was invited to be on panels because I started writing. You know, the fun thing about being in a media fandom, even though the television series had been discontinued, we fans were continuing with our own stories and our own ideas, and it kind of kept it alive for me. And, like I said, at that point in my life, even though in that point in my life, I got married, and I graduated from college, and I got a job—bam, bam bam—my recreation was Star Trek, and eventually other fandoms as well. When my mind would flip out of real life here, it would flip right into Star Trek.
I started submitting art to science fiction fanzines, and then when the Star Trek fanzines started popping up, then I submitted art to them, as well. So, I started with that. It was several years before I got the, umm, courage to write something that resembled a story. And I did know how to write because, you know, I’d been writing my own private stuff, but I wrote it—

Here’s what really kicked me into the writing. I wrote a story. I think it was called “Sleep Not, Dream Not,“ and I submitted it to Ruth Berman. Shame on me! I cannot remember the name of her fanzine to save my life. But she had a really, probably the top-notch fanzine [1] in terms, not so much of its reproduction quality but the quality, the content. Which was still pretty much amateur. Well, Ruth, I believe, was a published author, and she wrote back to me, and she said, in essence, “This is a professionally written story. I think you ought to, you know, file the Star Trek trademark off of it, change the names of the characters and submit it for publication.” Which, some years later, I did, and it was published as a separate story in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

I started off with art. I moved on to—well, I didn’t move on to—but I added costuming, which I really enjoyed. You know, at that time in the late sixties—this would have been the early seventies—a lot of young women had sewing machines and were, you know, making their own clothes. The big thing then. You know, you buy the pattern for your—what was then your bellbottoms and your caftans and your A-lines, and this and that, whatever. So, you know, I knew how to sew, and I learned some other crafts I needed to make my costumes come alive, and it was fun. And I won a number of the costume calls, so that was kind of cool, too. You know, more incentive!
My big winner [costume] at one of the New York cons was the Romulan Praeter, and it was all copper—a copper headdress that looked sort of like an Aztec headdress. It was a bird of prey, and the copper—it was copper sheeting. The copper came out like a big bird of prey bill over my forehead, and I had places in the back to attach these really long—oh gosh! What were they? Peacock feathers. It had a body suit underneath, a black bodysuit that I sewed myself out of a snakeskin-pattern stretchy fabric, and then over that, it had kind of—down to the side bib, a copper armor. That was fun to make.

(0:12:02.1): Yeah, let’s see. It had a collar, and then it had over the whole thing this long, fluttery, light metallic copper fabric cape. And I made—and since I was a Romulan Praeter, I think I had some kind of scepter, too, and it was—and of course, I did Romulan-style makeup. It was a blast! And the Star Trek costume designer, Bill Theiss, was one of the judges, and he gave me the most enormous compliment. He said, “How did you make this armor?” And I showed him that basically it was a long triangle of felt, and I had taken some some plasticized copper sheeting, very, very thin, a little heavier than heavy-duty aluminum foil, and I had glued it over a sheet of plastic. And then I cut out all of the overlapping feathers so that that was what the armor was made of, of overlapping feathers. And then I stapled the feathers at the top so that they were hidden by the overlap. I stapled them to the felting, and he looked at that and he said, “This cost you nothing to make.” And I said, “Pretty much.” And he said, “You know, you could be a professional costumer.” [screams] Ahhhh, okay! Bring me back down!!

It was great, but that was kind of the peak.... That con had a mockup, a—I think almost full-size mockup of the bridge of the original Enterprise, and because I won the costume call, I was invited to go sit in the captain’s chair. They had a professional photographer, and they took a bunch of pictures, and there I was, the sassy Romulan Praeter had taken over the Enterprise.

[Being a guest of honor at cons] was certainly an ego boost, and I probably would not have gone to those conventions if they had not paid my way, and, you know, paid my hotel room and everything. I was asked to do some readings. I was asked to be on panels. I was asked to give a talk, and I can’t remember what I talked about.

