Pushin' the Odds
|Title:||Pushin' the Odds|
|Fandom:||Starsky and Hutch|
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The first (only?) print run was 300.
The first ad asking for submissions was in S and H #31 in April 1982: "'Pushin' the Odds' is alive and well and under new management. Wanted: stories, poetry, artwork about what happens to S&H after "Sweet Revenge." Quality only to count, all themes welcomed, security guaranteed."
The Unique Production: A Zine to Be Read Through a Red Piece of Plastic
In the end, the slash stories were printed in blue ink on a reddish background. The zine came with a sheet of red plastic the reader was to put over the page to make it legible. The editor also required a signed "statement of compliance," numbered the copies, and used coded hole-punches on the pages, supposedly to identify the purchaser of any copy that "fell into unauthorized hands." These machinations were all an attempt to keep the zine, one of the first slash fanworks, from being dispersed and read by those (including some fans who'd threatened to send it to the studio and other TPTB) who were not supporters and would do the genre harm.
A fan in 2004 said:
Oh lord, I remember [that zine]. You could go blind (or at least end up with a blinding headache) reading that zine just because someone didn't trust you not to make thirty photocopies and give them away.. 
example of one of the red pages. Artist: Marie A.
example of one of the coded hole punch; this issue was Joanna Russ' copy
In 2017, Leslie Fish said in an interview:
My one adventure into zine publishing [was Pushin’ the Odds]. The cost of paper, not to mention printing, in those days... Of course, that was a Starsky & Hutch slash zine. I divided it in half—the ones that were just Starsky & Hutch affection stories, and the ones that actually got into sex, and I had to find good illustrators. I sent out a call for stories, and I got stories of various quality. One I had to beta read and edit to a fare thee well, and it turned out to be part of a two-parter, and I never got to publish the second part. Damn. Interesting story, but God, the woman could not write!  I hope she took a creative writing course and managed to clean up her grammar. [...]Anyway, yeah, I published the Starsky & Hutch zine. I remember hearing the same old issue all over again about how this illegal and slanderous. It’s damaging to the characters. You’ll get into legal trouble, and how do you keep under-agers from reading this stuff, and a big question was how do you keep it from getting xeroxed because xeroxing had become really cheap and abundant just then, and that’s where the infamous red pages came from. The funny numbers on the bottom of the page — you could only get the magazine by writing for it. You had to send your check with your name on it, and you could only order it by signing a paper which said “yes, I’m over 18” or “I’m 18 or older,” and I had a file of these numbers of every last zine, every issue, all the way from 1 to — I forget how high it went. I had this cute trick. I printed numbers at the bottom of the page, and then I would punch out holes in the page above it, which exposed each number, and that way, if anybody tried to copy it, I could just look at the bottom of the page and see which copy it was, who I sent it to, and who tried to xerox it, or who complained about it. I kept track of who exactly who and where bought what, and, as for the X-rated pages, the stories where there was actual sex, because the big problem in those days was Xerox, photocopying it, which was at that time all in black and white. It did not have color sensitivity. I printed the text in all black ink on fine, figured red paper, which has the same — a tech told me this — that red has the same reflectance, in photocopying, that black does. So, if anybody tried to Xerox the pages, it would come out a blur. You know, a mess of fine figures, which you couldn’t even make out a single word or layer. That’s where the infamous “red page” story comes from. I don’t recall that anybody ever did photocopy a zine and give it to an underager. Since the show itself went off the air — I think in 1979 or ’80. There was never any problem with the producers. I believe the producer is dead now. The actors were tired. Nobody associated with the show, I think, was still in the business, so who would care? Even their lawyers have either died or retired. 
Background: Slash and Fear of Exposure
When this zine was published, there was much fan discussion of slash -- legality, censorship, the underground nature of the genre, cliques, TPTB, fear, violating the fourth wall, and defiance. Most of this discussion took place over the phone, in private letters between fans, and at cons. Some of these conversations, of courses, spilled onto the pages of the letterzine of the time, S and H.
Leslie Fish, the editor of "Pushin' the Odds," wrote a controversial LoC in response to what she felt was a retreat by some fans to publish what they wished. The letter generated many responses, some of which are excerpted here.
