My curiosity has once again brought me back, like an addiction, as it has time and time again. I reach in my pocket and feel around for my pack of cigarillos. The flicker of the flame let the intoxicating flavour dance around my palette with such sweet delight. It was only once a month that I was able to catch a glimpse of my favourite performer, Androgania, at the Velvet Bordello. There is just something so enticing, so evasive and elusive about Androgania. I just can’t explain… or put my finger on what it is, but I needed to see Androgania again. Anxious to sneak into my private booth, I reach into my pockets and discretely pull out the appropriate amount that would permit me to press myself against the thin glass barrier that stood erected between me and the tip of my fantasies.
I feel the sweat beginning to mount its tension as I approach closer to the ticket booth. The ticket attendant smiles at me, and I try to look as though I had not been at every one of Androgania’s performances in the past eight months. Avoiding eye contact, I thank him and slither myself towards my booth. I had always been a fond of the atmosphere at the Velvet Bordello. Both women and men alike were packed in like canned fruits waiting to be tasted in ripe and syrupy perfection. There seemed to be no definable lines of who is permitted into this dirty little sanctuary. I shyly pass a woman who had caught a finely dressed gentleman’s favour on her knees just outside my booth.
“Excuse me,” I mumble, again avoiding any sort of eye contact. This place reminds me of a abstract cross between a fantasy Moulin Rogue and the reality of house where you saw men leave with devious smiles on their faces, only a few short minutes after their arrival. The Velvet Bordello is an escape – an escape from the noise of the city, the indifference of men in suits, the clapping of women’s heels and the yelling of the street vendors trying to sell you crap that you’d never use.
I take a breath, and the scent of sweat lingers in the booth from the drippings of the person who had sat there last. The booth is quite simple, about the size of a small bathroom stall, and the walls made of purple velvet are adorned with gold figures of faces and forms that looked like they were trying to escape the clutches of fiery hell. I am not sure if they are being expelled, or they are being drawn into the fire. But either way, each time I could not help but be transfixed by the expressions on their faces.
The lights dim and the tableau vivant takes position on the stage. I cross my legs…I know it is time. The first bead of sweat drips down my cheek, slips under my shirt and melts down the length of my back. The lights come on and I push myself as close as I can get to the glass without pressing up my nose and leaving marks of my anxiousness. The tableau vivant remains in pose, brightly costumed in regal adornments that look authentic to another time and place. But they are present only to bring a living picture to Androgania’s entrance. A white glove appears from behind the large, draping purple curtain. I swallow. The music resonates a rustled jazz sound through the speaker in my booth: “mon amour vous êtes retourné à mes chambres pour remplir avec mes plaisirs” (my love, you have returned to my chambers to once again fill up with my delights). I can’t blink; I am transfixed watching the subtle movements of Andogania’s white glove. Then, as a servant tends to a master, Androgania comes around the curtain with such control. She is there to please her audience—and I hope especially me.
All in black, Andgorania begins to move by swaying hips in a repetition that I quickly loose count of. The music taunts me: “vous ne savez pas qui ou que je suis, mais vous savez que vous me voulez” (you don’t know who or what I am, but you want me). Androgania’s lips are blood red and I think of her kissing me and leaving the colour of desire all across my face. Androgania seems to be well endowed by the lump I see in the front of his black trousers. I have never wanted something so bad, but I am not sure what it is that I desire at all. I become jealous when Androgania caters to the spectators on the other side of the circular room, all neatly tucked into their common-place booths. I had paid more-- I wanted Androgania more. In that instant, Androgania turns with a side step and begins to make neat circles round and round, until Androgania halts in front of my looking-glass. The music makes love to my ears and for the first time, Androgania stops, leans forward and looks right at me. “Si j'étais homme, me vous permets de soignez pour vous? Si j'étais femme, aurais-je privilège pour vous tenir? (If I were a man, would you let me care for you? If I were a woman, would I have the privilege to hold you?) I am mesmerized as I silently mouth, “Yes.” A slight, cheeky smile appears on Androgania’s face, then a spin, a bow of the head, and with a turn my dreams rush out between my legs.
I close my eyes as I feel the release of such a pure delight. How could I feel ashamed of fulfilling my mind and body with such a sheer emotional high? I watch while Androgania continues to walk around the room, and I can see that there is not as much care as when I was near. A top hat on the head, skin as soft as a pearl fresh out of water, Androgania’s image remains imbedded like a drill of deep discovery, within the concaves of my deviant head.
I light a cigarillo and took a profound breath. What a virile damsel in distress.