Vas & Dex

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Name: Vas & Dex
Abbreviation(s):
Creator: Terri Beckett and Chris Power
Date(s): 1971-1987
Medium: print
Country of Origin: UK
External Links:
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Vas & Dex is an original fiction fandom fiction series. While Terri Beckett and Chris Power wrote the bulk of these stories, other fans wrote a few in the universe as well, though these fics were usually crossovers.

The two main characters are Jonathan Michael Dexter III and David Andras Vastarnyi.

Vas, from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #1, artist is Todd Hamilton, art is dated 1986
Dex, from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #1, artist is Todd Hamilton, art is dated 1986
likely Vas and Dex, from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #4, artist is Sharon G., date is unknown, but likely 1986 or 1987

While the series began as a gen one, some stories are slash.

Some fans felt that the series took a dark turn, something that one of the authors hinted at as she was writing it. In July 1987, Beckett wrote: "Let's say,m if we did this to S&H, we'd be lynched." [1]

Fans who were involved in Starsky & Hutch and The Professionals were some fans of this series. Similar series are Harry & Johnny and Tris/Alex.

a 1987 order form, address redacted, printed in Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #4

Starsky & Hutch as Inspiration

Beckett and Power were enamored of "Starsky and Hutch" when it was airing, but they were "fans in isolation"--not knowing that fandom existed. They decided to write their own stories, which they based on Starsky and Hutch. The two authors kept writing Vas & Dex even after they discovered Starsky & Hutch fandom. At that point, the two original characters had taken on a life of their own. Beckett and Power also wrote an alternate Vas/Dex series.

The two characters were David Vastarnyi (the Starsky "clone") and Jonathan Dexter (the Hutch "clone").

Vas was Hungarian, from a poor background, stubborn, hot-tempered, loyal to Dex, and walked with a swagger. Dex was an educated and wealthy background, became a cop against the wishes of his family, was recently divorced, and was a bit of a whiteknight and idealist. The two men met at the police academy and ended up as partners in the LAPD. Their boss was Lieutenant Hymie Goldberg.

The stories were photocopied and circulated by mail. Jody Lynn Nye was a one-time distributor in the US.

LemonAid

Some fans also referred to them at times as "LemonAid." [2] There was a gathering of LemonAid fans at ZebraCon in 1988:
Friday evening was the appointed time for the LemonAid Gather, at which we had a dramatised rendering of MOTEL CALIFORNIA, and munchies, and plenty of good conversation. [3]

Distribution

They were written between 1971 and 1987 as pass-around stories. A few appeared in zines. The stories were photocopied and circulated by mail, usually for the cost of postage.

Jody Lynn Nye was a one-time distributor in the US.

Author Comments

1985

It seems there are new people discovering our non-SH universe (colloquially known as contacting V&D) and so I'd like to take this opportunity to explain a few things. We like to share, and we are happy to welcome new readers. We just like to know who you are and what you think. We're never going to get it right if you don't tell us when we go wrong, now are we? Besides, I'm rethinking the distribution-system, hopefully to take some of the weight off the kind ladies who have been helping out. So--if you have read/are reading any of the V&D stories, please get in touch with me. That goes for past readers, too. I have some exciting news for all of you. Vale atque ave, friends... [4]

1986

I discovered [Starsky & Hutch] at the end of first season, started writing SH after reading the Max Franklin novelisations, and the rest is history. I didn't discover fandom until my partner and I had already written fourteen SH stories and realised we weren't going to find fame and fortune that way (HAH!), which spawned those bastard sons of SH, Vastarnyi and Dexter, who swiftly grew to resemble their unwitting sires hardly at all. But who did give us a great chance to explore other possibilities that might not be right for S&H. I'm a strong believer in writing to fit the canon of the show — if I want to write something that doesn't fit, I write about someone else. But that still gives us a vast amount of scope, which is a debt we owe to the characters created by the two actors.[5]

