Lots of neat things happened at the 1951 worldcon in New Orleans. The infamous Room 770 party that Roger Sims was a part of, for instance. And it was Lee Hoffman's first convention....
[Excerpted from "A Bluffer's Guide to Publishing a Fanzine" from Fanhistorica #1 edited by Joe Siclari, 1976. Reprinted by permission of the author.]
[...] In those dark ages, a major complaint in fandom was the shortage of femfans. There were some, but not enough to go around. Young male fans in search of intellectual companionship often complained that all the active femfans came into fandom on the coattails of male fans (as girl friends and/or wives) and were subsequently unavailable. At the same time that they were voicing these complaints, they seemed to be taking a perverse chauvinistic pride in the predominant maleness of fandom.
Lee is an ambiguous name. Non-committal. Throughout my first year of fan publishing, I made a point of never making a point of being female. This was, indeed, on purpose. It wasn't too difficult. I was in an isolated section of the country, in face-to-face contact with only a couple of other fans. I swore a few close associates, like Shelby Vick, to secrecy. I let the rest of Q[uandry]'s readers draw their own conclusions. In typical male chauvinistic manner, most concluded that the editor of a successful fanzine must be male.
There it was, the Fall of 1951, and I was off to my first convention--the Nolacon, in New Orleans. Shelby Vick met my train. He and Paul Cox (of Time Stream) and I were all early arrivals. Together, we plotted a climax for my ruse. We would measure the success of the game by its effect on Bob Tucker (He of Many Hoaxes).
I quote from my own conreport in Q #14:
Paul Cox was the one who spotted [Tucker] signing in. Immediately he semaphored the news to Shelby Vick and myself: "Room 858." Immediately we set forth through the mad labyrinth of the St. Charles in search of the eighth floor. And there it was right on top of the seventh. Down we plunged to the far end of a corridor, to The Room.
Shelby, forearmed, was wearing a T-shirt with the words "Shelby Vick" emblazoned across the front of it, and "You are now behind Shelby Vick" on the back. Cox and I, on the other hand, had removed our identification cards with malice aforethought.
Mari Beth opened the door and welcomed us in. Innocently grinning, we entered. Tucker himself, thinking that he had eluded the Youngfan element, had stripped to the waist and was washing up after his drive. Trivial expressions of welcome were tossed about in the customary manner. Then ShelVy spoke: "You know who I am?"
Tucker glanced at the shirt and replied in the affirmative.
"And of course you know Lee Hoffman?" ShelVy continued.
Tucker looked at me. He looked at Paul. Then again at me and said, "Yes." Then he paused, looked again at Paul, and said, "No." With an air of surprise, he raised a hand toward Paul and said, "You're...?"
ShelVy raised a hand toward me and said, "Her!"
Tucker paused and stared at me.
Breathlessly we awaited a witty comment, a morsel of that famed LeZ humor. Then Tuck spoke....
"I'll be damned."
In the next issue, Tucker told his version of this story:
Tired, weary and disheveled from a long day's drive, I slammed the door of my room, flang the suitcase into a far corner (where it promptly burst open and spilled my cargo of dirty books), stripped off my clothes and jumped into the tub. Three waterbugs, a centipede, and a dozing bellboy jumped out. Coaxing water from the faucet drip by drip, I waited until there was a full inch covering the bottom and then lay back to soak in luxury. This was to be my only moment of peace and contentment in sweltering hurly-burly New Orleans.
There came a sound at the door, the peculiar kind of half-hearted knock that could only be caused by a timid fan getting up the nerve to kick the door in. I groaned and realized the same old routine had begun. Stepping out of the tub, I reached for my trousers, paused, and dropped them again, knowing it would be the same old bunch--Block, Korshak, Eshback and Evans--wanting to start a poker game. I wrapped a towel around my middle, began searching my luggage for a deck f cards, and yelled a bored invitation to enter.
Three strangers trooped in wearing abashed grins, a girl and tow men. The girl looked as if she were desperately searching for better company than the characters trailing her. I silently sympathized, and stared at the trio, the meanwhile dripping soap and water on the rug. The two gentlemen stared at the towel and giggled while the girl looked at the puddle on the rug.
