Memories of STAG and Star Trek Fandom by Valerie Piacentini

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Memories of STAG and Star Trek Fandom by Valerie Piacentini
Interviewee: Valerie Piacentini
Date(s): 1991
Medium: print
Fandom(s): Star Trek
External Links:
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In 1991, Valerie Piacentini wrote about her memories of the the fan club and newsletter, STAG.

It was printed in Star Trek Action Group #100.



Looking back, it crept up on me gradually. I first watched Star Trek when it was shown on Saturdays, but could only see alternate episodes because I work every second Saturday. Like most fans, I was hooked, desperate for more, particularly information on the programme, but there was nowhere to turn. It seemed impossible even to find anyone who liked the programme as much as I did.

Then I saw a newspaper article about Janet and Sheila, wrote to make enquiries, and was given Janet's address. She replied with what seemed to me then to be astonishing speed; now I know that's her normal response time to enquiries. Before I knew it I was a 
member of STAG. This seemed marvellous enough, a regular supply of Trek information and contact with people who thought as I did; but there was another bonus - zines. I read avidly and was thrilled to learn that fans like myself not only wrote Trek stories but had them printed. However, I didn't have the nerve to submit anything until I tried my hand at one of the newsletter|the newsletter competition stories. I carried the envelope about for days wondering whether to send it in, or whether I'd be making a fool of myself. However, I took the plunge and to my great surprise not only did it win, but Sheila asked if I had anything else. I sent her a few stories, she used them and we began to exchange letters.

Then came my first Convention. I swithered for weeks about going but finally plucked up the courage. Of course, practically my first stop was the STAG table, where I met Sheila and Janet and managed to have a long conversation with Sheila. One of the things she told me was to be sure not to miss Empath; I'll never forget my first sight of that episode, and I bought a script at the auction. Sheila and Janet were at that time collecting scripts, and arranged to borrow it to type a copy (this was before photocopying!).

Having broken the ice, I looked forward to the next Convention. Unfortunately Beth Hallam, another member of the STAG committee, became ill and I offered to help out on the STAG table. I saw a lot more of Sheila and Janet this time and when the Con was over Sheila invited me to visit. It was paradise! Zines, photos, stories.... I read until I couldn't keep my eyes open, and began my own photo collection. There were several more visits, both to Sheila and Janet, and I offered to help with the newsletter. That was either my biggest mistake or the best thing I've ever done. Either way, I don't regret a minute of it and eventually I was asked to become a member of the STAG committee.

Nowadays, newsletters are mostly printed, but then they were typed onto stencil, duplicated, collated and wrapped. At one stage we had over 1000 members. One weekend Janet and Sheila brought the boxes to Saltcoats so that we could collate and wrap. My brother-in-law brought us in coffee and found us buried waist-deep in wrapped newsletters (there's a photo to prove it).

I would like to take this chance to thank Janet and Sheila for all they've done for fandom over the years. The amount of time they have devoted to it has to be seen to be believed, yet they always have time to deal with enquiries and make each person feel that their contribution really matters.

When we felt we had to take a break from running the club we were delighted that it carried on and I would like to wish STAG and its present committee every success.

When I first became involved in fandom my family and friends said
 Star Trek wouldn't last. I wonder if they're right?