I speak now of shame and the wasted money. But nylon brushed it away that day, away in the silken lining of my overcoat, it was my first time. I was in a cab going west into uncharted territory, I was wearing my wife’s black nighty, her pearl earrings and necklace (which I would lose later that eve)…and just so you know, earlier that day I had purchased a pair of “virgin-white, fuck me high heels”. I was also sporting a Hendrix afro which I didn’t have to endure an embarrassment of purchase, God gave it to me. With me in the back of the cab were Mel and Kenneth, seasoned fetish club regulars all perfumed and talcum-powdered into shiny black rubber. Ken was a charismatic London Irish who’d escaped the building work and the drink, but not the Catholic Church. Beneath a charming smile was an underlying melancholia that most Celts drink away, but for Ken redemption was just the whip crack of a finger snap away. Beside him was his ex-partner Mel, more on Mel later.
Out into the naked street and the grey yellow London drizzle, staring down to avoid any eye contact I watched as the tarmac gave way to York stones and the York stones gave way to gravestones, our footsteps pushed small waves of inky water over the fading epitaphs etching out the carved names of the residents beneath. The virgin whites were holding water like the waxed hulls of a transatlantic catamaran, yet now defiled by the black waters that washed over the dead. A shiver of disappointment ran through me, the first stain on a new pair of shoes. Ken nudged me forward and pressed a pill into the palm of my hand. I washed it down with a few puffs on a soggy joint that hissed back at me as I flicked it into the unremitting drizzle.
A queue of the living stretched over the tombstones of the dead leading to a pool of light at the base of some almost invisible steps that lead unassumingly into the crypt of the old Church. Over its soot-blacked door, a fluorescent lipstick scrawl screamed “Halloween Fetish Night £25.” The old church towered above us flickering in the blustery sheets of rain which like some great curtain periodically gave way to the grey violet silhouette of a Hawksmoor Citadel. A church abandoned by God, abandoned a long time ago, from a time when “He” used to live in the heart of South London. Ken outstretched his thin rubber arms that glistened like wet liquorish in the fine drizzle, unfurling them in a welcoming theatrical gesture suggesting he’d just conjured the whole place up.
“Behold the Filth Club”
She spoke with a stare as cold as the glass that separated us, with a brick in her heart that could never smash it. A past strewn with dollies, lollies, and cuddles with Collies. From dogs to ditches and rags to bitches. A powdered gizzard framed in strands of raven black, a face that always says you’ll never get your money back. Her black powdery slits had seen it all before, that’s why she always worked upon the door.
A crammed and a gentle pandemonium pervaded, an imminent claustrophobia gripped me as I looked up to feel the rain on my face, as if for the last time, like a convicted man about to be denied the open sky for eternity. The queue snaked to a small glass-fronted box reminiscent of some fortune-teller at a fairground. Behind the glass was a hard-case of a woman, thin strands of raven black hair pulled tight over a waxy hazelnut of a head. She had the Essex face-lift look, untrusting eyes pulled to dark powdery slits, eyes that had seen it all before and a mouth that life had stretched into a tight-lipped impassive gash. “Twenty-five pounds please”, the pan-stick sneered words hissed from a blade thin slash of red lippy that bled in fine ruby lines into the dusty beige of a worn smile. As she opened the money slit out gushed a column of fan heater warmth tinged with stale fag smoke. The notes slid into the warmth; with a flash of black-painted nails the little window slammed shut like a mouse’s piss flap. Behind the glass she held my ticket in one hand and gestured with the other as if waving away a persistent fly, her eyes rolled as her hand clenched the ticket. There was a deep intake of breath, maybe she was going to tell my fortune but before the words had left her mouth Mel nudged me.“Open your coat.” I flashed my black lace and nylon. The money slit re-opened and she slid the ticket through. “You look lovely darling”, wafted on a warm faggy breeze as she waved away another fly.Mel glided by the money slit, no money exchanged, just a smile.
They let Mel and others like her in free because she looked immaculate, a shining example from the tips of her thigh length black PVC kinky boots to the shiny peak of her “officer’s cap”, and between the two, were the “all too perfect”, and all too good to be true perked boobies flanked in the rear by a tea-tray bullet arse, all squeezed and puckered by a Victorian black leather-waisted corset. It was in fact, all too good to be true. In real-life Mel worked at a London hospital, she made leather attachments for prosthetic limbs. In real life, Mel was a beautifully frail and flat-chested dormouse. In real life, Mel made her own outfits for her fantasy life, and just as she had she made the outfits Mel had also made her new body, she had padded and puffed herself through hundreds of tiny stitches into a leather princess. Her make-up was immaculate, applied with surgical precision, like the stitches of a prosthetic limb.
Bouncer at the door, baptist on the floor, church groomed in Bible Black. You still won’t get your money back. A thousand-yard stare, all two abreast and military styling, staring to the New Jerusalem. Tonight you pay, tomorrow they pray. Bible Boys, all God’s toys, I and I eye-witness to the door that slammed, “Come on up, boys I am the dead and all are dammed.”
It was the last barrier to surmount before you were in “the red carpet area.” and at its ragged edges stood the “Bouncers”. Bouncers on the door would be a demeaning word in this instance, these guardians looked immaculate. The Bible Black Boys, the bouncers, came from the local Baptist church. I know this as I spoke to one of their wives in the lady’s toilet, she, less immaculately dressed, was the toilet attendant. ‘Sunday church groomed’ their starched shirts of UV blue-white lit the dark brown velvet of their shiny faces. They had security and sanitary sewn up…. The Bible Black Bouncers were God’s witness. Standing beside the Bouncers were two “fashionista” types, young thin, and vain, and full of themselves. They were the sexy dress police hanging out and showing off, guarding the entrance, between them they had sanitary security and style, all sewn up.
In the corridors of Regency gold and ruby, long black coats dropped away to reveal the mind filth wrapped in baubles and beads. Knicker perfumed wafts carried the dim muffled thuds of a dance floor, gently phasing in and out like a rock festival’s drugged breath carried on a summer zephyr. Like penned cattle the crowd shuffled by endlessly in the spot-lit blackness, spasmodically squinting and posing in flickering pools of light that marked out a different fantasy, every person a tiny star for a bare moment. They promenaded as if on some Victorian gothic seafront, there was no sea here and someone had painted the sky black, beneath it all people strutting their wares in a shiny parade of white flesh and black rubber, interspersed with flashes of bright pinks and greens, strangely reminiscent of a heaving bag of liquorish allsorts. Mel and I watched the parade from the bar as we sipped the five-pound a bottle mineral water like it was champagne. She started to explain the different flavours of the “all-sorts” as they flickered in and out of the various pools of spot-lit starlight. “I suppose you could say that I am part of a black rubber matriarchal subculture, us Dom’s most definitely rule with the leash and the lash. The men love to be “naughty boys” the merest inappropriate touch or verbal insult will result in a sound thrashing. Others want to be treated to slavery and sexual humiliation, basically, we dish it, the subs take it, and the slaves lap it up.”
“Are all the subs and slaves all men?”
“I’ve seen very few women who wish to be abused in this way, those that do seem to relish the more violent abuse; the true feminine masochistic in these places is a disturbing and bloody sight. On a lighter note, there is the young fluffy, shiny and smiley-crowd, usually in a party dress uniform of synthetic bright pinks and greens, all be-speckled with gold and silver baubles. This crowd is mere floral decoration to the hard core rubbers, some “fancy dress florals” do cross the line and explore their inner Dom. When handed the whip for a trial run over some “subs” bum these novices can become quite exhilarated in whipping the shit out of some bony pony blokes arse, literally and metaphorically beating the dogs of past boyfriends like a carpet, a sort of cathartic redemption for the sweet broken love hearts of a teenage tender past.
A platoon of officers paraded by underneath that matt black sky. Retro brilliantine and salmon shiny they waded through that fleshy briny. In suspender flush and navy blue flesh toned Wrens paraded too. Armies of Majors and Darth invaders, starfleet thighs of golden russet racked right up to warp nine gusset. And there goes Kirk as some big fat jerk. There were Shirley Temples and Fairy elementals that roamed the night with nursy dentals, all laced up in pristine white against the darkness of the night.
There were Lilly Marlane’s and let’s do the time warp agains,Vicars, Tarts and rubberized old farts. Romans in cloths with nuns and old goths,Punks and young runts escorting old cunts. Barrett home buses of doctors and nurses idly repeating the same old verses.
O Cockney lad both young and fair, with ginger ruffs of bum-fluff hair. O Spotty young dancer, the free drinks chancer, singing lager, larger, larger at the last orders saga. But Bow belled nimble runt beware, for in the darkness of the mass some old gent will fill your ass.
Mel broke off in mid-sentence, took a final sip of the champagne mineral water and said, “Time for you to go off and explore.” She registered the look of shock on my face. “It’s not like other clubs, in the fetish world you explore on your own its less shameful.” I resorted to a feeble plea; I wasn’t ready to go it alone. I didn’t know it at the time, but her evening would always be full of feeble pleading. There was a quiet sigh as she looked down at the empty glass, “Ok as it’s your first time I’ll give you the verbal grand tour, but it will cost you a Gin and Tonic.”
“Like you, not everybody here knows the rules so people are vetted by the style police”, she pointed over to the entrance where some thin-lipped anorexic in Sado-Machino casuals was hovering. They are looking for drunken chancers and blaggers who have not made the effort, these people will be lamely pointed out, then it falls to the bouncers who would block their entrance. Before the stunned wily blagger can utter a word, one of the fashionistas would usually hiss some catastrophic downer from the side of her lip-liner mouth; something like, “sorry you can’t enter dressed like that”. It’s often said with a mock “have a nice day” politeness with a relish and delight any Dom gets when delivering a punishment. They were keeping up standards, keeping it unreal, stripping and searching for good bodies and sometimes awful bodies. Pub closing time is when they are on red alert, come back here in a few hours, its great theatre. The ‘pub fresh’ are always subjected to this horrible, but amusing ritual depending of course on how desperately they want to get in. Most of the people that come to these places are graduates and professionals, plus a few ‘chancers’ that fate throws in. These late-night ‘blow in’s’ from the local pubs can be psychological nitro-glycerine, their usually drunk enough to pay the exorbitant entry fee and are blissfully ignorant of the rules. The warm spontaneity of a drunkard’s “convivial” cuddle would have you out on the street, boxers half way down your arse, your fading protests bouncing off the black veneer of the Bible Boys.
Of these, the first and most common amongst the innocents is “The young cockney Chancer”. A special form of humiliation is dished out for them, this public humiliation is carried out near the entrance (an area of the cloakroom where anybody wearing anything normal is ejected or subjected to a humiliating type of strip search). The females are quick to catch on; they see girls go by fantastically made up with whatever fantasy sex-wear they had made or bought, you have to make the effort in these places you can’t just wander in. Blagger girls are treated with the same disrespect as the boys, off comes the dress, if it revealed some nice lacy bra, stockings, and suspenders they’re in. If it revealed a yellowing comfy bra and saggy old comfort nicks……..they have to come off, as a result, there were always a few completely naked women dancing around in work high heels.
Men, on the other hand, can have a much harder time. If under a peeled off T-shirt reveals a YMCA pumping six-pack in denim, then carry on camping. If a waxy, white, spotty chest with renegade whiffs of hair, then it was down to underpants and personality……if stained, they are immediately rejected…. no matter how white the smile, the Lad usually leaves quietly, nobody feels empowered to argue in dirty underpants. “If they are so picky how did the lardy old loners over there get in ?”
O lonely waxy potato with threadbare hair and penetrating stare, a little jack Horner who sits in his corner eating his turds and whey-hey. Well you know Pug dogs can be quite charming at times, watery eyes and folded flesh. I suppose the same could also be said of these lardy old loners who are mostly made up of pallid and pear-shaped balding middle-aged men with fatty spare tyres, we call them ‘The Michelineos,’ the boot lickers if you like, you drip it, they will lick it, lickers. Doms immediately spot them and take great pleasure in tormenting these bottom feeders which if well behaved are allowed to lick and clean any mess on the Dom’s shoes or on the still quivering sub, a sort of human Kleenex I suppose, so they’re allowed along with other grotesques.
