IT IS THE 1956 DEMOCRATIC National Convention, redolent of the randy and bucolic effluvia of stockyards and streetwalkers, senile dementia and barber-shop talcum, sippin’ whiskey and soda pop. Through all the ragings and wheezings and old-politician marketeering, there is this one fantastic blocky figure who seems to hunker over all.

Scarcely higher than your neighborhood Girl Scout cookie-pusher, Mr. Sam Rayburn nonetheless projects a sense of majestic presence and imperturbability, as if whittled from WPA marble. Rayburn does not appear remotely interested in anything.

Jack Kennedy and Estes Kefauver materialize, with separate little entourage armies and… something more. Both men, it’s now apparent, are somehow virtually aswarm with women; a sort of heavenly horny host of nubile admirers, whooping, screeching, clutching, stroking, whispering, whistling, always reaching desperately out—Jesus knows what for?

And Mr. Rayburn, for the first time in hours, seems provoked, curious, amazed. He stares in stonefaced fascination, first at Estes, then at Jack, and then finally at the half-hysterical mobs of barracuda honeys: lovely, leggy, sweetest-smelling li’l ole thangs who never seem to stop smacking their rosy lips or exhibiting their fabulously coiffed and fixtured vital parts and extensions. At long, long last, Mr. Rayburn appears to relax; he even seems to speak, as friends bend close to hear:

“Goddam,” he mumbles, “Ever’body screws!”

Yes, dear friends and fellow citizens of our gloriously-repressed commonwealth, it is my sniggering duty to report that our elected leaders are hopelessly in the thrall of Eros, Bacchus, Lucifer, the Playboy Philosophy and God knows how many other libertine obsessions. There is fornication in high places; tumescence in our Temples and our throne rooms; carnival and license at our victory galas and fund-raising bashes. The tableau unfolds—right here in Austin and right up there in Washington; our men who stand for office, even our incumbent princes, are in those places and they been messin’ around!

The semi-private lives of our desperately public figures constitute a sort of pageant of promiscuity, from the seedtime of the Republic to the present, start to apocalyptic finish, huffing and puffing toward some imagined nirvana in hanky-panky land. And what, indeed, a curious piece of work is man: imagine some social anthropologist from outer space attempting to understand all this lunatic activity, the ritual complexity, the Byzantine intrigue and high camp absurdity and all the compulsive, ticket-punching, foot-stomping, teeth-grinding, eye-bulging whoops and whispers and demonic energies expended and elaborated from the simplest of procreative impulses.

The nature of our political life creates a competitive class stoked on high energies, blessed with imagination and mobility and economic and social power easily confused with sexuality and personal magnetism—and there you have the most outrageous duplicity of all. Fortified with this heavy-duty blood-sport capability, our leaders are expected to comport themselves like half-starved holy men or bloated eunuchs. The fact is, ethologists have been reminding us repeatedly of our animal natures, but—far worse—we must also remind ourselves just as often that it takes a pretty disembodied culture to need any such reminding in the first place.

Now who has been witness to these couplings and goings of our public men and women? The players of the games, for starters: Politicians will bend your ears interminably with locker room revelation and college dorm claims involving fellow big-timers. And assistants, secretaries, security guards, Secret Service and FBI agents, hangers-on, ex-paramours—even a legion of newsmen, variously puzzled and provoked, shocked and beguiled, few of whom passed word even to their publishers: Heaven protect the public at large from such anarchic information. The public itself, for that matter, often seemed to prefer the comforting notion of near-celibacy for elected officials. Birds, bees, and educated fleas might by-god do it—and that seemed quite enough of that.

As in Cleopatra’s time, the wicked messengers themselves frequently stand in peril. Or, as Mencken observed, the public is so accustomed to buncombe and poltroonery that mere facts are incomprehensible and hence abhorrent.

I wrote a book once, noting in its title that the place in which the story was set was “gay”—to which a Dallas jurist inquired if I made a specialty of writing about “quares.” The New York Times critic, excessive in praise, was nonetheless shocked that the politicians depicted by me were now and again overtaken by vaguely defined fornicative needs: “His young politicians behave like tomcats!” Which was palpable nonsense; tomcats are lots more fun to watch.

