I haven’t done much of this – rings (the ‘Iron Cross’ demonstrated here), high bar – since leaving my school in Oxford ahead of moving to Oak Ridge TN. As you have probably figured from previous posts, what we are into is ‘floor’ basically – acrobatics, tumbling. I wasn’t even terribly good at vault, although I admit to being fairly competent on parallel bars. So we have quite an admiration for those who excel in ‘artistic’ gymnastics:
That’s where Richard came in. One of the last to enter our cosy and closed Tuan Jie circle of gay acrobats – and, curiously, the first to leave (for the very best of reasons) – we met Richard in Penn State University where he was a Phys Ed student and where we entered our very first acrobatics competition. Actually, he comes from Nottingham (UK) – small world! Watching us, he realised what he was missing in his rigorous world of six pieces of apparatus, tried out with us, visited us in Oak Ridge, and the rest is kind of ‘history’.
He was in instant hit with our youngest – Ethan – and they quickly evolved static trapeze routines based upon Richard’s strength and skills on the high bar.
But what we did we first notice about Richard?
Well, he has the hairiest feet I ever did see outside of Hobbiton. I suppose that sounds weird but, being a profoundly body-conscious lot, we notice these things – especially when you are training in the gym barefoot (as most gymnasts do) – in fact, as you can see from the previous pic, gymnasts in private sometimes train naked – it is ‘the naked art’, after all. Curiously, as Ethan has gotten older, he seems to have developed very hairy legs and feet too – not quite to Richard’s style – maybe it has ‘rubbed off’ on him as he hung from Richards ankles…
Dave and I had a large role in helping Richard to ‘come out’ to his parents, who somehow saw us as a source of advice and reassurance! His mum even ended up making ‘little devil’ costumes for all three of us to attend what was our first ever gay party!
And so, Richard became a stalwart of Circus Extreme for a couple of years until one day, back in the Turkey Creek gym near Tennessee, where we all help out on occasions, he met his true love. Now they live in Florida, but we see them both quite often. That’s all in Vol 3 of the forthcoming epic – you’ll have to wait a while for that because I’m still sitting in Wild Wales writing that, although we’re back to the States at the end of next week.
Forgive the little ‘plug’ here again, but it is getting rather… I was going to say ‘exciting’, but I probably mean ‘scary’. And with Vol 2 following a few weeks after and Vol 3 committed (or the publishers cut my life-support system), its all getting a bit ‘full frontal’! Never mind the naked gymnastics…
I’ll end this one with a couple more nice pictures of artistic gymnastics and trapeze.
That’s Josh and Ben. Josh is an aerialist who lives in New York, and I guess Ben does too. Now, some training in the big top…
And finally (for now), back in the world of competitive artistic gymnastics.