As for Linda's panel, for some reason or other, most of the humorous anecdotes revolved around either food or sex. (And why not? At least one of those topics can be pretty funny.) Eventually somebody mentioned an event that involved both food and sex; naturally I refer to the famous Disclave story, the Bathtub Full of Lime Jello Event. There are so many differing versions of this story going around that if I believed them all, you were all there... so why even mention it? But you weren't all there, and in reality there were just three sluts of differing sexes slithering around in this particular children's dessert.
But, if there were others present, and some of them were hucksters, what happened to the jello afterwards? Two bucks a baggie isn't unreasonable...
After the panel, we got together with a crowd of fans, including Linda and the Lynches, for an absolutely abysmal attempt at 'Chinese' cuisine -- it was one of those places where you don't want to finish your fried dumplings and you desperately yearn for some ketchup. Maybe the 'meal' was a reminder, but it brought to mind my own experience with both food and sex, my first orgy. So right away, you know you don't have anything to envy...
It happened in the early `70s, about two breakups with women who had been very important in my life; about a year after my divorce, and four months after the dissolution of a perfect union between two bodies and two minds, a time of warm sensitivity, blissful sensuality, sharing, and lava lamps. This sensitive time only ended when René split with that damned porno filmmaker. Well, at least the divorce had been a big relief! Even so, there was a time when I mourned for the lost potential of the ideal of our marriage rather than the grim reality itself; there was the feeling that there was something I overlooked, something more I could've done. Like maybe submit. But as for the woman who had "replaced" my wife, I had been absolutely smitten with her to the extent of once even buying a pair of Earth Shoes. My morale had soared only later to do a sandpaper belly-flop in an arc describing the perfect bell curve from hell. Subsequently, I felt a distance from other people and my relationships with women in the following months tended to be casual to the extent of just boinking and never, ever, had a thing to do with pornographic movies -- not even for pointers.
I remember the breakup moment. I had been selling off part of my comics collection at one of Phil Seuling's comics cons in New York, trying to raise money for dental bills not covered by my insurance. I was stationed in the huckster room with a few boxes of fairly ordinary comics on the table in front of me, and a box of the truly valuable "stock" by my feet. This included the very first comic with a Spiderman story, Amazing Fantasy #15, which is worth over a thousand dollars today. And there I sat until the moment that my loved one made an unexpected appearance. "Uh, Steve, we, uh, have to talk," she began nervously. "I love you too, my precious darling!" I interjected, beaming with yearning affection at the woman who was at the very center of my entire pitiful existence, even excluding art, money, and comic books -- her sweet cute little body seemingly enveloped in a rosy, throbbing glow of metaphysical estrogen. (Whew!)
"I want you to know that we'll always be friends," she began again. Sometime after that I was enveloped in another kind of haze, more like a daze, or thick black sludge, and the next thing I knew, I was watching my friend's back recede through the exit. I never saw her again.
I never saw Amazing Fantasy #15 again either, because during the stuporous few moments that this little poignant and heartbreaking trauma was taking place, some soulless pig's bladder, realizing that this was his Big Chance, had crawled under the table and stole it. Over time, the feeling of "How could she do this to me?" was superseded by "Jeez, I'd sure like to beat on the thieving bastard with a baseball bat!" Maybe for that reason I should feel grateful to the swine. But I don't.
The one consolation is that the state of his consciousness was his own best punishment. Oh yeah.
You know, just as a long aside, some comics fans are truly low scum -- and perhaps the Swine Index is higher than some comparable group in 'our' fandom. It feels funny stating that, particularly in light of the fact that I am now a comic book illustrator and writer, making my living entertaining these people. When I was a young comics fan, my collecting urge sprang from an appreciation of the quality of a particular artist, writer, or comic, as well as the usual anal completist impulse. But for some of today's comics collectors, that interest extends to the monetary value of a particular 'product' and has nothing to do with its true value.
Anyway, I attended my next, and last, Seuling convention for the sole purpose of seeing an old friend and comics pro, Joe Staton. It was going to be a brief meeting because I had other things to do that day, but since I hadn't seen Joe for many months, I felt it was worth the effort. It took some time to find him and when I did, it turned out that Joe was scheduled to be on a panel in twenty minutes, a panel which I wouldn't be able to attend. We had just barely gotten beyond saying hello when some young fan butted in with an aggressive "Are you anybody?" I started to explain that in the Lord's eye we are all somebody, but the words were hardly out of my mouth when he noticed Joe's namebadge and, elbowing the nonentity aside, began to suck up to Joe for some free artwork. He was Joe's Biggest Fan, he said, and he felt Honored to be in His Presence. His life would be complete, he said, if only Joe would be kind and generous enough to bestow upon him an autographed drawing of Joe's character E-Man, his very favorite comic book character of all time. He went on and on in this vein and, needless to say, as the clock ticked away, I was hardly able to get a word in edgewise. Finally, Joe produced the drawing just in time to leave for his panel. The kid scuttled away, and Joe and I said our good-byes. I spent fifteen minutes in the art show and then headed for the elevator. As I rode down, I noticed two other young fans -- one of them was excitedly displaying a drawing to the other; "Wow, look at this!" he beamed, "Some guy just sold me an autographed original and it only cost me twenty-five bucks!"
It was Joe's E-Man drawing.