1987

[January]: I discovered [Starsky & Hutch] at the end of first season, started writing SH after reading the Max Franklin novelisations, and the rest is history. I didn't discover fandom until my partner and I had already written fourteen SH stories and realised we weren't going to find fame and fortune that way (HAH!), which spawned those bastard sons of SH, Vastarnyi and Dexter, who swiftly grew to resemble their unwitting sires hardly at all. But who did give us a great chance to explore other possibilities that might not be right for S&H. I'm a strong believer in writing to fit the canon of the show — if I want to write something that doesn't fit, I write about someone else. But that still gives us a vast amount of scope, which is a debt we owe to the characters created by the two actors. This being said, I'm also a firm advocate of S/H — not merely for the homo-erotic charge, but because I'm fascinated to see how the two protagonists would deal with the problems. My main quibble about much of the S/H being written is that once the writer has put them through the traumas of guilt and finally got them into bed, the assumption is that they'll live happily ever after. Well, they might — but the odds are most empathically not on their side. What I want to read (and therefore try to write) is how they face the problems, come to terms with the difficulties, and eventually win through. The partnership has to 'make it through the night'. But let's see some of the struggle first — it makes the eventual success so much more worth having. Not that I'm against the Good Stuff. I just think it tends to become a tad repetitive. There are only so many positions and variations on a theme, no matter how many times you've read THE JOY OF GAY SEX. I love to read about the love — but I want to see that love tested. My other failing is an inability to see '/' in the majority of the other male bondings at present in vogue. I may cry... I guess part of this problem is that I have to be able to believe in the characters and their feeling for each other — and that kind of chemistry is rare as hen's teeth. But I'm always looking for it. A bit like the Hunting of the Snark...[6]
[May]: We didn't create V&D just to get another 'relationship' story. They grew out of S&H (Athene from the brow of Zeus?) and thereby hangs a tale. We were writing S&H long before we knew of fandom, and during one story it became abundantly clear that we weren't writing S&H (as seen on the screen) but two other guys with a passing resemblance and the same names. The question was -- who the hell were they? A little research, and there they all were in their glory (?) -- no longer mere clones, but personalities in their own right. This established, we were able to go back and write S&H according To Canon without anyone else muscling in. Or not that much. [7]
[July]: Since we'd written quite a lot of V&D before their advent into fandom, I guess to the new readers it seemed that there was a never ending supply of it. But of course, we don't have the mythical manuscript tree in our garden, so it tends to seem like a long time between stories. There is plenty on the horizon, however. See the attached list of available material. I'm pleased you liked the portraits [of Vas and Dex in issue #2] -- in spite of excellent attempts by fannish artists, no one had produced pictures that looked like both of them and not like SH clones. Then came Todd Hamilton. The rest is history. As for THE THRESHING FLOOR series... yeah, you could say interesting. Enjoyable? Let's say, if we did this to S&H, we'd be lynched. We may get lynched anyway after NEA anyway. Ah me. Such is live. Ars longa, vita brevis, and like that. [8]

1988

[June]: I enjoy fantasy. But, for me, S&H are firmly in the late 20th century, living in California, and with a solid ten or more years background as cops. Anything else — the names may be the same, and the physical attributes, but they're not S&H. A man is a product of his environment. So David Kihkailovich Starski of the Imperial Russian Army, and Kenneth Hutchinson, the young American travelling in Europe to further his education, are product heir environment, and won't have more than a passing resemblance to the S&H we love. (I mention the above because it's my pet fantasy. I am not immune. Never said I was.) That's why although I have the characters and plot in my head, I'm not going to write it. Or the one about the young crusader at the Horns of Hattin, and his rescue from certain death by a blue-eyed Saracen Emir... Or the half-dozen others swimming around in my cerebellum. I may use the ideas -- I'm a writer, I use everything, and nothing is Sacred — but it won't be S&H. Nothing I have said is news to any of you, I'm sure. After all, Chris and I went and created the Vastarnyi & Dexter series, which may have started off as poor copies, but have certainly matured into something entirely other than S&H. As a friend of mine mentioned, when voicing the suggestion that the two pairs should meet -- "..but S&H would probably arrest them..." She's probably right. But then, with any characters of your own, you're, freed from the necessity to conform to any canon except your own. Okay, it may be harder work — but it's FUN! [9]
[September]: I don't mind a bit you putting your five cents' worth in in advance! I'm glad it's not just me being despondent about the State of Fandom. I'm with you. We're not done with it yet! The only thing I can think of to inject enthusiasm into the ailing creature is maybe more sharing. It used to happen — people would share their ideas and stories far more freely, as well as publishing far more in sine format. It doesn't have to be perfect (a lot of our stuff has holes you could drive a fleet of trucks through) but get it out of the bottom draw and let us see It? The idea of the Library, which Karen B. has started so successfully with the PROFS fanfic, is one solution. Or make a charge for xeroxing the MSS, as we do for the V&D chronicles. [10]
[November]: '... the introduction of sexual intimacy can trigger... alterations in attitudes...' Right on... This is something that I find fascinating. We have tried to explore this in our SH writing, and maybe even more in the THRESHING FLOOR alternate of our V&D stories. Well, we're freer there to delve into the dark side — less chance of anyone jumping down our throats screaming 'That's not MY S&H!' And from what Jody tells me of requests for TF, we must be doing something right... Seems people want to read little else, and when are we going to write more? That, if you're interested, is a question we hope to answer just as soon as we get NEA off our backs! Soon, Henry... [11]

