troll - issue 307


Murder victim no Mr. Goodbar

Knowing a murder victim has never been on my “things to do” list. But on October 21st, as I sat flipping channels, I discovered that my old friend Harley Walker was reported missing and possibly killed by a trick he met online.

Harley Walker was one of only five out gay men (I was one of them) who worked on The Kids in the Hall (none of us in the hair/makeup/wardrobe departments). Harley was the switcher, a highly specialized job in which one must sit in front of a bunch of little TV screens and “switch” from one to the other as per the director’s instructions. Even when he retired from the CBC, Walker kept working on independent productions, in part because he was still too young to stop working, but also to pay for his gorgeous Cabbagetown home and his active gay lifestyle. Harley, a cultured man with a trim white beard and a jolly British accent, lived a charmed life. He always had lots of men around, and took pride in being sexually active well into his sixties. In a way, he was my role model, living proof that the stereotypical depiction in movies of the lonely old homo was bullshit.

By far our greatest adventure together was the production of something called gaynudetv, a webisode made about five years ago for the Boyscondo people, whom Harley had befriended. The Boyscondo guys wanted to make their own version of the Naked News, using their own boys, who are always naked anyway. So Harley and I were asked to write and direct the pilot episode. Since nothing dates like news, we were forced to do segments like “This Day in History” and “Scottish Words and Phrases” and a cooking segment where a naked boy makes spaghetti.

Things went from lame to worse. We auditioned several naked guys, but on the shoot date, none of them showed up, forcing us to use alternates. No one knew their lines, and most couldn’t actually read or speak. It occurred to us at the time that nakedness isn’t automatically sexy, especially since we had no lighting or audio equipment. Once the whole thing was cut and polished, it was abysmal, the nadir of my checkered career. I remember we debuted the cut to the Boyscondo people to resounding silence. Harley and I never did get paid; we didn’t even get laid. We did, however, laugh about it for years.

Harley Walker was a great sport. Once, having written a column about older men going to bathhouses, I asked him to pose alongside myself, the both of us wearing white towels. That photo has run in several issues of fab over the years, and he loved the attention. I also interviewed him once as a “gay cougar” as he was dating a man half his age at the time.

I hadn’t seen Harley in about a year, and was thinking it was time for a brunch, when I saw the news that he was missing. My shock was absolute, as was my grief. But the most unfortunate thing of all was that the news does not focus on the richness of his 72 years of life, but on the tragedy of his final 72 hours. Everyone – the media, people I’ve talked to, our mutual gay friends – seems bent on turning this into a cautionary tale, but Harley had hooked up with guys online for more than 10 years with no problems. What happened to him is as random as being hit by lightning. Just because someone falls down a flight of stairs doesn’t mean we need to stop using stairwells. To have his life reduced to a Mr. Goodbar story is unfair, and I’m pretty sure Harley wouldn’t have liked it. He also would have hated being described by newscasters as a “senior,” because despite his age, he still had the soul of a young man.

Editor’s note: Paul Bellini has ditched the moniker “Troll” and is looking for a new name for his column. Email him some suggestions! up with guys with no problems Bellini’s role model.

paul bellini


got something to say? write us