Our Community, Our History: A History of RPF/RPS

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Title: Our Community, Our History: A History of RPF/RPS
Creator: Laura Hale
Date(s): October 2005
Medium: print
Fandom: RPF and RPS
Topic: RPF and RPS
External Links:
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Our Community, Our History: A History of RPF/RPS is a 13-page article by Laura Hale. Several sections are duplicated, some three times, an error that makes this article shorter than it appears.

It may have been a panel hand-out.

Topics covered: Spockanalia, drawerfic, early internet bandfic, early media rpf, Blake's 7, Duran Duran, Led Zeppelin and Tris and Alex, political figure fic, FanFiction.net, internet and the early availability of rpf/rps, the creation of shared vocabulary, saffic, the concurrent timeline of gay rights and slash fiction.

The article includes a number of photocopied images of famous musicians, actors, political figures, and on the last page (titled "People to Know"): Laura Hale, Henry Jenkins, Xing Li, and Sophie Werkers.

This article also has a section called: "RPF/RPS Timeline" and it is divided into the decades 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

Some Excerpts

When Real Person Slash, Real Person Fic started is hard to pin down. Unlike Star Trek fans, Blake's 7 fans and other media fen, the Real Person Slash community did not start out as an outgrowth of other movements and did not have people chronicling, at various periods in its history, zines that were published. In fandom, we know of stories of people writing and circulating drawerfics, stories that they wrote by hand or typed and that they circulated amongst their friends or stores in their desk drawers, as early when the Beatles first came to the United States back in 1964. These early examples of Real Person Fic are mostly believed to have featured heterosexual pairings written by fangirls, to share with their friends in high school and college. They would feature the author or the author's surrogate, where the person met a member of the band and become romantically involved with them. During this same period when fictional stories based on musicians began to circulate, Star Trek fen began to dabble with their own type. This happened in 1968 with the publishing of the story, "Visit to a Weird Planet." It differed from the other material that fans recall having heard that was circulating. First, this story was published in a fanzine, Spockanalia #3. Second, the story was, according to Langley, written with the consent of the actors involved. Lastly, the story was absent any romantic overtones, with out a romantic pairing as the general focus of the story. This story was written with the intention of exploring the canonical universe of the show, using the actors as vehicles for that exploration. "Visit to a Weird Planet" would beget a sequel, published in June of 1970 in the fanzine, Spockanalia #5. By Ruth Berman, the author of the first story, it was title "Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited." This story and its sequel are the first pieces of published, circulated ActorFic that are present in the full fannish cultural context.
The late 1960s and most of the 1970s were quiet. The paper trail, the second hand stories of early Real Person Fic, Real Person Slash does not say much about what was happening. One generally assumes that stories, that drawerfic continued to circulate. A few people vaguely recall fanzines related to bands publishing the occasional story from fans in their letters section. These stories were, like drawerfic, featuring fangirls involved with band members. By the late 1970s, more members of the Real Person Fic, Real Person Slash clearly recall seeing fanzines with only fan fiction dedicated to a band. This band was Led Zeppelin and the stories featured the same sex pairing of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. The writers of this period were not using the band members' real names, using Tris and Alex instead.
Back in the media fandoms, there continued a small fan base in that community that wrote fan fiction based on the actors of their shows. The Blake's 7 community during the 1980s was one of the media fandoms that engaged in the writing and publishing of ActorFic. According to members of the fan community like Celeste, Langley and Sidewinder, the material of this nature was generally rare but it still circulated either published in fanzines or as drawerfic. The material circulating generally had three flavors: humor, canon exploration or sexually explicit. The more sexually explicit material tended to circulate as drawerfic but, according to Celeste and Langley, some of this material made itself into the hands of Paul Darrow. He was apparently not happy to have received a sexually explicit story featuring himself and his wide from a well meaning fan, though he took no action and did not attempt to actively and publicly crack down on this material. [1]
Starting in the mid 1990s, more fandom activity began to move on line, to Usenet, to mailing lists, to the World Wide Web, to services like America On-line, Genie and Prodigy. For the first time, the fan space of media based fan fiction communities would begin to be shared with music based fan fiction communities and sports based fan fiction communities. And traditional media fen fought back. Media based conventions with panels on fan fiction, selling fanzines started enacting policies of zero tolerance of Real Person Fic, Real Person Slash. This backlash was not helped by the meeting of Real Person Fic, Real Person Slash with erotica archives such as the Nifty Archive, which was founded in 1993. A number of fen in traditional media based fandoms dismissed the whole genre as erotica or invasive of privacy because, well, look at the context of where the material was being created.
By 2000, parts of the Real Person Fic, Real Person Slash communities had mainstreamed into traditional media fandoms. As the material forced itself into those traditional circles, some of the bigger names began to write Real Person Fic and Real Person Slash. Rather than take some the traditional models of behavior in the community, these new groups of fen just changed their canon source material to real people and continued on. This did not give these communities much of a connection with older, established practices in the Real Person Fic, Real Person Slash communities; they did not draw many people from those communities into their groups. For this reason, these newer communities were largely segregated from others.
As Real Person Fic, Real Person Slash stands now, in 2005, there are many communities existing historically and culturally in isolation. In other places, this community has begun to do what traditional media based fan fiction communities have done for years: produce zines, hold conventions, create their own fanzines, adopt their own unique terminology, these groups have a decent amount of membership from those traditional media based communities but once many of the members enter the Real Person Fic, Real Person Slash communities, they tend not to go back to where they originally were fannishly. Still yet, in other places, this material and the fans of it exist happily side by side with traditional media based fan fiction fen. There are brief bouts of intolerance towards of this material as some people felt overwhelmed and deluged by this material, unable to escape it and be openly intolerant of it with any form of cultural acceptance of that intolerance. Despite fears of many fen over the years, there was only one cease and desist letter ever known to be sent for Real Person Slash. [2] Where Real Person Fic and Real Person Slash will go from here is a big question.

References

  1. This is only partly true -- see The Blake's 7 Wars.
  2. Hale does not specify any details of this fact.