If you want to hit a bird on the wing, you must have all your will in a focus. You must not be thinking about yourself, and, equally, you must not be thinking about your neighbor. You must be living in your eye on that bird. And every achievement is a bird on the wing.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

the way to hump a cow is not to get yourself a stool but draw a line around the spot and call it beautifool.

e.e. cummings

Now it might be stretching it some to suggest that our politicians qualify as sexual zen archers, ranking right up there alongside warriors, rascals, robber-barons and other high-roller energy systems. No question, though, as to those energies, and sublimation is the strangest bedfellow of them all. A former state legislator, now a U.S. Congressman, paused long enough recently to reflect upon a few of the general characteristics, charisma-wise:

“Hell, most of these guys have been immersed in power and popularity for years—running for student body president, trying to take over the United Fund in their hometowns, any little old damn thing to get out front and attract attention. And that sort of thing invariably attracts a lot of women.”

What sort of women? Bored ones, generally: pretty young housewives with husbands already flogged into indifference and conformity by pressures of career and grad school resignation. Also a lot of equally bored but desperately romantic and/or ambitious UT coeds, frustrated careerists, lady-libbers, and gone-gone go-go girlies looking for a home.

A political campaign, a legislative session, even the most prosaic of smoke-filled, lobbyist-sponsored get-acquainted galas, inevitably attract crowds of gloriously-decorative honeys whose experience with sexual opposites—from fathers to fiance to semi-steady beaux—has been grievously singular and impoverished. Compared to us bland, unballsy, average American faint-of-hearts, your successful politico comes off as some irresistible amalgam of King Kong, Robert Redford, and Attila the Hun.

“You’d be amazed,” said one State Representative seldom amazed by anything, “what’s actually available to people in power with nerve enough simply to ask for it.” And politicians, he goes on to explain, have developed some finely-honed skills at asking for the moon or anything else that comes to mind. Two of the most successful hustlers in the Legislature, it develops, really aren’t much to look at—and offer even less once one gets to know them. Yet they are clearly not averse to asking for any woman’s most intimate endorsements. Asking repeatedly and seemingly at random, unflagging in pursuit, seldom diverted from all those birds on the wing.

Their colleagues are alternately appalled and envious. Speaking of one of them, a West Texas legislator, a fellow lawmaker observed: “Before he had his heart trouble, he was probably the busiest man in state government. He might still be. But goddam those women of his were just awful! And he was just happy as a clam about that, too. He worked at it 24 hours a day. His policy was, you just ask everybody. Stick to that and you got yourself some impressive tally sheets.” Of the other scuffler for No. 1 status, an East Texas Senator, his peers delivered this judgment: “He’s a low-rent sumbitch, but he dos awfully well. Don’t know how you’d explain it. The trappings of power, maybe. . .the aura of authority figures. . .Plus a lot of economic clout, patronage and all. It’s hard to say no to all that.”

The economics are not inconsiderable. State Senators are nowadays allocated $2,000 monthly for staff salaries; representatives have to make do with $1,400 monthly. In Washington, understandably, patronage power takes a quantum leap: Senators, for example, can pull down and divvy up salary appropriations ranging from $100,000 to $300,000, depending on seniority, subcommittee chairmanships, and size of respective constituencies. Senators and Congressmen are also better equipped from the standpoint of logistical seduction. The Capitol itself, along with all House and Senate office buildings, is honeycombed with secret lovenests. In Austin, legislators are often compelled to make do with their own shag-carpeted public offices, to wit:

An assistant Sergeant-at-Arms on the Senate side was making his security rounds late one evening, routinely checking for locked office doors. Finding one unlocked, yet unlighted and seemingly unoccupied, he eased inside and felt for the light switches; whereupon there was revealed to him in gorgeous goosefleshy florescence a Senator of otherwise unquestioned rectitude mindlessly savaging his own high-salaried and unprotesting secretary on the senatorial prayer rugs.

Still another incident of flagrante delicto (not to be confused with variations from the Kama Sutra) was reported a few seasons ago when one of the less intelligent House members assured his wife that he must remain at his office for an all-night work session, and that she—safely at home in a city 175 miles away—need not worry about his whereabouts. Worry, she didn’t—worry being the first refuge of non-activist stay-at-homes—for she promptly got out the family car and, accompanied by their two children, drove directly to Austin and burst into hubby’s office to find him and his secretary already worked half to death atop their disorderly desks.

Another tragi-comic escapade involved a legislator seen scurrying half-dressed from an apartment development, a pistol-brandishing stranger in close pursuit. Sporting a car with reassuring State Official license tags, the House member leapt inside, spilled out his perfunctory good-ole-boy introductions, and, indicating his predicament, begged for an emergency rescue ride to the Austin Hotel. On the way he went on to explain that an otherwise perfectly-realized evening’s dalliance had been nightmarishly terminated at the young lady’s digs when the fellow with the pistol had burst in.

