Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Nancy B.

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Katherine Nancy B.
Interviewer: Franzeska Dickson
Interviewee: Nancy B.
Date(s): March 6, 2015
Medium: audio
Fandom(s):
External Links:
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In 2015, Nancy B. was interviewed by Franzeska Dickson at Escapade as part of the Media Fandom Oral History Project.

The interview's length: 48.39.

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

[Nancy B]: ...she had a stack of [zines] and I was looking through them on her sitting on her apartment living room floor. And there was something there and it was about Kirk and Spock... Oh, and I read it, and I went, “Oooh! Yes! Yes! Yes!” [laughter] “This is it!” This is what I have always known! This is why I used to watch Starsky and Hutch with my sister when we were teenagers.

[Franzeska Dickson]: “Oh! Oh! [unknown word] and let me nurse you back to health!

[NB]: Exactly! [Laughter] And so it was obviously, I don't remember which story, but it was one of the very first published slash pieces. And I loved it. I read everything I could, and then I went off to graduate school and was kind of out of it, you know. A few years later, I think one of the Star Trek movies, all of a sudden it popped back in to my brain. It's not like, it had really never gone away, but it popped back into my brain. And I said, “I've got to find this stuff again.”

So I was back living in Los Angeles, and I went to an actual Star Trek convention, a regular one, held somewhere downtown. Went in, was enjoying the whole thing, went to the dealers' room, and was walking around, and there were some people selling zines. And I remember talking to them and, you know, like, “Well, I'm looking for something, you know, a little different...” And somebody reaches under the table, and pulls out a slash zine, and it's K/S!

[Franzeska Dickson]: “Pssst! Where's the good stuff?” [laughter]

[Nancy B]: And I bought what I could afford. You know, “Which ones should I take? Which are the good ones?” And immediately got invited to a gathering that was being held in San Diego, and was coming up shortly. And, so, this would have been in fall of 1987. And the meeting was January 25, 1988. And we rendezvoused at the home of another fan, somewhere in one of the beach cities, I don't recall. And walked in to get together so we could carpool to San Diego, and I met my partner in crime right there on the spot. That would be M. Fae Glasgow. And we carpooled, and immediately decided that we would start buying zines together, and pooling our money and resources. And then within nine months we had started publishing our own slash zines. So that's how I got started.
What would I do differently [today]. I would edit further, I would cut further, I would reject more from M. Fae! [laughter]
[Sandy Herrold] was just wonderful. I say, loud, but not loud in a bad sense. She was just, you could always hear her, she always had something wonderful to say, she was great. And she was leading a panel about this new thing called “being online.” And we all sat in a circle at one of the Escapades and she stood up and she said, “Hello, my name is Sandy, and I'm online.” And then we each had to do that, just like an AA meeting. [laughter]
Anyway, and, of course, zines were it, or paper things passed around, but by the early two-thousands, I recall coming to the first Escapade that came, or happened, after Phantom Menace came out. [laughter] And Phantom Menace, of course, generated amazing stories, and so forth. And we had written a zine, and I thought, “Oh, this is just gonna be fabulous. It's gonna fly off the tables. People are hungry for this material.” And something interesting happened. Some people were interested, but it just wasn't the thing. And that's when I realized zines really were not going to last any more. They were already disappearing. This was about, what, 2000, I think, maybe 2001. I'm not quite sure of the year, but right around there.

And so after that I thought, well, we'll continue as long as we feel like we want to, and I think we produced several more zines after that, but I never have any expectations that people will be hot for material. It was not the usual case of people lining up in front of the dealer's room doors, waiting for it to open, so they could go in to all the dealers and start buying reading material....

Yes! [waving money and screaming] just disappeared. And so then we sort of drifted away, and said, “You know, we've written a lot, we’ve produced a lot. We're gonna sort of fade away.” By that point, because I think I acquired my website about 2000, 1999 or 2000, somewhere in, we finally decided to just put the stuff up online so if anybody wanted it, there it was. And we didn't have to worry about it, we didn't have to keep it in print.
[NB]: Ok, now let me tell you the story about Lewis Collins, who played, um, Bodie [laughter] in The Professionals. Lewis used to come out to Los Angeles a lot, and he actually got a green card, and lived out here for a long time, looking for work, and so forth. I'm sure other fans could tell you their stories about him. I have several. One was the time that he came to the airport with a friend we had in common, and he was dropping her off, for some reason. She was taking was taking the same flight we were, to go to a slash con somewhere back east. We had boxes of slash zines - .... that had his character in there. And he so very kindly lifted them, and moved them out of the car, so we could check them in. I've always thanked him for that.

[FD]: “Oh, how kind of you to carry this large heavy box. Please don't open it.” [laughter] I believe the recipient of the ride has also told me of this entertaining incident, yes.

[NB]: Well, it actually happened, right here at LAX. And he never knew. [laughter]
[NB]: I remember the night [Henry Jenkins] spent, we all crowded into our one room, and he slept in the room with all of us. Because we were all, he was at Escapade, and he needed a place to sleep, and we were all short on funds, and he and his wife – I think she was here that year. I remember we all crowded in to the room, and slept in there, and then, sometime after that, was it before or after? He started his seminal book on, you know, fans and fanfiction, and a lot on slash. And he interviewed a lot of us for that. And, ah, but he's a real person! He's not an actor.

[FD]: [laughter]

[NB]: He's a researcher. [laughter]

[FD]: He's a nerd.

[NB]: He's a nerd. He was a fan. That's what really made it. Man.

[FD]: So you like his book. You think it's -

[NB]: Well, the original one that he did – what was it called? Textual Poachers. Because, I mean, 'cause nobody had written anything that was even close to the truth at that point. You had some really godawful writings. And it did represent things more fairly, I think. And of course he had a particular approach to it, and, you know, given his background, and his theoretical bent, and so forth. So I never minded it a bit.

I think things have changed a lot. But you have to have, you have to have somebody start doing the research.

[FD]: Absolutely.

[NB]: You really do. So I was glad he did it, because it countered things like Enterprising Women.
And that's the best thing [about fandom] about now, is that you can communicate quickly. We couldn't. We really couldn't. We wrote letters to people. We had a wonderful relationship with a fan who was called Sebastian, wrote mostly in Blake's 7 and Professionals. Was really well known in Professionals, early on, and, you know, was just a seminal writer in the fandom. And she found us, we found her, and started communicating. And we would send letters back and forth between the UK and the US. And, you know, it would just take weeks at a time to get a response. And we'd be ecstatic when a letter came and, “Oh, there's a letter from Sebsy! We have to read it! Let's read it!” And we'd savor it. Because you were wanting to talk about your favorite subject, and it just took forever.... There were zines being produced everywhere. Because if they weren't being produced in zine form, they were simply being produced, simply stories printed out and circulated by mailing them somewhere. Yeah. What else could you do? It's like the old-fashioned book. [laughter] A physical thing. And there was so much less material. You know, you couldn't just see the thing overnight, or last night, and write your story, and post it on line somewhere, and get feedback, and you know. It just took forever.