by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 21

An excitable woman whose jewellery had elicited no squeals of delight, even from her daughter, leaned forward and asked, 'Is it exciting being engaged to a... an acrobat?'

'Not exciting,' Mort replied, frowning prettily. 'But I like watching him practise, and he is very thoughtful and kind. Sometimes he has to perform at night when I would like to go out, but that is easy to put up with.' He stopped with an almost post-coital smile lingering on sensuous lips.

'Doesn't it embarrass you that he performs naked?' This from a girl who looked about fourteen.

Mort managed a shocked, 'Not at all! I am very, very proud of him, he is so clean and perfect. He's a very moral man and his ethics are impeccable. There's nothing sleazy in being naked, you know, quite the opposite. In Renaissance Art, sacred or pure love is portrayed by nudity, while profane love — the love of clothes and worldly possessions, is portrayed by expensively dressed women. You might be surprised to know that several deeply religious people for whom Hale has performed, told me their faith was strengthened after seeing God's design made manifest.'


'What does God's design made somethingfest mean?' the youngest girl asked with a slight lisp.

'Well…' Mort's brain went into overdrive. 'Made manifest means displayed or shown, is that clear?'


'And God is perfect, right?'


'So everything he makes must be perfect?'

A grudging, 'Yes.'

'God's design for a man is perfect, but most men are not, for lots of reasons. However, every now and again a man is born who looks as perfect as God intended, and when these people saw Hale performing naked, they thought he must be exactly what God had designed.'

'Gosh! I can't wait to see him!'

Murmurs and giggles of agreement from all the girls.

'But don't you get jealous that other women can see the... you know... privates of your man?' The question came from a mousy woman who had to be the mother of the squat redhead.

'No, no, no.' Mort's voice was soft and gentle as if speaking to a backward child. 'A penis is God's lance through which he creates new life in us women. It is a wondrous thing, as wonderful as our breasts that provide food for God's newborn creations. None of you are concealing the fact that you have breasts, some of you have very fine cleavages... so why should a man conceal his wonderful instrument of creation?' Mort paused, wondering if he'd gone a bit far, but the wide-eyed, open-mouthed faces surrounding him were obviously desiring more of such talk. Okay, he thought, you asked for it. Taking a deep breath, he looked down shyly and murmured, 'But I'm talking too much. You are all women of the world; you already know these things.'

'Yes, but it is refreshing to hear the point of view of someone not of our religious faith,' Mrs. Geld boomed. 'It is time all women talked about these things. Men too often treat us as if we're too stupid to even think about sex. And they're so proud of their precious penises. I look forward to seeing this paragon. But whether we should allow him to parade his genitalia in all fifteen of the concerts, to audiences that will have as many children as adults, is another matter.'

'Yes, yes,' muttered her acolytes.

'But we're children, and we're going to see the man's penis.' The girl slammed her hand against her mouth, eyes wide in expectation of a command to wash her mouth out. When no reprimand arrived she relaxed and whispered, 'penis, penis, penis,' just loud enough for her friend to hear.

'I am most interested in your thoughts on the matter, so please go on, Calypso!' Catty commanded.

'I've been reading about The Church of Fumutie,' Mort continued, 'and I am deeply impressed at the way you have brought religion into the twenty-first century, making it relevant to our times. You must be extremely proud.'

Murmurs of surprised agreement, tinged with slight disappointment that penises seemed to have slipped from the menu.

'Sensible people understand that prohibitions create desires,' Mort continued persuasively, 'and when people are kept ignorant, facts are replaced by febrile imagination. If you declare that a penis may never be seen, then in people's imaginations it becomes a dirty, dangerous, nasty object. Whereas if people saw them every day, they'd know it is a relatively small, attractive appendage, neither dirty nor evil. Like our ears, fingers, noses and toes. And being naked doesn't turn men into wild animals as so many silly women think — quite the reverse. There are no rapes and other sex crimes in nudist colonies, because physical sexual differences are seen as natural. When every one is naked there's no coquetry, no deception. Bodies are not a mystery to endlessly and unprofitably occupy our thoughts. Minds are freed to look for other, more enduring and valuable things.'

'Have you been to a nudist club?' A girl with well-developed breasts asked, blushing furiously.

