When Hairy Met Hairy
I was a Johnny Weissmuller and Steve Reeves type of kid until age eleven. That's when one of my friends had a birthday party, all boys, and his mother decided to take the whole group of us to see Goldfinger at the Yokota Air Force Base theater in Japan. Yeah, we were a bunch of military brats. I had never heard of James Bond until that day, which was the birth day for me of an obsession. What did the trick for me was Sean Connery in his cornflower blue squarecuts at the swimming pool of the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach (where my grandmother lived!--I couldn't get over it--and where almost ten years later I saw Sonny and Cher live in concert). Also, Auric Goldfinger and Oddjob did it for me, but in a different way, since it was they who inspired me to be a criminal mastermind by age fourteen.
I dragged my parents to see Thunderball the next year and begged them for the James Bond doll, which disappointingly had no hairy chest (among the other natural assets it lacked) but I did not know that until it was already wrapped and under the Christmas tree. I also tried to see Connery in person, while You Only Live Twice was shooting on location in Japan, only to see the crew shoot part of a helicopter scene ... at a great distance, and still I was breathlessly elated! By the end of 1967 I owned and had read every James Bond book in paperback.
My seventh-grade homeroom teacher was Mr. Farinola, whose own hairy chest could be glimpsed at his open collar and whose rolled-up shirt sleeves revealed bounteous black curls on his forearms. The day he pushed the class wiseguy forcefully up against the bulletin board, after the kid mouthed off one too many times, I could have swooned right there at my wooden desk. When my classmates and I gushed about how much we loved Goldfinger, he told us we had to see From Russia with Love, which he regarded as the superior film, a judgment which in retrospect seems arguably true.
Then there was Paul Mantee in Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Robert Conrad in The Wild Wild West, and Mike Henry, the first (and perhaps only) hairy-chested Tarzan. The first pro wrestler I developed a crush on was stout and hairy and heroically decent Jack Brisco on Championship Wrestling from Florida. I was probably the only boy at Christian school to have the Cosmopolitan fold-out of a nude Burt Reynolds. Later in the seventies, when I was living in Miami Beach, I was first in line to see Lifeguard, starring the then unknown Sam Elliott, whom I already idolized solely on the force of the lobby cards.
Perhaps the great disappointment in my enthusiastic embrace of pro wrestling has been the relative absence of hairy-chested wrestlers. Even Rick Rude and Tommy Rogers succumbed to the lure of wax or electrolysis, much to their detriment, in my opinion. And, yeah, I've heard all the explanations a dozen times, but still I can't buy into the shaved armpit look. So imagine my elation when Belgian-born Dane Tarsen, b. 1966, 5'10", 180#, first caught my eye. Wrestling star of BG East, Can-Am, Zeus Studios, Advocate Men, NHB, Jet Set, Catalina, the Gay Games, and I could go on, Tarsen (sometimes Tarson--and you better believe that the "Tarzan" homophone worked some magic on me, too) dominated my wrestling fantasies for a good two years during the 1990s--that dark age of pro wrestling with its baggy plastic gear and corporate conglomeration.
And now that BG East is releasing its early Britbouts series on dvd, and on sale till Friday, there is this match I never knew about, pitting Tarsen against fellow hairy fellow Leo Lessard, 5'11", 180#. If I weren't already breathless from the breathlessness of my previous paragraphs, I would be gasping now. Holy apeshit, does this look hot! Two passionate hairy men tangled up in lust and aggression. So, yeah, my order is in, and with kleenex and tube of lube in hand I lie in wait for the postman's arrival this next week like a hungry predator, maybe even beckoning him to enter my web of sin.