Musings on Fandom TL-DR

Someone posted an ‘Ask Me’ on Fandom on another social media site and I spent some time answering it.  I realized that there were some questions that needed a longer answer or that didn’t ask my question.   Started thinking about fandom and my participation in it.   As  I am a serial monogamist in real life, so I am in fandom.   I was late to the internet.   I remember clearly my first foray on line.  I sat not knowing what to do and thought I had wasted my money.   At that time you paid by the minute for your time on AOL.    The television show I was most enamoured with at the time was
Forever Knight.   I loved the concept and the shows but felt not a drop of attraction to any one of the leads though I loved the character.   So, of course, I input a search for Forever Knight and found, almost instantly, fan fiction and by extension slash fiction.   I am a bibliophile.  My life is reading.  I live surrounded by books.  People are so peripheral to my consciousness or need that I can go months with no contact and be bothered when someone calls.  My constant refrain is…there are not enough hours in the day or in what is left of my life to read all the books I want to read, watch all the videos I want to watch.   My home is filled with sets of dvd’s on series I want to watch but I pick up books instead.  There are hundreds of new books waiting to be read and I am rereading old ones.  I worked from home back in those early internet days and had all my own equipment so I printed out huge binders filled with Forever Knight stories.   I was one of those women who fantasized about m/m interaction.  I was one of those women who lived a sheltered and solitary life (as solitary as three marriages and two children will allow).   I did not make friends or at least not friends that I could ask about my fantasies.  I searched the library for books on women’s dreams and fantasies and none described the type of thoughts I was having.  I thought i was very strange and this was something that needed to stay hidden.  I never went looking in adult book stores for gay fiction or magazines…I was barely conscious that there was such a thing.  This was my aberration to be kept under wraps…until that day I found my first piece of slash fan fiction and my world imploded.  I read and read but there was something missing.    Then came X-Files with two men that I found very viscerally attractive and a search revealed an enormous fandom base that was hugely slash and mostly about the two men I could have bedded myself in a heartbeat and that was the missing piece.   Forever Knight was almost instantly forgotten and I dove into fandom life.  I joined Onelist and EGroups and Yahoogroups one after another.   I got a bigger computer with more hard drive space and I started saving stories to disks.   I talked to other fans, I betad for a dozen writers, I bought memorabilia and stuffed animals, I even wrote in an RPG and then edited the entire thing for posting on line as a complete story.    I was not alone in my type of fantasy.  I was not weird.    This went on for five years.  Then one day I received my first zine.  An mixed anthology and one of the stories in said zine was a Starsky & Hutch story by Flamingo.  Now I had fallen in love with Starsky & Hutch from the moment the pilot aired.   I adored Starsky.  I had t-shirts and the shoes.  I had posters on the wall.  I bought the books and the cars and watched obsessively.   I made up stories in my mind of me and Starsky…Hutch was not on my radar anywhere except as a foil for Starsky.    My personal life was disintegrating at the time S&H entered my life (chicken or egg) and when they went off the air in my area (this was before cassettes or dvds or computers) and my marriage blew up finally and real life took me by the scruff of the neck and shook hard they faded away.  I went on to new interests like Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu but not as intensely and there was no memorabilia or posters or t-shirts.     Almost twenty years passed from my introduction to Starsky & Hutch till I got connected to the internet.   I wrote my own fan fiction in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea…lots of Mary Sue stuff about me and Admiral Nelson.  I had notebooks filled with stories that were all just tossed when I married a third time.   Another five years passed and I repeated my pattern only this time I bought zines…hundreds of zines.  I left my cosy nest of safety and flew out of my country for the first time in my life alone to meet one hundred strange women at a Starsky & Hutch convention in Maryland.   There I was, slightly phobic about people, in rooms with a dozen women all talking about m/m, showing music videos of romance and lust between two men.   Astounding to say the least.   Something in me relaxed.   Two years later I flew south again for another convention.  My zine collection had passed 350, my computer hard drive was loaded with stories.  I was, again, heavily involved in fandom.  I betad for writers, I wore t-shirts with Starsky’s face, I got a new pair of adidas, I bought the dolls and the cars and other memorabilia.   I bought the cassettes and then the dvds.   I no longer read any X-Files except one zine (The Gift of an Enemy by Sylvia) which I reread every six months every year for going on fifteen years now.  I kept all my X-Files lists and kept saving all the new stories.  I still followed Nicholas Lea’s career and watched his movies (whether I liked the subject matter or not)…same with David Duchovny…till I just could not watch him in Californication with all that het sex action.     I met a fellow fan who lived in a town only two hours from mine and we got together every couple months with other S&H fans from the surrounding towns and talked S&H.  I had become the Canadian Library for Starsky & Hutch fandom which meant spending a lot of time collecting zines, photocopying old zines and mailing copies of stories across Canada.  I spent a fortune on photocopies and many hours at post office.  I was getting burned out.  One day I was complaining to my friend, at a get together, that I had read all of my collected stories and zines so often and that the writers were not keeping up with my voracious appetite and I needed a break.  