"Hello," one character said.
"Hello," another character said.
"Hello," the girl echoed.
Sadly, I shook my head. The same old wornout greeting.
"We're faaaaans," the tallest character announced proudly.
"The hell you say," I shot back, astounded.
"Yep." He was wearing a white T-shirt on which had been printed I AM SHELBY VICK. Turning to face me, he asked, "Know who I am?"
I gazed at the shirt. "Bela Lugosi?"
He waggled his head, vaguely disappointed.
"Richard Shaver?" I guessed again. "Claude Degler? Ray Palmer?"
"I am Shelby Vick," he exclaimed then in clear, ringing tones.
"The hell you say," I shot back, astounded.
I-am-Shelby-Vick then flicked a finger at this two conspirators. "You know Lee Hoffman, of course?"
"Of course." I threw a bored glance at the remaining character and yawned, "Hello, Lee."
"No, no!" contradicted I-am-Shelby-Vick. "Not him...HER!"
Mustering what dignity I retained, I picked up my towel from the floor and stalked into the bathroom, flanging shut the door.
Newcomers might wonder just why it is that the Hearts Championship of the Known Universe is, of all places, played every year at the DeepSouthCon. Perhaps the excerpts below will shed some light on early Southern fans' attitudes towards Heart$.
[From A Hearts Primer, An elementary text on the noblest of games, by Lon Atkins. 32 pages with front and back cover illustrated by Alan Hutchinson, published by Lon Atkins' Zugwang Press in 1980.]
From the colophon:
An earnest and inquiring reader, upon completion of this booklet, is deemed capable of winning money from Hank Reinhardt any old time.
From the Forewarn, "by a Noble Friend of the Game":
It is indeed an honor to be begged to write the foreword to such a magnificent work as this. Mr. Atkins' immense store of theoretical knowledge is as well known in the Hearts world as is his pathetic inability to apply it. That so rascally a fellow has undertaken to author an elementary text demonstrates both his love for the game and his desire to see more money games populated by elementary players.
I myself have learned much from reading these pages--for instance, what NOT to do. Be forewarned, fellow Hearts players! Atkins has stopped at nothing to cloud your minds with inconsequential details and muddy principles. His evial plan is nothing less than to subvert the level of Southern Hearts and make it comparable to his own.
Think of it, if all of you played as poorly as he does I'd be rich! That's why I'm forewarning you: don't read this text. Only the innate gentleness and nobility of my soul compel me to issue this warning. I don't really want to profit from Atkins' plot. Ignore what he says. Please ignore his advice. My pocketbook couldn't stand it if you read this booklet.
One final quibble. Mr. Atkins fails to cover elementary Hearts advice in the area of martial arms. Things like how to properly grip the mace-and-chain when a renege is discovered. Or the proper direction to swing in order to avoid bloodying the table. But my forthcoming volume, "Death Dealing Devices Deliver Delight," does correct this oversight. Buy it. (Or else....)
From page 12, comments on Lon's famous lecture on general precepts:
Precepts are marvellous things. They can guide your play without demanding excessive thought, only memory of their meaning and simple mechanics of execution. The grand guidance that general precepts can offer is a boon to the student, but the serious player will find them to be a brick wall to progress. Precepts are aimed at generally understandable truths. In this wise they are valuable only for the average case. As we know, the average case neither pays nor collects. Naturally we strive for more.
In this striving it is important to understand that the normal must be thoroughly understood before proceeding into the supernormal. In the example of Hearts, one must know how the normal distribution of cards and plays will affect fortune before exploring further. A short fable...
It was the First Master who set down general precepts. He kenned well that they were made only to be broken, yet he understood the broad nature of this game and how from it could arise principles that were correct in the general case. Moreover, he understood the nature of the general case. And thus, these principles were his gift to the students of the game.
Eventually came the first Reinhardt. He looked upon the general precepts and found them to be a long list, difficult to remember and to apply at the table. The First Reinhardt was shrewd with a certain low Hankish cunning. He travelled to the abode of the First Master and begged an audience. He inquired: "Oh, Master, I have studied your long list of general precepts. I find them tedious. Do you, O Master, yourself honor and apply these precepts in all of your play?"
