Gay icon Troughman shares origin story on ‘You Can’t Ask That’

Troughman, aka Barry Charles, appears on You Can't Ask That
Barry Charles on ABC's You Can't Ask That. Image: ABC

Sydney underground gay icon Troughman has shared his origin story on ABC’s You Can’t Ask That.

The seventh season of the eye-opening show is screening on ABC and streaming on iview now. Last night, the episode featured a lineup of gay men answering no-holds-barred questions.

Warning: explicit content

Troughman was known for laying down in urinals at various Sydney gay parties from the late 70’s to the early 2000’s.

For years, the mythical figure was often rumoured to have died or even dismissed as just an urban legend.

But 71-year-old Barry Charles has appeared on You Can’t Ask That beside 23-year-old Liam, who tells him, “I can’t believe you’re real!”

In the rare chat, Barry describes where it all began – The Mineshaft, a leather club in Manhattan’s famous Meatpacking District from 1976 to 1985.

“I came back from United States in 1978, having been to The Mineshaft. There I discovered watersports as a sexual activity, being pissed on,” he said.

“I went down into the basement of that club and there was a bathtub. There was a guy in the bathtub and about five or six guys were standing around, pissing on him.

“About 20 minutes later, I was in the bathtub.”

Barry said back in Australia, there was no watersports scene here. But one night he was visiting a leather bar in Kings Cross and had an idea.

“I was there one night and I went to the toilets to the urinal,” he said.

“And I thought, hmmm, I wonder… and there was a guy pissing and I got down on my knees and he got the signal. He started pissing on me.

“The bar owner thought it was fabulous. [The owner] said you can do that any time and that became a bit of a thing.

“And so I got down in the urinal again and became quite well known for doing it at various parties. I got the nickname of Troughman.”

Barry’s Troughman uniform framed as tribute

Barry said when he was out he would usually wear his uniform: a pair of green army fatigues and green cut-off shorts.

“When a bar opened in Sydney, when the Stonewall opened, I got talking to the owner,” he said.

“He said, ‘I want to put a plaque up, that references you. Can you give me anything, a photo or something?’ I told him he could have the shorts. He framed them.”

According to Barry, his framed Troughman shorts later ended up in the Australian Queer Archives in Victoria.

He said he’s been told they will eventually go on display in Victorian Pride Centre.

The seventh season of You Can’t Ask That is streaming now on ABC iview.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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