The Great Australian 1985 Radio Show Fiasco

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The Great Australian Radio Show Fiasco refers to an interview done in 1985 by reporter John Baxter on the Sydney, Australia radio station 2FC in which slash was openly discussed, excerpts from a slash K/S zine read aloud, and a fan was interviewed.

It is unknown exactly when this show aired, but fans commented on in it in the print letterzine Not Tonight, Spock! in May 1985, so sometime between January and April.

While many fans were horrified that what they considered private and secret was being openly discussed (and from the tone of the interview, mocked), the insult on injury was that a fellow fan participated in the show.

Some Context

Many fans in the past (and many in the present as well) considered their fannish creations and venues to be private, and when those activities were slash-focused, even more so. There have been periodic panics of fandom in which fans felt the hot stare of journalists and other outsiders, something that fueled even more secrecy.

One example: The zine editor of As I Do Thee left her name off of issue #3, writing: "Due to unwanted publicity "Down Under" (and elsewhere), this name is being withheld to protect the...uh...innocent?"

This same fan, without identifying themselves, wrote an Open Letter to the Editors of All K/S Zines & All Other "/" Media Zines. This letter was published in Not Tonight Spock! #9 in May 1985, Datazine #36, The Hatstand Express #6, Universal Translator #27:

TO THE EDITORS OF ALL K/S ZINES & ALL OTHER "/" MEDIA ZINES. Please be advised that a recent program on the Sydney radio station 2FC openly discussed the topic of K/S publications. An excerpt taken from an American zine [1] was read out by the reporter. The author of the story, the zine, the publishers & their address were supplied on air & the tone of the reading was NOT sympathetic. A fan of K/S, & I use the word advisedly, then discussed the topic with the reporter, John Baxter.

The interview was taped, due to the quick thinking of another fan who just happened to be listening to the program & it has been ascertained that John Baxter was in possession of other zines at the time the program went to air. The author of the named story & the publishers of the zine have been advised of the details of this matter.

Bearing in mind the details of recent events in the U.S.A. & in Britain, due to media publicity about other zines, I must warn all authors & editors to double check their orders from Sydney through the network of correspondents who have written to them because at the moment you run the risk of having your work exposed. I realize the difficulty of such action, but the repercussions of this kind of publicity are well known to all of us. I will not waste time by citing chapter & verse of past incidents, nor will I enter into the arguments for & against K/S. My stand is obvious as the writer of this letter.

Perhaps the disclaimers printed in the zine could be more explicit, though anyone with a modicum of intelligence should realize why such warnings are printed. The interviewee, Ruth Collerson, (... that is no secret, her name & profession were given on the program) may have been recently involved in fandom, less than twelve months I am told, but I feel that her action was harmful to the well being of general Trek as well as K/S. The same, lady is proposing to act as the co-editor of MAGNETISM II. As to the question of submitting stories to that publication, I offer no comment, Please authors, make your own judgements. If you wish to submit, do so.

Although this is an open letter, I must apologize for asking the editors of the letterzines to withhold my name & address, although I have, of course, given such details to them. They are experienced enough to understand my reticence & I know they have kept many confidences in the past. I, like so many, need my privacy & have no wish to suffer the consequences of others' thoughtlessness.

The Fic Author's Comments in 1985

The author of the K/S story that was read on the air commented:

I also wanted to mention that I heard from a friend in Australia that parts of TWIN DESTINY 1 were read over the Australian Broadcasting Commission on a science fiction show which had Ruth Collerson as a guest speaking about K/S.... explicitly. The reason I was informed was that it was part of my story that was read... with my name. I am not embarrassed or ashamed of K/S or my involvement in it, but I do think it's not only tacky but illegal to read another person's work in a public forum without permission... especially this kind of work. I also think that K/S does not belong on nation-wide radio & can be eternally grateful that it didn't happen in the U.S. K/S has always been underground & has been ignored by those who could cause all of us a lot of trouble so far. I simply don't think we need any further exposure to the general public than we've already received in recent months. This is also a good example of why I no longer write under my real name. [2]

