Dr. Freddie Schulz was very laid back about the whole thing. We were in a Malibu private clinic where he was treating media mogul Hugh Hefner.
The doctor was referring to "Androgynitus" an extremely rare psycho-sexual physical affliction, so bizarre it is not even listed in popular medical encyclopedias. The victim basically turns into a butch female with penis loss, a compulsive urge to chatter and a spontaneous growth of breasts. I was not allowed to interview the patient.
"It is known in the medical profession but kept a big secret in the world at large, for obvious reasons. Mass panic would ensue at worst. At best, it would destroy the sex industry, overnight," Dr. Schulz informed me. I was astonished. I had been assigned to cover the case by my paper's editor Dr. Phil of the "Vaginal Echo", now one of the most respected papers in America since being taken over by Oprah Winfrey Publications.
'Mr. Hefner is, of course, still quite distraught, but is responding well to treatment. He is trying to look on the whole thing positively and has had his discarded penis preserved in formaldehyde. He hopes to have a lampshade made of it when he gets home," ended Dr. Schulz.
Hefner's new bride Crystal Harris has adapted quickly and finds it all highly amusing, fondly referring these days to her new husband as "My little gramps." Unaware of his condition she had brought him a large basket filled with boxes of Viagra that stands nobly on a dresser beside his bed. Now and then, Hugh gazes at it and reaches out a limp hand to caress its cellophane wrapping. Tears come into his eyes as his other hand instinctively searches for that which is no longer there. Since hearing the news Crystal has stood loyally by Hefner's side and his credit cards.
Of course, when first learning of his state Hef was inconsolable as a child who had lost his favourite toy. It appears then, that he sought to find some sort of spiritual dimension to his plight and summoned the eminent Catholic theologian Fr. Bernardo Giraldo, ( Vatican advisor on spiritual matters and expert in sexual trauma ) from Rome to his bedside. Dr. Schulz was present at the meeting and told me what was said.
Apparently, the disease can be traced back to the Emperor Caligula who quite suddenly went off the rails for reasons nobody could fathom, especially the thousands he slaughtered immediately afterwards in cold blood. The only one who possibly might have understood was his horse Incitatus whom he had made into a consul. After him, many other emperors caught the disease, Claudius, Nero, Trajan, etc, etc. "They seemed to be unable to make the connection between the disease and their promiscuous life-style," explained Fr. Giraldo to the penitent. "But it was known even then, that it was something not to be spoken off. Many emperors and their associates went to their graves women without anybody outside of their families being any the wiser."
"Why the fuck did nobody tell me about this!" snapped Hef, adjusting his bra and shaking back his new growth of black curls.
"The Vatican Library, as I have said," continued the priest, "has records of many such cases. It afflicted even the Popes. Pope Julius 2nd had it. That is why he got Michelangelo to paint all those naked men in the Sistine chapel. It has happened to many celebrities in modern times. You must surely have noted the gradual taking on of feminine mannerisms and physical characteristics by people like Elvis Presley...
"Jeez, you're right!" exclaimed Hef. "The King turned into a big, fat bitch before he died!"
"Then there was Errol Flynn, Rock Hudson, Sacha Distel, Jimi Hendrix, Pavarotti, Julio Iglesias, Keith Moon, Frank Sinatra..."
"Frank! Not Frank!"
"Of course. It came upon Mister Sinatra just after the Ava Gardner affair, years before he died. There is always one woman who triggers it. Fatal attraction you might say. In the end, he lived in a bamboo hut and wore a false beard. You are not alone Mister Hefner. One could say you are now one of the lead singers in the "Choir Invisible."
"Will I go mad, Father, like Caligula?"
"Depends how you deal with it. Caligula didn't deal with it too well. Flynn became a hopeless drunk. Jagger keeps herself to herself these days and starves herself to death when she has to go on tour. Bulimia is not a good option Mister Hefner. Miss Hall was the one that did it for Mick. Completely morphed him. Chances are you will be no madder than you already are. You've had a good run Sir, all things considered."
"But what can I do, Father?" sobbed Hef.
"You could consider becoming a nun."
Dr. Schulz, of course, only repeated to his patient what Fr. Giraldo had already told him. He advised him to look out for a gradual expansion of the pelvic region accompanied by abdominal cramps and a loosening of the bowels, people laughing at him behind his back and making loud remarks about his legs. "Incontinence knickers are quite effective nowadays. Buy Chinese is my advice," counselled the doctor. He might also find himself an easy target for muggers and would be advised not to take his purse with him when out shopping. In the event of possible rape he was to sound the alarm button on his cell phone. The good news was that the disease had been known to add a few more years to a victim's life. Before leaving, Dr. Schulz made Hef an offer for the basket and suggested he take Crystal out to dinner on his behalf.