Feb 18, 2014

The Quest for the Bushman Penis

When I was in junior high in the 1970s, I read Lost World of the Kalahari, by Laurent Van Der Post, about the Bushmen or San.  Today it seems rather simplistic and colonialist, full of "noble savage" myths, but to a 15-year old in the Midwest, it was fascinating:

1. The Bushmen lived in the arid Kalahari desert, the most inhospitable place on Earth
2. Their culture hadn't changed in 40,000 years
3. They drew rock paintings similar to those of our cave man ancestors.
4. Their language used a distinctive pattern of clicks.
5. They were a distinctive race, yellow-skinned, wrinkled, with steatopygia (I had to look it up: large buttocks).

6. And, most intriguingly, the men "were born, lived, and died" in a semi-aroused state.   They were proud of their difference from other men, and called themselves Qhwai-xkhwe ("always standing") to openly proclaim it.

I had to see that!

The book had no illustrations, so one day I went to the Rock Island Public Library and checked out The Harmless People and Hunters of the Desert Land.  Nothing.

I didn't think about it again until college, where our library offered an Interlibrary Loan service.  So I requested The Khoisan Peoples of South Africa, Pygmies and Bushmen of the Kalahari, The Bushmen, and Namibia Old and New.  Nothing, although Bushmen rock art regularly depicts men in a state of arousal.

In college I saw The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980), about a Bushman who finds a discarded Coke bottle, the only relic of Western civilization he's ever seen, and tries to return it "to the gods."  He concludes that the "gods" are crazy.  Some nice physiques, but even if you look carefully, you can't see anything.

In West Hollywood, I saw A Far Off Place (1993), about two Western kids forced to flee across the Kalahari with the assistance of a helpful Bushman boy.  Nothing.

I didn't think about it again until I visited Durban, South Africa  in 2000.  There weren't any Khoisan or San speakers at the conference, that I know of.  There was a tourist attraction called the Bushman Caves, in the Drakensburg Mountains on the border with Lesotho, but no "real" Bushmen.

Then, the night after my regrettable experience with the Hottest Man in the World, I went back to the Lounge (it was the only gay bar in town).  This time there was a more working-class crowd.  And I saw a Bushman -- proper term, "San" or "Khoisan."  At least I think he was -- short, yellow-skinned, kind of wrinkled and wizened-looking.

Should I go up, introduce myself, and grab?  Follow him into the bathroom?  Hope that he went to the dark room?

I decided to introduce myself.

"Hi, my name is Boomer," I said.  "I'm from Montreal.  I used to work in porn films."

"Jerry." (Probably not his real name.)  He reached out to shake my hand, and kept on holding it.

He didn't speak English very well, but I got that he was Khoisan, he lived in Port Elizabeth, about 10 hours away by bus, and he was here for the conference.  AIDS was increasing rapidly among his people, due to a lack of awareness about safe-sex practices, and a refusal to believe that same-sex behavior existed.

Of course, it did.  It was everywhere.

He hadn't stopped holding my hand!  And now he was running his other hand against my thigh. 

Time to check.   On the small side, at least by African standards, but definitely aroused.

Wait!  Was he always aroused, or just aroused because he was interested in me?

By that point, I didn't care anymore.

See also: 10 Ethnic Groups on my Bucket List; and The Truth about the Formosan Penis.