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