Bibs and bobs strapped to all sorts of nobs, button mushrooms, boiled chicken necks. Two a pound, the dog’s bollocks Madame, minced chopped or ground? The Sedition gear worn by old punks fits in well here, the studded thongs and collars are all part of the acceptable uniform for these old sex scavenger dogs who are up for anything and it would be best to avoid them. They roam the crypts and dark corners, but you’ll mostly spot them in the dungeon savannah. These “past their best” creatures are usually bald or shaved lean porkers, or wasting famine rat-men, some displaying lesser or greater hair gelled crests of blue or red arrogantly strutting around nob-first looking for situations where people are so preoccupied they don’t notice a sneaky hand slipped or slithered in. Some can be naked as new-born rats and will scamper around proudly with a Viagra puffed penis, all shiny purple and pink like a party balloon, balls glinting like Victorian glass marbles against the black leather of their “scrotal squeezer”. It’s best to avert ones gaze for all sorts of reasons, but natural curiosity can get the better of one, as there is usually one or two impressive display dicks that swing like babies arms but a majority resemble a variety of skinned chicken necks and ugly root vegetable nightmares that have been left in the fridge too long. All the above attached to beady eyes, balding heads and papery white tattooed skin belted into tight creases.
In retrospect, it’s easy to see why old punks have taken to these clubs like ducks to water as the ‘punk uniform’ borrows the language of bondage and sadomasochism to express youthful anger, repression and frustration. But the genuine and outrageous mock anger of punk youth has festered with age, turned more real as life has ground them down, and now they are taking it out on each other’s old and worn bodies.
Mirror mirror on the wall who is the fairest tranny of them all, is it all work in vain as I wobble through the pain. On itching gusset and numbing toe within me women come and go. Yet dreaming of their Michael Angelo.
The transvestites that pepper the establishment vary, some are immaculate others look like gorillas with lipstick. They along with the fancy dress people are tolerated, they are transient guests in disguise, and like the fancy dress people are there to show off, but they, unlike the fancy dressers (who usually roam about in groups) are for the most part loners, renegades from wife and friends, the unattractive masked, the broken who have pan-sticked over the cracks, they like you are exploring the Wild West in nylons. Then there is ‘The Immaculate’, the pancake perfect, air-kissing, “get a life” for effort drag queens are usually vain and snobby, also in the high maintenance department is the Pollyanna rag doll, butter wouldn’t melt in the mouth type, all fluffy broad dresses, red bows, oversized wigs, and costume jewellery, these types have been spotted in particularly filthy and debauched activities. At the other end of the spectrum there is the zero effort pink nylon party wig sporting Elvis joke shop dark glasses to hide the absence of eye make-up, (a particularly exacting task for the inexperienced) finished off with a gash of stubbly red lippy as if as if applied by a scaffolder. On horny toed flip flops or Crocs they pad around in hair crushing fish-nets or cheap nylons topped by a charity-shop floral number, nob hanging out or tenting, lots of self-fiddling under someone’s dead Grans Sunday best nylon. They are dramatically and self-consciously coy but sexually provocative if given any attention, for the most part, this type never sees any action, and its best to pay them no attention. Most Transgender people have no need for these places. They are biologically extraordinary men that just want to become ordinary women, no nice girl would be seen in a place like this, a place full of perverts. Like any nice girl, they are looking for prince charming…….I say to em, “You won’t find him in here darlin !”
Then there are people like you. No wig required, borrowed or stolen nighty make up nicely done by a girl like myself, reasonable effort, but mentally at sea. We finished up our drinks, “bloody rip–off,” Mel quipped. Then the tone of her voice changed and once again she uttered the dreaded words, “time to explore on your own”. Registering again my anxiety her eyes narrowed, “that’s the way it is in these places”. It made sense; I guess you didn’t want to be seen or indeed be seen by your pals in compromising situations, no tell-tale tits, that’s why these are lonely and loveless places where people wander like hungry ghosts. “Look, you only have to remember two things, no fiddling with oneself in public but it’s ok to consensually fiddle, with someone else or them to fiddle with you. But lone public wanking is outlawed, she pauses looks around and adds, well its looked down on, and groping will get you chucked out”.
With a theatrical wave Mel flicked back her gelled head, spun on her heels, gulped as if taking in a last breath of air and like a black brilliantine trout plunged back into the heaving river of people, her artificial arse rippling and rocking like two black wet boulders that rolled and swayed into the dark tide of rubber.
Look at me lonely nights in control tights, knicker perfumed and nylon gusseted. In fuck-me shoes that will betray, wondering if this will be the day. Sheer nylon and lace always attracts the sweaty face of East End bloke seeking fun, who always wants it up the bum.
What was I doing? I was dressed like a girl so I acted like a girl…..but was my girl a lesbian….or was she straight? If she was straight then I was gay. I guess everybody has a bit of Betsy both-ways in them. Abandoned, a mild sense of panic set in that was intensified by the impending pills, and like a lost child on the beach, I started to aimlessly wander. I just wanted to hide, I decided that the toilets were the best option. I pushed hard on the matt black door into a bleaching fluorescence heavy with the acrid smell of piss, lots of guys scrubbing and scalding their crutches in vain attempts to wash away the zoo of viruses that live in the fevered mind of the adventure and very possibly other places too.
A tattooed monkey danced across to me, “Come on darling, over the sink.” I reeled back into the darkness, opposite was a pink door emblazed with a black silhouette of a bo-peep nice lady, I hesitated for a moment for all sorts of reasons and slowly opened the door. I tottered into a Revlon scented rose light, before me a chorus of women sat before a long mirror, one on the end turned to me. “Looks like your fuck me heels are killin you babes, kick ’em off darling and come on sit down,” were the words of wisdom that came from the woman’s toilet. It should be noted that all trannies and most women love stilettoed “fuck me shoes.” They give you height and confidence plus the “perked arse strut” but there is a toe crushing and crippling price to be paid in addition to the unsavoury attention they can attract.
Judging by the abundance of frantic poofing going down in the powder room it was obvious that girls were getting a load of joy from just making up, chatting, dabbing, plucking and preening while joking and fantasizing about the perfect stranger, who most of the time turns out to be a drunken selfish arsehole. But everyone can dream, cos, how you gonna have a dream come true. Dreams rarely come true, yet there is a wonderful romantic pathos in tears that melt the perfect mascara and blister powdered rose-pink cheeks that were so meticulously applied during the optimistic daydreams of early evening. We all fantasize, but when you are confronted with the reality of the tattooed monkey you just want to be a voyeur, it’s much safer, easier, cleaner, and for the most part, you make the realization that most of your sexual fantasies are just idle fantasy.
Slowly, lonely as a cloud I drifted into the great gothic masterpiece of a seemingly endless oily black panorama dotted with colourful buds of fancy dress. It all had a certain sinister decadence, an over-powdered posh smoky fug, an aroma of rubber and perfume with all the sickly sweetness of overripe fruit. This all pervaded by an air of peculiar politeness which one often reserves for strangers and dogs.
Emerald stiletto’s quivered like leaves, they hung from manicured toes. Those little berry pinkies of East End ginger Rose. Sassy and Brassy she played the part with the loud red lips of an open heart. Yet she was cast in East End tough along with ginger mop and muff.
As one door shut another opened, as they say, it happened like this. The red leatherette sofa jumped and sighed as an athletic pub fresh redhead flopped down beside me, totally naked except for her stilettos, she must have had a hard time at the door. She looked Tom boyish, her pale small white freckly breasts glowed almost green in the darkness. I assumed she was a T-shirt and denim type, no-frills, hence the peel back from the Sado-Machino style police, now finally in the club she had left who she really was at the door. She banged both stilettos up on the low table, shuffled the cheeks of her arse on the slippery leatherette and opened her legs slightly, then stuffed her hand straight down her wispy, ginger muff and started to fiddle. Chin pressed firmly against her freckly chest, body rigid as she locked her heels into the edge of the table, she groaned and the table also groaned as it slid across the floor. I gave her a sideways glance and without missing a beat she looked me straight in the eye and spat out the words, “this is fukin great init ?”My face was saying it wasn’t. “Come on babes, you needs a dance. “What’s your name?” I said nothing.“Cummon Curles.” She grasped my hand, “Ginger and Curls” we were off to the dance floor. There was no conversation just the grasping insistence of a white-knuckled, freckly but friendly cold hand. We weaved our way to the dance floor, the soft dull thudding grew louder, the euphoric dance music had a warmth and reassuring familiarity about it. The hand kept pulling me through the heaving mass, and then a sudden slingshot into a circle of semi-naked girls, gingers gang. Ginger kicked off her heels, now totally naked she started encircling us and got down on a Hiawatha type, Native American type of funky dance, she seemed reassuringly normal as she collapsed into raucous laughter, no heavy eyeliner, no snooty attitude, strapless and rubber free. I relaxed for the first time. Her circle of friends were all working South London girls, they cackled and laughed and teased, skirty flicks to roars of laughter, “show us your surprise package darling harr ha harr,” they, like myself, were on a first night.“You got stonkin legs darling, yea like Tina Turner cracked another.” There was a lot of naughty nighty flicking accompanied by a surprised shriek or yelp if they got to the surprise package. There was a lot of running of fingers over the nylon; the pills tend to do that to people. They are urged on by curiosity and sensation, it’s not sexual it’s more sensational. It’s the feeling you remember as a child curled up on the edge of sleep drifting in and out of the distant laughter of a TV show, and your mum pushes back the hair from your face and gives you a soft peck on the side of a cheek. It’s that kind of feeling and you’re convinced everybody is feeling it, they look like they are, and they probably are. The girls had spun a pill-enhanced love bubble and in its magic, I had lost all self-consciousness, the magic white slippers were dancing me, I was the dancing queen, the lesbian slut cackling and bitching with the best of em,…..I was having a brilliant time. We all swung to that transient rhythmic joy, all flashing lights and smiles, a moment held in cotton wool showered with tinsel, the flickering flashes of strobed joy that all happens in that timeless three and a half minutes of a favourite dance track.
Ironically this would turn out to be the highlight of my evening, although I didn’t know it yet. I had discovered the joy of dancing in a short skirt, stilettos, and curly afro, it gave one a certain flicky freedom and the heels give you the private dancer strut. I was the dancing girl. I had become “Curls” the object of attention, I have never had this much attention in my life as a bloke, yippy! Amongst the river of soft running fingers a bony finger interrupted, it prodded and poked, Ken’s voice like a pin burst the bubble. “I need your help in the Dungeon.” Reluctantly I followed Ken, for it was good to see a familiar face. As we were leaving one of the girls pushed a card into my hand. “Look Ken, one of the girls gave me their number.” Ken gave a wry smile, “She’s a professional Dom touting for business.” Deflated, I followed him reflecting that Ginger must have been genuine as there had been no card, in fact anywhere even to keep a stash of cards. It was curious how the girls didn’t see me as a sexual threat, for there was a lot of provocative stroking and groping followed by hilarious laughter. It has to be said there is something disarming and ridiculous about a man in drag, girls seem to know how to have friendly fun, but with men, or should I say, men that are attracted to TV’s…… I was to find their response to be a very different one, the grasping grope out of nowhere, and then a curious inversion of what you’d expect; things like, “I bet you got a nice bit of tackle down there darling, I’d love you to stuff it hard and fast up me tradesman’s”…..Oh, dear! Ken sensed my consternation and quipped, “Mind you, you were getting a lot of attention, maybe the drag act confuses the female radar, perhaps I should try dragging up.”
