Strange Bedfellows (APA)/Issue 004
Strange Bedfellows 4 was published in February 1994 and contains about 156 pages. It was distributed after Escapade, and some of its lateness was due to the recent earthquake in California.
Each section of the apa was written by a different fan/fans and had its own title.
- 1 From the OE
- 2 Some Topics Discussed in "Notes from Tomorrow"
- 3 Some Topics Discussed in "Strange Tongues"
- 4 Some Topics Discussed in "Menage a Deux (by H J)"
- 5 Some Topics Discussed in "Menage a Deux (by C J)"
- 6 Some Topics Discussed in "Cat's Darkling Zine"
- 7 Some Topics Discussed in "Vice Files"
- 8 Some Topics Discussed in "Ghost Speaker"
- 9 Some Topics Discussed in "Yamibutoh"
- 10 Some Topics Discussed in "Mardi Gras Favors"
- 11 Some Topics Discussed in "Lunatic Fringe"
- 12 Some Topics Discussed in "Sukebei"
- 13 Some Topics Discussed in "Desert Blooms"
- 14 Some Topics Discussed in "Notes of a Neophyte"
- 15 Some Topics Discussed in "With Friends Like These..."
- 16 Some Topics Discussed in "Women of Houston in Pornography" by L S
- 17 Some Topics Discussed in "Women of Houston in Pornography" by K
- 18 Some Topics Discussed in "Two Heads Are Better Than One" by M F G
- 19 Some Topics Discussed in "Two Heads Are Better Than One" by N
- 20 Some Topics Discussed in "Untitled by M G"
- 21 Some Topics Discussed in "Lavender Lilies"
- 22 Some Topics Discussed in "When Correctly Viewed"
- 23 Some Topics Discussed in "Phoning From the Margins"
- 24 Some Topics Discussed in "For the World is Hollow and I Fell Off the Edge"
- 25 Some Topics Discussed in "It's Not So Much the Apocalypse, It's the Humidity"
- 26 Some Topics Discussed in "To Be Announced"
- 27 Some Topics Discussed in "Bad Girls Go Everywhere"
- 28 References
From the OE
Welcome to our three new members, who patiently waited for months and are now joining us. And wouldn't you know it, we've already got someone on a new waiting list! I think that this is as big as I'm wiling to go for the foreseeable future, although I reserve the right to change my mind. (The current issue is rather thinner than I had expected, due mostly to the earthquake and to Escapade, but I expect that to change.) Some members have said they'd like the apa to get as big as it wants to, and others find its current size verging on unwieldy. I don't think I'm wiling to go to two volumes; that is a hassle in collating and keeping straight, and also an extra cost for covers. Going over two pounds in weight would also increase postage costs significantly to $4.10 within the US and lord only knows what outside it. I don't want to get too expensive for poorer fans to participate. Comments on apa size always welcomed.
In light of the couple of stories run through the apa recendy, and [J's] question to [J] about running more, let me note again that I don't object to brief stories being run as fodder for discussion in the apa, but I don't want the apa to become a channel for routine story distribution. People who want to make stories available can announce their availability, and other members can write and ask for copies; but the apa itself is a space for discussion. Running stories routinely as part of it is too expensive in postage and collating hassle, and makes the apa even thicker. ([M F G's] and [N's] solution, offering to pay extra postage themselves, was lovely. I didn't have to collate it, you didn't have to pay for it; everything was great.) So: No, [J], having shown people what Tris and Alex are about, which was entirely legitimate, you shouldn't keep running stories as entertainment through the apa. If you want to publish a title list of what's available, or the like, that would be great, and lets those who are interested get in touch.
Some Topics Discussed in "Notes from Tomorrow"
- this fan says they are spending too much time on this new-fangled thing called email
- mentions a Julian Bashir story
- a comment on Heat-Trace
- do shows that generate a lot of slash fanworks, also generate a lot of other genres?
- some pimping for Bakersfield PD and Wiseguy
- inquiries about Zine Scene and its publisher
Excerpts from "Notes from Tomorrow"Technology:
Mention of a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine story:Sandy stilI has a lot to answer for: introducing me to email — I've been enjoying it immensely, of course, but spending far too much time at it.
[snipped]Re the Internet being the next best thing to phone calls, I disagree—it's better than phone calls! I mean—how many phone calls can you make which include forty people who can all respond to what you're saying, and you can hear everyone even if they're all talking at once?
About a zine:Re the sexual enslavement of Julian Bashir—there's a multi-part story somewhere in the Internet — I read the first installment and was less than impressed, so haven't sought out the rest, but I'm sure if you have access to the net you can find it—or if you have access to someone who has access etc.
Do shows that generate a lot of slash fanworks, also generate a lot of other types as well?:Re Heat Trace — it's enough of an odd duck that there are going to be lots of second-hand copies on the market, so for those who want to read it but don't have a copy available to borrow, keep your eyes peeled at cons - it's worth buying second-hand, but not at full price!
A show that has plots that "read like Prime Time Slash from Hell]]:Something occurred to me in conversation with someone on the email slash list, and I thought I'd toss it in here and see If it strikes a chord. It seems to me, from my limited experience of fandom, that slashable shows are more likely to generate non-slash fan fiction as well—that the shows with by far the most fanflc, gen and straight, are still Trek and B7 - someone who was defending non-slash made the point that the relationships which are so Intriguing do not necessarily have to end in bed to be fascinating, and proceeded to list off several favorite stories, many of which turned out to be by slash writers.. .So, Is there a correlation between the popularity of a show to non-slash fans, and the slash potential in the show?
Regarding Zine Scene:For anyone else who's fallen for "Bakersfield PD", the latest word from Fox is that it's off the air, and they have no particular Intention of showing any reruns. I suppose cards and letters wouldn't hurt—call your local affiliate and ask them for it too... (For those who missed it, it was a very funny show about —yep, you guessed it—the Police Department In Bakersfield, CA—and a more inept bunch of losers never wore badgesi They are all engaged In incredibly dysfunctional relationships with their partners, and most of the plots read like Prime Time Slash From Hell. It had to be seen to be believed!)
Suggestion: some Wiseguy:About [A W] — apparently she had sort of dropped out of fannish pursuits pretty much all together for a while—things had gotten financially out of control, and lots of things had gone wrong  , and for a while she was not even opening incoming mail. However, she has been trying to catch up with things of late. I'm inquiring about Zine Scene — I know there were two, maybe three issues, spread few and far between, and I believe she planned to get it going again. She has expressed the intention that no-one should lose money—that, given time, she will make good on all her commitments, But the amount of time may be fairly vast... (P.S.—I got an answer to my email inquiry.
I do hope by now you've had a chance to correct your sad lack of experiencing Wiseguy! Somehow from your writing I feel you'll like Frank as much as I do, and want to write about him—and want to read it, when you do! (BTW—re your writing—I'm glad you gave Bodie and Cowley a happy ending!) (But then, after what you did to them in "Look Through My Eyes", you owed it to them!)
Some Topics Discussed in "Strange Tongues"
- some speculations on "fans"
- photocopying fans
- some mentions of The Blake's 7 War
- SF, Trek, and K/S, and slash commentary
- slash vs porn
- mid-stride actor replacement and fan acceptance
- comments on Valjiir
- Teot's War, comments on power dynamics and males
- comments on f/f
Excerpts from "Strange Tongues"Science Friction and porn:
Slash, science fiction, and imagination:Well, in regard to Science Friction, I would rather read about TNG characters, rather than porno figures with their names, in a zine which is purportedly about them. This goes for most characters in most zines, and it cannot be said that some other zines don't produce stereotypes as generalized and simplistic with TV characters' names — I recall a few UNCLE examples I'd rather not have bothered with, for instance. It's generally through ineptness, however, not deliberation, that characters are made so, um, specialized.
Other kinds of slash?:Ah, yes, it's far too common for an SF society to mirror our own too closely for versimilitude, Trek and K/S included since they at least ostensibly have a future-time background. One could say that slash, and fanfic in general, exists to express our-as-fans'views, which are unavoidably grounded in the current-day world, so that (a) big macho cops talk a lot about their emotional nuances and (b) stargoing, alien-welcoming societies still stigmatize homosexuality. This presumably means that such stories are more "fannish" (as the opposite of "professional") than those with better-worked-out backgrounds; there does seem to be a definite kick in defying taboo in slash-dom, and for some writers, the taboo must be explicit in the story. "More familiar is easier, but does that make it better or worse? Or just more familiar, and therefore easier on the reader too? How many readers (people?) want more journey-into-strangeness than this sort of story provides, or is the notion of slash itself strange enough for you already?
Mid-stride actor replacement and fan acceptance:Loved much of the analytical commentary, such as the point that the actors' attitudes, as well as their appearances, make the characters what they are on screen and are part of what we read there. And also the comparison of some slash to romance novels as they are, rather than just partaking of the romantic principle that two halves make a whole. Is there a case — any at all — for some slash following other genre or literary forms, except in the isolated experiment or parody?
Slash and wider variety:It seems invariable that a show's original viewers will jib at changes in format or cast — and often rightly so. How many viewers really prefer Jason Connery to Michael Praed, or Diana to Catherine? Often, I'd say the original cast of the show were selected for, or worked into, a good "fit" with the aims of the scriptwriters and premise, so a radical change may never fit as well, and at the least takes time to settle into its best balance. On the other hand, American reactions to the two Travis actors haven't been heavily weighted — any discussion? And other, more major changes in B7 are taken in stride, when the them as part of a whole show's sequence. How does this relate to Doctor Who reincarnations, do you think? And the stellar Mrs. Peel was, of course, the second woman Steed was paired with, but the first who received broadcast exposure in the States. Would Honor Blackman be a better evocation of the spying partner Steed should have, or an also-ran like Tara King?
Valjiir:I like the idea that slash has become more various not only in response to more source shows, but also to more shows that use a lot of interaction among 4-6 people, instead of focusing on just 2 leads. On the otherhand, I suspect slash was invented and re-invented independently largely in response to a strongly couple-focused show, UNCLE and Trek being the obvious examples. On the other other hand, slash and proto-slash has been described to me in a few examples from the 50's and early 60's where it was based on movie stars and rock stars, who were either singular or came in groups of four — not famous as couples. So maybe the idea is encouraged, but not dependent on, obvious character pairs.
F/F:Yes, I loved Valjiir too, and partly for the polymorphous perversity of it, which included both sex goddesses and mandated fidelity: for different people, of course, at least until the sex goddess married the mandatedly-faithful one, which is what happens in a multicultural society. It far outdoes Trek's lip-service to ethnic plurality, not something too many fanwriters take on as a big agenda item.
Teot's War, comments on power dynamics and males:I can confirm that from the first discussions I saw in and about slash (1979 or so), and from the inclusion in Obs'zine of at least one f/f story, it appeared to be unambiguous that f/f material was classed as slash, even if m/m material was far more common, during the time the genre was being defined as separate from other "erotic" or "adult" (or whatever) fanfic. And, under threat of dire curses, do not even mention your proposed (jesting or any other way) alternate name for it. Not least because it sits wrong to bring "girls" back into the terminology, even if "boys" is a frequent usage for m/m slash characters. I don't think this is inconsistent, either, except as the world is: The male characters are universally understood to be grown men with Serious Purpose in the world, and slash lets them laugh and cry and emote and all that good stuff which keeps us in touch with our inner child, not to mention our partner in sin. The female characters tend to be presented as sex objects to start with, even those who also have Serious Careers (think of Servalan). The specter of "girl" hood hangs over them already, and slash ideally would demonstrate their strength of will in Saving the Galaxy together, not merely that they laugh and cry. We already assume the latter. So the qualities that are brought out in f/f slash are not the girlishness but the heroism of the women. As with Gaby and Cirocco, come to think of it. If you merely want to make incredibly rude anatomical references, "slash" is Itself so graphic that it can hardly be bettered.
Slash and Star Trek: The Next Generation:'s interesting you say Teot's War and sequels are about a soldier and a king, but which is which? A case could be made for either character being both. Tanman is very much a soldier king, and Naga was concerned for his Upai people, and the Tannese of his adopted land, in the choices he made before and during the storyline. This is doubly interesting, since those roles represent two types of power which both push at the "male" paradigm that fuels the conflicts of much slash. Hmmm, you could probably analyze slash couples according to which has more personal skills and physical strength, and which is able (for whatever reasons) to make other people do what he says. In K/S, it's Kirk the king and Spock the soldier, which fits neatly with their assigned rank difference. In N/I, Napoleon is a people-persuader, Illya a scientist; again, their slight rank differences reflect the king-vs.- soldier symbolism. In Wiseguy, I'm sure you can figure it out. I'm not sure this holds up for B/D or S/H, but it's worth some thought. I'm sure it's significant that classic slash couples have a very close balance of power, even to both filling the "king" and "soldier" role in various ways — how often is Illya made a hereditary Russian count, or Spock the grandson of the most influential person on Vulcan? And virtually no slash hero is a bad soldier, just an iota less superb than his lithely (or brawnily) superior partner. And there's no reason a woman can't be either or both roles. Maybe, even if attempts at nurse/telephone operator slash didn't catch on, a story of guard/station commander slash would carry the right tone, for those who aren't too blinkered to read it.
Slash and academic study:
Photocopying zines:The academic analysis discussion was so interesting (and I generally agree with it), that I feel picayune for explaining that I didn't start writing fanfic at the time academic analysis began to show up, but that I started writing it specifically to expand on a given source, rather than just to fit into fandom. On the other hand, I'm not sure you mean to contradict the lack of connection — only to say that reading academic analysis of fandom at all could be intrinsically fannish, or perhaps that meta-fannish behavior is normal fannish behavior. I have also always read commentary about whatever literature I've been interested in, and cherished alternate versions of stories and themes, and enjoy picking up historical or other background on it all. Fascinating connections you can draw when you pay even a little attention to it! I suspect I prefer to minimize my worries about "legitimate" analyses of fandom simply because I enjoy reading them so much — I'd hate to do without them, even if I'd hate what other people could do with them.
Some speculations on "fans":Your note does define the point where an argument over the validity of copying zines becomes meaningful, the edge where fannish custom and tradition fades into cheating a publisher. I can't draw a line for everyone in every circumstance, but I automatically must discard aguments that postulate copying as an all-or-nothing practice.
Roddenberry "sold his birthright":Mediafandom, writing fandom, as we know it brings out admiration for a show's totality and characters and variations on those, in a way being a "fan" of anything seldom has done in the past. The word has and still does refer to idolization of, most often, a specific person or persons, the fans of stars. The dichotomy (or, rather, overlap) here became painfully obvious during the B7 fan feud, and still is a bit of a difference, or a variation, on how fans can write: describing Doyle's (or Mr Shaw's) delectable bum, being willing to see Doyle/Shaw's attributes in other roles the actor has played — or vice versa; vs. writing Doyle as a personality quite on his own, how he functions in CI5, or how he'd function as a rent-boy, or whatever. Fanfic seems to have (and take life from) both ends of this spectrum.
Left Hand of Darkness:Enough commentary about DS9 and B5 may eventually make me sorry I haven't watched those shows consistently, though the impact of 1st and 2nd season TNG may last a while more. After those, anything with the (80's-90's) ST "look" has to work VERY hard to overcome the automatic turnoff. I keep thinking that Roddenberry sold his birthright for a mess of special effects.
A... er... request:I don't think Left Hand of Darkness would have been a better story if LeGuin had arranged it so that Ai and Estrovan had physical sex, but I don't know if a story told so that they did would have been worse, either. I do think she made choices, consciously or otherwise, to make her story effective and valid without overt sex, possibly for her own comfort in telling it, possibly for her publishers' reservations' sake. In LeGuin's case, this may even not have been a disadvantage; she certainly got her point, and her transgender theme, across. I hope this doesn't add up to a case in favor of the censorship of gays that was routine in 1970, however.
Would like to know more:Speaking of stories where Bodie meets Doyle having semi-public sex in a gay bar ... have you read "One Night in Bangkok"? This fits the profile. I could send you a copy if you care. No, no, please don't write me any of those sick-plot stories in return. I might like them. Really, you mustn't, really, really.
More space:Do let me know what insights or interesting analyses you may have about the B7 feud from your perspective. It was such an, uh, interesting time to live through that I can't help wondering what an informed spectator makes of it.