Happy to have escaped with skin intact, he was nonetheless concerned about a $1,500 watch left behind, a birthday gift from his wife. Sometime later, a package was delivered to his hotel room: the watch, now smashed beyond recognition, was dutifully returned with a note of regret from the lady. Her estranged husband, the intruder, had discovered it back at the apartment and had set upon it with vengeful bootheels.

Some other recent downhome State House adventures, variously wretched and excessive, exotic and commonplace, ungermane and to-the-point:

A senior House member, slightly past his prime but well within his pique, was motoring into deep East Texas one weekend, bound for hearth and home district and feeling fine indeed—filled with that incomparable sense of grandeur and complacency which derives from having proved oneself, stylishly and beyond question, within sub-cultures vital to self-esteem: peer-groupers and pair-bonders. He had won the respect of his fellow House members: he had then won more than that from at least one of their dishier camp-followers.

Now he was heading home for some perfunctory romancing of his own, legitimized Little Woman and their outsized constituency, when—bummed-out intrusion—he was overtaken by flashing red lights of the DPS. Before he could even produce credentials as legislative high-roller, the patrolman addressed him by name, blew his cover and then his mind. The Officer was passing on a message of some delicacy and indelicate urgency. The lady friend back at the Capitol had contracted (who knows how? call it immaculate infection) one of the social diseases. Her physician suggested his immediate return to Austin for treatment, lest the pestilence find its way into and among respectable East Texas gentry. A thrilling denouement? Not a prayer. Here the fragment ends; I am ignorant even as to which direction the House member thereafter steered his car.

Once, not so long ago in time but light years in social dislocation, I was an accredited correspondent covering the Legislature, and I had this legislator friend possessed of certain lunatic urgencies and eccentricities. He was, in short, a friend whom I regarded as a thoroughgoing, unregenerate sex maniac—unarguably one of the kinkier, benign, outfront and unapologetic specimens one might be privileged to know.

Actually, it only seemed that matters sexual dominated his waking hours, work or play: He was in fact endlessly resilient, resourceful and boundlessly energetic, and he was equally obsessed with battling for populist reform and chronicling evil-doing everywhere. He appeared to give his enthusiasms equal time, and one was as likely to see him perusing some erudite sampling from Commonweal or The Economist or Foreign Affairs as any of scores of pornographic volumes (words and/or scruffy Tex-Mex pictures) he toted about with him in a huge grocery sack. His attendance record was respectable; he did his homework, labored in committee, lobbied his comrades. His arguments from the floor were cogent, well-documented, moving and often irrefutable—yet inevitably (perhaps in consequence) ineffective.

He meanwhile carried on with (and boasted of) such heroic feats of onanism and whorehouse marathon as to outdistance Portnoy or any long-suppressed Edwardians. My friend frequented the leaping houses south of Austin nightly; on early-adjournment days, he could often as not claim record endurance marks—with cancelled checks to document the telling.

He’s long gone into genteel retirement now, my friend who cheerfully credited Texas Military Institute with his harmless aberrations; and the professional ladies who once catered to his compulsions (and to generations of his less-flamboyant colleagues) might well be drawing unemployment benefits. A bare-minimum resident housekeeping force remains, as much for servicing proud, nostalgic old-timers as from any towering cupidity. Lobbyists and elected politicians alike are in agreement here: Why bother heading South and paying for it when there’s so much in abundance, free for the eyeball asking, right there in the Capitol?

One of the funkiest, most improbable, electoral time-warps in what passes for Texas recorded history occurred last election (1972), employing and exploiting techniques and intimidations that would have been rejected as hopelessly anachronistic, hoked-up and unconvincing even for the least discriminating of our dramatic forms (made-for-TV movies?). A candidate for high office was systematically shadowed, set up, and then meticulously, comprehensively photographed—a staggering 106 printable negatives in all, sensitive portrayals of the young candidate in every conceivable full-wheezing gamut of coital transport. And the actual political effect of all this tiresome, low-rent x-rated cinema verite? Little or no effect whatever, according to informed observers: at least none, in any case, so far as this campaign unfolded.

Yet elsewhere, further north and within a congressional district up for grabs, campaign strategists for one fellow, chortling over the now widely-circulated political porn from down south, were suddenly transfixed: From the 106 original photographs, someone pointed out how this young candidate from one part of Texas bore an almost uncanny resemblance to…none other than this other young fellow who happened to be out front in the local Congressional campaign. Resemblance, hell—they were goddam identical, for all anyone in these precincts might determine. And so it went, that inevitably, thousands of copies of that one uncanny-resemblance print, were just getting into circulation when threats of FBI intervention brought the semi-clandestine operation to abbreviated end. Coitus interruptus.