Oh well. Back to the main topic, sex. There I was, feeling emotionally detached and not ready for any solid relationships -- stewing in my own juices, in fact. And then, one Saturday night, the phone rang. It was a woman I shall call 'Nancy', a con fan living with her lover, 'Sluggo'. I didn't know Nancy and Sluggo that well; we were in different fan clubs and Sluggo was so involved in con and club politics that it tended to exclude anything (like fanzines) beyond his obsessions. Besides, Sluggo, although a neutral in our marital break-up, had provided my wife with a place to stay after our split (she had rewarded him by providing me with a lot of hot gossip about his personal life). I didn't hold it against Sluggo, but there was a bit of awkwardness between us. And now here was Nancy inviting me to a small party at their place. I was bored, it was an opportunity to demonstrate that there were no grudges, and so I accepted. Nancy went on to say that the party was going to be on the following night, a Sunday. That was awkward; a long commute was involved and I had to get up early for work on Monday. Nancy suggested that I crash at their place and then leave for work the next morning. That made sense, so I agreed.
Then Nancy explained that five people from Canada would be attending; two men and three women. They were anxious to have an equal number of the sexes present because the main purpose of the party was to engage in communal copulation. There would be swapping as the evening went on. And how did I feel about that?
Uhhh... I didn't know how I felt about that; up until then I had never even entertained the possibility of participating in an orgy. I thought that only happened to other people, mostly in sweaty paperbacks, or in California. And if Nancy had brought the subject up at the beginning of the conversation, I would've probably weaseled out of it. I was never one for group sports, always the last chosen in baseball. Perhaps the last chosen in an orgy. In a long pause, I considered the cons and pros of group fucking with strangers.
(1) I'm shy. I didn't even know these people.
(2) I didn't even know these people; suppose they were physically repulsive?
(3) Suppose I was physically repulsive?
(4) I wasn't sure if orgies were Politically Correct. As King of the Feminists, I have to be aware of these things at all times.
(5) I'm shy. Suppose I couldn't get it up? That would be embarrassing!
(6) Nancy and Sluggo had a tiny bedroom in a tiny apartment. They were lousy housekeepers and it had probably been ages since the rug had been cleaned.
(1) As an Artist, it was my Artistic Duty to explore all aspects of the Human Condition. (This was years before the NEA and Jesse Helms.)
(2) It might be *fun*!
The pros had it.
The Night of the Orgy
The night of the orgy arrived and so did the people from Canada. The unknown was ready but I wasn't; my hands were sweating and icy. We were all a little nervous, unsure of ourselves and how to proceed. I was happy to note that none of us could be properly described as repulsive, with the possible exception of Sluggo. In fact, the one unpaired woman in our group was rather attractive. And I noticed that the living room floor was as cramped and dust-bunny ridden as I had expected. If the orgy was going to be simultaneous, as orgies are sup-posed to be, then our activities might have to be choreographed, a regular Busby Berkley number: "Okay, now on the count of three, we all roll to the left -- people on top mind the table legs!"
But it might be fun. Even table legs can have their uses.
We were still a bit nervous. To break the ice it was decided that we all have dinner together at a local res-taurant around the corner. And when we got there, seven of us ordered oysters -- nudge, nudge, wink, wink. But I didn't like seafood then, and had a steak. Conversation flowed, and it all began to feel more relaxed. The unattached woman, Jane, looked cuter and cuter, and we began to hit it off. I began looking forward to our adventure back at the apartment. I began to feel that this would truly be a night to remember...
It was. Shortly after getting back, one of the men paled and then dashed for Nancy's bathroom. Unpleasant sounds reached us. Before long, six other people became violently ill. I felt fine, but then I didn't have ptomaine poisoning. It was the oysters, of course.
Dawn saw me still in the local emergency room, surrounded by greenishly-tinged people, and holding hands with a weeping Jane. Periodically, one or more of our group would make a dash for the restrooms. It was going to be a long day at work. So much for radical sexual experimentation!
All in all, I'd say that my first orgy was a definite anticlimax.
- - - - - - - - - -All the comments we received on Steve's article thought it entertaining. One response was from an old friend, Gary Deindorfer, who seemed not entirely surprised at the outcome: "Things happen to Steve that could only happen to him and seemingly not to anybody else. He wears well because of that inimitable Stiles personality [but] I swear, who else could [something like] that happen to but Steve?"
The next issue of Mimosa wasn't published until January 1993, and sported an imaginative Brad Foster cover set. Much had happened to us in that time period, the most significant being the events of September 5, 1992, when we received a Hugo Award for 'Best Fanzine' at Magicon in Orlando, Florida, after it had first been mistakenly awarded, ten minutes earlier, to George Laskowski. (The correction was made at the worst possible moment, too, but that's another story.)
At any rate, Mimosa 13 was also one of our best issues, and included articles by Harry Warner, Jr., Sharon Farber, Charlotte Proctor, Buck Coulson, Dave Rowe, Dave Kyle, and Walt Willis. Willis had attended Magicon as its Fan Guest of Honor, and the convention had been filled with the tales of the fabulous Irish Fandom of the 1950s and 1960s. So it seemed natural that we'd want to feature an article about one of the members of Irish Fandom in the new issue. Here it is again:
Title illustration by Steve Stiles
Middle illustration by Steve Stiles and William Rotsler
Mimosa 13 covers by Brad Foster