People get weird . . .
People get weird when the topic of sex comes up, for a lot of reasons. And we often won't even admit that we do get weird, which just makes it weirder. So I have to congratulate the Three Patch Podcast for making it to their sixth annual "sexpisode." It's a podcast about Sherlock Holmes. And they've done six episodes, each about three hours long, about sex and Sherlock.
Remember that fandom we used to hear was going to be a flash in the pan, way back when, from the hoi polloi? Them and their porny fanfic! A blip on the radar!
Whoops! No, it's not.
It's fascinating to look at what male fans had done with the sex lives of Sherlock Holmes and company before female-dominated wave of Sherlockian sexual orientation came along, because for men . . . well, for men, they just didn't seem all that interested in sex for once. Sure, John Bennett Shaw could double-entendre the heck out of Canonical quotes. And there was a very private Doyle-Canon porn writer or two out there, sharing their work with only close friends. But other than that? Larry Townsend's The Sexual Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Chris Redmond's In Bed With Sherlock Holmes were the two big sexy Sherlock times you could have on your shelf, and only the former was porn.The latter had footnotes, a bibilography, and an index.
Yet I always love that Chris Redmond ended that book with the line "Go and read Sherlock Holmes, and do it soon; but first, go and kiss somebody. Sex comes first; detective stories are only meant to model the way men and women really are." But that was 1984, long before sex advice columnist Dan Savage would coin the more flat-out slogan for holiday dining celebrations, "Fuck first." And it's in a world with Dan Savage in it that Three Patch Podcast is doing their thing.
Sherlock Holmes is now fostering sexual exploration in his fans, as well as explorations of logic and detection, in ways that would go far beyond making Vincent Starrett blush. (But might, however, make a few of our famed Sherlockians of yore come out of the closet, were they around now . . . not talking about anyone in particular, but c'mon. Probabilities.) It comes from a place of relationship in most cases, and not pure carnal novelty (though that factor does enter in), and that is where it always comes back to Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. And Mary Morstan. And Mycroft Holmes. And James Moriarty. And Mrs. Hudson.
To some, this might be like imagining your parents having sex. And yes, there is a reason that the Three Patchers, like most in these areas of fanfic, use pseudonyms . . . especially in an era when someone might not like your politics and try to weaponize one isolated part of your work to try to ruin your job or your life. They're a bit like the underground that comes before any revolution. (Ever notice that "the sexual revolution" of the sixties and seventies didn't really finish the job?) Perhaps taking the guilt and shame out of a basic human function is a battle we humans will always be fighting, but at least Sherlock Holmes is on the front lines for this war, just like he was in "His Last Bow."
So, congratulations, Three Patch. When I say "people get weird when it comes to sex," you bold folks are definitely not the ones I'm talking about, and I wish you many many more years of just doing what you enjoy best and explaining it to the rest of us.