'Yes. I've spent many summers in the south of France on beaches where clothing is banned. It is wonderful. So liberating.'

'And all the men and boys were naked with their... penises sticking out?'

Much giggling, but no mother said 'shh', being as curious as their daughters.

'Usually they just dangle charmingly. Penises only stick out when they're sexually aroused.'

'Does that happen often?'

'With teenagers, yes. At that age boys seem to be erect most of the time.'

'Isn't that rude?'

'Definitely not! It shocks me to hear you say that. It's a natural part of growing up, just as we girls have tender breasts when they start to grow. An erection is a magnificent sight! The smallish floppy tube becomes up to four times as large and long and very hard. It stands proudly upright and looks wonderfully powerful. You must consider yourself very lucky indeed if you ever have the chance to see one. I love looking at them.' He sighed winsomely. 'Unfortunately, men hardly ever have erections in public when they're used to being naked. As for being rude... only a person who hates God would consider that his beautiful design was rude! Many wise people think it is an insult to God to insist that genitals must be covered.'

The redhead again. 'But the fact remains that all men do cover their bits, so it seems odd that you don't mind when other women see your man's.'

'As I said before, I'm proud of Hale in all ways, and all my girlfriends who've seen him perform, said they went home with a new respect for their husbands, who, although not as talented or as perfect as Hale, were, after all, made the same way, and their sex lives improved enormously when they understood this simple fact.'

'What's a sex life?' The ten year-old again.

Again no remonstrance from an adult.

'We have a working life, a life when we have entertainment, a life when we sleep, and people who find each other attractive like to enjoy kissing and caressing and…'

'And pushing their erections into women!' The redhead snapped unpleasantly.

'Only if the woman asks for it because she enjoys it.'

'Has a man shoved his penis into you?'

'Happy, well-bred men don't shove their erections into anyone. Shoving is rude and unpleasant. Sexual intercourse between people who like each other is an exciting and happy experience.'

'Do women enjoy it?'

'If they don't, there's something very wrong. And that's what we mean by a sex life, which for a woman can be either wonderful or awful, depending on their attitude to men and their penises.'


Caterina Geld cleared her throat. 'You make it sound so simple, Calypso. But it isn't really. Perhaps it should be, but it isn't. And we have strayed from the purpose of this afternoon, which is to see if it will be suitable for Mr. Lightfoot to perform naked before a mixed audience in our fifteen fundraising concerts. That is what we must consider. Are our congregations as open minded about this as we are?'

They were saved from answering by the arrival of Massimo. The show would be starting in five minutes.

'Where do you want to set up, Hale?' Midas asked when the men left the drawing room.

'Between the front steps and the fountain. The audience sitting on cushions — the kids on the lower steps, adults above. Then everyone gets a good view.'

'You don't mind your audience being so close? The kids'll just about be able to touch you.'

'The closer the better, then they'll miss nothing.'

They arrived at the spot and waited for instructions.

'Okay, let's unload.'

Despite the assistance of eight adults and six boys everything was speedily unloaded, then Hale drove the van a hundred metres back along the driveway, undressed and jogged back.

'He's naked!' one of the men said in surprise. 'I mean... totally naked! Not a stitch.'

'Not a hair, either.'

'He's in bloody good shape.'

'Hasn't got a horse cock, thank goodness. I hate guys who flash their fucking great dongs in the showers, makes me feel inferior.'

'Me too.'

'Got a neat pair of balls though.'

'You'd have to have balls to put on a show like this, starkers.'

'I wouldn't dare do it in a suit.'

'I'd probably get a great boner and trip over the thing.'

'You've got to admire the bloke. Wish I had the guts.'

'You've got the guts, Harry, it's the balls that count.'

Their sons were listening in awed surprise. They'd never imagined their fathers would talk about such things. Erections, balls penises! Spines tingled in delight. Their fathers were real men — human, funny, not the stuffy know-it-alls their mothers kept complaining about. Despite their religion's fine words about tolerance and freedom, Hale was the first naked adult they'd seen in the flesh; Internet didn't count, and they were very impressed. Here was a real hero to emulate and follow through the corridors of doom — or wherever he led them.