The original letter from Leslie Fish:
To the sanctimonious bigots who have terrorized several innocent S/H fanzines into hiding by making a big point of pushing them in front of Goldberg, Spelling et all I hereby see your threat and raise you double. ' I am throwing down the gauntlet -- with my fist in it. Pick it up at your own risk. I hate bigots, I hate censorship, I hate cowards and I fight dirty. To all fans who have written or planned S/H stories and now fear to send them to zine-eds, and to all zine-eds who have been browbeaten into canceling S/H story-containing zines: SEND THOSE S H STORIES TO ME. I KNOW A WAY TO PRINT THEM, DISTRIBUTE THEM, SELL THEM — AND NOT ONLY WILL SPELLING & GOLDBERG AND ALL NOT BE ABLE TO DO A DAMNED THING ABOUT IT, BUT I'LL BE ABLE TO GET THEIR PIOUS FAN INFORMERS TOO! …1) PRINT THE ZINES OUTSIDE THE U.S. You'll note that Forever Autumn and 10-13 didn't get hassled for their S/H stories — and they were printed in Great Britain. Facts are (and I researched this for K/S fandom some time ago), fanzines are not considered actionable in any American court so long as a) total circulation is less than 10,000 b) the zines are non-profit c) they're circulated privately — that is, not even advertised in "professional" (more than 10,000 circulation) zines d) they carry a standard "this is an amateur pubic disclaimer”… 2) DISTRIBUTE VIA U.P.S. OR SOMEBODY LIKE THEM. Even if the US Maul (which is willing to ship outright professional porn these days) were willing to comply with a censorship attempt on a fanzine, no private 3rd class carrier will do it. Even a court injunction wouldn't work if the zines were distributed from a different address than the advertised publisher's they wouldn't have any idea whose packages the injunction would cover. UPS, Federal and their ilk handle thousands of packages per day they will absolutely not open up and inspect every last one of them looking for suspicious magazines, as many a professional porn publisher can tell you. 3) ...Well, I must keep some secrets, but I'll tell you this much; through the wonders of modern technology and the Freedom of Information Act, it is quite possible to keep track of not only whom any individual zine is sent to but whom it winds up with. Any attempt by S/G-et-al to bring any kind of court action will automatically reveal the code-number and there fore the identity of the zine's buyer, and thereby the informant. Informer's names and addresses will be publicized — and individual fans may take any subsequent action they deem fitting. Never mind what action I'll consider fitting— but anyone who has read The Weight can make some guesses. Yes, I am serious about this. Send me those proposed zines and stories that have been hounded underground, and I'll print and distribute and wage real war on any vicious 'moralists' who try to stop me. 
What you suggested will not work. Not within the boundaries of S&H fandom. It is a big mistake to compare S&H fandom to Trek or SW or any other fandom. We're different, maybe even unique, definitely strange. Our characters and our feelings about them are not the same as in other fandoms. I find the more I learn about Starsky and Hutch, the more I feel the need to cocoon them from an uncaring world. S&H is a personal universe, not one in which everyone can participate. I feel that a public battle at this time is neither desirable nor profitable. Whatever we do, it has to be a workable measure within the confines of our fandom. 
If I weren’t so polite, I’d tell you to put your ‘fuck that’ where it’ll do you the most good… Incidentally, my previous comments were not addressed to you. I thought you and I had privately agreed that we had nothing to say to one another that was worth printing in these pages. Or did you agree to my cease-fire proposal because [name redacted] was editing at the time? Pity your resolution didn't last. At any rate, entertaining as these little exchanges may be, I have more interesting ways to waste my time than by trying to get a rational answer from you. Have your tantrums in print if you must, but don't hold your breath waiting for me to acknowledge them. 
Foreign publication is all very well, but in involves a hell of a lot of expense on the part of the publisher. Were you offering to assume that responsibility? I’m sorry about the quibbles, I don’t doubt the sincerity of you opposition to censorship and I share your feeling for bigots, but I have to wonder about your sudden interest in S&H. Is it because you like Starsky and/or Hutch, or because you smell a good fight? ‘You fight dirty.’ BFD. This fandom has been trying to avoid tearing itself apart with internal strife, you aren’t likely to waltz in and become the Savior of Freedom at this point. The debates been going on for over a year already… I didn’t care for I didn't care for Anarchists' version of ‘justice’ in The Weight, and I think it stinks in real life. Bullies are bullies, whatever cause they may espouse.
