VenicePlace

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Mailing List
Name: VenicePlace
Date(s): 1996-2014 (see notes below)
Moderated:
Moderators/List Maintainers: Flamingo
Founder(s): Robin
Type:
Fandom: Starsky & Hutch
Scope: slash
URL: FAQ page; WebCite
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

VenicePlace was the first Starsky & Hutch slash mailing list.

In August 2000, it had 175 members.

Origins

From the FAQ:
Our mailing list has been around since Jan. 10, 1996, when it was started by Robin, the first list mom, with a grand total of three members. There were times in that first year when Robin wondered just how long VP might last. But VP didn't just last, it thrived. When Robin wasn't able to continue with it in 1998, I [Flamingo] volunteered to take it over because it was too much fun to give up.

The mailing list remained active through many decades and is, as of 2014, still active, although at a greatly reduced rate. The list migrated across many servers, spending some time on Squidge.org before moving to its home today on Google Groups.

the front/FAQ page
password protected website

Like many slash communities, it began its existence in secrecy and amidst dire warnings. This was because parts of Starsky & Hutch fandom were well known to harbor anti-slash sentiments. (see Tensions Over Slash). The mailing lists FAQ ended with this ominous statement: "If the existence of this list becomes publicly known, I might have to shut it down." This was not an idle concern because even after the anti-slash fervor of the 1980s had supposedly subsided, the list moderator received at least one piece of hate mail in connection with the lists' slash activities.

Membership was by invitation-only and new members had to be vouched for by an existing member. There was also an emphasis on mentoring new fans into fannish culture and privacy concerns, both online and in person at conventions. Members were encouraged to post an introduction and the mailing list maintained a folder with all the introduction posts so fans could become familiar with on another.

The concept behind the mailing list was that fans were gathering in a virtual online apartment to discuss their favorite TV show, Starsky & Hutch. Coincidentally, the objects of their affections - Starsky & Hutch - both lived in the building:
It is named after the building Hutch lived in for most of the series. We like to think of VenicePlace as a large, rambling virtual apartment building with unlimited space where we can all live next door to those two gorgeous cops and where every window has the same great view of the boys' bods when they come after work! In reality, Venice Place is a real building which still exists, and the neighborhood, Venice, is near the beach, and is considered an artist's colony. It also has a large gay population! [1]
The mailing list quickly developed its own mythology which was also outlined in the later FAQs:
How does a discussion list develop a mythology? Well, it started with Flamingo telling everyone new member they had a virtual apartment in VenicePlace, and that every apartment had the perfect view of the boys when they came home from work and evolved from there. Neighbors would refer to having long thread discussions through the "windows" of their apartments. Diana somehow became the Head of Security and installed special security cameras all over the place (with Starsky's complicity and Hutch's ignorance, since Starsky believes that every moment of their lives should be recorded) so that tenants could tune into their own special cable channel (channel 69 naturally) and watch everything the boys were doing. While the listmom was away for a short while a group got together, decided the building needed a BAND and installed a lobby (???) so they could practice in it. Unfortunatly (sic) for Flamingo, the only tunes they play are ones she hates. Any neighbor can join the band just by announcing what their virtual instrument is. (See Meet the Neighbors.) There are always a lot of kazoo players. Anyway, that's how a mythology starts. The mythology is covered in numerous jokes in the Library. The following letter exchange gives an idea how these things gallop off on legs of their own. It's all for fun.

From the Front Page

ABOUT THE LIST:

  • What is VenicePlace?
  • VenicePlace - the real (estate) deal
  • Do I have to write an intro letter?
  • Can I bring up a subject that's off-topic?
  • What's the Big Deal About Privacy anyway?
  • List members rarely mention anyone's whole name. Is that a privacy issue?
  • Too much mail? Remember to change the Subject Line.
  • Can we talk about writing, writers, or stories?
  • Can fiction be posted on VP?
  • How can I introduce a new member to the list?

VENICEPLACE MYTHOLOGY:

  • How can a discussion list have a mythology?
  • Just how big is this building anyway?
  • What's with all the security cameras?
  • How does someone get to be a member of the band?
  • What are the VP civic associations?