It kind of all went by in a blur. It was, for me, not that significantly different from other conventions that I had been to once I became a BNF, a Big Name Fan. Because—one of the—I was head—it was really good for my ego but at the same time, scared the tar out of me, because… one of the reasons that I eventually left fandom was because it. There were an awful lot of fans who treated me like some kind of celebrity, okay, like I was something more than normal, more than human. You know? It worried me because these people—I would talk to them, and they would have ideas for stories, and they would have this, and they would like that, but they were consumers. They did not want to own their talent. They did not want to grow into what they could become. They wanted to be passive, and they followed me around sometimes. I really did not like that. Like, I was, umm, like somehow I had some kind of magic, and some of it would wear off on them and make them happy or something? [ I remember at the early New York cons—and this is nothing against Jacqueline—but I would remember seeing Jacqueline Lichtenberg in the hallway with this long string of devoted Kraith fans behind her, heading for her room, and they would follow her all over the hotel, and it was like Mama Duck with Ducklings, and that, for some reason, just did not ring right to me. I did not want to be—I did not want to have that kind of literal follower. It bothered me, you know. Just me! You know? It worked for her, and I’m sure those folks were happy and didn’t hurt anything. It just didn’t work for me.

[snipped]

Also, another thing that drove me from fandom—and it was not from fandom; it was an interior thing, was that I came to a place in my life. By this time I was in my late thirties. I came to a place in my life where I, I was done living secondhand. I loved fandom. I still love fandom. I don’t want to participate in fandom anymore, particularly, but I’m glad it’s there. It’s fun. I grew so much as a person and as a creative. I mean, it was my creativity school. I would have never have pursued the art if I hadn’t had the incentive of the art shows and the fanzines. I would probably not have pursued writing if the incentive of having someplace to publish it in the fanzines, but secondhand wouldn’t do anymore. And, in fact, if you really think about it, it’s almost sixth-hand by the time that you’re a creative in fandom because it’s gone through—let’s just talk Star Trek. It’s Gene Roddenberry’s concept. It’s the script writer’s idea. It’s the director’s vision. It’s the artist’s interpretation. It’s the editor and the costumer and the props, etc. By the time that it hits your television screen, or now the theater, many, many, many layers of interpretation have happened, and then you take that, and you take these other people’s ideas, and you take it farther. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s that I was done with it. I had my own ideas. I wanted to do original work. Original. I wanted to be the author or the artist from the ground up. I’m not saying that I’m not influenced by Star Trek and all the other fandoms and shows and movies because how you ever not be? You know, I mean, I was soaking in it. It’s in my skin. It’s in my heart! Certainly, the values are. The values in the original Star Trek series are pretty much the values of the Captain America fandom that you love. I think! When you boil it all down. You know, we want a better world. We want a world where people can be their authentic selves. We want a world where a person’s difference makes—the only difference that makes a difference is that—between those who strive and those who don’t. To better themselves and to serve others. Other than that, no, we’re pretty much the same, and those are, those are values that I continue to support, and those are values that I continue to put into my original work.
The Halkan Council -- Oh my God. You know, there was no internet. It costs a fortune to get on the phone to call somebody in another city. Um. The letterzines were the life blood of fandom, I think, in the early days. Because they would come out, you know, a few times a year at least, sometimes more often, and they were the discussions. They were the connectors. I remember when I knew that one was due, running home at the end of the work day—actually, in some cases, I think it may have been at the end of the school day, the college day—and, you seeing if that’s in the mailbox. Waiting for the fanzine to come because I knew that they had accepted my art and my whatever, and I knew it was going to come out some time in the next, ohh, month or two. It was such a lifeline, and so much pleasure, and I was just… It wasn’t a casual read for me, man. I read and reread and reread every bit of those early things. But then there come to be more and more, and more and more, and it all mushed together for me.
I remember being in the early conversations about slash. In the early days I absolutely refused to see that because it wasn’t the Star Trek I knew. It was taking it several steps beyond where I, where my comfort zone was.

You know, I just was not a very awakened person at that time in some ways, and it bothered me. It also kind of felt smarmy to me, like, you know. It went beyond the bromance stuff that I really liked.

