Only rarely in my life have I been able to escape the nightmare of reality and find myself in a place where everything is right with the world. Those moments have usually involved sex. One such day starts out as many do: I'm sorting through newspapers. A couple of police officers have beaten up a homeless man and left him outside to freeze to death. In a big morality bust, police have gone to extraordinary lengths and expense to jail the members of a swingers club.
It's one of those dreaded deep-freeze winter days, extremely overcast, dark and depressing. The only unusual thing on my agenda is an invitation to a nudist party.
A journalist friend involved with a group of gay nudists has decided to hold his own party. The thought of attending is somewhat daunting -- I've never been to anything like that.
My friend Carl has an apartment on the top floor of an old mansion in the west end of Toronto. The area's decaying and ugly, home to discarded psychiatric patients, hookers, hoodlums and homeless people.
This mansion, though, is different from the other big rundown houses on the street, many of which are now rooming houses. It's still in its glory and very welcoming.
A soft, warm light comes from the big front windows. Carl opens the front door in the nude, clearly delighted to show me his tumescence. He's a very lucky boy, but I hope he isn't setting the standard for the evening.
Carl's asked Dave, the house's owner, to let him use the main body of the mansion for the event. A 50-year-old business man, in good shape and handsome, Dave is also one of the world's leading dissident AIDS scientists. He and many prominent medical scientists around the world believe that the accepted theories about the nature and cause of AIDS are just wrong.
But AIDS doesn't rule tonight, and I'm quickly shown where to put my clothes. It's not at all cold in the buff because Dave has the heat up and two beautiful fireplaces going. With the lights turned low, the fireplaces cast a comforting glow throughout.
Before slipping away to answer the door, Carl introduces me to a couple of attractive gentlemen in their 30s having drinks. It seems odd to make small talk in the nude as people arrive.
The place fills up quickly. About 75 people show up. I try to be polite and pay attention to the conversation, but I can't keep my eyes from wandering, wanting to see who's here. It's a good mix of men -- from pretty, young circuit boys in their 20s to more conservative-looking men in their 30s and 40s. Except for the fact that everyone's naked, it looks like any other queer cocktail party: people drinking, talking, laughing and cruising.
I decide right away which one I want to meet, a muscular, handsome blond guy in his 30s. This is one occasion where I've got complete information.
I notice he's looking. I just know it's going to work. I work my way to a neutral spot off to the side. He gets it. He comes over in no time. Daniel's his name and charm's his game.
As time passes, Daniel stands closer. When we are face to face, almost touching me, it becomes sexual. It's challenging to keep that fact from becoming apparent to everyone. The party's been going on for more than an hour and a lot of people seem to be standing closer to one another.
Then two of the circuit boys start kissing and groping. Daniel sees it, too. He looks back at me with a playful smile and then slowly, carefully initiates a long, deep kiss.
Carl's invitation didn't say anything about this. I'm comfortable but would prefer to be alone with him. I take him by the hand and we look for a spot.
We make our way to the bedroom off the dining room and find about eight guys in one double bed. It's a full-fledged orgy. They're inviting, so we decide to play awhile. We stay close and focus mostly on each other.
People pause as we hear someone begin to play the piano. Daniel and I take it as an opportunity to slip out and look for a more private room. The music is recognizable and the pianist skilled. In the living room a group of four or five naked men standing around the piano begin to sing the Beatles song Let It Be.
It takes a second before the beauty of the moment fully sinks in. It strikes me that this evening is the only part of my day that seems sane.