A sigh of admiration rose from everyone as Hale shook the frame and it self-assembled. They helped with securing the flood lights; two on top of the lions' heads and one on the ground directly in front, then the electricity was connected to the outlet in the loggia, and they sat on the steps admiring the ingenuity, the practicality, the neatness — all the things males naturally admire and females find uninteresting. They nodded knowingly as Hale tested the lights and sound equipment, asking their opinions when setting intensity and volume. Then their mouths dropped in awe as he did several spectacular exercises on the frame to test its stability.

Despite themselves they cheered when he stood on his hands on the top bar, lifted one to wave at them, swung down, flipped and ended up back on the top bar, sitting comfortably.

'How on earth did you do that?'

'Like this.' Hale repeated the stunt and grinned like a kid who'd been showing off and knew it, but didn't care because he trusted them not to think he was vain.

They didn't. They were genuinely impressed.

'I'd like to wait till the sun is setting in about twenty minutes, if that's okay with you guys. Daylight robs a show like this of mystery.' His laugh was self-deprecating, which raised their already high opinion of him even higher. That such a fine figure of a man who was so strong and could fly and perch like an eagle could be so modest, easy to be with, was a revelation. Even the men now thought he was worth admiring!'

'I can tell you're all wondering if I'm sane, so ask me questions.'

'About what?'

'Anything you like.'

'Why do you prefer to perform naked?'

'Because I like to play to full houses. That makes me more money and it's more fun. A show with a naked man in it will fill a venue, whereas recently in a theatre not too far from here, a very witty one-man show barely covered costs because the performer was only clever. At the same time just up the coast, a couple of guys who flashed their dicks in a pathetic show called Puppetry of the Penis got full houses everywhere.'

'Yeah, I remember that. I wanted to go but the wife wouldn't let me.'

'She was right. It was terrible. But... and it's a big but, a show with male nudity must not be about sex, like the Chippendales strip shows, because men will not go for fear of being called queers, no matter how clever and professional the guy is. Fortunately, so far there's no stigma attached to men going to see a naked man doing acrobatic tricks.'

'I understand that,' Midas said quietly, 'but why do you charge less to perform naked than wearing a pouch?'

'That's my selfless campaign to free males from the tyranny of feminism.'

'Everyone laughed.

'You sound like a preacher.'

'Well, I feel somewhat evangelical about the heartrending plight of modern males, virtually all of whom have been emasculated and become either lapdogs for their female 'masters' or violent reactionaries.'

'I don't understand.'

The frowns on other faces indicated they also had no idea what he was talking about.

'When my father was a young man, he wore a string bikini at the beach and Mum wore a modest one-piece swimsuit. Most of the men wore a speedo and no one thought they ought to conceal the fact that they had a package between their legs. It was proof of manhood. Guys who wore baggy shorts were laughed at and called girls. Dad got wolf-whistles from women, some of whom would ask to have their photograph taken with him.

'He wore his bikini all summer, to the shops, on the street; just about everywhere in the beach suburbs. Shorts, when men wore them to go to the movies at night, for example, were short and tight, displaying thighs and a proud bulge at the crotch.

'In those days there were plays, movies, TV films and soap operas in which men were naked — not just a bum-shot but full frontals and more if the film or play required it. I remember being taken to a play called 'Foreskin's Lament' about a football team in which a dozen men were totally naked on stage for the two acts that took place in a locker room. This was possible because everyone accepted that men are different from women physically and mentally — and that is as it should be.'

'Huh! Try telling my wife that! She's a feminist and reckons the only way society will be decent is if men behave like women.'

'Yeah, my wife says the same, so I told her I'd start wearing skimpy little dresses like hers.'

'What'd she say?'

'She said men's bodies are not beautiful, so they should be covered, and when Aesop, our son, came home with a brief speedo for the water polo team, she said he couldn't wear them in public because it's a form of sexual harassment... advertising his ability to rape.'

'You are joking.'

'No he isn't,' fourteen-year-old Aesop said seriously. 'That's what she said.'

'My wife's always going on about how I have to be more sensitive, like she reckons she is... as if! I have to talk about my problems like she does. Not bloody likely; she'll just go and tell all her girlfriends everything.'

