October 31st – a Shadowlands story

October 31st - Charlie David books

It’s October 31st, Trick or Treat!  No tricks for my friends, just treats!  I wanted to share a story from my book Shadowlands. This story is dedicated to one of the guys in this story whose favorite holiday happens to be Halloween. 

Shadowlands miniseries is available on OUTtv and OUTtvGO in Canada and on Vimeo for our friends around the world.

October 31st Shadowlands

IT WAS OCTOBER 31st AND THEY SAT ON THE SOFA WITH THE LIGHTS OFF.  

A movie flickered on the big plasma screen but neither of the men paid attention.  I call them men because they are in their late twenties though by all approximations they are still boys.  There are four others like them – living like a pack of wolves in a house with four bedrooms.  One lives in the garage.  Their own private Pleasure Island where they can smoke and drink and play poker and video games all day if they want and most days they do.

But tonight it’s just the two of them.  The best friends.  All the other boys have gone out.  A night on the town to howl at the moon and chase their own tail until it leads them back home again. 

 The house groans as the October wind blows against it and branches from the avocado tree tickle its roof.  It’s his favourite month; October that is and the one on the left.  The one wearing the sweat pants, cut into shorts just above the knee.  His legs are muscular, tan and smooth.  He likes to keep them that way although the other secretly wishes he’d let the hair grow – on his legs, his chest, face…

The other has a lot of secrets.

The one on the left is also wearing a tank top.  He’s proud of his muscular arms and this is no secret although he currently has them hidden, wrapped up in a blanket.  It’s October.  His favorite month and even though this is Los Angeles there’s a slight chill in the air. 

The one on the right is watching.  One eye on the TV and the other on his friend.  He’s in love.  This is another one of his secrets.  He also doesn’t like horror movies.  Secret number three.  He pretends to because they watch together.  In the dark and alone.

The one on the left has a girlfriend.  The one on the right wants to hate her but can’t.  In fact he loves her too.  Just in a different way.

Tonight is not special.  It’s like a hundred others they have spent together.  Sometimes she comes by the house and they will be lying on one of their beds shirtless.  Just home from a run.  She is his girlfriend and she has suspicions but those are her secret.

But they only lay together.  Not touching.  Just talking.  They talk for hours.

They love each other but in different ways.  That is their shared secret.

“If only you were a chick…” the one on the left has said with a laugh and not just once.

“If only you would try it…” the other would respond also laughing but it was a practiced trick to mask the pain.

If only.  If only.  A life punctuated with a conditioned statement.

And so they sit side by side.  Two grown men who are still boys.  One wants to touch the other.  That’s his secret.  The other longs to be touched.  That’s his secret.

It’s the hundredth night in a litany of others which have played out much the same.  Neither has the courage to take the first step.  Neither wants to upset the perfectly imperfect balance of what they have.  It’s love.  It’s fear.  It’s an unholy union that may never be realized. 

The one on the left doesn’t understand his thoughts or why he can’t concentrate on the TV.  He just wants a blowjob but hates himself for even thinking about his friend in that way.  He thinks it would offend him.  That he’d suddenly want more than he’d be able to give.  He dreams of a middle ground – a place where they both get what they want and need from the other but he imagines it can’t exist.

And so he does nothing.  He does nothing because he loves him.

The other only wants to touch his friend.  He only wants to be close and close and closer.  He only wants to make him happy.  He’s smart enough to know he will never be, can never be enough for him.  But he yearns to be more than what he is.  He wants to show his devotion and show it is distinct and special from the other boys.  But he hates himself for wanting something from his friend that he cannot offer.

He dreams of a middle ground – a place where they both get what they want and need from the other but he imagines it can’t exist.

It does.  But it’s a secret they may never know.

And so the one on the right does nothing.  He hugs a pillow a little tighter to his chest and does nothing because he loves him.

Is not one of the most powerful things to so love someone with all your heart and yet have the knowledge you will never have an opportunity to be intimate.  Like an iron in a fire always burning, always present is this love, unable to be extinguished or at the same time be of any use.

The one on the left slipped one hand under his t-shirt and casually pulled it up while carefully gauging his friends reaction.  He let the blanket fall off his shoulders onto the couch letting the one on the right get an unobstructed view of his tan stomach.  He let his hand rest there while he adjusted the bulge in his sweat pants to a no more comfortable but definitely more obvious position.

