Why RA?: Part 2 – Looking for Mr. Goodcrush

[I’m telling this story because it represents my background in fandom spanning a period of almost 20 years.  All observations and opinions stated are mine alone. This post has been months in the making because it’s been so difficult to articulate and pen.   It’s important to know this background so Dear Reader can understand upon what basis I attempt to answer the question of various bloggers in Armitage World: Why Richard Armitage?  This series will be posted sporadically as my thoughts gel.  Part 1 is here.]

Flash forward a few years.  I’d been out of fandom awhile and wasn’t looking for a new one.  Then while cruising the internet in 1996, I came across some stunning information about a defunct television show of which I’d been a fan much earlier.  There was a following for this show but the idea of get-togethers to watch episodes didn’t appeal.  So I had nobody with whom to share my enjoyment of this show except my parents who thought I was nuts.  When I came upon the tidbit that the show was rebooting, I knew there had to be others on the internet talking about this.  So I went back to AOHell, and found a forum pointing to an IRC chat room.  I’d never been in real geek chat room and the relative ease of use make chatting much more enjoyable. (This is on which the ArmitageWorld chat room is based.)  I found a small international group of men and women ranging from high school to Older Than Me.  Joy!

When the show finally televised its first episode in 15 years, we held a group viewing which to my surprise was a lot of fun.  The reboot flopped but the chat room continued.  This group had  been attending the national convention for this show in my city every Thanksgiving weekend for the past several years. I’d heard of this con, but the idea of grown people dressing up as characters made me wary.  Two people I’d met in chat convinced me to room with them and attend the con, reassuring me I’d have a blast.  Considering my past experience, I wasn’t keen on meeting virtual friends. What would these people be like?  I’d taken care this time to gauge their personalities and propensities but had I assessed correctly?

fandom chart

I was thisclose to not going but reasoned that since I lived in the same city, I could always go home.  So I packed and journeyed out to the boonies.  As soon as the two entered the room and gave me such radiant smiles, I instantly knew these women were as intelligent, sane, and friendly as they seemed online.  Everything would be alright.  We’ve been best friends for 15 years.  I met many more friends at the con which was a blast as promised. There wasn’t an ax murderer in the bunch.  The fans ran the gamut from grounded to suspect but I learned with cautious inquiries and observation, I could find a group that was a good fit for me.  One of the biggest things I enjoyed was the camaraderie and fun, things I had been looking for all along.

As luck would have it, I was in the inner circle of a fan club which sprang up around the star of the reboot. He was a British actor moderately popular in the UK but unknown elsewhere. From what we heard, the new Mr. Crush was a hard working, pleasant but very private married family man.  He was shy, charming, quietly intelligent with a sense of humor that wasn’t caustic.  He was also a good actor and quite good looking to boot.  He seemed like a safe bet.  I shared this assessment with a circle older, more mature fans who were grounded in their own lives, many of whom has been involved in other fandoms.

On the fandom scale, I was less than “hard core” but more than average. I’m not sure why I’ve never progressed to hard core in any fandom; maybe it’s my personality or Winston’s constant interference but I seem immune.  In any event, Mr. Crush appeared a good focus of my admiration.  Due to my past experience, I entertained no ideas about meeting him or going any further than socializing with my group.  I was happy for this fandom to inject some needed relief in my life. I could squee and be silly with a like-minded circle.  In a way, I was happy to feel light-hearted.  This group was similar in many ways to ArmitageWorld.

The chief instigator created a moderated mailing list, a place we could feel safe to chat about anything unmolested by internet trolls and unbalanced types.  List mom, as she came to be called, welcomed all forms of creative expression and it turned out we had quite a few talented writers and artists churning out fan fiction (both PG and erotic) amazing enough to be published.  We had paper newsletters and a digital magazine for which I wrote a short story for the first time in years. (That story is lost.)  This was fandom I’d never experienced; a safe group with whom I could feel connected and have fun.  The mailing list grew and flourished.  Meanwhile the IRC chat room also expanded exponentially after the convention.  We started role playing games on Saturdays.  For those who don’t know, we chose roles and then wildly ad libbed in real time mock episodes based on the old show.  Yes, hilarity did ensue as the cliche goes. (Remember this was social media before the advent of Twitter and Facebook.)  Some logs of these RPGs survive today.  Many of us have stayed connected. That was how things progressed for almost two years.