Loved "there's more space in science fiction," too; I presume that's why I got into it (which happened at age 9 for me) and stayed there. Slash merely carries space into the bedroom... uh, or something.
Some Topics Discussed in "Menage a Deux (by H J)"
- comments on several academic books and journals, including: a quote from an interview with Samuel Delaney in "The Discourse of Cyberculture (a special issue of The South Atlantic QuarterIy) Fall 1993, "Camp Grounds: Style and Homosexuality," "J.D.'s" (includes articles "which targets lesbian Kristy McNichol fans, includes original fiction, personal fantasies, artwork and telepics which read her tomboy character on Family as a closeted dyke trying to make her way through a straight world."), "Uranian Worlds," (a book on queer SF), "Mondo Barbie" (a book of original fiction, some sexual, by well-known writers projecting their fantasies onto the molded plastic dreamgirl")
- discussion of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and what this fan believes to be disrespectful commentary that attempts to commercialize a more organic fandom
- the "Bat Book" - The Many Lives of the Batman
- Robert Bly's "Iron John's" men movement
- the effect of the internet and technology on fandom
- a rant on the term "politically correct"
- the slashiness of the show Homicide: Life on the Street
- What would Dorothy Sayers have thought of slash?
- males in female fannish spaces
Excerpts from "Menage a Deux (by H J)"A quote from an interview with Samuel Delaney in "The Discourse of Cyberculture (a special issue of The South Atlantic QuarterIy) Fall 1993" -- comments which focus on the Gaylaxians and on slash:
H J comments on a chapter in "Camp Grounds: Style and Homosexuality" (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993) edited by David Bergman:slash' before - - but that may be a change from the last half-dozen years.) If the production level as kept up since the few hundred pages of it I saw some years ago, by this time, there must be more than enough to fill a good-sized barn with the stuff! As a gay man, I confess: the several hundred pages that I went through, for me, hardcore or soft, were without erotic interest - just as, I suspect, most straight men's lesbian fantasies are not the sort that excite practicing lesbians. In general, the stuff was just too antiseptic. Still, the K/S material confirmed something that I already knew from my own life: that there are just as many heterosexual women who are turned on by the idea of men having sex with one another as there are heterosexual men who are turned on by the idea of women having sex with one another — that the engines of desire are far more complex than we usually give credit for; and that if lesbians and gay men didn't exist, heterosexual men and women would have had to invent them — because they constantly do."
Genderfucking and Mattel:I only hope is that [the author] knows a bit more about lesbian zines than she knows about fandom. At one point, she speculates that the lesbian zines might have grown out of media fanzines, which she describes as "slasher novels, such as those written by fans of Star Trek which involve sadomasochistic scenes between Captain Kirk and Dr. Spock." (There's a story for a bored and inspired slash fan to write. A famous baby doctor, driven insane by critics of his of his permissive approach to discipline and feeding on demand, forces James T. Kirk to submit to traumatic and inappropriate toilet training. Meanwhile, lured by the smell of freshly opened cans of Gerber's baby chow, Freddy Krueger waits in the wings ready to chop off all of their heads! Where do people get such strange ideas about us?) The idea that slash might have provided a model for gay and lesbian zines seems worth studying more closely.
Males in female fannish spaces:THE NEW IMPROVED GENDER-FUCK BARBIE: Matel [sic] seems determined to cross gender boundaries with its most popular high fashion doll. First, several years ago, some cross-dressed Ken dolls were released in the stores and have become high ticket collectors' items. (This mistake was commemorated by a poster advertising a "Crossdressing" exhibit at Boston's Institute for Contemporary Art, said poster being this cover of this issue of Strange Bedfellows.! Then, word has gotten out that Barbie fans publish their own zines, including some "unauthorized" fanfic about Barbie and Ken. The fans include an odd mix of middle-aged, middle-class women and gay men, according to Lynn Spigel, a scholar who has been researching this fandom. Then, Mondo Barbie appears, a book of original fiction, some sexual, by well-known writers projecting their fantasies onto the molded plastic dreamgirl. Then, feminists protest and successfully block the marketing of a teen-talk Barbie who utters the immortal line, "I hate math class." Then, the lavender-clad Ken, mentioned by several of us last time and proudly displayed by Constance Penley at Escapade, goes to the market and is a big hit with the gay community, especially given the fact that he is wearing something around his neck that looks like a cock ring. Matel jokingly announces that there are no current plans to market a lesbian Barbie but you never know. And, now, just in time for Christmas, the Barbie Liberation Organization (BLO) has been buying Barbie and G. I. Joe dolls, switching their voiceboxes, and returning them to store shelves to dramatize the gender-stereotyped quality of their messages. Barbie said things like "Eat Lead, Cobra" and GI Joe proclaimed, "Let's Go Shopping!!!" On my trip to California, I spoke with a feminist scholar who had shown children various toys to see if they coded them as male or female. As part of the experiment, they fixed up a special Barbie who wears a GI Joy helmet and carries a submachine gun, while dressed in her evening attire. She said that this doll caused the most discussion among both boys and girls. Where will it all end? I am eagerly awaiting the marketing of Barbie and Ken clad with special clothes for the Gay Pride March or perhaps his and her leather outfits or... Oh, the possibilities are endless!...Meanwhile, of course, they are starting on Sesame Street, which has been trying to hold off a rumor campaign started by the religious right that Bert and Ernie are closeted gay lovers. They are starting slashing at an earlier and earlier age these days, it seems.
Dorothy Sayers and slash:The exclusion of men from the slash e-mail list is a troubling development. Clearly, the arguments advanced are foolish ones, as have been those against male participation in slash fandom generally I have learned a lot from being able to talk across differences in gender and sexual preferences with the other members of this apa, and I flatter myself to believe, as you suggest, that I have given something back to the group speaking from a male feminist perspective. Yet, on the other hand, I can see a special case being made for maintaining a female dominant, if not female exclusive group on the nets. Groups tend to take their social norms and values from the dominant segment of their membership. Slash fandom as a whole will remain a female-centered space whether or not men participate in small numbers in apas or attend cons. We have learned how to read according to feminine conventions and to engage in the conversation according to feminine rules. Computer nets, on the other hand, started out as almost an exclusively male social space, due to the fact that their initial membership came from research universities, the military, computer firms, etc. (all groups which are themselves top-heavy with men). The rules and codes of the net are often ruthlessly patriarchal. The dominant value is expertise, the exchange of knowledge, with personal experience often devalued or not acknowledged at all. Flame wars erupt constantly because of an incredible insensitivity to feelings. Often, discussions of programs center on technical flaws or problems rather than character relationships. Emotional aspects of programs are ridiculed. Women participate in the net groups according to these masculine rules and as a result, often feel uncomfortable participating in many discussions. When I have tried to use nets as part of class instruction, my sense is that men as a whole feel more comfortable participating than women, while the opposite is true of personal journals. There has been a lot written about sexual harassment and "virtual rape" on the nets. Given this situation, it is nothing short of miraculous that some female-centered discussions are starting to evolve on the nets. These discussions tend to originate a) where the subject matter is explicitly feminist and/or lesbian; b) where the subject matter is traditionally feminine and where ways of discussing that subject matter are well-developed elsewhere in the culture (as in soap opera. Any man who joins a soap opera discussion group is apt to already have worked through gender issues to the point where he is comfortable expressing an interest that much of society would regard as feminine); c) where whole groups of women move en mass from fandom to the nets, as would seem to have happened with the slash net groups that are appearing. Now, in this situation, male participation may pose a greater problem than it might elsewhere and there may be some legitimate concern for how it gets handled. Because the women are already fighting for a foothold in a predominantly masculine space, they may have special sensitivity to the threat of a few men taking over a relatively small group and reshaping its conversation. (Add to this the fact that one can "lurk" on the net, listen without making your presence known, while a male fan would be visible and recognizable at a slash con, unless he goes in drag.) This is not a defense of separatism here or elsewhere, but I can understand that the move would be a sensitive one, which would require the group as a whole to discuss its implications.
Separating an author's views and voice from their character's:What would Dorothy Sayers have thought of slash? My understanding was that she was a deeply religious and conservative thinker who did one of the major translations of Dante and wrote several books of theology, which she came to regard as more significant accomplishments than the Whimsy novels. I suspect she would not be a particular enthusiast of slash, though she was a strong supporter of women's rights. You have to remember that the feminists of the 1920s fought within rather than against other conservative values, so that feminists often embraced such causes as temperance. On the other hand, there are explicitly lesbian characters in Unnatural Death and a few implicitly lesbian friends of Harriets....
No, zines are not sold in bookstores, but...:I had a similar problem some years ago when I briefly joined a Klingon role playing organization. I was a Klingon ambassador to the Federation. I wrote rather undiplomatic but distinctly Klingon dispatches. The Poor Star Fleet representative kept going ballistic because he couldn't understahd why I, [H], would write such things, while I, [H], wasn't writing them at all; my Klingon persona was.
An example of visibility and fandom:I think you may have misunderstood what I said in my last apazine. Textual Poachers is sold in college bookstores, but I do not know of anyplace where zines are sold in the open at bookstores. Zines have been bulk ordered by instructors and sold directly to the students. I don't think a college bookstore would be willing to handle zines for the reasons you suggest. But, I do think that it is helpful for students to read zines, if the editors involved are comfortable with the situation.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its downfalls:Thanks, [J], for sending along your Romeo/Tybalt story. I really enjoyed it. I happened to mention it in passing to my department chair who is quite enlightened where slash is concerned. It turns out that he published an essay on the Franco Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet which argued that the film systematically explored the homoerotic possibilities between Romeo, Tybalt and Mercucio, a controversal reading in the literary community. He was delighted to learn that someone else had developed a similar interpretation and asked me if he could read the story. Since you asked that it not circulate, I wanted to ask you before I shared it with him. I would be delighted to send you a copy of his essay on the film. I would trust him not to discuss or quote it without explicit permission and to abide by whatever other conditions you might set. I think it is a fascinating example of the parallel yet different tracks by which academics and fans arrive at similar interpretations of common texts.
Comments on slash, fan films, and academics:Yes, there has been some academic research on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I've seen a few conference papers listed, but I haven't seen them. There has been a growing interest in general in "trash cinema" and "disreputable films." Much like our fandom, "trash film" buffs develop common ways of reading movies (which involve valuing what might in another context be regarded as mistakes, celebrating artistic failure or just plan off-the-wall choices, such as the all midget western or Santa Clause meets the Martians) and focus around a common group of texts (especially those of Edward Wood, such as Plan 9 From Outer Space or Glen or Glenda. They develop zines which publish elaborate defenses of what others would see as totally undefensible movies. These include nonfiction zines, letterzines, and I believe, apas. They hold cons and screen the films. Mystery Science is an attempt to commercialize their fandom, in effect, making their films and reading practices more widely available to a general public. So far it has been highly successful. I have not seen much of the series, but my sense is that in the process of bringing the fandom public, they changed the tone of the remarks. The original fans were truly affectionate about the films and felt a mixture of admiration and pity for their directors. The remarks on Mystery Science are a bit more contemptuous, less celebratory, striving for a sophomoric superiority that I don't fully enjoy. What bothers me more, however, is the way that students learn how to respond to older films watching the series and then bring the same practices into the classroom. I had serious discipline problems during the science fiction screenings this term because people wanted to treat Forbidden Planet or The Day the Earth Stood Still with a running camp commentary which had neither the wit nor the intelligence of that on the series but which meant that no one took the films seriously, a serious loss in my opinion. Thinking about Mystery Science leaves me to wonder what would happen if someone tried to do a commercial version of slash, either making professional fan videos or doing ongoing commentary over old TV episodes to point out their slash potential. What would happen to slash in the process? Would the result be something we wanted to watch or not?
Being a spokesperson for fandom in the mundane world:Another recent film, Rock Hudson's Home Movies, which I have not been able to see yet, re-reads the old Hudson-Doris Day comedies in light of the later knowledge of Hudson's sexuality. Many of them require him to closet identity for example or involve him in "slash-like" partnerships with Tony Randell. Both films are very much like fan videos that show at major international film festivals and get semi-commercial circulation. It would be great to have them screened at Escapade or one of the other major slash cons sometime. I think one reason why slash has attracted as much academic interest as it has is that it fits so well with other things that are happening in academic-intellectual culture at the moment. Slash fits academic fantasies almost as well as it fits fan fantasies.
The Observer Effect:
reyrct me questioning how effectively EW and TP can function as damage control for fandom. First, I don't mean to exaggerate the importance of these books. The reservations you express are valid ones, and nothing, academic books least of all, is going to change the attitudes of the general public over night. But think they can help in several ways. First, I would note that, to my knowledge, Textual Poachers has been taught in totality or in part in more than twenty different courses nationwide; I suspect there are more that I don't know about. Camille's book and Constance's essays are also being taught. That means that a significant number of undergraduates are getting exposure to a different view of fandom. My experience teaching about slash is that students talk about it with dormmates, pass around stories, and I hear about it from all corners of the university. Not everyone who is taught the book "gets it" or becomes sympathetic; we are fighting a lot of cultural conditioning here, but it helps.Second, the books give the press academically-sanctioned "experts" they can call on for comments. The anti-fan faction has always been able to line up psychiatrists and the lot to pathologize fandom. For the first time, we have someone other than the guy who writes the Klingon-English dictionaries to speak about fandom. I am doing lots of interviews these days with newspaper reporters, magazine reporters, radio talkshows, etc. All of them are people who would be writing about fans anyway, but they are listening to me for a hour or so and my hope is that some of the educating I am doing will pay off longterm. The Village Voice did a cover study on Klingons several months ago, generally sympathetic, quoting heavily from Poachers, although I don't specifically discuss Klingons there. Again, they don't always get it right, but at least we have a fighting chance with many of these reporters, whereas we didn't before. I have mixed feelings about becoming an "expert" when many of you in the apa are probably more knowledgeable and articulate about fandom than I am. But, if asked to play that role by the media, I will do my best and I will try to open doors for fans to talk themselves. Again, let me stress, most of this publicity is a result of the fact that the press is trained to write ST stories every so often because they sell and they have suddenly discovered that they have someone new they can talk to for these stories. On a personal level, I still suspect discretion is the best strategy, but I am a teacher. As Vila might say, it's not what I do; it's What I am. And, given a chance to teach, I'll take a crack at it no matter what the odds.
More on the "Iron John" movement and masculinity:Yes, of course, "the process of study changes that which is being studied." That's one of the reasons why studying fandom needs to be done in collaboration with fans, not from the outside. But, things change anyway for any number of reasons, some predictable, some not. And who's to say that what changes isn't for the better or what changes isn't the world around us rather than fandom itself.
The impact of the internet and technology on fandom discourse and fanworks:Reading several articles recently on the recent surge of Klingon organizations, during which mostly working class men enact Klingon cultural rituals, wear leather armor, and bumpy head make-up, I am struck by the parallels to Ely's Iron John movement. Does Klingon fandom allow working class men some of the same pleasures in enacting masculine rituals, in remasculinization, that Ely offers his middle-class drum-thumpers? All I can say is that slash fandom feels much more like the men's movement I knew and loved, while Klingon groups feel uncomfortable to me for much the same reasons I object to Cap'n Ely and his boys.
The term "outing" and slash:I would love to get a discussion going here about what impact the net is having on fandom. Is it responsible for the rather dramatic decline in the media fan letterzine, for example? Can we see fanfic being published on the net? Will it eventually replace apas? Will we all go to MUDS (multiple users dungeons, basically real-time role-playing game from multiple sites) rather than cons? Or, conversely, will the nets allow for a more rapid spread of knowledge in fandom? Will it allow smaller fandoms to survive and spread? Will it insure more consistent interactions among far-flung fans? Will it have the same impact on fandom as the vcr and the xerox copier?
A long, long comment about "political correctness," of which this is just a tiny part:The distinction you make between slash fandom being "out," which is a good thing on the whole IMHO, and "outing" slash fans, which I find as objectionable as any other form of "outing," is helpful. I think each person has to decide for themselves how "out" or how "closeted" they want to be about their involvement in fandom.
That Picard episode: not enough comfort with the hurt:I think all of us need to be concerned about free speech and issues, ranging from the enforcement of hate speech codes to the Iowa policy. But, the use of the term, "pc," silences one's critics and opponents and thus is not conducive to such a discussion. I hate to see people like [N] or [M F G] or [J] or other members of the group, who I know would be unsympathetic to most of the politics and values of the anti-pc crowd, using the term sympathetically in this apa. Having written this, I now anticipate a response from [L], who I know has very different views on the politics of the anti-pc movement. We have exchanged e-mail in the past on these point. All I can say is that if we could get beyond this rather vague and inflammatory term and talk about specifics, we would probably find that there were many points of agreement about specific policies and their potential harm.
