By Terry George
There are two events on my calendar that I try my damnedest not to miss – The Rio Carnival and The Turkish Oil Wrestling Championships. Both these events are quite spectacular but each in their own way… the Carnival is all colour and sparkle, whilst the Wrestling is all slick and leather… and more erotic.
Although the wrestling is a historic event that the Turkish population take very seriously (there is a lot at stake for the winners), as a spectator from a foreign land it is hard not to be transfixed by the sheer homoeroticism of the event. Turkish males of varying ages, shapes and sizes, wearing tight leather breeches and smothered in oil (I know it sounds like a take away order… ‘please deliver to my room asap’) grappling for a hold by grabbing whatever is accessible . Hands slide down slippery leather trousers and grasp bits of whatever is available as each struggle to find that perfect grip on a well olive-oiled torso so they can toss their opponent to the ground.
The Turkish Oil Wrestling Championship, or Kirkpinar, takes place in the small and relatively unheard of town of Edirne, which is around 2 hours from Istanbul by car. The event is televised in Turkey and since I have been attending there has been a rise in the number of other, foreign, TV crews and interested media covering the event. In fact I think, like me, there are many interested spectators who now make this annual pilgrimage to the altar of testosterone. However, let’s not forget that this is not just a spectator sport – there is pride, fame and fortune for those who succeed. Each match is taken very seriously, particularly by the really younger contestants who when defeated fell to their knees in tears. No one likes to be bettered but the determination is there to compete again and be successful the following year.
Of all the photographs I take as I go about my travels, it is the images from this event that I get most requests for. There is no denying that most gay R18 rated DVDs come nowhere near the eroticism, passion or body variation you find on this arena of oily manhood… nor the undeniable natural sexiness of young men attuned to their living culture and exultant in fulfilling the obligations of their ancient customs.