The Fic Author's Comments in 2014

A fan in Australia was invited on a TV, I mean a radio show that was kind of science fiction, it was like, "We have quirky fan stories" — She was invited on to read a story, one of her favorite stories. I think she was contacted at a convention. And I learned about this about a week later, 'cause that's how long it took mail to get to California from Australia. I had about twelve letters saying, "Oh my god, this woman read your story, your K/S story, under your real name, on a national radio program."... Had that happened here, Paramount would have been on my ass in a second.[3] I did write to her and to the show's producers, saying, "You can't read someone else's property, with— using their name, on any kind of media other than the written word, without permission." And, you know, I got all these apologies. But that was very close. And so, I no longer wrote under my real name, and my first pseudonym was born. [4]

The Name of the Excerpted Story

The author of the story identified three stories as the story read aloud.

A Time for Everyone?

Originally, A TIME FOR EVERYONE was titled A TIME FOR EVERYONE AND EVERYONE IN THEIR TIME. The story was printed in TWIN DESTINY in 1983 under my real name. Since then, I've written the sequel and it just seemed natural to split the title. So, now I there are two stories; A TIME FOR EVERYONE and AND EVERYONE IN THEIR TIME. Confusing, but it seemed...uh...logical.

Back in 1983/1984 [5], some of you may have become aware that a K/S fan in Australia had been invited on to a nationally broadcast radio program and that she read a K/S story, complete with the author's name, over said radio program. That story was mine, the very A TIME FOR EVERYONE you now hold in your hands. It follows that the author, whose name was read over national radio in connection with a K/S story was me. That was the end of my using my real name in K/S. Why? Well....

Suppose, just suppose, someone had read that story, or any K/S story, over nationally broadcast American radio program? Do you think Paramount would be thrilled by that...or with the author? K/S is an underground genre. We've done our best to keep it that way. Granted, certain people, who need not be named here, and publications like like L.A. WEEKLY and a Denver, Colorado newspaper (both of which have published articles on K/S in recent months, both of which have printed K/S illustrations with those articles -- (one [ Gayle F ], one TACS) have made it difficult to keep K/S underground, but the last thing we need is that kind of 'help' from 'our own people'. I won't even go into the fact that this person in Australia broke every copyright involved by reading my story in a public forum without my knowledge, let alone my permission. No doubt, this person did not intend to cause trouble, but putting K/S in view of the general public does nothing else but cause trouble for everyone involved.

I'm far from ashamed of K/S or of writing or reading it. But we all have to live 
in the real world and facts is facts. Writing K/S and having it known by people at 
Paramount or by the actors or by some radically 'moral' minority can be very detri
mental to one's career...to say nothing of one's life. And since quite a few of us have illusions of writing more than fan stories some day.... Well, enough said about 
the merits of pen names. [6]

The Edge of Certainty? or From the Fields?

The author commented on this in 2016:
The above is my error. The story which was read on Australian radio was not in "Twin Destiny". My story in "Twin Destiny" was published under my pen name, which was created after I became aware of the Australian radio incident. The story that was actually read on radio was either "The Edge of Certainty" in "As I Do Thee #1" or "From the Fields" in "As I Do Thee #2".[7]