COMING SOON: The Fan Club Goes To The Next Level

26 thoughts on “Why RA?: Part 2 – Looking for Mr. Goodcrush

  1. Hi Judiang!

    My goodness, does this ever sound familiar to me.  Making and creating a community of friends through a common interest–which just happens to be a talented actor.  Hmmm.  I can’t wait to read the rest of your story.

    Cheers!  Grati  ;->

    • It’s definitely a familiar setting which led to an interesting question Servetus posited: can you ever know a crush? Stay tuned.

  2. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been involved in other fandoms.  However, nothing before has approached the scale of my Richard Armitage obsession.  For a long time, I classified myself as “less than ‘hard core’ but more than average” but strangely it was the beard that put me over the edge into majorly hard core. I still don’t have the urge to meet him or request his autograph, but I’m in deep deep deep.

    • Ah, so denial wasn’t just a river in Egypt, eh? 😉

      You know, looking back on my experiences and listening to all of you, I feel so old and jaded. Hope I haven’t become too cynical.

  3. Heaven help me if there had been Internet around in the Connery days! There was, when I discovered the Highlander series, but no actual online groups – this was about 10 years ago. Mind you, RA does put Adrian Paul a bit in the shade. Still sorry I missed the Vancouver con. It’s on the DVD extra, and it looked like a jolly good time!

    I’m certain the RA blogosphere has a lot to do (be blamed for? 🙂 ) in the sustained fascination. But not all; it has been amazing to see the talent and art inspired, and the camaraderie. And I do think there is rather a unique quality to the actor. There must be something of mystery to the individual – not much mystery about some “actor” celebs! Who shall be nameless.

    • The immediacy of the internt definitely sustains the fascination. With a click of a mouse button, you can sate your appetite to your heart’s content. And you have a community to as support as well. It’s the community part I like the best. I’m still ambivalent about the “uniqueness” of any actor since we always like to think our object has to be special. However, I do think it’s important that the object maintain that mysterious veil between himself and his fans.

      • Though the question remains unaddressed of why people are motivated to create an Armitage blogosphere. The fact that it exists facilitates fangirling, but is that the same reason that it has been created (bloggers blog in order to enhance their fangirling?) or is it a different impulse?

  4. Something that used to freak me out about this fandom was the constant “Why me?  And why him?” because for me it was simple:  I loved his work and he had a vibrant fandom.  Stepping into it has been pretty easy.  I will say that I think that those who are new to this one should maybe familiarize themselves with the fan history wiki you can find at http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Main_Page.  It’s fascinating.

    • I’m one of the “why me” people. I think I can come close now to answering your “meta question,” i.e., “who do people ask why me?” for my own case. It’s that I grew up in a setting that was strongly anti-waste, and the most important thing not to waste was time. Even vacation was supposed to be educational. Now it’s not that we never did anything that was fun as a family, but we very very rarely did anything frivolous. So there’s a core part of my raising that was trained to see the sort of thing I’m experiencing now as morally reprehensible. At base I think I shouldn’t be susceptible to this kind of (for lack of a better word) transgression.

      • That’s very interesting Servetus. It helps explain your need to ask the question. Do you think if you didn’t have this streak, you wouldn’t be concerned so much? Or do you think this ingrained notion actually contributes to a sense of flouting the rules?

        • I imagine it’s both. After so many years of having a particular sort of superego, the ego experiences a sort of Stockholm Syndrome, I think. No matter how my ego feels about the strictures imposed on it, it also suspects that the superego is correct. On the other hand, it’s a lot of fun for the id to finally get out from under the control of the superego and just say, “nyah, nyah, boo boo, I’m going to spend hours and hours on this and there’s nothing you can do about it.” And my ego, which like yours tends to be silent or confused, sort of stands there and experiences the pleasure even as she secretly suspects that the superego, to whom she’s been listening for so long, is correct in her admonitions.

    • That question has me baffled too in the beginning. But then I realized people are asking based on 1) their own personal histories and 2) never before having experienced a serious crush. Even though I never asked that question, I imagine the intensity of some crushes can be disconcerting.

