Barefoot, Right? Wrong!

All the pics in today’s post feature guys doing their thing barefoot.


The planche thing, in his case. In the open air, shirtless and barefoot. As you do. Well, as we do.

We flew out of Lexington Monday with a change in Salt Lake City. Never seen that lake before – huge, and weird! Very efficient airport for flight changes, though. Our second flight was in a 737 with seats three abreast, and we secured three together. We were travelling in our old Circus Extreme ‘windcheater’ tops, over vests and shorts. Circus Extreme was what we called ourselves for a while in the ‘old days’ – all described in my first two books Loving the Boy and The Power of Love. Anyways, what happened next gave me pause for thought – i.e. ‘can you still get away with travelling in planes in vests and shorts when you’re 30+ and not expecting to be treated like kids?

So we settled into our seats, pulling off our windcheaters and stowed then in the overhead locker along with our packs. I noticed a guy in the row opposite looking at us oddly. An overweight red-faced man in a business suit in the aisle seat, squeezing the poor lady in the adjacent seat against her neighbour, so that none of them in that row looked particularly happy.

Now Zach (in the aisle seat) loves to be barefoot. He works barefoot in Maisie’s beauty parlour as a masseur (indeed, he uses his feet on his clients sometimes) – always in a vest and shorts too. Like us, barefoot in the home and often outside when we go running. Like us, he trains barefoot as gymnasts usually do – performs that way also. When he does have shoes with him, they are usually a pair of canvas shoes tied slung around his neck by their laces. I mentioned this actually in a recent post.

As the plane taxied for take-off, Zach kicked off these shoes, which he had dutifully worn through the check-in process and security (so he could have the privilege of taking them off again for X-Ray, as we had left the secure area between flights) – and, indeed, Gary and I did the same. For some reason this incensed the fat guy, who rang for the stewardess, by now in her own seat for takeoff, who was forced to walk down the aisle to him to be told ‘Have that passenger put his shoes back on. He shouldn’t travel like that!’


Gosh, there’s an ‘inappropriate’ picture for you. And that naughty boy doesn’t have a shirt on either! Showing his feet in his bedroom – and on the internet where his selfie inevitably ends up!!

I’m not sure who was the most surprised. His embarrassed ‘companions’ in the other two seats. The stewardess. Us. Nor who was the most embarrassed… the stewardess or us (definitely not him). Why didn’t he ask Zach himself, if he was so bothered?

To her eternal credit, and to the obvious relief of the other passengers in his seat row, the stewardess was the perfect diplomat. ‘It is allowed, sir, if it makes the passenger comfortable. Would you care to have me re-seat you?’ And she shot us all a sweet smile, just as Gary and I were going red in the face with embarrassment and Zach was going purple.

She did re-seat him. The lady grinned across saying something like ‘Now I have space to breath’; Zach snorted and said to me ‘Maybe we should take our tops off as well’ but then we persuaded him that was probably going too far, even though the plane was rather hot. Returning to her seat just as the plane lined up for take-off, the stewardess smiled at us ‘I hope you enjoy your flight, sir!’.

I’m not quite sure what the ‘moral’ of this story is, but I struggled with our image a bit as we flew north. Thirty-somethings (approaching ‘middle age’ as I see it) perhaps should dress more conventionally in public and stop trying to be kids? But then, because we still can do our ‘stuff’ in performance (no arthritis setting in yet, thank goodness!) it’ll be tops and shoes off and a tiny pair of trunks in front of our audiences, who see it as perfectly normal dress for acrobats…

…oh damn it, let’s have some more ‘barefooters’:

Gymnast chalking his feet ahead of his floor routine:




Working the bar:


(and yes, at least in gay bars, the ‘other’ sort of bar tender as well)

Sweating in the weight room:


A bit of gymnastics:


au naturel too (love it!)…


(good shape) – and while we’re on the subject of ‘undress’…


Another 2 posers, in their underwear:



Guys having a ‘fun’ wrestle:


(obviously members of a team, in those sweaty lycra uniforms – there is a campaign to get rid of them in US collegiate wrestling – but it’ll take years AND they were trainers to wrestle instead of going barefoot – weird, but this is America)

Poles and rings:



There’s nothing wrong with fresh clean feet, in our view. It’s the feet trapped in sweaty socks in tight shoes like our red-faced business man which would probably stink out the plane if he took them off. Fighting kids (and us, come to that!) often use their feet in wrestle-play as my recent post shows – and as here:


And why not? There’s a point in our performance (when I am lying on nails) where my colleagues use my face as a step to climb on top of me and assume various balance positions. The most common audience reaction is not ‘wow, he’s got people on top of him on those nails’ but ‘ugh, that guy just stood on his face in bare feet!’ – I sometimes hear that intake of breath from the audience quite clearly!

OK. I guess I made the point. We didn’t embarrass ourselves, or the rest of the plane, by going any further. All three of us kept our shoes off until landing and Zach made a point of ‘de-planing’ (strange airline word) with his shoes around his neck, just in front of the fat guy, who just glared at all three of us in our vests, carrying our tops and packs. I imagined him telling us that it was time to grow up…

Down at bottom right I have a link to a NZ guy called DeeJay Davison who never wears shoes. His blog is an odd one but worth a visit. He did plan to run the whole length of New Zealand barefoot and topless, and trained in a cold store for a while, but I don’t think he made the full distance because the blog kid of peters out on that topic.

Now we’re here, joined up with the circus tour and with our friends (and quickly making some new ones… watch this space).

I think that this last pic says it all about our ‘work ethic’ (if swinging around on straps and doing acrobatics can ever be considered ‘work’) – enjoy!


About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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1 Response to Barefoot, Right? Wrong!

  1. Pingback: Random Notes from Oregon | Tony Cavanagh

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