The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - INSIDE - Wil­liam McInnes is an ac­tor and au­thor

WIL­LIAM McINNES It may not have been stren­u­ous work but it was a bit hu­mil­i­at­ing as I stood stark­ers in my tar­tan slip­pers

“So, where is the Queens­lan­der?” I was in the back yard fish­ing for a recre­ational in the Esky when I heard the voice. It sounded Euro­pean, maybe Ger­man. I turned to see a man as tall as me, who looked very fit, very tanned and wore Birken­stock san­dals. Not want­ing to in­dulge in pro­fil­ing, I thought he must be Ger­man. “Oh, you! You are the Queens­lan­der?” I nod­ded. I sup­posed I was – and at a bar­be­cue in the Ade­laide Hills. Yet I didn’t think I re­ally looked that much dif­fer­ent to ev­ery­body else.

“Yes, he’s the Queens­lan­der, over here for work,” said the host, a nice man with a nice fam­ily in a nice part of South Aus­tralia. “Chris­tian has been telling us about his time in Queens­land,” con­tin­ued the nice host. “Have a good time?” I asked. “Oh, yes! Fan­tas­tic, beau­ti­ful, but what is with the beaches?” “Sorry?” “There are no nat­u­ral­ist beaches.’’ “Oh?” “Yes, it’s against the law, to swim naked. Crazy!” replied Chris­tian, who had been told it was il­le­gal to be nude on a beach in Queens­land.

“Re­ally?” I said. “Yeah,” Chris­tian replied, nod­ding em­phat­i­cally be­fore hold­ing out his big arms and shrug­ging his shoul­ders. “There are no nat­u­ral­ist beaches! No naked places!”

“I couldn’t be­lieve it when he told us,” said the nice host. “Is it true?”

I had to say that I didn’t know. (Af­ter later in­ves­ti­ga­tion, how­ever, I learnt that Queens­land, the state best suited to it, is the only place in Aus­tralia not to have le­gal nude bathing.)

“It’s crazy,” Chris­tian con­tin­ued. “So many beaches there and you could make so much money from back­pack­ers and tourists who love the nat­u­ral­ist beaches.”

“There you go,” I said.

“Be­ing naked is noth­ing,’’ said Chris­tian. “You have never been naked?” “Of course I have.” “You think it’s not a good thing?” asked Chris­tian. “There’s a time and a place.” “Yeah?” he replied. I once got a job as a life model at an art class, re­plac­ing a woman called Lois who was on hol­i­day. When the class started, I was a lit­tle non­plussed to see three or four older gentlemen sigh, shake their heads and pack up their gear. “Now, I know it’s not ideal,” the tutor said of the sit­u­a­tion. “But we can just do a quick study over a few nights. If you could just dis­robe and as­sume a pose on the plat­form, thank you, Wil­liam. Some­thing clas­si­cal would be nice.”

It was cold, and as I started to take my clothes off I in­no­cently asked, “Can I leave my slip­pers on?” There were a few more sighs and the tutor nod­ded.

It may not have been stren­u­ous work but it was a bit hu­mil­i­at­ing as I stood stark­ers in my tar­tan slip­pers – es­pe­cially when I no­ticed, af­ter as­sum­ing a pose I took to be “clas­si­cal” (an at­tempt at repli­cat­ing a dis­cus-throw­ing pose on the wall) that an­other three or four peo­ple then packed up and humphed out.

“I think you’ll find there isn’t much dif­fer­ence be­tween what we did with Lois and Wil­liam here,” the de­spair­ing teacher told the class.

I looked at him and he growled through his pipe, “Wil­liam, still!”

So I stood – bent, twisted and stark­ers – for an hour or so as the class drew. At the end of the ses­sion, as I was putting on my clothes, a man ap­proached and said, “Thank you for pos­ing tonight.”

“Not a prob­lem,” I replied. Then he showed me what he had drawn – a stick fig­ure with big feet and a few other things. And he winked.

Think­ing back, I’d also once been in a pro­duc­tion of Equus, a play with male and fe­male nu­dity. Ev­ery­body kept their clothes on un­til one re­hearsal when, while I was look­ing at my script, the ac­tors who had to dis­robe did so.

I looked up from my script to see a bare-bummed man bend­ing over in front of me, “act­ing”. I cast my eyes back at my script and thought I could have been at the Ekka’s live­stock pav­il­ion.

Af­ter re­veal­ing all this at the bar­bie with the nice host, Chris­tian looked at me and I of­fered: “Mate, be­ing naked is fine, but there is a time and a place.”

He thought about that, then laughed. “Yes, you are right, Queens­lan­der. But still, all those

won­der­ful beaches!”

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