In 1978, at the age of 28, Charles was exposed to watersports in New York through the Mineshaft bar. Returning to Australia, Charles realised at the Signal Bar in Sydney how he could incorporate his newly discovered interest in watersports into the bar which lacked special facilities. He did this by using the shared urinal, or trough, common in Australian pubs and clubs. This habit resulted in the name Troughman being applied to Charles. Describing his sexual experience, Troughman began by crouching down and leaning against the urinal, before engaging in the signature activity he is most famous for, "it becomes easy to let myself go completely and, no longer kneeling or crouching, I lie right down in the urinal." Troughman also engaged in other watersports, and recalls having used bandana code.
According to Robert Reynolds by the early 2000s in the Sydney gay community "Troughman has become a cultural icon, an almost mythical figure," and that Troughman was particularly famous for his role in the Sydney Mardi Gras parties. By 1996 Troughman had been mentioned in the mainstream media in relation to the Sleaze Ball. An interview with Barry by Kerry Bashford appeared in Campaign magazine, accompanied by a photograph by Garrie Maguire. Sponge magazine, a small underground design magazine edited by Mark Sykes, also ran a story, again Maguire was commissioned to make the accompanying photograph, though it did not get printed, due to its literal interpretation of the subject. The photo was later seen in a Leather pride exhibition.
Part of the myth of Troughman included persistent rumours of death. Troughman's cultural impact entered into mainstream Australian culture, where by 2007, his practices could be referred to off-hand in relation to public urinals, and comprise part of contemporary Australian myth.
The 1998 film Troughman directed by Kellie Henneberry was screened at the Philadelphia International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in United States.
- Charles, 65–8.
- Charles, 68–9.
- Reynolds, "Editors Comment," 72.
- Reynolds, "Editors Comment," 70.
- Greg Logan, "Dance Spells" Metro section, Sydney Morning Herald 4 October 1996, 4.
- Michael Donaldson, "Sleaze Preoccupies Sydneysiders," Sunday Star-Times, 4 October 1998, 15; Reynolds, "Editors Comment," 72.
- Doug Anderson, "Television," [Daily review] Sydney Morning Herald 28 September 2010, 21; Sam de Brito, "Standard Urinal Protocol," All men are liars (blog) Sydney Morning Herald (online) 27 February 2007 12:03 AM.
- British Film Institute, Film and Television database entry "Troughman 1998" http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/617533; Australian Film Commission, "Australian Films and Multimedia at Overseas Festivals", Australian Film Commission News, 175/76 August/September 1998, 4.
- Barry Charles, "Troughman," Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 15 (3&4) July 2003: 65–74. doi:10.1300/J041v15n03_06
- Robert Reynolds, "Editor's Comment: Afternoon Tea with Troughman," in Barry Charles (author), "Troughman," Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 15 (3&4) July 2003: 70–74. doi:10.1300/J041v15n03_06