The Baker Street Babes Podcast
Transcript, Episode 44: Sherlock Holmes After Dark Pt 1
Released 14/09/13, Transcribed by Melanie Fletcher
Curly: On today’s show there’s obviously me, Curly We have Lyndsay and newest Baker Street Babe Liz.
Liz: Hello, ladies
Curly: We also have third time guest, the fabulous Sherlockian scholar Leslie Klinger.
Leslie: Third time loser.
Curly: Oh, burn!
Liz: there’s got to be a prize of some sort, the trifecta of–
Curly: It’s a bikini.
Lyndsay: A mankini?
Curly: A mankini. It’s in the mail.
Leslie: Thank you.
Curly: It has Benedict Cumberbatch all over it, so feel free to wear it at all of next summer’s parties. It’ll be great. (laughter) Also, we have three other fabulous guests on this episode. Starting off, if you are into fanfiction at all you probably definitely know the fabulous Madlori.
Madlori: Hello! It’s me, Lori.
Curly: I have really bad intros, I’m sorry. And we have two fabulous fan artists. First off, we have Sketchlock.
Sketchlock: Oh, hi.
Lyndsay: All Tunalock-related questions should be directed to Sketch.
Sketchlock: I had nothing to do with that.
Lyndsay: I know, but–
Madlori: So far they’re both, like, water-related, so–
Madlori: I know, I’m reaching, I’m reaching.
Lyndsay: No, you’re right, Lori, she’s the expert.
Curly: And we also have the famous (and infamous) Reapersun.
Reapersun: Hi, hello.
Curly: So, the first thing we do whenever we have new guests is that we induct them as honorary Baker Street Babes. So Lyndsay, did you want to do the first honors? Pick your poison?
Lyndsay: Oh, sure, why not. Sketch, so (clear throat) so, uh, what are our questions?
Curly: How did you get into Sherlock Holmes?
Lyndsay: How did you get into Sherlock Holmes, what was your introduction to this crack-filled world that we all live in? This beautiful, beautiful place?
Sketchlock: I actually thought about this a while ago, and at first I thought it was because of the Robert Downey Jr. movies, which is how in more recent years I kinda knew about it, but I realized later on that I grew up on Detective Conan, which is the anime based off of Sherlock Holmes. But I never noticed it because I never got to read it or anything? So I realized that’s really what it was.
Lyndsay: Oh, that’s killer, I like that. Off to a good start. What’s your favorite case from the original Sherlock Holmes canon?
Sketchlock: Oh, man. That’s really hard. I think either between The Speckled Band or…um, this is really hard. I have too many. I really like The Copper Beeches, as well as The Solitary Cyclist, and The Devil’s Foot. So yeah, it’s all of those.
Lyndsay: So it’s like a collection of Violets, basically.
Sketchlock: Yeah, yeah. It’s all the most terrible stories.
Lyndsay: All the Violets, that’s beautiful.
Sketchlock: Oh, wait, and The Illustrious Client. That’s one of my favorites, too.
Lyndsay: That’s another Violet! You’re good! All four Violets were in there — awesome. Totally respectful, that’s beautiful. Who’s your favorite character in the Sherlock Holmes canon.
Sketchlock: In the canon?
Lyndsay: Well, in any adaptation, it doesn’t really matter. Who’s your favorite character, who do you most identify with, who do you squee over?
Sketchlock: Probably Watson, I guess. I mean, that’s usually the answer people come up with. But as an over all, probably Watson.
Lyndsay: There’s nothing wrong with you. What’s your favorite adaptation?
Sketchlock: Currently, it’s probably the BBC. But then there’s The Great Mouse Detective. I’ve yet to watch Tom and Jerry and Sherlock Holmes. I have the DVD, and I’ll watch it someday.
Curly: I haven’t watched it either, but I was given it as a gift at Sherlopalooza, someone gave it to me and were like, “You should watch this.” And I said, “I will,” and I have it, and I feel really bad–
Sketchlock: Someone gave it to me for Christmas. I was watching A Clockwork Orange with a friend the other day, and we realized that Malcolm — well, maybe I’m getting that wrong. The man who was Alex actually voiced Moriarty in Tom and Jerry and Sherlock. It was hilarious.
Lyndsay: I haven’t seen that either. Kris, bring it next weekend! And finally–
Leslie: it’s a B-/C+.
Lyndsay: Oh, really, is it kind of disappointing?
Leslie: Yeah, don’t get too excited. There’s very little Sherlockian content other than people running around in deerstalkers.
Liz: I kinda assumed that would be–
Lyndsay: You’re talking to people who really liked the Asylum Sherlock Holmes.
Curly: There’s nothing wrong with the Asylum Sherlock Holmes.
Leslie: Well, no, but that’s quality, quality cheese. (laughter) There’s good cheese, and there’s bad cheese.
Lyndsay: That’s true, and many T-rexes, and brothers named Thorpe are good cheese. We have one further question for Sketch, and that is not the same question as who’s your favorite character, but who would you most like to sit down and have a cream tea with, and chat with from the canon?
Curly: I changed the question — I sent you a chat.
Lyndsay: You did?