[snipped]I don't believe in labeling people "racist" or "homophobia" purely on their use of less fashionable language but I do believe it is common curtesy to try to use terms which are not offensive to people being so- labeled. All of these are great issues to debate and complex ones to resolve. I just don't think it is fair for all of these various issues to all be clumped under the label, "political correctness." End of Rant.
The slashiness of Homicide: Life on the Streets:But the Christmas episode of ST:NG with the naked Picard being tortured was all hurt and no comfort. Yes, it played on our culture-wide pleasure in S&M. But, the comfort part is still left for fans to write, aside from mild forehead stroking by Doctor Beverley and a bit of angst by Riker and Worf. That strikes me as a fundamental difference between how fans and the series dealt with that scenario.
Enjoying Juilan Bashir:If you want to see a slash plot on television, watch Homicide. Despite the fact that I still haven't learned all of the characters yet, they have had some amazing male-bonding plots. In one, a cop confronts the problems of a boyhood friend whose domineering father is dying of cancer and wants his son to kill him. The son, after much angst, blows the father's brains out and the cop then covers up the crime for him. Their interactions, their physical closeness, their discussions of their past years together, the fact that the son is heavily coded as gay all made me uncertain whether the slash was in my head (a fine enough place for it to reside) or part of what the episode wanted me to see. The following week dealt with two partners, one straight-laced, the other a bit dark and wild- eyed, who investigate the murder of a phone-sex worker who was very much involved in leather culture. We move from their differing responses to visiting a leather shop to a speech in the car about how the straight-laced one needs to explore his "darker side" before he can understand what crime is about through the man starting to question his assumptions about sexuality to the gift of a studded leather jacket. After resisting, he puts on the jacket and the final shots show him walking the red light district in it. ([C] and I were convinced that Jane of Australia had written the script for this one.) The same series had an openly lesbian character several weeks ago. There is something "queer" going on here, me thinks.
"Lesbian Slash":And what's wrong with Bashir? I find him a refreshing character for Star Trek because he is such a dweeb in the most endearing sense of the word. For once, we have someone who is not top in his class, fully competent in every situation, and totally in control of his emotions and his hormones. We have a convincing character who spent so much of his med school career in his books that he has little or no sense of reality, of human psychology, and so we get to see him learn, develop, mature, into a professional and we get to see him fumble around trying to pick up Dax. I do think he is one of the better developed and interesting characters on the series and I think there is a lot of slash potential there, perhaps with the rather flaming Cardassian tailor/spy we have seen in several episodes. I would like to see what Cardassian sexuality is like. Hmmm. Or then again, a good writer could do a slash story where he has sex with Dax while primarily getting turned on by the male personalities and memories that reside in her body. Can you have queer sex between a male and female body if the governing consciousness are same sex? This is a question which the character of Dax invites us to consider.
The Many Lives of the Batman:I have been pondering what it would mean to write a slash story involving two women. It would indeed be pointless to simply follow the male slash formula, to deal with the breaking down of barriers and the achievement of intimacy, trust, partnership. As so many of you have suggested, women, more often than men, already enjoy these things in their friendship by other women. At a con like Escapade, a tremendous amount of cuddling and flirting goes on between women of varied sexualities. There doesn't seem to be a lot of "glass walls" that would have to be broken through to see those expressions carried a little further. Lesbian slash, in order to be interesting and challenging, would need to address issues specific to female identity and experience and might very well involve rethinking femininity in the opposite direction. That is to say, what women may desire is some degree of autonomy, an acceptance that having sex with someone does not make you dependent upon them or submissive to them, an acceptance that you can have sex without surrendering control over your lives or without compromising who you are and what you want. I could see slash stories in which the characters struggled over fears that they would lose part of themselves if they "gave themselves away to" a desired lover and in which the characters had to negotiate what sex meant in terms of their relationship to each other. Such a scenario could allow you to start with loner protagonists and find way that they can have partnership without giving up the aspects of their personality which make them such noteworthy and interesting characters. The slash story might even end with one character letting the other walk away after sex, giving her independence at the expense of a more lasting sexual-emotional relationship. Or would the challenge be to have commitment and autonomy, a difficult balance few of us achieve in the real world, but which I suspect many of us, women especially in our culture, would find a worthy fantasy. Would this constitute a new genre, since the issues being explored are so different or would this still be slash? Would this genre work best, say, with cross-over stories (since lone characters usually come one to a universe) or would we want to focus on Kira/Dax, Thelma/Louise, Cagney/Lacey, or the B7 gals for stories. I haven't read much of the lesbian slash out there. To what degree does it look like what I am describing? Would people (both those who like and those who claim disinterest in lesbian slash) like to read those kinds of stories? Or am I simply projecting male fantasies onto female bodies?
Ah! The Bat Book! I had a great time working on that project. A group of us were sitting around an academic convention, basically having a dead dog party, when the subject of the forthcoming Batman movie came up. Suddenly, it was clear that we were all closet Batman fans but that we were all fans of something different — the early comic books, the sixties television series, the darker graphic novels, etc. and so the concept was born of each of us using our academic background to write about the Batman that we knew and loved and to structure the whole thing around the notion of what changes and what remains the same as Batman moves through time and across different media. One interesting problem the editors encountered was that DC flatly refused to allow them to reproduce any images of the superhero, not as illustrations, not on the cover, even though the artists and writers agreed to be interviewed for the book. As a result, the book cover design had to evoke qualities of "Batmanness" without specifically touching any trademarked materials. We have a cop and a reporter on the roof of a city (surely, it's not Gotham City) looking up as a spotlight flashes across the sky and forms the title. The Many Lives of the Batman (no, of course, your honor, that's not supposed to be the Bat Signal. Splitting legal hairs is so much fun. Why would we ever want to reformulate intellectual property laws?) As for Camille's essay, "You might say that. I couldn't possibly comment."
Some Topics Discussed in "Menage a Deux (by C J)"
- lengthy comments on the 1992 essay by Shoshanna: Angst and emotional dynamics in slash, as exemplified in Helen Raven's "Heat Trace"
- Is a slash story read outside fandom still slash?
Excerpts from "Menage a Deux (by C J)"Is a slash story read outside fandom still slash?
One (ghastly) thought that suddenly occurs to me is that this suggests that what we do is arguably the same thing that is done by people who buy kiss-and-tell bios of their favorite stars. For those readers, perhaps the eroticism is drawn from the same sense of intimacy with the folks involved. One could see knowledge of an actor's persona as comparable to a fans knowledge of a character. And the bit about wanting to read about as many different scenarios as we can imagine explains why bio after bio continues to sell. I never understood the appeal of the things before. Mmmmmmm....
Of course, the obvious response to the issues you pose concerning the K/S story is that you have lost the male/male element in the translation. How would you have responded if the names had been changed to Kirk/Uhura (or whatever pairing would be appropriate to that particular characterization in this tale) so that the story remained media-based but lost its same-sex focus? Or if the names in the mainstream book were changed to Tom and Fred (have I actually found two names that don't have fannish connotations?) so that it remained a same-sex romance but lost the media connection, a la the "slash-like" debates. Or what if the story, with the name changes that appeared in the mainstream book you saw, had appeared instead in a zine? Or if it had appeared in a zine but the names Kirk and Spock had been changed to Tom and Fred?I find myself more willing to call a same sex story "slash" than a heterosexual narrative (which probably puts me in the fannish mainstream). I would tend to call the Tom and Fred story "slash" if it appeared in a zine, even if the characters were not media-based, but probably would not if the story appeared elsewhere. My definition of slash based on the content of the story looks to the same sex elements, the focus on relationships and the romance/sex, (all pretty old hat) oh, yes, and with a bias towards media characters— although if the percentage of media and non-media character stories ever shift substantially, my definition might very well shift in response. My definition based on the production context of the story focuses on its made-in-fandom pedigree. I might also be open to arguments that a loosely defined amateur & non-profit status is requisite. Fans seem quite willing to ignore profits up to a point, but there does come a moment when fannish status starts to slip. I have, for example, heard comments made about Bill Hupe or the Chapek-Carletons that suggest more than one fan is starting to view these folks, however useful they may be, as business people first, fans second. Or as another example, I think if a fan wrote a piece of fanfic, published it, and then persuaded the buyers of B. Daltons to stock it, it would not be considered in the same light as a novel circulated through fannish distribution networks, even if the text was identical in all ways (Of course, we are a long way from the day that a mainstream press will publish a slash novel as is, or major chains would buy from fans.... I think But then again, life is full of surprises.
Some Topics Discussed in "Cat's Darkling Zine"
- comments on the movie "Saturn 3"
- comment on another fan's review of Ember Days
Excerpts from "Cat's Darkling Zine"About the Ember Days review:
Usually, your zine reviews send my diaphragm into laughing cramps, but the comments on Ember Days didn't, it just read as statement of facts, because as the plot was retold, pointing out the baroque dynamic of the piece, all I could remember was the deep satisfaction I had felt as I read Ember Days. Indeed, plot, motivation and credibility are not the measnre of the satisfaction a piece of work produces. Ember Days had gripped me deep into the night several nights in a row and it was as satisfying as multi-layered junk food, (that means VERY to me). [snipped] O. Yardley's view of B&D here, actually meshes in with mine: Evil lurks below the surface, and is tamed by Cowley for the good of Queen and Cowley. Very specificaly: It was exactly what spoilt the story for you that made it for me.
Some Topics Discussed in "Vice Files"
- characters' ages in St. Seiya
- filing off the serial numbers and fic
- The X-Files
- zine binding pros and cons
Excerpts from "Vice Files"A fan explains:
About filing off the serial numbers of a fic:[B], I only jumped on things so quickly because I don't want rumours getting out along the lines of "Isoline said Paulie was plagiarising art" or some such. I wanted to explain what I had said previously, since it wasn't referred back to accurately. And as far as "...don't want a non-artist like you) to horn in...", I don't know where you got that idea, because it was a question posed to the whole apa. I had asked for people's opinions on whether they thought using the poses from someone else's models was plagiarizing. If you don't have an opinion on it, you don't have to get unpleasant about it.
Commenting on letters to Penthouse Forum:Actually, it would be fairly easy to make Starsky & Hutch or Riggs & Murtaugh cops in a big city other than LA, Vinnie & Frank could be FBI agents anywhere, or even cops. The Miami Vice folks are a little harder to move, since the Miami flavour is so much a part of it, but it's not impossible. [snipped] And the way I framed the evaluation was not to imply that a recognizeable character was bad writing, only to suggest that for a writer to protect him/herself from the copyright police, the characters should not be obviously recognizeable as the media characters. Hell, fan writing contains characters from shows - why on earth would I say it's bad writing if you can recognize who they are?? I just wouldn't dream of trying to sell a fan story to a professional publisher, without changing it so that it wasn't openly recognizeable — that's where folks like MTM productions & Lucasfilm get a wee bit upset, and that's where they're in the right...
About a War of the Worlds episode:I don't know if I'm a prude or a bigot or what, but most of those excerpts from Penthouse Letters leave me cold, at best. I under stand the point you're illustrating, but the writing itself & the attitudes of the writers just turns me off...Maybe it's the emphasis on sexual gratification only...(I'm not saying you can't like it, just that I don't). I have to admit myself that while I don't like the "person" Blake, I like the interaction of Blake/Avon better than Avon/Vila... You may enjoy some of the WG fiction too - Roger Lococco's (& Frank's) attitude is a perfect example of the male fears of intimacy, etc., and Roger is also the kind to get into power questions & sexual role- playing...
On zine bindings:I'm a WOW fan - 2/3 of the gen stuff is at least marginally h/c (well, when they did an episode where after accidentally killing a human woman, Ironhorse plans (after failing to hide the fact that it bothered him, & being ordered to take some time off...) to go to Harrison's cabin to get himself sorted out, a the woman's widower attempts revenge by driving him off the road (head injury, at least) then ties him up a threatens to kill him, it's practically begging for a h/c (at least) aftermath!) - there's a definate difference between h/c and 'get' stories (the 'c' part of it, for one thing...)
Have you seen this new show called The X-Files:I love the square bindings, because I can put many zines on a shelf without fighting bindings for space. And, of course, there are zines that just shouldn't be bound at all, except in 3-ring bind ers, like the REAL GHOSTBUSTERS zine Bustin'. Actually, I'm sure most of my problems with the comb bindings would go away (though it would make the space problem worse) if people wouldn't try to over stuff them...
One last bit of blathering before my right hand falls off or at least freezes where it is...Have any of you been watching the new show X-FILES? It's about 2 FBI agents who investigate the weird-shit cases... Because it's a male/female team, the show isn't high in / potential, on its own. BUT, as a crossover with TWIN PEAKS it would work well, & could also work with WISEGUY or WOTW...As far as TP goes, well, the male member of the team is David Duchovny, who played Agent Den(n)is(e) Bryson, the transvestite DEA agent & Coop's friend.. .This has definate potential...Anyway, it's become one of my favorite shows!
Some Topics Discussed in "Ghost Speaker"
- regarding a fic and sharing
- comments about the movie The Fisher King
- a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine plotline (unknownst to this fan, it will also be a plot of a later Babylon 5 episode
- similarties between Margeret Thatcher and Servalan
Excerpts from "Ghost Speaker"Sharing fic:
Margaret Thatcher and Servalan:About my "Romeo A Tybalt" story, yes, I'm quite happy for everyone and her cat to read it; but if there's a chance of a Shakespeare-slash zine (the idea charms me) I'd rather It wasn't xeroxed all the way round fandom before I get my boots on.
I write it, but I don't believe it:I nearly choked when I read your reasons for considering Servalan androgynous - and then I realised that, unlike us Brits, you had not had Margaret Thatcher as a Supreme Commander for twelve years or so. Thatcher is feminine, ruthless, cold, calculating, powerful, and despotic. So was Servalan.
A female character and fan reactions:
A comment about Crying Game slash:Last Stand At The Edge of the World was one of the good Wortham/Rosenthal collaborations (I still wish they'd had the guts to put the slash element in with the rest of the story, instead of ghettoising it off to the 5 zines, but there you go); but there's an interesting/depressing fannish reaction to it, which is that some fans hated it because of Kerrill. Sometimes they say they couldn't stand Kerrill. Sometimes they say she was all right but she got in the way. But I got this reaction so many times from so many fans who I would have thought would have loved it - I did - that I gave up asking people if they'd read it. I hate stories where, if there is a female character who's slightly more than background/plotdevice, she's either a bimbo or a bitch. (O. Yardley does this all the time and it used to drive me demented. Then I stopped reading O. Yardley.) But it sounded like those fans hated Kerrill because she wasn't bimbo, bitch, or background; because she took up space that should have been rightfully reserved for Avon and Vila.
Regarding a trope:
Insinuations about fic "not having enough Doyle":Re. the WE'RE NOT GAY concept, I've heard [C's] s comments, and yours, and furthermore M. Fae Glasgow did a bloody brilliant version of the I'M NOT GAY story in "Rough Trade", where Bodie says he isn't gay, he just likes fucking men. The point is that you can write a story well when Bodie is so closety he can't even admit he's gay to his lover - but a story where the writer won't admit that Bodie's gay is likely to be a failure. That's the difference.
A Star Trek: Deep Space Nine plotline:Your comment (about Heat Trace really being a Doyle story, not a Doyle & Bodie story) touched a nerve; [N] and I have been muttering to each other for a long time about Iocs we get which say, effectively, "It was a nice story but there wasn't enough Doyle." The two stories we've mostly had it about have been "Look Through My Eyes" and "As Games Are Played". And simply answering, as we do, that "But the story isn't about Doyle," doesn't help. The fans who complain don't care who the story is about - they want as much Doyle as they're used to getting. One particular loc I got, from a writer who I will not name because the fault is common, complained that there wasn't enough about Doyle in "As Games Are Played"... which I found especially annoying as I'd gound character In "LTME" but he isn't a plotdevice. Two things strike me about this; first, that slash (fanfic generally, perhaps) is, for some fans at least, just not even considered to be on the same level as other fiction - the fans are not so much looking for a good story as a showcase for their favourite actors, and Professionals fanfic is supposed to be a showcase for Bodie and Doyle. Secondly, and related, I resent it that the same writers who never give Cowley any time or bother to develop him as a character complain about Doyle not being the star of a story.
