Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Around the World in 80 Years

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Around the World in 80 Years

Article excerpt

Renowned tour guide Hanns Ebensten has spent a lifetime taking gay men where they want to go

They are the very picture of two elderly European gentlemen retired to the tropics. Relaxing on the veranda of their home, surrounded by banyan trees and souvenirs of their travels, they cat dart for lizards as they enjoy a wine. It occurs to the visitor that they be the only two men in Key West, Fla., who wear neckties at home.

Hanns Ebensten, 77, and his partner, Brian Kenny, 80, are discussing the years they have spent leading tours "for men only" all over the world. Why do gay men have a special affinity for traveling together? "The company," states Ebensten emphatically. "Why would you want to sit on a motor coach next to a little lady who points out the window and says, `Look at that lovely little girl selling oranges!' when you can sit next to a man who points out the window and says, `Look at the package on that guy!'"

In spite of Ebensten's refreshing sexual candor, his tours are anything but debauches. And he is anything but retired. He still leads his serious, quasi-scholarly upscale adventure trips to exotic destinations--the Amazon, Egypt, Easter Island--that rival and usually surpass in depth and quality anything the straight world has to offer. Add to this Ebensten's fine understanding of the gay psyche of both his clients and the land they are visiting, and, well ... sex has been known to happen. He was, after all, the genius who hired porn legend Cal Culver, a.k.a. Casey Donovan, to be one of his tour leaders. He remembers Culver as a perfect "gentleman"--his highest compliment--and a model of decorum.

Not so, some of his clients. Ebensten's two volumes of travel pieces, Volleyball With the Cuna Indians and The Seals on the Icepack, are winning increasing acclaim as classics of the genre (Quentin Crisp called them "hilarious"). …

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