Multimedia

Interview with Kandy Fong

Francesca Coppa

Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States

[0.1] Abstract—Video interview and transcription of subject Kandy Fong, an early Star Trek vidder. Part of the OTW Oral History Project (http://transformativeworks.org/projects/oral-history).

[0.2] Keywords—Filk; Oral history; Slide show; Vidding

Coppa, Francesca. 2014. "Interview with Kandy Fong" [multimedia]. In "Material Fan Culture," edited by Bob Rehak, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 16. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2014.0535.

1. Introduction

[1.1] This is an excerpt of an extended video interview with Kandy Fong, a fan whose mid-1970s Star Trek slide shows are the earliest known examples of vidding, or fan music video. This interview was conducted as part of the Organization for Transformative Works' Oral History Project (http://transformativeworks.org/projects/oral-history), which aims to record the history of vidding in vidders' own words.

[1.2] Widely regarded as the foremother of vidding, Fong was the guest of honor at the Vividcon convention's celebration of the 30th anniversary of fan vidding in 2005—a date marked by the debut of Fong's first slide show (http://archiveofourown.org/works/839495) at an Equicon/Filmcon convention chaired by Bjo Trimble in spring 1975. This slide show was a narrated fictional performance piece made from slides of discarded or damaged Star Trek (1966–69) footage that Fong and her husband had collected. The show included a music video to the filk song, "What Do You Do with a Drunken Vulcan?" (http://archiveofourown.org/works/846732), which many fans regard as the first fan vid.

[1.3] In the years that followed, Fong created and performed a number of music videos made from Star Trek slides, including "Both Sides Now" (http://archiveofourown.org/works/839489), "Banned from Argo" (http://archiveofourown.org/works/842022), and "When I'm 64." "Both Sides Now" was filmed in the mid-1980s at the request of Gene Roddenberry, who had seen it at a con and wanted a copy. Many of Fong's other early slide shows were recreated and filmed by fans at Vividcon 2012 and can now be seen for the first time. Fong later also made slide shows in other fandoms, including Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–94) and Blake's 7 (1978–81). She eventually began to vid using VCRs and made several notable vids, including the early 1990s multifandom vid, "Something to Talk About."

[1.4] Fong is also known for pioneering the vid show compilation tape, or con tape—that is, for coming up with the idea of making and distributing a videotape featuring all the fan vids shown at a particular fan convention. She has a large collection of analog con tapes and vid masters. Fong was also one of the founders of the United Federation of Phoenix, the longest-running Star Trek fan club, as well as a con organizer and zine editor. She remains active in fandom.

2. Five questions with Kandy Fong

[2.1] This video interview was conducted by Francesca Coppa at the seventh annual Vividcon vidding convention, which took place in Chicago, Illinois, in August 2008. The film was edited by Muhlenberg College students Sarah Sheldon and Kevin Tomasura. A transcript follows.

Vid 1. Five questions with Kandy Fong.

3. What gave you the idea to make a slide show to Star Trek?

[3.1] In 1973, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona, with my then-husband. And I was going to school at ASU [Arizona State University]. And in the ASU paper there was a little notice that they were trying to form a Star Trek club. I ended up showing up there, and that was the United Federation of Phoenix. It's the oldest, longest-running Star Trek club in the world.

[3.2] So the Star Trek club needed entertainment. And we decided that since John [Fong] had three cigar boxes filled with little pieces of film that had been edited from the TV show itself, because the TV show back then was all shot on film. And there were outtakes, there were extra takes, there were scenes that weren't used. So there was a lot of scenes that people hadn't seen before. And odd things like Spock sucking on a sucker, or laughing. So unusual scenes. And I said, "Well, why don't we do something with this?"

[3.3] We took a bunch of the slides, mounted them as slides, and ended up using them to make a little show. And I wrote a little story about Ensign Fong aboard the Enterprise. And we sang the song, "What Do You Do with a Drunken Vulcan?" And we illustrated it with the slides, and that was a big hit.

4. What was the first public performance of the slide show like?

[4.1] The next couple months later, Bjo Trimble was in town, and I invited her to come speak at the club. And I said, "Oh, by the way, I've got this little thing I showed at the club, and would you like to show it at your convention?" And she says…I showed it to her, and she was like, "Oh yes, I'd very much like to have it!"

[4.2] So the next spring, several of the starship members went to the convention. And we went into one of the small rooms in the basement. We ended up with a line of people outside the door. People were waiting in line an hour and then seeing the show and then getting back out and going back in the end of the line again.

