The second instalment in my new series of intimate, anonymous conversations with people about their gender, beauty and sex. I’m going with something different for images for this one. Enjoy Leonard Da Vinci’s beautiful anatomy sketches. It makes a sort of sense to me.
- Describe where we are right now.
- We are sitting on a beautiful, beautiful South Yarra park bench. It’s covered in bird shit. We’re in a park. It is warm. And we’re under a tree though! Which is amazing! And there are people out in the sun for some reason. I don’t know what she’s doing but she’s got amazing fluoro shoes on and there’s a big burly guy walking past with tatts and water bottles. I think that’s where we are.
- What do you think it means to be beautiful?
- I think ‘beauty’ is kind of the wrong word. I think ‘confidence’ is the word, isn’t it? That’s what we see. You know, physically people are more beautiful when they’re confident. Mentally people are more beautiful when they’re confident. And I don’t mean that they need to be brash but there’s a sense of togetherness and them being their own person when they’re…. FUCK! This sounds like a load of tripe!
- That’s okay. We’re warming up.
- We certainly are. I feel like it’s… Fuck. Fuck. I’m just trying to sound intelligent and I’m not.
- That’s alright. Next question.
- Well what do you think then! Because you’ve definitely got an opinion!
- I don’t know what I think. Last year, when we were working on ‘yours the face’, which was about modelling, one rehearsal the director turned to me and asked, “well, when did you first know that you were beautiful?” And I was like “I… still don’t. What?”
When I was doing… that stuff, people were never going “oh, of course you model!” It was always that “whoa! You look so different in the photos!” It was always with surprise.
- Of course. I remember years ago one of the jocks I was in class with, they’re like “oh yeah-no, that’s her! Yeah-no, you should see her on facebook! These photos! She’s very different! Really, she’s a babe!” I don’t know if that’s a compliment or if that’s a backhand or what is that?
- I don’t know. I think it’s not just confidence in terms of what you put out there. If I haven’t done any exercise for a long time and then I go for one run… Well then I’m pretty sure I lose four kilos in that one eight minute run.
- Oh you did. You definitely did. You lost all that weight and – God! – that defined muscle! I didn’t know I had that!
I went rock climbing the other day and I got back afterwards and I’m like “check out these guns!” And there’s just nothing there.
- How do you flirt?
- How do I flirt? Terribly. With a drink or two in my system aaaand a cigarette in my hand. Um… that seems to be a pretty good way for me.
- Does that work?
- How do other people flirt with you?
- I’m terrible at noticing when someone flirts with me! I’m really bad at picking up hints. Then if someone’s flirting with me, and I realise someone’s flirting with me, well then game over. I become a klutz and I turn into the dag that I am. The best flirting happens when you don’t know it’s happening.
- When someone afterwards is like, “you two were getting pretty cosy!”
- Yeah totally! And you go “Oh really!” and you have a think and then the next time you see that person? Rubbish again.
- One night during a festival, this guy… I think… I don’t know. I don’t know.
- Go on! Go on!
- I don’t know if you can call it flirting or some – I think it was! It was! We were standing there talking for ages and my friend afterwards was like “so clearly you went home with that guy” and I go “no! Nothing happened so I walked away eventually.” And she was like “Nothing happened? You guys – that was like – you were like – all the signals were there!” And I’m like “were they? I mean he didn’t – he wasn’t attached to my face so…”
- That’s what flirting is, right? When you’re making out. When you’re actually in the act of doing it, that’s flirting.
- When you’re tongue is against theirs, that’s when I know! That’s a good signal!
Girls and boys
- When did you first start becoming interested in girls? Do you remember a moment where you were like “that’s a girl: I want some of that.”
- “Now I’m ready! I want to be in and around you.” Ummm… I was a late bloomer I guess. I don’t think I realised what girls were until much later. Having sisters meant that they were just people and now we grow up in a world where we’re not just people. We’re men and we’re women. We’re blokes and we’re chicks. And that’s pretty instilled into the way we are.
But I don’t know if I learnt that until well after high school. I – I never went out with anyone. I never kissed anyone until my last year of high school! Sixteen, seventeen… Seventeen! And then I don’t even know if kissing them was a thing I was interested in.
Then you go through a thing where you go, “Oh, you’re a slightly effeminate, emotional male, you’re clearly gay!” So I allowed myself to think of that. That didn’t work.
- Did you try?
- I kissed a few guys. But it never went any further than that. And you know what? I think everybody would agree with this: kissing is awesome! Doesn’t fuckin matter who! I’m pretty sure makin out with your dog would be pretty awesome in its own respect. Just getting those canine teeth and just wrapping your lips around them! Brilliant!
- But there’s a big difference between that and taking it further and whether you’d want to be emotionally connected to this person, physically…
So… I don’t think I ever really was interested in girls as such until I fell in love with one. And then that changed it. Immediately it was like “that’s right! They – they are different and, God, they are different in ways that I want and I want to be involved in and I want them to be different and I love that they’re different. I love that they’ve got different body shapes and that the way they think is different. I love being… being the man in a relationship and feeling like I’m taking care of someone! And then – you know – the role reversal and letting them take care of you. Having someone that you can emotionally connect with! Again, being the emotional human being that I am, that’s where my intelligence is: I don’t know maths or science but I can connect pretty well and I understand thought processes and stuff so to have a woman as your partner? Oh man! That’s so good!