Curly: I themed it.
Lyndsay: OH! Then delete that part.
Leslie: Oh, my goodness, I don’t know if I want to hear the revised question, given the topic. (laughter)
Lyndsay: You know I was asleep all day! Sorry, go, what’s the question?
Curly: What character would you want to bang? (Transcriptionist: a BBC Lestrade and Mycroft sandwich, but that’s just me)
Leslie: Yeah, that’s–
Sketchlock: Oh, my God, really?
Lyndsay: What’s more appropriate for this podcast, right? Thank you, Kris, well played. So, Sketch–
Lyndsay: If you could tap that in the Sherlockian canon–
Sketchlock: I’m thinking I’m probably the youngest one right here–
Curly: (whispers) It’s okay.
Sketchlock: And, uh, honestly? None of them, because sex isn’t that sexy.
Curly: Fair enough.
Sketchlock: In my opinion.
Lyndsay: That’s fair, it’s a fair answer. So, going with the — yes you can take the Fifth on that one, it’s all good, 100%. So, Lori–
Lyndsay: Let’s interrogate Lori, get all over her.
Curly: I will get all over Lori.
Madlori: I just ate a digestive biscuit, so I’m upping my Anglophile points just right now.
Curly: All right, Lori, how did you get into Sherlock Holmes?
Madlori: Well, I’ve loved the canon stories since I was a wee thing, when I was a teenager you know, and first discovered them, you know. A lot of us were teenagers when we discovered the stories, and you read the stories, and they’re fabulous stories, and then you’re all about that. Yeah, it was a long time ago because I’m old, old, old.
Lyndsay: You are not! I’ve seen you! There is no one old on this podcast.
Curly: All right, so who’s your favorite character from the stories or adaptations?
Madlori: Well, I’m tempted to say Sherlock because, I mean, that’s kind of what hooks you into the stories is the character of Sherlock and how fascinating he is. But I’m going to put that aside as a given and move onto other characters. I’m actually very fond of Mycroft in the canon, myself. I think he’s very interesting, and I wish there had been more of him in the canon, so I’m gonna go with that.
Lyndsay: He’s the best.
Curly: A lot of people haven’t actually given that answer, so–
Madlori: Yay, I like to be special!
Curly: You’re special. And going along with that, would The Greek Interpreter be your favorite story or would you have another one?
Madlori: The Greek Interpreter is definitely one of my favorite stories. Because I am a slasher I have to say that Three Garridebs is one of my favorite stories. That’s, like, required.
Madlori: Garridebs! Oh, my God! But I’m also very fond of The Adventure of the Yellow Face, and this is purely sentimental, I’m so stupid, but when I was a kid and I was reading this story, and they were talking about, oh, it’s this mysterious KKK thing, and I was like, “Oh, I know what that is. Why don’t you guys know what that is?” And I felt so superior because I knew what that was, and they didn’t know what that was, and I read the whole thing expecting there to be some twist where it wasn’t what I thought it was, like it wasn’t the Ku Klux Klan. But then it was! And it was this revelation to me that when this story was written people did not have a wide knowledge of the Ku Klux Klan. I have a sentimental fondness for that story. I also really like Dancing Men because I love codebreaking, so.
Lyndsay: Both of those cases are interesting because it seems like Arthur Conan Doyle had a real fascination with America and Americans, and these sort of exotic, “Oh, I’m going to do the Scatterers, and the Molly Maguires, and the Pinkertons, and the KKK.”
Madlori: A giant thing about Mormons.
Curly: A giant bit about Mormons.
Madlori: It’s a long bit.
Curly: So what’s your favorite adaptation?
Madlori: Well, the BBC Sherlock got me back into the active fandom, so there’s that. I’m also very fond of Young Sherlock Holmes. And I actually haven’t seen the second Downey movie, but I did really enjoy the first one. I always loved the idea of Holmes as an action hero, and I felt like that was in the canon stories, but Doyle never wrote it. It was off-screen. He would write Holmes coming in and saying, “Oh, it’s a good thing I’m so knowledgeable with a stick,” or “I beat those guys to hell,” but he never showed it.
Lyndsay: Like Mr. Woodley went home in a cart, or the same thing in Naval Treaty where he’s like, “Yeah, my hand’s fucked up for reasons.”
Madlori: Yeah. Cause that wasn’t really the story convention at the time to put in all that action stuff, and of course since Watson was telling it he didn’t see it, so he couldn’t talk about it, but I always thought it was there and it was a legitimate thing to sort of play up in the movie, so I kinda enjoyed that aspect of it.
Curly: Brilliant. And who would you, if you had the chance, do the horizontal tango with?
Lyndsay: Or the vertical tango.
Curly: Or the vertical tango.
Madlori: Vertical requires more muscle mass. I think if I had the chance to bang Sherlock Holmes in any of his incarnations I would not say no, and I would not kick him out of bed for eating crackers, or smoking tobacco.
Lyndsay: It’s not your fault — half the canon is hand porn. Watson is like, “He reached his long, white, slender–
Leslie: Aw, we’re not going to talk about ejaculations, are we?
Lyndsay: Ejaculation is cheap. The hand porn is real.
