Colonics are amusing--often the butt of jokes, if you will. As for me, I've always lumped colon hydrotherapy with other useless cosmetic fads from Hollywood--like collagen injections and dating Katie Holmes.

As recently as a month ago, I was still skeptical. But, finally, someone I knew (and respected) had endured several colonic treatments and emerged raving--as well as 10 pounds lighter. She bragged of a stronger sense of well-being and even claimed that food tasted better. I doubted that any treatment would eliminate my love handles or enhance my palate, but nevertheless, I was intrigued. I also heard colonics can alleviate anxiety, memory loss, and fatigue. What were they spewing up there? Liquid crack?

What sold me was the photo. In a naturopathic journal, I came across an "after colon therapy" photo of a woman bearing a plate in each hand, on which lay 10 pounds of feces extracted after only one colonic treatment. I desperately wanted a photo of me posing with 20 pounds of my own shit and, short of committing hari-kari, a colonic was my only hope.

Sadly, among the colonic purveyors in Portland, carrying around plates of feces is not allowed--however, each location is equipped with a clear tube which allows one to see what's being expelled during the session. I spoke with several therapists before deciding upon "Michele," who was by far the friendliest and least expensive ($60 per session compared to $70-75 for most others). Back-to-back treatments (two within three days) are recommended for first timers since a successive cleansing is needed to flush out the toxins and gunk that dislodged during the first session. I signed up for an upcoming Tuesday and Wednesday, paid $120, and prepared myself for some ass pumping.

Clearing A Path

Despite my years of rectal training as a versatile gay man, I figured there was more to colonics than simply fitting a tube in your ass. (As it turns out, there's really not much more to it.) Buggering was the only experience my anus had with the outside world--I've never even had an enema. In order to prepare, I did some reading.

Colon therapy is in no way a new branch of "medicine." The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates himself, evidently propagated its beneficial purgative uses. On this continent, making use of a properly positioned hollow reed and rushing river water, enemas were accepted as effective prevention of illnesses. Word has it that our own Lewis and Clark had their asses sprayed before (and during) their voyage. If they could withstand the procedure with Sacajawea's tribesmen looking on, surely I could lie down for an hour in an air-conditioned clinic on Hawthorne. I presumed the more difficult task would be to endure the inevitable Enya soundtrack piped into the room.

Though it was suggested to avoid eating for several hours before my colonic, I'm an overachiever, and decided to undergo a juice fast. For a moment I was naïve enough to believe I would save money on groceries that week--but, remembering all I eat is peanut butter sandwiches and vegan macaroni and cheese, I abandoned that rationalization.

I consulted my respected friend about juice fasting. Along with suggestions for particularly filling juice combinations (spinach-carrot and blueberry-avocado), she mentioned psyllium husk powder mixed with water and a few preparatory Fleet™ enemas to guarantee a barrier-free passageway to my colon.

Only once (it was July 4 and reefer was involved) did I stray from my diet. The psyllium concoction and fruit-juice diet worked wonders--I had no need for the store-bought Fleet™ enemas (and never seriously considered them, anyhow). My hole was prepped and ready to blow. Enema at the Gates Despite my earlier deluges, the morning of my first treatment I was packed tight--and try as I might, couldn't squeeze anything out. Still turtle-nosing an hour before my appointment, I was forced to enlist the help of the only foolproof instant laxative I know: a well-rolled cigarette. Sure enough, by the time I stamped it out, the gates to my colon were obstacle free. I showered, then left, excited for my anal adventure.

There was no Enya but, as one might imagine, this (like most) colon hydrotherapy clinics was teeming with the sounds of euphemisms. Bearing in mind that anything dealing with the anus is a delicate subject for most Americans, I wasn't surprised. Still, phrases like "going to the bathroom," "BM," and "bottom" made me feel 12. Personally, I would prefer the clinician to greet me with, "Ready to have your sphincter sandblasted?"

The equipment resembled one of those pet-washing stations; just a table with a bunch of hoses attached--except this table had a hollow cavity toward one end. As instructed, I stripped from the waist down. On my back in only a shirt, I positioned myself on the bed, arranged my hindquarters over the cavity and, with my legs up, inserted the wide-as-a-pencil tube into my B-hole. I then covered my junk with a towel and, once comfortable (head back, tube in, legs elevated), summoned Michele.

Before turning the water on, she instructed me how to massage my colon and liver.

"Sometimes stuff gets stuck in the corners--rubbing helps release it," she said, demonstrating a breathing pattern to complement the rubdown. "You'll probably get a good workout."

Whatever. I was still under the impression that the machine would do the work for me. This is America after all. One Spray at a Time Then she turned the knob. The water was standard 90 to 95 degrees, similar to Jacuzzi water, but I couldn't really feel it. Once I okayed the temperature, Michele left me to my "workout." I had some reading to finish, so I reached for my book.

Remember: I was completely ignorant about what happens during an enema. I was convinced the water naturally flowed in and out of me, grabbing fecal fragments and expelling them with the same tenacity as an immigration official. After a minute with nothing coming through, I began to worry. I waited longer, staring at the clear tube below me. Still nothing. Soon, I realized I had to push to expel the water--and that's when I saw some "stuff." Though I initially worried about pushing too hard and shooting the tube across the room, spraying the walls with years of intestinal dookie--my always reliable sphincter held fast.

Once I adapted to the rhythm of massaging and pushing, the procedure was effective. With a sweaty brow, I fixed my eyes on the clear tube. A lot of goo resembling algae came through, as well as various particles, and a good amount of yellowish liquid. Michele was pleased to learn of the yellow dregs.

"That means you reached your liver. Not all first timers get that far!"

I left the office especially proud of my straight-A anus, and was particularly eager for my return the next day. Colonics: The New Gateway Drug? "Properly administered, colon hydrotherapy is not addictive."

I read this quote in a pamphlet before my visit and chuckled at the absurdity--but, after my first session, I recognized the caveat. Once you begin seeing results, you become anxious for more. Can I get more yellow gunk to surface? Or perhaps those dimes I swallowed in kindergarten? It's more than that, though. Since the procedure stirs up age-old toxins, some addictions may recur. Michele told me of a patient that hadn't smoked in 15 years, who emerged from a session with a renewed nicotine craving. It took several sessions to rid herself of these long-dormant contaminants.

Considering that I harbor an addictive personality, I was relieved to find my second treatment produced virtually no ancient shit. I could certainly see myself obsessively scheduling appointments until I ran clear. This is not to say my colon was so clean you could eat off of it (impossible after one session) and that I wouldn't have another colonic in the future--but for now, though, I'm set. Cost is a major factor, but further, I don't see the need for more than two treatments a year--at least for my bottom, which for my purposes, is relatively squeaky clean.

The moral: Results vary from person to person. Though I haven't noticed a change in my demeanor or an attenuation of my short-term memory loss, this doesn't mean the procedure is bunk. It can have those effects on certain people.

But the fact is, since the treatment, things have changed. I liked the way I felt that week and have altered my diet to accommodate more juice (as a good vegan should). I've avoided sugar for the most part and started using more psyllium. A reliable friend even mentioned I looked thinner. And if nothing else, I expelled some prejudices along with all that poop. Who knows? Maybe I'm finally ready to move to Hollywood and ask out Katie Holmes; from what I hear, she likes gay men.