One of the people who is a friend of
Bill's in spite of his image is Ro Lutz-
Nagey. Bill and Ro planned to go into
partnership together and produce a sf
magazine called, uh, Outworlds. The
partnership dissolved. Why? Bill wrote
"I am a bastard to work with. I'm not
being noble or any thing...but I don't
want to subject a third person to that
on a continuing basis...Friendship is
more important than partnership." (p.
That's Bill Bowers. On paper.
It wasn't until 1974, four years after
receiving my first Outworlds, that I
met Bill Bowers in the flesh (I never
went to cons when I first became active in fandom). Mike Glicksohn introduced me—"You mean you've never
met Bill Bowers?"—and there before
me on the floor sat Bill, gangling, awkward, not quite seeming to fit in his
clothes. He sat quietly, not saying
much, while around him Diane Drutow-
ski was dumping ice down Larry
Downes' back, Leah Zeldes was in rapture with Jeff May, and Mike Glyer was
laughing uncontrollably, while trying to
write notes on it all. Later, Downes,
Drutowski and I sat on an air conditioner and watched Deep Throat with thirty
other people in a small, hot room. Bill
seemed out of phase with all this, as
though he wasn't really at the con,
but just observing it. The eye in a hurricane.
About six months later, I saw Bill at
Con Fusion in Ann Arbor, Michigan,
where he was Fan Guest of Honor. Bill
was very nervous, and as he gave his
guest of honor speech, his emotions became like a vapor in the air. Bill talked
about his friends in fandom, and how
much they meant to him. He said that
he might be difficult to meet because he
clung to those people; when he went to
a con he wanted to see these same old
people; when he went to a con he wanted to see these same old friends, and he
felt selfish about absorbing all their time
and his, but that was the way it was. By
the time he finished, he was in tears.
It was not the usual sort of speech
one heard at a con.
I think I saw Bill next at a one-day
convention we held in Detroit, at Wayne
State University; Mike Glicksohn was
guest of honor. This seemed to be a
turning point for Bill and he started
coming up to Detroit more and more,
for parties and picnics, or just to visit
people. We kidded him, told him Canton, Ohio (where he then lived) was just
a suburb of Detroit. A group of the
women in the local sf club (Leah Zeldes,
Patty Peters, Diane Drutowski, Anne
Shoup, Marge Parmenter) who all lived
in the same area, plus Larry Downes,
made up their own t-shirts which read
"Suburban Femmefan" (and "Mascot",
on Larry's). Bill was infatuated with
them all, so they made up a special shirt
for him: "Suburban Femmefan Groupie". It was a little large, but Bill loved
it. When the whole group went to Big
Boy's one night, the waitress thought
they were from a bowling league.
LeahT Zeldes noticed that Bill, with
all his new-found friends, was never
spending any time at home, however.
Every weekend he was off to another
con or three-day party. How could he
publish Outworlds or anything else if
he kept this up? Could fandom afford
to lose this Publishing Jiant?
She decided he needed Responsibility: and gave it to him in the form of a
small black kitten.
It didn't help. There at the next con
was Bill, with Responsibility sitting on
his huckster's table amid the piles
of fanzines. The cat attracted more attention than did Outworlds.
I can't write much more than that
about Bill Bowers: I'm not one of his
intimate friends. Often, I don't know
what to say to Bill when I see him, beyond the usual pleasantries, but I've
always found him kind, friendly. Easily approachable.
I enjoy his fanzine, and his person.
He is a most deserving fan goh.
— Cy Chauvin
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