FANDOM QUESTIONS:

  • What exactly do you mean by fandom?
  • How long has Starsky & Hutch fandom been around?
  • How long has slash been around and who started it?
  • How can I find out more about Cons?
  • What does VP mean by "mentoring" fans?
  • What are zines?
  • How can I get some?
  • Is S&H fan fic (slash or gen) available on the Net?
  • How can I post fiction on the archive or on the VP library?
  • How can new VP neighbors get videos of episodes/songvids/blooper reels?
  • Is that a pistol in Starsky's pocket or is he just happy to see Hutch?
  • What the hell does THAT mean - a jargon hater's Glossary
  •  :-) and <vbg> -- Say what??
  • Doesn't the term "mundane" come from Babylon 5?
  • Does it matter if SH isn't my only fandom?
  • What exactly is slash, and while we're at it, what is "canon?"
  • I've heard the term "fanon" -- is that related to canon?
  • Why does everyone keep calling me a neo?
  • I'm having trouble downloading stories from the Archive? I'm missing the end.
  • How many times did Starsky call Hutch "Babe" or some other nickname? (Or: how many love-names can two men have for each other?

From 2000

HISTORY: VP was born on Jan. 10, 1996, started by Robin, the first list mom, with a grand total of three members. When Robin wasn't able to continue with it in 1998, I volunteered to take it over because it was too much fun to give up. Currently, there are about 175 members in our neighborhood! The list is named after Hutch's building. It still exists and the neighborhood, Venice, which is near the beach, is an artists' colony with a large gay population. For us, VenicePlace is the virtual apartment building which always has a vacant apartment ready for a new neighbor, and every apartment has a great view of the boys when they come home from work. ;-)

OFF-TOPIC POSTS: VenicePlace promotes an open atmosphere where neighbors feel free to discuss anything, including the list itself. Off-topic postings are not discouraged.

What's ON-TOPIC: any information about anyone on the show, discussions about the show's era, culture, or relevant info about the show itself. It is on-topic to discuss slash, fandom, cons, fan writing, and fandom-related issues.

An OFF-TOPIC post might be strictly about some other fandom that has no relationship to S/H. (Now, if it's about a cross-universe between any of these fandoms and S/H, it's back on-topic!)

LABEL OFF-TOPIC POSTS by putting "OT" in the subject line: "OT: New Sentinel Zine coming out!" FICTION: We welcome ALL fiction (especially slash fiction!) on the list.

PICTURES AND ATTACHMENTS: We can now handle pictures and attachments up to 100K. If any members think that is going to cause them a problem with their mail service, please let me know. I can lower it. Many of our members have old equipment and can't see attached pictures, however, I will copy posted pictures and put them on our website.

FLAMING: VenicePlace has been remarkably free from the flame-wars that batter other lists. We encourage an atmosphere of open discussion while maintaining our friendliness and civility. Disagreement in discussions is not flaming, and we often have vigorous disagreements. But simple civility, consideration, and politeness go a long way to keep disagreements an important part of an interesting discussion without it devolving into a shouting match. Our "founders," Starsky & Hutch disagreed with each other constantly, but their love and caring always kept their friendship secure.

CROSS-POSTING: Because VenicePlace is a private list, please don't cross-post or CC: any messages from veniceplace to any other list, even other slash lists. It's okay to CC: other members of the list, and some software programs do this automatically when replying to messages.

PRIVACY ISSUES: Real names/addresses of zine editors/writers/individuals should *not* be given on the list without the individual's permission. This is to ensure the privacy of those folks who have expressed concern about having their personal data floating all over cyberspace. Zine/story titles are fine. You can use the author's first name and last initial, or both initials if you need to identify one story with a similar title from another, but discretion comes first.

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT PRIVACY ANYWAY? With the open atmosphere of the Net many newer fans don't understand why some of the older fen are so "paranoid" about slash fandom. Fan fiction violates copyright laws. In some states slash can be considered an illegal form of pornography, and having slash zines, mailing them, or distributing them can be illegal. Fans who hold sensitive positions such as librarians, teachers, or who work with children can lose their careers for participating in slash fandom. Many jobs have a "morality" clause and employees can be legally fired for participating in slash. While The Powers That Be (PTB) on some shows have a benign attitude about the potential homo-erotic content of their programs, many still do not, and the content of the shows themselves could be affected by an aggressive slash fandom. Actors' careers can be negatively affected if the people who hire them perceive them as being "recognizably gay" or "reading" gay. Slash fandom has always been a counter-culture phenomenon existing somewhat uncomfortably with general fandom. Privacy issues are important to individual slash fans and to their shows.