I recently read a DS9 novel. The Siege, by Peter David. It wasn't very good, but there was one plotline that I'm still thinking about. The situation is that there's a fanatically religious couple from a fanatically religious world, and they have a child; it's never specified, I think, how old Rasa is, but he's old enough to conduct a rational conversation with an adult. The boy is dying, slowly, of a curable disease. It is against the parents' religion to allow their son to be cured; if God wants their child to die young, that is the will of God. One of the doctors on Deep Space 9 sets out to convince the mother that she ought to let him cure the boy, and does so in a cruel manner - and the consequences are cruel, too. Right at the start, though. Doctor Bashir goes to DS9's commander, Sisko, and asks Sisko to tell the parents to bring the boy in to "be cured. Sisko, brusquely, quotes the Prime Directive and says that they can't go against the noninterference rule unless the child's parents consent.
The moral dilemma presented is the ethical choice between saving a life and saving a soul. At the end of the novel, the boy's life is saved, but according to the religion of his home world, his soul, and his mother's soul, are lost.But the moral dilemma which was left entirely untouched was whether or not it is right for adults to control a child's destiny. No one asked the boy whether he wanted to live in exile or die at peace with his God. And according to what Sisko said, the laws of the Federation do not permit a child to make that decision; going by that interpretation of the Prime Directive, if the boy had turned up at the hospital and said to Doctor Bashir, 'K^ure me, I don't want to die," he should have been turned away and told to go ask his parents' permission. In fact, it's never made clear that Rasa has even been told that he is dying. 
Some Topics Discussed in "Yamibutoh"
- explanation and description of Comiket (which this fan spells as "Comicate"): slash, profit, permission
- discussion about the term "androgynous"
- MUCH about Japanese shows and characters
- much about the differences between manga and slash zines
- much about the characters: Fuma and Atari
Excerpts from "Yamibutoh"
Someone made a comment in this APA, i cannot remember who right now, to the effect that she objects highly to fan publishers making a big profit unless an author is publishing her own stuff. In which case, more power to her. That reminded me of someth ing I had not considered western zines tend to be a col lection of solicited or unsolid ted stories that are sent to an editor, usually in exchange for only a copy of the final zine and it is the editor who sells the zine and, thus, makes the profit. Therefore, the person who gets the profit, if it is a lot, is really getting money for someone else's efforts and that someone (s) is/are not getting a cut, Japanese zines are put together and put out much differently, Zines are put out by "circles", groups of fans who work on a zine together. Circles can be as small as two people, one drawing and one writing, or one drawing and writing and one editing and pub lishing, or as many as 5 or 6 people. How the circles divide responsibility varies. One very common was is for each circle member to be an artist/writer responsible for one section of the zine. Actual layout and pre-publishing is often done at zine parties, I watched two fans at a hamburger restaurant put together a zine, one of them filling in word bubbles and doing incidental lettering and the other one finishing the layout of a couple different pages How profits are divided probably different in different circles, with especially circles where one member is a pro (such as Miha project) skewing the division, but the consistent factor is that all the members of the circle share the profitsi writers, artists, editors, letterers and all. Thus, if a zine makes a profit, all the contributors profit. Making a profit then becomes more reasonable, a tribute to a circle's quality. Most circles probably do little more than cover cost, but the members of Shishinden, whose used zines go for 5000V, but still only charge about 1200V for their new ones, have probably saved enough to put themselves through college, Kichijoji Club, who do original slashy zines, have opened their own store with zine signings, special promotions and everything.
I think the reason that androgynous seems like an odd term for Servalan is that usually the concept is used for characters that blend male and feminine traits and usually it is used for people and characters whose sex may not be immediately apparent. (GAO, a tokyo singer who i thought was a male until she was chosen for the women's team on the New Year's song show, is androgynous) Servalan is, on the other hand quite quite obviously female. Only her hairstyle is not and it does not her look less female, only tougher. If is masculine as all, it is in her attitudes and ambition (those are not soft, but are they masculine), but I don't get any impression of gender-blending from her. She may match the definition, but does not match the popular concept.
Some Topics Discussed in "Mardi Gras Favors"
Excerpts from "Mardi Gras Favors"About the Starsky & Hutch story, Surrender:
You have the plot of Paula Smith's "Surrender" backwards: It is Starsky who rapes Hutch. They're at Starsky's apartment; they've just finished assembling S's new brass bed. Hutch is lying on the bed leaning against its headboard. Hutch recalls that Starsky had asked for sex which he had refused. "You know I don't swing that way. And you'd have to admist that neither do you, if you're honest." Then S loosens H's shirt and begins to stroke Hutch's chest. When H tries to push him away, S swiftly handcuffs H's hands to the top of the brass headboard. S pulls H's pants down and slowly, teasing him up and down, sucks him off. "Gonna go down on you." "What?!" "Never ASK you again." S&H continue quarreling. S is still angry about H pretending anmesia last month. "Pretendin' you forgot every thing, then surprise! Just a joke, just a game....This maybe you won't forget." After tussels S. straps H's legs down with belts. Using vasoline "Slowly this way, by inches. Starsky entered him completely. The sense of being impaled was beyond description, but at least the raw pain had died away, though he was still miserably uncomfortable." They continue quarrels, sex, fights that day and all weekend. Hutch leaves, then returns and discovers that "Don't lock yourself away. I can forgive you....I'm sorry-know how you feel now. Let me love you. I want you....Again he felt the power, Starsky in his power. The balance swung either way so frighteningly quickly." Peace of mind is missing.STROKES which Paula published in 1982.
Some Topics Discussed in "Lunatic Fringe"
- thanking some people who helped make Escapade a success
- comments about photocopying zines
- included is the pocket program for Escapade
Excerpts from "Lunatic Fringe"Regarding photocopying zines:
No, I don't like it when someone copies my zines just because that someone is cheap. If the zine is affordable for her/them, I want her/them to buy it from me. I definitely don't like it if people make several copies of the entire zine to pass out to friends. I do think of it as stealing, somehow, because I know that we at MP put a HELL of a lot of work into a zine. Mass copying is mass copying, I don't care how the person tries to justify it. "Several copies for several friends" is mass copying. "Several" is more than one (and I don't even actively promote people copying a whole zine). Besides, your hypothetical person who copies "several zines for several friends" isn't making a decision just for herself, she's making it for other people who might not have done it without her influence. Do I think that private group photocopying like the kind you suggested hurts fanzine publishing? I don't know; maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. I think if publishers don't get what they want out of publishing, then they'll stop. Now in some cases, this might be a good thing.... So one way that I could understand (though not necessarily condone) this practice would be if I learned someone was making a political statement, say, against the general poor quality of a zine-but then, why would people want copies of a garbage zine in the first place? The bottom line here is that, as a zine publisher and editor, there's no straightforward, practical way I can think of to stop copying. If someone's going to copy, then they're going to. The parallel line here is that the overwhelming majority of publishers make money, and they're at least somewhat dependent on that money as positive feedback, as a plane ticket to a con, whatever. I hope fans are smart enough to vote with their dollars. So in summary, I'd be pissed off if the fan was copying our zines because she was just cheap, because I think our zines are reasonably priced (certainly by comparison to the rest of the zine-selling market), and that they're good quality. But hey, that's just my opinion....
Some Topics Discussed in "Sukebei"
- original characters and Mary Sue
- double standards and fan comments regarding slash
- photocopying fic for friends
- comments on K/S zines, comments on the controversial zine Science Friction
- comments on awards
Excerpts from "Sukebei"Original characters and Mary Sue:
Regarding Harry/Johnny:I tend to be prejudiced against original characters in fan fiction - I'd rather read about the on-screen characters, and most original characters are so badly done. Whether or not I label an original character a "Mary Sue" depends on how irritating the character is. Neither Stephanie White  nor Fiona Feldman  qualifies as a "Mary Sue" by this standard.
Some more double standards:I was laughing at the author, not the fandom. [M] quoted Roberta Rogow in her slash bibliography (Roberta has said that slash is ruining fan fiction, all slash fans are maladjusted closet cases, etc.). Well, Roberta used to write H/J, but that doesn't count, because she didn't write the sex scenes, and anyway she only wanted to write in the police procedural format.
Photocopying fic:Liked the story about why Horizon refused to publish slash. In one of the older American B7 zines, the editor stated that she was not going to publish an adult zine because so much adult B7 fan fiction was slash, and she wasn't interested. Fair enough. But this genzine included an Avon/Cally story which was rather, um, anatomically detailed. If straight R-rated stories are considered gen, but a B/A story with no sex is adult, then its not surprising that most "adult" stories are slash. Most straight stories get published in genzine.
A bald escape:Re zine pirating: I agree that you can't equate the 1-story copiers with the professional pirates. Some publishers are doing just that - putting people who copy a story from a friend's zine, or even a story from a zine they have bought and want to resell in the same league as those who pirate for profit Some publishers are even opposed to copying out-of-print zines. I think they're going way too far. Some fans, however, could use a little more restraint in copying.
Some comments on Trek slash:Do you think that Frank may avoid feminization because he's bald? Just a random thought.
Regarding Science Friction:don't normally read K/S, and when I do I'm more likely to dig out an old Out of Bounds or Broken Images than read a new zine. [N] or Kathy Resch might have some recommendations, but I can only think of Jane Carnall's Spock/McCoy piece in Nome 12. Lois Welling had a good story in the same zine, and there may have been others, but trying to decipher the typeface gave me a headache.
Some speculation about awards:The zine may have been intended to be a parody, but I didn't think it was especially amusing. I also don't recall any stories dealing with "romance and infatuation". More like lust and obsession, and not very well done either. However, I do agree that the stories were not all that different from slash published in Frisky Business and other "real" fanzines. I consider SF to be slash, its just lousy slash.
Do you really think the ballot box for the Stiffies was tampered with? I suppose its better than thinking fans have even less taste than I thought.
Some Topics Discussed in "Desert Blooms"
- a slashy song on the radio: Bono/Frank Sinatra
- fandom and visibility and wanting to keep fandom a private, elite club
- Babylon 5 first episode and looking "to see how much input/impact fans have on the evolution of the show (via the networking with the creator)"
- some comments on slash fics
Excerpts from "Desert Blooms"A slashy Bono/Sinatra song:
This new show, Babylon 5:
Has anyone heard the Bono/Frank Sinatra duet of the old Coel [sic] Porter song I'VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN? While it's a bit on the 'Truth is Stranger Than Fiction" side, it has to be one of the slashiest songs out there. Good ol' Frank starts out with his jazzy, hep-cat crooner intonations and then, suddenly, there's BONO, all sultry, breathy vocal, insinuating hirnself all around Old Blue Eyes. It's a balancing act that doesn't quite work and yet it's quirkiness has great appeal. The song takes on a whole new meaning as these two switch back and forth, singing a classic love song to each other. I don't think it's what Frank had in mind (but it might just have been Bono's intent!). The final I love you when you're under my skin sounds almost post-orgasmic, Bono's voice barely above a sated, husky whisper.My big question is, who chose this particular song and combination? I don't know the history but my guess is they never came face to face recording this. Did Sinatra realize what it would sound like? I certainly don't put it past Bono, the little scamp. After all, the man has been known to do interviews in public restaurants in the buff (ah, what I would've given to have been a fly in the soup there) and to snog (as M. Fae so delicately puts it) onstage and on film with the Edge (this is the stuff dreams are made of). The man knows no bounds, thank god!
Songtapes:A very quick review of the first episode of BABYLON 5. I liked it a lot. There was something very Golden Age amid all the high tech. I liked the Earthmen's bushy buzz cuts and leather-patched sweaters, the aliens were interesting, especially the Nam, and the special effects were excellent. The best part however was the character (I don't recall names yet) whose "2nd most favorite thing in the universe" was watching 20th century cartoons! A future media fan! I'm looking forward to more episodes and also to see how much input/impact fans have on the evolution of the show (via the networking with the creator).
Fandom and visibility:I've always enjoyed watching [songtapes] but honestly never gave them much thought beyond that, except to cringe at the (usually) awful songs chosen. What about some sort of vid compilations, sort of like zines? Have contributors send them to an editor (who could give them the feedback you mentioned) who then combines them on a tape and sells it through the zine network? Is there a market for this? I admit, I wouldn't go crazy and buy every one I saw the way I've been known to do with zines, but I probably would buy a few because I think they'd be fun to have. Then again, I never thought I would end up with boxes and shelves and piles of zines and stories...
Regarding the story The Earth That They Inherit in Paean to Priapus #5:reyrct to me about "this generation of fans as the one that shoulders the responsibility of bringing fandom into the public light": I see your point, zealotism, fanfares and all, and put that way, yes, maybe bringing slash to the yearning masses is the right thing to do. However, there's a realistic (some might call it paranoid) side to the argument that if we bring it too far into the open we are bound to find trouble with a capital T. After all, this is still a very conservative, homophobic age (Arizona is being heavily targeted by the anit-choicers and anti-gay rights groups-look for us in the news!) and a strong backlash to things like slash is very likely. But despite having imminent domain, etc., there is still a lot of risk involved in the general (and often homophobic) public stumbling onto us. I agree, there are probably a lot of women (and men) out there looking for slash and not knowing where to find it or that it even exists. (I think back on how serendipitous an event it was for [N] and me to stumble upon it at a Trek con years ago and how we might still be searching if we hadn't attended that particular con.) I don't know. Maybe it's just a knee-jerk reaction to keep something I love a treasured secret shared with only a knowing few and not letting it be trampled by those who might not understand and treasure it equally.
Regarding Ember Days:To put it simply, WOW. It took my breath away. Not to go overboard, but I think it is one of the best stories in the SM/BD genre. I've always enjoyed your writing and this story is wonderfully tight, well-crafted and full of tension. Bodie's atoneness and the darkness were palpable. I felt his need and fear whenever Doyle was at a distance and his elation and fulfillment whenever he was touched. The story was solid and the motivations believable. And at the critical point in the story (Ok, I won't spoil it completely for others) I screamed. Literally. And I felt his panic. A friend who also read it had the same reaction. In summation, all I can say is Please, sir! More, sir!
While I have yet to read it (and god only knows if I'll be able to wade through it) a local slash fan who did manage to read it cover to cover (boy, has she got stamina-she reads faster than a speeding bullet and it still took her 3 long weeks to finish it) described it as O. Yardley on speed writing stream of consciousness (Yow!). She said it goes off on every tangent imaginable (and then some) yet never quite manages to actually go anywhere. It's too bad, because like you, I've always looked to O. Yardley for a good, satisfying read of a certain type. My early Pro's reading was enjoyably filled with her stories. I'd like to say I'll reserve judgement until I've read EMBER DAYS but when two readers whose opinions I value highly have little positive to say, I find myself not wanting to invest the not-inconsiderable time to read it.
Some Topics Discussed in "Notes of a Neophyte"
- personal fannish description
- The Crying Game and choice of words to describe gender
- "media studies is not the only discipline where people whose relationship to the studied "object" is in question if their interest is more than clinical"
Excerpts from "Notes of a Neophyte"
The Crying Game and choice of words to describe gender:
I am new to fandom. I owe my transformation to [M G] who I believe brought all that is good into my life. Especially since I left Los Angeles. Right now I am a Pros fan. I have watched about half the episodes and read 3/4 of Meg's collection and I wonder how I ever called life living before slash. Needless to say, I love it. I watch Highlander, Forever Knight, X-Files, Quantum Leap (all thanks to Meg) and all the Treks and I have great hope for Babylon 5.
[snipped]ZCon was my first con as well. It was so wonderful that from my perspective is deifies description. I think I met closer friends in a weekend than have I made in years of knowing someone. The whole weeked was a continual high, in a state of heightened intimacy with dl these incredible people, it is just so delightful!
Prometheus Unbound is a delightfully painful, excruciatingly wonderful story and I missed class the day it arrived because I couldn't tear myself away. [M] sent it to me with a copy of a pic of Patrick Stewart as Oberon. Sigh. Um, well anyway, you are an infinitely superior writer to many that I am forced to endme this academic year, so missing class was well worth it. Also, I think infanticize is a wonderful new word. It is remarkably like infanticide though and the two times I used in conversation with "mundanes" I had to spend 5 minutes clarifying. Time well spent too.
