Ever since I watched Footloose in 2002, my whole life has been a series of carefully calculated steps that have pushed me up the Bacon number ladder. When grown-ups would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up myself, I always told them I wanted to be Kevin Bacon. I, too, wanted the effortless look of blue jeans and a white tank top. I, too, wanted to glide through a warehouse, a modern Hermes suspended mid-air not by the wings on his sandals, but by the sheer force of teenage angst and a burning desire to dance.
The thing is, I think a lot of people want to be Kevin Bacon. They say I wish I got to kiss Lori Singer or I wish I got to be a brand ambassador for British mobile network operator EE, but I actually put the work in. I went to film school. I worked 18-hour days with the enthusiasm and the energy of a kid straight out of film school. I started as a PA in small European productions, and then I hit it big when I was hired as a PA in small Hollywood productions. And with every project, I got a neat little commemorative hat and one degree closer to Kevin Bacon.
Working with Lee Pace put me at three degrees of separation (Lee Pace was in Driven with Corey Stoll, who was in Black Mass with Kevin Bacon), but it was also the time I found out Kevin Bacon didn’t film most of the dance for Footloose. My Hermes was a stuntman. Not a Hermes at all, but a Patroclus, if you will, clad in Achilles’ blue jeans armor. I won’t lie. It hurt. It was a betrayal worse than The Following’s twelfth episode of the second season, Betrayal. I had spent my whole life trying to be someone that didn’t exist, and now I didn’t know what to do.
I should have known better than anyone that it was nothing but movie magic, but that didn’t stop me from falling into a pattern of waking up, making a pot of coffee, and drinking the whole thing while I scoured the internet for any proof that my lifelong efforts weren’t in vain. Day after day, I read every interview I could find, watched every video, and analyzed the warehouse dancing scene frame by frame to calculate the Kevin Bacon versus stuntman ratio. Until finally, salvation came in the form of a Hollywood Reporter article about Kevin Bacon’s anger at needing not one, not two, but a whole team of four—a stuntman, a dancer, and two gymnasts—to shoot the scene.
I mean, I get it. There is strength in asking for help. Perhaps just as Hermes could be Agreïphontes, Chrysorappis, and Agoreus at the same time, so could Ren McCormack be Kevin
Bacon and four more men. It didn’t make Kevin Bacon any less Ren McCormack, and it wouldn’t make me any less Kevin Bacon once I had achieved my goal.
So I went back to work. I still have two degrees to go through before I can finally meet him, and then one more before I can become him, but I can already imagine the moment I’ll shed my skin and crawl into his own. I’ll have to stretch my limbs to fill it, but that’s okay. No pain, no gain, they say. I’ll unfold inside him and spread our arms wide, split our legs in a sissonne against the goldenrod light of a warehouse window, and like a god, we’ll fly.
Elia Karra (she/they) is an author and filmmaker from Athens, Greece, with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lindenwood University. Her work has appeared in HAD, the first Bullshit Lit anthology, Cease, Cows, and others. She prefers the 4:3 aspect ratio. Say hello on Twitter at @eliakarra and at eliakarra.com.