Various explanations were discussed on the way to “The Dungeon”, so much so that on a later occasion Ken would invest in a little mini skirt and wig……Oh dear, he looked like an air hostess from a low-budget airline, ‘Shauna from Air Fungus.’ Probably not even an airline, more like a Channel ferry or an intercity bus from Birmingham. The tied bandanna corporate kerchief hiding an aging neck with too much foundation, red lippy plastered on a satchel mouth, girls whose beer bottle legs held up a head full of broken dreams of transatlantic Jumbo glamour. I don’t think he could even have made that, his legs were more like a sparrow; in his saggy fishnets he was probably more akin to the poor souls who mop the floors of a late-night fish and chippies. Still, he did get a few Doms to lash that bony fishnet-clad arse of his, the scrawny Irish slut. On the way down to the dungeon we passed the cloakroom where Ken in sea otter style started intently shuffling for his coat, maybe the dungeon was cold. He was dipping and diving amongst the wet coats before a triumphant smile cracked on his gaunt face as he brought up from the depths what looked like a fist full of seaweed. “Mushies,” he said with a big wink. The cold of the bleakly lit cloakroom had brought an air of premature sobriety to proceedings, a reality that told me I was not ready to re-join real life just yet. I had danced out the pills….so why not? But I knew, deep down, the psychedelic mushrooms could be a terrible mistake.
“I need your help in the dungeon.”
“Pattycake pattycake as fast as you can,” said the old codger to the young man. A whip soaked in Chanel couldn’t cover the smell of sandalwood and cracks all brimming with wax.
It was a slow descent, I clacked nimbly down the stairs nibbling the foul black dried mushrooms…. dungeon food. Before us was a set of twin doors and above them a hastily erected sign in gothic script, “Dungeon”. Each door had a small red glass panel window cut in the shape of a crucifix, either side of the doors like ebony bookends stood the Baptist Bouncers, on guard, looking for anything evil that may streak out from the walls and run rampant out into the South London night. They stared down through their smart official cleanliness giving the look; it said “I will remember you on the great day of judgment”. “I will tell God on you, I will tell him when I go to church on Sunday.” I cringed, but some part of me enjoyed the depth of my depravity like a small child with a face full of chocolate, and anyway it’s only men that judge. God forbid. I looked through the small blood-red glass slit; numerous dark silhouettes writhed in the intense redness, frantically moving like flies drowning in a sweet burgundy.
Ken seemed to anticipate my guilt ridden apprehension, “Get in there you slut bitch,” he banged open the doors with a devil may care familiarity, smiling broadly at the bouncers as he did so, his teeth black with mushrooms. The bookends looked through him they had seen it all before and would see it all again and worse. The Dungeon crypt had the air of a giant but steamy public toilet, cavernous arches gave way to a maze of stone alcoves, and the little mausoleums once filled with coffins were now filled with the moans and groans of various stoned gropers. There was no music, just the sound of tick, tick, tick in rapid succession and then whack; whack or babies bum patti, pat, pat, and thwack, punctuated by the occasional yelp or moan. It all gave the appearance of a degenerate orgy, but as Mel had said it was in fact highly ritualized, and there were rules: Women were definitely in charge, it attracted that kind of girl. People seemed to fall into categories, for the most part, it was exhibitionist couples, professional Doms and their attendant subs, with a sprinkling of all who wanted to give or receive a sound thrashing. In their defence, it would be too harsh to say they were just masochists and sadists; it was more complicated than that, it was a debauched ritualistic theatrical play with people acting out their specific roles. The beautiful acted out their themes with a cosmetic conviction, it was only the ugly, the old, and the damaged that drew terrible welts and sometimes blood, but all were engrossed in frantic repetitive activity, like a turkey plucking factory before the Christmas rush.
I rolled my eyes away to the ceiling to avoid the chaos, my gaze was immediately caught by the sparkling beauty of a huge chandelier hanging from a void above my head, at its heart was a beautifully pale Japanese woman suspended from the centre of the glittering light-fitting. She was held there by two hooks that dug deep into her flesh just above her breasts, a frozen statue in that cauldron of frantic activity the only movement being a lattice of flickering spots thrown down from a disco-ball that quivered neurotically over her alabaster body; she hung there motionless in her crystalline stillness and solitude. A thin black line ran like a seam down one side of her powdered figure, the seam was in fact a trickle of dark blood slowly dripping like the melting of an icicle, the trickle bent slightly at her ankle, across the arch of her tiny foot to finally drip, drip, like ruby lacquer off the end of her little pinkies. Underneath, a black rubber Michelino quietly licked the small pool like a contented cat. “Fuck this Ken.” “Naw, it’s all right honest, they are specialty acts”. “Oh, that’s all right then”.
“Look, this is what I wanted to show you”.
The coffin was resting on a dimly lit plinth, its sides and lid appeared transparent but on opening one became aware that the sides and lid were in fact two-way mirrors which from the inside gave infinite reflections to the occupant. Six holes were cut into either side, each one plugged with a rubber glove like a babies incubator, the gold trim and glass gave an air of Sleeping Beauty Saint Hood to the whole thing. There spellbound, underlit by a cauldron of fluorescent light lay Sleeping Beauty. A Raven haired Goth all sparkly glistening, perked, and naked. A collection of Halloween witches had their rubber clad hands buried in right up to the elbows, one of the rubber gloves held a squeezy bottle of slime green sparkly lube and, for want of a better word, was spunkin’it up over Sleeping Beauty. The other eleven hands performed their slippery caress, they slid all over her and under her, lifted her up, and laid her down, but fair play none of them slid up Sleeping Beauties fair maiden’s crack. After about ten minutes Sleeping Beauty awoke. I fantasised about having a go and in that split second of a moment’s thought, Ken like a rat out of a drainpipe was in there before you could say top-o-the morning. Lying there arms crossed like Count Dragula, a wingless black rubber bat with a broad self-satisfied grin on his face. Count Von-Kenneth was ready for, and anxiously awaiting the infinite mirrored journey of rubber-gloved bliss, his last words were, “If it gets too weird I’ll give you the cross hands Dracula sign, and you unlock the lid”. With a soft waft of air, the coffin lid silently shut. I pushed home the oversized gold latch, the lights flickered on and it was show-time for Ken on display like a microwave chicken or a taxi cab ready for hire. Two of the Sleeping Beauty coven had stayed gloved, there was a quick furtive glance to each other, a look to seek each other’s approval before in unison they proceeded to give Ken the princess treatment. A broad blissful smile spread over his face…..the bastard!
People wandered past the coffin some paused to look some explored the glove. Out of the darkness, a pale pear-shaped potato of a man inched closer, naked except for a cheap leatherette jockstrap that disappeared under his pot then up and under a hairy pigs bum that quivered on spindly white legs which ended in a pair of black rubber Crocs. He was a harmless jock in Crocs. He gently inched into the gloves, I hadn’t thought about male admirers but he looked harmless enough and Ken still had a broad smile on his face as the girls were still doing their tender sparkly lube fiddling. Having no wish to witness Ken’s bliss I turned my back to the coffin and peered into the semi-darkness of the void, on its distant horizon the lone Japanese starlet twinkled and dripped. As I stared through the human glitter ball my thoughts returned to the dance floor, Ginger and Curls, and all the girls. I was having a great time until Ken broke the mirror-ball enchantment by transporting me to this hell-hole to be his coffin bitch.
A jigging and rattling of the coffin broke my idle bitching muse I looked down at Ken, the blissful smile had been replaced by a frantic grimacing, one hand squashed like a slug on the coffin lid, the other fighting off an infinity of rubber glove mauling. Ken, like a cat in a bag was trapped in a plague of black rubber crabs, the rubber gloves clawed and groped, some holding him down others scuttling to find cracks and crevices, others pummelling his bits as if kneading an old lump of stale dough. The girls had long gone and they had been replaced by a group of old rubber gargoyles, they surrounded the coffin lid, the creases of their sweaty faces barely lit by the cold fluorescent light; the balding potato was still fighting his corner against a crowd of shaven rat-men who were trying to elbow him out. The ‘Ratmens’ bleached hair was of urine yellow, their Mohicans streaked with faded blue and pink, a little thinner and wiry these days, but still frazzled and moulded into pastel peaks that were gelled into shapes reminiscent of the stale old icing on some long-forgotten birthday cake of their miss spent youth. Like old lab rats they bore the scars from excessive piercing which dimpled their pale wrinkly skin, a skin that had long ago lost its elasticity and hung like melted wax over their bondage leather. Skin that bore tattoos that were shrinking away into blackness like a biro drawing on a deflated balloon, the pills, and the bleach had taken its toll on them all. Their shrunken mouths occasionally gasping a groan revealing a flash of black teeth set in the hollow cheeks of faces that had been carved out over a lifetime on amphetamines. They were the punk equivalent of the love and peace hairy toed old hippies at a Glastonbury festival, but there was no love and peace in this ‘love-in’. The rattling noise of metal studs against the Plexiglas coffin once again pulled me back sharply from my bitchy musings. Was Ken struggling to do the safe word sign? probably.….a fairy tale that had turned into a nightmare for Count Ken. I slipped the latch, the fluorescent lights popped and blinked out into darkness, and in that brief moment the rat-men had scampered, gone as if one had disturbed a nest of spiders. The bad boys had nimbly scuttled back into the cavernous dungeon leaving the forlorn coffin and its empty rubber hands quivering and glistening in the Japanese starlight. Ken was pissed off, I had screwed up. I later learned that they take the safe word stuff very seriously; in all honesty, this was all new to me. I told him I didn’t know what I was guarding against, or what was lurking in the dark corners. I didn’t know that there were perverts waiting like jackals at a watering hole ready to swoop down on the unsuspecting traveller that was attracted to the bliss of the sleeping beauty experience…… I also felt embarrassed about confronting them, “ Excuse me could you take your mangy paws off my friend’s rubberised crutch ?” well at least that’s what it seemed like at the time. I blame it on the mushrooms and the moonlight.
Mel had warned me, but it felt good punishing him, maybe the place was really starting to rub off on me, nevertheless, the cosmetic perfumed decadence of upstairs seemed preferable to this hell hole. Mel had said that she didn’t like to spend too much time upstairs, she didn’t like the fake and flouncy decadence of the media crowd. Nevertheless, upstairs Thatcher’s children danced vainly on, but just like ‘back in the day’ it was the New Romantic’s language of pink and poofery that danced on, it danced over the rotting corpse of punk, appropriating it, romantically re-packaged in alluring shades of silver grey and catwalk kink-pink. Nouveau bondage-ware in new romantic synthetics, yet underneath the flounce of the image-obsessed next generations dance floor, in the dungeon now much older and angrier the old Punks groaned in the darkness along with the doctor’s lawyers and judges. You can dance all night but you can’t ignore the old punk in the basement. Downstairs it was still ‘Anarchy in the UK’., downstairs there was law, medicine, business, crime and punishment; Downstairs was where the real perverts, and perhaps the real people were, real in as much as they were straight-talking however bent they were.
Tell-tale tit, Kenny has a fit, mutiny on the Bounty, call in Mumsy County.
I turn on my heels with thoughts of a return to the disco love bubble upstairs, as I do so Ken marches over to quite a scary ‘Mumsy County’ type sitting in a nearby alcove, then in a sneering little tell-tale voice, “Mistress, mistress, that tranny slut bitch over there locked me in the coffin.” The “Mistress” was a jaunty symphony in county tweed and brown brogues, there was a whiff of the equestrian about her. Suddenly a loud crack as her riding crop hit the coffin lid.
“Over here bitch, YES you.”
She gestured frantically with her riding crop, Ken’s quivering lips smeared into what I assumed was a smile as he clasped and rubbed his hands together like some little creeping Jesus. ‘Mumsy County’ now turned her attention to me. “Now, you little slut bitch did you lock this string of piss in the coffin?”
“Yes what,” Ken squeaked an answer for me “Yes MISTRESS.”
She gently raised her head, turned around slowly and glared at Ken. “Shut up you little piece of shit, down on your knees.” Ken dropped down on all fours, his fingers moved surreptitiously onto the shiny toe of her brogues….. THWACK, Ken cringed with delight as the crop cracked into his bony arse. Ken murmured something obscene….
“What did you say?”
