Lawrence Keith Tucker of Ann Arbor was an influential actifan in Midwest fandom from the 1970s through the '90s. Larry was a trufan whose fanac encompassed conventions, fanclubs and fanzines — along with his own unique contributions to fandom as a videographer. He had a wry sense of humor and a passionate but gentle nature.
An early member of the Stilyagi Air Corps, Larry attended the first ConFusion, and subsequently served as a dedicated member of the concom for decades, including stints as con chairman from 1978 through 1980. He attended every ConFusion from ConFusion 13 in 1975 through Immortal ConFusion in 2013, the last two years from a wheelchair. Larry served as toastmaster at Confusion 11 in 1982 and ConFusion of the Winnebagos in 1998, and was named fgoh for Ambulatory ConFusion in 1988.
A stalwart and founder of the Science Fiction Oral History Association, Larry served numerous terms as a SFOHA officer, working diligently to preserve fanhistory on audio and videotape. He taped hundreds of hours of programming at scores of conventions, both for SFOHA and on his own. He also designed SFOHA's space dog logo.
Larry had an interest in videography very early on, starting with reel-to-reel recording and U-matic recording in the early '70s, then Betamax. With Zita Kutkus, he began taping at his first convention, ConFusion 13 in Ann Arbor. He constantly endeavored to bring video technology into fandom, and it was always a disappointment to him that few other fans shared his enthusiasm for recording. He also ran a mundane video business, taping weddings, corporate events and such.
He wrote, filmed and produced a number of fannish video productions, notably Big Bird Eats Moon, filmed at a Stilyagi lunar eclipse party and featuring Ross Pavlac and Randy Bathurst belly bumping; The Thing That Ate Gorgonzola State University, an early reality-TV-style video in which Ro Nagey interviewed random students on the University of Michigan campus to get their reactions to the news that a black hole was eating an island near Japan; and his 1983 comic masterpiece, FAANS, filmed at numerous Midwest conventions with an all-star cast of fans, including most of the BNFs in the Midwest's. Faans, partly inspired by disastrous hotel problems plaguing AutoClave 1, featured Roger Sims as a beleaguered and bewildered hotel detective being led around a con by Larry in his alter ego, Uncle Albert.
Larry's fanzines included Uncle Albert's Video Fanzine, the first fanzine on videotape, and six issues of the cassette-tape audio zine Uncle Albert's Electric Talking Fanzine, produced from 1980 to 1987. Paper zines included Insufficient Funds, with Leah Zeldes, and various Stilyagi clubzines.
In Ann Arbor, Larry hosted an annual Walpurgisnacht party for many years, which drew both local fans and traveling jiants. His signature party dishes included a crab and cheese spread and German potato salad. He often threw a party for his birthday, as well; in lieu of a cake, he preferred a vodka-spiked watermelon. He enjoyed cooking and gardening, and had sometimes worked as a short-order cook.
Larry was the son of Nancy Tucker, whom he brought into fandom. Since Larry shared a surname with First Fandom's Bob Tucker, and Bob and Larry's mom were close friends often seen together at cons, fans often assumed Larry was Bob's son, and both Bob and Larry would play along.
Although he continued to attend Stilyagi Air Corps meetings and ConFusion, Larry's fanac slowed in the 21st century as his finances and mental health worsened and was stopped entirely by a devastating stroke he suffered in 2011. He died under hospice care as a ward of the state on October 8, 2013. His death and its aftermath were sad, with a five-month struggle by Leah Zeldes Smith and others to keep him out of a pauper's grave.
A project is underway to collect and digitize as many of Larry's tapes as possible. Donations earmarked for the Larry Tucker Fund are being collected by FANAC, with the aim of endowing a Larry Tucker video archive at a university library. (Tax-deductible contributions should be made payable to FANAC, Inc., and mailed to Larry Tucker Fund, 2337 N. Lefeber Ave., Wauwatosa, WI 53213.)
Awards, Honors and GoHships:
- 1982 — Fan guest of honor, InConspicuous, Toastmaster, ConFusion 11, Hoagie Award
- 1988 — Fan guest of honor, Ambulatory ConFusion
- 1998 — Toastmaster, ConFusion of the Winnebagos
(Photo by Mark Olson.)