Some Topics Discussed in "With Friends Like These..."
- an origin for the term "fan slut"
- is slash misogynist?
- much about Blake's 7 pairings
- comments about some songvids
Excerpts from "With Friends Like These..."
I'm not a slash fan, I'm not a slash fan, they've dressed me up as one... Okay, I do like slash, but I'm not what someone (was it Edi Bjorklund?) called a "peripatetic slash fan." I don't read slash for slash's sake, or follow it to any fandom in which it may reside. Nor do I necessarily prefer slash to gen. But I do read just about anything connected to my favorite fandoms, including adult material. And I confess that I prefer slash to straight. (Slash is oft decried as being "anti-female." I disagree. Slash appeals more to feminists than to traditional women. Fans of slash want fantasy, something that will provide an escape from their day-to-day lives. It's not that we're against female characters. It's just that if we want to experience the adventures of a strong, independent woman trying to make it in a man's world, we don't have to pay for it. We can go to the office, and get paid for it!)
My friend Carol McCoy coined the tongue-in-cheek term "fan sluts" to describe people who dabble in many different fandoms at the same time. (She herself is strictly monogamous, devoted to a single fandom all her life.) I'm neither monogamous nor a slut; instead, I'm a serial monogamist. I stick to one fandom at a time!
My first slash fandom was Kirk/Spock/McCoy. I'd known about K/S since I was eight years old, but as a McCoy fan, I wasn't much interested until those menage zines started coming out after Star Trek III. It was strange, being in a menage fandom. Many people who approved of slash did not approve of menage slash -- at least in Trek fandom. there was a lot of pressure to conform to the majority view; that K/S is the ideal pairing, with no room for anyone else. (Rebecca Ann Brothers theorizes that since Trek Classic is about a quasi-military organization, it tends to attract those with authoritarian POVs.)
Since then, I've had brief flirtations with S/H and Pros, but my main fannish interest for the past six years or so has been Blake's Seven. Part of the reason I like it is that it is less rigid, less authoritarian than other fandoms. (I say this knowing that it was awarded the "Prigs In Space" Award at the 1990 MediaWest*Con!) There is no dominant pairing in B7; while Avon/Vila is the most popular combination , it doesn't prevent fans from writing Avon/Blake, Vila/Tarrant, Cally/Avon, Vila/Soolin, Avon/Blake/Tarrant, etc. Even female/female pairings are not uncommon in B7. This sort of freedom is unheard-of in most fandoms. (Carol once innocently suggested that it might be interesting to pair Starsky and Doyle a crossover story. Hailing as she did from B7 fandom, she had no idea that such a thing could get her lynched by both S/H and B/D fans!) I can enjoy just about any B7 pairing, as long as it's well-written. But since I've been in the fandom for quite awhile, I'm a bit jaded; I tend to favor the unusual pairings. (Carnell/Del Grant, anyone?) And being a dyed-in-the- wool Tarrant fan, I prefer combinations involving Tarrant! There have been quite a variety of late. At first, V/T was the most common. (Probably because it's easy to get Vila together with just about anyone, adorable Delta slut that he is.) Currently Avon/Tarrant seems to be on the upswing; it's more difficult to pull off effectively, but correspondingly more satisfying when done well. (I suspect this will turn out to be the dominant Tarrant pairing; anything involving Avon is a good bet!) There have also been a scattering of more bizarre pairings: Tarrant/Travis, Tarrant/Jarvik, Tarrant/Del Grant, Tarrant/Gan, Tarrant/Carnell... I'm happy to see interest in Tarrant appears to be rising, after years of neglect. (Though oddly, our favorite flyboy seemed to have been quite popular in the very early days of fandom. The first American adult B7 zine ever published. Forbidden Zone #1, was quite dominated by Tarrant. (It had a Tarrant/Vila, a Tarrant/Jarvik/Travis/Kie-eyre, and a couple of Tarrant poems involving Servalan and Jarvik.)
[A M] has pointed something out to me about male-male pairs in TV shows; nine times out of ten, one has chest hair while the other doesn't! Could it be a conscious effort to appeal to all tastes? Think about it — Starsky/Hutch, Kirk/Spock, Avon/Vila (or Avon/Blake, or Avon/Tarrant), Bodie/Doyle, Han/Chewbacca...
I recently had a chance to see [A's] S/H music videos. (She goes by the name 'JAM" when she does vids.) Though I've read many S&H zines, I've never seen the show; my mom considered it too violent for children. So [A's] videos really boggled my mind. Some of the clips are extremely incriminating! Those guys were all over each other. I can't believe they actually aired that show on network television — back in the seventies, no less! [A's] S/H vids are not as hard and dark as her B7 ones; the music is softer and more romantic, the cuts not as fast and frenetic. My favorite was "Don't Give Up On Us" -- sung by David Soul! (How wicked of her to use that song!) I also like her multi-media one to Technotronic's "Move This." (I'm always impressed with multi-media vids, since I have a hard enough time keeping track of the scenes in a single fandom! In addition to B7 and S&H, [A] does videos for Quantum Leap and Pros. She is happy to provide copies to anyone who is interested, for the cost of the blank tape and postage. SASE.)
Speaking of videos, one of my favorites is the one Mary van Deusen did to RED Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling." It's a Tarrant video that starts out Tarrant/Servalan, switches to Tarrant/Dayna, and closes with Tarrant/Avon. (Plus a hint of Dayna/Soolin at the very end!) Some of Mary's videos, including "Can't Fight This Feeling," were shown in the video room at Orbit. (Yes, I know there was supposed to be absolutely, positively no slash whatsoever allowed at that con. But in a gathering of 300 textual poachers, rules - among other things — are bound to get bent!) Several of Mary's slash videos were screened, but most of the audience, neos pure of mind and heart, didn't seem to realize the implications. Then came "Can't Fight This Feeling." Because the first two parts of the video are hetero, there was no mistaking that final Avon/Tarrant part. Agape this wasn't. There was a sort of stunned silence, then people in the room started laughing. (There were no shrieks for the concom, so I guess no one was seriously offended!)I also saw the same video at Mostly Eastly one year. The ending was altered, however. Some squeamish soul had replaced the Avon/Tarrant part with Tarrant/Zeeona. (Apparently without Mary's permission.) It didn't work as well. The line that goes "You're a candle in the window on a cold dark winter's night" was silly used with the eye-searing, punked-out Zeeona. Candle, hah! - more like a megawatt neon sign.
Some Topics Discussed in "Women of Houston in Pornography" by L S
- many football fan thoughts
Excerpts from "Women of Houston in Pornography" by L S
Visting some relatives:Forget those wimpy skaters. There is no better xaale body to ogle than that of a wide receiver (quarterbacks aren't bad, either). We're talking sculpted definition without the bulk. There was a picture of Jerry Rice in a Sunday paper that is to die for. And talk about male bonding... They ran a piece on playing with pain where Emmitt Smith (who's been playing with a separated shoulder) talks about how teammates are always there to help him up, are always asking if he's okay, and how Michael Irvin after a really rough game sat down beside him as he was undergoing painful postgame therapy and put his arm around him, rested his head against his shoulder and cried because he knew what it was costing Emmitt to put himself through this every week. Talk about hurt/comfort! Now for the totally shallow reason, football unoform pants are form fitting to the nth degree and as an added bonus you can often see the clear outlines of their jock straps.
Comments on Turbolift Review #1 (1978):
I took along my notebook fully intending to do a bit [on my APA trib] each night, but once I got him schitzophrenia hit. I became [L] the good daughter, the level-headed one, the big sister. In other words, I regressed to childhood. Sitting at my grandfather^s kitchen table clacking away about homosexual pom was impossible. It would be like sacrificing a goat on the alterof the Vatican.
Smack in the middle of the zine I was surprised to find em article entitled "The Development of the Kirk/Spock Relationship in Fan Fiction: an Essay" by April Valentine and Shanon Schildknecht. Remember, this was 1978, before even Naked Time #1. We^re talking Alternatives and Shelter and Poses. In my hurt/comfort ramblings I dismissed viewing h/c as merely sublimated sex. But, right before K/s burst forth, this essay points out stories that read like a sex scene without the sex. But I still think that after K/S went sexual those people followed the sex and h/c went back to being straightforward, show how much you love each other stories. If anyone one wants a copy of this essay, let me know and I'll forward it. It really is Xf/orth reading, especially by newer fans who insist on thinking h/c with spouse abuse. What really fascinated me was that these people were in the position to say that a particular story was the first one to go this far, etc. They use quotes from survey participants and stories to show the way. For example, a paragraph from Connie Faddis' "de profundus" is very sexualized. If he same type of essay were written today instead of citing the first story that had Spock push up that errant lock of hair on Kirk's forehead, we'd be citing the first time nipple clamps were used in a story. Just as h/c begat slash, slash has begat — what? To gather material for the essay, they distributed a survey. One of the conmaents grabbed an "ah ha" from me. Bev Volker is quoted as saying hurt/comfort "is the simplest and most justifiable way to keep them in character while acing uncharacteristically". All through the essay, the need to keep the characters "incharacter" is stressed.
Each wave of fanfic, from action adventure to friendship to get 'em to hurt/comfort to slash has broadened what is considered "in character". For me, I don't see gay Bodie and/or Doyle as being "in character". Yes, brace yourselves, this is leading to yet another discussion of "I'm not gay, he's my partner". The fact that I'm writing a story where Doyle is a non-practicing hi-sexual (since he's been in CIS) to the contrary. In my view of the show, Cowley would not/ could not condone homosexuality in a security force. CIS recruits/agents are given extensive psychological tests that would screen homosexuals (remember herbie?). Ok, say that Bodie gets through the screening without being found out. Doesn't it strain credulity that yet another homosexual makes it through the gauntlet and that he just happens to be partnered with him? (Sing three choruses of Matchmaker, Matchmaker). Besides, EVERYBODY knows about Matheson and King... All I'm saying is that "gay" portrayals of Bodie and Doyle don't fit the series. Of course, there is ONE scenarioRemember those extensive screening tests I mentioned? The head of MI6 who hates Cowley and CIS contacts the psychologist who has been paid to construct the CIS pschological screening tests. Lawson, MI6 dude, Pays this consultant to slant the test so that nothing but latent homosexuals are admitted to CIS. within a year, love is blooming nil over CIS. Cowley, upon discovering the sudden manai for using the communal showers and why there are holes drilled in the bathroom stalls, has a heart attack and dies.
I was talking this over with Courtney last night and she came up with a good explanation as to why some of us don't like the "gay" stories. They violate the basic romantic premise: that there is one "true" love out there. It doesn't matter if he is a Norman overlord and you are a Saxon peasant} if you are a DLC democrat and he is a liberal democrat; there is no obsticle — even gender — too big to overcome. It is more romantic for Bodie and/or Doyle to recognize "this is it" and to have them stumble through getting together. What is this thing called, love? as benny Hill once said. Also, I am not sexually attracted to gay men/characters. I went through a learning phase of being totally fascinated with gay books, etc. but on a gut-grabbing level, without being first sexually attracted to Bodie and Doyle, I could not write them being sexually engaged with each other. That they are heterosexual is part of the attraction for me. By viewing them as gay I amremoving them from the realm of my sexuality.
Loved your RANT. I'm 6 pages into a young Kirk gets victimized all over the place story that is lots of fun. The idea that fiction/art has to be prescriptive or "healthy" is no fun at all. If you want to send a message, call western union, isn't thatthe old movie saying?
Someone who shall go nameless tried to get me into Blake ^s Seven. After slogging through the first two seasons, I saw this handsome, YOUNG, guy and said "hey, you never said there was anybody good looking on the show. Is there any fiction about Tarrant?" I got looked at as if I'd put ketchup on a filet.
What is this bias against Tarrant in B7? I admit that Avon looks a bit old and puffy around him, but is that Tarrant's fault? Needless to say, the fandom never grabbed me. besides the fans always seemed to be running to the actors and trying to curry favorby ratting out their fellow fans.
Why don't I consider HEAT TRACE as slash? First off, it didn't push my buttons. I viewed Heat Trace as a work of gay fictrbn as opposed to slash fan fiction. I enjoy a lot of gay fiction, but the payoff for me as a reader is different than the payoff I get from slash.
There was an article in REASON (the maagazine of free minds and free markets) last year by Richard Link. He stated that his being gay was just one way of identifying himself. he could also be defined as a male, as an Episcopalian (?), as a writer, an Italian, a son, a brother, etc. Being gay isn't THE defining element of his life. Heat Trace, to me, was about the probl&as of being gay in law enforcement organizations. There was no "first time" no sexual tension, just depression and repression. When I read stories like this, I feel like the characters of Bodie and Doyle have been handed a pre-fabricated "gay" identity to wear. They were not the Bodie and Doyle from the series.Harking back to the old article in Turbolift Review, they were not in character for me.
Some Topics Discussed in "Women of Houston in Pornography" by K
Excerpts from "Women of Houston in Pornography" by K
What I've been thinking about this time is the question of what are the characteristics of a 'slash' relationship (and 1 hope I'm not covering tir^ old ground). 1 have the sensation that 1 'know it when 1 see it', but that isn't very satisfying. Is the 'slash' relationship different than any other? How is it defined (male/male only; or is it something else that only shows up just now between two men?I think of slash as a kind of relationship that is not gender specific. And for me, there has always been an element of idealization involved. Even if the characters blow it, they had a crack at a kind of relationship that is mostly unavailable, whether with the same sex, opposite sex or with your dog. It goes beyond a fascination with the other person's looks or body or even personality, and into the possibility of making a real connection with them, soul to soul as it were. And all the sex, violence, anguish, etc. are vehicles for making this connection spark, means to an end. And the connection is not by its nature happy or unhappy, only intense and real.
Yes, I wrote Chimaera, thanks for the compliment.
I do agree with you about bits and whatnot being ok in a fan story that wouldn't support a commercial piece, even plot lines - in fact one of the great things about fan stories is the way they build on what's already established. That's not what I meant about writers hiding behind 'it's just for fun.' Of course we want to have fun in what we're doing. Nor do I object to a story not being 'good'; fan stories are a place to try things you might not have done otherwise. It's the attitude I object to. I think the dangerous word in that phrase is 'just', which manages to diminish both the activity and the idea of fun at the same time. And when someone doesn't take what they write seriously, it shows in the story. I'll take a rough story with a shaky plot that is sincere over a slick, well-written but half-heartedone anytime.
As to fans objecting to being studied: I have heard a lot of complaints, at cons, in particular, leveled at the concept of being studied, usually along the lines of 'we don't need to be legitimized.' Thus my question. I was always the first one to fill out questionnaires, etc. I'm rather inclined to think fandom can use some legitimacy; on the surface it looks plain weird, and I don't like the sensation than one of my major hobbies has to stay a big secret because mostpeople wouldn't understand or would think I was a pervert; nor do I want to spend a lot of time defending it. Just the shift in attitude I see now that Star Trek and 'Trekkies' are almost mainstream has made my day-to-day life and dealings with people at work and social occasions much easier.
Some Topics Discussed in "Two Heads Are Better Than One" by M F G
- . a long review of The Terranova Situation, see that page
- Sebastian's fic Siren
- getting pickier about fanfic
Excerpts from "Two Heads Are Better Than One" by M F GMen and slash and an upcoming panel:
About a story:For those of you who're attending Escapade, Henry and I'll be on a panel entitled "Men in Slash" It should be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to getting to meet Henry and have an interesting panel too. It has been suggested by certain con organizing Wiseguy fans, resident in Santa Barbara, that, to liven up the panel, Henry and I give each other a big sloppy kiss, but [N] has a rule: I can't kiss anyone that a) I'm not related to and b) has a beard. So, sorry about that, fans of polymorphous perversity!
About a lot of stories:In the process of retyping Sebastian's Siren, I have been vehemently reminded of how wonderful a writer she is and how insipid and uninspiring the majority of slash has been over the last year. Obviously this is a very personal perspective; readers with radically different tastes may completely disagree. Yet, I can't help but wonder if slash isn't slipping more and more toward that mediocre mean. Instead of inventing and reinventing the genre, we seem to merely be recycling it. Sigh. Do any of you have an opinion about what was really phenomenally good that came out in 1993 or 94?