Curly: True story. Okay, thank you Lori. Moving on, Liz, did you want to take Reapersun?
Lyndsay: In the Biblical sense?
Liz: Yes, please. Reaper, why don’t you start by telling us how you got into Sherlock Holmes?
Reapersun: Well, I need to admit that I’m a really disgusting fan, and I got into it based on BBC–
Curly: There’s nothing wrong with that.
Reapersun: I still haven’t read all the stories.
Curly: That’s okay.
Liz: There’s a lot of them — it’s not like you were just going to sit and suddenly read thousands and thousands of pages, so…
Reapersun: So, yeah, the BBC version.
Liz: That’s great. Okay, so, who’s your favorite character?
Reapersun: I really like Watson, like in the new BBC version because I knew the Sherlock Holmes stories vaguely before, and he just seemed like a really — I feel bad saying this, but boring character. He just wasn’t that interesting? But then the BBC version made him really interesting, and then the new films and stuff, so he became kind of my favorite.
Liz: Yeah, I have a soft spot for Watson, too. So it sounds like you haven’t had a chance to read all of the stories, but maybe if you could think of what your favorite story or favorite adaptation is between what you’ve read and the adaptations that you’ve seen?
Reapersun: Well, I like Hounds a lot because it has that slight supernatural element.
Liz: And the big question of the night is, who would you do the dirty with?
Reapersun: Can I just walk in on Holmes and Watson together, is that viable?
Curly: Yes you can, you can be a voyeur.
Reapersun: That’s my answer.
Madlori: That’s a legitimate lifestyle choice.
Reapersun: Yeah, my sexuality is walking in on my favorite couples.
Liz: Fair dos. Sweet.
Lyndsay: That was a pithy response.
Curly: It was. Okay, since Les has to go and eat dinner in 15 minutes, I’m going to do the section sort of tailored for him. For those who don’t know — I don’t know if you want to expand on this, Lyndsay, but Leslie Klinger is like a Sherlockian porn expert.
Lyndsay: It’s a fact.
Curly: I know when I went to A Study in Scandal conference he did the presentation on Victorian porn, and I was very shocked at how very dirty the Victorians were, and they took pictures, and I was like, “Oh, my God!”
Leslie: Yeah, the talk was fun because I sort of traced the Victorian history of pornographers and pornography, and Kristina may have noticed at the beginning of the talk I said, “Look, there’s going to be some really explicit material. If you sensitive or easily offended, please leave now.” And everybody thought I was kidding. I wasn’t. And afterwards people said to me, “Wow.” I was really worried about crossing the border into Canada with the material I was carrying.
Curly: It was dirty.
Leslie: My fascination with pornography and Sherlockiana really started when I ran out of things to collect. I said, “Well, okay, I’ll start by going after every Playboy Magazine appearance of Sherlock Holmes, of which there’s a bunch, and from there it sort of expanded out into things like The Adventure of the Disappearing Dildo. Actually, this is a great story — in the early 1970’s I was walking in West Hollywood with my wife, and we passed on the other side of the street an adult bookstore. And in those days there were still physical adult bookstores, they had the windows blacked out, and some of them actually charged twenty-five cents to come in or something.
Liz: Oh, we still have those in suburbia.
Leslie: Oh, good. So we went in the store and I said my antennae, you know, my spider sense was tingling. And it led me to the first item in my collection, which is Larry Townsend’s Sexual Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This is a paperback that was published in the 1970s, by the Other Traveler Publisher, and the principal story is called A Study in Lavender, and in it every male is getting it on with every other male in the canon, and there are very few females on the scene.
Lyndsay: They just vanished.
Leslie: So that was my introduction to the idea that there actually was Sherlockian — we’ll call it pornography, but sexually explicit fiction.
Leslie: Erotica. And when I ran out of things to collect, I decided to, because of my — I don’t want to say stature — my position in the Sherlockian community, I could get away with publishing in the Baker Street Journal a checklist of Sherlockan pornography, for those collectors who’d run out of things. You know, if I were a little pervert Steve Rothman wouldn’t have published it. But since I’m a big pervert, it was okay.
Leslie: So then people started sending me stuff, all kinds of things. Obviously a great deal of slash, but also what we might call mainstream pornography — films, photographs, books.
Liz: May I ask a question? You were being sent things like, I imagine classically [name] My Dearest Holmes, things that existed in print at the time, maybe zines, I don’t know. But somewhere along the line you started receiving het porn with men in deerstalkers?
Leslie: Actually, I’m primarily interested in actually published material, but there is a great deal that’s actually been printed, even though it first appeared on the Internet. So I have a number of — I’m not sure how to describe them — they’re sort of looseleaf books that people have put together that are online fanfic sites where they’ve collected and published their things. But pictures and films, The Harlots of Harlot Hill or something like that. Sherlick Holmes.
Madlori: The Harlots of Harlot Hill — you’ve got harlots on Harlot Hill!
Leslie: There are all kinds of wonderful things. Sherlick Holmes is one of my favorites. So you know, there’s a lot of sort of — well, slash tends to be, I don’t want to overgeneralize, but there’s obviously a lot of same sex erotica about Holmes. But there’s also a fair amount of opposite sex erotica.