So you know, I had my issues, and I don’t I was ever—I hope I was never one of the people who were foaming at the mouth over it. I considered it. After a while, I kind of thought up ways, like, how it could happen within the canon of the Star Trek universe as given to us by Roddenberry and extended. You know, the logical—where would logic take this if you would end up at this place? I actually ended up—I don’t know that I ever wrote—I don’t remember writing a slash story. Yes, I do! I wrote something for somewhere, where McCoy and Spock are stuck on a planet, and Spock goes into pon farr, and McCoy ends up offering himself because he’s a doctor and he saves lives. And I made it as sweet as I could, but it was a logical thing to happen within the canon. I came to a place where I could appreciate the stories. I certainly was, at first, startled and then came to deeply appreciate the beautiful, erotic art that [ Gayle F ] did, the K/S. I mean, she just elevated it to erotica and not porn. It was very, very beautiful work. And there was a sweetness to it as well as a rawness to it, so, you know, but it just was never really my primary aspect of the fandom. I liked the science fiction; I liked the bromance, you know, that kind of thing.

Absolutely, no, I was not opposed to [slash]. It took a while. It took some education! You know, I had to become a more educated person about society and reality and, um, you know, gender diversity—all of the things that we honor today were just emerging then, or coming out of the--literally in some cases, I guess--the closet, but you know that the slash—the book I’m writing has a lot of gay characters, and they love each other, and I’m happy with that because they’re two people in love. In the universe, or at least the world that I have created for my trilogy—nobody cares. You know? It is just what it is, and nobody cares. You love who you love, and that’s a good world, and I’d to go there, and I like that the new—they’re calling it the “Kelvin timeline” of the movie? The Star Trek –they had gone in that direction. I’m all for it. I have no issues with it anymore, but at the time, I had a very small, uneducated mind, and it just never—even though I came to accept it, and I could read it, I found—it just didn’t capture me because it was always the same story over and over and over again. They were all first-time stories. Not all but so many, and you know, how many times can you do that?
I’ll tell you a secret about illustration. And writing. It never turns out exactly the way you have it in your head. You know, the only way to do that would be to do a Vulcan mind meld. Because by the time that it goes through your fingers, whether your fingers are on a keyboard or they’re on a pen or a paintbrush, it has gone through a bunch of filters and it has gone through your—in terms of writing, your, your, the words you have available. English is a wonderful language, a gazillion words, but sometimes there’s still not a word. Um, and it’s gone, and you know, and it has to go through your level of talent, too, so, you know, what you see in your head isn’t always what ends up on the page or the canvas or the paper. And that’s okay. Just, you know, you make it the best you can. I’ve had other people illustrate my stories, and I’ve been pleased with what they send. I’ve usually been kind of picky about who I either asked or, you know, in the old days, the print fanzine people would say, “Well, I’m thinking about asking so-and-so to illustrate,” and you know, you’d usually say, “Oh sure, that’d be fine.” People got, you know, people have to develop their talent. Boy that was one thing the old fandom was good at was developing talent. Because there was incentive, and there was feedback, and most of the time, good feedback. I’m not talking about the adulation. I’m talking about the good, constructive feedback because there was a range of levels of ability across fandom...
I got into the writing, and eventually, I got into the publishing. I wanted to do my own fanzine. And that was—originally I was going to do Energize!, and that didn’t work out with Candy Silver, and then I moved on and did totally my own, Interphase.

[snipped]