It didn’t matter what he said he was going to get another whack, and obediently he waited patiently for it. I was beginning to understand what this cringing submission was all about, it was nostalgic, it was like being a naughty child told off for eating all the chocolate cake, you cringe for the inevitable smack but simultaneously buoyant with not being able to resist the thrill of more naughty chocolate fingers. So if you enjoyed the whacks as much as the chocolate, well it was a win/win situation. It was a cat and mouse theatre, everybody was being naughty to some personal concept of naughtiness, my ‘naughty concept was being dressed as a girl, it all seemed to generate an intense very childish fancy dress thrill. The women were most definitely and predominately in charge and seemed to relish the power, one could be under the initial illusion that it was a sadomasochist orgy, it was, but it was highly a ritualised one. For the most part, nobody actually exchanged fluids, you’d assume for fear of disease.
The rubber glove, the whip and the lash bound and protected them. I headed for the stairs and exit, Ken’s hand tugged me back. I turned and saw Ken sliding towards a shabby black felt curtain that covered a large alcove, as we approached the quivering flap an arm barred the way.
“Sorry couples only”.
Listen now, you can just see them, shadows in the writhing silence. Look through that quivering hole, a ragged flap that gently breaths. Look at them like netted fish as they roll silently into the dark waters of the fallen daughters.
The man standing in our way was not a Fasionista, nor a bible boy, he was a Domestos man, an exorcist that wiped down and purified the racks, coffins, and crucifixes. He also guarded the black felt curtain. “We are a couple”, Ken snapped. The Guardian’s eyes narrowed, “Go on then give each other a deep throat snog.” We both puckered our lips which met in a “granny peck,” the kind you immediately wipe away with the snotty sleeve of youth. “Bollocks,” snapped the Guardian. Ken gave him a broad smile, “Ok fair enough, but can we have a peep.” Domestos parted the ragged black felt releasing a dubious waft of stale warm air like a steamy bus in a summer rainstorm. In the darkness, one became aware of a writhing silence, like the mesmerising silence of a bucket full of live maggots.The mushrooms were definitely kicking in. Softly, slowly, out of the darkness emerged a speckling of white flesh and black rubber-ware, which in the half-light resembled a puppet theatre of disembodied limbs, like some prison camp atrocity they were piled on top of one another, crammed like netted fish they rose and fell, heaving and rolling into the darkness of the night. “Delicious,” whispered Ken. I pulled him back to sit down in a nearby alcove, he sat there engrossed, preoccupied and transfixed, statuesque like a Border-Collie his eyes fixed on the ragged gap of felt. “Delish,” he muttered to himself.
I too stared back at the black felt quivering hole, but with the thought of the writhing bodies infecting each other piled up in there like the corpses of the Black Death reanimated for Halloween. For only inches away on the other side of the crypt wall were the actual rotting corpses of the infected and long-dead of the Great Plagues. Zombies writhing in anguish under the Hawksmoor stones, their clawing bony hands scratching through the damp dark earth, their sunken dead faces pressed to the wall ogling and lusting at the sex that they would be denied for eternity. A purgatory for the dammed, forever destined to look at the writhing maggot bowl of flesh, a Tantalus executed every second Saturday of the month, £25 please. I sat there immersed in the mushroom of my thoughts mesmerised by the felt hole and what it held, I glanced again at the ragged gap that seemed to gently breathe in and out, slowly my gaze returned to the floor, I gathered my thoughts together. “I’m off upstairs for a while,” As I spoke I turned to Ken, but there was no Ken just an empty seat. I glanced across the room and my eye caught a sliver of movement, a new wave rippled through a far dark corner of the felt sheet, the hole noiselessly sighed …He was in.
A fag end sizzled upon his tongue, its butt smudged out across his bum, a dark smudge, a low smoky moan, a dirty secret best kept from home.
The cool damp night air flowed down the spiral staircase, fresh like a mountain stream and floating within it the friendly smell of cigarette smoke, I needed a fag. Outside was a bike-shed of a cage with a corrugated tin sheet roof, it was now raining heavily and the noise on the sheet roof was deafening. The small space was heaving with powdered and puckered gizzards that sucked greedily on damp fags, shivering fingers pressed against red-stained lips, white arms quivering in nylon and goose pimples. The conversation was convivial; consisting mainly of compliments handed out as freely as after-dinner mints.
“You look amazing darling”.
It was such a relief to get lost in the perfume of their presence, in their clean manicured whiteness, in the immaculate redness of their lips that flashed Hollywood white smiles. All too quickly the cigarette ended, I stared at the lippy stained fag-end as it bounced onto the concrete floor, then flicked the butt away with the tip of my stiletto. At that instant, I heard a groan of disappointment, just to the left of my shoe was a hand and on the end of it a lardy hairy body wearing nothing more than a nylon thong and a black studded dog collar that squeezed a balding head which gazed up with the droopy eyes of a spaniel. He stared devotionally up to one of the shivering beauties, she was sucking a final drag out of her fag, her hand drew back as if to toss it to the floor, but she just waved it before the droopy spaniel eyes. He reared back on his knees, his dirty sticky black paws up in the sit and beg position, she held the smouldering butt under his podgy nose at which point his letterbox of a mouth flapped open and onto his quivering tongue she drove home the sizzling fag…..a low smoky moan, followed by yelps as the other girls joined in by stabbing their butts out on his hairy white bum, they seemed such nice girls. My astonishment gave me away, “He’s a regular, he loves it,” snapped one of the girls. She spun on her heels and was away, the other girls following in a flurry of natural tan nylon and sequins. The smoking cage was now empty except for Spotty, his lardy body speckled like a Dalmatian with the black dots of cigarette stubs, his feet and hands blacked by a fine spray that whipped through the grill churning up the ash and butts. I left him waiting patiently on all fours his black-spotted bum quivering in the damp cold. Poor Spotty!
I wondered what Spotty did for a living for he had the body of a man in a sedentary job. I imagined spotty in moments of repressed tedium caressing his welts and scars like lost love letters, mementos, hidden away under his thin shiny work suit, pornographic tattoos belaying his special secret, perhaps the only power the humiliated have.
I am a doctor, said the manicured hand. I slide over nylon both silky and bland. Towards the flesh it meandered its way the head of the hand most probably gay.
Back in the lobby more people were piling in and adding to the chaos, Mel cruised by and gave me a wink, she looked professionally shiny and immaculate, maybe she was working. Her outrageously high kinky boots gave her a kind of equestrian stride, a pendulous rhythm echoed by a giant black banana cock she had grown since our last meeting, it bounced gently up and down like the prow of a great sailing ship, it parted the crowd in waves before her, a majestic sight that must have warmed the cockles of many a sailor’s heart. I watched her glide into the beyond, sailing into the distance pitching and rolling, slowly she sank away into the great masterpiece, engulfed within the bobbing blackness of a brilliantine hair gelled horizon that sparkled like a moonlit sea against the matt blackness of a cavernous concrete sky.
Time passes and the music begins to change, people now dancing to a different beat, hard and urban, a repetitive monotony like an unevenly loaded spin cycle with a bucket of nails strapped on top, repetitive like a bad masturbation that was going nowhere. All the camp euphoria had evaporated, the harsh drum and base had washed all the superficial fancy-dress fun from their outfits, whatever they were wearing it didn’t matter anymore no-one was looking, they were on their own, getting down to it, eyes wide shut, lost in it all, gurning and grooving, only the young and the drugs danced on. I had to sit down, the mushrooms were on the second wave of attack, I assumed the emergency crash position, elbows on knees, hands cradling the head……just sit it out. In the space between the vibrating neon glows of my white stiletto’s I watched the drips of my cold sweat fall to the floor like the first large rain drops of an impending summer storm, they splattered like dark ink onto the faded wooden dance floor. I was on the edge of a whitey.
Suddenly a voice, “Are you ok dear?”
The seat next to me wheezed as he sat down, he rested a manicured hand on my thigh.
“Just having a little moment”, I gasped.
“I am a doctor,” said the manicured hand.
The ‘doctor’ was in his mid-sixties, slim and distinguished a metro-sexual silver grey fox. He was wearing a regular wet suit that you’d go water skiing in; he also had an overly convivial bedside manner. The physical movement of looking up at him had set off another wave of nausea, in resignation, to the mushrooms I lowered my head and returned to the world of drips. I became aware that his hand was still limpet-like on my nylon thigh, it needed to be removed. It was enough of an effort to just breathe and watch drips, let alone wrestle with the hand, and anyway, maybe he was just being a nice person. Nevertheless, I was on red alert; the slightest movement of his hand would provide the motivation to redirect my limited energy. I watched the drips merge into small wood grainy spider shapes, I marvelled at the faded floor, how the grain in the wood was brought up beautifully and briefly by the intermittent drips. The limpet hand started to crawl, without looking up I pushed it away and in that same instant a tsunami of golden clear piss washed over my spider shapes, like a golden glass marble it rolled over the floor magnifying the grainy wood in its path, it splashed and rolled against the twin hulls of my stilettos. I leapt up to see the filthy old bugger twitching and mincing in the rubber bag wetsuit of his own squelching piss. He sat there smiling shamelessly as a golden lake formed from a little stream coming out of the left leg of his wet suit.…… He’d had seemed such a nice man.
Onion puff of Regency gold of mince and tomato all sweaty and old. It rose like a coroneted prince from the wet buttocks of mince. Then a wobbly Plop, the only sound in that grim place.
The momentum of my exit from the “pissing hand” carried me through the double doors; I was heading for the cool air of the cloakroom when the soft clatter of plates and the incongruous smell of food caught my attention. The room was smothered in soft flickering candle darkness; its walls were of crimson-flock with regency gold stripes that glistened in the candlelight like the fine bars of a golden cage. At the end of the room, a long table groaned with neatly stacked plates next to a giant tub of molten mince beef burping and popping like the devil’s own shit pot, noises reminiscent of the orifices of the dungeon. The rancid cow-pat cauldron burped a steamy onion puff, my stomach churned and I turned for the exit.
Unaware of my presence they sat in silence like a set of black chess pieces, their outfits covered them from head to toe. From their rubber masks, tubes protruded like extended nostrils, there was a zip for the mouth which occasionally opened to eat or lick. Like black eyeless locusts, they waved their tentacles sniffing the steaming concoction in front of them or some crack or crevice that had unzipped nearby. The smothered rubber faces wrinkled and contorted with staccato breaths that sucked the thin rubber to their faces like a death mask, and then on the out-breath, the contours softened and bulged, their heads slightly inflating like the nipple of a satisfied condom. I guess the attraction to smell is a primeval one, essential for feeding and sex. Yet I also wondered what was in there under their shiny rubber skin, and curiously, later on, that night I was to find out.
It happened like this…..I was at the urinal studying the tile grouting, as you do, then suddenly a loud bang and a faint yapping, it yapped help, help. In any normal situation, the response would be immediate, yet a certain hesitancy set in as one considers what may be going on in there. As I drew nearer to the cubicle I was aware of a faint whimpering coming from behind the toilet door, I didn’t want to push the door open as I had seen enough already, it was a concern, not curiosity that motivated me. I bent down to check how many pairs of shoes were behind the door only to find myself looking straight into the pale blue watery eyes of an old grey whiskered face covered in talcum powder, the ghost-white face broken only by a dark sunken mouth, the yellowish ivory of its random teeth accentuated by the talcum whiteness of desperation. On seeing me he seemed to regain his composure, “Please, please, help me, I’ve got myself in a little bit of a pickle,” suspicious this may be some sort of sex game I gently pushed to slightly open the door. The powdered man had fallen between the toilet and the sidewall, his head was squashed in the corner of the cubicle floor, one arm half caught in the sleeve of a rubber outfit which he had pulled halfway over his head. There was something of the squashed insect about him, but he was genuinely stuck. Deciding he needed help I pulled the rubber outfit over his head, and thwack. In a puff of powder, he thanked me and scampered off. If he was lucky he could have probably caught a sniff of the last scrapings from the devil’s own shit pot.
In the Sooty black dampness, still as an oil painting all of them waiting. Among joss stick wafts came the Occult lout, a little pantomime they acted out in Wicca green and purple cloak he didn’t seem your average bloke. Dare you look, can you relate to the bulging eyes of basket case from some begotten sink estate.