Lyndsay: Dude, when I first read the Sherlock Holmes/War of the Worlds crossover–
Leslie: Manly Wade Wellman’s?
Lyndsay: Yeah, exactly, and Mrs. Hudson was 18 and sitting on Sherlock Holmes’s lap for half of the novel, I was — there’s not enough bleach in the world. I was like, oh, man. This is rough. But you know, it’s fun. You can take this character obviously, and adapt him in any number of directions because, to be honest, data data data, I cannot make bricks without clay, and we have zero evidence, conclusively speaking, as to whether Sherlock Holmes was heterosexual, homosexual, asexual. So that character is–
Leslie: Up for grabs, so to speak, yes.
Curly: That leads into a question we got, if you want to do a segue.
Leslie: Sure. Well, actually, one of the interesting things that I still wonder about is, I haven’t found any Victorian pornography including Holmes. And I’m a little surprised. Obviously there’s The Pearl and things like that, where people made up wonderful pornography, but I would have thought somebody would have, so to speak, grabbed the characters of Holmes and Watson and done something with them. But I haven’t found any yet.
Curly: Well, that checks one question off the list.
Lyndsay: When you do — and I say when — share.
Curly: Yeah, like, what’s the earliest piece that you have?
Leslie: Well, it’s this Sexual Adventures, from the 70s. That’s the oldest I’ve found.
Lyndsay: So is that older than the zines? The original, you know, that started coming out around the same time as Trekkies were producing them.
Leslie: Um, yeah.
Lyndsay: 70s. That surprises me. I’m surprised it’s not older.
Leslie: I may not have found it. I mean, the 70’s were when it was getting disseminated. This is a real book — I mean, this is a real physical book. A book book, as opposed to something we’d self-publish.
Curly: This sort of segues. On Twitter, @Jenna221B asks did Doyle’s Victorian audience see Sherlock Holmes as a sex symbol, or do you think the status was formed more recently?
Lyndsay: I can say that Conan Doyle was annoyed that Sherlock Holmes turned into a sex symbol to a certain extent, and he blamed it on Paget. Is that true, Les?
Leslie: I think that’s right. You know, Conan Doyle saw this — remember, excuse his expressions — the man who was half a boy and the boy who was half a man. There’s no mention of women there. I think he would have been very surprised to find he had a lot of readers who were women. I’m sure he did, but I think he would have been surprised about it.
Curly: I forget what episode it was, but we were talking about this, that Arthur Conan Doyle said that Paget had made Sherlock Holmes a lot more handsome than he had ever envisioned him, and then his drawings became the face of Holmes, and then everyone was like, “Oh, look at that guy, he’s tall, dark and handsome.” And I’m sure Arthur Conan Doyle was like, “Arrgh, dammit!”
Leslie: Well, of course, it all changed with Gillette. I mean, Gillette is the one, remember, who said, “May I marry him?” And so Gillette had the idea of Holmes being romantically involved. There are some earlier plays that similarly had Holmes in romantic situations, but none as successful as the Gillette play, which was 1899.
Lyndsay: And he was a stupidly handsome man, so obviously those were extremely popular.
Lyndsay: And he became the face of Sherlock Holmes, not only in advertisements, but in Dorr Steel’s illustrations as well.
Curly: And another question from @allyourdata: in your opinions, did Arthur Conan Doyle intend his work to have homosexual undertones, or is it due to more recent adaptations?
Leslie: Well, I don’t imagine he had any idea that people would take it as homosexual undertones. I think that, for the times, Holmes and Watson have a perfectly normal heterosexual male relationship, meaning they have sex with other people if they have sex at all. They were just friends. I don’t think — you know, did the Victorians see homosexual elements in male bonding? I don’t think so. Homosexuality was publicly denied and derided, and I think there’s no doubt — I can’t imagine Doyle thinking that he’d created anything that people would interpret as homosexual.
Lyndsay: Well, Holmes is a criminal in terms of breaking and entering, but I agree, I don’t think he set out to create him as being sexually criminal. And Doyle was, I think, Doyle was a kindly person and he knew, he met Oscar Wilde famously, and he knew what happened to Oscar Wilde.
Leslie: That’s an interesting question, what Doyle’s views were about homosexuals. I don’t know of any public statements in which he came out against or criticized homosexuality. I think he probably did feel sympathy for Wilde for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and sort of overreaching. I mean, Wilde’s principal crime was hubris.
Liz: I actually think that the homosexuality piece of it, and that interpretation, is a more recent revelation of audience’s reactions to men being close, both in the form of friendship and in the form of living together physically, because I think if you think about sort of the new modern idea of masculinity it isn’t very common for men to share so much, or to be so, even just physically aware of each other all the time. I think that it’s probably a kind of rejection or an assumption from our culture’s perspective.
Curly: I think that’s right on target.
Lyndsay: Liz, I think that’s extremely apt.
Madlori: I once read a really interesting essay when I was reading Brideshead Revisited for a class, which is another sort of era story that is very famously viewed with a lot of homoerotic undertones. And the essay was by a Victorian scholar who talked about how us looking back at it makes it look different because we’re not aware of the essentially masculine character of Victorian society, where the rules of behavior between men were different than they are now.