INTRODUCING NEW MEMBERS: Any VP member can invite someone to join the list. Send me the email addy and I'll write them, verifying their address, then sub them in.

QUESTIONS? Check out the VP FAQ on our website or e-mail me. Hope you enjoy our new home. We're still the Nicest 'Hood On The Net! Get unpacked, relax, and put your feet up. Before you know it, someone will be over to introduce themselves and show you how to get the best view of our resident trouble-making cops when they come home from work. Be warned: most VP neighbors carry chocolate!

Privacy

From the list owner, Flamingo:

What's the big deal about privacy anyway? Slash is all over the net!

A few years ago I would have never thought this would be an issue that needed to be clarified, but with the open atmosphere of the Net many newer fans honestly don't understand why some of the older fen are so "paranoid" about participating in slash fandom. Some list members won't even list their addresses on the VP intro page, and many use pseudonyms on the list. While mailing lists like VP and countless web sites devoted to slash make the topic seem open and acceptable, in the real world it is not.

Besides the fact that fan fiction violates copyright laws, in some states, slash can be considered an illegal form of pornography, and having slash zines, mailing them, or distributing them can be illegal. Fans who hold sensitive positions such as librarians, teachers, or anyone working with children can be lose their careers for participating in slash fandom. Many jobs have a "morality" clause and employees can be legally fired for participating in slash. While The Powers That Be on some shows have a more benign attitude about the potential homo-erotic content of their programs, many still do not, and the content of the shows themselves could be affected by an aggressive slash fandom (though when this happens it often has more to do with the homophobia of network execs and how straight they want their show to appear). Actors' careers can be negatively affected if the people who hire them perceive them as being "recognizably gay" or "reading" gay.

Slash fandom has always been a counter-culture phenomenon existing somewhat uncomfortably with general fandom. Privacy issues are important to individual slash fans (many of whom are in the closet even to their spouses) and to their shows. We all need to remember this and respect it.

It is for these reasons that Veniceplace will always be a *private*, invitation-only list. If the existence of this list becomes publicly known, I might have to shut it down. [2]

Some 2001 Tensions

In 2001, the list was undergoing internal tensions.

The mod, Flamingo, addressed list members:

I haven't been happy with the list for a while, and you know that old saying: If Mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Recently, we've had a rash of unsubs, and I've talked to a lot of unhappy people. We once called ourselves "The Nicest 'Hood on the Net" and it meant something. I haven't felt that the list deserved that title for a while now, but I haven't known how to fix it. As the tone of the list became more picky and peevish, and sometimes plain mean, I came to feel that I'd failed the list as its moderator, and have especially failed the new fans we've encouraged to join.

What once had been an open atmosphere has changed. We used to have lengthy discussions and difficult disagreements that remained civil and friendly. We used to understand that disagreement did not mean dislike, merely differences in opinion. But the tone of discourse has changed, becoming far more critical, with out-and-out sniping and intellectual one-upmanship. There is no pleasure in that. Especially when so little focus is paid to the topic of the list -- Starsky and Hutch.

My motivation for taking over VP from the original listmom was partly to ensure that there was a place where people could enjoy adult discussion without it devolving into flaming or unnecessary put-downs. But I also wanted VP to be a place where new fans were welcomed, nurtured, and encouraged. Most of VP's members *are* new fans. I'm one of them. Without new fans, there's no new fiction. Fandoms run on fiction. If they didn't, we'd all be happy trading tapes and just watching eps over and over. I want new fans to feel comfortable here, to feel welcomed, to be mentored into SH, and to feel they can have fun and explore their creativity. To me, SH *is* new and exciting and happening right now. It's not an environment where we only do things one way because that's the way we've always done it, or because we only see the guys in a small, limited role. The imagination is boundless, and I want new fans to feel that there are no limits to their creative potential in this fandom. Right now, they can't feel that way on VP, when anyone who has the nerve to stick her head above water has to fear getting it bit off.

VP is my responsibility, and if I'm unhappy with it, then I'm the one who has to change it. I want VP to promote SH fandom, and be the nurturing, fun place it once was. I want people to feel comfortable. We call the list members our *neighbors*; recently, we haven't been acting very neighborly. The discouraging, negative tone that has been present lately has to end.