[Energize is] not one of my favorite fannish stories. Candy and her mother got the idea that they could make a pile of money off a fanzine. I don’t know where they got that notion, and we ended up having a negotiation in front of a lawyer. And the lawyer’s advice to me was very good advice. He said, “They are committed to taking this and running with it, and my advice to you is to take off and do your own, from scratch.” And that was Interphase. And I think that’s about as much as I want to say.
My objective [regarding Interphase], first of all, was to do the best fanzine there ever was. And I knew I was capable of that because I’ve always been a believer that if you’re going to do something, do it right, or don’t start at all. And I knew by then that my writing skills, my editing skills—I had edited some other people’s stuff before they submitted it to other zines. I had been edited by some really skilled editors and learned from them. I just wanted a zine that was absolutely—it was—I wanted a zine that was the kind of zine that I wanted to read, with the kind of art that I wanted to look at, and at that time, it was still very expensive an offset magazine, which is one of the reasons that I got hooked up with Candy because she—and I didn’t know her mother was in on this—were willing to foot the bill. Well, they—I was of the mind that you charge enough to pay yourself back, but you don’t make a profit. And that was a big issue in those days. There was enormous concern that there was a copyright issue with the owners of the Star Trek series, which was Paramount. And you know, you didn’t want to cross the line where you were going to get a cease-and-desist letter or worse.
I wanted [Interphase] to be beautiful. Just beautiful. And I wanted the best writers, and I invited people directly for the first issue. For the next three issues, I did have to solicit—famous works solicited to me, and I worked with—I turned a few down. If the writers or the artists, I saw a potential in them, and they were teachable, I worked with them. Because, you know, people were teaching me. I was still learning myself, and I enjoyed mentoring. I still enjoy mentoring. I’m still actively doing it in a number of ways.
Oh! And also the color to silk screen. There was no color. It cost a fortune to produce—reproduce—colored artwork, but silk screening was cheap! You had a silk screen. You had a bunch of paper.

[snipped]

So I did some of the silk screen stencils with, you know, hands-done with the tusche, which is a sticky stuff, like I said. It sticks to the screen and blocks off the ink. And there was a photographic, apparently new then, a photographic—you could buy this sheet and you could ink over the places you wanted to ink over, and then you would expose it to bright light, and then you would wash it out on the screen, and it would adhere to the screen in the places where you had, you know, indicated washed away, and now you had a stencil. It was very cool.

But, you know, it was a huge amount of work to do. I don’t know how many I printed my first zine. Two hundred or so, I guess. Well, I had to come up with—for each piece of silk screened art, I had to—if it was just the one color—I had to run that thing through 200, probably 250 times, to make sure that I had 200 decent prints. Because you know, things blob and blotch and don’t go through right, and lots of different things like that.

It’s a fun medium, though. I remember, for doing the first Interphase—and actually for all of them—inviting all of my Star Trek fans that I had found in the Pittsburgh area at that time, and inviting them over for a zine party, and one party would be running the silk screens. Oh my God! We had prints drying all over my living room and the couch and everything else. Oh my God. Oh, it was amazing. And the was fun, and we’d laugh, and we’d talk, and you know, usually I think we did a potluck or something, but we also—

People would have collating parties, you know, to put the pieces together. We did that, so it was a real social thing to do, too, but I was pretty picky about who I asked and who I decided to work with to make their story the best it could be, or their artwork the best it could be. And I loved doing that, and I loved being in control. I will be right up front about that! I just loved being the director. I did a lot of the work, you know. I did the majority of the work. That’s okay, but I loved it being my creation—or at least my anthology, selected by and partly shaped by my own standards. And it was well received.with

It was pretty expensive for the time. It was a bigger fanzine than a lot of them. You know, and you had to include the envelope and postage and stuff, too, so, it costs a bit. So I actually had to, I felt like I needed apologize, as I recall, in my editorial in the front, for the cost of the zine.

You know, it cost a chunk of change in those days. I think was, oh I don’t know, five, six, eight dollars. That was a pile of money in those days. We’re talking about—we were the mid-seventies here somewhere. Mid-seventies.