When it comes to fannish writing, my obsessive behavior waxes and wanes. At times I feel guilty that I spend so much time reading fanfic—it can overwhelm everything else (as it did when I was given access to a complete collection of Pros circuit stories). Then when I'm afraid that the fanfic I've just received might not be good, I will avoid confirming it by reading anything but fanfic. Newspapers, journals, and non-fiction are my preferred methods. One interesting thing that has come from my fannish reading is an increased intolerance for badly written, boring stuff. I am far more critical of any fiction, will in fact no longer finish stuff that I might have before. Has anyone else had this reaction to what they read?
Some Topics Discussed in "Two Heads Are Better Than One" by N
- not a fan of songtapes
- publishing "PC" stories and rapefic
Excerpts from "Two Heads Are Better Than One" by N
Take this in the proper spirit (it's neither condemnation nor put down) but does anyone other than me suffer from general indifference to songvids (or songtapes as they used to be called)? I can work up absolutely no enduring enthusiasm for them. I enjoy watching them at a con or a private showing, and I can say, yes, I think this one works particularly well and that one has great editing and technique and a third one has really followed through on an interesting theme. But after a maximum of 2, maybe 3, showings, I lose interest in the vids. I have no desire to possess them and than a portable cassette player [though Lynn has a standard CD setup] and I never listen to music at home and only listen to it in the car to fight boredom. I don't hate music and, other than popular music of the last 20 years, I don't consider myself completely musically illiterate. It's just that music has no importance for me.)... Unlike a good story, I can't go back to them. Is anyone else so afflicted? (And I suppose you might as well know that music plays no role in my life.
A fan once mentioned how upsetting rapes stories were (I'd never thought about it before) and I then decided I probably wouldn't publish certain kinds of rape stories. At the time I rejected a piece (a 19th century literary based story, perhaps based on Pride and Prejudice although I really don't remember) because it contained a rape I considered unacceptable. Well, now I've changed my mind. There was nothing wrong with the story or its structure and style. Today I might still turn it down—but purely on the basis that it didn't push my own buttons and I publish to please myself; I wouldn't reject it over the PCness of its contents.
Some Topics Discussed in "Untitled by M G"
- hurt/comfort and its origins in mainstream canon material
- fandom and profit
- fan casting
- why fanfic rather than original fic
- being "fan-shaped"
Excerpts from "Untitled by M G"Won't you draw me a picture?
The source of hurt/comfort:
Fic for fun:I always, thought fannish hurt /comfort had strong roots in the source tv shows, as so many of the truly tender moments between partners were h/c. Examples: Kirk's pain at loss of droid girl, Spock's comfort via "forget..." Doyle's hurt at Anne Holly's rejection, Bodie's arm around shoulders comfort. All those dozens of Starsky/Hutch hugs, embraces, cradling wounded body on sidewalk, etc. Vinnie'e hurt in Lynchboro, Frank's forgiveness and hug comfort in the church. All those caretaking things Scotty did for ol' walking wounded self-destructive Kelly. Face it, a lot of the memorable male partner moments involve the physical or emotional wounding of the one partner at the hands of Women Who Don't Understand, the Bad Guys, or The True Love that Died and Left Him and the comfort of the other partner. I've always seen h/c as following this — the hurt comes from outside the partnership, the comfort from inside. Stories that have one partner hurt the other (for any other reason than to maintain cover on assignment) are not h/c, but domestic violence.
Profit and fandom:FANFIC IS JUST FOR FUN: Not Just an excuse for bad writing, but also an excuse for writing bad, i.e. against the rules. There's not a lot of places in professional publishing for PWPs, or vignettes, or missing scenes. But if a fan says fanfic is just for fun, they can be saying I don't have to follow the rules, I can ignore plot and wallow in emotions because that's what I want to do.
Fanfic instead of original characters?:[B], your argument that fans who profit substantially off zines place themselves outside of fandom and into the mainstream, thereby leaving themselves open to be used as fans already use the mainstream is beautifully put.
Comments by a recent speaker about physical stereotypes of female fans:Why not write original characters? No channel of distribution? I have seen the occasional ad for original-character stories in adzines, but not many. Lack of positive reinforcement? Not as many folks care about non-media fan creations, perhaps. Visual orientation? We all know what Spock looks like, and can happily picture him doing all sorts of stuff. No visual description of a new character is as vivid as a real (actor's) face/body. Is this why casting games are popular for books? -- where fans discuss which actor should play Francis Crawford of Lymond, or Sergeant Wield, in an imaginary film version of the book?
I fit the fan stereotype— female, brown hair, glasses. Which I have also heard as 'why is fandom made up of nothing but short fat women with brown hair and thick glasses? The speaker was male, overweight, brown hair, glasses, but he wanted fan women to be svelte blondes interested in him. (Actually, I find I have an immediate positive response to the female fan stereotype, and usually want to edge up to women that match it and ask them if they read slash. There was a professor at the colleges last year that looked just like a fan.)
Some Topics Discussed in "Lavender Lilies"
- discussion about the recent anti-porn articles and books, specifically "Only Words" by Catherine McKinnon
- some baseball rpf thoughts. some comments about figure skating
- comments about the Michael Crichton book "Disclosure," and the subject of sexual harassment done by women to men
- the slashy elements of "Cyteen" by C.J. Cherryh, and Teot's War
- whether Sebastian's story, Siren, feminzed Doyle or not
- sick of female victimization in mainstream media, would like to see more male victimization
- a recent discussion at ZebraCon about the "feminization" of male characters in slash
- what is slash, and the topic of gatekeeping
- slash and "political correctness"
Excerpts from "Lavender Lilies"Baseball RPF:
I heard an interesting description on a sports talk show: during the Phillies celebration of their division championship, it was noted that half-naked players were piling on top of each other, pouring champagne inside underwear. Hmmm....
[snipped]Back to my beloved Orioles, they have acquired several interesting players and look to be able to give the Toronto Blue Jays a run for the championship. One other interesting point: the Orioles' first—string catcher, Chris Hoiles, bought a house with one of the coaches, Jerry Snider. The two, according to interviews, just love to do things together such as deer-hunting. I went on a tour of the Orioles' locker room, and Chris and Jerry's lockers were next to each other in one of the far corners. This probably doesn't mean anything as far as my salacious, slashy mind goes, but you never know. I've yet to hear either one of them mention wives or girl friends.
Regarding Teot's War:And now my thoughts, whatever they might be worth, which may be nothing, on Tonya Harding: It just doesn't make sense that she would want to knock Nancy Kerrigan out of the Olympics. It makes all the sense in the world for her insane ex—husband to be involved in such a loony plot as this. Tonya has been in an abusive relationship with Jeff Golooly, marrying, divorcing, getting restraining orders, remarrying and re-divorcing him. I heard Tonya on TV, admiting that she didn't imediately report to the authorities what she knew of the assault. I don't believe that she was involved in planning the assault nor that she even knew about it before it happened. Much of Tonya's problem with the media is that she doesn't fit the "ladylike" image that many officials believe figure skaters should conform to. She shoots pool and works on motorcycles. I've heard a local sports talk host refer to her as "white trash." Plus there is the whole battered spouse thing — people ask, why didn't she leave him? Why did she keep going back to a crazy man like that? And how could an accomplished figure skater be a battered wife? The same way that an accomplished CI5 agent could be a battered spouse (as in M. Fae's SNOWBOUND
I have read TEOT'S WAR and liked it a lot. But I found myself frustrated because I couldn't understand the nature of the relationship. I guess my lustful soul really wanted to see the two main characters in bed, or else about to engage thereof. I'm glad that Heather Gladney has been introduced to slash, and I'll have to order CONCUPISCENCE iii so I can see Heather's slash version of her characters. I don't normally require that characters in a close friendship wind up in bed.
Whether SIREN feminized Doyle or not:I couldn't agree with you more about the constant parade of victimized women in the movies and TV. I am so sick of helpless women in jeopardy being rescued by Handsome Hunks that I might scream if I see another one — AAARRRGH!!! And many of the jeopardized women are depicted so "lovingly" i.e. a gagged woman struggles uselessly against her bonds while the male carresses her on the cheeks, her breasts (her dress being strategically torn in the right place) either with a gun or a silken hand. Perhaps that's why I relish men in jeopardy, either in slash and/or in movie/TV/popular novels. I like to see men get a taste of their own medicine. Perhaps it's some sort of revenge fantasy or something because I usually like to see the more traditionally "masculine" man be the one victimized. My distaste for overly feminized male slash characters being victimized is similar to that of seeing women constantly being victimized. Maybe there's something I just "don't get," but I'd rather see a strong women villain who victimizes a man rather than yet another in the endless procession of helpless and victimized women.
Comments on a recent discussion at ZebraCon:I think that the perception of feminine characteristics is subjective. The combination of Sebastian's description, added to the title, SIREN, did it for me — pink lips, curving legs, the stripping, etc. struck nje_ as being feminine. I'm not sure I'll be able to explain this. Sebastian's description doesn't appear feminine to you and some others, and this is understandable. To me, it contained feminine elements mixed with very masculine elements i.e. "sweat and musk" and so I found the story a tremendous turn-on. Again, feminine characteristics in my mind do not necessarily mean weak characteristics.
What is slash, and the topic of gatekeeping:When writers weaken a character by making him/her into a helpless, wafting creature who must be rescued by the Big Butch sort, it's not feminizing the character, it's infantilizing the character. Re some slash novels doing the sort of "butch/fem" which resembles traditional hetero romance novels, I think that this might just be some fans' kink, just as whips and chains and/or super—macho characters might be other fans' kink. I do have an attachment to some "butch/fem" depictions, as long as the "fem" character doesn't get made into a child. A couple of slash fans have shown me examples of works aimed at gay men which fit into the "man/boy" niche. Many times, the boy character is given feminine traits. I believe that "man/boy love" is a form of child abuse, and so I have no desire to read these books, any more than I have a desire for such slash works as THE COLONIAL AFFAIR.
Slash "political correctness":Is "slash" defined by whether it is done by slash fans'? Then what is a "slash fan?" I question the idea that fans have to particinate in what Camille Bacon-Smith defines as an initiation process; that those (such as the SCIENCE FRICTION editors) who don t pass through the Exclusive Slash Club Initiation have no right to refer to their^ activities as "slash." Must there be some sort of academic correct definition of "slash" and slash fan? To me, slash is a subjective process; people can define themselves as slash fans. An "authorative definition is meaningless unless it is sufficiently broad to cover all the people and publications which choose to call themselves slash.
I was told by a couple of fans that ON THE EDGE would never fly as a fanzine because I mix up slash and heteroerotic stories. Fortunately, this has proven not to be true at all. But what seems to be a fannish sort of P.C. is establishing the type of fan sward categories which splits off "slash" from "straight" and gen. Zines which mix up these types of stories are out of luck. But as I said to [J], I tend to ignore most zine awards for reasons of my own taste as well as anything else. Let's hear it for political incorrectness! If I find something distasteful, think it's too racist, sexist or homophobic, then I don't have to purchase or read the zine. If someone submits a story to me which I think is racist, etc. (or badly written), then I don't have to print it in my zine. The writer is free to submit it somewhere else.
Some Topics Discussed in "When Correctly Viewed"
- comments about British poet Patricia Beer, Mrs. Beer's House -- about her youthful fascination with the characters in The Flight of the Heron by D. K. Broste
- much about hurt/comfort and the topic of Romantic Sadism and how these things are portrayed in mainstream media (writer includes MANY examples)
Excerpts from "When Correctly Viewed
My major current interest is Blake's 7. I incline toward serial monogamy in these matters and generally have one great fannish passion per decade: Star Trek in the 60s; Hong Kong movies, with a side line in Japanese pop stars ([J D], We have much to discuss about the oh-so-slashable Julie!) in the 70s; From Eroica With Love in the 80s (the fortuitous result of a hasty bookstore purchase of something lightweight, in both senses, to read on a flight back from Tokyo in 1982. I though those things looked interesting— little did I realize! I was cackling with glee at my discovery all the way back to New York); and now B7 for the 90s. However, I never completely forget an old love; and I also have a smattering of familiarity with The Man from U.N.C.L.E (fondly remembered from the old pre-ST days). The Professionals (the people who turned me on to B7 were actually trying to get me hooked on that instead), Miami Vice, and Wiseouv. though most other fannish universes are unknown to me.I've also been a reader of science fiction for most of my life and discovered literary SF fandom while in college in Boston. My first convention, as far as I can recall, was the 1970 Boskone. I became passively involved in Star Trek fandom while it was still a branch of general SF fandom, before the schism that split off media fandom. I went to several of the original ST conventions and subscribed to things like Spockanalia and T-Negative but never participated more actively than that.
The history of the development of slash is fascinating to me for two reasons: first, because I so narrowly missed it in ST fandom, and second, because I'm one of those people who independently reinvented it. After I came back from Japan in 1975 I started studying Chinese as well, on the theory that having already learned several thousand of those pesky characters, I wanted to be able to read two languages with them instead of one. In 1976 I moved to New York City, where a fellow Sinologist and I took to attending the movie theaters in Chinatown almost every weekend, ostensibly for purposes of language study but really, as we soon admitted at least to each other, for the sake of vicarious lust. We were simply mesmerized by the sight of all those slim, muscular, half- naked young men, with the long silky black hair hanging down to their shapely asses... Ooh, yes. The movies were chock-full of boys-together buddy stuff (often downright misogynistic, in fact), and we all know what that leads to. And it did.
My friend and I became particularly enamored of a series of some 30 flicks made between 1968 and 1973, staring a pair of very fetching actors known as David Chiang and Ti Lung (I don't suppose any of you have ever heard of them?— she asked wistfully) cavorting through various periods of Chinese history (shades of all those Pros AU historicals) and being exceedingly cute, and sometimes intensely emotional, with each other. It seemed only natural to start making up stories about what happened in between the scenes on screen, and before we knew it we had what in retrospect I'd describe as a two-woman slash fandom. We never wrote much down, but I've got a' little notebook of drawings somewhere. We thought we were terribly wicked and perverted and must surely be the only women in the world who ever thought of such depraved things. Hah. How surprised I was when, in the early 80s, I became acquainted with the woman who was at that time the ST editor for Pocket Books (shortly afterward, she left the publishing field in disgust and is now putting her talents to better- paid use as a corporate attorney) and learned what had been going on in ST fandom in my absence. Thrust was a revelation, though I must say that most of the K/SI've seen since then has been a disappointment; I didn't get really seriously interested in fannish slash until I discovered B7 a couple of years ago.
In the early 80s, I met Ellen Kushner (she saw me reading manga at a convention and asked about them) and read Swordspoint in MS just before its publication. I can testify that no, it was not influenced by any media fandom in the slightest (and the author will froth at the mouth if you suggest such a thing to her); the basic idea was something she'd already been playing with for a decade or so. What's interesting to me is how much was going on at once, more or less independently yet at the same time, namely the mid-70s. The best explanation I can think of is that it was at around that time that the lid started coming off of women's sexual interests generally, and "two cute guys doing it with each other" is a hot* fantasy for many, many women. I'd be very interested in any other theories of why it all started when it did, or storiesof independent invention.
[H], although I think that your book is generally excellent, I was disappointed that neither you nor Camille B.-S. devoted much attention to the historical development of media fandom in general and slash fandom in particular. I'd really like to see a carefully documented chronology of what happened when. I have the feeling that LEZLIE's fascinating essay on the four waves of slash is generally accurate, but I'd like to see many more specific examples— not just authors, but story titles and dates of publication— to back it up.
"Who wrote the first slash?" I have a candidate for the first K/S story published, whether or not it was the first written: "A Fragment out of Time," by Diane Marchant, in Grup #3 (September 1974— Heyi Does that mean we can celebrate the 20th anniversary of slash this year?!). It's only about a page long and names no names, but it's very obvious who the couple are, especially given the accompanying illo, vague and non-explicit as the picture is. I remember finding the story both shocking and titillating at the time, and I gather that that was the general reaction. I had no idea that it was the beginning of a trend, and I was losing interest in ST by then anyway. How I regret now that I didn't keep up with it!