She was a writer in the fandom who was also a serial monogamist but she had started much earlier than I.   She first wrote in Star Trek and then moved on to The Professionals.   Star Trek had been one of my early obsessions but I was Mary Sue in that time as well.   She handed me a stack of cassettes and a pile of zines in The Professionals and I abandoned my day to day interest in Starsky & Hutch and joined a dozen Pros lists and repeated the process of collecting zines, pictures, t-shirts and stories.    Fortunately, the S&H convention had a large crossover of Pros fans and I could buy zines and t-shirts and talk about Bodie and Doyle.   By the time I had been immersed in The Professionals for a few years my third marriage was on its way out (again…..chicken and egg???)  Once settled in my new life I spent my first year reading nothing but Pros.  I organized my over 350 zines, I collated stories, I ordered boxes filled with circuit stories and dvd’s full of stories.  I was still collecting Starsky & Hutch and X-Files stories.  I even got a bunch of Star Trek zines with my friend’s stories in them.  I collected every Harry/Johnny story.    I fell in and out of flame wars and watched a very famous prolific, contributing author be driven out of fandom by a nobody.    Fandom shows the best and the worst of women.   Then one day it was that time of year and I pulled out The Gift of An Enemy once more but this time it gave me a taste for more and I started reading my way through my collection of X-Files zines and stories and The Professionals went on the back burner of my mind.   It has been three years since I read a Pros story and close to ten since I read in Starsky & Hutch.   I am overjoyed that all that work of saving all the X-Files stories has paid off and I have a treasure trove of new things to read but I find that the newest stories are not as much to my taste as the older ones.  The BNF writers from the earliest days of the fandom when they were writing white hot from watching the new episodes each week are the ones I reread over and over and over.    Over the years I met so many people on line that I am still in contact with via email.    At the same time, so many of these friends have gafiated out of fandom or moved on to fandoms where I cannot follow.    I made a conscious decision not too take on a new fandom.   Just as I had decided to stop getting remarried, I decided I had invested enough of myself in fandom life.   I no longer posted to lists and didn’t even read many of the incoming emails.  I put everything on digest and ignored most of it except for saving new stories.  I was no longer involved.   Everyone I had known was moving on or dying.   Recently, I reread an old favourite and got the bug to chase her down to tell her how much I loved her story.  I finally made contact but the experience was unpleasant.   But, on the bright side, I found new venues to see new things and write blogs and meet old friends and make new acquaintances, so I am grateful to her.  She is right I am a teal deer.  I had to go look it up after she called me one.  I do tend to ramble on and on and on.   I call it my grasshopper mind.   I would love to be a writer.  I love writers.  I love how they create the worlds I revel in.  I wish I had imagination and could make stories but I cannot.   So I worship at the feet of those who do, who fill my days and nights with pleasure.     One of my friends went into the White Collar fandom and desperately wanted me to follow.  She wanted to be able to share her love of her new OTP.   I just could not.   The one character was attractive enough but my mind shied away from slashing him with a married man.  Besides I was not attracted to the other man.  I remembered reading mixed anthologies, all those OTPs that were so icky to me.  If I bought a zine for two X-files stories, I read the entire thing and it was an eye opener and really weirded me out to read the romantic twaddle that I loved in my OTP between two men that I found down right unattractive.  Squick squick squick.  Recently  I looked at all the other shows I watch and realized there are so few men who attract me.  The last one was Andrew Lee Potts in Primeval and Alice but there was no pairing.  The same with Sherlock…Cumberbatch grew on me but I could not slash him with the hobbit. I think I could slash him with Dr. Who. No new fantasy material, no Mary Sues or m/m.     When I got on Tumblr I began to see other people’s interests and pairings and the men they find gorgeous and I was left cold.    Am I getting old?    It is like that old saw about not being able to see what your best friend sees in her lover.   What is odd about this situation is when you and your friend once loved the same man and you felt you had the same taste, something in common and now…WTF.   I might have slashed the ninth and tenth doctors and Captain Jack if they had been together long enough.  Need more source material.   We are all growing older and my pairings are not aging gracefully and even dying, as Lewis Collins…my Bodie has died.   I am currently reading books from my personal library and no fan fiction at all.   I am actively avoiding most new television shows and piss off my friends and family who love Game of Thrones etc and want to share.   I haven’t seen any of the X-men movies or Captain America and cannot wrap my mind around Cherik or Steve and Bucky.   I miss having an obsession and the sharing and the eagerness of looking forward to what the writers have produced from episodes.    I find so few actors attractive these days…they all seem sort of cookie cutter and interchangeable.   I sometimes see chemistry but I still need to feel physically attracted to at least one and find the other attractive enough.  I might have slashed the Blood Ties boys….it is in reruns and I did have the ghost of a thought this week.   Fandom has filled a niche in my life and widened my horizons and brought people closer than I had ever allowed them before.  It has allowed me to be the worst of myself and the best of myself.  It has carried me through hard times and worked better than drugs for depression.  I have reached a point where I worry about what will happen to my fandom collections when I too pass on.  Meanwhile, I look forward to the day when my interest in one of my three fandoms is rekindled and I can dive back in to my collection.