Liz: I think it’s not just that, though. I think the rules of behavior between men were different, but the rules of behavior for women were markedly different, and part of the reason why I think slash fiction and slash everything is so popular now is that now women are more open about looking at porn, quite frankly. Because it hasn’t been very long in the back of my head that I can recall people on the subway openly reading 50 Shades, you know? And so that empowerment, that women also enjoy erotica, I think has a great deal to do with the massive outpouring of content. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s just associated in my head.
Lyndsay: I also think it’s, and again, this is my reaction to more modern times, but I think women are very attracted to this concept of a sensitivity between two men, and having the willingness to share so much of each other’s lives, both professionally and personally. I was trying to think of what is sort of a similar relationship that we see on screen in terms of two men being very open with each other–
Leslie: The Lone Ranger and Tonto?
Lyndsay: Yeah, but the example that I thought of, that’s the most bizarre, infrequent thing, is the relationship between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
Madlori: Yeah, I totally agree with that.
Lyndsay: The character dynamic that they bring to, whether we think of Spaced or Shaun of the Dead, that sort of relationship, is the closest thing I can think of in terms of our modern media showing men having a dynamic. And I don’t actually think that Doyle would have ever described Holmes and Watson as being very sensitive, but because of this sort of hypermasculine time, where men’s relationships are very violent and based on almost military-style camaraderie, it’s really easy to see why that interpretation of a quiet, interactual relationship would be considered very sensitive or very appealing.
Leslie: That’s a good question. I have a question based on my old age. So, when I was a kid, for boys the opportunity to see pornography consisted of burlesque shows, there was Playboy magazine, obviously we were not welcomed to go to those but you could dream about those, you might sneak into that, you might find some grownup’s copies of Playboy magazine. What did girls do? There were no opportunities for girls to see “porn” or even sexual material.
Madlori: Girls aren’t supposed to like that stuff. (Transcriptionist: speaking as a 47-year-old, we relied on Tiger Beat and romance novels. Not the greatest source of porn for women in the world, but it was all that was on offer.)
Leslie: Well, I understand. And that is clearly the standard of my generation. Has it really changed?
Curly: Yeah, it really has.
Sketchlock: I was going to say we have the internet.
Lyndsay: I honestly can’t think of a single thing. I mean, I don’t know, maybe Disney movies, as sad as that is. I mean, it wasn’t pornographic.
Curly: It was like, I have a crush on that character.
Lyndsay: Yeah, I have a crush on that guy, or I have a faux relationship with him. I remember I loved The Princess Bride as a young girl. It was one of my favorite movies, and I remember being fascinated by this man, but there was nothing pornographic about it because I just don’t think it was available to us. I can’t think of anything prior to 2004 where I would know where to go for that kind of thing.
Madlori: When boobs came on the screen in R-rated films when I was watching them as a 13, 14-year-old, my mom would take a pillow and cover the screen.
Curly: Yeah, yeah.
Madlori: That’s how I grew up — not when people were shooting each other with guns, you know, but when boobs arrived. (Transcriptionist: Monty Python movies were also good for that. My first viewing of a live-action penis was Graham Chapman’s in Life of Brian. Still not pornographic, though.)
Leslie: And yet, my sense is in Victorian times, when pornography was available largely by subscription, it was very private, that there were probably some women who bought and read pornographic literature.
Curly: Oh, for sure.
Madlori: There must have been, but there was a physical object, that was the trick.
Leslie: That’s correct, it was a book.
Lyndsay: You know what it is? It’s all those supermarket novellas with Fabio on the cover.
Leslie: As Playboy used to carry on, pornography was Helen Gurley Brown’s descriptions of how to get the best orgasm.
Curley: Ala Cosmopolitan.
Lyndsay: Exactly. Reaper, I’m curious, what was your first opportunity to see smut?
Reapersun: Oh, jeez, I don’t know.
Lyndsay: Back in the day.
Reapersun: I’m pretty old, too, but I don’t remember. It’s just something that I’ve been around a lot. I grew up in a Catholic family so it’s not like it was part of my family or culture or anything, but it was something I found pretty early on, and yet the internet was just becoming a thing at that time so it just came naturally to go on there and find it. I don’t know.
Madlori: Yeah, it was similar for me. When I was 18, I figured it out.
Reapersun: Yeah, I was probably 15 years old, and I was on the internet, and I was finding all the slash fiction on the internet.
Lyndsay: So were you drawn to that initially, then?
Reapersun: Yeah, I think it just — when I was younger, I got really into fandom, and it was something hat started happening in fandom a lot. So I saw it, and it just appealed to me, so I started looking for it.
Madlori: I want to say it was all about the books you could find on your parents’ bookshelves, you know? When I was 14, everyone had to read Flowers in the Attic, and everyone had to read Forever by Judy Blume, which was the one book she wrote that had the sexy times. It was like, oh my gosh, and can you sneak a copy of The Thorn Birds off your parents’ bookshelves and read that, what can you find?
