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RPF Fandom
Name(s): Popslash, also Boy Band Slash (BBS)
Scope/Focus: 'N Sync, Backstreet Boys (also Britney Spears, Eminem, Nelly, Pink)
Date(s): 1999 to present
See also: 'N Sync, Backstreet Boys
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Popslash is an RPS fandom that centers around the pop groups 'N Sync (also spelled *NSYNC) and Backstreet Boys. The popslash fandom that came to be centered on LiveJournal is weighted towards 'N Sync fiction. The fiction has frequent appearances by other pop music stars who are in some way connected with 'N Sync (e.g., Britney Spears, Eminem, Nelly.) There are also RPF (primarily gen and het) sections of the broader 'NSync/Backstreet fandom which coalesced online early in the fandom's history.[1] Popslash fandom activity was at its highest between late 2000 and 2003–04; in 2002, 'N Sync went on what was initially termed a "hiatus", but which has in effect been a disbanding of the group. The fandom's activity continues; the tapering off to current levels has been gradual, in part due to individual projects by various 'N Sync members and a 2007 Backstreet Boys CD release.

There have typically been two basic entry paths into popslash fandom; roughly, these sort out into a) fans who start as fans of the music and then find the fiction, and b) fans who have previous experience with fanfiction and initially enter the fandom through reading. These categories are merely starting points, and the experience of individual fans tends to blend or cross the categories. Music-based fans may have previously encountered fanfiction, or subsequently branched out to read/write in fictional media fandoms, while those who discovered the fandom through stories often became fans of the music, attending concerts and acquiring CDs.[2][3]


Initially, popslash was a fandom based primarily in mailing lists[4] and author websites. Its first period of large growth began in the latter part of 2000, spurred on by the release of the 'N Sync CD No Strings Attached in March, 2000. The subsequent touring and promotion of the hugely successful CD made the group very visible in many media. Thanks to the author collective archived at Puppies In A Box and other media slashers who could pull in readers from traditional fandoms, mid-to-late 2000/early 2001 saw an influx of media slash fans into the fandom, at a time when RPS was still considered a significant taboo in slash fan circles. Smoke and Mirrors, Mojoe, The Studio and This Big Mix were influential author sites that preceded Puppies In A Box, and had some of the first popslash stories that the Puppies' authors read. Shame Is Good For You and Temporary Insanity were just two of the popslash sites that were also created by media slashers in the early burgeoning of the fandom; the stories on these and other sites were significant in setting the creative, diverse tone of the fiction.[5] Almost from the beginning, popslash fandom had a trend of author collectives on single sites or domains.

Some fans created new online pseudonyms to keep their RPS activity separate from previous fannish identities; the numbers of media slashers who were suddenly writing RPS did not go unremarked by slash fandom at large, and there were some contentious discussions involving popslashers and media slashers on the ethics of RPS. There were also ethical discussions within popslash fandom, where fans worked out their own questions on the topic.

Popslash fans quickly adopted LiveJournal as a networking structure, signing up for journals as early as the spring of 2001. Within a year, a large proportion of popslash fandom's activity had moved onto LiveJournal.

Popslash had a high proportion of inventive experimental fiction, including genderswap,[6] bodyswap, mpreg, meta stories, wingfic, and AUs of every possible stripe and color. There have also been a number of incest stories written within popslash fandom; the most common are Cartercest, generally involving Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys and his younger brother Aaron,[7] and Lynncest, which exploits, if only allusively, the close relationship of Justin Timberlake and his mother, Lynn.

The fandom has never really adopted a central archive, and the fiction is to be found mostly in LiveJournals or on author websites. An archive[8] was started in 2002, but the fandom's decentralized posting habits were already well established, and it was taken down by 2006 (? date correct?). Some popslash stories have since been archived at A03, although they only represent a fraction of the fandom's total output.


Popslash at its biggest was not as large as some of the largest media fandoms, but has been influential, possibly in part because it was widely read by fans who did not necessarily identify as popslashers. (When early SGA fandom turned out to have a significant amount of unusual aus and crackfic, it was largely attributed to the migration of popslash writers.) The influx of fictional media fans into popslash was the beginning of significant cracking of RPS taboos. Popslash was also one of the earliest fandoms to migrate to LiveJournal (and make use of its image-sharing and networking capabilities.[9])

Popslash had the second and, for a time, the largest anonymous holiday gift exchange of stories,[10] titled Don We Now Our Gay Apparel. It was based on the original Buffy Secret Santa Gift Exchange run by Kate Bolin; the popslash exchange was repeated yearly (and still continues[11]), becoming a model that shaped Yuletide and other fic exchanges. At its peak, Don We Now Our Gay Apparel had nearly 300 participants per year.