1989

[February]: [Chris and I] had a good time deciding what we were going to write next. Well I had a good time, anyway, and after three glasses of mulled wine, I did get her into an amenable mood. More SH? Well, just lock out for the by-line. More Vas & Dex? You bet. (And contact Jody, who'll keep you up to date.) Just because we've finally got NEA off our backs, it doesn't mean we are for fresh wood9 and pastures new. Mainly because — well, it's cold outside, and fandom is so warm and appreciative! [12]

1990

I was deeply touched to see that our own Vas and Dex have made it into the 'featured fandoms' at the S&H 15-year Anniversary Con... The only team who aren't and never have been on the screen. [13]
[March]: I have been and am writing. Not exclusively S&H, I will admit, put also a historical novel (not featuring S&H clones, in case you were wondering! Sorry!) and the Continuing Saga of Vastarnyi & Dexter. (Commercial Break -- NEW! NEW!! NEW!!! After taking a sabbatical, tne V&D team are pack on the streets! Available shortly -- more from the THRESHING FLOOR '/' universe, more mainstream, and TRIVIAZINE! Fiction, poetry, interest, photos, art — AND that Hungarian Glossary we promised! Don't miss it! SASE Jody Lynn Nye for details!) (Yes, that is THE Jody Lynn Nye. Another fan makes it BIG!) Two of the SH ideas are slightly held up, due to my requested research material not arriving — these days i'm picky, I like to get my details right. The reader may not care, but I do! However, I have no plans for any further SH novellas. Why not? Partly because at present I'm fresh out of ideas. I need stimulation. I need feedback. I'm not getting any. This could be classified as a subtle hint. It will probably have as much effect as the other hints I've been throwing out. I told you I'd be repeating myself... [snipped] This is something I reaily missed, not attending ZebraCcn. The feedback and discussion -- sometimes it only takes a word or phrase to generate a whole new crop of ideas, and a Con is a good place to pick up and catch up on those things other people are thinking or writing about. [14]
[May]: You'd rather I lied? Sure, I could tell you I'm just chockfull of all these neat new ideas for SH, but sooner or later I'd get caught out, someone would cough politely and demand to know what they are. I'll discuss all you like, honest, but after throwing my hat in the ring several times (check past issues) and not getting much more than a sniff at my lure (and how's that for a choice mixed metaphor?) I'm not going to start anything. Unless I do get a really neat idea, of course, in which case ignore all the above... Whoever claimed I was consistent? ... I am up to my tush in deadlines. A short story, a novel, a V&D story, notes for another novel... What, you cry, no SH? Shock, horror, cries of heresy! Well, sucks to you, I just finished a SH story, so there. Whether anyone likes it is beyond my control. It isn't a death story, we don't kill the cat, no one gets shot, and it isn't S/H. It's the kind of story we saw on the screen. At least, that was what we were aiming for. If we succeeded, I hope someone bothers to mention it. LoCs are really thin on the ground, though looking back over the years, that isn't a new thing — we only got seven after 3-11. So the little pile we collected over NEA was at least an improvement on that. [15]
[September]: ... hell, yes, let's have some more of CONVICTED. I wrote a V&D story (ROUGH JUSTICE) in which Vas was behind bars, but that was purely as an undercover operation -- a slightly different scenario, We had Hutch in jail in Teri White's HOPSCOTCH — Starsky's experiences and reactions would be interestingly different. If you don't actually want to write it, [M], or your time (like mine) is restricted, or the Dreaded Writers' Block hits, why not just give us the synopsis? [16]

1991

[unknown month, possibly February]: The Vastarnyi & Dexter Chronicles -- an Introduction.

Several years ago, when Chris and I first discovered fandom, we wanted to explore every aspect of S&H -- and like many other writers in fanfic, we began a 'how-they-met' story.