Sketchlock: I think the thing for me and people in my generation, before the internet it would have been comic books. Because I’m Asian, so I’m used to anime and manga, so for me that was my comic book and cartoons. And I remember being at a clinic that my mom took me to, and there was just this random manga that I picked up, I don’t know how young I was at the time, but it was like, you know those Japanese-created horror fics with weird stuff? I remember reading that as a kid and thinking, I don’t know what’s happening, but here it is. I think this was pre-internet.
Lyndsay: So Les, so that we don’t take up too much of your time, maybe you can tell us one thing that everyone can find online or at their local bookstore that would be original Sherlock slashfic or something of that nature.
Leslie: Well, two things. One, and maybe I’ll put it up on my website, is my Baker Street Journal checklist of Sherlockian pornography.
Curly: Yes, please do.
Leslie: I’ll have to dig it out.
Lyndsay: We’ll link to it if you post it, definitely, for this episode.
Leslie: Oh, cool. I just looked on Amazon to see if The Sexual Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Larry Townsend was still available, and the answer is, it is for about $100. It’s an antique, it’s a collectable.
Lyndsay: But so is [book title?], but you can get it. My Dearest Watson, if you can get it.
Leslie: Exactly. These are not impossible books to find. That’s the fountainhead, so to speak, The Sexual Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Larry Townsend.
Lyndsay: Can we call that thing a fountainhead for the rest of the episode?
Curly: Yes, we may.
Leslie: Yes, I know, I’ve left you with this image now, and you can use it. Now, this is not, as far as the earliest film, that’s a different question, and I’m not sure, I think I’ve listed some chronologically in my checklist, but I’m not sure how far back Sherlockian pornography goes. My guess is, pretty far back. One of the interesting things that I discovered when I was doing the research for my presentation on Victorian pornography was that the photographs looked a lot like our current pornographic photographs. You know, the body parts are the same, and there are only so many ways that they fit together.
Liz: Unless you’re writing in the omegaverse, and then…
Madlori: Oh, let’s not go there.
Lyndsay: I have one question, please, unless Leslie has to leave right this second. I would love to know what piece of Sherlockian erotica surprised you. Like a quirky kind of, “Whoa, I didn’t think that would ever happen.” Because I see a lot of that kind of thing on Tumblr, and I would like to know if that’s happened to you.
Leslie: Actually, no it hasn’t, because Townsend’s Sexual Adventures really — how should I say this — covered the waterfront. I mean, Holmes got it on with just about everyone, including Billy the page, so what’s left?
Curly: And on that note, enjoy your dinner.
Leslie: Thanks, guys. I will be listening to the rest of this, because I want to find out, and I hope you’ll be telling us, where we can get new Sherlockian erotica.
Curly: Oh, yes, I’m sure we’ll cover that.
Leslie: Well, have a hot time tonight.
Curly: Oh, Les Klinger. Okay, I have a ton of questions, and I can either jump into something, or if there’s something that you guys specifically want to talk about?
Madlori: Okay, however you want to do it is good for me.
Lyndsay: Is there, like, an issue or a commentary on something we’ve already talked about that’s burning in anyone’s brain.
Liz: I think this goes back to some of the questions that we have that might be worth exploring some more. Why is it — and actually this question is coming from Ashley — she says that she doesn’t think most fans can relate to a relationship that doesn’t have sex. She’s @fangirlchick on Twitter. And I’m kind of curious — do we think that, is it that we simply cannot imagine a relationship without sex? I specifically, when I read this comment, thought of the Elementary adaptation, and how a lot of the fans on Tumblr especially just pine and pine and pine for Sherlock and Joan to get together, and it’s to my heart’s greatest desire that they do not, that they maintain that chaste relationship. I’m kind of curious — do we want, do we desire that always, or are there specific elements of the Sherlock character that we think, we need to see that, or we deserve to see it?
Curly: I actually have very intense feelings about this question. I really appreciate the fact that there are two characters that can have a really intense friendship, because I think that it’s not portrayed enough on television and in movies, because there is always people getting together. I also think that a lot of people, when they ship characters or write slash fiction or anything, they’re looking for that extra bit, they’re imagining what, if the characters did get together, they’re exploring the relationship. And a lot of relationships contain sex, obviously. And that’s not to say that all do, they obviously don’t. But I think it’s fair to say that there’s nothing wrong with imagining characters loving each other and being in a relationship and not having sex, like all out asexuality. There’s also nothing wrong with wanting the two characters that you wish would be in a relationship to fuck like bunnies. So there are both sides of it, in my opinion. And I think it’s perfectly capable to imagine not getting it on. As much as I do ship Sherlock and John on BBC, I will come out as a slash fan, there you go–
Lyndsay: Oh, my God, you’ve seen slash on the internet??? How did you come across it?
Curly: I logged onto Tumblr.com. But actually I don’t want to see them together in the show, and that’s just my personal desire. I like the fact that they have the super close relationship that is a very intense friendship on the show, but I’m perfectly happy in my little AU world of reading things or seeing art of things of them together.