The First Master sensed a spirit opposed to his own, yet he replied. "My son," he said, "these are principles of the mean. To remember and apply them to Hearts is to be able to play well enough."
The primordial Reinhardt detected an evasion in this answer. He pressed. "Honored Master, I cannot accept merely play that is 'well enough.' I must excel, and how may I do this by observation of general precepts?"
"Through understanding alone," replied the Master, "for understanding will free you to excel."
"This freedom," replied the first Reinhardt, "must of its own nature mean freedom from precepts. Yet you would have me study precepts. I ask again, do you honor them always in your play?"
The First Master was silent for a short time. "To understand the precepts," he then said, "is to understand their failings. If one truly knows the principles of the mean, he honors their origin, which is the truest face of the game. Thus he cannot err in freeing himself on occasion from slavery to the mean. There can be a deeper observation in the breach."
The first Reinhardt departed and thought upon this speech. He reflected to himself: "The Master may be clever with his words, yet he cannot hide the fact that his secret of success is ignoring the very precepts he espouses."
With this revelation at hand the first Reinhardt called together a big money game. With suitable pomposity he announced to the players: "Behold, I have now become a Master myself, for henceforth I shall do as the First Master himself does and in my play totally ignore and abuse all of the general precepts."
And thus was set a precedent which persists to this very day. That the Reinhardt breaks all principles without regard for understanding and the First Master (whose title of achievement has been passed on to me) plays with an understanding of observation in the breach. It would have been more harmonious (though less profitable for me) if the first Reinhardt had studied well the following examples.... [Etc.]
Southern Fried Fandom--a cute name for a cute bunch o' fen, and such an apt title. We were Southern, unquestionably, having begun our associations with each other in New Orleans, Birmingham, and Atlanta. Since we'd met either at cons or NOSFA meetings or through John Guidry, there's no doubt we were fans. And we took Great Pains to Fry as often as possible.
We'd come into organized fandom in the late '70s, most of us, a fandom that already had a long & glorious past that Everyone told us about. There were fannish in-jokes and gossip that made Everyone snicker, and though we usually grinned appreciatively, we hadn't Been There all those times when You Just Had to Be There. We also recognized each other: wild hippy party kids who's stumbled onto this thing called "fandom" that looked kind of fun, but didn't have a lot of people like us. This was twenty years ago, before Star Wars, before the rampant mediazation of fandom. Let's face it; the hipsters were few and far between at that time. Without any really conscious effort, we were drawn together to make our own myths, rituals, and Ya Hadda Be Theres. Of course, we did a lot of these things at cons, and a lot of you were, technically, there. But unlike our predecessors, our drugs of choice ranged beyond alcohol...it's just this little Chromium Switch...
Flying anti-massacres at Stven & Don's Con, with 40 bazillion editions of The Daily Quack. Everyone's middle name was "Toast." Finding The Jewel on the roof at SunCon. Rescue, Run Away, Recharge! Waking up to a line of male teenage fans trooping through the hotel room at CoastCon, with Tom Toast charging them $1 admission to look at us sleeping.... We bonded the way people in their late teens and early 20s always bond: by partying Very Seriously, making each other laugh, sleeping with each other, talking and talking and reading the same books.
Who was SF2? Mitch Thornhill, Delmonte, Linda (then) Karrh, Cousint, Teri, me, Tommy & Dana Longo, George Inzer, Barbara (then) Wagner, and occasional others. It lasted about a year before we all went spinning off into our Own Private Idahos, and it has never ended.
Barbara and I share the archetypal SF2 experience nearly every time we see each other; she recently commented that we've evolved into SF3--Southern Fried Female Fandom, because as in most families, it's the women who keep the hearth warm, the flame alive.
So now, who's got the pipe? Because none of us ever could roll one worth a hoot.
[From the Chattacon IX (Jan. 13-15, 1984) program book.]
