Copenhagen – The danes have sex appeal all figured out. A statue of Jesus Christ may not be the object you’d expect to prompt that realization, but there he is: 3.4 metres tall, with a nice muscular chest and gorgeous arms.
He stands at the far end of a series of galleries in Copenhagen’s museum dedicated to the work of Bertel Thorvaldsen.
I’ve come to see the original plaster statue, often called the Christus, mostly because I have a thing for hot guys with long hair and beards, but also because the statue is part of my own religious heritage.
I grew up Mormon, and the Mormons use replicas of Thorvaldsen’s work in many of their visitor centres. They may not intentionally be trying to convert people with all that sex appeal, but the statue certainly gets your attention.
Think about it: isn’t a well-built version of a god more likely to hold your interest than a waif-thin one?
But the Thorvaldsen Museum, located near the Danish royal palaces, is fascinating for far more than a hot Jesus.
Inside, I discover a wealth of other Thorvaldsen sculptures, including all 12 apostles and the mythological character Jason, of the Golden Fleece (far hotter than Jesus, especially since Jason is holding the fleece, not wearing it; in fact, he has nothing on but a helmet and sandals).
But I’m in Denmark to see more than a Danish Jesus. Since the statue was completed in Copenhagen, maybe I’ll spot a great-great-great-grandson of the model who inspired it. Maybe he’ll be gay. Maybe he’ll invite me for dinner, and my fetish for long hair and beards will be fulfilled.
I don’t find my Jesus doppelgänger, but there is no shortage of eye candy. This is a city made for walking and cycling. There are dedicated bike lanes everywhere. The combination of pedal power and fresh sea air makes many Danes look fit, ruddy and gorgeous.
Soon I’m drawn to the Museum Erotica, featuring bulging muscles of a very different kind.
I always knew Scandinavians were open-minded about sex, but I’m still surprised to see a huge neon sign advertising erotica in such a public place.
Even more surprising is a veiny, metre-high gilded penis in the middle of the museum’s first gallery. It stands erect atop a massive, golden scrotum, surrounded by Japanese-style screens. I resist the temptation to genuflect.
Nearby I learn all about the Real Doll, a life-sized sex dummy, an American creation that heats up to normal human temperature when placed in a bathtub. There she is behind the glass: legs spread wide, posed to give her silicone self a little tickle.
A section dedicated to queers includes erotic gay drawings by the famous artist Tom of Finland, and I’m proud to feel included. But I can’t linger in the temple of sex any longer or I’ll miss seeing Jesus in the place designed to hold Thorvaldsen’s statue.
I run a few blocks to the cathedral and find the replica of the Christus framed not by the planetarium-like setting of the Mormons, but by a regal pair of Corinthian columns and a gold-coloured background, standing at the back of the cathedral’s altar where most churches would place a crucifix.
It’s my last evening in the city, and a final travel adventure awaits: visiting a Danish man’s home. I arranged this experience through Meet Gay Copenhagen. (There’s a straight version of the program, too.)
At his apartment on the north side of Copenhagen, I find that he has neither beard nor long hair and is probably not a model for any famous artist. He welcomes me with a bowl of chicken noodle soup cooked in his grandmother’s cast-iron pot.
His gay neighbour joins us, and the three of us talk into the evening about our cultural differences and similarities, real estate, house remodelling, religion and growing up gay.
I can’t help reflecting that one day in Copenhagen has brought back memories of my Mormon youth and provided an almost religious experience in the Museum Erotica. Now I’m brought back to reality over something as simple as soup.
I’m reminded that the hottest part of any man is his personality, something no statue of a god or gilded penis can offer.