Madlori: I think people looking in from the outside at the shipper community, no matter what fandom you’re in, don’t necessarily get the fact that it’s possible to ship characters in fanon but not necessarily want them to get together on the show. And that’s very possible. I mean, some people do want them to get together on the show, and that’s okay, too. You can play in your little slash or shipper world, and it doesn’t have to interfere with your enjoyment of the canon, whether or not your OTP gets together.
Lyndsay: Because they’re not going to.
Lynsday: Especially, though, with Sherlock, I think the interesting question is on a show like Elementary, I think it’s probably expected that at some point they’ll get together.
Liz: I don’t think they’re going to, though.
Curly: No, I don’t think they will.
Lyndsay: Rob Doherty was at this Sherlock Holmes Behind the Canonical Screen conference that I was at, and there was a Q&A, and he was like, fuck no, it’s not happening. I mean, Rob Doherty said no, Sherlock and Joan are not fucking.
Madlori: I think the writers of that show have been very specific that they wanted to preserve that Holmes/Watson close friendship kind of canon relationship and not have it turn sexual. And I kind of love that they’re doing that with Elementary, I really do.
Lyndsay: Well, it’s beautiful, it’s a beautiful friendship. I mean, I think the reason I relate to slash is that because in my own sexuality I have never been attracted to someone that I didn’t already love. I’ve never been sexually attracted to anyone I didn’t care about. I would sooner walk in front of a tank then have sex with a strange person, it just doesn’t appeal to me. I have to care about their brain. So that aspect of the slash dynamic makes a certain amount of sense to me. However, with Elementary I think it’s a great decision for them to say, yeah, a man and a woman can have sex mentally, just sort of intimately be involved with each other, they can be emotionally involved with each other, but that sort of interplay is not translated into a physical act. I respect them for it — I hope it keeps up.
Liz: I do, too. I think the question is, though, will the fans revolt or will they be angry? I think going back to the original question, can they deal with it? Because I think as people who sort of enjoy Sherlock as a dynamic of seeing John and Sherlock together in a homoerotic way, I think there’s a cultural expectation that eventually a heterosexual pairing is going to pair up, whether or not the writers say they will or not, we expect them to. And I hope they don’t go through with it, but I do wonder if the fans will be able to put up with it.
Lyndsay: Liz, what are we going to send them if they manage to do the entire series with no fucking?
Liz: Oh, my God, we will send them the biggest gift basket of, wait, that is a great question. What is the perfect thank you for not making our two characters go at it?
Lyndsay: Not that there’s anything wrong with shipping them.
Liz: There’s nothing wrong with it, but I think it’s important, to me, even beyond the Sherlock Holmes canon, it goes back to the question of we don’t have enough relationships from real life on screen, and I think they’ve actually done a good job of showing us something that is true in real life, a man and a woman being friends and not having sex at every opportunity.
Madlori: I have a male friend that I have never had sex with.
Curly: Well done, Lori!
Madlori: Thank you, I’m very proud. You’re right, it’s like when you have a man and a woman on screen, no matter what size the screen is, the expectation is always that they’re going to bang at some point. And that’s fine if you have a romance, but it doesn’t reflect the grand human experience of a personal relationship.
Lyndsay: Some of my best friends are men. One of them I bang, because I’m married to him. The other two, not so much.
Liz: Well, what other questions should we tackle today, guys?
Curly: There are the really intense ones.
Liz: Why don’t we go through some of the intense ones that are maybe a little more funny, which is quite simply, why do women enjoy imagining two men together.
Lyndsay: It’s ridiculous — I already responded to it, and I was like, you guys can look at lesbians all day, and women can’t think that men with cute booties can kiss each other and touch penises? I don’t understand the nature of the question! It’s like the person asking the question, who I am sure is a perfectly respectable and wonderful person, had no idea that men like lesbian porn.
Liz: Well, I think it’s just like, when people open the Pandora’s box of something they didn’t realize existed, and they’re like, holy shit, I just discovered a completely new side to the other 50% of the population. I hate to say this, but I think when you have a conversation with men about Sherlock, if they’d had enough beers they’ll get around to saying, “Oh, and are you into that thing on the internet?” And you know what they’re talking about, but they’re not going to say the thing about the penises touching. So I think they’re just surprised by it, but I think the simple answer is, people are people, they’re mammals and they like sex.
Curly: It’s fascinating because I think guys are still, like, they get weirded out that girls watch gay porn. (Transcriptionist: however, gay porn actors tend to be flattered that women watch gay porn. What can I say, I have a wide spectrum of friends…) It’s like, “Well, you watch gay porn, so why can’t I?” The same person who asked why women enjoy it so much also said that this means male sexuality and female sexuality are basically the same, is that what we’re saying? And I said, “Yeah!”
Lyndsay: Oh, my God, humans–
Sketchlock: I just started watching CBS, but the first episode , I think it was where Sherlock mentioned something about how sex is a commodity and people should just, like, think it’s normal.
Liz: Yeah, he actually seeks out sex partners that are purely, from his perspective on the show, it’s part of his healthy balance of life. He has sex in order to be healthy.
Lyndsay: It’s along the lines of having a smoothie for him.
Sketchlock: It’s like, you need food and water to survive as a human being, and I guess sex.