We weren't far into it before it dawned on us that whoever we were writing about, they weren't S&H! So we had a choice -- junk the story and start again, or continue with it and see where it led.

We continued (it seemed a good idea at the time) as we are both keen on experiment -- and out of this first story, A DIFFERENT DRUMMER, the characters we now know as Jonathan Michael Dexter III and David Andras Vastarnyi emerged. They were interesting enough in their own right for us to write more -- and eventually we showed some of the stories to a fellow fan. She asked if she could show someone else -- and it snowballed from there. People on both sides of the Atlantic began reading and enjoying the adventures of our two heroes. But back to the stories. Since these were our characters, we were not constrained by the 'canon' of an aired show. So all the stuff we wanted to do with S&H, and didn't dare because for one reason or another it didn't fit, we were able to do with V&D. We have been able to invent backgrounds, families, relationships, and all the other good stuff, but with far more freedom and scope. And the continuing interest of our readership makes us think we must be doing something right! We are always happy to receive LoCs, questions, and constructive comments. Tell us what you think! [17]

1992

Oh, to those of you who are still quivering with shock over my comment last ish [of Frienz] -- 'has there ever been story where Starsky gets crucified -- but haven't gotten around to writing to ask me about it. If you want to know more about it (and it is a good!) or you'd like info on the rest of our alternate universe, write to me or Jody Lynn Nye... and we'll fill you in. LemonAid is not a secret society, we don't demand signatures in blood, and we love to share what we write. It also helps our favourite charities, which is the gilt on the gingerbread. [18]

Fan Comments

1985

I am HOOKED on Vas and Dex!! LOVE them. Especially Vas. [19]
For any of you newer fans out there who might be unfamiliar with the Vas & Dex universe, I urge you to contact Terry B. These guys are great! They're impossible to describe, (especially that Vastarnyi!), so I won't even try. All I can say is, I'd kill to get my hands on a new story in their universe (please, God, let that be what Terri means with her "exciting news," please?). [20]

1987

[May]: Most recently I was fortunate enough to have [S T] introduce me to your Vas and Dex characters ... fortunate indeed as [S] has most of the stories written to date and I was therefore able to read them (mostly) in sequence without having to wait lengthy periods between stories . Only problem (darn it ) being that as source is limited to a single pair of writers, the volume once devoured means further input is (very) hard to come by. Quality is addictive ... am sure glad to hear that there will be more (CRUCIBLE). And I appreciated the chance to see a visualization that is author-approved. [21]
[July]: I recently got some new-to-me Vas n' Dex: is Dance Unrehearsed a different universe of Threashing Floor? Talk about cliff hangers. Urrrrgh. I enjoy your letters to us, but do please stop apologizing for "tone"; I don't take your contributions in any way as "negative" but rather as an opportunity to explore different facets of their relationship. After all, there was only one episode called "Dandruff"--the rest of the series was more dark- with-high-lights, don't you think? I'm all for escapism in my zine entertainment, but some of the more gritty stories give me the opportunity to "rehearse" how I might cope with some of life's less pleasant curves. [22]

1993

I ... find that the problem (if problem it is) [of missing exposition] is even worse in a set of stories in the same author-universe, like the Tris/Alex main stories, or Vas/Dex or what was that long set of k/s stories, Continum? something with a 'C' where they did it once, and then went back and filled in the blanks, and then did a sequel after they died? Any of the stories stand alone in a thematic sense: they all fave their own plots and climaxes, and yet, because you are assumed to have read all of the other stories, they don't go on and on about how much these guys care about each other, or whay they can trust each other; you know there is this enormous back story, and it lets you allude to the depth of their relationship very quickly, rather than actually having to show and tell it. I think this is a strength (usually), but it does explain to me why when I read just a couple of out of order Vas/Dex stories, and later a couple of out of order Tris/Alex stories, neither of them grabbed me. You have to read the whole series, even though the plots are self contained, to get the emotional connection. [23]

1995

I agree that Vas/Dex stories, which are written by fans in fandom for other fans and are in the pattern of traditional slash, are difficult to term anything but slash (in the stories in which the characters are lovers, that is; 3/4's of the material is gen instead) even though they were developed to be original characters instead of taken directly off a screen. Other experiments of this sort don't seem to have been very successful, however, though I've seen one or two. In general the fans who write in fandom accept and usually enjoy the exercise of transferring a screen character to print; or else take the easier path of declaring an a/u to a specific universe; or if they ignore both those options yet insist on staying in fandom, aren't very good. Vas/Dex is a shining exception, not a rule. [24]

Known Stories

This is very likely not a complete list.