I was making no money. I wasn’t interested in making money. It was for the love of doing it. You know, the stories were fun. They were interesting. The art was really pretty good overall. It was something fandom hadn’t seen.
About that time [I ceased publishing Interphase], there were—it was the rise of the buddy shows on television. Starting for me with Starsky & Hutch. And I loved that, and that’s what I loved about Star Trek was the Kirk/Spock/McCoy triad in a buddy sort of way. That’s what I loved. McCoy was always my favorite. At that time in my life, I was looking for a caregiving partner that wasn’t, unfortunately, my husband anymore, but you know, my fantasies were about him, though I liked Spock a lot, and I loved Kirk a lot, but it was McCoy for me. And then Starsky & Hutch came along, and you know, they had a teasing, fun relationship and watched out for each other’s backs and that kind of thing, and that really appealed to me, and I started losing interest in Star Trek. That was also at the time where the K/S movement was almost swamping Star Trek fandom. It was such a huge wave.
Kraith was very big. I read it and thought it was interesting. It went in directions that didn’t personally appeal to me, so I never became a big fan of it, but I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. It just didn’t say hello, but, you know, I published “Remote Control” because it was well crafted. Jacqueline is a very good writer. I have not followed her career. I hope she has continued to write and has moved herself beyond a borrowed universe onto original things. I probably ought to Google her and find out what the hell she’s up to.
[Mojave Crossing] was published in Zebra Three I think was one of the very, very early S&H zines. And it was an S&H gen zine. It was one of the very first, so… but I had done hurt/comfort in Star Trek fandom big time. That was where my head was at the time, and it seemed like, you know, that was what I liked writing, so that was what I wrote. I brought a lot of personal experience to that. I had spent time in the desert. I loved the desert. I loved archeology. I had a very realistic idea of, you know, what crossing a desert was like on foot. I tried to make it—I tried to really ground it in as much of my own real experience with the desert as a character because that’s how I treated it. I treated the desert as a character in that story. I look back now and I see that, but I don’t think that I had brought it to the top of my consciousness at the time, but it really was a character in the story. You know, I wanted to do a desert story. I love the desert. It’s an extraordinary place.
I always used references for the characters so that they looked like the characters. I always used references. A lot of times, they were photographs taken off of the television screen, you know, looking for the right expression, the right body position, that kind of thing. The photographs that were available, that were from [inaudible] Studio were pretty limited in the range of—you weren’t going to get much in the way of an action reference from that, so then Linda and I would take turns—we were roommates at that time—taking and running those—I think it was a VHS tape or Beta tapes at the time, and pausing, you know, and trying to or at least getting close and then snapping away trying to get shots off the screen, which I would then project to use as a reference. Yes, and it would help to make sure that, you know, their features were all in the right place and at the right proportions. And that, you know, that’s done all the time by illustrators and has been done since people used pinhole projectors in enclosed spaces, called a camera obscura, around the time of the Renaissance. And I know there are artists who are really facile portraitists, who would sneer at that and still today sneer at that, but I don’t care. I got what I needed.
[What am I most proud of my time in fandom?] Oh my! Growing up with a happy heart. I think that when I got into fandom, I was still very much a—well, I was still in my late teens—and I think I was a very ill-formed adolescent, and I think that the beautiful opportunities through Star Trek in particular to latch on to some really positive values, and then to find myself in this creative cauldron that fandom was in that era, and may still be for all I know, but I’m kind of out of the loop now, but it was a creative cauldron. It formed me. It gave me opportunities. It stretched me. It gave mentors. It brought me new ideas. It broadened my world way beyond what college did. I met wonderful people. I developed some social skills. They weren’t perfect! They’re still not perfect, but I definitely, you know, I learned how to get along with people. I learned how to collaborate with people. I learned in some ways how to lead people and how to inspire people. It was, it was my college of life, the way that, for some fortunate people, their careers are. I had a series of jobs, as far as what I did in my profession, which I guess ended up basically being a grant writer/grant project manager. I did good work. I’m glad I did it. It helped move the world along. It did some really good things for a lot of people. It paid my bills, but my creativity was nurtured by fandom.
Another thing is don’t pay attention to the naysayers. They are clueless where you’re going. They may not like it. They don’t have to, just like, I now honor all the people who, you know, the K/S, the S/H and so forth. That’s their vision. They should run with it. But you know, I’m on a different path, and that’s okay. But don’t pay attention to other people sneering at you because everybody brings their baggage to the show, and it’s not your job to pick theirs up and clean it up. Your job is to deal with your own, and your job is to create. You’re a creator.

References

  1. ^ This is in T-Negative 26, March 1975.