The nausea had subsided now and the dance floor glistened like morning dew over a mushroom meadow, before me an ivy festooned alcove beckoned, it led to a set of double doors, the ivy leaves shone as if they had been polished, they quivered in a cool shaft of air coming from between the doors, the smell of joss sticks set against a sooty black dampness. The doors opened into an enormous void, the smell of earth and dampness, a sleeping field built over a long time ago. In the middle of the black hall stood a vast marquee glowing like a Chinese lantern, on its side’s silhouettes danced, whooping and waving sticks, like huge shadow puppets their theatrical gestures beckoned with the hiss of tambourines and the clack of sticks. Inside a loosely mixed crowd still as an oil painting seemingly mesmerised before a dimly lit stage above which scrawled in large letters of gold paint were daubed the words, ‘Cosmic Astral Orgasms,’ beneath this crammed in with the black magic marker of afterthought the words ‘Sexual Healing.’ Before us all a strange little Wicca pantomime was being played out, spotlit crisp and pancake painted. All etched out in the sharp light were two fish netted Goths gyrating, on their heads were crudely tied stag antlers from which ivy dreadlocks swung down over their green painted bodies. Centre stage in the limelight was a little green man naked but for a purple cloak and leather studded goat mask. The mask had an ugly handcrafted quality, with all the elegance of a wooden clog. It looked like it had been hewn in a prison workshop, real goat’s horns had been attached by brass studs to a thick leather face shield in which two small crudely cut diamond slits revealed the swivelling eyes of a maniac.
Old Goatee was doing jazz hands over a manacled girl, not physically touching her, but doing the voodoo magic waft over her naked body, his velvet cloak rippling as he occasionally flicked at his willy which flopped pendulously from a scrawny body that danced on horny toes. Goatee’s fingers quivered over the manacled woman’s pussy, she let out a very loud moan and as she did so Goatee raised his hands inviting applause, posing like the gladiator of the vagina. His goatee-head slowly surveyed the room and nodding as if to say “There did you see that dark miracle?” Dappled applause followed a brief silence broken by a sudden hiss of tambourines, as his dancing gypsies, the gothic lovelies, minced and writhed amongst the audience seeking out the next sexorsism.
I stared intently at the horned-leather head and in that instant he froze, lowered his head, and started to turn in my direction, his horns wobbled as his head rose, the masked psycho was looking directly at me. I was looking into goatees leather eye slits into the swivelling beady eyes of a lunatic. My heart leaped into my mouth, a wave of cold sweat and stomach-clenching adrenalin; don’t look at Satan’s eyes.
Since I’d entered the club I had had an almost tangible un-ease about it being a church. I could stomach the individual rubberized perversity; forgive them for they know not what they have done. But a satanic sex ritual in a church was beginning to literally get my goat. My reluctant Christianity had evaporated years ago, but the social conditioning of my tender choir boy days had left its mark, for in a mushroom engorged fantasy I could see myself like Christ in a righteous fit throwing over the money lenders table in the temple, “How dare you defile my father’s house.” I had become gods envoy, I had become St Michael of the naughty-nighty, the mush-room fairies would protect me from his evil eye and stop him sucking away my sacral bodily fluids. I turned tail and made for the sliver of light that marked the exit, scuttling along in my stilettos with the deft speed of a disturbed spider, don’t look back. I lost it, the perils of mushrooms, but in the bowels of that forlorn church, there was something unsavoury going down rubbing salt into the wounds of a fallen god. Goatee believed Satan was back, Goatee was a serious case; Goatee was also a basket case.
As I shouldered my way into the warm depths of the crowd I let the current of bustling and pushing carry me far away from Goatee, beyond the Ivy, far beyond the margins of that room, beyond the crypt, beyond the feted gloom. I gave way to the bustling current, and as I did so an old memory flickered before me it danced in an alpine breeze, a memory that had begun to rise along with my sense of panic; it held a strangely similar misgiving but a diametrically opposite experience that was the total antithesis of this night. The flickering memory mushroomed into a liquid bright alpine morning as I wandered in a time before the black rubber people, a time of post-adolescent seeking, a time of looking amongst people who were dressed in white cotton looking for God and signs of Jesus in the wallpaper. I had heard that on the top of an alpine mountain stood a castle within which “a living Indian goddess” resided. Mel and Ken were other people then, we had been tramping through the snow for hours, in the distance and near to the top of the mountain a dark shape loomed ahead. The snow gave way to dense patches of brambles which would have probably stopped the weak of heart and sexually deviant but we finally hacked our way through to reach the castle walls and worked our way around the parapet to the castle doors. A sense of relief and jackass disappointment as we saw a number of huge tourist coaches pull into the car park. The fantasies of an intimate meeting with an Indian beauty spinning spiritual gold in an alpine castle evaporated, we were told the doors open at noon.
At the doors were White Bible boys, all immaculate in gleaming crystal white polo-neck shirts, “born again” collar-less Beatle jackets, white chino flannels, and white trainers. All shiny golden-haired and blue-eyed, all with the thousand-yard stare that had found the New Jerusalem. They silently guarded every door and if it came to a fight the Black Bible boys of Brixton would have probably knocked them for six, for they had seen it all. They like the Bible boys didn’t talk either, in fact, nobody talked during the whole event, not even the Goddess. It was just silence and the sparkling glare of the snow reflecting onto the bare white walls. The whole team was in white, at the time we called them the Cricket Club, but in my mushroom addled memory, they were now a perfectly inverted reflection of the Black Bible boys. Even the cloakroom smelt the same, and again a large hall, not matt black this time but snow-white bright, a bleached brightness you only get with bouncers shirts, spotlights, and snow. There in the middle of a medieval hall was an ivory throne bedecked with tiny alpine flowers their colours intensified by the enshrouding whiteness. As tiny as any alpine flower a small silken wrapped figure sat there, a tiny hazelnut head of a woman with deep pools for eyes just like ET. She sat there and held court in the bright silence, resplendent in her snow-capped castle complete with white polo-necked knights and black bramble bushes. We sat there as an orderly queue formed before the Indian Princess, we watched the form, it was all Buddhist hands together style then kneel down, kiss her feet, then up and off. So I kneeled down before her and kissed her feet, she gently cupped my head in the palms of her hands, raised my gaze directly into hers. In the depths of her dark eyes the little worm of my self-conscious embarrassment writhed in the infinite gaze, a fear just like goatee’s stare had been invoked. My heart leaped into my mouth, a wave of cold sweat and adrenalin, her lips did not move as a soft voice came from somewhere in the back of my fevered mind.
“Your consciousness is like a unique and intricate snowflake that floats in an infinite plane of your own conception,
rising from an endless deep, as distinct and adamantine as a diamond yet as one with everything.”
Suddenly, a warm wet sensation on the back of my thigh, I was back in the room, back in the matt black, and back in the nighty. I turned on my heels the crowd behind me had parted slightly to reveal a flash of pink as a long wriggling tongue rolled back into a green face, I was looking into the golden dark eyes of Goatee’s Goth. She was on all fours; raising slowly the green face hovered in front of me, I stared transfixed into the mirrors of her ‘golden lizard eye’ contact lenses, the whites of her eyes bulging bloodshot against the green of her face. She swivelled her eyes theatrically as a thin finger beckoning me back to the ivy door and Goatee’s tent. She turned and walked backward toward the ivy door, as she did so she raised her green arm toward me, her black fingernails beckoning from the pink of her outstretched palm.
Like a lost child, I wanted to go home, I wanted to go back to the normal world of cups of tea, digestive biscuits, and men in trousers. I caught my reflection in a mirror, I looked ridiculous. I felt a lonely shame akin to post masturbation. How the worm turns, earlier I had believed I was the nylon lesbian dancing queen and I looked “fantastic darling!” I had to find Ken.I shivered in the entrance-hall which was now cold and deserted, the entrance door long-shut, the ticket-booth dark and abandoned. Two ‘Bible Boys’ guarded the locked door, it wasn’t that easy to go, I had my coat, but wherein the hell was my trousers, Mel’s house? South London was a maze at the best of times and Ken had only introduced us that night, worse still, my car was parked outside her place, wherever it was.
Show me the exit for I have seen enough of prodding nobs and petted muffs. Of whipping and spanking and the sickly smell of wanking.
I looked over a sea of heads; in the distance was Mel ‘the unsinkable,’ she seemed to be gently rocking back and forth as if cradling a small baby. Not missing a beat Mel’s head swivelled to look directly at me, she was gently rocking and rolling the sole of her boot into the small of some man’s back, softly and rhythmically pushing the long black stiletto heel of her shoe up the blokes bum. She raised a thin black eyebrow, paused and continued to look straight ahead and with an expressionless stare she slowly withdrew the heel of her shoe. Then in a matter of fact tone, “Pass me my bag.”She rummaged in her bag, dropped an antiseptic wipe in front of the hairy one still quivering at her feet, he grasped the tissue and raised his arm to wipe his oily bum.
Mel delivered a real stinger across his arse with a horsewhip, “Wipe my shoes first, then you’re sorry arse, you filthy little man”.
“Yes Mistress, sorry mistress”.
“Wait here naughty boy; don’t move I will be back,” the hairy one squeaked approval and we left him staring straight ahead like some little china dog left on a mantelpiece. “It’s a dirty smelly business and I do get bored with it sometimes, but there’s a social life of sorts here, talking of which I’d like you to meet some friends of mine”. Without letting go and with a decisiveness I didn’t want to argue with Mel towed me through the crowd. A Las Vegas TV showgirl wafted by, she gave a theatrical curt smirk at my state of anxiety, like the amateur TV I was…. I guess….bitch!
I never thought I would be glad to see the sight of Ken’s streaked Strawberry Sundae arse. We waited patiently in a nearby corner, (if one’s friend is getting heavily whipped the normal reaction would be to help but here help was not wanted), sin was being atoned for, shame had been abandoned, and although his activities were shameless, I didn’t want to embarrass him, shame him, if that makes any sense. For my own sanity and salvation, I had worked out a theory that there was a level of redemption taking place in this church. The Dom’s lashed the men; the same type of men who back in the day were the takers and breakers of their virginity and girly dreams. The Dom’s whip lashed out divine absolution, the redemption of broken teenage romance, the hearts of both turned rubbery black and hard by broken trusts and selfish lusts. It was a consensual process, like a little black rubbery Jesus these guys queued for crucifixion, queued for atonement for their sins, for the sins of all their men, and there, the sisters of the broken hearts of mercy dished it out on behalf of all women. Shame used shamelessly, God works in mysterious ways.……. £25 please.
“Ken I want to go home”
He looked at me as if I had told him someone had died, “Don’t be silly it’s the mushrooms,” and with another theatrical gesture, “The night is young!”
“Piss off; it’s three in the morning,”
We left him to it and went on to meet Mel’s friends, most encounters here were sexual, drawing a thin line between theatrical play and sadistic enthusiasm, very little of substance is said and most adopted the role of their fantasy. But this was a social introduction and like any social encounter the initial questions were the usual. Frank a ‘City shares’ boy and his younger wife a mature student studying art at St Martin’s, both were relatively new to the scene. She looked stunning and had the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a neophyte; Frank by contrast was merely going along with it all. Frank was in all sorts of pain, like me, his high-heels were also killing him. I empathised as my white vices had crushed my toes to numbness. Franks outfit could be roughly interpreted as designer slave wear, but none of it was his idea for he was also another kind of slave, a mental slave to a younger woman. Perhaps a duller and longer pain than the short sting of the lash, but, like me, and for whatever reasons, he had had enough for the evening. We were both trying to make a strategic exit, we both had that in common, along with foot pain.
Frank and I exchanged foot-pain empathy, and in the brief silences that punctuated our conversation I noticed the ‘Las Vegas’ TV bitch slip through a black-felted curtain into one of the alcoves. Frank said it was pitch black in there and you didn’t want to go in. As the conversation continued I stared idly into the distance half-watching the motionless felted slit and wondering what it was I didn’t want to see, after about five minutes I got the answer. A flash of pink, the grasping false nails of the Lost Vegas TV tugged at the felt and out she popped like a cork from a bottle of fizz, she was making straight for the toilet, her flesh-coloured show-girl tights looked like they had been left out in a damp garden overnight, spaghetti trails of snail slime crisscrossed her legs, some smudged, others glistening like varicose veins. Vegas had been spunked on big time……the stuck-up bitch deserved it! Frank’s eyes catch mine, we both shudder. “Do you fancy going to the chill room”, Frank’s eyes pleaded more than his words. “Absolutely, I didn’t know there was one.”