No thank you, lady. Your letter outraged and infuriated me. How dare you presume to speak for anybody but yourself? I resent the hell out of your comment re: zine eds who’ve been browbeaten into submission. Who gave you the right to represent me? I want no part of your offer, now or ever. What good do you think you’re going to do by waving S/H zines in Spelling-Goldberg’s faces and screaming “Look what I did and you can’t stop me!”??? Can’t you understand why many of want to keep S/H fairly quiet? (That does not mean limiting it to a select few; that means keeping it quiet. Period…) Most of us have tremendous respect and love for PMG and DS. We would not do anything to embarrassment or hurt them in any way. And that, pure and simple, is why we keep it private… [I’m] not as concerned about possible lawsuits as I am about harming two men I respect deeply. 
There's been a lot of yowling going on in fandom about S/H, and I've been some of it myself. I hoped to win, if not general acceptance of the premise; then at least a little tolerance. But this time I'm gonna growl a little in the other direction. This fandom is unique. You cannot compare it to any other you may have been a part of. We are a small and terribly intimate group, and I think that [name redacted's] analogy to a family is fairly accurate. And part of that family too, is the group that created S&H. No, not Spelling and Goldberg, but the cast and crew, waiters, directors - particularly Paul and David. We abhor overzealous fans who want to invade their privacy, and we hate the idea of causing them any embarrassment. Well, I'm a realist, and I'm assuming that S/H will eventually find its way into certain offices, but nobody will ever be able to point to me and say: "It's your fault" "You embarrassed them". Y'see, I'm not worried about those "sanctimonious bigots' that [name redacted] is out to get. What concerns me are those people who want to wave a red flag in the faces of the producers and yell "Look what I did and you can’t stop me!" What's the percentage? Ego-Boo? I don't see it being a question of freedom of the press because no one with any kind of authority has come to us and said you cannot do this.” What stopped us with [name of zine redacted] was the word that certain people were waiting for a copy to dump into the laps of the stars. Embarrass them, embarrass us... stirring the pot, not denying us our inalienable rights to print what we like… It occurs to me that you may be thinking that I'm saying don't publish. That's not so. What I'm saying is this: Care must be taken. What’s so wrong with discretion? I asked [name redacted] that at the S/H workshop at Z-Con and she had no answer. There must be a middle ground between paranoia and warfare. Perhaps we ought to devote some of our energy to finding it. 
To publish or not to publish. That is the question. Before it can be answered, we have to take a look at what S&H fandom is. To begin with, we have a large portion of our family who believe, read, write, and cherish S/H. What I write in the privacy of my own home and store in the bottom desk drawer is a right no one can deny me — at least not in this country. What I write and share with my friends in the privacy of first class mail is also my right. But is the publication of S/H and it's distribution by the privacy of first class mail an extension of private correspondence or is this the point at which the extension of my rights violates the rights of others? The key word appears to be 'private'. S&H (and S/H) fandom is tiny. We're a family drawn together by something much stronger than the sexual attraction of two fictional characters. We care about those fictional characters, but we also care very much about each other. We aren't a crowd of zealots in search of headlines. S&H fandom is a private, personal experience. And in this personal experience I find myself torn between two very strong emotions. On the one hand is my rebellious side yelling: "Damn the torpedoes. Full steam ahead." I have the right to write and publish anything I want. On the other hand is my sentimental, romantic side whispering that S&H, and even more so S/H, is too personal to be tossed into the limelight. The whisper continues: "If you really want to see S/H published openly, then you don't understand, you don't care enough, you don't love the characters and our fandom enough to protect them from the rest of the world. There must be a workable compromise. 
A Proposed Zine by the Same Title
Note: a gen zine by this title had asked for submissions in very early 1981. Issue #22 of S and H had an announcement that the fan, [D D], had cancelled it due to time constraints and her professional life.