Reflecting at length on these and other adventures recounted by the participants themselves, two impressions stand out. One is that, for all the splenetic, single-minded, goaty-groping charm and center-stage acrobatics, it is a rather spurious sensuality largely stoked by nameless, faceless, stimulus/response urgencies from either sex. The men will speak of “Nice face, great shanks, no chest whatever,” as if sizing up Superbowl personnel, now and again compelled to admire the rapid ascent of some notably clever or incontestably gorgeous staffer who has moved up from House member to Speaker to Lieutenant Governor and finally to the White House staff. The ladies, for their own part, invoke aesthetic criteria scarcely more exalted.

The second impression goes back still again to slip-slap logistics. Politicians, whether out of discretion, paranoia or bankrupt resources, expend an absurd amount of emotional and tactical energy in search of suitable places for top-security getting-it-on.

Unless your politician is independently wealthy or already wholly mortgaged to one or more of our vastly generous-hearted special interests, he is compelled to find some acceptable accomodation either within his own skimpy limitations or collectively, say, as with some specially-orchestrated “allskate” affair or at least a genial tag-team match among close friends. The next best step is to sound out potential supporters for some projected state-wide campaign war chest or appreciation dinner—a little spending money required to keep our boy up there from capitulating to every temptation in the books.

Some little while prior to his becoming a bona-fide, front-humping state-wide campaigner, one of our younger and comelier candidates was forced to do his earliest, unofficial campaigning on short rations indeed. Invariably, he traveled and shared hotel quarters with a high-ranking operator from the State Democratic Executive Committee, a gentleman who, for all his wisdom and clout and towering cupidity, was also both a hopeless drunk and unwavering celibate. He presumably worked uncommonly hard all day long as establishing his credentials as arrogant old sumbitch—for he was invariably semi-comatose with booze by nightfall. One evening the younger politician was ambushed and all but shanghaied into desperately urgent fornication by one of the prettiest little old supporters he’d ever seen. But where the hell to get down to it?

In desperation, and with time perhaps running out, he seized his constituent and headed directly upstairs to the room shared with his traveling companion from the SDEC, somehow hoping to beat the old juicehead there and by-god lock him out. But too late; his friend was already spread-eagled on the one double bed, wheezing and stinking hideously. Suddenly, transported by galvanic rage, the younger man demonstrated his capacities for decisive action then and there, hoisting his roommate bodily and unceremoniously, depositing and locking him inside the hotelroom closet. After which, the lovers presumably fell to it—they possibly fell right from it again some time later prior to the older fellow’s nightmarish awakening amidst the silky suits and shoetrees and well-aged underwear lining his closet sleeping quarters.

Closet assignations, for that matter, can claim perfectly respectable historical antecedents. Warren Harding carried on a tempestuous affair for years, before and during his White House tenure, and he was clearly in love with the lady. When no other opportunities presented themselves, Harding and his mistress were known to hide away in a White House closet!

A legislator from South Texas was overheard giving a Capitol staffer this invitation: “Hunny, whyn’t yew and me just step out tonight and I’ll buy yew a big ole Texas-sized Coke.” Pressed for particulars, he suggested a ride out to his South Texas ranch for “a look at the wild antelopes and thangs.”

If this seems far-fetched, one remembers that LBJ’s happiest ranch duties involved a livestock tour with favored lady visitors. A Johnson secretary vividly recalls the second day on her job when, summoned from Austin to the Pedernales, the girl was recklessly wheeled about the Johnson acres until, pausing at a pen enclosing a couple of Democratic donkeys, the future President honked his jeep horn and watched with enormous satisfaction as the Jack mounted the Jenny. “Ain’t that somethin’?” he inquired with eye-rolling innuendo. “They show off that way ever’ goddam time!”

Lyndon Johnson called me one of his “hard-peckered boys,” and I frankly didn’t know what the hell to make of it at the time, which was the declining summer of 1956 when the Senate Majority Leader was all but strapped down at his ranch, convalescing from a massive coronary .