Popslash fandom hosted the first remix challenge[12] and provided the genesis for what has evolved into the DVD commentary challenge.

Because pop canon was very unevenly distributed and located in concert performances, CDs, TV appearances, magazine interviews and bootlegged videos, popslash fans pushed technical boundaries to come up with ways to share canon material. For a time this included the Puppy Shelter, a project that was an early version of file-sharing where fans used their home computers as download sites for FTP transfers of video clips, before the advent of bittorrents, YouTube, or Sendspace.

Popslash also popularized the use of the Portmanteau name, or "pairing smush"—the melding of two characters' names into one word to signify a slash pairing name,[13] which has spread to other fandoms.[14]

The contributors to the Slash Report on the boy band One Direction[15] view 1D fandom as a return of popslash. One Direction is another internationally popular boyband that attracted slash fans outside its target demographic, although the similarities end there.

Notable Stories


  • *NSYNC Fandom Primer. This is a basic introduction to the guys and the fandom.
  • 'N Sync chronology This chronology is a significant fandom resource, started and maintained by Cressy (Canalbaby) on her LiveJournal. The link goes to her memories, which lists all the relevant pages. (Last accessed October, 2008.)
  • Popslash directory A listing of popslash archives, directories, domains, and individual websites, created by Jain and probably last updated sometime in 2004 or later. Many links are broken, but it gives a good cross section of sites. One not included in the list is Puppies In A Box, which was an influential multi-author site that had been taken down by this point. (Link goes to wayback: last accessed, Nov. 2009)
  • Dromedary Domain: Pop Pop fanfiction recs by SQ/proteinscollide.
  • Because-yes a domain maintained by Chased_Amy (between_names on Livejournal)

Additional Reading


  1. ^ Yahoo group NSYNC_FAN_FIC was founded March 28, 1999.[1] Last accessed October, 2008.
  2. ^ silveryscrape, public Livejournal post accessed December, 2008. silveryscrape poses the question, "If you were putting together a history of popslash fandom, what would you include?...How would you characterize your own involvement?" See the comments for a wide variety of responses, that still only cover a small segment of popslash fandom.
  3. ^ bossymarmalade: post your favorite popslash memory here Accessed Nov. 2005
  4. ^ Yahoo group Nsyncslash v. 2.0. The first version was founded in the spring of 2000; at its peak, I believe the list had more than 1000 subscribers. Last accessed October, 2008.
  5. ^ This link page is from Puppies In A Box (accessed via the wayback machine, Oct. 2008), but unfortunately, it's not the earliest version, which is no longer available. Some of the earliest sites are still running, and more recent links to them can be found in the Popslash Directory linked below.
  6. ^ JC and the pussycats --Link page to popslash genderswap stories (may not be complete anymore). Page created by Wax, who wrote popslash fic and also hosts a number of other popslash authors on her domain. (last accessed Oct. 2008)
  7. ^ Harry + Max (external link, last accessed October, 2008) also known as "the Cartercest movie", was released in 2004 and instantly identified by gleefully horrified popslash fans as being about Nick and Aaron.
  8. ^ Slash, Sparkle, Pop! Link to front page accessed October, 2008 through wayback machine.
  9. ^ popstoryfinders, shinyandnew (story announcement community) both founded in 2002. Last accessed October, 2008.
  10. ^ Don We Now Our Gay Apparel Also often referred to as "SeSa", for "secret santa". Last accessed October, 2008.
  11. ^ Make The Yuletide Gay--external link. Last accessed October, 2008.
  12. ^ We Invented The Remix--external link, with links to all years of the challenge at the bottom of the page. Last accessed January 2010.
  13. ^ e.g., JoLa (Joey/Lance), or Trickyfish (Chris Kirkpatrick/Lance Bass). Popslash produced many of these; they played with both the meanings and sounds of the first and last names of the principals. They also were, to put it gently, not equally beloved by all fans.
  14. ^ e.g., Clex (Clark/Lex in Smallville fandom), or Snarry (Snape/Harry in Harry Potter fandom.) See above regarding "not equally beloved by all fans."
  15. ^ Slash Report 220: 'One Direction', podcast by Rageprufrock, Merelyn and Cherrybina, released August 12, 2012.[2]
  16. ^ Helen. The Same Inside. accessed December, 2008.
  17. ^ Sandy Keene (Older). Isle of View accessed December, 2008.
  18. ^ Sandy Keene (Older). As Lucid As Hell. accessed December, 2008.
  19. ^ Jae. Coldhearted. accessed December, 2008.
  20. ^ kel and lise. flesh mechanic accessed 2017-03-20

See also