Ah, those good old Cape May days… by Jackson D’Catur
I do lament the fact that a gentleman cannot these days oil himself and go for a stroll in all of his naked, muscular glory without people pointing and whispering. In the old days, when Greek and then Roman culture were at their peaks, it was the done thing, and a fellow might spend a good few hours preparing for his evening stroll, braiding his hair, applying some tasteful eye makeup and doing a few hundred pushups to get pumped, before having the manservants oil him thoroughly.
Oh, how the ladies and gents used to admire us as we flexed, strutted and posed around town. I myself was the inspiration for Spartacus (the original Stan Kubrick version, not the gauche TV version). Not for the main character, I should stress, but for the late lamented Tony Curtis’ character, and the infamous bath scene. Of course in these days I was a younger man, and my washboard abs were the talk of high society. While the movie was filming (I was a consultant) I remember having an abs-off with Burt Lancaster – both of us breathing in and holding the pose, our stomachs glistening like two boxes of glazed hard-boiled eggs. In the end, he lost, but not for lack of trying: he passed out and toppled over sideways, still flexing. I confess it was a hard victory and I burst a blood vessel in my head from lack of air, but with Burt, the winning was all, and he never challenged me again.
I also was instrumental in the movie Ben Hur, though I considered Charlton to be a bit of a blowhard. I was his stunt double for the famous chariot race, of course: he was worried that the loss of a limb or two might impede his movie career. In the event, he was quite right, and it was rather dangerous. I was trampled under the hooves of 30 horses, and then flipped in the air from a tumbling chariot, landing some few hundred yards away before being hurried off to the hospital. The edit shows none of that, and is a cinematic masterpiece. So you can imagine my rage when, watching the final cut from my hospital bed, I saw no mention of my name in the credits. Charlton’s fans demanded he receive recognition for every stunt, my agent explained, as I spat grape seeds at the TV screen (the grapes were a gift from Charlton, who thought it very amusing that with both arms in casts I could not remove the seeds easily).
I would love a return to those days, when a man was free to be a man without fear of ridicule or improper accusations when he chose to wrestle a fellow to the ground, clad only in a tiny loincloth, or nothing at all. Perhaps I will start a revival.