The Birds & The Bees (Frankie – 2010)
The foggy universe of my childhood’s psycho-sexual development was filled with everything from cousin flashing, beanbag humping, Madonna filmclips and vaginal graffiti through to my first official fantasy of the princess from The Never Ending Story lying on top of me, putting her mouth on mine.
At age seven, Mum sat me down to tell me about a thin layer of membrane that went over a girl’s vagina only to be broken the first time she and the man had love. I sat there utterly baffled, trying to fathom how this in any way answered my question about who He-Man was.
I lobbed the experience like a tennis ball and continued about my boyish affairs, happy in the knowledge that I had only the vaguest idea what sex was but didn’t need to concern myself with it. When I was thirteen and on the cusp of ‘happy ending bath-time’, I discovered my Uncle’s 1970’s porn mags at my Nan & Pop’s. Squarely on the fence between childhood and adolescence, I felt the hormonal satellite awaken and a complex tickle punctuate my world.
By today’s standards, 70’s porn is pretty cuddly. Soft, normal-looking women with curves and curls, wearing jumpers and socks to reveal a forestry of lady hair. For a few months they became my sweet secret friends, until one day I decided to move onto the articles. I came across a piece of fiction which started off dull enough but soon held my ‘readathon’ mind captive as it descended into unimaginably squelchy horrors.
In the fantasy sequence Percy (a disturbingly yester-year name) is about to get married, so before the wedding four female ‘friends’ come into his room, blindfold him and proceed to get off any way they can. While it wasn’t the ‘truncheons and chalices’ erotic language that broke me, it was the fact that like any written story, I visualised what was happening in my mind. My imagination, once a place reserved for cars, robots and Footrot Flats now had people rooting and getting fingered in there.
I closed the magazine with the gravity of one who was acutely aware he had done something he would permanently regret and drifted, pale and stricken into the hallway. Instead of the birds and the bees I had gotten the vultures and the wasps. Ironically, I had bypassed the characteristically vague parental chat and taken a left turn down a seedy alleyway of too much information.
For about a month I had full blown kiddie depression, I willed myself into thinking about the story constantly and carried the weight of guilt on my sunburnt shoulders. Little details niggled away at me, like the sound of them all “climaxing together” (orgasms were something I never really understood) and the fact the women had to stuff tissues under their dresses at the end. (This for a quiet Tasmanian boy usually concerned with Carlton’s place on the ladder and Lenny Kravitz’ position in the Rage Top 50).
A few weeks later I returned to the familiar box hidden in the spare bedroom cupboard and found the magazines were gone. I had a sneaking suspicion Nan had thrown them out. While I longed to see the girls again I was mainly grateful.
In time I would witness things far more graphic, but nothing could compare to that first electro-shock to my innocence by an adult world so shady and aggressive. Looking back, I realise it wasn’t so much an introduction to sex but an introduction to porn. With its ever exploitative mutation of the natural by the testosterone fury of the male psyche, it set the tone for my life-long discomfort with it. I would spend the next ten years trying to decipher society’s mixed messages about sex; finding self-education the most reliable source to cut through the filth and backup my own instincts.