We started to edge our way towards the door, I had lost all interest in the various spectacles that surrounded us. I was now impervious to the slaps and moans. On the way out Frank stopped to talk to some friends. His friend Boris was a typical Boris, definitely a whiff of Eaton about him; he talked in a clipped self-assured patronising manner and sported a thick heavy black leather butcher’s apron punctured by a single studded hole from which drooped a hosepipe of a nob that was being used to pistol whip the head of a willing victim down on all fours, while his jodhpur clad wife Victoria backed up the rear with a riding crop, “Tally Ho!”
She was viciously tanning “the victim” with a force more akin to the blacksmith’s forge than the riding and saddlery department. On introduction they briefly stopped, Frank offered a drink to Boris and Co., in the chill room. “No thanks, I’ve got to be in the theatre tomorrow morning,” and then a quick polite “hello” to me and we were away. “What does he do in the theatre by the way?” “Cut people up, Boris and Vicky are consultant surgeons. That’s how they know Mel, she works in the body prosthetics and amputee department of the same hospital, they cut em off and she stitches new ones on”…..
A’top of old mount Beanbag all snozzled up with snow were the itchers and the twitchers at twenty quid a go. Not everybody loved The Beanbag King of Chill, nor his friends from the Old Bill.
Upstairs and a new room festooned with bean bags, ‘dolphin chill-out music’ softly oozing from its corners washing over a drugged immobility, all very civilised and familiar. “Drink?” The Bourbon is good, steadying, and life-affirming. Stella, Frank’s partner was champing at the bit to go dance or go back down to the hell-hole. Frank said the hell hole was preferential to the dance-floor as his feet were killing him. He didn’t want to move, but he also couldn’t bear the thought of her running around on her own down there. Anyway, off he goes to some Hawaiian-shirted bloke in the corner and £20 later outcomes the coke. Frank cranks out some of the Bolivian marching powder immediately comes to attention ‘eagle-eyed’ and ready to re-follow orders.
“Fancy a snort? It will help with the foot pain.” I slumped back into the bean bag and idly watched as Frank, back on stilettos and surveillance was being route marched back into the depths by the force of his paranoia and young love. Two girls stopped in front of me all fluff and fancy-dress buoyant with new discoveries and the thrill of dominant power, one nudged the other and winked before raising her patent shoe under my nose, waggled it like teasing a dog, and then snapped, “lick my shiny boots you little slut”.
“Piss off Madam!”
The Coke and the Bourbon had brought out the man in me, King of the fucking bean bag; I closed my eyes and drifted with the dolphins. When I opened them the girls had gone, in their place was an immaculately suited man, in one of his porky hands, he clutched at a dog leash tethered to a blond beauty, in the other a magnum of champagne. His smart suit seemed totally out of place, how did he bypass passport control?
In retrospect it was easy to put it together, she was a professional slave and escort, part of the tour must have been to take her rich client on a sex-outing. He must have paid off passport control, a case of money over style; otherwise, he would have been rejected at the door along with the poor, the ugly, the old and the lardy, and those in dirty underpants. There was a bit of scuffling as he collapsed into a bean bag, we exchanged glances with a curt acknowledgment from his grey piggy eyes, the coke had given me hard- case eyes and I met his critical stare without blinking. With his eyes still riveted on me, he yanked at the dog leash, pulling the woman down to our eye level, down into his metro-sexually groomed cold face.
She turned directly away from his gaze and in doing so her eyes inadvertently caught mine, her bloodshot-blue eyes swam in that milky face, beautifully framed by an oversized camp pearl necklace which suddenly exploded as her head reeled sideways from the violent whack of a hand heavy with gold. The oversized pearls bowled across the floor, I gave a stare of disapproval, and he returned my gaze again, but this time with a malice that I gave into. I lowered my gaze, to a curtain of pinstripe that ended in a gold freckled fist of a hand, a swollen spade of the hand that could be coming my way.
With one hand she tugged at the leash, the other struggling in vain to gather the escaping pearls that had rolled beyond reach. I got up and started to help gather them in. Like large grapes they tumbled from my hand into the icy silver of the champagne bucket, their shimmering opalescence gave them a magical quality like the eggs of some immaculate snowbird on a nest of crushed ice. He gathered in her leash and pulled her back up to look directly into his face, he then barked the order. “Stand up bitch and turn around.” A nasty sarcastic smile widened on his face as he casually proceeded to post the snowbirds pearls one by one up her arse, grimacing as his fat thumb pushed them firmly home. He turned towards me, a broad empty smile into my face.
The slap had been an immediate reprisal for the ‘half-second’ of compassionate reflection I had shared in the blue pool of her eyes. His response could also have been a bully’s reaction to my hard case stare, I pondered my part in all this.
I felt for her, but I didn’t complicate matters with a parting glance, god knows what he might have stuck up there if I had. Also, you must entertain the fact that you just don’t know what has been going down, or up for that matter.
Fag-end of an eve, just waiting to leave.
At a safe distance, I fumbled in my handbag for my fags and made my way to the smoking cage. The familiarity of the cold night air hit like a wall, the rain had long since stopped and the air had the chill of the darkest moment between dusk and dawn. A biting wind moaned through the grill of the cage rippling the black puddles, driving cigarette butts across to the safe harbors of its corners, all those burnt-out butts of little pleasures for both Spotty and Smoker. Spotty had gone, curled up somewhere probably caressing his scars, the lasting mementos of a great night out. The smoking cage was empty except for one slight figure clothed in a sort of slime green transparent rubber body suit.
“Bleedin freezing,” I quipped between puffs.
Instead of the usual grunt of acknowledgment he walked right up to me opened his arms and in a hesitant voice said, “Please can I have a cuddle?” A few ‘non compute’ bells went off in my head night, I was tired and cold, besides which it was the first genuine attention I had had all evening, as prior to that I was either the object of fun or the victim of a straight assault and grope or some theatrical façade that would inevitably end in the whip. I watched my arm raise and hover over his shoulder, then a moment of hesitancy, then the great taboo “should I” moment. I watched my arm fall gently onto his shoulder pulling his shivering body next to mine, the warmth of his body evoked a feminine familiarity, a softness and tender sensitivity that I had only experienced with women. For when straight men hug there is a strong and rigid intensity as if one was holding a great punch bag, usually followed by a flat pat on the back which signals a rapid unhitching. A man can show great sensitivity when home-alone with women, but I had never experienced it man to man so to speak.
The cigarette burned fast with a fierce glow, it lit up a soft young face, and it measured out our short time together. I flicked the smouldering fag butt into the black puddle, and with a spiteful hiss the little glow of a tiny fire hearth that we had gathered around for a short time blinked out, and the moment evaporated into the darkness.
The rind of an evening, cheesy dance classics unfolding into rancid emptiness, biggin it up to no one, givin it large to no one. Back inside it was winding down…. halleluiah!
The big room now gave way to occasional patchy expanses of dirty carpet and the techno thud had now given way to dance classics. Jim the ‘cuddler’ was in tow….. “Sorry Jim, it’s winding down and I have to find my friends, I don’t want to be stranded in South London in just a nighty and stilettos.” It was with some regret I left Jim to look for Ken and Mel. I would have asked him to come with me but my own hang ups were hanging me up, it was easier for me to leave it there.
It was a different type of self-shame I carried down to the dungeon this time, and I now know why I was despatched earlier, people hunt alone in these places because they lie to themselves and their friends. Ultimately it was all pose, done by posers, skin deep fasionisters wearing the badges of their fantasy. Those people took superficiality deeply seriously, they would take one look at you and judge, it was good old fashioned snobbery, not a word exchanged, eyes fixed straight ahead sailing through the shit as if it was a sea of roses. Yet, full on and at its best it is like being in an enormous racy sexy fancy dress party where anything goes, but it’s an illusion, for underneath there is an etiquette of thin ice, break that and they would be upon you.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice interlude with Jim he was one of a few genuine people I had met all evening. But the place was a dark garden of exotic flowers, some exquisite, some perverse, but most were just superficially beautiful in various shades of black, shocking pink and lime green, the conversation as light as an art school fashion department.
A blast of warm air was the only welcoming thing that hit me as I threw open the dungeon doors, to my great disappointment it was still steaming and heaving in there. The noises were more guttural now, more animalistic, thrashing on into the night prising the last orgasms out of their whiffy cracks. Mel had a queue and Ken was nowhere to be seen; it wasn’t worth mentioning home. I swung around, clacked back up the stairs to a lookout position near the door and resigned myself to wait it out.
Someone had opened a door somewhere, the cold breeze of an imminent dawn carried with it the fresh damp of autumn rain scorched with a whiff of disinfectant. The big room had grown even colder, its cavernous space echoing with club classics accompanied by the distant clink of bottles being crated at the bar. The dim half-light and starkness of reality were getting to me, so were the shoes and the gusset crushing tights. It was relief and revelation that hit me in a glorious airy moment of freedom, bugger the drag, I had had a gutful. I kicked off the killer heels, ripped off the gusset crushing tights and silent as a moth I made my way to the bright lights of the dance floor picking my way through the debris of sins that was being washed away and sterilised. They were bleaching the bowels of the church, purified for the first rays of sunshine to wipe their feet on a bright Sunday morning. Cheesy dance classics wafted across a dance-floor now devoid of people, the floor shone like an ice rink, the odd pools of “die-hards” were becoming more theatrical and leery by the moment, lots of stumbling tangos, and swirling aeroplanes, some were still on display mode cruising the floor aimlessly like lost Spanish galleons.
Suddenly a drunken shout, “CURLS.” Then in a flash of naked ginger, I was swung around in a drunken carousel of a dance that bore no resemblance to the reggae beat chezzin away in the back ground, then finally releasing me from a drunken spin she collapsed into a bunch of her friends sitting at the side of the dance floor. With her ginger mop buried in a friends lap she mooned a bare bums-up to the reggae beat singing ‘Steer it up little darling” immediately followed by raucous laughter. She was a great girl, and the fantasy had crossed my mind, in truth it was all too public and in lies, last but not least, my wife would probably smell a rat, a big ginger rat. As she wiggled and sang her friends caught my eye, they were looking on anxiously. In that moment I had become telepathic, they were saying she’s crazy but not this crazy, please don’t take advantage. I smiled bent down and kissed the cheeks of her perked young arse, and gave it a parting slap. A whoop from her and broad smiles of relief from her little group, the moment had passed.
A tap on the shoulder, then a deep black PVC voice, “Come on little miss who wanted to go home,” Mel spoke with the reassuring authority of a “Mumsie home-time Dominatrix” and I followed her obediently like a little lamb, subservience can be reassuringly comforting. We made our way across the emptying dance floor toward a pool of flickering green light which marked the exit. Without warning the cheesy dance reggae was cut dead mid-track, the room fell silent, a silence that smothered the void like a marsh mist, the dispossessed hung there motionless. Harsh clicks and pings broke the silence like needles, in a flash flood the whole place was bathed in an unforgiving brightness that stripped away the last illusions of the night. A predawn of cold sharp fluorescence bathed the black walls, to reveal its stark realities, its patchy cracks and scars, carpets worn to dark greasy patches, people worn to dark greasy patches. All hung there motionless in the bright silence, and then suddenly a frantic rustling from a glistening black maggot in the corner, a dancing bin bag with two hairy white legs quivering from its mouth like the tendrils of a jellyfish, and from two hastily poked holes in its head there was the swivelling flashes of beady eye-balls. It was a masked deviant, a man with nothing to lose at closing time, a man with a bin bag over his head wanking furiously, unashamedly standing there shuffling and rustling as the shame of general disapproval rained onto him; the tutt’s and hisses brought new frantic delights for him, a truly shameless wanker, the Bible Boys were on their way.
The stars had lost their shine that twinkled in Black-bay, promenading in never ending lines against the margins of the day.