'Yeah. After eating too many mangoes I checked my undies and found skid marks. Stupidly I told Raelene and now all the women she knows think I'm incontinent. Your wife Myrtle, Herb, sidled up to me the other day and offered to give me some adult nappies! Never again will I tell my wife anything I don't want published in a national newspaper.'

'Yeah, Myrtle told me you have sloppy bowels, Pete.'

'Well, I fucking haven't!'

'What about sex?'

'What do you mean?'

'Whenever I suggest a bit of nookie, Marjolijn says she doesn't feel like it, then a while later she wants it, and if I say I no longer feel like it she gets all narky, says I'm useless. But if I agree, as like as not halfway through she'll decide she doesn't want it after all and if I don't stop instantly she says I'm raping her!'

'Marsha's not that bad, but I can see it coming. She's always going on about how women are victims because males are primitive creatures who only want sex and don't understand the finer aspects of a relationship.'

'I'm beginning to wonder if women are sane. I read the other day that a man whose togs showed the shape of his cods in a public swimming pool was accused of visual sexual abuse of females and asked to leave.'

'That really is crazy. Meanwhile women can walk down the street day and night wearing nothing but a short tight skirt and a bra with their tits bulging out, and any man who comments is committing verbal sexual abuse.'

'It's becoming too dangerous to be with a woman without another male as observer.'

'Yeah. My wife won't let me cuddle and kiss my little girl; she says it's child sexual abuse! My own daughter!' The young man shook his head in despair.

Hale's laughter was deep and genuine.

'What so funny?'

'You lot. You're so hypocritical. If a guy came up to you and told you you're handsome, or stroked your butt, you'd feel outraged. You'd punch him on the nose if he was smaller than you and probably complain to the management about harassment.'

'Because that means he thinks I'm gay!'

'Not necessarily. But so what if he did? He's probably just hoping you are and trying his luck, just as you hope a woman is interested and try your luck. Why not take it as a compliment and put him off pleasantly? Even stupider than that is if you know a guy's gay you'll be careful not to let your son near him... right?'

'Well... yes... of course.'

'Because all gays are paedophiles, right? No! Wrong! Proportionately more heterosexuals are paedophiles than gays, so your son is safer than your daughter with a male.'

'Yeah... but…'

'No buts. Sauce for the goose and all that.'

'But we men still have the problem that we're not nice to look at so we have to be dressed in dull shapeless baggy clothes.'

'And they keep telling us we're insensitive.'

'But if we say we like nice things, and are sensitive and compassionate they reckon we're queer... less than men.'

'But if we act like men we're brutish. We can't win.'

'There are more female heroes in video games than men, now,' one of the older boys said thoughtfully. 'And in that film on at the Criterion at the moment, a girl in a very brief bikini takes on about a dozen fully armed men with nothing but a knife and she beats them all. Too stupid to believe, but the girls love it.'

'I think women are actually ashamed to be female,' Hale said thoughtfully. 'That's why they want to be called actors, not actresses, heroes, not heroines. They see women as inferior so it's all about pretending they aren't. Perhaps we should feel sorry for them?'

'I'm too busy feeling sorry for myself at the moment.'

Hale laughed. 'Thanks, guys for sharing your frustrations. I'm not married, but have had my fair share of experiences like yours, that's why I put on a live show in which I'm an unashamed male. By parading my sexy bits I hope to inspire other men to say to themselves, 'Yeah! Why not? Why should I be forced to pretend I haven't any balls? Why can't I be proud to be male? Why aren't I allowed to look and feel sexy? And these brave men might take off their clothes at home and shock their wives and assert their right to be male and be proud again, like my father, and his father used to be.'

'Do you know of anyone doing that?'

'Yes. Many men have contacted me after seeing the show to tell me they now seldom wear clothes at home unless it's cold. And their kids, at least their sons, are also doing that, and their wives have become less bossy and difficult because they have finally accepted that men are not the same as women and need to be treated differently.'

'That's not going to happen, though, is it? My son Jack is fourteen and he's never had a male teacher! Not one and he… You tell them, Jack.'

