Friday, July 4, 2014

What if a woman ran the Baker Street Irregulars of New York?

In trying to make sense of the current state of the Baker Street Irregulars, of late, the best comparison I can come up with seems to be that of a micro-brewery. All year long, the micro-brewery toils away with its product lines available to that limited segment of the public that knows about them and is interested in its product, and then, once a year, the micro-brewery has a special private party for its favorite customers. They can come, share their love of the micro-brewery, and over time, a beer festival grows up around the outskirts of the private party for beer drinkers in general.

Trying to look at the B.S.I. work as an Academy Awards situation just wasn't working as an analogy, given the lack of voting by the "Academy" and some other details,  but I think the micro-brewery comparison, where the brewing is publishing and the archives a museum dedicated to the little business just makes more sense. It's just so . . .  manly.

Which sparked an entirely different line of thinking: what would the flagship of American Sherlockian societies look like if it was being run by women instead of men?

Our first point of reference, of course, would be the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes. No publishing arm, no university archives, just an ongoing social whirl with a nice little publication that doesn't try to be anything more than a part of the society's fun. No pushes for "record sales" or beefing up the subscriber base by advocating gift subscriptions to libraries. The Adventuresses have been a visible social presence at many a Sherlockian event, rallying 'round for a picture or hosting an impromptu gathering. It could be that the Principal Unprincipled Adventuress has remained constant for so long, but there's been a steadiness there, through the impact of giving up their Holmes birthday dinner when the landscape changed or even allowing men into their ranks.

Our second point of reference would plainly be the Baker Street Babes. While I tend to see them more as a coalition of entertainers (writers, podcasters, event organizers) who are also friends, they tend to get mentioned whenever gender-based groups come up, probably because older guys tend to see the word "Babe" as strictly feminine. But the Baker Street Babes have never given any other impression than that they're all about having fun, and they've reminded me of the legendary tales the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes revels since early on.

And actually, that was the same feeling you got from the Baker Street Irregulars early on, when the Game was being played in earnest and the name of A.C.D. was never mentioned. So then one starts to wonder if it is truly the gender of those in charge or the age of the institution. In eighty years will the Baker Street Babes be a tightly-run, business-like organization while some newer upstart group is hosting parties at the New Madrid Holo-Con? I sure hope not, but people get funny about preserving the ideas of their youth when they get old, rather than looking to the young for inspiration.

Still, I'd be very curious as to what the other side of the gender coin would look like when it comes to the elder American Sherlock club.

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