A shrill screaming note cut the air like an electric shock as the area reverberated with a synthesised electronic symphony, Beethoven’s 9th, Clockwork Orange style blaring at full volume. The Germanic classical techno shuffled the crowd into submission, it boomed into the pierced ears of the blinking eyes, the pale faces paraded by in a slow but steady stream, quietly marching back to reality. The techno swelled into Beethoven’s ode to joy and in the searing light of its once dark alcoves they rose up, rose up from the red leatherette, rose up from the chill room, rose up from the dungeon, they rose up into a fluorescent new dawn. In the black exodus we waited mesmerised before the ebbing tide and then finally, smiling like a morning daisy Ken’s black sticky body bobbed into view. Mel gave him the look and I gave him the look and we all joined the procession. As Bin-Bag man was being carried off Mel raised her riding crop and delivered a real stinger into the bin-bag, a muffled moan, an extra flurry of rustle.
Then out, and into what was left of the night. It felt good to drape my long coat over the absurdity that many hours ago was so liberating, it felt good to bring the curtain down on the evening and button it up. Out and over the old gravestones, out and over the dark puddles now clear and clean. The morning breeze still held the cold of night within it; it sent a flurry of golden leaves into the air, and then stuck them flat like gilded masterpieces on the wet York stone. The distant rumble of a lone jetliner chalking the first mark on the lightening indigo of dawn, an arc of electric blue lit the eastern sky against which the dark silhouette of the church stood like a monument to the night, its spire jet black against the faint glow of dawn casting a long shadow from which spilled the dark congregation. It’s virgin white Portland stone long ago marred by the soot and filth of ages, now a matt blacked whore squatting in its own graveyard, now a monumental traffic roundabout, a monument to the dark night of the soul. I looked down, the same could be said of my once pristine virgin stilettos, but they like me were now scuffed and smudged by the night. I had spent so long expectantly queuing over those stones, it was a different night than I had imagined then, the stark reality being much stranger and more disturbing than I had bargained for. Nevertheless, the whole thing held a curious banality once one was used to it all.
For the true pervert, the sanctity of the church must give an extra frisson, but for me, it kept bringing up a pang of deep guilt that I couldn’t seem to run away from, but on walking through the wrought iron gates of the graveyard and out onto the pavement the darkness fell away. It fell away in the bright lights and chatter of an endless line of minicabs, a false polite banter hung in the air as the drivers addressed the staggering and ravaged living dead, “Sir, Madam taxi? taxi? taxi.
Windscreen wipers brushed away the last of the rain, the drops flicker and quiver as we crossed the ancient river, beads of emerald fall to amber, insisting ruby red to those not yet in bed.
Behind the rain beaded tracery of the taxi window the traffic lights danced in unison signalling to no one, silently throwing colours into the shining dawn-wet air. God had given the expanse of a new dawn to another dead painter, this morning had been given over to Canaletto and he had exploded it into cold pinks and ochre, thin purple twists streaked to fiery orange tips, all reflected in the dark still mirror that ebbed below London Bridge. To the East, the river cut a luminous hook into Docklands where the dark silhouettes of the city towers smothered the sky, their tips steaming in the cold autumn dawn like newborn calves from a golden cash cow.
As I stared through the quivering raindrops a different realisation dawned on me. “Why are we crossing over the river?” I turned to Mel, “I thought you lived South.” Mel didn’t turn her head, her eyes were fixed straight ahead, then in a patronising whisper, “Yes, but we are on a little detour.” Ken smiled like a Cheshire cat, my heart dropped.
“I don’t expect there will be tea and biscuits?” I mumbled in a low voice not disguising my disappointment. “As a matter of fact, there will be tea and biscuits.” Reassured, and somewhat placated I drew back into the dawning masterpiece. Over the bridge and into the deeply cut rat runs of the City’s immortal polished granite, its cold stones casting a shadow of darkness that held back the impending dawn, it was posh banking, spanking country.
The edifices gave way to the low red-brick terraces of the East End, people were unloading vans and setting up Sunday morning market stalls. What the hell we were we doing near Brick Lane at this ungodly hour? The taxi door opened onto a crowded pavement, I instinctively drew my coat tighter and pulled the collar up, not that it was so cold now, it was just a defensive measure against any abuse that could come my way. The morning breeze was warming and it was now getting dangerously light, I felt the anxiety of a vampire as the first shafts of red gold sunlight started to reflect off the high towers of the City, slowly etching its way down the acres of shiny glass relentlessly bringing the sharp autumn morning light down into the still dark pavements and alleys, a light that would reveal smudged eyeliner, wrinkles and cracked make up. The shoes previously an object of delight were now a toe crushing torture chamber, a white fluorescent embarrassment sticking out of the bottom of my coat. I didn’t dare look up, any eye contact with the stallholders would have been cripplingly embarrassing…a distant shout….. “Wanker!”
I grasped Mel’s hand like a blind man.
I watched the shoes stagger over tarmac then over muddy gravel and oily black puddles. I glanced up; on one side was corrugated tin sheeting on the other Victorian railway arches as far as the eye could see, each arch blanked off with a variety of wooden doors. There were doors daubed by spray cans and car spares signs, doors that were either dilapidated or kicked in, their floors were strewn with damp old boxes and blankets, a cardboard monument to a bad night.
The door in front of us was much like all the others, it bore a giant rusted lock that had overtime cut multi-coloured arcs into the matt black paint, like old tree rings they gave testimony to more colourful years of use. I guess we were in ‘the black arc of neglect’ period. Mel rapped the wooden door with the handle of her whip, again, and again. As we wait a few other “post clubbers” shuffle up their faces pale, eyes black sockets, then a shivering smudged mouth utters, “Give it another whack for fucks sake”. Mel gives it an arse-splitting thwack. A large letterbox opens, eyes dart to and fro, then a shrew-like voice, “£15 non-members, £10 members.” Mel is a member; money is stuffed into the letterbox, the small door opens and the three of us squeeze in and the shrew man slams it like a trap. A muffled curse on the out side of the door, “Aw for fucks sake, I’m dying for a piss”
Again the mantra, “£15 non-members £10 members.”
Behind a flimsy door, beneath a hole in the floor. The shit of East End passing slides majestically as did the Roman turds. Slides within the fatty brick varicose veins which leak to feed the London Plains. Beneath the houses beneath the trees fluttering and bobbing in jasmine fresh fab-breeze.
On crawling through the Lilliputian door into reassuring darkness you are immediately aware you are in a shit hole, yes literally. To the left were a heaving and breathing paper blocked shit dragon of a toilet. This was revealed in all its glory, for as we entered some bloke had just pulled the shit dragons chain, a merry go round of pink tissue and turdlets swelled and spun, then a hollow asthmatic gasp from the shit-dragons throat after it had suddenly quaffed down the brown confetti brew. The bloke deftly sidestepped us trailing the sweet hum of stagnant shit and Jasmine breeze toilet cleaner; he wore that smell like a cloak. A loud voice from the bar “Shut that fucking stinking shit house door.”
To the right a scaffold staircase below this is a “Caribbean style” makeshift bar, replete with a poster of palm trees frozen in the sweet breeze of jasmine toilet cleaner. Beyond the Palm trees, beyond the breeze in the high dome of the railway arch there came the soft babble of conversation interspersed with the clink of teacups. Mel turns on her heels and looks me straight in the eyes,
“There you go tea and biscuits”
Mel joined the small queue for tea and biscuits at the “Caribbean bar”, they did have alcohol but nobody seemed interested, it was quite civilised really and reasonable prices too, shame about the toilet. “Go and have a look round, I’ll bring the teas to you.”
There was an upstairs and there was also a door to the side of the bar that opened into a fuggy warm humidity with an acrid smell of damp you could almost chew. In the half-light, you could make out a dilapidated corridor into which three dimly lit doorways cast small pools of light. The three “rooms” off the corridor were not really what you would call rooms, they were Jerry-built and ramshackle, more like Wendy houses, dollhouse rooms within rooms. There under the dripping railway arch, a small world had been created, a miraculous place where the sky had been bricked over but it still rained. The “Wendy houses” formed a seedy theatrical set for what you would euphemistically call adult play. I later learned it was a 24-7 operation, brothel afternoon and evenings, then after party venue from 4 am until “tea-time” the next afternoon, upstairs was the tea and biscuits pre-shag “choosing” lounge. The room at end of the corridor had two fake walls covered with “dungeon castle” stone-effect wallpaper, the other two walls were only too real. Between its bricks, the earth oozed and dripped with creamy orange coloured slime forming mini stalactites, rusty blooms of old bolts peppered the soft black walls, the sooty dead embers of the golden age of steam hung above our heads. At our feet, an uneven cobbled floor speckled with pigeon droppings sloped to an eggy-smelling drain, above that was a pair of iron manacles bolted into the oozing brick. On the opposite wall was a tap attached to a rubber hose over which hung a holographic picture of Jesus who winked or wept before you, depending on the way you looked upon him. Other than that the room had one wooden chair all grim and bare. In the next “room” a heavy “luxury” thick pile carpet suffocated the room like an old wet dog, it was a floral symphony in brown and beige peppered with fag burns and large dark brown stains reminiscent of dead roses. Bamboo patterned wallpaper carried through the Caribbean theme, its faded misery only punctuated by a fake window, its lace curtains hiding the slimy bricks only inches behind, a window that would suffocate the soul of those who looked beyond the veil. On the centre wall was a reproduction of “The Green Lady” resplendent in gold kimono, inscrutable eyes looking down over deep red lips which smiled through lurid green skin. Below her gaze, the fake guilt frame glittered in the flickering light of a large “coal -effect” fire that sent its flickering rosy ripples over a cream PVC quilted bedhead which gave way to a black rubber mattress. Pervading the room was an acrid smell of singed plastic which rose up from the flickering fake coals, coals that looked as grey as ashes for they were covered with a thick dusty film, the residual dust of skins past.
The last room bare, but for mirrors and a retro-style four-poster brass bed that had seen better shags, its flounced net frills yellow and laddered like an old pair of tights. In the centre of the bed-head curly brass tendrils framed a beige ceramic plaque festooned with violets and roses, at its centre lavender and pink swirls spelled out the words “Sweet Dreams”
What a set of shit holes!
Back through the door into a noisy bustle, to my dismay, the place was filling up with the diehards of the night, mostly the dregs from the dungeons. Clutching the warm comfort of a steaming mug of tea Mel ushered us up the makeshift scaffold stairs to a deck built into the top of the railway arch, the soft curve of the arch created a cave-like roof whose arc fell away cavern-like into the darkness. The ceiling was abnormally low and had a quilted appearance; it was in fact a huge rubber sheet that stretched from floor to ceiling. It was hung on many and various strings hooked into the dripping bricks of the railway arch, this quivering membrane trembling with the drumming of water as the early morning trains shook the night’s rain from the old Victorian bricks above our heads. The room itself was strewn with an array of odd sofas, various coffee tables, and chairs, all charity shop styling. At last the familiarity of tea and biscuits albeit on some dubious couches, half the dungeon crew were there admiring their new welts, people peeling back their rubber arses before the mirrors to reveal their battle scars, the red lipstick kisses of the lash mementos of a good night’s thrashing. But all were enjoying the simple pleasure of a nice cup of tea and biscuits. A few of the diehards were still trying to live the dream, trying to squeeze one last drop out of the evening, either slow shagging or fiddley wanking, standing or sitting, nobody gave a shit in the shit hole. Others still animated by the tail end of the night’s drugs were still gurning and dancing and playing with the trembling rubber roof while grooving on down to some muffled musical fluff. Besides me a man in denims and football shirt, probably an off-shift taxi driver his watery gut wobbling as he chopped furiously at some dubious powder on the table while mumbling to himself about M25 traffic, mumbling about the tourist customers. The man’s eyes bulge and roll as he attempts to stand, but then he totters and collapses back into the chair his head flopping back like the heavy china head of a rag doll. A girl opposite rose like Lazarus and wrapped her arm around his waxy neck pulling him upright again, he sat there motionless and watched as her long black false-nails idly scooped figures of eight in the powder, bulldozing her nose through his pile or what was left of his pile of dust. She wiped her streaming nose on her sleeve and with a guttural cleansing snort leaped up, “cheers man, sweet,” and was off. He sat up again and just looked at the figures of eight as his tomato head slowly turned white and small beads of sweat appeared like morning dew on a smooth stone, no one at home.
