Kevin Bacon: Back In Action
by Una La Marche
Let’s dispense with the puns right up front. I have met Kevin Bacon in person, and yes, he is sizzling (I wish I could kill two birds by working in “six degrees,” but that’s not hot, not even in Celsius). He’s footloose, and yes, as of late, thanks to some high-profile projects like X-Men: First Class, he’s been bringing home a certain pork product occasionally employed as a euphemism for money.
But even though the 52-year-old actor is, as he admits, a “known quantity,” enjoying a sort of rediscovered alpha-celebrity status thanks to raw talent, memorable roles and pop-culture fame (how many other stars have namesake games that earn a permanent spot in the cultural zeitgeist?), things haven’t always come easy. And even after 35 years in the moviemaking business, he takes nothing for granted.
In late 2009 Bacon was in between acting jobs and putting all of his energy into his band, The Bacon Brothers, which he fronts alongside his older brother, Michael. The siblings have been performing together since the mid-’90s, and it shows: Bounding across the stage at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Manhattan during a sold-out set last October, Bacon exhibited rock-star confidence, dancing and jumping and banging on a tambourine as if the energy coiled in his whippet-thin frame was too powerful for him to control.
And when he grabbed the microphone, unleashing a throaty Bon Jovi-esque growl, it was clear this was no vanity project. In fact, Bacon’s passion for music started long before Hollywood came calling, in his childhood home on Locust Street in Society Hill.
GROWING UP BACON
To hear him tell it, the Bacon family was practically a real-life version of The Partridge Family. “My brother, Michael, and my sister Hilda performed in bands when I was a little kid,” he told me over breakfast in Manhattan, where he has lived for more than 30 years. “I think my sister Karin played the flute a little bit. My mother tinkered around on the mandolin.”
By the time he was in high school, Bacon was playing percussion in a number of bands and had also started to write songs. But then he took an acting class. And the rest is, if not history, at least a very long Netflix queue. “All of a sudden, I [thought], Well, my brother is doing the music thing. I’m gonna see if I can become an actor,” Bacon says. He left home at 17 and moved to New York, where he found work in theater and on soap operas like Guiding Light. In 1988, after costarring with her in a PBS television adaptation of Lanford Wilson’s play Lemon Sky, he married actress Kyra Sedgwick.
He had already found a fan base and garnered critical acclaim with his work in the two film classics Diner and Footloose, but it wasn’t until the early ’90s, after breakout roles in Oliver Stone’s JFK and A Few Good Men, in which he costarred with Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson, that Bacon became a bona fide movie star. His Hollywood stock soared, and he started working nonstop.
photograph by tim white
Grooming by April Barton’s Suite 303
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