The one on the right was sweating.

Drip.  Drip.

He could feel the small beads gathering under his arms and his heart was screaming through his t-shirt.  He began to worry anxiously if the one on the left would be able to hear it pounding right through the pillow that he hugged to his chest.  He wanted to stop this stupid movie and stop this stupid dance that they both knew the steps to all too well.

“Kind of a shitty movie huh?” The one on the left mumbled through a yawn as he crooked one arm behind his head.

 “S’alright.  Not great,” the one on the right agreed.

  “Should we shut it off?”

 “We could.  You getting tired?” The one on the right asked as he reached for the remote. 

 “Nah.  Let’s just do something else.”

“Well I haven’t had a foot massage today,” the one on the right joked and dared to kick his friend in the shin. “Shouldn’t I get a reward for chasing you around the UCLA track three times a week?”

“Your reward is fitness and getting to watch my ass for twenty laps.”

“Well usually that’s only fifteen laps, you’re nearly lapping me on the last five.”

“That’s my reward,” the one on the left grinned a silly crooked smile.

The one on the right dropped his jaw ready to pose a question.  A question about the definition of his friend’s reward.  But the sentence hung on his tongue like a sky diver afraid to leap and never took flight. 

The one on the left swung his feet up onto the couch and adjusted the blanket behind him into a makeshift pillow.  “But since you brought it up, shouldn’t the winner get a massage first?  I promise the day you win, I’ll happily return the favor.” 

“You’ve heard of Tanya Harding right?  I’m not above that.”  The one on the right laughed and grabbed his friend’s foot and rested it on his thigh.  The boys who were men caught each other’s eye and then looked away quickly.  This was a new level of intimacy and neither knew exactly how to behave.

The one on the right rubbed his hands firmly over his friend’s foot, pressing his thumbs into the meaty flesh of his heel and toes.  It was just his foot but there was something incredibly exciting about touching him this way.  The one on the left let a small groan of approval escape his lips as he slid down further into the couch, pushing his feet right into the lap of his friend and resting his powerful legs on top of the other boy. 

The one on the right felt himself stiffen in his basketball shorts and push up precariously close to the elastic waistband.  His eyes danced over his friend’s contented face and he thought, ‘This is enough.  This is all I need.  Just to be able to make him happy.’

He arched and flexed the tan foot in his hands and then pushed them up and under the muscular calf, applying careful pressure as he went.

“Okay I may be an asshole but I’m not completely selfish,” the one on the left opened one eye and winked. “Give me your foot.  It’s a mutual reward.”

The one on the right felt like his shaking insides would betray him as he lifted his foot into the hands of his friend. 

Rough hands.  Rough hands handling him gently.

“Are you kidding me?  Have you ever walked a day in your life?  Your feet are like…really soft,” the one on the left guffawed and then started laughing.  “So what do we call this?”

            The one on the right looked up cautiously.  “What do we call what?

            “This.  What’s happening here.”

            “Um… I think it’s called a foot massage.”

            “You know what I mean.  You okay with it?”

            “Yeah.  Are you?”

            “Yeah, I think so.”

            The men who were feeling more and more like boys handled each other’s feet for the next few minutes in silence, each lost in his own thoughts.

            And questions.

                                                And hopes.

                                                                                    And fears.

            “You know…” the one on the left started and then stopped, lifting his friends leg gently to massage his calf. 

            “What?”

            “Nothing.”

            “Seriously what?  I need to know what you’re thinking.”

            “I don’t think I can talk about it,” the one on the left said as he rested his friend’s leg across his lap and let the foot fall on his chest where he could get a more convenient grip.

            Suddenly the one on the right didn’t need to hear what his friend was thinking.  He already knew.  It was obvious.  He could feel it pressed against the back of his leg.  Without a word he looked at his friend.  And his friend looked back at him.

            The avocado tree creaked against the house and shadows danced in the corners of the room.  The one on the left had taken a chance.  He hoped his friend would understand and accept it for exactly what it was. 

            No more.

                                    And no less.

            The one on the right pressed his leg down into the evidence of his friend’s arousal just to be sure.  Now was no time to make a mistake.  He took the left foot of his friend and placed it casually between his legs as he took the right foot up in his hands. 

