A few of my posts about Andy’s nude scenes in his UCLA play as well as his “method acting” (anal probes) experience at UCLA’s medical center drew a large number of comments that appeared favorable including these three:
“Great Post, thanks!”
“Thanks! Very helpful post,”
“Excellent site. It was pleasant to me.”
I was curious why someone would find the post “helpful” or “pleasant to me.” My patient WordPress sponsors of this blog, who flagged these comments as spam, suggested the spammers were less interested in Andy’s acting than his anatomy.
Despite the spammers’ misplaced interest, I suppose I should be glad Andy’s acting, particularly his shadowed nude love scenes, were judged to be so authentic. To be sure, Andy had a particularly well-qualified award-winning director for The Devils: Patrick Kennelly, whose previous play at UCLA Theater School was Cleansed, a play that featured nude students and a penis transplant.
As a college junior Andy had decided against auditioning for that play because he was appalled by the limited amount of nudity. By contrast, one year and one girlfriend later, he auditioned for The Devils because he estimated his character would be nude for an estimated half of the play, a much better proportion than for Cleansed. Moreover, the character of the womanizing priest that Andy portrayed required dramatic skills he had acquired between junior and senior years—- namely growing a beard, shaving his head, and ripping off his clothes.
Andy’s skill in acting also stems from his knowledge of human biology that I had transmitted when he and Jordan were young and ready for enlightened sex education. I was determined that their biology lesson pre-empt any street version from their friends. I also resolved not to repeat my mother’s eight minute explanation of sex that contained, in my ten-year-old’s view, a description so unbelievable and so revolting I responded, “No, really.”
As a former teacher skilled in research and lesson plans, I was well-prepared when Andy and Jordan showed up for our Talk. Alan and I had agreed I would make the major presentation, particularly since Alan’s proposed version included observations and advice drawn from Penthouse Letters.
Having narrowed the boys’ sex education to my own perspective, I proceeded to deliver a well-researched, carefully constructed and sensitive treatise of approximately two hours on every facet of sex I considered appropriate for their eight and ten-year-old ages. My motivation was that they should consider sex normal, but so boring a topic that they’d never discuss it with friends.
I recall that after my mother outlined frankly what was in store for me, I never brought up the subject again. I knew my friends wouldn’t have believed me anyway.
All except one.
Kenny was a red-headed next-door neighbor, two years’ younger, and a playmate of mine. Not long after my mother’s startling revelations, I was playing croquet in his backyard that was bordered by a fence, shrubbery, and three neighbors’ homes. I don’t recall exactly how the subject came up of where babies came from. I’m sure I would’ve been extremely reluctant to talk about it. However, I’ve tried to reconstruct how our conversation gradually turned to the big disclosure:
Kenny: Great shot. So when we got back from the lake, I was so brown. My dad got burned, and you should see my mom.
Me: I know where babies come from.
Me: Want me to tell you?
Me: (One minute abridged version of my mother’s talk.)
Kenny: (face draining of color) No such thing!
Me: It is, too. My mother told me.
Kenny: (misses next five shots)
After I went home, I wondered if I should have told him, since he was younger, but I had to let somebody know what I knew.
Several days later, my mother called me into her and Dad’s bedroom, the room for serious discussions. The room where Dad thought he hid undiscoverable boxes of chocolate creams in his underwear drawer as well as magazines with photographs of half-naked women.
Mom: Someone told me that you told Kenny where babies come from.
Mom: This person said you were in the backyard at Kenny’s house when this happened.
Mom: I told you never to talk about this with anyone.
Me: Mom, is that what f— means? (I’d heard that term used at summer camp.)
Mom: (reddening) No, but it’s similar.
I knew which neighbor had ratted on me—the prim Mrs. Bitsko listening on the other side of the hedge—but how could I defend myself when Mom made me sound positively evil?
Fortunately, Kenny survived my revelations and even participated a year later in the scandalous neighborhood “playing doctor” activities. I was not asked to participate maybe because kids thought I was too young, or a possibly a tattletale, or they resented my recent quoting from the Kinsey Report.
The neighborhood’s version of playing doctor featured a middle school sexpot (you know who you are) who occasionally gave a peep show that attracted kids under 11. When word got around about an upcoming show, a couple of concerned parents deputized several of us to go, secretly observe and then sternly reveal ourselves as the kids’ morals committee.
The afternoon of the event, I followed a large mob of kids downstairs to Sexpot’s basement. Her parents weren’t home and the house was unlocked, which was the custom of the time, along with Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes, and other approved snacks.
We hid behind the furnace and waited, listening to the heavy breathing. When Sexpot showed up with her entourage of mostly boys, she sensed a trap, and the rest of us popped out accusingly. I spotted Kenny as one of her enthusiastic spectators, so apparently I hadn’t stunted his interest in sex. He was, in fact, the only kid who’d schlepped along his Dad’s 5 lb 16 mm Bolex motion picture camera.
Years later, I found out Kenny was a dancer with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and that he was gay. For a long time, before it was o.k. to be gay, I blamed myself for his sexual preference. I wondered if he became gay because he was only eight when I’d disclosed what a man and woman do. Maybe, I reasoned, if I’d couched my explanation in terms of what two guys do, he would’ve turned out hetero.
I like to think my facts-of-life revelations to Kenny and Andy didn’t taint their outlook on relationships. I was cheered to learn Andy is currently rehearsing a scene from Eugene O’Neill’s biographical play, Long Day’s Journey into Night. Andy’s playing Jamie, described as a 33-year old, “attractive to women and popular with men.” For companionship, Jamie (Andy) frequents brothels and in particular a prostitute named Fat Violet.
It’s comforting to know that everything Andy learned from his mother is still being put to good use.