Joey: I’ll Always Be a Sailor

“I mean, you’d sit there and be pounded on by somebody. And here the Navy says, no you can’t be gay. I’m like, this is really funny.” – Joey

Joey: [The shellback initiation] was disgusting. It was so fucking gross. I would never want to go through it again. Well, certain things I’d want to go through again.

It was kind of funny. We had to put our uniforms on backwards, then we had to put our skivvies on backwards, and we had to wear a T-shirt with WOG on it. We had to put knee pads on, because we had to be on our hands and knees all day. Which was kind of kinky, too. Then there’s all these men with-oh! A lot of the shellbacks had just boots on and frayed cut-off shorts, and no shirt at all. And then they had like a pirate’s handkerchief. They were just screaming at us like [makes pirate sound]. It was so awesome! God. I was sitting there smiling. I was getting off. I was hard a lot of the time, because the guys, they’d pick you up, and get in your face, and go “You think it’s funny, wog?” And you can see their — I was looking up, and I seen three guys’ dicks just dangling out of their shorts. A lot of ‘em didn’t wear underwear. I noticed some hard-ons on some guys. And they were spanking us with shillelaghs. The first couple of times it hurt ’cause that shit would be wet, and the firehose — they say you’re supposed to take the rubber out but nobody did. But after a few smacks my ass got numb, so I just got used to it That, for me, was a turn-on. Not like I’m into being beat or anything, but it was just kinky getting spanked. And then just rubbing against everybody else. In the hangar bay they made us fuck each other. They said, “Get on him and fuck him and suck his dick! Act like you’re sucking his dick!” And they’d rub your face in his crotch. That was such a turn-on, especially if the guy was really cute. They’d make you roll around with them and stuff. I liked that part. And they’d have a whole train of guys fucking — it was so funny! I mean, you’d sit there and be pounded on by somebody. And here the Navy says, no you can’t be gay. I’m like, this is really funny.

Then at the end . . . you take off all your clothes and you get hosed off. Everybody’s naked and undressing and they’re throwing their clothes overboard, and everyone’s just walking back, dicks swinging and everything, muscles and — mmm. [Nods excitedly.] That was fun. That was fun.

Zeeland: What about the wog queen competition? You didn’t take part in that?

J: I wanted to. I think I would’ve won. Because this guy that won was really tired. I was like, oh, this is through. He had a mop on his head. I was like, oh bitch! ‘Cause I dressed like a woman for Halloween in high school, and I looked fine. I think I’d be a very pretty woman.

Z: What about the second time you went through the ceremony, just a few months ago: did you take advantage of being a shellback to order guys around?

J: I wanted to, but see, with Tailhook and with gays in the military and Clinton and all that other stuff — we didn’t even have a lot of the same things. They could stand up. They weren’t on their hands and knees at all. They would walk through it. All you could do was yell at ‘em and pour food on ‘em. You couldn’t hit ‘em. It was not the same. It sucked.

Z: What do you think the ceremony means?

J: The honest truth? When I thought about it, I thought: every tradition has some meaning behind it. They said, “This is centuries old,” right? Well, when you think about sailors . . . Modern society outlaws it, bans it, but way long ago I don’t think it was that big an issue. Especially sailors at sea, even though they’d hit ports and they’d go with women, it was probably something new to them. Or they were attracted to women, too, but while they were at sea they always had their buddy. Something inside me tells me that’s how it was. Long ago I think it was an excuse to, “We’re crossing the line, let’s have a party.” To those men who liked dick, it was a chance to get it on with somebody. And those of ‘em that were kind of straight but curious, it was a time to party and get serious no matter what. Maybe the whole thing wasn’t homosexual, but I definitely find a strong homosexual background to parts of it. I bet the higher-ups that had been in for a while wanted to observe what the fresh meat was like. “Who’s that? Let’s study how he reacts to this.” I think it was an initiation to see how far they could push somebody. And to humiliate those people that were assholes. And to maybe kind of hit on the guys they thought were cute.

[Note: According to a press report, by the time Joey's former ship crossed the equator in spring 1997, the ceremony had been so watered down that only a few hundred men underwent the initiation. Instead of getting spanked, being ordered to simulate anal sex, or judged on their performance in drag, wogs were forced by shellbacks to do 100 jumping jacks.]