            The one on the left wrapped his arms around the leg of the other and pressed his hips up against him.  He pushed his left foot gently into his buddy’s crotch and felt him straining against the mesh basketball shorts.  He stroked the bottom of his foot up and down along the length of his friend’s shaft, surprising himself at how much he was enjoying this kinky session.

            The one on the right pulled the foot in his hand up to his mouth and wrapped his lips around his friend’s toes.  He’d never imagined doing anything like this before but now that he found himself here it was quite possibly the most erotic experience in his life.  He pushed his hips forward against the foot of his friend.  The threat of how much pain he could cause him with the mildest of kicks excited him further.  He was at his mercy and he liked it.

            The one on the left was happy.  So was the one on the right.

            It was nothing like any night they had ever imagined having together. 

            And yet.  It was perfect.

            The shadows danced.  The house creaked.  The men acted like boys as they waited for the other wolves to chase their tails home.

October 31st Shadowlands

If you enjoyed October 31st, consider picking up my book, Shadowlands.  It’s available on Amazon, Chapters-Indigo, Dreamspinner Press or by asking at your favourite bookstore. 

Love books?  Me too!  Let’s connect on GoodReads. 

You can also learn more about the new Shadowlands TV series here.

The short story October 31st explores a bromance between a straight guy and a gay guy.  This dynamic is also explored in our short film FORCES.  You can watch it here.

Shadowlands miniseries is available on OUTtv and OUTtvGO in Canada and on Vimeo for our friends around the world.

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Drag Queens teach the art of Tucking

Donnarama

Tucking is the art of making your testicles “miraculously” disappear.  But just how does a drag queen make that happen?  Where do they go?

Drag queens and butch lesbians were at the forefront of the gay liberation movement at Stonewall.  Their queer visibility made them conscripted soldiers for a movement in which the majority of its citizenry were invisible/voiceless gay men and women who were mostly in the closet.  Who would have thought that sissies and bull dykes would come to our community’s rescue?  Our militant forefathers and foremothers had serious balls.  And quite frankly, it’s the visible and vocal queers of today that continue to challenge gender, sexuality and sex as our modern day queer warriors.

And that’s exactly what drag artist Barbie Jo Bontemps says in our documentary Balls, ”It takes a lot of balls to be a drag queen!” In the bigger picture, she is certainly echoing our queer herstory, but at that very moment she is specifically referring to the physical, testicular pains that drag queens must undergo to realize their gender illusion.  Tucking your balls is common practice for many a modern drag artist. Whether you are using tight underwear, a gaffe (pulling all your junk back with a sock) or duck tape for tucking, the end result is the same; your testicles “miraculously” disappear.  
 ucking BarbieJoBontemps
To make one’s testicles disappear, you are essentially pushing your balls back into your body’s natural cavities.  It’s kinda uncomfortable, but not overly painful.  Unlike Barbie, Donnarama is not overly enthusiastic about tucking, “I hate 3 things.  I hate shaving my face, shaving my back and TUCKING”!  It’s not easy being gorgeous, but sometimes a girl’s got to do, what a girl’s got to do. Interestingly, this idea of tucking, like wearing high heels or make-up, speaks to the discomfort that many women often endure to also realize the illusion of gender that has been imposed on them by the heterosexual cis-male gaze.
 Tucking 1
Back in my salad days, I used to do a lot of what I would call “clown” drag.  My goal was to look fun and vaguely girly.  For me, drag was a multi-layered tool to play with gender and gender expectations.  That said, I never tucked or gaffed, in fact, sometimes I wouldn’t even shave.  I liked to both shock and amuse my immediate audience. I was never trying to “pass” as a “real” woman.  Some drag queens refer to this as “fishy”, a term that I’m not particularly comfortable with. Part of this discomfort stems from an inherent misogyny of cis-men playing with female gender without any real ownership or consequence.  If things get too “real”, the drag queen can assume the privilege of being a cis-male, whereas women are systematically compromised without any escape.  They suffer physically, emotionally and economically because of their gender.  Perhaps it is women who have the “real” balls after all.
 Tucking Donnarama
Barbie and Donnarama offer a great counterpoint and levity in our documentary Balls.  Their playful, off-the-cuff banter help bridge the conversations around testicular health and men’s health in general, both physical and emotional. Because of how men are generally socialized, they are not having open, honest and vulnerable discussions about their own personal health and how to ask for help.  In its own small ways I hope Balls, with the help of Barbie and Donnarama, opens that door.

