'Six Degrees of Walter A. Willis' 
  Opening Comments by Richard Lynch, title illo by Sheryl Birkhead
 A couple years back there was a fad that was sweeping through some of the 'Usenet' news groups on the Internet. You may have heard of it: "The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game. The premise is based on 'six degrees of separation', that anybody in the world is, at most, six people away from anybody else. I'll demonstrate this with a simple example: I am only three people away from the President of the United States -- I work in the organization of the Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, and she works for the Secretary of Energy who is a Cabinet Officer for President Clinton.

 The Kevin Bacon game extends this to the movies, and there have been contests to determine the shortest 'route' for any given actor to Kevin through movie 'connections'. An example: Béla Lugosi has a 'Bacon Number' of three -- in 1948, Lugosi appeared in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein with Vincent Price; in 1963, Price was in The Raven along with Jack Nicholson, and in 1992, Nicholson co-starred in A Few Good Men with...Kevin Bacon. It's possible to trace a path to Kevin Bacon for almost any actor who has ever appeared on the silver screen. Forry Ackerman, for instance, has a 'Bacon Number' of two (in 1987, he was in the movie Amazon Women on the Moon along with Steve Guttenberg, and in 1982, Guttenberg co-starred with Bacon in the movie Diner).

 This leads to the obvious question of how many other science fiction fans have 'Bacon Numbers'. I don't know of any, though there is one other 'connection' that comes to mind. A few weeks ago, partway through a showing of Quentin Tarantino's new movie Jackie Brown, there was a scene where Jackie and her bail bondsman, Max Cherry, are looking for a place for a drink and some conversation. An upscale hotel restaurant is dismissed, as is a noisy sports bar. Finally, they settle on a quiet bar in the run-down hotel she's staying at, which turns out to be the Cockatoo Inn in Hawthorne, California ...at which point I nearly jumped out of my seat, because the Cockatoo Inn was also the site of the 1992 Corflu fanzine fans convention. (This gives the Cockatoo Inn, as well as fanzine fandom, a 'Bacon Number' of two, via Robert DeNiro, who co-starred with Kevin Bacon in Sleepers.)

 It's easy to see how this game could be extended to fandom. For instance, we could figure out our shortest 'connection' to the legendary Bob Tucker via 'Tucker Numbers', based the conventions we've attended. These probably wouldn't be very meaningful, though; Bob Tucker has been to so many conventions that most everyone who has ever been to a convention would have a 'Tucker Number' of one, and nobody would have one greater than two.

 Here's a different idea: trace our 'connections' to the equally legendary Walt Willis via 'Willis Numbers' for fan writers. Everyone who has an article in this issue of Mimosa, for instance, has a 'Willis Number' of one. My 'Willis Number' is two; I'm embarrassed to admit I don't think I've ever had an article published in a fanzine that has also featured an article by Walt Willis (my opening comments here don't count).

 At any rate, this issue of Mimosa is intended to explore some of the connections that exist in fandom. In it there we've got stories about lots of fannish connections -- to worldcons old and recent...to entertainment shows amateur and Hollywood...to authors, fans, and fanzines renown. In short, we hope we've got something for everyone this issue, and that you'll get some enjoyment from M22. We think it's filled with entertaining things to read. We hope you think so, too.

Title illustration by Sheryl Birkhead

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