So yeah. It wasn’t until I fell in love – Like I mean actually in love. And now I regret that entirely. I just wish I hadn’t of. I wish I was oblivious to it still. It would be much easier if we didn’t fall in love.
- What does it feel like – because I’ve seen you at festivals when you become a total object of desire – and it is partly because you are gorgeous –
- And it is partly also because… because of that festival atmosphere and that position that you are in. What does that feel like when you’re in that mode and you’re so attractive to women? How does that feel?
- I just feel like how I should feel. If that makes sense. That’s the most natural. Again, I don’t recognise it when women see me that way but I just have a – my vocabulary increases ten-fold! The things that I’m usually terrible at, like small talk and – I hate small talk by its very nature! It is small! – yet when I’m in the festival world it’s like it expands and all of a sudden small talk is actually really profound and great and funny and all of a sudden I’m funny! My God! I’m the least funny person I know! I hate it that women always say on dating websites and in movies “what do you look for in a… “ “A guy with a sense of humour!” It’s like, “well there goes me! I’m out! I’m totally gone!” And yet in the environment of the festivals and I’m running from venue to venue and making shows happen and surrounded by art and people –
- Gorgeous people –
- Gorgeous people! I become one of them. It’s pretty much that. That’s why I’ve kept on doing festivals although there is no career in it long-term. I don’t feel beautiful onstage. I don’t feel beautiful in the rehearsal room. I feel nervous and I feel like I’m being judged and that I’m judging. But then when I’m doing festivals which is entirely practical – I’m surrounded by arts but I’m just a facilitator – that’s fuckin beauty.
Chain-smoke and that becomes part of it.
Wear a vest and that becomes part of it.
I have a sense of identity –
I don’t wear suit jackets in my everyday life and I do there and it makes me feel (puts on a growly voice) like a man. (Laughs.)
- What do you think the differences are between men and women?
- I don’t think we have enough time to talk about the differences. They’re huge! And then every relationship is different and every man and woman is different but… Oh God! It’s so stupidly diverse!
I want it to be – I want it to be like Julian says. I want it to be as simple as that. Not that I want it to –
- That there is a formula?
- Yeah! But there isn’t one!
- Do you want that?
- I think inherently we all do, to some extent. A plus B equals C. It’s that easy. In their minds. And this is what he’s trying to teach these young lads that are inherently alone and struggling with their masculinity and being a boy.
Society is a real mix bag these days of partially trying to teach guys to embrace their emotional side, neglect your masculine side and then the media tells us it is all about being masculine. And they have no idea! They don’t have any support. There are no networks for them. There’s no avenue. We don’t teach each other like we used to. Like the Indigenous people, they would have men’s group and they’d go out hunting. That’s fucking great! Let’s do that again!
So here’s a guy who comes in and professes to do what they used to do, professes that he has the knowledge… Fuck me! I wish he was right and I don’t think it’s wrong for these young lads to hope that.
- What should we be teaching them?
- A skill that I am yet to have, which is a sense of ‘comfortability’ within oneself. I think guys should be taught how to be men so they can learn how to be human.
I regret that I didn’t have a male role model. I regret that. I feel sad that I didn’t have a guy who would take me out fishing and go… wrestling. That stuff is really important. Because you go, you take it out and then you’re able to be part of every other day. You’re able to be with women and just be fucking human.
I think we’re taught to be human first and then anything else after that. I think the fear with that is…
Did you ever watch Community?
- You know the ‘Human Being’?
- That’s what we’re taught to be. That’s really wrong. That seems so wrong to me because we’re only going to get lost because we’re not that and yet we’re told that’s what we’re supposed to be. Then we get angry and annoyed and then that’s when we seek out people like Julian because this isn’t working.
- This isn’t working and this guy has a formula that says, “this is what it is to be a man, this is what it is to be woman and this is how these two things come together.”
- Again, I say all of this from a male perspective –
- From a heterosexual male –
- A heterosexual male perspective. And everything I say, again I cannot over-emphasis how fucking diverse everything is.
What about you?
- What about me in terms of Julian’s thing?
- Because when I said, “I would love a formula but I don’t believe there is one,” you kind of – you reeled. Because… you don’t believe in formulas?
- I don’t know. I – I don’t think I do. But I see why we want it. I think in a lot of ways it is actually easier to be female then male at the moment. And in a lot of ways it’s not. Like walking down the street yesterday and having a guy lurch towards me jerking his hand like he was masturbating. That’s not easy. That’s horrible. But I think perhaps it is easier to be comfortable in myself, in some ways.
- To be by one’s self. Within one’s self and female.
- I think at the moment we might have more complex ideas of what a woman can be than what a man can be. We do have a bit more multifaceted understanding of femininity. But I’m sure I say that as someone that is quite stereotypically feminine. I’m not remotely butch and I’m sure if I had been as a teenager than I would have a very different understanding of what “femininity” meant and what it means to be shut out of that club. But I think masculinity, the doors are… heavily bolted and the bouncers enforce the code with vehement paranoia.