Matthew Settle and the Masturbating Mummy

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Photo: Getty Images

Matthew Settle, a.k.a. Rufus Humphrey from the Greatest Show of Our Time, can play a wide range of characters — the slightly disapproving cool dad, the sternly disapproving cool dad, and even the weakly angry cool dad! But Indiana Jones? That's a new one on us. At Wednesday night’s Condé Nast Traveler party, Settle told us about his adventures in the ancient world (he’s been to 48 countries!). "[One time] I was doing a show for the History Channel called Decisive Battles of the Ancient World. We were covering Alexander and some of his conquests in Egypt, so we went to Luxor," Settle told us. "I was down in this tomb looking at the sarcophagus and all the faded walls — we had a private tour — and I had my digital camera and I saw a hole in the wall next to the chamber, a wall with a mural." This is where the fun begins. From Settle's own account:

"So I stuck my camera up and took a picture. And there’s this guard carrying a machine gun that looks over at me and starts yelling at me in Arabic. We had a tour guy with us, and he quickly gave the guy some money. I thought he was going to shoot me! He gave him five Egyptian pounds — that’s about a dollar-fifty. A dollar. Five minutes after that he comes over and he’s carrying a bucket. A five-gallon bucket and he’s got a torch in his hand, and he says, 'Step up' in Arabic."


Well I step up, and I look down at the room I took a picture of, and there’s a stack of bones and all sorts of paraphernalia. It was in disarray, like bodies had been stacked on top of each other. Then there was one body facing forward, feet forward. It was a remarkable photo because the room had been previously undiscovered — there were definitely treasures in it, treasures in the room that were still in there. The guy was buried alive. The weirdest thing — which my girlfriend at the time pointed out to me — he wasn’t mummified, he was buried alive. All the other guys on the back wall were soldiers and they killed them — so they didn’t die alive, since their bodies were stacked on the back wall. And then the priest was buried alive — they sealed him into the room. And the weirdest thing is that he died holding himself, as a matter of comfort. And I didn’t even notice it. He died, and he’s got his hand on his bacon. I mean, it’s the weirdest thing.


Skeletons, treasure, and caught-in-the-act gestures? If only the next episode of Gossip Girl can live up to that! Eh, it probably can.