A 1987 Comment Regarding the Positive Effects of Wider Exposure

Van Hise, the editor of Pon Farr Press), commented in 1987 on positive effects of having slash and Kirk/Spock fanworks exposed to a larger audience, citing the 1986 article published in the L.A. Weekly called Sigh-Fi:
As to how the L.A. WEEKLY article has affected PON FARR PRESS, I can only say at this point that zine sales and inquiries have increased dramatically. Since several of us here in Southern California do sci-fi conventions in the L.A. area, we have been asked, "Is this that stuff we read about in the paper?" Mostly, the reaction from the public is one of curiosity without hostility. Of course, there are the exceptions to that rule when one encounters an overly-zealous, morally self-righteous s.o.b. (for details, see the editorial, BANNED IN ANAHEIM, which appeared in NT#6;. Additionally, when we attended a convention in Denver (STAR CON) back in March of this year [1987], we were exposed to several people who had read a similar- — though less "critical" — article which appeared in a Denver newspaper. [8]Again, the reaction was one of curiosity mingled with a little disbelief. It's interesting to note that several of these newcomers are now ordering regularly — and some of them are men (yes, that is a rarity in K/S writers and readers alike). So, as to the reaction, it's been more positive than negative. It seems that the article merely "confirmed" what a lot of people had already thought of on their own. While I don't agree with the less than discretionary manner in which the L.A. WEEKLY article was done, it's primary impact seems to be that it's led a lot of new folks into K/S fandom."[9]

Other Fannish Reaction

Pity about the blabbermouth on Aussie radio. Why does one always come along to screw things up? [10]
I'd heard about the Great Australian Radio Fiasco and was properly horrified, but consider this — what we do, no matter how we try to keep it quiet, can always be made public. Sure we can reduce the risk by not selling to/supplying known troublemakers, but trouble comes out of left field more often than not. What we do for the most part is pretty tame, really, and while the moral majority may look askance, and people like the radio interviewer may think we're all just a bunch of geeks getting our rocks off in weird ways, very little harm is actually done. [11]
Also, it's interesting to note that a lot of newspaper & periodical articles have been appearing lately, articles which purport to "inform the public" about K/S. The "Sigh-Fi" article which we reprinted in OTD #1 is a prime example. No one asked [Gayle F] if she wanted her illustration to appear in a publication which is easily available to children. This was done without Gayle's permission, in the name of "journalistic freedom". Well... in my opinion, that "journalistic freedom" could also be made to extend to printing "excerpts" from stories and naming the author — such as what happened on a radio talk show in Australia. A portion of a K/S story was read over the air, and the interviewer named the author — who, at the time, was using her real name. After that, she quickly adopted a pseudonym for obvious reasons. [12]
Joanna Russ' Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans, and Perverts and its analysis of K/S... am I right in assuming this is a book in general distribution? If so, I find the prospect disturbing... whether it's a 'loving, fascinating' analysis or not, it still amounts to drawing public attention to K/S in the same way David Gerrold and the Australian radio debacle did. I don't believe K/S and the greater proportion of it's adherents need or want publicity of whatever tenor. [13]
When material is copyrighted, it means that it may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever with the permission of the copyright holder. This includes radio broadcast. The incident in Australia is unfortunate (reading parts of a story and giving the authors' names on the air). This definitely leads to defamation of character besides violating the copyright. We here at the press do not advocate K/S or similiar [sic] stories, but people are entitled to their opinion. Just because someone does not like what is said in a book or fanzine does not entitle them to break the law. We feel that if one disagrees that violently with the K/S premise, then one should not purchase those fanzines! they are clearly labeled [sic]. We do not purchase those zines. (RE: Wrath story in AOS 2/3 — the captain was drugged and his mind obviously being manipulated). [14]

See Also

References

  1. It was a story by Dovya Blacque in As I Do Thee, see The Great Australian Radio Show Fiasco.
  2. Not Tonight Spock! #9 (May 1985)
  3. Not likely, but this is what people were worried about at the time.
  4. Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Alayne Gelfand (2014)
  5. It was 1985, not 1983/1984.
  6. from the author's notes by Dovya Blacque in A Gathering of Blacque (1987)
  7. Source: Dovya Blacque edit to this page dated March 11, 2016.
  8. This was the article that contained an illo by TACS.
  9. from On the Double #3 (1987)
  10. from The Hatstand Express #7 (1985)
  11. from The Hatstand Express #7 (1985)
  12. from On the Double #3
  13. from Not Tonight Spock! #12
  14. from the editors of Abode of Strife #4 (1985)