/ 16 September 2008

Hairy encounters of the sexual kind, on video

This one’s about Sex Tape Scandals.

But I’ll begin with a story about facial hair. On men.

There’s that stage in every young man’s life when he thinks growing a beard is a good idea. Personally, I experience this madness every couple of months when, because hair grows slowly, by fractions a day, particularly slowly on me, I fail to recognise my own growing ridiculousness.

Occasionally, I do it more willfully, usually after a phonecall from my mother when she asks what I had for supper and if I have enough money, after which I feel so much like a child that I must prove to the world that I am a most manly man. And I do it with hair on my face.

Last week, though, it happened completely unintentionally. Locking myself in to complete a writing assignment I’ve been procrastinating for over months, I grew a moustache and beard of rabbinical impressiveness. Then, longer than that.

Being that hairy and having no contact with the world of people, you start to feel something wild stir inside.

It’d been so long since I’d spoken to another human being that I started to make little growling sounds. At the blinds as I closed them, shutting out the light. At the loo as it flushed. At the Protein Feed bottle as it ran out of conditioner.

Then, at the kettle as it boiled, a full-throated howl. From deep within, the beast had awoken.

It’s that time humans call ”Wednesday morning” and there’s a knock at the door. Evy, my domestic, come to wash the coffee cups.

”Rowrrr!” I rowrrr.

”Levie?” says Evy, for that is what she calls me.

And she comes to look over my shoulder at what I’ve been writing.

”What is this ‘rowrrr-rowrrr-rowrrr’ you’re typing?”

I look at the screen.

I have indeed been typing growling sounds for the past few days.

”Isn’t your deadline today? Go shave that stupid thing off your face and get back to work.”

You don’t argue with Evy.

In the bathroom, however, a new madness takes over. It’s not uncommon. Men do this when women aren’t watching. Having lathered up, we proceed to shave our facial hair off in parts and regions.

We want to see what we’d look like with a silly little tuft left under the bottom lip. A stripe here, a triangle there, one of those tangram jobs only appropriate for dealers, pimps and cellphone salesmen.

Most of us have the good sense to leave this fandango in the bathroom. Some of us — Adolph Hitler, Robert Mugabe, Me — emerge from that bathroom with a silly little moustache and honestly think it’s a good thing.

”This, Levie,” says Evy, ”is why you don’t have a girlfriend.”

Ah, but no! Not true! Rumour has it that having a silly moustache gets you some serious play. Just ask Pieter de Villiers.

Okay, so we don’t know that this sex tape exists or, if it does, what’s on it.

Still, I wonder why the words ”sex tape” inevitably have the word ”scandal” attached to them. What’s the scandalous part? The fact that people have sex or the fact that it’s on tape?

No, Lev, you fool, it’s the adultery bit. You see, we’re assuming that the tape has on it not just sex, which is icky enough as it is, but adulterous sex. That, of course, would totally discredit the man. As a rugby coach.

But then, I can’t help thinking, there have been a great many adulterers through history who had other things to recommend them.

Martin Luther King Jr was an adulterer and a civil rights hero. I hear that Hester Prynne made a deadly hoecake. Is it possible that a man could have sex — possibly adulterous sex — on tape, no less, and still effectively coach a rugby team?

Besides, the South African sports-watching public is a forgiving people. They forgave Hansie. They even made a movie that re-imagined him as a man with two entirely independent eyebrows.

There are real scandals the rugby-watching community doesn’t find nearly scandalous enough. I was disappointed by the reaction after that race incident at Ellis Park; long overdue and not nearly big enough.

And then there were those pictures of rugby bosses in blonde wigs a couple of weeks back. For that, they called a press conference. Smiled at the camera. And yet, it’s this rumoured sex tape that has everybody sweating.

You’d think the rugby community would welcome it, if only as affirmation of the unbridled heterosexuality of the sport.

Personally, I don’t consider a Sex Tape scandalous.

What would be really scandalous is a No-Sex Tape — conclusive video evidence of a celebrity or prominent public figure having absolutely no sex at all. Now that would be shameful. And sad.