'The boys in my class decided to go on strike because one of our teachers reckoned men should not be allowed to teach in schools because of the danger of child sexual abuse. We read her an article that proved women were just as bad as men, and she called Mrs Stone, the principal, and said we were spreading malicious lies about women and must be disciplined. So we got a week's detention to teach us to respect women. That's the logic of those bitches. Anyway, we just stayed away from school for a week. Mum tried to make me go but Dad said it was fine.' He turned a nervous face to his father, who ruffled his hair affectionately. 'And then she said Dad was not a fit person to be trusted with bringing up a boy. I really, really hate her now.'

'Try not to hate; it wastes energy. But what you've told us is one answer to the question of why there's an increase in violence against females — although it's odd that newspapers and social pundits are ignoring the fact that female violence against men is rising at a faster rate than males against females. And surely we have to consider the consequences of allowing females to have control of boys right through their school years until they're virtually adults. Isn't it time someone asked why the mothers and all those female teachers haven't been able to instil the respect they insist they deserve in the boys they've had in their care?'

'Are you saying there's no place for females in the world?'

'Definitely not! Women should have equal opportunity, rights, pay and everything else. But unless they are prepared to accept their share of the blame for creating violent men, and accept that we're equal but different in the way we think, the ideas we have, and the things that interest us, all they'll get is continual violent backlash.'

'Sounds reasonable.'

'Then it won't work; females aren't reasonable.'

'Some are.'

'None that I know.'

'Hale, you said that if we wander round in the nud our wives and daughters will respect us.'

'Yes, and I've just had an idea to prove it. Midas told me there'll be supper beside the pool after the show, and I bet if you all left your clothes here on the steps and spent the rest of the evening naked, you'd feel so liberated and relieved at finally being a male, you'd never look back and your wives and daughters would finally respect you.'

'How much do you bet?'

'If all of you, men and boys, do that, then I will do all fifteen performances for nothing.'

You're joking!'

'No. I'm serious. But you mustn't tell the women why! That's essential! If you do they'll just sneer and say you're fools, because they refuse to accept that their behaviour has anything to do with the problems men have with women. So, you must promise faithfully that your sole response to "why are you doing this?" will be to say, "Because I feel like it". Anything else would be pandering to their belief that they have the right to impose their notions of male behaviour on you. A real man does not feel obliged to explain his every action.'

'Midas, how much will that save us?'

'Nearly eight thousand dollars.'

'That's worth saving!'

'Sure is, so we're in, aren't we Massimo?'

Massimo nodded, willing to follow his adored father anywhere.

'What about the rest of you?'

It took a few minutes, but no one was prepared to prove they had no 'balls' by being too frightened to let them hang loose in front of their wives and daughters.

'Excellent!' Hale laughed. 'But remember, the only reason you're doing it is because you feel like it. Can I trust you on that? Do not mention the money! That will cheapen and ruin everything. And as your true motives will not be believed, never reveal them.'

'Don't worry, Hale. We're not totally stupid even though we got married — isn't that right men?'

Murmurs and nods of agreement.

'What if I get a hard on?'

'You won't, you'll be too nervous to think of anything sexy. Like I'm far too busy when performing to think of anything else. The blood's all in my brain — none left for erections. But if you do manage it, be proud! Without stiff cocks there'd be no more babies.'

'He's right, you know. I never thought of it like that.'

'I've always been embarrassed.'

'My wife says I look ridiculous, so I feel stupid.'

'Dad, why did you marry mum?'

'She said she liked everything about me, then a few weeks later started gilding the lily as she called it!'

'Sounds more like gelding.'

Sympathetic laughter.

'Go on, Hale. Erections I think the topic was.'

'Yeah. Until the Christians declared nude to be rude the erect phallus was worshipped. Every ancient Greek house had a stone effigy of 'Hermes' in front, which was little more than an erect penis. The male sex organ has been worshipped as a symbol of fertility forever. Little phallic sculptures were placed in the fields to ensure a good crop. The idea that one part of a man or woman is sinful to see is so stupid I can scarcely credit that it's now a common belief. Humans really are the pits sometimes. Fancy having to wear clothes to go swimming!'

'The followers of Tryadd are a Christian sect.'