From the editorial:
Sorry this is late, team (does anyone get their zines printed on time?!). I hope the stories, poems and artwork herein are worth the wait. Yes, there will be an issue #2 [there wasn't]; contributions are hereby solicited. Send those stories in, fellow-fans. Artists desperately needed. Remember, only contributors get free copies. Save money, and contribute!
Summaries in parenthesis are from the title page:
- Code Blue, poem by Frannie Moore-Kyle ("a hospital death-watch") (gen) (3)
- The Only One, fiction by Donna Hutt ("between worlds, Starsky meets Terry again") (gen) (4)
- The Ferryman's Fee, poem by Franny Moore-Kyle, poem ("thoughts on considering the death of a best friend") (gen) (8)
- Waiting, poem by Susan Wyllie ("the title says it all") (gen) (10)
- Loser, fiction by Theresa Librande ("after the shooting; Hutch on the edge of giving up") (gen) (11)
- Like Lazarus, poem by Pat Massie ("for Starsky; walking away from the tomb") (gen) (16)
- One More Time of Almost, fiction by Susan Wyllie ("on getting out alive") (gen) (17)
- Double Dutch, fiction by Roberta Rogow ("Starsky and Hutch meet Cagney and Lacey") (crossover with Cagney and Lacey) (gen) (19)
- Sweet Revenge Quartet, fiction by Pat Massie ("matching feelings on escaping the Reaper") (gen) (37)
- Echoes, Part One of Three, fiction by Nancy S. Hopson ("back in action, Starsky meets the LA Creeper") (gen) (39)
- Walls, poem by Delaineh ("considering how to keep your friend safe when it's impossible") (gen) (79)
- Jive Talkin, poem by Billie Phillips ("telling deep secrets to the bartender") (slash) (80)
- Over the Line, fiction by Harriett Stallings (dark revelations hinted to a self-deafened ear") (slash) (81)
- Little Boy Blue, fiction by Sue-Anne Hartwick ("a simple statement of loving") (gen) (93)
- Fall With Lucifer, fiction by Jennie Mai Butkis ("sequel to a grim tale ["Requiem"] in Code 7 #1, 'Starsky learns'") (slash) (94)
- The Beginning of "We", poem by Susan Wyllie ("a happier, wiser homecoming") (slash) (137)
- Coming Home, poem by Susan Wyllie ("shortly thereafter, Starsky point of view") (gen) (140)
- Velvet Forever, poem by Sue-Anne Hartwick ("a nightmare with a happy ending") (slash) (142)
- Fountain of Sorrow, fiction by Eileen Roy (partner rape) ("another version of the Infamous Brass Bed Story" (Note: this is a rebuttal fic, see "Surrender" in Strokes) (slash) (143)
- The Wish, poem by Sue-Anne Hartwick ("another soliloquy on safety, freedom and happiness") (slash) (149)
- Don't DO That!, poem by Leslie Fish ("fun and games in the Torino") (slash) (150)
interior art (Lacey by Susan Wyllie) for "Double Dutch"
interior art (Cagney by Susan Wyllie) for "Double Dutch"
last page in zine, art by Ruth Kurz
Reactions and Reviews
See reactions and reviews for Fountain of Sorrow.
See reactions and review for Fall With Lucifer.
[zine]: This is a disappointing zine. At least, I expected better from the creator of THE WEIGHT and many other heavy pieces. The best works are Eileen Roy's weird but mesmerizing S/H vignette, "Fountain of Sorrow" (dealing with a dark side of the characters that many readers will be unable to accept) and Harriett Stallings' "Over the Line." This one is almost anti-S/H; Hutch is worried that he and Starsky may someday go "over the line" of loving each other, like a pair of cops they are watching. It comes close to illustrating a thoughtful and formidable idea: that being lovers may be Not a Good Thing for themselves or the' department (e.g., when they are so exclusively involved in each other, other cops or citizens may be ignored and thus imperiled, or as in Dotty Barry's "Coign of Vantange," their dyad could isolate them in a very stuffy little world). Sadly, the story doesn't quite define or confront its point. An almost-brilliant effort.