He’d spoken to me only twice before—”Hidy, hah-yew, boy,”—and I had seen him once in his 1948 campaign when, hovering from his helicopter over a Central Texas crowd, he’d sailed his Stetson hat out a side window. There were two fellows with him whom I knew at least by reputation: Joe Phipps, a radio announcer, and Terrell Allen, an ex-UT footballer. Alighting from the ‘copter, Johnson recited a litany that somehow matches in poetry his famed (1960) Culpepper, Va., railroad benediction (“Bobby, turn off that goddam Yella Rose!“) In the ’48 campaign, there were fewer distractions, and Lyndon said it repeatedly: “Terry, fetch my hat—Joe, you tell ’em about me.”

And now (in 1956) I was confronted with still another fragment of enigmatic Johnson rhetoric/repartee. Hard-peckered boys? There were perhaps a half-dozen of us, all in our twenties, all newcomers to the Austin staff, sitting and smarting off recklessly, when, with shattering unexpectedness our office door swung open and the Great Pumpkin himself stood there sizing us all up like so many genetic failures from experimental livestock auctions.

“Now what the hell you hard-peckered boys think you’re doin’?” he said, and abruptly pulled the door shut. We all looked at one another wondering if anyone dared to laugh. Hard-peckered boys? We were all of us very young, as I said, and desperately dumbass—and for a time I even seriously interpreted it as the rather melancholy sour grapes of an aging coronary case, no longer fully operational.

But no way. Though it took a while to reject the notion. And a while longer than that to realize that hard-peckered boys was heady stuff, at once accolade and expectation. The Senate was, in fact, a profoundly sexual place even down to the hierarchies and pecking-order machisimo factors by which members related one to another. Intelligence, integrity, intuition and energy were understandably vital to success, but the great, unacknowledged intangible was seldom ignored for long.

Johnson himself, in his interminable negotiations, often as not quite simply out-manned his fellows. And he frequently appeared to place an almost irrational and unfair premium on possessors of raw, ruthless sexual energy. His contempt for men such as Adlai Stevenson stemmed as much from sexual dynamics as any real or imagined dispute over issues. “What the hell would you know about it?” he once railed at Stevenson. “You have to sit down to pee.” Obviously, there was something sissified and perhaps worse with Eastern intellectuals.

Once, he told me that Price Daniel and Ralph Yarborough were old ladies—and that Allan Shivers, despite their political enmity, was a man to be reckoned with: “A mean sumbitch who’d cut my nuts off in a minute and send ’em in a box to Lady Bird.” Invariably, Johnson was awed by anyone seemingly more ruthless than himself.

All of which admittedly propels us into certain murkier precincts of sexuality, not to mention the musty histrionics of hill country sub-culture. Whatever happened to the real, procreating, old-time Acts of Darkness, full of beastliness and charm and the wrath of Old Testament prophets? Let’s see: there was Lyndon’s own father-figure, FDR, who gave up a young mistress named Lucy Mercer early in his political career when Eleanor discovered the affair. And it was in Lucy’s arms that Roosevelt died, in Warm Springs, Ga., April, 1945. And Estes Kefauver, of all people, was notorious in his needs, at least on the campaign trail. His advance men were routinely instructed as to what, precisely, the Senator from Tennessee might require when scuffling for the presidential nominations a long way from home.

George Smathers and Jack Kennedy were equally infamous, at home and on the hustings: One recalls countless evenings when Jack and George would catch Bobby Baker’s eye on the Senate floor and Baker would finally indicate, with an imperceptible shifting of eyes, a smashing pair of prizewinners fixing their princes from the gallery—with LBJ looking on in undisguised merriment. The Democratic Leader himself, still husbanding his strength in convalescence, was reported (by guards outside his basement hideaway) to have taken an improbable number of naps during this period. Another Texas Senator was described by a Washington magazine recently as “the most lecherous man in the Senate.”

Shortly after the 1960 elections, Kennedy Aide Ted Sorensen delivered a curious and belated campaign promise. “This administration is going to do for sex what the last one did for golf,” he said, and whatever it was he had in mind, it plainly wasn’t Camelot envisioned (Camelot being largely a post-assassination fantasy concocted by Jacqueline Kennedy and writer Theodore White), nor was anything remotely resembling Camelot delivered. The Court of Louis XIV, possibly, or Talleyrand’s Back-40.

Still, some kind of change seemed long overdue: a running joke among State Department briefing officers at the time was that, at long last, it was possible to sit down with a U.S. President without the aging Chief Executive having to leap up every 20 minutes to evacuate his bladder. Meanwhile, the New Frontiersmen were moving in, and a remarkable number of female White House staffers were presently recognized as both long-time and newly-recruited Kennedy courtesans. One of them, a dazzling and intelligent National Security Council staffer, happened to be a good friend of mine, and she recounted some extraordinary adventures.

