Let’s not go into why we were there, or how we heard about it. But last night at the Argyle (or as I like to call it, “the cougar den”) we witnessed the Sydney round of judging for RSVP’s search for “Australia’s Hottest Tradie”.

It was a totally surreal experience, a big gender role reversal, to be amidst this sea of catcalling women totally objectifying a handful of men. The people watching was excellent – sorting the women who’d come straight from work from those who’d gone home to doll themselves up! Hunger and lust in the eyes of squealing champagne-bolstered women, who are probably very mild-mannered accountants or child-care providers by day. And I was surprised at the number of guys and gays in the crowd.

The tradies themselves were hilarious – two interchangeable boys-next-door, the 30-year-old who made the mistake of trying to have a personality on stage, the westie wog electrician and a 20-year-old roided-up, stallion-necked poseur. The young’un wanted to win badly, hamming it up pouring water over himself, and looked bitterly disappointed when one of the nice boys won. And did I mention two of the judging criteria, tested by one lucky girl plucked from the crowd, were bicep measurements and “the pinch test”? And there were oh so many tool jokes.

(Cougar in the wild) Meanwhile, there was some kind of amateur round where, in my opinion, the best talent of the evening emerged. A strapping Maori/islander diesel fitter with the face of an angel. When he pulled an aw-shucks grin and his dimples came out like rays of sunshine, 200 women ovulated simultaneously. He faced little in the way of competition, though points for effort to the paunchy bloke with the comb-over. As we left the poor lad was in the middle of a cougar tug-of-war… hope he made it out alive, I daresay he left with the clothes torn off his back!

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