In This Corner...
I yield to no one in my love for fanzine fandom. Even on its worst day, our tribe is still encamped close to my heart. And there it clings too tightly for even Tagamet to dislodge.
I invoke my love at the outset, because the rest of this article contains a program for the improvement and further perfection of fanzine fandom. The current hobby is nothing less than delightful, but why miss the chance to make a Good Thing even Better.
Besides, Alyson L. Abramowitz gave me such a Hurt Look the night before Toner, when I admitted that I wouldn't have an article ready by her deadline. The woman we have anointed Queen of Corflu (well, for this year) cannot easily be denied.
Fortunately, inspiration struck while I was watching television at 3:00 am, early one Tuesday. On the tube was the pop cultural phenomenon, Extreme Championship Wrestling. As they bashed each other with chairs, most donated by helpful fans, the crowd's chant of "Ee-cee-double-you! Ee-cee-double-you!" penetrated to the core of my fannish soul. Suddenly, the future of our beloved hobby rolled out before me in panoramic splendor.
That majestic vision of tomorrow's fandom filled my mind. Well, it filled the brain cells not supervising humming the Pulp Fiction theme, ECW's anthem.
Epiphany subsided, but inexorable logic remained. Here I was, three hours before sunrise, watching Prime-time Brian Lee DDT Tommy Dreamer off a balcony -- and through three tables set one atop the other. On a Tuesday, no less. Normally, I wouldn't watch me on the tube at that hour. Think about that. I'm a pretty well known fan, yet even my own TV special wouldn't snag me as a viewer at 3:00 am on a weekday. Our fanzine fandom needs to catch that ECW lightning!
I see fanzine fandom transformed, energized, revitalized. Those who shun us as semi-comatose old pharts will quake with respect when we enter the main hall at the next worldcon. No more will they sequester us in an out-of-the-way fanzine lounge so that we verbally gifted weirdos won't disrupt the smooth running of their big-time science fiction event.
I want to infuse fanzine fandom with the glamour, excitement and frenetic splendor of professional wrestling. I make this audacious suggestion knowing that some hidebound traditionalists will reject any change. But, hey, these are the same people who didn't want all-night movies, media Guests of Honor or hall costumes, and look how well those things worked out!
Yes. . . . Well. . . . Anyway. . . .
Fanzine fandom can learn a lot from professional wrestling. Let's break the shackles of common sense and embrace the stern underrang of the world's favorite pseudo-sport. With a little effort, we can make our subculture as distinctive as a ten-buck streetwalker in a Tina Turner wig and Pam Wells shoes.
Absolutely no physical exertion is involved. There won't be any Texas Death Greased Pole Miner's Glove Lights Out Cage Matches, unless we've got volunteers. Indolence is important to fanzine fans, many of whom believe that sitting in the same chair for three days at Corflu is a significant contribution to energy conservation. We will wrap the substance of our hobby in gaudier, more entertaining garb.
As the self-appointed Commissioner, I hereby announce the birth of Extreme Fanzine Fandom! Here's what it means for you:
From now on, everyone gets a nickname. "Harry Warner Junior" sounds pretty bland next to "Harry the Hermit," don't you think? No more stuffy "Andrew P. Hooper." Now it's "Man Mountain Hooper." What a thrill to participate in a hobby with the likes of Arthur "The Brain" Widner and Gunslinger Greg Benford.
Like British wrestlers, most British fans will acquire titles. I look forward to the first appearance of the Purple Bloods (Lord Chuch Harris and Squire Rob Hansen -- and their meddlesome manager, Lady Avedon Carol).
Extreme Fanzine Fandom endows co-editorship with a whole new meaning. Wait until Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer meet Steve Davies and Alison Scott for the British version of the World Intergender Co-editor Championship at the rumored Corflu UK. (I predict a fluky rasslin' ending in which one of the Ploktas will slip on a banana peel at a crucial moment.)
Don't worry, Extreme Fanzine Fandom recognizes all existing nicknames. Dan Steffan and John D. Berry are still The Shrimp Brothers, fulfilling the dictum that fan (ring) brothers do not need blood kinship. Tom Springer and Ben Wilson will still fan as the Nelly Boys, and Ken Forman continues as the Mainspring.
Colorful nicknames are only the beginning. I've noticed that a lot of fans enjoy costumes, or at least outlandish clothing. Why resist the temptation to make public spectacles of ourselves? Wrestlers consider that part of the job.
Every Extreme Fanzine Fan wears Fanac Attire, including sequined jacket and designer bifocals. We'll put Jack Speer back in judicial robes, give Ted White a printer's apron and gussy up Lee Hoffman in cowgirl outfit. King Gary Farber, lord of the virtual streets, can wear what he's got on. Those sword-waving creative anachronists will think twice before they challenge rich brown and me when we confront them as Roman gladiators.
Fanac suits will make heads turn whenever an Extreme Fanzine Fan enters a con party . . . but there's more! You get theme music, too! I'll rush into the party to "Jumpin' Jack Flash," and Joyce will meet her adoring fannish public to "The Missouri Waltz." Gambler Dave Witmann, who gives souvenir poker chips to the gaping confans, won't go anywhere without "Staggerlee" roaring over his metallic gold boom box. Suggestions for Rotsler's theme music -- "Hot Legs"?, "My Baby is a Centerfold"? will be further debated at Corflu Wave.
Extreme Fanzine Fandom's biggest innovation is heroes and villains. Old-style fanzine fandom has waged some impressive feuds, but they always peter out in a round of half-hearted handshakes. That's won't happen in Extreme Fanzine Fandom. Our feuds will blaze forever.
Pre-extreme fanzine feuds died out for one reason: we have few real villains. You and Joe Phann may be at loggerheads, but deep down, you know that Joe is misguided, not actually evil. It's hard work up the proper fury when you know your opponent is well-meaning, if obtuse.
That wimpy stuff stops the second Extreme Fanzine Fandom takes over. Finally, some fans' natural bent for baseness and villainy will find its proper expression. If you can't be loved by fandom, being hated a will be a viable alternative in Extreme Fanzine Fandom. Feuds will blossom into savage, no-quarter affairs, untainted by humanity or restraint. (You say you thought they were that way. . . .)
And finally, we'll turn the crowd loose on those worldcon panels about the future of science fiction magazines and feminism in fandom. What a grand day at the worldcon when the EFF audience bursts out with the droning chant heard whenever wrestlers let the viewers down, "Booooooor-ing! Bor-innnnnng!"
Do I hear that cry from the readers?
Time to return to the locker room.
But remember this, you paper-wasting, Pepsi-swilling, doubled domed fanzine freaks. Whether you like Extreme Fanzine Fandom or you don't like, you'd better learn to love it . . . because it's the best thing going. FIAWOL!
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