Most of us will be aware of the idea of Six Degrees of Separation – that every person on the earth is separated from each other by at most six steps. The first step is me to the people I know, the second to the people they know that I don’t, and so on. The idea became the name of a play, by John Guare (which I was in a production of at uni), and this in turn was made into a film, starring Will Smith, Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing (who I have a bit of a crush on). Here’s her playing Rizzo in Grease with an appropriate video:
The idea morphed into Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, which is a fun game: through films they’ve been in, link any other actor to Kevin Bacon. For example, Australian actor Claudia Karvan was in $9.99 with Anthony La Paglia in 2008, and Anthony La Paglia was in He Said, She Said with Kevin Bacon in 1991. Check out the Oracle of Bacon and find out what Bacon number your favourite actor has.
Now the idea has been appropriated by English pharmacy chain Llyods into Sex Degrees of Separation. It’s a campaign to raise awareness of STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and encourage safe sex by pointing out the number of people you may have indirectly slept with. Going back six generations of partner (i.e. taking into consideration the people I’ve slept with, and that they’ve slept with, etc.), I have possibly had indirect sex with close to 1 million people. That’s quite a lot. How many people have you (indirectly) slept with?