So, to be specific:

1) The *purpose* of VenicePlace is the promotion of Starsky and Hutch fandom. I will do anything I have to, to make that happen.

2) The *topic* of the list is Starsky and Hutch, especially SH slash. This is the reason you joined. Encourage on-topic discussion, don't discourage it by making pointless, mean remarks about things that have nothing to do with our topic and only hurt feelings. I have lost all patience with that attitude. I am weary of writing lengthy apologies to fans who are so discouraged they never want to hear the words Starsky & Hutch again.

3) VP has a *mission* -- to encourage new fans and help them get into SH and enjoy their time here in the hopes they may contribute something we can all share. If you can't treat your VP neighbors with the same respect, regard, and kindness that you do your Real Life neighbors, then you'll have to spend your time elsewhere until you learn to "play nice."

4) I will not tolerate responses that are harsh, unkind, or posted merely out of a need to prove that one of us is brighter than another, that one of is "right" and the other is "wrong." But, in fairness, I will not automatically side with someone who feels affronted if I believe no offense was meant. I'll do my best to arbitrate complaints.

5) I am considering moderating the list because I feel things have deteriorated to the point that that will be the only way I can affect change and make VP the place I want it to be. Until I make a final decision about this, I will be making a greater effort to respond promptly to responses I consider inappropriate, hostile, or unnecessarily negative.

6) If I find a response that, in my opinion, is inappropriate, hostile, rude, or just plain mean, I will warn the member off-list about it once. On the second offense, I'll unsub the member. I will be open to discussions about this on any side, since often I *don't* take offense at things others do. However, ultimately, it will be my decision.

7) I am willing to concede that I am part of the problem. If you feel that way, I apologize, and will work harder to be more open to other points of view and to be more reasonable. I put too much energy into this fandom and this list to be willing to do less.

VenicePlace was once warm and welcoming. We can respect each other and have a good time and agree to disagree in a civilized manner. I want the atmosphere in the grand old building to improve. We got into this fandom because of two men who were exact opposites who loved each other. They didn't always get along perfectly, but they always stood shoulder to shoulder when it mattered. And when they got out of hand, Captain Dobey was there to bully some sense into them. I'm a little on the pale side, but I'm the right size, and my temperament's not that much different, especially in the morning. ;-) And don't think you can get away with any of that "broken radio" jazz, either.

As always, I will listen to any views, either on list or off. Don't hesitate to contact me off-list to discuss these issues privately. [3]

The Fiction

Posted to the List

The listowner's 2001 comments:

Let me say here: I personally appreciate tremendously any fiction posted to VP. It was not the primary purpose of VP to be a fiction list, but that's largely because when VP was formed there was no SH fiction on the net and not much fiction on the net at all (except for Trek). In fact, there was a lot of controversy about whether there should even be a fic archive at all! Now we take it for granted. The only "rules" regarding fiction are that there are no rules on VP. There are no restrictions as to story content, none. We take gen, slash, anything you want to try. Warnings are NOT required, though if you feel more comfortable posting them, please do so in a separate post so readers can avoid it if they want. We have always encouraged good solid critiquing on VP, using it at times like a writer's workshop. Some people aren't comfortable with that -- so if you don't want your story critiqued, just say so at the beginning. If you're a reader, it's okay to criticize a story, it doesn't mean you're criticizing the person who wrote it. Many of the writers crave criticism, looking for ways to improve their work. They're depending on you. We're known for polite, civil fiction discussions here and I would love to see some more. I love discussing fiction.

I personally promise to pay more attention to the fiction posted on VP and will do my very best to post comments on it within a week of its being posted. Out of 205 people on this list *surely* there must be *ten* other people who might be able to do the same. Lets encourage our writers, and work on making our neighborhood more lively!...