~ Nico Stagias, Director of Photography at Border2Border Entertainment

Grab your Balls and hold on!  Let’s discover everything you never knew about your nuts.

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Varicocele – a unique kind of testicle

Adam Graham varicocele

Like varicose veins in the legs, varicocele is an abnormal enlargement of the veins in the scrotum.

Let’s be honest, we are body obsessed, even when it comes to our balls.  Balls “should” be oval shaped and smooth.  When they don’t conform to the norm, we worry, we question why, we keep quiet and hope no one notices.  “Let’s have a beer and forget about it”.
 
Like varicose veins in the legs, varicocele is an abnormal enlargement of the veins in the scrotum. Often painful, varicocele might even cause infertility, as we discovered in our documentary, Balls, as in the case of our courageous documentary subject Adam.  

Adam Graham varicocele

After taking part in a medical study during his undergraduate degree, Adam donated some of his semen and found out that, in his own words, his “sperm was dead”.  Adam jokingly compares his left testicle to an “asteroid”, because it looks enlarged and misshapen.  Aside from infertility, other symptoms of testicular varicocele might include: an aching or dragging like pain, heaviness in the testicle, shrinking of the testicle and benign prostatic hyperplasia (noncancerous increase in size of the prostate).

Get to know your balls. Go step-by-step watching this NSFW testicular self-exam video with Johnny Rapid.


Adam considered surgery to remove the varicose veins in his scrotum, but decided against it because he is a gay man that is not interested in having children.  Though at times his varicocele is physically sensitive to touch or sexual play, he has lived with this condition for most of his adult life and doesn’t see the benefit of going under the knife.  He is also in a supportive relationship with his partner Philip who has no issue with Adam’s “misshapen” ball.  Philip loves Adam exactly as he is.  Adam is lucky.

As men, particularly gay men, we are obsessed with our physical presence.  In another episode of Balls we explore the use of anabolic steroids and how men physically transform their bodies through its use with often disastrous side effects.

Jeremy from I'm a Stripper.
Jeremy from I’m a Stripper.

We aspire to a physical ideal that is unattainable. We are constantly and unsuccessfully trying to transform and mutilate our bodies to fit a singular, perfect mold that only exists in some sadistic Greek god’s fantasy.   For more on this explore our documentary STUDlebrity.

I am no exception.  Though to date I have not been on a course of steroids nor have I had any testicular ailments that I am aware of, I did recently remove 12 moles from my torso.  Granted, some of these moles needed to be removed for health reasons, but the majority of them were removed strictly based on aesthetics.  

Nico Stagias - Director of PhotographyI have too many moles and they look ugly. I’ve struggled with my ugly moles all my life and finally decided to do something about it.  I figured, since I was removing 4 moles, why not remove another 8 unsightly, lumpy marks off my body.  While on the operating table and feeling the pull of my skin being sliced off, I started to panic and have regrets.

This didn’t feel good, emotionally and physically. Why am I putting myself though additional trauma for the sake of vanity? I’ve never had any part of my body removed, including my foreskin, of which I am very proud of (I have a lot of foreskin pride and always encourage parents not to mutilate their young baby boys). Now recovering from my minor surgery, in loo of my large moles, I have large unsightly scars in their stead.  Sadly, I’m no closer to this perfect/ flawless body.  In fact, I’m left humbled, a little embarrassed and further flawed.  I’m embarrassed to tell friends and family why I had this procedure done.  I think I’m sticking to the story of having been in a knife fight.  It will make me appear strong and courageous. 😉   So manly!
 
I guess I should have listened to my Greek mother.  She refers to my ugly moles as “beautiful olives”.  Either a mother’s love is blind, or she can see our true physical beauty, no matter how ugly we think we might be.  Vulnerability is beautiful.  Being different is beautiful.  Being flawed is beautiful.  Thanks Mom.  I’ll be sure to have a chat with you next time I’m considering the operation table for elective surgery. 

~ Nico Stagias, Balls director & cinematographer at Border2Border Entertainment.

Dive deeper into the Balls documentary with director Nico Stagias in this interview.

WATCH the unblurred, unbleeped, balls out version of the Balls documentary on Border2Border Entertainment.

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