      I’ll read that entry as soon as I get home. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      • I’ve never had a crush like this before, including on an actual person whom I can see / know / touch. It was and remains disconcerting.

  5. I’m really enjoying this series. I find it so fascinating and I’m hoping to discover something about myself by reading your journey. I bet those RPG’s were a lot of fun!

    • Glad you’re enjoying it.  After initial trepidation, I find writing this series is helping me to articulate what I feel and think about fandom.  That fandom I’m even writing it is amazing since I was such a closet fan.

  6. *sigh* I miss those IRC roleplays. I don’t think I have any of those stored on my PC. (I should ask Haem if he still has ’em.) I remember editing the Mars one – they were both hell and fun to edit. 🙂 And one of the RPGs became a short story of mine. Which was fun.

    I’m also disappointed in myself – I don’t think I have the short story that you wrote. I know I’ve got several of Elsa’s still.

    • Weren’t they a lot of fun!  At one point we got pretty good at the ad libbing.  I recall the one where I played the lead and actually did a credible job.  Remember the server splits during the games and we’d pick things up in a heartbeat?  Yeah, those were the days…   *creaks in her rocker*

      Yeah, Haem and Alden should have some of the logs.  As for my story, Elsa had it on the website, but it’s down now.  Would be interesting to read it again after 12 years.

  7. Hmmmmm….what’s “IRC”?

    I’m assuming RPG = role playing games?  which rightly should be written “role-playing games”.

    Maybe I’m weird…doh, Kathryn…that’s a given,  Well, maybe I’m even weirder than I thought…but I’m not the least bit concerned about being a fan of anybody. It makes me happy and that’s enough reason for me.

    I’m not down-playing any of your concerns, ladies – it’s just that I don’t worry about why I admire Richard Armitage as an actor….I just do.  He’s very talented as we all know and I am a recipient of the evidence of that talent.

    I’m also not concerned in any way that I have the type of personality which allows me the freedom to express how I feel about his talent and his looks.

    It could just be that I’m older than everyone else, I guess, and I’ve decided that now is my time to enjoy myself???

    I mentioned a little while ago that I fell in love with the English singer, Sir Cliff Richard, when I was 12 and  that’s never changed really.  I still admire Cliff after 50 years of listening to him! He’s had a prolific recording career – I have a huge collection of records, audio cassettes, CDs, videos and DVDs and don’t plan to get rid of them any time soon. My only beef is that I live on the other side of the world from him and he no longer tours here!  The man has just turned 71 (on 14 Oct) so I’ll be generous and cut him some slack!

    There was a time in my 30s to 50s when it was a little embarassing to have to admit that I was a Cliff fan. It was decidely “uncool” to listen to his music and my relatives also thought I should have grown out of my “crush” by then so I shut up about it. But now….

    I spent too many years of my life trying to be what my mother, my husband, etc. wanted me to be – I felt like a hypocrite and they were never satisified with my efforts anyway..  I wasn’t the “real me”.

    Now, in my 60s, you get the ‘real me”, warts and all, most of the time.  And I’m fine with that.

    I intend to keep on watching, and listening, to Richard Armitage and I like the feeling that I’m not alone in that.  I also like the feeling of “feeling something” for another person, even if it’s not actually love.

    • Hi Kathryn,

      IRC means Internet Relay Chat.  It’s a program that runs some chat rooms, like what I have for the ArmitageWorld chat room.

      I think age has a lot to do with our perceptions as fans.  When I was younger, nobody knew about my crushes except for a select few.  I put any fan-ish memorabilia literally in the closet.  Now I don’t really care who in my personal life knows (job is still off limits) and that’s okay.

      So you keep on keeping on and enjoy yourself like you ought.  You’ve earned it.   🙂

  8. Thank you – I like to know all the acronyms and jargon.

    Yes, I think once women reach my age, they’ve had enough of trying to be the perfect daughter, the perfect wife, the perfect mother, etc.  We tend to get smart and realize there’s no such thing!


  9. Of course, I might not be quite as blatant about my admiration of Richard’s form if I was in a serious relationship –  I wouldn’t want to give the poor bloke an inferiority complex!

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