The gentle art of pie-throwing was introduced to the stalwarts of Southern Science Fiction Fandom in 1980 at the Atlanta Deep South Science Fiction Convention. It was at this convention that Cliff Biggers produced the Jerry Page Roast. A roast, for those who are fortunate enough to never have witnessed one, is an event where people show their affection for an individual by telling the unvarnished truth about him. Realizing that the tradition on sitting meekly by and taking all this did not fit him, Page set about to do something different. He organized a counter-roast.
Enlisting the aid of a number of highly attractive and intelligent young ladies, Page established a cheerleading squad which would give him support while denouncing the foul truth of such knowledgeable participants in the roast as Michael Bishop, Jack Massa and Hank Reinhardt. Further, Page performed a feat of magic to distract the audience during each Roaster's turn. His assistant in the magic was Wendy Webb who did much more to distract the audience than Page could ever manage.
Page was especially concerned about Hank Reinhardt who knows more Truths about him than any other living being. So during Hank's speech, Page spent much of the time under the table with Wendy Webb. Hank, of course, was never speechless, but the audience's laughter successfully drownded out his version of the Infamous Editor's Daughter Story.
At the end of the roast, Page introduced the women who had helped him and invited them up to the podium. Now versions differ as to what happened. Page claims it was his idea, but if asked, Wendy merely smiles knowingly and goes on to another subject. But a certain whooshing sound was heard from the Cheerleader's table just before they came up. Half the audience could not see what had happened and believed the air had escaped from a balloon Page had used in an earlier magic trick. The other half, however, knew that a pie tin had been filled with whipped cream from a pressurized container.
Moments later, Sue Copenhaver, a voluptuous redhead, distracted Jerry Page as the pie tin was passed to Wendy Webb. And as Page turned around, Wendy let go with the pie. Thus was born a Southern tradition.
Moments later, Meg Fox invited Hank Reinhardt up on the stage and he was also treated to a pie.
Next year in Birminghma, Page and Reinhardt held what was called "Dueling Egos." This was an event where these "gentlemen" would hold forth in their tiresomely usual manner for a (people hoped) few minutes, after which the winner of the event would receive a pie in the face. Lon Atkins, a person whose reputation in fandom is as questionable as that of Page or Reinhardt, was the gleeful moderator of the event. The audience was asked to applaud to show their favorite--the one to receive the pie--and they clearly chose Reinhardt. Atkins removed an envelope from his pocket and announced that the winner was Page. Sue Phillips delivered the pie. But the audience was rowdy, so Reinhardt got one, too, from Norma s Brooks.
However, the audience was even rowdier than that Atkins hoped. A certain Anonymous Atlanta Fan, Often Seen in Company of Sue Phillips, shouted, "What about Lon?"
Among the celebrities seated at Ringside for this event were the Wagners, Karl and Barbara. Karl, like Hank, is a gentleman of the old school--Genghis Khan's. But Barbara is a lady of the School of the Borgias'. She thought the idea of Lon getting a pie in the face was just about the best idea since publishers began paying writers. She leaped up, grabbed the remnants of pie on the edge of the table and let loose at an unsuspecting Lon Atkins. Page and Reinhardt loved it, Lon displayed the instincts of a gentleman. Imagine everyone's surprise when next year's DSC site, Atlanta, announced Karl Wagner as pro guest and Lon Atkins as fan guest.
Although Lon Atkins was rumoured to have prepared a skit for himself and Barbara Wagner, to be called "Pie Throwers of Gor," pies have not been thrown since he got his. One reason for this may be the reluctance of Page and Reinhardt to go through this sort of thing again, coupled with the fact that Alonzo Atkins stays hidden in California.
However, the proprietors of Chattacon have come up with a new idea that bids fair to revive this tradition. It will involve having convention goers buying chance tickets to throw pies in the face of some of their most dreamed of targets. And the Chattacon people have come up with a way to coerce these targets into participating: the money raised by all this will go to one of the most worthy causes possible, the St. Jude's Children's Hospital. So here's your chance. And it's not just limited to Jerry Page and Hank Reinhardt but includes a roster of important people as well.
So save your quarters for this one, gang. Maybe they'll even use frozen pies.