Suddenly the warm flop of digestive on my leg, in all the excitement I had over dunked. I stood up to let the soggy biscuit slid down my leg and disappear into the matted carpet, I felt no shame as I twisted the sodden biscuit into the shit holes carpet, after all this was no vicar’s tea party. I took the opportunity to cruise the room and stretch my legs. Across the far end of the room, I could just make out a blue nylon sleeping bag oozing out from a hole in the end wall, like a giant maggot it appeared to be unfolding as two East Asian girls slid over the blue nylon into the room. I walked over, leaned on the sleeping bag, and peered into the breathless darkness, small animated lights were quivering like fire-flies in the dark mid-distance of a void that seemed to be the next adjacent railway arch. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could make out a number of sleeping bags like giant cocoons at the head of each were the pale blue lights of mobile phone screens.
I flopped back down next to Mel, “There are people living in the wall.” She knew this place, and in a matter of fact tone came the explanation that they are “illegals” and do the “trade” in the late afternoon, that hole must have led to the bowels of the earth via Bangkok.
The spirit of the evening had already melted away and an exhausted stillness had started to pervade the room. Mel, Ken and I were lying back just enjoying more tea as we relayed the stories of the evening. Any air of overt sex had now settled into gentle couplings, it all seemed very matter of fact and somehow quite natural. The rubber ceiling quivered above it all, below which various sniffing and sipping potions were bandied around in the thick blue haze of hashish and tobacco smoke. There was a frontier freedom to this place, yes it was a shit-hole in the wall, yet there was a mutual tolerance and respect for each other’s eccentricities. Shameless acceptance was an unwritten principle. It was an oasis free from the criticality of social conditioning, beyond the veil of political correctness, a curiously natural place, a sense of mental space and ramshackle freedom, the kind of natural freedom you feel when one drops the underpants in the great outdoors. Frontier freedom from the “security” of surveillance, freedom from ‘you’re on CCTV’ smiley sticker, freedom from elderflower eye gel, organic gluten-free freedom, freedom from the sanitised corporate ‘nice day smile,’ wet wipe generation. Freedom from the Duty-Free departure lounge mentality with all its new and sparkly gold and red bibs and bobs reeking of sickly perfume and the “best” of everything.
No ‘Bible Boys’ her, no judge-dread. There were no set rules but everybody obeyed the rules, nobody told anyone what to do, unless it was part of some sexual-power game. There was no sexism, yet there were sexist fantasies but they were just fantasies in the open mental planes of the Wild West of the East End.
I had given up any pleas for home and resigned myself to the half-sleep that soft sofas engender; Mel was also content to just pose on the sofas. Meanwhile, Ken had cast a wary eye over both of us, he was on the edge of his seat and could see we were going nowhere. Then in an unnecessarily loud voice in my ear, he snorted, “I’m going downstairs to explore.” On present form, Ken would generally not return and you would have had to dig him out of some nook or cranny, but in this instance, he came back unusually quickly all of a quiver, twitching and hunched up. Then without the usual theatricality he quietly stuttered out the words, “Too many weird blokes down there,” as he said this his tortoise-like head retracted into his rubber body and his face cracked into a sour lemon,
“See for yourself.”
I saw it differently; I saw the silver lining, I saw the exit, I saw a way out.
I clicked my heels, ‘There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.’
I knew Mel was ready,
“Shall we go?”
“Yea, but have a look before you go, you did want the full tour.”
I didn’t mind, I would look into the steaming shit pots of hell, if ten minutes later I was in the taxi home. “See its all blokes”, slipped out of the side of Ken’s quivering mouth. The flickering light of the Green Lady room revealed a woman perched cross-legged at its centre, flesh like wax, eyes of stone, all framed by raven black Cleopatra type hair. Surrounding her in the flickering light of the fake fire was a pulsating daisy chain of interlocking men, like beads on a string of penis flesh they encircled her. Enthroned by the rings of her supplicants the Raven Queen reined over the middle room, her spidery-hands drew theatrical arcs over her subjects. In one hand she held a potion which she waved around under the noses of the circle as if casting a spell in slow motion. Convulsions and moans followed the rise and fall of her waxen arc, like a Mexican Wave the buttocks followed her smelly challis as she presented the foul brew under the noses of the knobs of the daisy chain. She became aware of our presence and paused, the moment settled into a rhythmic silence accompanied by a soft straw-like squelching. She held the bottle up to her nose, snorted in and like a great steam engine the whole circus pulsed and groaned back into life. Goth Woman reigned supreme over the pulsating buttocks, the flesh pumpkins of Halloween, tracing her chemical circles in the fake flickering firelight to cast a ring of convulsive shadows that danced over the damp bamboo wallpaper, which danced under the inscrutable eyes of the Green Lady, the green eyes of a whore house veteran.
In the Sweet dreams bedroom someone’s dream had come true, a woman squeezed into a nurses outfit, her jaw set, her tattooed titties quivering as “nursy” rhythmically rammed her bounteous Caribbean bum into his slobbering face, his rag like body twitching and heaving like a drowning man gasping for breath, he looked too old for her, he must have been a private patient.……sweet dreams.
The end chamber seemed damp and silent, as our eyes adjusted to the claustrophobic dimness the white dots of pigeon droppings floated in the darkness, among the droppings the silhouette of a potato of a man, sitting quietly in the dankness rocking on the edge of the wooden stool. His rounded shoulders led off to podgy arms buried in a dead cat of a wig that hung loosely over flesh coloured nylons pulled up to his man boobs beneath which a hazy lattice of squashed tummy hair writhed like the veins of stilton cheese. His white man-boobs drooped into a bra fortified by two bags of birdseed stuffed into the remnants of an old pair of tights, his fortified breasts sat heavily on the porridge-like flesh of his midriff, a midriff speckled with birdseed like a giant burger bun, a midriff that gave way to podgy like legs dangling like sausages off the bed. He idly flicked his black rubber crocs which made a soft muffled clucking as if in some forlorn mating ritual. He sat waiting and rocking in the stale dank air, he didn’t register our presence, his stare or prayer remained fixed on the Jesus picture. I looked across to the three-dimensional holographic Jesus on the wall, he looked down on me, he looked down on us both. As I turned to leave I glimpsed back at Jesus seeking some sort of redemption, he smiled and winked at me as holographic tears rolled down his cheeks, he wept for us all.
I was going home, the thought overjoyed me. Mel waved at the end of the corridor pointing to the door as we moved past the smell of the night pumpkins, past the Romance Room, past me in one of its many mirrors. I had forgotten what I looked like, I was potato man’s classmate in the school for clowns, the mascara had melted giving me the after midnight panda look, lipstick bled to a slash on my mouth to give the smudged down sad clown refrain. I could have been a candidate for the sweet-dreams bed, for in my head, I was still the sparkly oversized dancing queen, Ginger and Curls, and all the girls. Ah ! the teared masscara of a clown, not there just to fool the public, but to fool myself, an entirely different subject. My necklace and earrings framed a clown’s face with its pasted over cracks, the stubbly over-powdered gizzard of a fool. With almost post-orgasmic shame I ripped the earrings and necklace off and stuffed them with my embarrassment into my coat pocket, I frantically rubbed my face, it looked even worse. I needed to wash it all away but the thought of going into that shit-breathing toilet made me shudder. Mel had witnessed my mirror moment, a tiny smile broke on her face, her lips hardly moved as the word “Slut” slid from them.
My steps slowed as I contemplated ‘Curls’ demise. I sensed there was some part of Mel that had enough too, that had seen it all, but she was part of a BDSM aristocracy, it was a big part of her identity and social life and in many ways she wanted to, or needed to escape to these places. It was best if Curls stayed in the closet, no more sweet dreams for her; Still she taught me to dance, she taught me the bull-baiting power of stilettos and short skirts, the pain and the pleasure of high heels, the camaraderie of the women’s toilet, and last but not least the tenderness of a gay man. I would carry her closet with me.
Ahead, a laser-thin rectangle of white morning-light marked out the Alice sized door which led back to the real world. As before, we were once again forced to pay homage to the toilet. I crouched down and opened the small door within a door, the shafts of morning sunlight rolled onto the wet floor, then a sudden blast of cold air, a horrible noise from the toilet, it wheezed an asthmatic cough. It heaved and finally breathed, sucking down a raft of watery brown confetti, then in a low guttural moan it almost croaked goodbye, leaving a brown black toothless orifice in the yellowed porcelain of the shit dragons throat, the smell was continental. Again a shout from the Caribbean bar, “Shut that fucking stinking shit-hole door.” Mel gave him the look, then in a more apologetic tone, “It does that sometimes when you open the front door.”
The morning sun cut into us, we buckled and squirmed like worms under a lifted stone, blinded by the chaos of a bright sparklingly fresh Brick Lane bargain morning. The warm sunlight, the smell of fresh bagels and coffee, the animated voices, people laughing it struck me at that moment there had been precious little laughter in all the evening.
The noise of an approaching train shook me out of my delirium, it shook the ground, it shook the shit dragons cave, it shook the water out of the bricks of lonely potato man’s prison, it dripped on and around him as he waited for the day his Pigeon Prince may cum. On that fine morning he would be whistling with the birds just like Snow White as he was being carried up into the dripping darkness of the railway arches by a flurry of pigeons feeding from his breasts. They rumbled over him and his loneliness, they rumbled over “nursy” and the empty bed of romance, over the Goth Queen. While above them the torpid bodies of the dazed and phased dunked biscuits in tea as they twiddled in the dark twilight of lost sleep. Above them all the morning trains rumbled, shaking out the cold night’s rain onto the trembling giant rubber parasol that cloaked the arch like a giant outstretched bat wing, it quivering above them, protecting them and their secrets from the bright spotlight of the day.
It’s terrible how sexual frustration can bring out the snob in you. I sat idly contemplating the dark images of the evening, categorising them, trying to come to terms with it all.
If you are ever tempted to dress reality in the garb of sexual fantasy, which by definition can never be truly realised, the reality of it all can shred the little demon wings of your daydreams, sometimes better to leave your sexual fantasies with the fairies of dirty dreams.
For these places are like dark Eden’s, the innocent freedom of nakedness in the dark garden, there are no rules just rituals that look like rules.
If you do have the courage not to take yourself too seriously and wade through the bittersweet molasses there is nothing ultimately but a vacuous showy blank underneath dark bouquets of glamour. It is the land of full red lips and empty compliments; these are lonely but exciting places. Lust turning loves tender touch into a stinging whiplash, where love stops dominatrix power begins. From what I have experienced there is not much love or laughter in these places, a humorous remark may imply ridicule and break the thin dark veneer of illusion. They are for the most part loveless places, devoid of humour, just the shameless freedom of the nether regions.
Perversity seems such an unnatural thing, yet you are impelled by natural sexual forces, what could be more natural than a bunch of monkeys playing with themselves in some dark hole. Social conditioning represses the spontaneous joy of the rebellious naughty monkey and yet it is the very root of the perverse joy and attention a good telling off and its attendant guilt brings you. Breaking the rules and revelling in shame is a big part of all that happens in these places.
There are very few wicked devils in these places, naughty is rule-breaking but wicked is malicious, the vast majority were naughty boy and girls, the malicious and power-hungry have to pay, usually underneath the arches, afternoons until midnight.
Nevertheless therein was a palace of silence and shame, a church to the vanity of the dirty secret, each one held back until dawn, until it is put in a special place and you cover it with your overcoat as you walked into work on a brisk Monday morning, to perform an operation, to teach a child, to cut a deal, to sentence a criminal. The dark secrets that give the illusion of power, the other thing people lust after, for you are such a prisoner that you judge yourself guilty by someone else’s rules to justify the absolution of self-responsibility.
Ultimately they are dark churches of consensual atonement (however perverse), reaping flagellation and pain. A chance for re-atonement, by paying the price of past sins….. Only £25 pounds, please.