In 1986, I followed an Australian cowboy to his home on Kangaroo Island, with only the briefest of layovers in Sidney before going on to visit Alan in Japan.
This summer, same problem: my conference is in Brisbane, and I don't have the time or money to spend more than two days in Sydney.
Still, a week in Australia! A chance to meet Aboriginal men!
Of course, there's nothing wrong with Anglo-Australians (80% of the population), or Chinese or Indian-Australians (8%) of the population). But I can meet Anglo and Asian guys at home, or in Europe. When will I be able to meet an Aboriginal Australian again?
Their culture is at least 40,000 years old: they began their migration to the continent during the Middle Paleolithic Era.
Most of the tribes practice so-called "ritualized homosexuality," in which the older men initiate the young men into the community through oral sex.
There are 27 language families, with over 100 languages in daily use, as distinct as English and Navajo.
The Wagiman word for "penis" is lagiriny, "tail."
The Ngarluma word for "erection" is jurdu, a cognate of jurdurn, "mountain peak."
Now that I've got to see!
They constitute only about 3% of the population, concentrated mostly in the north and the west. Fortunately, I will be visiting during NAIDOC, a week of celebrations of Aboriginal culture, when many more from the outlying villages will descend upon Brisbane.
Sunday, June 30th
It's a 22 hour flight from Fort Lauderdale to Sydney, with stops in Los Angeles and Fiji, somehow arriving at noon on the same day I left. I'm too exhausted to do anything on Sunday, but on Monday and Tuesday I visit the Sydney Opera House, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Jewish Museum, the Sydney Sauna, and a sex club called the Signal.
An hour and a half flight from Sydney to Brisbane, then a half hour train trip downtown, arriving around 2:00 pm. I can't afford the Brisbane Hilton, so I am staying at a hip 3-star hotel nearby.
The desk clerk, whose nameplate reads "Chad," smiles professionally. He's in his early 20s, brown-skinned, with straight hair, a sharp face, and a tight, muscular frame. I figure he's South Asian, or maybe Polynesian.
"If I can do anything to make your stay more pleasant, let me know. I'm here every afternoon until 5:00 pm." Our hands touch as he gives me the key. "I'm an authority on Brisbane, so if there are any particular sights you are interested in, just ask."
Very friendly bloke.
I check in at the conference, look at some of my literature, and explore downtown a bit. The opening session last from 7 to 9. Afterwards I'm too tired to go out.
Thursday, July 3rd.
Conference presentations in the morning and early afternoon, but at 3:00 pm it's time to head out to NAIDOC events and cruise for Aboriginal men.
"Have you been to the Queensland Cultural Centre?" Chad the Desk Clerk asks. "It's on Grey Street, on the other side of the river, just across Victoria Bridge. A nice walk."
"That's next on my list!" I exclaim. But first, the "NAIDOC Tea Dance" at the River Plaza on Scott Street.
I've never heard the term "Tea Dance" except in a gay context, so I assume that the River Plaza is a gay bar, with a 4:00 pm Tea Dance where Aussie blokes of all races, sizes, and shapes mingle and hook up.
When I get there, it turns out to be a retirement community. I read the listing wrong; it's not a "Tea Dance," it's a "Tea" for elderly Aboriginal Australians!
I leave with egg on my face, go back to my hotel, have dinner, and then check my Spartacus Guide for real gay bars and bathhouses.
The Cruise Club, a bar with a dark room is only about 10 blocks away. Nearly deserted on a Thursday night at 9:00 pm, but I manage to go down on a rather ugly, moustached, greasy-haired bloke who sports an enormous penis, easily a Mortadella, as thick around as a beer can.
He rushes off when he finishes. I didn't even have a chance to say hello.
A national holiday back home, but of course not here. More presentations in the morning. I cut out at noon and ask Chad the Desk Clerk where I can rent a car.
"Taking a road trip? I suggest Sandgate. It's a beautiful seaside village about a half hour north of here. There's a great place for high tea there, Olga's. If you can wait until..."
"Thanks, but I've had enough tea for a lifetime!", I exclaim.
Instead I drive through heavy weekend traffic to Toowomba, about 1 1/2 hours west of Brisbane.
It would probably be a very pretty city, full of interesting colonial-era architecture, except that it's mid-winter, I'm freezing in my light jacket, and I'm starving. I stop at an outrageously overpriced sushi bar, and i don't even like sushi.
Finally I make it to the NAIDOC event: a presentation on aboriginal culture at a Lutheran Church. I'm expecting a vast cathedral packed with hundreds of people. No -- it's held in the fellowship hall downstairs. Twenty aboriginal families, a few Anglo members of the congregation, and me, feeling distinctly out of place.
I drive back to town, have dinner at a Korean place, and find a bath house about 2 miles from the hotel. It's not terribly crowded, but I manage to meet another greasy-haired guy with an enormous penis (they must be a staple in Australia) and a middle-aged South Asian guy on the downlow.
Later I hook up with the only black guy in the bath house: in his 20s, with frizzy hair, a tight muscular frame, and an uncut nine-incher. An Aboriginal Australian!
After we kiss for awhile, he throws his legs in the air for me to top him. Instead I go down on him for a few minutes.
"Are you sure you don't want to f*** me?" he asks.
Wait -- that's an American accent.
I lift up my head. "Where are you from?"
"Atlanta. So, how about if I f** you?"
After the conference presentations in the morning, I drive out to East Brisbane for the last NAIDOC Event on my list, a program of Aboriginal dance at Coorparoo Secondary College (a high school).
I sit in an auditorium, surrounded by schoolkids and their parents, watching Aboriginal dances performed by little boys.
The dances are interesting, but still -- I feel out of place, and rather guilty, as if I'm perving on the kids.
Afterwards I leave quickly, skipping the refreshments, drop off my rental car, and walk back to my hotel.
Chad the Desk Clerk says "You look like you're not enjoying our great city as much as you should be."
"A bunch of wild goose chases!"
"Well, maybe you need a knowledgeable tour guide. Are you free tomorrow? It's my day off, and....?"
Chad is asking me out!
"Um..,actually, I'm getting on a plane back to America tomorrow. What about tonight?"
He frowns. "Sorry, I have a family thing tonight. It's NAIDOC Week, you know. Got to pay my respects to the elders."
"I'm Aboriginal -- Turrbal nation. We're the original owners of Meanjin, all the land around Brisbane -- so obviously I could give you an in-depth tour, if you know what I mean."
I've been searching for Aboriginal men all week, and there was a cute, gay Aboriginal guy right here in the hotel! "Will you be done later?" I ask in a rather desperate tone. "We could get together then."
"Well, these things run rather late," he says doubtfully, "But we'll see. Maybe I'll ring you up."
He doesn't ring me up.
See also: In Search of Sex and Languages in South Africa and The Cowboy of Kangaroo Island.