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by Macout Mann


In the 1934 school year Ben, now a senior, was reelected president. The boys were not only mastering stagecraft but were becoming real leaders. Some of the "old boys" even took over instructional sessions that Kerchner had handled last year. Kerchner was thrilled.

The "new boys" were each "initiated" by the other eleven. That is they had their mouths and sometimes their asses ritually stuffed in the privacy of the stage house or projection booth. Some of the shier ones were freaked out, when they realized that their activities were being observed by others. So a new rule was instituted for future years. Every guy's first sex act had to be watched by other crew members, which often led to the observer then becoming involved. No modesty allowed.

1934 also brought a new series of events to the auditorium.

The City Concert Club sponsored at least six large events each year, which were held in the forty-five hundred seat civic auditorium. At least two major symphony orchestras on national tours. The Wagner Opera Company (no relation to Richard) presented one fully staged grand opera each year. Sigmund Romberg would bring his orchestra and soloists for programs of songs from his and other composers' operettas. And there was the American Ballet Theatre and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. But there were many music lovers who also wanted to hear chamber music and famous classical soloists like Fritz Kreisler and Atur Rubenstein. Community Concerts had been started by Columbia Artists Management in 1930, and the city's Community Concerts Association was formed to bring these sorts of artists to town beginning in 1934. They needed a more intimate hall, and Porter was ideal.

Kerchner managed to get involved in the negotiations for the rental of the auditorium. He didn't want the crew to be paid, but provision was made for the rental to include money for the club. It would at least cover the cost of uniforms, box lunches for the boys working crew for the concerts, and a couple of parties each year. As the arrangement was extended to cover all rental contracts, over the years quite a sum was accumulated to cover the crew's needs.

The first year there were four Community Concerts. Vladimir Horowitz, the pianist. Charlotte Nadler, violinist. The Budapest String Quartet. And Lotte Lehmann, soprano. For each three stagehands were assigned, two veterans and one new member.

The auditorium had an "all-purpose" set of flats, some of which had windows and doors in them, so that they could be assembled as a room in a home. By assembling a number of plain flats, however, the stage could be turned into a concert venue for large or small musical groups. The three boys assigned for a Community Concert remained after school to set up the flats for the evening event. They were supplied with box lunches to substitute for supper then remained to work the concert itself, which was scheduled for eight-thirty. Kerchner would arrive about seven-thirty, but would remain in the background. He wanted the crew to take the lead to the extent they could.

For the Horowitz concert, Ben, Claude, and Jason Rollins, the "honest boy" from the interrogations, were assigned. By five o'clock they had rolled the concert grand into place and finished lashing the flats together. The stage was about eighteen feet deep.

"So what do we do now?" Jason asked.

"Well," Ben giggled, "we can eat supper or we can just eat."

"Better play before anybody shows up," Claude suggested. "Besides, I've had a hard-on all day." He opened his fly and asked, "You want to taste this fucker, Jason?"

"Shit yeah!" Jason exclaimed.

Ben leads them deep backstage, where he begins to strip and encourages the others to join him. The crew never gets naked during the school day. Too dangerous. But now they enjoy their bare bodies to the fullest. None of the three are Charles Atlas types, but as Jason kneels and takes Claude's stiff prong into his mouth, he rubs his partner's tight gut. Ben, standing behind Claude, massages Claude's pecs, while his dick leans into his friend's ass crack.

All three boys are satisfied before it is time for them to get dressed, eat their box lunches, and wait for Mr. Horowitz to arrive.

The pianist, accompanied by a representative of the Community Concerts Association, arrives shortly after six-thirty. Both are greeted by Ben, and are surprised that it is a student who takes the lead in welcoming them. Ben leads Mr. Horowitz to the stage and asks if the location of the piano is satisfactory. It is. Ben then shows how the board is rigged to take the houselights down and stage lights up simultaneously. He says they can do that as Horowitz enters, or they can lower the houselights and let the audience settle down before Horowitz comes on stage. Horowitz elects to do that. Finally, Ben asks if the soloist wishes the footlights used. He says no.

Mr. Horowitz plays on the piano for a few minutes and is satisfied with the sound. The boys then take him to the faculty office near the stage entrance, which will serve as his dressing room.

Kerchner arrives shortly after that, introduces himself to Horowitz and the Community Concerts guy and asks if he has been taken care of satisfactorily. Horowitz is quite effusive. Says that the boys have been extremely professional in setting everything up.

On the stroke of eight-thirty Horowitz arrives in the wings.

"Ready for the houselights, sir?" Ben asks.

"Yes, let's begin," the soloist answers.

On Ben's signal Claude reaches for the rheostat and counts down ten seconds as he brings the auditorium to darkness. The stage lights are already up. Horowitz waits until the tittering dies down and then enters to the applause of the audience.

The program is very well received. At the end, Horowitz returns to the stage twice for bows before the plays his encore, a piece by Chopin. When he leaves the stage after the encore, he says "That will do it, boys."

Ben waits for the applause to die, then says "house lights."

This time Claude brings the dimmer up to full brightness much more quickly. Both Horowitz and the concert association guy thank the boys. They are both obviously very impressed. When Kerchner reappears, they again tell him how much they have appreciated the work of the stage crew. It was a glorious evening for the boys.

Three different sets of stage hands were assigned to work the remaining Community Concerts. They were just as successful. And they had just as much fun after they had finished setting up the flats.

Kerchner did have one scare before the end of the year.

There was a math teacher, Mr. Crowe, who Kerchner felt was probably queer. (This was long before "gay" had any connection with homosexuality). A lot of football players struggled to get into his classes, and he obviously relished having the jocks as students. Crowe also was quite a dresser. At the height of the Depression, when many of the male teachers had only one, maybe two suits, Crowe never wore the same outfit twice in a week's time.

It was midway in the second semester, when Crowe approached Kerchner.

"I think I know why all of these boys want to be on your Stage Crew so badly," he said.

"Oh my god," thought Kerchner. "He knows."

Kerchner did manage to keep his equilibrium, however. "Oh? I wish I knew," he said. "I've wondered. But I think it just gives them another "masculine" extra-curricular activity that's not as taxing as football."

"I think it's because it gives them a place they can sneak away to and smoke cigarettes."

A vastly relieved Kerchner replied, "As if any of them could afford a pack of cigarettes."

"They could go in together and share."

"Maybe," Kerchner grinned, "but I haven't smelled any evidence or seen any butts. I'll keep an eye out, though."

Six members of the Stage Crew were seniors. They all received alumni uniforms at the year-end party. Kerchner would have loved to have them all stay afterward, as Hyram Bohner had the year before. He decided to ask Ben only. No need to press his luck. Both of them enjoyed the encounter.

Copyright 2015 by Macout Mann. All rights reserved.