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  Alternate Universes

Usage of the word "slash" and the virgule "/" alone

No instances before 1980. This is a preliminary list of print citations; please, please let me know if you know of anything to add, in the way of positive or negative evidence.

1981: S & H Letterzine #18, February: letter:

the slash (/) relationship.

another letter:

Actually, my main complaint about S/H is the term 'Starsky *stroke* Hutch.' It is just too coy. I like *slash*. It sounds so masculine, like passion in the night and lust that strikes like lightning. *Stroke* sounds so cutesy. *Slash* sounds dynamic, dominant, daring, and exciting.

-- we have a winner. So far, this looks like the citation for the OED. Note that though this is the first use in this zine, the writer seems to have heard the word (and alternatives) before. It suggests that early S/H slash writers pronounced their pairing "ess slash [or stroke] aitch", while early K/Sers were (they inform me) saying "kay ess". Anyone remember differently?

1982: Forum #21, Aug-Oct: No instances of slash or / alone.

1982-83: Hanky Panky: 14 issues, from approximately March 1982 to June 1986--although that is deceptive, as there was a very long gap before that final issue came out. The penultimate issue was published in approximately July 1984). HANKY PANKY was specifically the S/H letterzine (not to say S/H wasn't discussed in THE S&H LETTERZINE, because it was--but the S/H fans decided they wanted a forum of their own). The word slash is not used anywhere in HANKY PANKY. As with NTS, there is much use of "/" (virgule in quote marks) to represent slash fandom in general. And the specifics--K/S, S/H, H/J, B/D, etc. are also common. There are also a few references to male/male, m/m and even f/f.

1983: Datazine #23, Dec/Jan: ad for Naked Singularity:

NS will be offered in two sections: (1) Straight and (2) KS.

--› this implies to me that the opposite of "straight" was "K/S, not slash in general" within ST fandom at this time

Datazine #25, April/May: in "planning stages" ad for "Who You Know, What You Know and How You Know It" (Starsky/Hutch):

buyers should be aware that the "/" relationship is present.

--› first use of stand-alone virgule found so far outside Starsky&Hutch. Note that this use supports a theory of Judith Gran's:

In the early days of K/S fandom, there was only K/S, and only a few other same-sex couples were even on the horizon. So people thought of K/S as unique and special, and S/H (Starsky/Hutch) as only slightly less unique and special, and it was only until a pairing like H/J [Harry/Johnny, based on the movie Magnum Force] emerged from the slash-fantasy soup and crawled up on land that fans began to generalize from the unique, special, deep-friendship-based pairings to the more abstract phenomenon of "slash."

More specifically, my hypothesis is that it takes a critical mass of at least three same-sex pairings in the fan fiction produced and read by a common core of media fans to generate the concept of "slash" in the abstract.

1984: Not Tonight Spock #1: [which I can't find here, but ksl says:] The word slash is used twice in the first issue (January 1984)--once by the editor (who went back to using "/" in the next issue) and once by a columnist (who then used "/" throughout the rest of that column).

NTS #3, May: interview:

I have a basic problem with the proliferation of "slash fandoms."

NTS #5, Sept: interview:

The K/S premise sems to me to leap right out of the screen, but I can't call myself an objective observer. From early childhood days I loved the slash concept. When I used to watch "Man from UNCLE" I concocted the juiciest fantasies about Illya and Napolean -- and this was even before I even heard the word homosexual. I also loved Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. But when in my 20's I started watching 'Trek' it was like finding pure (?) gold.

ad:

Warriors/Lovers -- Are you tired of zines just dedicated to K/S, S/H or H/J? Is your imagingtion [sic] whispering: "What about the other slash pairs in history, films, fantasy, horror, & TV?" Well, Slashers, rejoice! Presenting: Warriors/Lovers by The Theban Band/Saffo Press! For more info [cut] Keep in mind -- this will not be your ordinary "/" zine!

--› this is the first use I've tracked down so far for "slashers" or other verb-based uses of "slash".

NTS #6: ad above appears, also ads for S&H letterzine, Pros/S&H letterzine, multimedia (pros, Hooker, S&H, MUNCLE, ST) zine, referring to "/". All the trek-only zines refer to "K/S", only.

ad for Idicon 2:

Once again it will be an ADULTS ONLY convention because "/" fandoms will be out of the closet.

--› any further information about the Idicons, especially their programs, would be historically useful. I have been told, for instance, that the term PWP ("Plot, What Plot?") came from the title of an IDICon panel discussion.

1985:

No Pants, No Badge, No Gun (Starsky/Hutch):

yes, this is a 'slash' zine

Discovered on a Rooftop (Pros), August: Editorial includes the casual comment:

There are many types of stories in this issue. Slash stories, straight stories, poems, songs etc. Some of them have been read by members of the 'circuit'; if you're on it, you know what I'm talking about and if you're not then you just have more new stories to read about than the rest of us.

There's also an advert in the zine that reads:

Sunshine Press Presents

"In the Public Interest"

A "Professionals" (Bodie/Doyle) Fanzine

We are currently seeking submissions to this newly proposed Professionals, Bodie and Doyle slash fanzine. Stories, poetry and artwork are all needed. [etc: pre-ordering info, no other reference to slash]

 

by Mary Ellen, "Doctor Science, MA"

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