The unbearable unhorniness of hermits

Two men on opposite sides of the globe have gone to great extremes to avoid love.

Published October 21, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

October 21, 1999

Not all men are eager for intercourse. Some bashful blokes will hide
themselves away for decades to escape intimacy.

Just ask Reuss Johann.

Known as the naked "Hermit of the Bush," he ran wild for 16 years dining on raw road kill kangaroo in Australia's Northern Territories. According to an article in the Mirror Wednesday, startled cops captured the long-bearded loner 18 months ago. Not knowing quite what to do with the self-made bushman, they penned him in a Brisbane correctional institute, awaiting proof of his identification. The neo-primitive prisoner claims he is a 61-year-old Luxembourg citizen with an outdated visitor's visa.

What was he running from? In addition to immigration officers, could the man have been avoiding unwanted female advances? The disheveled celibate confessed to officers that he had "had no contact with a woman" for years. Instead, he lusts after another kind of flesh -- the raw meat he once found in the wide open outback. His lawyer, who expressed concerns about his health, is campaigning for his freedom.

Is an aversion to romance one of the things that drives men to become hermits?

Robert Sinclair would probably agree. He might also say it was a necessarily drastic measure. After surviving 23 years in the Scotland highlands, the 51-year-old hermit has suddenly found himself the love object of several eager maidens.

He had subsisted on potatoes, tins of salmon, soft drinks, bananas and other sustenance snitched from isolated farmhouses until last November, when helicopters and patrolmen on horseback flushed him out of his hideaway, reported the London Independent yesterday. But before sentencing was complete, he high-tailed it to the hills again, only to be recaptured last month.

The hermit was released from Barlinnie Prison this week, with one year's probation, reported the Scotsman. But freedom may not mean peace.
According to his friend Willie Leitch, Sinclair received "a number of letters from lassies proposing marriage."

By Hank Hyena

Hank Hyena is a former columnist for SF Gate, and a frequent contributor to Salon.

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