She had met the young Massachusetts junior Senator at a Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Boston, her freshman year at Radcliffe, and Jack had wasted little time separating the young lady both from her escort prior to the dinner as well as from her virginity afterwards. “He just dragged me out of there and straightway to his townhouse,” where, with little or no ceremony, there ensued what my friend described as “a goddam steeplechase. . . Honestly, I have never in my life been pursued round a drawing room like that. Up and over sofas, bolsters, chairs, end tables—everything. He literally ran me into the floor. I finally told myself, ‘What the hell! Nothing’s worth preserving intact all that desperately. Let him have whatever in hell he thinks he’s getting.’ “

Curiously enough, the relationship blossomed and JFK continued to call on his Radcliffe coed all through her undergraduate years, and somehow, inevitably, here she was in offices alongside the White House. And once every couple or three weeks a White House limousine, complete with Secret Service escort, was waiting at her Georgetown door.

Rumors of various mistress-ey memoirs have been circulating for years, involving American elected officials high and low. A simple willingness to admit or lay claim to feats of endurance or indiscretion is not generally regarded as ipso-facto justification for hard-cover legitimacy. Several years ago a somewhat tarnished South Texas debutante was known to be laboring over a hundred or so pages of her own true confessions involving just about every Texas politician who was willing, able, and of any distinction. Friendly critics who viewed the manuscript noted that while the names and numbers bandied about were extraordinary, the literary merit was regrettably abysmal.

Still, the phenomenon of record-keeping groupies persists. A secretary in the Texas House of Representatives is currently hard at work on a project to ambush and surrender herself to all 144 male House members, excepting only the Speaker. In her first 30 days of the session, she claimed to have scored with 36 rootin’-tootin’ lawmakers. Of course a book is planned, and her co-authoress is a close friend who is only slightly behind schedule, recording 27 liaisons within the same period.

There was a time when any self-respecting Austin lobbyist was looked upon by legislators as a dependable—and often crucial—supplier of respectable-seeming ladies of the night. Nowadays, a younger generation of lawmakers and lobbyists reflect perceptible alterations in society-at-large—and the moment does not seem far off when influence is measured as much or more by the quality of a lobbyist’s marijuana stash as by the availability of his liquor closet. One reason for the shift could be that today’s elected officials are more generously supplied with larger and better-paid staffs. One Senator’s aide, surveying a suiteful of beauties recently added to his boss’s payroll, was asked if any of the ladies qualified as a secretary. “Well,” he responded, “actually the Senator and I have to do a lot of our own typing.”

“GIVE ME MY ROBE, PUT on my crown!” Cleopatra instructed her personal staff. “I feel immortal longings!”

The sentiment may not certify the Queen of the Nile as the first and best of the later, greater Groupies, but succeeding generations of similarly-inflamed ladies are sufficient in number and ardor to demolish any notion that the syndrome may be going the way of other collapsing social institutions. Arthur Koestler called it “going to bed with history,” and so long as we can count on some semi-charismatic stud hoss (male or female) up there on Olympus making it, we are likely to find admirers hoping to share in those turbulent emotions by any sexual hook or crook.

And what indeed a curious adventure another person is! There are some, of course, who are lots more curious and venturesome than others. Often as not, they elect themselves to lead us. Matt Troy, a Queens County (NY) Democratic honcho, recently addressed himself to these sweet mysteries with uncommon candor: “My ego is immense or I wouldn’t be in politics. . . Only egomaniacs are in politics. I love those guys who talk about serving the public! Listen, this business is about men kissing your ass and girls who—.”

There will be masochists and martyrs, the inexhaustible and uncomplaining fetch-‘n-carry regulars, forever desperate and willing to sacrifice themselves in exchange for a reasonable proximity to where the action is or might be. There will be harpies and schemers and quid quo pros for whom gamemanship is all, propelled by equal philosophic parts of Gloria Steinem ,and Vince Lombardi, bound for the playing fields of Sealy Posturepedic. They have decked their beds with tapestries and carved works and fine linens, incense and loco weed and Kama Sutra oil and aerosol bombs of Feminique. And there will be a few hopeless romantics, forever blazing up at the memory or anticipation of the Real Thang: the glitter and grandeur, the special flavor of wonder and reverence, the aura of awe and shuddering surrender. They might be regarded as the ultimate sexual-object losers, and yet with their illusions still improbably intact, they could just as easily prove to be the only winners.