Curly: I mean, it’s a natural human instinct, a natural mammal instinct.
Lyndsay: Well, unless you’re asexual, which we’ll also cover later when we get tot he deep questions. But the point is 100% valid. It’s like, okay, I’m scratching an itch. So I don’t see any difference between women looking at gay male porn and men looking at gay female porn. Am I supposed to see a difference?
Madlori: There are scholarly sociological treatises on women in the slash phenomenon, and why women would enjoy seeing men have sex as opposed to a man and a woman having sex. And there are a million theories on how why that might be, anywhere from women liking to have a sex fantasy they can remove themselves from, to having one that they can’t insert themselves into, from just the baseline, “Hey, I like dick” one is good, two is better.
Lyndsay: It’s like a super-hetero, with a cape!
Madlori: And there’s also a theory that it’s a kind of wish fulfillment where women are projecting onto men in a slash relationship the kind of emotional availability and behavior during sex that they wish men showed toward them. I’ve read that theory, too.
Lyndsay: I think that theory is total bullshit.
Madlori: I don’t know how I feel about that theory, I’m just putting it out there.
Curly: It is a theory.
Madlori: It is a theory, and there my opinion stops.
Lyndsay: No I appreciate that you brought it up, because, hmm.
Curly: I mean, Reaper, you mentioned that you wanted to walk in on Sherlock and John doing it, so does that fantasy of seeing two males together, what do you think about that, is it something you subscribe to?
Reaper: Yeah, I guess. I really don’t have much more to say about it than that. It’s just aesthetically appealing to me, you know.
Curly: And I think that’s what a lot of lesbian porn is to guys. They like the fact that there’s four boobs instead of two, or you know, six or eight, depending on what you’re watching. It’s aesthetically appealing. Like, what’s wrong with seeing two pretty guys, you know, touch each other?
Madlori: There’s not one single thing wrong with that.
Curly: There you go.
Lyndsay: And so many slashers I know are in happy relationships, it’s got nothing to do with filling the emotional void. Or if it is, then more power to you, God bless you and I hope that you feel better soon. But there are a lot of slashers who don’t have an issue as far as relationships go, and just really want to picture Holmes and Watson doing it. And there’s nothing wrong with that, either. It’s just as Reaper just said, it’s aesthetically pleasing.
Curly: It could also be something like, as a woman I will never have a dick. So it’s like imagining or something you’re so removed from, that it’s interesting. And we can get into the whole writing mechanics, especially with Lori. A lot of people have asked how accurate is slash fiction? Is it just a bunch of girls who are imagining that it is, or etcetera, etcetera. Because you know, with all writing, with all media, there’s always like a sugar coating, because as Sketch said at the beginning, sex isn’t really that sexy most of the time. You don’t want to be reading something and think, ew, oh, God no, just stop stop stop. You want to be reading and think, oh, that’s nice. (Transcriptionist: speaking as a MM erotic romance writer, yeah, you tend to gloss over the more prosaic parts. Sex scenes are ultimately a fantasy about sensation and emotion, because there ain’t no way you can write about cleaning out and make it hot. Unless you’re into that sort of thing, of course, but I digress…)
Madlori: Writing slash, I’ll come out of the closet here and admit that I am not exclusively a slasher. I’ve written in many fandoms, and only in two of them have I been a slash writer. I’ve written het in all of my other fandoms, so, not to disillusion anyone, but for me it’s not so much about whether it’s a same sex or opposite sex pairing as do I find the pairing itself appealing. And I can never tell when I go into a new fandom what pairing I’m going to find appealing — it might be a slash pairing, or it might be a het pairing. I can’t control it. It’s like my brain just decides.
Curly: Yeah, because I like John and Sherlock, but I’m also kind of a closet Sherlolly shipper, so I have those two warring factions in my brain.
Lyndsay: That shouldn’t be closeted.
Madlori: You can have peace among the factions.
Sketchlock: It’s called AU for a reason.
Curly: I love AUs.
Lyndsay: Raise your hand if you ship Han Solo and Leia Organa, for God’s sake. It’s pretty easy, man.
Madlori: I spent five years writing Harry and Hermione fanfiction, so.
Curly: I was always Hermione and Ron, so.
Madlori: You’re one of those people.
Curly: I’m one of those.
Sketchlock: I haven’t finished Harry Potter.
Curly: You haven’t finished Harry Potter, Sketch?
Sketchlock: No, no I haven’t.
Curly: You’re like, ten years behind.
Sketchlock: I’m not even trying, really, to catch up.
Madlori: You have plenty of time, take your time.
Sketchlock: My hands are too full with Sherlock.
Curly: Fair enough.
Lyndsay: It’s like with Doctor Who, I won’t watch Doctor Who. That’s exactly the reason, Sketch. I don’t watch it because I know I’d love it, and I don’t have time.
Sketchlock: I’m still watching it, but I think it’s kind of slowed down for me.
Lyndsay: Did it? Where did you start, the 9th Doctor?
Sketchlock: The 9th, yeah.
Lynsday: I don’t want to offend anyone.
Sketchlock: Are we off topic, now?
Sketchlock: Back to Sherlock.