5. What was Gene Roddenberry's response to the show?

[5.1] And because of our association with ASU, which has the PBS station for Phoenix, we actually got to meet Gene Roddenberry when he came in to do a talk on futurism. One of our associate members, so to speak, was working at PBS. And they actually asked us to make up some questions for him to be interviewed. So I got to meet Gene Roddenberry and got to sit there in the studio, just the three of us: my future husband, John, and a friend of ours, and myself. And so Gene Roddenberry got to see me around, and then for his talk I was there right in the front row. So he realized, hey, here's a person who's sane and a fan.

[5.2] At the convention I got to see Gene Roddenberry again and mentioned that I had a tape of this appearance, because my husband—my future husband, John—had a 3/4-inch machine, so he was able to videotape the PBS show. So he was very interested in seeing that. And he said: "Well, listen: next time you're in town, why don't you come by Paramount?" I was kinda like, "Whoa."

[5.3] I wrote to him saying, "Here's the video tape that you wanted to see. " And "Oh, by the way, I'm doing these little slide shows." And he wrote me back a letter giving me permission. Because he was trying to interest Paramount in the idea of the Star Trek movie. And by—[being] able to show that, "Hey, this person is going around the country to conventions and people are very excited to see something they haven't seen before." He thought that it was really great to encourage me. I thought it was wonderful.

[5.4] I got to visit Paramount several times, and they let me pick what I wanted out of the slides they've taken for publicity shots. Even after the movie had been done, the second movie, they let me come in there and take whatever I needed to kind of like build up the shows and add things to them.

[5.5] Eventually I even ended up giving him a copy of some of the slide shows, including "Both Sides Now" (which is some people's favorite)—which had of course a suggestion in there of slash. Well, he was very mellow about that. In fact, I remember once, this was before the Next Generation TV show had been shot, and David Gerrold was attached for the first, I think, five episodes as the story editor. But I was sitting next to Susan Sackett in her office in the old Desilu studios, and David Gerrold came in and goes, "Hi, Kandy!" I go, "Hi, hi!" And he sticks his head in Gene's office and goes "Gene! Kandy Fong's here, we gotta add more Sodom and Gomorrah!"

[5.6] So back then there was slash. I put my real name on the slash that I had written. And of course here I did slightly slashy slide stories, songtapes, whatever you want to call them.

6. What was the influence behind "Both Sides Now"?

[6.1] Well, as I said, I was looking for entertainment for the Star Trek club. So I wanted something funny, entertaining, etc. And I was already writing by then, and we had a club fanzine. So the idea of writing a story and putting it with pictures just made good sense to me.

[6.2] If you remember back, these dates of so-called professional music videos, you'd have a band standing up there playing their instruments, and that's pretty much the video. But the Beatles did a video called "Strawberry Fields Forever." And they're doing all kinds of very strange things like jumping out of trees, and they had this deconstructed piano that the wires just go up to the thing up there…And they're just doing all sorts of unusual images. And to my mind I'm thinking this, going, "Okay, we're disconnecting the actual playing of the instruments and singing the song with the images we're seeing. So I can take a song and use images from somewhere else to tell my story—oh, Star Trek, oh, of course Star Trek!" And that's where I got the idea.

[6.3] Spock is such a dual character: half human, half Vulcan. Half trying to follow Starfleet, half trying to do the whole thing with his parents. The two sides of him. And then there's Chapel, and then there's T'Pring, and then there's Kirk. There is just so many different sides to him that "Both Sides Now"—he's trying to be both sides now. And it seemed to just fit him so very well.

7. What was the atmosphere of these performances?

[7.1] So in these slide shows was always a live performance. The tape, the music tape was running, and then I had my little script, and I had a little mark where I was going to…where I was going to fast-forward, change slides on there.

[7.2] Because Gene had known about these things, and was encouraging me and letting me have pieces of film etc. and slides, publicity slides, at one point I decided I wanted to send him…[copies of the performance]. So I went to a friend of a friend's house, who had two slide projectors that I could marry together and I could actually have the things—if I wanted either a hard cut or a soft fade from one to the other. And so I sat there and did a live performance—one shot, that's all I had—to go ahead and record these [to videotape].

8. End credits

[8.1] "Five Questions with Kandy Fong." Interviewed by Francesca Coppa. Edited by Sarah Sheldon and Kevin Tomasura. Filmed in Chicago, Illinois, at Vividcon, August 2008. Produced by the OTW Vidding Committee. With thanks to Muhlenberg College and the Muhlenberg College Research Assistant Program.



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