In the editorial for Grup #5 (October 1976) there is a reference to "Diane Merchant's controversial Kirk/Spock thingy from #3." I don't know if the "/" punctuation had become firmly established by then, or if that was a very early example. Leslie Fish mentions this story as being perhaps the first in a quotation in Enterprising Women (p. 239), although the citation given in the footnote says it was published in Warped Space #6 (no date of publication given; maybe that was a reprint?); she says that it was followed by Alternatives, a collection of K/S poems, and then by her own story in Warped Space #20. Again, no dates of publication are given; does anybody happen to know exactly when thesethings came out (so to speak)?
I think HENRY'S suggestion of The Left Hand of Darkness as a possible influence on the development of slash sounds very likely; I'll be interested to hear other people's reactions. It might be difficult to prove, though. That's the kind of thing that could easily be a subconscious factor, something the slash writers themselves were not fully aware of. If we go further back in time, beyond the origins of media slash as we know it, there are some interesting predecessors. I have heard a wonderful rumor, which I certainly hope is true, that a certain university library in New England has a secret archive— not to be made public until all concerned are dead— of a mimeographed pornographic magazine written and illustrated by a small group of working-class women in the 1950s, some single but most bored young wives at home with the children (elderly pillars of their communities today, so you can see why it is being kept secret). The stories included every kind of sexual combination they could imagine, but the greatest interest was reserved for tales of the hot affair between— are you ready?— Buddy Holly and Richie Valens. Yep, Buddy Holly slash. I've heard that there were similar activities in rock fandom in Texas at about the same time. Then there are the rumors about things that went on somewhat later in Beatles fandom. One thing I heard was that girls used to write each other love letters, and in some cases have actual affairs, in the personae of their respective favorite Beatles: "I'll be John and you be Paul," or something like that. I suspect that something along these lines— women role-playing male parts with each other— is being done by at least some people in present-day slashfandom, though I've never met anyone who admits to it.
In addition to the history of slash, I'm also very interested in the appeal of so-called hurt/comfort and its relationship to slash. I've always thought of the two as being closely connected, so it was a surprise to me that so many of you hardcore slash fans don't like or understand h/c, to judge by your reactions to LEZLIE's very interesting and enlightening article on the subject. Personally, I think of the two genres as fusion versus fission: in slash, you smash the guys together with each other and see what happens; in h/c, you tear them apart individually and see what happens. Either way, there's a major change of state (as BARBARA pointed out in the case of h/c). But there's another reason for the popularity of h/c that is so obvious that I'm amazed no one has mentioned it already. Maybe the people who recognize it don't want to admit to it. The plain truth is: quite a lot of women get a sexual thrill out of hurting men, or at least watching men get hurt. (Imaginary men! In fictional situations! Relax, HENRY and DAVID, OK?) I have been aware of this taste for some time, both in myself and in a number of female friends. I call it Romantic Sadism. Romantic Sadism has very definite limits. You don't want to mess them up too badly; they have to stay pretty while they're being tortured. Mutilation is generally considered excessive, but opinion is divided about permanent scarring. The suffering should ideally be emotional as well as physical, and a colorful setting is a plus. The most utterly outrageous example I've ever seen is "October Story" by Susan Matthews, in Powerplay #3, in which the author invents an entire alien society solely in order to have her preferred victim (Avon, but it could have been anyone; he's unconscious or delirious for most of the story anyway) ceremonially flogged as a blood sacrifice on an altar covered with yellow silk (I did wonder whether they have a fabulous enzyme detergent that gets bloodstains out of silk, or whether they have to make new altar hangings for every sacrifice) and then floated down a river on a bed of rose petals. I am not making this up— I told you it was outrageous. But I don't know how anyone could read all that purple prose about the white skin and the red blood and the yellow silk and thepink rosepetals without realizing that the intention is explicitly erotic, even if it doesn't do it for you personally.
There may possibly be some deliberate catering to the whims of female viewers, but I think that most of what is going on in the actual shows is something else entirely. The hero, with whom the male viewers and scriptwriters identify, is put into serious jeopardy so that his ultimate triumph will be all the more thrilling. If you think, for example, of Rambo movies, it's really remarkable how much physical punishment the hero takes before the plot turns around and he starts to dish it out instead. (This interesting fact was brought to my attention by an article called "Spectacular Action: Rambo and the Popular Pleasures of Pain," by William Warner. I found it in the anthology Cultural Studies > which I had bought for the sake of the paper on slash by Constance Penley.) Kung fu movies tend to follow the same basic pattern. I call this phenomenon Macho Masochism. The basic idea of Macho Masochism is: "I'm so tough that I can take it...and take it...and take it." The basic idea of Romantic Sadism is: "He's so beautiful when he's in pain." In fan writing, the one is transformed into the other as the readerly viewpoint shifts from largely male to largely female. Heroic suffering on screen leads to h/c assurely as homosocial buddy-pair interaction leads to slash.
Macho Masochism is rampant in men's pulp adventure writing. I think that's probably where Paul Darrow got it. To me the most interesting thing about Avon; A Terrible Aspect, as well as his mercifully unproduced script, "Man of Iron," was the way he beat up on Avon in both. Fascinating. But in general, men just don't do it right. I was particularly annoyed by a scene in Trevanian's thriller Shibumi, in which the extremely attractive hero is beaten so badly that the bones in his face are broken and he has to have plastic surgery just to look the same again. Ugh. Where's the fun in torturing a good-looking guy if he doesn't stay good-looking? (On the other hand, I have to admit that I quite enjoyed the same idea as used in Hellhound; I thought it was a wonderfully clever way of getting your slightly over-the-hill romantic hero to have plastic surgery to make him look a bit younger. Besides, in the female-written version they only messed uphalf of his face, and you could still see that he had once been beautiful...)
So what is this Romantic Sadism thing all about, anyway? Well, it's not about hurting anyone in real life, honest. I'm really surprised at how many fans seem to be confused about that. Beating up fictional characters bears about as much resemblance to real-life violence against men as the classic fantasy of being thrillingly ravished by Rudolph Valentino does to actually being raped. Just because you get off on the fantasy does NOT mean that you have any desirewhatsoever for the nasty real thing.
I think there are probably a lot of different explanations for h/c, just as there are for slash, and that all of them have at least some degree of validity. The theory I favor most at present is that both slash and h/c are female power fantasies. I suspect an awful lot of heterosexual women have at some point thought wistfully how interesting it would be to make love to a man if you were bigger and stronger than he was.
I think the power-fantasy aspect of slash has much to do with the tendency to shrink one member of a pair unduly. I have noticed that the one who is shrunken is almost always the one who is considered the more attractive of the two, the preferred sex object: Illya. Doyle. Avon in an A/B story, Vila in an A/V (ironic, that). In a way, it's the bigger guy who is being "feminized," since he is being made into the viewpoint character for the female reader. I see the shrinkage as being most often a way of cutting the sex object down to more manageable size, rather than as feminization or infantilization... But I wouldn't rule out those motives on the part of some writers; certainly the child-like genitals in something like The Colonial Affair are very suggestive. It's clear that some women do go for adolescent or pre-adolescent males, though that taste leaves me completely cold. In fact, it's what turns me off about a lot of anime, Japanese slash, and even many Japanese pop singers. I like Eroica because the protagonists are adults. (But no, I certainly don't think that a fondness for prepubescent pop stars or manga characters makes one a child molester in real life! The usual Japanese explanation is that it's easier for female fans to identify with immature males than the more threatening,sexually mature ones.)
I greatly dislike this phenomenon of shrinkage when it occurs in stories that are set within the frame of the aired canon, because it indicates to me that the author simply has not observed the show very carefully. My favorite lust object of the moment, Avon, is (as CAT so rightly pointed out) quite a solidly built man, and furthermore he has very ordinary medium-brown hair (distinctly lighter than Blake's, and not much darker than Vila's), so why is he so often described in fanfic as "slim" and "dark"? I suppose it's because the writers think he would be more attractive that way, and I don't entirely disagree (photos of A Certain Actor as A Pretty Young Thing, back when he really was slim, knocked my socks off); but I object to the distortion of the "reality" of the aired show. It doesn't bother me so much if there is a plausible explanation within the story. ^ For example, just when I was feeling annoyed with Judith Seaman for displaying this fault, it occurred to me that after all the tortures she'd inflicted on him since GP, he would be pretty thin by now. Ditto for Hellhound. The idea of starving someone into dropping twenty or thirty pounds has definite appeal for a Romantic Sadist, especially one who likes skinny guys anyway. (Tarrant is my ideal body type, though he's too wholesome-looking to be a really ideal lust object generally. I love that slightly used look that Avon hasacquired by the end of the fourth series.)
Camille Bacon-Smith's take on h/c is strange indeed. As those of you who have read Enterprising Women will have noted, she regards h/c as the secret, hidden heart of media fandom. She believes that when, in her daring investigation (on p. 226 she actually refers to herself as "the intrepid ethnographer." I kid you not.), she came too close to this hidden heart, she was deliberately deflected and distracted by being shown slash instead. She takes this to be an example of "conservation of risk" on the part of fans, but that notion strikes me as an over-elaborate explanation of something much more simple. It seems obvious that people avoided discussing h/c with her because she had made it clear early on that she didn't like it (she admits as much on p. 268); in other words, what she interprets as fannish secrecy was merely common courtesy. I have never been able to decide whether this misinterpretation is simply a display of extraordinary stupidity, or whether it is a deliberate attempt to inflate the significance of her research project by making it sound far more difficult than it actually was. Bacon-Smith insists that h/c is not intended to be erotic (it is presumably for that reason that she writes it with a dash instead of a slash), and that writers and readers are interested only in the comfort and not in the hurt. I hope I have made it clear that while that may well be so for some people, it certainly n't true of all of us; and I think there's plenty of evidence in the stories themselves (see remarks on "October Story" above). It's interesting that on this point she ignored the good advice of scholars who suggested to her that h/c stories have an erotic element (p. 259). She continued to maintain that they don't, based on what she was told by a handful of people, presumably the same ones who had been reluctant to discuss h/c with her in the first place. I find it odd that here she stuck to what her informants told her, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, while at the same time she insisted on a bizarrely literal interpretation of a satiric Classic Trek story (One Wav Mirror by BarbaraWenk, discussed on pp. 107-110) even though all the fans she consulted, including the author herself, told her she was mistaken.
One thing she does get right, in my opinion, is her conclusion that slash is indeed about men and not about women, as some other writers on the subject, e.g. Joanna Russ, have implied. But she then takes the opposite tack with h/c and claims that that is not really about men at all. What it's about, she thinks, is the terrible pain in the lives of the women writing it and the desire to ease the pain, as shown by the emphasis on "comfort" over "hurt." Well— I wouldn't say that interpretation is completely inaccurate, but it's only a small part of the total picture. Certainly there is a degree of identification or at least of empathy with the sufferer in a properly wallowy h/c story; and undoubtedly the writing of fiction, whether fannish or professional, does often serve as a catharsis for unpleasantness in the author's own life. But this elaborate theory of identification with the victim overlooks something much more obvious: a lot of women are really, really mad at men, and with good reason. Who's causing us all that pain, after all? It seems to me that if a woman going through a messy divorce writes a story in which, say. Captain Kirk is raped and humiliated, it's not so much about her own pain as about her anger at her husband(as pointed out, very sensibly, in Edi Bjorklund's article in Nome #11).
Is there is any story in which Blake is raped; M. FAE wondered what Avon's reaction would be if asked for comfort on such an occasion. Aside from all the stories in which the two of them play mutual rough games with each other, I've read at least two stories in which Blake was raped by Travis. (I don't remember the authors or titles; if anyone really wants to know, I can root around in the zine collection and try to find them.) In one case, as far as I can recall, there wasn't too much about the aftermath; in the other case, it made Blake realize that his only objection to the activity was that it was with the wrong person, so that afterwards he was inspired to go seduce Avon. A more interesting example is a long story by Sheila Paulson that has an extra, almost-slash postscript. In that extra bit (presumably kept separate and optional for the sake of those who don't like slash) we learn that the evildoers from whom Avon has just rescued Blake were abusing him sexually as well as otherwise. Blake admits, rather defiantly, that he got through the experience by pretending that it was Avon; he thinks that Avon will be completely disgusted by this revelation. Avon is mildly offended at having been imagined as a rapist, but the same-sex part doesn't particularly bother him (though it doesn't seem to interest him much, either). He says that yes, he would go to bed with Blake if it seemed necessary, and yes, he would probably enjoy it. But it is left up in the air whether or not they will ever actually do anything with each other; to me, it sounds as if they probably won't. I like stories in which it is Blake who freaks out over some sexual issueor other and Avon who stays cool, calm, and sensible. It's a somewhat unexpected twist that is nevertheless within the bounds of my concept of the characters.
Joanna Russ mentions in her coming-out story ("Not For Years But For Decades," reprinted in Maaic Mommas. Trembling Sisters, Puritans & Perverts along with her essay on K/S) that as a teenager she had masochistic heterosexual fantasies that were "physically exciting, erotically dependable, and very upsetting emotionally." Her later interpretation of these fantasies was that they were an expression of her accurate, if not yet fully conscious, perception that she was being hurt by her environment just for being a woman; in the fantasies she made the hurt sexually exciting as a way of dealing with something she couldn't avoid anyway. That rings right to me. Another thing to keep in mind about nasty fantasies, whether masochistic, sadistic, or whatever, is that pleasant fantasies about things that one would actually like to have happen can be terribly painful if one is in a situation where they don't have much chance of coming true. (The young Joanna Russ gave up on lesbian fantasies for that very reason; they made her cry.) But the body insists upon sexual relief and therefore demands that the mind come up with something that's a turn-on; and under those circumstances all kinds of strange things surface: things that would be unenjoyable or even horrible if they were literally true, or just things that are very far removed from one's own circumstances— like slash, for instance. I detect a kind of sad wistfulness in a lot of sweet slash stories. It's as if the writers are thinking, "We know that men would never be so nice with us. But maybe they would with each other?" Thenagain, maybe it's just my imagination.
Getting interested in slash gave me a whole new insight into the transsexual lesbian phenomenon, though of course I don't really know what goes on in people's heads and I haven't had the guts to ask my friend. But it has occurred to me that a fascination with the other sex so intense that one wishessimultaneously both to have one and to be one is precisely what female slash readers are experiencing vicariously.
Your theory of slash characters as "shared men" fit neatly with my own notion about the difference between male and female approaches to porn, as follows (ah, the wonders of electronic cut-and-paste): "Women are less interested in the couplings of anonymous pretty bodies and more interested in emotionally-charged sexual relationships between people they feel they know; and the only 'people' who are sufficiently widely known to make it feasible to circulate stories about them, are media characters. Even men are not completely devoid of the desire to 'know' a fantasy sex object in some sense other than the purely carnal; I'm thinking of things like the little writeup that comes with each centerfold girl, saying what her hobbies are, what kind of men she likes, etc. But in stuff aimed at men, it is pretty perfunctory. Women want more but aren't likely to get it in magazines edited and published by men, as pretty much all commercial porn, even that ostensibly aimed at women, still is." At the same time we were talking in a general way about professionally published shared universes (e.g. the Bordertown books) as compared to the universes of fan writing, and also about the question of what makes a TV show or other commercial product (movie, manga, certain specific books, etc.) likely to develop a really fannish fandom (which might well include a slash fandom as a subset). The idea that a shared universe might be defined not by the shared characters but by the mutually understood background— so that rock music, vampires. Faerie, Regency romance, etc., could be regarded as fannish universes in the same sense, if not quite so powerfully, as ST, U.N.C.L.E., B7, etc.— hadn't quite been stated in so many words, but it makes perfect sense to me. I like it.
Some Topics Discussed in "Phoning From the Margins"
[unknown content; it was either included in the table of contents but not in the apa, or was missing in some copies]
Excerpts from "Phoning From the Margins"
Some Topics Discussed in "For the World is Hollow and I Fell Off the Edge"
- many comments on pornography, and how wrong a lot of the public discourse about it is
- no elves in Robin of Sherwood
- explanation about a term used in this apazine: "The point of "RAEBNC" is not to inform the apa writer that there are no comments to her zine, but to assure her that she is not being deliberately snubbed."