In Zines

The Stories

The titles with page counts were available as of 1987. [25]

The titles in bold without page counts were available in 1991. [26]

  • takes place in 1969, "A Different Drummer" (The first story, A DIFFERENT DRUMMER, was a novel that, as I recall, they were shopping around for pro publication (so they wrote it under a pseudonym). [27] (330 pages)
  • takes place in 1970, "Crucible" (210 pages)
  • takes place in 1970, "Cloak and Dagger" (103 pages)
  • takes place in 1970, "The Family Affair" (72 pages)
  • takes place in 1970, "Cut Loose" (35 pages)
  • takes place in 1971, "The Vortex" (80 pages)
  • takes place in 1971, "Chicken Run" (31 pages)
  • takes place in 1971, "You Man's Fancy" (unknown page count)
  • takes place in 1971, "Come to Dust" (79 pages)
  • takes place in 1971, "Act of Innocence" (unknown page count)
  • takes place in 1971, "Solitaire (V2) (unknown page count)
  • take's place in 1972, "Hazards" (unknown page count)
  • takes place in 1972, "Heartbreakers" (47 pages)
  • takes place in 1972, "Collision Course" (57 pages)
  • takes place in 1972, "Moving Target" (unknown page count)
  • takes place in 1972, "Hide and Seek" (also "Hide and Go Seek") (27 pages)
  • takes place in 1973, "Shelton City Squaredance" (41 pages)
  • takes place in 1973, "After the Tone..." (25 pages)
  • takes place in 1973, "Sundance" (43 pages)
  • takes place in 1973, "Disposal Squad" (unknown page count)
  • takes place in 1974, "Rough Justice" (one of the characters goes to prison) (23 pages)
  • takes place in 1974, "In Hot Pursuit" (31 pages)
  • takes place in 1974, "When the Devil Drives" (38 pages)
  • takes place in 1974, "Touch and Go" (27 pages)
  • takes place in 1975, "Aces High" (48 pages)
  • takes place in 1975, "No More Heroes" (72 pages)
  • takes place in 1975, "Time and Tide" (unknown page count)
  • takes place in 1975, "Day of Judgement" (37 pages)
  • takes place in 1975, "High Tension" (40 pages)
  • takes place in 1975, "Tightrope" (unknown page count)
  • takes place in 1976, "Time to Kill" (43 pages)
  • takes place in 1976, "Conduct Unbecoming" (49 pages)
  • takes place in 1976, "Lucifer's Children" (112 pages)
  • takes place in 1977, "Kindred Spirits" (unknown page count)
  • takes place in 1978, "Vengeance is Mine" (29 pages)
  • takes place in 1978, "Jigsaw" (66 pages)

From "The Threshing Floor"

  • "The Pleasure Trap"
  • "You Can't Get There from Here"
  • "Gates of My Citidel"
  • "Search for Unicorn"
  • "Canticle"
  • "Outside Looking In"
  • "Dance Unrehearsed"
  • "Unto Caesar"
  • "The Beloved"

1994

  • Heartbreaker
  • Rune

References

  1. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #4 (1987)
  2. This is likely NOT reference to the term, lemon,a fan word for stories of a sexual nature, as 1988 appears to predate that usage.
  3. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #11
  4. from Between Friends #12
  5. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #1 (December 1986)
  6. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #1 (1987)
  7. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #3 (1987)
  8. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #4 (1987)
  9. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #8
  10. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #9
  11. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #10 (1988)
  12. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #12
  13. from Frienz #10
  14. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #18
  15. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #19
  16. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #21
  17. Unpublished Works
  18. from Frienz #18
  19. from Between Friends #12 (1985)
  20. from Between Friends #12 (1985)
  21. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #3 (1987)
  22. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #4 (1987)
  23. Sandy Hereld, June 15, 1993, comment at Virgule-L, quoted with permission
  24. quoted anonymously from Strange Bedfellows
  25. as per a flyer in Tell Me Something I Don't Know
  26. "The list above is not complete, but it is chronological so far." -- V&D titles to date (19 February 1991)
  27. comment by Flamingo at Venice Place Mailing List, quoted with permission (Jun 9, 2002)