The Search For Sex In Star Trek: Exploring The Sexual Politics Of The Original Series

Magic and whimsy might be the two memories that stick with viewers most when watching William Campbell entertain as Trelane in the season one episode of Star Trek The Original Series, “The Squire of Gothos”. However, for four-year old Will Stape, the moment that stayed with him was Trelane dancing with Yeoman Ross. Stape appreciated that Trelane danced with the girl and so began unconsciously the author’s infatuation with sex in Star Trek. Fast forward to today and Stape has penned a book on the phenomenon of getting busy in the final frontier, Star Trek Sex.

Before someone gets the wrong idea however, Stape is not conducting a publishing exercise in being lascivious with the beloved characters of the NCC-1701. The majority of the book is an analysis of The Original Series episodes and films, and the author does have a bit of fun taking a look at some of the girls that populated the series. The author admits this was mostly so he could include the Borg Queen and Dax.

“There is some really potent stuff in Spock and Valeris’ relationship (in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country),” Stape explained. “(Leonard) Nimoy and (Kim) Catrall have been interviewed saying that filming the mind meld scene was very emotional, which comes across on screen. The mind meld is the most private way of communicating, and Spock forces that on Valeris. I examine the rape in the scene.”

Rape is generally not a situation that frequently occurs in the Star Trek universe, although there have been more than a few instances when female crew members sadly have been a victim,  including Shinzon’s telepathic interaction with Troi in Star Trek Nemesis and another forced mind meld on T’Pol in the season two Star Trek Enterprise episode, “Stigma”.

“I had such a great compliment from two guys in Canada,” Stape recalled. “They did a webcam show with me, and complimented me because when they got the book, they thought it was going to be lascivious, but instead it is very mature. I used my fans chops and professional writing chops to put in what I would want to read, and what these dynamics bring to the plot as well as how did it further the character’s story.”

No stranger to the Star Trek universe, in addition to several freelance articles he has written on the subject, Stape also authored the script to The Next Generation’s seventh season episode, “Homeward”, and a teleplay that became “Prophet Motive” during Deep Space Nine’s run. Based on his articles about sex in Star Trek, a friend recommended that he look into publishing a book about the topic, but it wasn’t until listening to Howard Stern torturing Robin over who she was dating that the lightbulb went on in Stape’s head.

“I dedicated the book to Howard and Robin. I grew up listening to him. When you’re a kid you look at things at different levels; as a kid it was naughty but as I listened to his show I realized he is so sharp and he is one of the best interviewers.”

Howard Stern and Star Trek might not be a connection fans immediately realize, with the exception of George Takei’s semi-regular appearances on the show. Inspirations comes in all different forms, and for young Stape who grew up watching Star Trek in syndication on WPIX Channel 11 in New York City and listening to Howard Stern on the radio, the seeds of sex in Star Trek were definitely planted.

“Thinking back to TOS, when you’re a kid, of course things go over your head. I remember as a child Star Trek worked for me with the space battles and later the social issues and sex. But I always remember the obvious part with Kirk getting the girl.

“I remind fans that one of the main reasons The Cage was rejected was because it was too cerebral, but I say, was it too sexy. Vina performs  one of the most sexual scenes and dances on television at the time. It’s an amazing scene. I wonder if it was ever explicitly acknowledged that this was an actual reason, that it was too racy. That was one of the surprises for me from my research.”

You can buy Stape’s book here.

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Gary 8.5

Not my idea of a topic for Trek but I suppose that Trek lit has a little something for everyone.

Dandru

Why is the blurb for this article on the front page so freakin’ huge?

Thanks for pointing that out. Fixed.

CmdrR

Sex on TOS?
What? I saw Kirk kiss girls and smile in low lighting with a key light on his eyes and pull his boots on and — O M God!

Ashley

Can we please stop referring to grown women as ‘girls’?

James

Sadly, women were always referred to as ‘girls’ in TOS. Unless they were over 40.

Ah, yes, of course — particularly in that classic episode, “Mudd’s Girls”.

(eyeroll)

But even if that were true, TOS was authored fifty years ago, and I like to think we’ve come a long way since then. I see no real reason why we can’t write about the women of Star Trek, rather than continuing applying the diminuitive often used when the original episodes were written.

Emma Perez

I remember watching a profile of Will Stape on WPIX television in NYC – they were interviewing him for the Next Generation he’d written. About a year later, he was profiled in Starlog Magazine, after pitching to Jeri Taylor at Paramount for the new Voyager – few months after the pilot. Glad to see he’s still devoting time to Trek. As for the subject matter, it looks like he’s treated it maturely and originally. I remember a silly book called ‘Captain Kirk’s Women’ or something. Stape’s take on the sexuality of TOS looks really playful, mature and also informative. Can’t wait to read this!

Steve

I read the book and found it really enjoyable. Nothing too heavy or raunchy, just a light, fun read. :)