Obituary – Oliphant Ming

by Alphaville Herald on 21/08/09 at 8:14 am

Oliphant Ming, yachtsman, physician of Gor, died on June 26, aged 61

by Pixeleen Mistral, sports desk

The Herald is sad to report that William Clinton Bahan, Jr. – the real life gentleman behind the Second Life characters Oliphant Ming, Elwood Fizz, Lupe Alvarado, unverified Kong, and many others – died on June 26 at age 61.

We never met in real life, but I count myself lucky have been one of Oliphant Ming’s many e-friends. Oli’s fingerprints are all over SL, both on his main account and his many alts. A skilled role player, Oli was active in Gor and many other communities. If you needed advice, a shoulder to cry on over IM, someone to infiltrate and spy on the enemy camp, a sailing partner, or security for a U2 in SL event – Oli was your man.

Oli and Mik 2 

Oliphant Ming and Mikayla Aquitaine

Bill Bahan explored Second Life with style and class. Sometimes he was a Gorean physician, sometimes a Gorean slave boy, and sometimes he was unverified Kong – an anonymous avatar trying to “eke out a living caddying for tips at Holly Kai Golf Club… forever doomed to second class citizenship in Second Life – just because I was born after 6/6/6, and keep private info private”. His death leaves a huge hole in my life. I can only imagine how Mikayla Aquitaine, Oliphant’s long-time SL partner and Gorean free companion must feel.

My Oliphant Ming memories begin in the early days of the Second Life yacht racing scene when everything revolved around two weekly races: MarkTwain White ran a series in Hollywood; Doc Nielsen and Eloise Pasteur ran another series in Thompson sim, so it was possible to race several days a week – and Oliphant did, quite successfully. 

As a beginner, I struggled to master the Tako until Oli took me under his wing to offer some advice and the suggestion that we practice together. Given the difference in our skill levels, Oli was being extremely charitable with his time – at least at first. Eventually, I was able keep it interesting for him, and made a close friend. When we practiced together, we would laugh when we fouled each other, discuss what happened, then go back to racing. Oli cultivated friends across Second Life with this sort of generosity, sense of fair play, grace, and civility.


practice pays off: Oliphant Ming (in alien avatar costume) won the Starboard Yacht Club’s Halloween 2005 Regatta – I got second place while wearing an Eloise Pasteur costume

Oli was a sailor in real life, loved racing in Second Life, and played a key role in the  success of the SL sailing community. After learning of is death, Eloise Pasteur wrote about Oli’s part in the development of the early SL racing rules in 2005. When Kanker Greenacre added a spinnaker to the flying Tako, Oli helped Kanker work out the wind response curve for the spinnaker and convinced Kanker to make the spinnaker hard to control to better simulate real life sailing.

When I was struggling to get Vagabonds Yacht Club started, Oliphant’s advice and contribution of some protected Linden waterfront in Bonga made it possible for VYC to run blue water races with over 15 sim crossing – a novel approach at the time. The VYC experience showed me how hard it is to hold a community together and put on weekly events in SL, and why you need friends like Oli to succeed.

In time, the SL Sailing community grew, more yacht clubs appeared, and plans were made for the SLSF Cup – an ambitious series of events modeled after the America’s Cup. Oliphant was a teammate in the drama-laden SLSF Cup and his dry sense of humor served us well as tight racing led to fouls, race committee protests hearings, and off the charts inter-club drama and accusations.

SYC overruns the transom of VYC 

Oliphant Ming (in yellow shirt) after Faykin Odetts' SYC boat collides with the VYC

During one race, Faykin Odetts drove his boat up the transom of the boat Oli and I were in, and the boats boats fused together courtesy of SL’s Havok physics. Faykin refused to acknowledge that he had fouled us, although he had violated one of the fundamental rules of racing – overtaking yacht shall keep clear.

Faykin wouldn’t withdraw from the race and de-rez his boat, hoping we would get bored and de-rez first, so we were stuck together for about 40 minutes until the race time limit expired. During this time Oli and I told each other jokes, laughed at Faykin, and prepared for the protest hearing. It was all great fun, and culminated in the SLSF championship match races – probably the best SL racing I have ever seen. Oli sailed for VYC in the SLSF Cup championship match races – a series that amazingly well sailed and very close. When VYC lost, Oli was gracious in defeat.

Oli & Pix (and crews) rounding Banpo

Match racing Owen Oyen's ACC boats with Oliphant in Banpo sim near Sanchon

I sailed with Oli regularly until I eventually decided to sell Sanchon sim and drifted away from regular involvement in the SL sailing community – but he remained someone I regularly turned to for advice and a good laugh when I most needed it.

Oliphant had disappeared from Second Life a few times in the past due to health issues, so I was a bit worried when I hadn’t seen Oli online for weeks. When Mikaylka told me me his phone had been disconnected and she had found the real life obituary, it wasn’t completely shocking, but it was very sad.

The hope of meeting more people like Oliphant Ming is why I still play Second Life.

5 Responses to “Obituary – Oliphant Ming”

  1. espresso saarinen

    Aug 21st, 2009

    i remember him as a gentleman, despite contrary rumor. and i know you were close, pix. sympathies to you, oli’s partner, and to all his close friends.

  2. Mikayla Aquitaine

    Aug 21st, 2009

    As Oli’s SL partner, Free-Companion and much more, it has ripped me up to find out of his passing merely a week before I arrived and moved to the city he lived in. I am doing my best to honor his memory within SL, but as I’m sure people will understand, it is very difficult for me to be there without him.

    Moving to a new area brings challenges as well – i.e. getting a job. I won’t be able to keep all of Oli’s land holdings (he had nearly a full sim of land throughout SL) and as the sole survivor in our land group, in a way, Oli left me a “virtual land” inheritance. Unfortunately, jobless, I can’ afford the $195 a month upkeep for all of the properties, so I have been forced to pick a spot. The land that he and I shared the most memories will be the one I am maintaining and I will be keeping it intact the way Oli left it. If you are ever in the neighborhood of Bonga sim, please feel free to drop in and pay homage to a great man’s memory.

  3. MarkTwain White

    Aug 21st, 2009

    Pixeleen, Thank you for sharing your heart about your long time friend. And Mikayla, we grieve with you. I have shared my own thoughts about Oli at:

  4. Owen Oyen

    Aug 21st, 2009

    Pix, as you recall you and Oli were key parts of the ACC’s original beta test effort, with Oli’s work particularly appreciated because it was the advent of wind shadowing in SL yacht racing and we had to get it right. Oli was a critical contributor to that effort. We raced and chatted together often. He was one of the good guys, and I hope the wind is fresh and the seas smooth where he is now.

  5. Lilyrose Pavlova

    Aug 21st, 2009

    Oli was a great friend , we met in 2005 in the gorean sim the wilderness , We had our Free Companionship ceromony in the first Anango then after I became Mother of our sl twins Oli & Lily jnr . we spent many times sailing & sitting in Bonga . Elwood was my slave boy & Mikayla my girl , I freed them both so they could be together . We had a lovely year of our FC , and though we never renewed the contract we always remained great friends & I was so happy for him & my dear friend Mikayla to get together . Oli would make me smile with his love for bare feet , he just hated shoes or boots . I have treasured memories of our time together & will always love Oli Elwood & Mikayla . I will keep the photo of us with our twins in Lilyroses profile as he was a great father , friend . love you Oli rest in peace
    Love Liyrose Pavlova

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