IN a dark and rowdy bar one night last year Steven Spencer popped the cork on a champagne bottle and poured a glass using some of his most gifted assets.

He was but one in a handful of men showcasing their talented rear ends through a cutout hole onstage to the applause of the crowd at The Laird Hotel in Melbourne.

He’d heard that in a previous year a man had retrieved a rubber chicken from his anus, as the story — and several others over the years — had become something of an urban legend.

“The [champagne] bottle was something I knew I could do,” he told the Star Observer.

“I was brainstorming with friends about what I could put in my butt and we came up with that.

“Afterwards word quickly got around about how I won and I got some lovely nicknames, like Bubbles.”

Over the last 20-odd years Melbourne’s annual Midsumma Mooning has become infamous for its wild and tongue-in-cheek competition where men flaunt their buttocks and reveal – in many cases literally – their hidden talents.

The night is presented by the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) and also acts as a fundraiser for the David Williams Fund, with 100 per cent of the money going towards assisting people living with HIV in the community.

Spencer said the night provides a fun and welcoming atmosphere for gay men in Melbourne to help support a great cause.

“It’s great because it’s such a lovely atmosphere, and it’s about promoting body positivity and community work while raising important funds,” he said.

“There’s a fine line between funny and hilarious and downright dirty, and Mooning is always on the fun side.

“The people that come along are as young and as old as you can get, and there’s no judgment or shaming.”

The night came about when co-founder Tex McKenzie and his friend wanted to establish an event where they could raise money easily and effectively.

“We formed a group back in the day called No Attitude Guys (NAG) and we teamed up with The Laird and proceeded to do what started as a bare ass competition but has evolved since then,” he told the Star Observer.

These days there are two stages to the competition: the first, where contestants are in their underwear and sprayed with water by the judges and the second, where their rear ends are the star of the show.

McKenzie recalled a particularly memorable contestant who made interesting use of a glow stick.

“The guy had such good contraction on his muscles that he could make the stick go in and out, and they turned the lights off so everyone could see,” he laughed.

The Laird will once again host this year’s Midsumma Mooning, and co-owner Brett Lasham said the crowd were always there to help support the community.

“It’s always been this manic night of bare buns and craziness and it’s an amazing night,” he told the Star Observer.

“But a lot of the guys don’t even care about the door fee because they know it’s going to an important charity.

“We often get repeat offenders come in to compete in the competition, because they love contributing and doing it so much.”

Lasham also has a notable memory that springs to mind when he thinks about Mooning.

“Last year a contestant told us to hand him fairy lights during his entry, and when they began to appear from his bum, we realised what was happening,” he said.

“You get a lot of people coming to the front of the stage, half-covering their eyes but they love it.”

This year’s competition will be again hosted by Dean Arcuri, who said all kinds of guys show up for it.

“I’ve hosted for the past four years, and it’s a whole lot of cheeky fun,” he told the Star Observer.

Arcuri held the glass that Spencer poured his champagne into last year to the entertainment of the crowd.

“It’s literally a hole in the wall… the place is packed, and while a lot of people have mixed reactions to The Laird, at this event you get every type of guy there to come and check out some buns and to help fundraise,” Arcuri said.

“This is something that’s been going on for years and it is literally a cheeky way to raise money for people living with HIV.”

Midsumma Mooning is on tonight, January 29 from 8pm at The Laird, Abbotsford. Click here for full details.

The Star Observer is a proud media partner of Midsumma.

For all of Star Observer’s Midsumma coverage, click here

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