Retro Rec: Total Eclipse of the Heart
Turn Around, Bright Eyes, it’s time for another Retro Rec. And today, It’s Total Eclipse of the Heart by Flamingo. That’s right, people. Starsky and Hutch fic.
Back when the movie came out, I tried to get into Starsky and Hutch fic. But, being that I had no experience with the TV series, and that most of the fic was only available in print ‘zines, it did not go far. It didn’t help that the movie was kinda crap.
But, dispite my own inability to get into this fandom, it is extensive, and I firmly believe that Starsky and Hutch are meant to be together. If nothing else, we have the words of David Soul, Hutch, who said that Starsky and Hutch was “a love story about two men who happen to be cops.” Now, I want to believe that the writers/actors knew about the slashy subtext and played it up as much as possible, and it was the 70s, so…but then again, it was the 70s.
I can just hear Fright Dyke telling me that that’s not what he meant by love! Sorry, honey. The slasher has spoken.
Also, I find it kinda hilarious that when both of us hear the word “Slasher” we think COMPLETELY different things. But, anyway…
I read Total Eclipse of the Heart early on, and it might have been the reason I stopped. It’s just SO GOOD. It’s be all end all, and hits most of my kinks for cop/military slash.
Starsky and Hutch are drugged and, while under the influence, confess their true love and screw like bunnies. This also reveals Starsky’s repressed past, which comes up later. Little did they know that they were being taped. The next day, they’re called into the station, shown the tape, and suspended pending investigation. It has no sound, so Starsky can’t hear the love, his past freaks him out, and the partnership is strained. They end up getting jobs as a bouncer and bartender at the Pink Flamingo, a gay/drag bar and are drawn into 70s gay culture. There are raids and protests and, the entire time, Starsy and Hutch are trying to figure things out. Then Hutch remembers. Starsky still doesn’t, but gets so jealous with Hutch that they end up together anyway, and Starsky tries to work through his issues. It all comes to a head when the Flamingo is raided and those responsible for drugging the pair in the first place come to light. Will Starsky remember his love in time to save the day? Or will this be a TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART!!!!
Ok, I couldn’t help myself there. The total eclipse refers to Starsky’s emtional clarity; he knows he loves hutch, his heart is darkened by anti-gay crap and emotional baggage, the sun comes back and they live happily ever after. And that’s not even a surprise. I’m a big fan of happy endings, people. If it doesn’t end happy, i’ll rec is that way.
Now, this story? is LONG. I’m talking novel length. I started this before dinner one night, and didn’t finish until two days later. This was in college, when I had time to read all day long. It’s epic length. So, you know, be prepared.
Now, it does fall prey to some tropes that I’m not to fond of. There’s a couple mystical dream sequences that reflect the state of the Starsky/Hutch relationship, but also give the impression of some soul-mate mysticism that I haven’t seen since The Sentinel. Like I said, it’s kinda lukewarm for me,[ even though it does inspire some really excellent (NSFW) art]. It’s almost as bad as the “merging aura” sex-scene. And if you’ve read it, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
What I love the most, however, is the sense of history you get from this story. It’s very localized in time during an important era for the gay rights movement. It reminds me, stylistically, of memoirs that I’ve read of people who came out in the 70s, (I’m thinking particularly of Tales of the Lavender Menace. Which is a great book, even if you’re not a lesbian). Being that I wouldn’t be born for at least another ten years (I was a child of the 80s), this fic helps me feel connected to a past that I didn’t experience. Now, I would get the same connection from reading other gay lit from the time, but none of them have Huggy Bear. Just sayin.
This all leads back to my theory of slash fic–that it’s filling an emotional and storytelling niche. Total Eclipse of the Heart fills a nice that was representative of gay life in the 70s, or at least the issues being addressed for social change; raids, discrimination, hate crimes. If you study closely, you can chart the successes of the gay rights movement by what’s being addressed in fic. Total Eclipse of the Heart has a very “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,” vibe. And, while that is still being chanted today, and should be, you will also find stories (particularly in SGA) about DADT, which is now gone. And Gay Marriage in New York(Professor X/Magneto). And teen sexuality in Harry Potter, which will paint wizarding culture as either very pro- or very anit-gay. These stories are filled with teen angst about the pressures they feel at home, and at school. I can tell you from experience, that even if you live in a supportive family, with supportive (and out) friends, in a place where you won’t be bashed or mistreated, realizing you’re gay is NERVE WRACKING.
And it’s not all about straight up (pun intended) homosexuality. Fic is starting to explore what I call the “genderfuck” which includes everything from transvestism to transgenderism and everything in between. I see this particularly in DC fic–when “Earth 11”, a universe where all the DC characters are the “other” sex, is cannon, it asks for this kind of play. Also, the canon of the Batclan cross-dressing for justice. The fic writes itself. Now, most of this “genderfuckery” focuses on Tim Drake, Robin III, at least in my own personal canon of fics, and I think it’s because he’s written as a blank slate. But, I’ll get to him in another post.
Another thing DC leaves itself wide open to is polyamory. According to Wikipedia, “Polyamory (from Greek πολύ [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [love]) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.” There is fan canon within the DCU that there are certain heroes that are poly. Tim Drake. Again. I’ll get to him. The point is, I was introduced to the concept through fanfic, so when I met my poly friend, I knew what he was talking about. And that’s something that has recently come into the spotlight.
Also? Asexuality has hit fandom. Sherlock, I’m looking at you.
Wow, I’m off topic. Anyway. All of that was to make the point that fic is as located in history, and the needs of society, as literature. And Total Eclipse of the Heart is a piece of Epic History.
I’ll leave you with this, completely unrelated but epic: