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An Evening in the Nude With Gay Talese

Since Gay has not been able to bring his celebrity world and his massage parlor world together, he commutes back and forth between the two. He hangs out with the social fringe at The Middle Earth to feed his outsider's need to be among other outsiders, but he also hangs out at Elaine's to satisfy his outsider's need to be an insider. Actually the two places are not as unreconcilable as they might at first seem. In many ways, Elaine's and The Middle Earth are similar, for both are characterized by middle-aged men and young girls, the one establishment massaging the body, the other massaging the ego. (Once Gay actually took a masseuse to Elaine's, where she blended in perfectly. Later, he took her home to the folding couch next to his writing desk under the pretext of giving her copies of his books.)

Someone at poolside proposed an orgy. After all, it was almost midnight, The Fifth Season would be closing soon, and everyone needed something to do. A songwriter generously offered his nearby apartment. Gay led the way to the locker room where we were to suit up for yet another sexual outing.

I had been undressed long enough so that now putting on clothes was its own kick, but one of the orgy volunteers found getting dressed to be a trial. His name was Bernhardt Hurwood, the author of The Girls, the Massage, and Everything.

"Where is my underwear?" yelled Hurwood. "Who stole my underwear? Why should anyone want to take my wretched old underpants?"

We filed out of The Fifth Season and streamed onto 57th Street, Hurwood trying to catch up. Gay and two girls walked three abreast, one big, one middle-sized, and one small, like Papa Bear (in this case, Kathe since she was tallest), Mama Bear (Gay), and Baby Bear (Janet). I am one of those people who have never been invited to an orgy and I may have been looking forward to it. In front of Carnegie Hall, Gay took Sally and me aside. He said that the others felt that the presence of a reporter would inhibit them. Sally and I agreed to go home. While we waited for a taxi on the corner, we watched the others walk off arm in arm into the orgiastic night.


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