has been involved in filk from the early ’80s when German filk-fandom had not yet evolved and filk took place at Star Trek conventions.
Calling Franklin “The Voice of German filk fandom” is true. While he is one of their finest male voices, it is his position as the Master of Ceremonies for FilkCONtinental, a job he has assumed since the first con in 1997, that earns him this title. He has been a member of the concom since 2001, and was responsible for the concept and realisation of the FilkContinental opening ceremony. Every year, the opening includes gaudy costumes, intricate choreography, and new funny filks written by Franklin; who else would put all the dos and don’ts of a filk con in song? Franklin provides the FilkCONtinental program with all the jokes and puns and impromptu sketches that have become such a loved part of the German filk con. Late at night, Franklin is there to moderate a theme circle and to quietly see that new filkers have a chance to sing. The next morning, he’s one of the first people up to help coordinate breakfast. He also does shuttle service, and writes for progress reports and the programme book. If there’s any need for help or assistance he’s there to give it, and somehow he still manages to squeeze in the Mediaeval Dance Workshop with his wife Franziska.
Aside from being a pillar of German filk organizing, he’s also a great performer. He is mainly known for his funny songs and parodies like “A Thousand Chips” and “Ill, Pissed By Moonlight”. He’s a “karaoke filker” and has so far filked artists such as Abba, Ozzy Osbourne, and Frank Sinatra. Franklin also writes wonderful serious songs, both rewrites and originals. He has recently started to accompany himself on the piano, and created such wonderful songs as “The Soul” (filk of “The Ship”) and “Internal Knight”. With Alexa Klettner, Franklin formed the duo Lord Mercyless and they chose their name well. Biting lyrics, parodies, political songs, black humour, you name it, they write it, they sing it.
He’s also widely known as an excellent translator of English filk songs into German, which is actually a careful rewriting of the song. Though FilkCONtinental is bilingual, there are German filkers who don’t speak or understand English very well and who appreciate the translations. This is one of the ways he works as filk gardener and helps to bring international filk fandom together.
For these contributions to filk music and the filk community, Franklin Gunkelmann is inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame this first day of April, Two Thousand and Six.
Photo credit: Michael Pereckas, aka Beige Alert