'Only nominally, Charles.' Midas stood and scratched his head. 'We started this religion because we think most humans need to believe in something or someone more powerful than themselves; someone who is control, but we wanted to cut through all the prohibitions, beliefs and other nonsensical mumbo-jumbo that is no longer relevant in the twenty-first century. We've done well on many fronts, but we've failed miserably on nudity, as this little session has proved. Nonetheless, we've done well; we have many thousands of members, five schools and more in the pipeline, and profits are soaring. However, recruiting has stalled. That's why I decided to raise the stakes and finish the job by breaking the last taboo — male nudity. This is when we get the rest of the people who are sick of the mealy mouthed censorious crap of the other god squads. I'll stick my neck out and predict an immediate increase in membership after the shows, enough to make us one of the big four players in the religious stakes. If I'm wrong, I'll step down and one of you can take over. So if you're with me on this, and after you've seen it you think Hale's show is worth watching, and you want to give the finger to all those pious bigots, vote to have it as the main attraction in the concerts.'

Midas's ultimatum set the men arguing and discussing among themselves, their sons offering their opinions, determined not to be ignored.

'We've another ten minutes before it's dark enough, Hale announced, 'so I'll go for a wander to get the blood flowing. Would you guys mind putting out enough cushions for everyone?'

'Sure thing, Hale. Thanks for the talk. It makes a lot of sense, and don't worry, we'll all strip for you and say it's because we feel like it.'

'You're not stripping for me! It's for you and your sons.'

'Yeah... you're right.'

They wandered up the steps in search of cushions, talking excitedly. Something was happening! They couldn't remember the last time their hearts had beat in anticipation. This was turning out to be the best time they'd had for ages.

'Can Massimo and I join you?'

'Of course, Midas.'

The three men strolled out beyond the fountain across the darkening lawn towards the trees.

'Thanks for the talk, I agree with everything. I wonder...'

'What about you, Massimo?' Hale interrupted. 'Do you agree?'

'I think so. But I'll have to think about it.'

'Very wise. You were about to say, Midas?'

''Was I? Ah yes. As I mentioned to you yesterday, I want to divest myself of Catty and I'll pay you to assist me.'


'My brain's empty of ideas.'

'You've allowed her to believe she controls you. She wanted this horrible house and fountain, and lions and grand gateway to impress all her acolytes and you didn't know how to refuse her, and now you can't tell her to bugger off.'

'You don't like the house?'

'It's a monstrosity. As for your problem, you could threaten her with a scandal.'

'What sort of scandal?'

'Let her catch you in flagrante delicto tonight.'

'Ha! Who with? Not one of those scrawny gossipy baggages in there. Anyway she wouldn't care, it would only prove that all men are unfaithful and unable to control their sexual urges. That's despite the fact that I haven't screwed her since Massimo was born.'

Massimo turned to him in astonishment. 'Is that true, Dad?'

'Have you never wondered why you have no brothers or sisters?'

His son giggled. 'I've always wondered how you could bear to do it with Mum, she's so fat and you're so slim and fit.'

'With me.' Hale's face was a picture of innocence.

Massimo giggled again.

'Then you can threaten to tell the whole world you're queer. She wouldn't like the world to know she's been married to a same-sex-oriented male for all these years. That'd probably induce her to sign the divorce papers.'

Midas frowned.

'Are you gay, Dad?'

'From time to time.'


'What about you, son. Would you like to screw Calypso?' Midas's voice was strained.

'I really like her,' Massimo said in a rush. 'I don't like any of the girls at school or church, but Calypso's different. When she touched my cheek I felt…' He stopped, suddenly shy. 'Are you really going to do it with Hale, Dad? '

'I'll have to wait and see.'

'Wow! Doing it with Hale!'


'Of course! Look at him!'

'Do you want to do it with Calypso?'

'She's Hale's fiancé.'

Hale laughed. 'She's free to do as she likes, I'm not the jealous type.'

'She'd never look at me.'

'Don't be too sure about that, Massimo,' Hale said softly. 'I think she fancies you. If you've got the balls, ask her. You might be pleasantly surprised. But now, would you mind running up to the females and telling them we're about to start?'

'Sure thing! Thanks, Hale!'

He sped away and the two slightly older men wandered slowly back to the fountain.

'Can we turn off the fountain, Midas? The noise is distracting.'

'Sure, no trouble.'

Hale lay on the grass to relax and mentally prepare, while Midas stood gazing up at the stars, contemplating a possible change of allegiance, orientation and fortune.

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