VP is indeed "a comfortable place for all to explore the farthest reaches of the fandom" and gen fiction cannot be excluded. One of the most distasteful things to me about the gen lists is their very exclusionary nature. Robin and I both, as we administered VP, wanted it to be a list where ALL fans could bring ALL their interests without being discouraged or made to feel their interest in the fandom wasn't "as good" as someone elses -- a way many slash have been made to feel on some of the gen lists. Slash fans don't post slash fiction to gen lists, not because *they* don't think it's appropriate, they don't do it because it's *forbidden* -- a big distinction. While VP's main focus is SH slash discussion, it has always welcomed open-minded gen fans and has always invited and welcomed gen fiction. It's not as if we're drowning in fiction in SH fandom so that the few gen stories that have been posted have clogged up the bandwith! I know there are people on this list that aren't on any other SH list, and the only way they might see this fiction is if it is posted here. I'm one of them. Most of the people interested in posting gen fiction here also write slash fiction or are considering it. They are interested in having their gen fic looked at by slashers as they edge their way nervously to their first slash story. They need encouragement. And some authors are bi-fictional; they want to share their gen fic with us the same as their slash fic. VP is not and won't ever (as long as I'm running it) be closed to *any* aspect of SH fandom. If we had no gen fans on the list or actively discouraged gen fans' participation, I would agree with you as to the appropriateness of having gen fic presented here, however that is not the case. [4]

VenicePlace Stories

Stories were written around fans virtually interacting with the TV show characters and one another. A website was quickly established that contained various rooms. Each room housed something different: The Library archived some of the online fiction, Hutch's Greenhouse was a simple page filled with steamy photos of Starsky & Hutch (well, as steamy as 1970s television would allow), the Artists Studio showcased fan art. The apartment building had the potential of offering unlimited and flexible space:

... every neighbor can have their own apartment and every apartment has the perfect view of the boys when they come home from work. We have a European wing and a South American Wing, and a New Zealand wing. ...There is a lobby for the band to practice in, and on the top floor there is an artist's study where amazing works of art are created in all mediums. In the art gallery there is also a special two-way mirror in the floor that is located directly over the bed of a certain pair of cops who think it's a mirror. The only times we have problems with that is when it rains and sometimes the mirror leaks. Hard to explain. There is also an indoor pool and while some folks think that's on the roof, I think we have to be practical and place it in the basement. Most of us don't like to talk about the basement. Strange things go on there. We're currently working on an underground parking garage since, with nearly 150 separate apartments, parking has become a problem. Pets are allowed in VP, though we may have to reconsider that policy since we now have otters, unicorns, tarantulas, dragons, panthers, wolves, and all sorts of extremely difficult animals hanging around.

The virtual building even had its own civic associations: ASSET (the Association for the Scrutinization of Starsky's most Exquisite Tush), HAIL (Hutch's Arse is Luscious), and the recently formed GUSHER (Grad-Uate of Starsky & Hutch Erotic Research).

The Fiction: VenicePlace Library

See Text Files: The Library; WebCite

See: The Library.

Print and Online Publications

In 2014, the Starsky & Hutch archive published an online version of the SHareCon convention fanzine. It contained a brief overview of the VenicePlace stories:
Even so, the "VenicePlace stories" evolved into longer comical works written by Flamingo, Rosemary (CrowRow as she was known on the list), and others, published in zines produced for the S&H slash convention, SHareCon. These stories often focused on the tech trend of the day and its affect on fandom, and on the guys (who never grow older even as we do). In 2004, the SHareCon zine featured Partners in Adversity by CrowRow (Rosemary's VP name) and Flamingo that focused on the Starsky and Hutch movie with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson released that year. In the movie, after the "new" Starsky drops his Torino in the bay, the original Hutch (David Soul) sells a Torino to him over the protest of the original Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser). On VP, we decided that replacement Torino was only one of the original Starsky's cars, since he had one for every day of the week. It became our new "fanon." The story also treated the movie S&H (sometimes referred to by their first names, or as "the short one" or "the blond one") as crude interlopers on the VP scene. Other issues in the story involved the emerging popularity of LJ and the difficulty some fans had (personified by Hutch) in making the switch to the new medium. We were still using disks back then to transfer files. Remember that?[5]

Today

Since its inception in 1996, the mailing list has migrated through at least 3 different servers.

At its peak it had around 250 members. In 2014, the list moderator noted that:
With the advent of LJ and Facebook, email discussion lists have largely shut down. While S&H still has a few active lists, including VP, traffic has been greatly reduced.[6]

References

  1. from the FAQ
  2. from the list's website
  3. March 30, 2002, posted on Fanlore with Flamingo's permission
  4. May 5, 2001, comments by Flamingo, quoted on Fanlore with Flamingo's permission
  5. Introduction to Partners in Adversity by Flamingo and Rosemary C.; Wayback Machine link.
  6. Introduction to Partners in Adversity by Flamingo and Rosemary C.; Wayback Machine link.