- comments on the essay, Slashing the Borg: Resistance is Fertile, and its "poaching" of the term "textual poaching"
- comments on the zine Science Friction
- fanwork love vs respect
- wishing for a fannish home for Angst and emotional dynamics in slash, as exemplified in Helen Raven's "Heat Trace"
Excerpts from "For the World is Hollow and I Fell Off the Edge"Grumpiness about some appropriation of some terms:
No elves here, move along:I find myself pretty angry at Michael Dery , who has appropriated the term "slash" in a way that disagrees with what it means to us [in the essay Slashing the Borg: Resistance is Fertile]. Henry points out, with some amusement, that all he's doing is poaching it, as we poach things ourselves. But it seems needlessly offensive to use it in a way that the community which coined the term—namely us—would not recognize, would disavow. And it's needlessly confusing, when academics or fans try to move from the one realm into the other, and find the same word being used in such different ways. In fandom, not all fanwriting ("textual poaching") is slash. To Michael Dery, apparently, it is. Ptui on him. I wonder if his slippage of the term's meaning is due to people (like he himself) reading Henry's book and fixating on the shocking aspect of fanwriting, going away with the impression that slash is most of what there is. I have no more faith in academics' being able to read calmly and coherently about things which shock them than I have in anyone else's.
Regarding Science Friction:I don't think I've seen any RoS zines which explore the "intriguing and perfectly obvious" (your words) possibility that Robin is an elf. I don't find it intriguing and perfectly obvious at al; it conflicts with every version of the Robin Hood universe I've ever seen, from Robin of Sherwood to the original balads, which never have elves of any kind. (Bar the troll people in the book I mentioned a while ago; but they are not elves, and it's left unclear whether they are even supernatural, or just a bunch of short medieval Grizzly Adamses.
[snipped]No, I can't recommend any of the RoS zines, except that everyone should read anything they can find by "Rache." Funny, angsty, filk, tragic, anything. She's one of the of the RoS best writers I've read by more than a long shot. Does anyone know if she writes in any other fandoms, perhaps under a different name? (Does anyone know her, and can put me in touch to fawn directly?
Nitpicking grammar editing:don't have a moral problem with it; I don't think that their writing their gay-porn fantasies and sticking irrelevant ST:TNG names on them is evil, or something. But it doesn't feel like fan fiction. So I don't like seeing it marketed as fiin fiction. I'm getting rather moralistic about this, and I don't like that. In fact, everything I'm saying here was said by early anti-slash fens about slash—I know that. I'm in no shape to think about this. It is relevant that, as you point out, there are writers in Frisky Business doing much the same thing—and, as I would like to point out. Frisky Business, from everything I've seen of it, is a lousy zine. Would you be happier if I rephrased "I have a problem with that" as "I find the resulting stories distasteful and boring"? That's basicaly what I meant. As I wrote and redrafted the above, I have moved away from my moralistic standpoint, toward the taste one.
A Hellhound comment:Just a comment on your editorial guidelines for your proposed zine. You say that "any changes beyond speling and minor grammatical changes wil be discussed with the author." An editor once corrected, without asking, the grammar in a short B7 story of mine. The grammar was deliberately incorrect, for a very particular reason, and I am stil peeved at her for wrecking the stylistic efect I was aiming for. There are also deliberate punctuation errors in my new Wiseguy story. (In an unrelated incident a couple years later, a truly wonderfid editor sent me proof sheets, which was the first time I had ever seen that done and which was just wonderful I wish al editors did that. Of course, that requires the editors to allow sufificient lead time to send them out, get them back, make any corrections needed, and stil go to press in time for the upcoming con, which most of the editors I know can't manage to arrange. Oh, well.)
Disinterest on both sides:Hellhound more interesting when it was, as you say, in the Make It Worse category; but in the latest book or so everyone is healing and getting nicer, and it's less involving.
Hoping for a home for an essay:The gay male s/m porn I've read doesn't spend much time on women at al, for obvious reasons, but has no particular distrust of or distaste for them that I've noticed; just uninterest. Like slash ofren has.
Respect vs love:Isn't Wanna Buy a Fanzine terrific? It's the only public-to-fandom place I know of publishing such intelligent reviews that aren't afraid to criticize. Plus Iove its attitude. If I ever manage to revise the Heat analysis, I'm going to offer it to them; it's not really a review, but I don't know of any other fannish publication for which it would be appropriate. 
I agree that it is useful to have a distinction between stories one likes and stories one respects. It's especially nice when they overlap, but there are cases where they don't. (I respect Look Through My Eyes deeply, but I don't think I like it, or that I enjoyed it—I'm not sure, as I haven't read it since the first time; I like most of Meg Lewtan's work, but I don't respect much of it.)
Some Topics Discussed in "It's Not So Much the Apocalypse, It's the Humidity"
- a short con report for Visions
- soulmates and bonds that transcend all else, both in slash fic and in traditional m/f pro romances
- many other similarities between pro romance novels and slash fic: exclusivity, honor, jealousy, virginity
- comments about this fans previous comments on Virgule-L about all-female spaces
- AU theory and fandoms
- comments about the essay Romantic Myth, Transcendence, and Star Trek Zines
Excerpts from "It's Not So Much the Apocalypse, It's the Humidity"Comments on some essays, including Romantic Myth, Transcendence, and Star Trek Zines:
Complexities and some future speculation:Over the Christmas break I read Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women, a collection of essays by romance writers, edited by Jayne Ann Krentz, herself a romance writer. So much of they said shouted "slash" at me, and raised questions about the Patricia Lamb & Diana Vieth article in particular, that I binged on trashy novels to see how similar the two forms are.
[snipped]Lamb & Vieth, and Joanna Russ following them, say slash is androgynous romance, a romance between equals, and so on. The first time I read it I wondered what they'd been reading because that isn't what I'd found at all in B7. They stuck only to K/S, as do Russ and Penley, probably because their audience is not likely to know B7, Pros, and some of the others. But their comparison to romances, the implied critique of the unequal power distribution and split of character traits in romances, and thought it sounded right. After reading romances, however, and the author's analyses of what they're doing, I disagree with L&V. That is, I agree with their chart and the idea that Kirk and Spock both (usually) end up with mixed male and female traits as they're assigned by tradition, but I disagree that this is not true in romances and always true across slash universes. The heroines in all of the books I read had some "masculine" characteristics: they were brave, adventurous, resourceful, and intelligent. They often did "masculine" things like sail their own boats. The heroes, OTOH, always had some "feminine" traits, in particular, they live for love; they are obsessed with the heroine. They are also sensitive, patient, nurturing and gentle at times. "The romance hero is able to be gentle and tender, while at the same time remaining strong and masculine" (Williamson, 127K). According to several of the romance writers, their novels are about the fusion of male and female; both characters have qualities of the other but more importantly, the hero represents the reader's and the heroine's masculine traits. The mandatory happy ending "requires that the hero acknowledge the heroine's heroic qualities in both masculine and feminine terms. He must recognize and admire her sense of honor, courage, and determination as well as her traditionally feminine qualities of gentleness and compassion" (Barlow and Krentz, 20K). The writers see their protagonists as equals, and the story as a game the woman always wins. As a reader, I didn't really get that impression, but I don't get the impression that the men in every slash story are equals either, if only because the writers so obviously prefer one over the other, often literally. Within slash stories, there is almost some power disparity - one character is in a position of official superiority by virtue of a job or social class. In the end, the differences are usually reconciled, the strengths and weaknesses balance each other. This seems a lot like romance to me. The hero is wealthier and has more authority because he is male in a society that places higher value on males (especially in the historicals), but the heroine has powers, too, and in the end they balance each other.
Acafans and slash:Both slash and romance have changed a lot since the first scholarly work on each appeared. Both are dynamic and complex genres filled with many subcategories and trends. Romances can be historical or contemporary, racy or chaste, very short or mammoth in length, include intrigue and suspense or straightforward adventure, or none of those. Slash is equally varied, although the older academic articles give the impression that K/S is the dominant slash universe; more K/S zines may be available overall simply because it came first, but it is not the series producing most of the new material. At the moment, that seems to be Pros, but there are always new series to be slashed. Wiseguy looks to be the next major one. Within each universe there are subgenres by plot element and setting: AUs, rape stories, death stories, and so on. While some universes, like Trek, UNCLE, and Quantum Leap have one major pairing (the Spock/McCoy variant is rare from what I've seen), others like B7 have more than one. Each pairing, whether it's the only one for a universe or not has unique features: in B/A writers must deal with Blake's departure and Avon's killing him in the final episode, in A/V they must cope with Avon trying to kill Vila near the end of the series. Avon is, naturally, the most popular B7 character and in many ways he is a standard romance hero, "dark and brooding, writhing inside with all the residual anguish of his shadowed past" (Barlow, 48K). This could also apply to Spock, and with minor modification (sometimes the damaged one is blond) to at least one half of most slash couples. Romances and slash have changed, but the appeal of the demonic hero seems to be a constant, whether he represents the reader's animus or just a really sexy fantasy.
Exclusivity in pro romance and slash fic:The other academics who have written about slash (Camille Bacon-Smith, Henry Jenkins, and Constance Penley) all acknowledge slash's overlap with romance. Henry, for instance, says that "the issues of intimacy and commitment [typical of slash] are raised with equal intensity within the popular romance...and the general plot movement described here mirrors the structure of traditional romances as attraction begets misunderstanding yet gives way to nurturing acceptance" (218-9). But the similarities are put aside as the authors turn to why- slash is different. What struck me while reading Krentz, and rereading Janice Radway and Tania Modleski, was just how much overlap there is. At the most basic level, the genres share a focus on relationships. Just as westerns are defined by their settings and mysteries by a puzzle to be solved, slash and romance are defined by the exploration of a romantic, sexual relationship between two people. Not just any two people, though, two people who are destined to be together; soulmates.
Virginity in pro romance and in slash fic:Mindmelding is prevalent in K/S, where it is often part of Vulcan mating. Not only does it intensifies lovemaking, allowing each partner to feel what the other feels, but in some stories it is more profound, tying the partners to each other for life and beyond; "a bonded Vulcan does not survive the death of his mate" (James, Susan K. and Frisbie, Carol A. Nightvisions). Slash for other series often use the concept as well, in spite of lack of Vulcans or other telepaths in the dramatis personae. Sometimes it's nothing more than intuition and knowledge of the other built over the years of their partnership, other times it's more finely timed, as when lllya and Napoleon learn hey can sense each other's movements and Illya successfully reads Napoleon's hidden finger-spelling (Eros. City of Byzantium). From the sublime to the downright silly, the examples of psychic connection are too common to ignore. The message is that this is the way it should be between lovers who are meant to be together, a manifestation of how thoroughly they are part of each other; they share each other's thoughts as well as their bodies and hearts.
An apology, and a refusal to apologize:The heroine's virginity, and more importantly losing her virginity, is important in romance. Slash parallels this convention in first-time stories in which one, or both, of the men have never had anal intercourse with another man, giving the phrase "no one else has ever made me feel this way before" a whole new meaning. Why is it so popular? One romance writer speculates it's because "virginity can only be given once, and it is ideally bestowed on a woman's great love. This giving of virginity adds an immeasurable element of drama and power to a story. It changes the heroine, of course, but in romance novels it also changes the hero" (Malek, 118K). I think in slash, as in romance, the first time just has more emotional resonance, it makes the first sexual encounter between the protagonists that much more significant. There's also the added angst over causing/feeling pain and the potent symbolism of who gets to fuck whom. But that's another paper. For the purposes of this paper, I want to emphasize that because virginity of any kind can only be given once, it's loss is another way of signifying the unique, special relationship of the partners.
AU theory:Apparently, I blasphemed when I confessed on the slash list that yes, in fact, there are times I'd rather be in a group that comprises only women. Naturally, some people agreed with me (more off the list than on, and I understand that decision) and some disagreed. A few even bothered to read my reasons instead of Just Jumping down my throat. We talked, still disagreed, and it was good. What was not good, OTOH, was the implication by others that I shouldn't state my opinion, or even feel as I do, because particular people don't agree. If the way I expressed myself caused anyone distress, that I apologize for. I thought I was well within the community standards of courtesy (loose as they are) and used a reasonable tone. What I positively refuse to apologize for is having and voicing an opinion simply because it does not meet with someone else's approval. It strikes me as astonishingly hypocritical to scream free speech one minute and stone someone the next because their free speech conflicts with your own beliefs.
A friend was lamenting the lack of AUs in B7 and this is my theory to account for the dearth...in Pros, ST, Man from UNCLE, all that, you're sttirting with a relationship that works ~ they like each other. So the conflict, and you have to have conflict in the relationship to have any story and tension, tends to be "I love him and if I tell him, he'll kill me/we'll lose whatever friendship we have now" (depending on which universe you're in). If you want to have a more basic personality conflict and show them overcoming it, the power of love and all that, you have to put them in different circumstances where they are on opposite sides emd their relationship has not yet begun. In B7, the conflict is already there. As someone on the slash list I think pointed out, the other way B7 differs from all the others is that there is no higher authority forcing them to work together ~ no Cowley, no Waverly, no StarFleet Command ~ the ship is what forces them together. Take them off the ship and there's no reason for them to work together, no assumption of a partnership from the aired series to build on.
Some Topics Discussed in "To Be Announced"
- comments on the movies "Reservoir Dogs" and "My Private Idaho"
- many comments on pornography and sex positivity
- many comments on organized religion and the status of women
- academic analysis and fandom
- too many fandoms, not enough time
Excerpts from "To Be Announced"A reading surprise:
"Monogamous vs slut":This goes against practically everything that I have said on the subject but I have been reading some of the older 'straight' Blake's Seven stuff (Magnificent Seven, Southern Seven) and found that I could really get to like it. There seems to be soooooooooo much angst/love/pain/terror/violence to explore in this series that just about all stories manage to come up with something novel. Does this hold true for any other fandom adopted series I wonder. Is this perhaps the sign of a good show - that each and every variety of fandom can find something constructive to explore?
Academic analysis and Fandom:I have to be a slut. I've collected so many fandoms that I really really ought to let some go - but I can't. At the moment there are half a dozen zines piled up at the bottom of my bed waiting to be read. They are not on the shelf labelled 'to be read' as it is already stuffed. There is B7 (all sorts), KS, Vice, BD, numerous multi media etc., I just don't have the time to read them all but I cannot let any go. Along with the above though goes the realisation that there are only 3 maybe 4 fandoms that I want to read ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING in most I will read as they cross my desk but that 3 or 4 I will seriously hunt for. I don't think that I could give up one of these even though I found yet another to add to the list. Maybe writers have a different outlook, I guess that it is far easier to read and enjoy many different fandoms than write in them all.
I have always been obsessive about my fandoms. I have to read EVERYTHING that there is, even if it is only connected in the very loosest way with 'the main interest'. I fell in love with Robin Hood, read everything about him (didn't really get on with Morte de Artur), then went on to other countries versions of Robin. This brought me into Mythology, from where I read Robert Graves 'The White Goddess', which made me think about all that Catholic mythology and so forth and so forth. I though that everyone did this. I can remember practically ALL of the books/stories I read then, on the other hand I have forgotten practically ALL of the academic studies for exams that I did at the same time! Anyway, within that 'wanting' to read everything about a fandom, I want o know what others in the fandom are doing/reading/watching because they might have found something I've missed. I started out in Star Trek fandom, accidentally found K/S. My brains worked out that there must be other 'sexual' fandoms but I never knew where to find them and I didn't know anyone else who did (even the publishers I bought from at that time professed not to know). An academic book on the fandom would have given me a starting point to try and find the rest of you. For me, I really enjoy academic studies of what I am doing/reading/watching/poaching. I enjoy the 'got that right' and 'God, got that really wrong' analysis of the book vs what I think/feel about myself and 'my fandom'. I think that the biggest plus point for academic analyses of fandom if for the 'new kid on the block', if they are anything like me that will find and read all that they can, and books labelled 'fandom' in any way will get found and read and will give them a starting point (even if it is only writing to the author via the publisher) to find other people with the same interests. I've rambled a bit I know but I'm writing this 'stream of consciousness' during lunch hour at work and I don't have time to fix it.
Some Topics Discussed in "Bad Girls Go Everywhere"
Excerpts from "Bad Girls Go Everywhere""
- perhaps a nod to The Blake's 7 Wars.
- This is essentially the plot of a Babylon 5 episode.
- Steffany White is a character in the Hellhound zines.
- Fiona Feldman is a character in Tales of Feldman.
- Most fans, even if they did not enjoy the pairing, would say that Blake/Avon was by far the most popular pairing.
- This fan meant to type "Mark Dery."
- Fanlore raised its hand twenty-seven years later... See Angst and emotional dynamics in slash, as exemplified in Helen Raven's "Heat Trace".