Roberta Rogow's "Double Dutch" is at least a full if fluffy story, in which S&H meet Cagney and Lacey and solve their joint case via a shibboleth. "Loser" by Theresa Librande gets going quite well, as James Gunther of the episode "Sweet Revenge" manages to wiggle out of the murder charges, but it slams to an abrupt halt when Hutch says, "I can't take this anymore," end of story. Also "SR"-oriented, Donna Hutt's "The Only One" features Starsky's out-of-body conversation with his equally defunct girlfriend, Terry. They are, though, awfully corporeal ghosts — "Terry was yelling, hands flattened against the glass."
In "Echoes," Nancy S. Hopson's reasonably competent writing style is obscured by the story's idiot plot (the story happens only because everybody involved is an idiot). It's nothing more than a series of creaky thriller devices: eek, some psycho is murdering 5'11" cops with curly black hair; gasp, some other really bad guy contracts a hit on Our Guys; shudder, Starsky catches amnesia while Hutch believes he's dead. And this is only part 1 of 3. "Fall With Lucifer" by Jeannie Mai Butkis is S/H, post-"Sweet Revenge." Starsky rages around in a near-homicidal fury for 25 pages because Hutch mentions he is in love with him. Everybody else tells Starsky he's a bigot, so he goes to apologize to Hutch, and they wind up on the couch together, the end. Starsky's homophobic anger is so extreme it's cartoonish, as well as being totally out of character. Further more, in real life, any conviction as irrationally based as his seems to be does not yield all of a sudden to blandishments of logic or threats of ostracism, nor then vanish without a trace after a single session of love.Graphically, the zine is deplorable. Some good illos by Freda, Susan Wyllie, Casey, Chris Ripley, and [Marie A], but there are no illos at all by Fish herself, and the layout is far from inspired. Worst, about a third of the zine is printed blue-on-red-filigree that is indeed uncopyable but also damn near unreadable. That and the secret-punch-code numbering of the zine make for a certain air of paranoia—why publish at all if you're that afraid of being read? 
[zine]: Aside from Leslie's paranoia problem (non-xeroxable pages, and coded punch-outs so she’ll know who’s Xeroxing…. probably the reason they were out late?), the zine wasn’t THAT bad. A lot of the stories, artwork and poetry was good. And the cover was nice, too. I thought 'Fall With Lucifer'… was very good indeed. I hope the author reads this l/z, otherwise I have no way to let her know that. If [the zine hadn’t been good], I wouldn’t have persevered with the cross-eyed printing. It’s a shame about this zine, too, because the chances of Leslie getting PTO #2 off the ground seems remote unless she already has received submissions before this one came out. We need all the writers, artist and zines we can get in fandom, and things like this are a negative factor. 
[zine]:Is THAT way the ‘/’ was printed blue-on-red filigree? Well, I’ll be damned! I asked them what the secret punch number was for but I never got an answer. Do they do that in case someone clones it, they can find out who? Hee, hee… what an idea!” 
[zine]: Despite all the trouble to get it, and the hard-to-read pages, I did not think the zine was ALL bad. I rather enjoyed it myself. It was also my first contact with S/H. It was not the best zine I ever read, but it was not the worst. I shall not, however, be ordering another issue. 
[zine]: Just read a Starsky and Hutch zine which was really weird. Most of it was straight but some was slash. The naughty bits were printed with blue type on red and white paper. It was annoying, illegible, and ultimately unread (at least by me) but it was safe from illicit xeroxing. 
[zine]: The only two S/H zines that I have read are HEAT WAVE and PUSHIN' THE ODDS. I wasn't particularly impressed with either. HW was very flat and almost completely devoid of drama. PTO was better, but very hard on the eyes, and I didn't really care the the way everything tied into the final episode. 
- comment at The Pits Mailing List, quoted anonymously (February 14, 2004)
- Fish is referring to "Echoes, Part One of Three, by Nancy S. Hopson"
- from Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Leslie Fish
- from S and H #28
- from S and H #29
- from S and H #29
- from S and H #29
- from S and H #29
- from S and H #29
- from S and H #29
- review by Paula Smith in Between Friends #2, the same review is also in Warped Space #49
- from a fan in Between Friends #3
- a gen-only fan, who says she liked "Echoes", from a comment in Between Friends #3
- review by Paula Smith in Between Friends #4
- from K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) #19
- from Tell Me Something I Don't Know #5