IT has been several months since I moved into my new Cape Town studio with the rather pretentious name, Burleigh House, in Barrack Street.
At one end of the street, right next to the barber, you'll find the Cousins Trattoria, where you can enjoy delicious tagliolini with cream, mushrooms and thyme, theatrically whirled around in front of you in a Grana Padano cheese wheel. At the other end, on the corner with Buitenkant Street, you'll find Mavericks, the luxurious gentlemen's club for the discerning voyeur.
For months, I have been caught between the temptation of a rich pasta on one hand and the promise of a pole dance on the other.
Highest peaks of male desire
The thick bulletproof glass makes the entrance feel like an airport. The security guards order me to raise my arms, and for a moment it feels like a crucifixion scene — only the sinners are missing.
No weapons, I declare, but the guard pats my top jacket pocket suspiciously, a monumental question mark written on his forehead. “It's a packet of wine gums," I declare.
The door of lust, desire and brandy and Coke swings open. It's nipple caps and flashing pink lights all over, as well as a bar that looks as if it could take off at any moment. This is the place where impotence is exchanged for the highest peaks of male desire. The stage feels like a wonderful bridge between reality and fantasy.
The price of a bottle of wine could buy you a weekend in the Cederberg.
Just as my glass of merlot arrives, I look up and there she is on the stage: the femme fatale in the black stilettos, sexy black waistband, a tattoo of a mermaid above the knee and a silver chain around the ankle. When she turns, I see the hint of a thong disappearing into her sensuality. I look at the man in the Cape Union Mart outfit next to me.
The pole dancer descends slowly. The thong is removed and I wonder if anyone will catch it. Everything happens in slow motion. Provocative, suggestive, even slightly crude.
The night wolves in grey tracksuits at the table in front of me ululate. It feels like a testosterone curtain is opening. The one-eyed kings are in the glamorous seventh heaven. The fantasy show transports them to ecstasy. Nice place, nice times and nice people. They order another round.
My own truth
I am startled to feel a hand on my leg.
“I'm Ace, like in Ace of Spades." I look at the sexy woman in bewilderment. “You might get lucky if you play your cards right," she announces. It all feels a bit forced and contrived and I realise I'd better announce my own truth or I will be in trouble tonight.
I smile and say: “Honey, I am not your niche market, I'm gay." She retreats in surprise, but sensually, answering in her Russian accent: “You're such a bad bitch, I like you."
Something about her Russian accent sounds fishy to me, but I let it go. It's as if her sensual body language has changed now that she knows I'm gay. The shiny breasts are pulled back. Her eyelashes flutter less. She looks at the pole and back at me. A tiny bit of moisture reflects in her Prussian blue eyes and in the shadow of pink light I detect a defencelessness.
She takes my hand. “I see a lot of incredible wealth," she says. She makes no secret of it and proudly declares that she earns R20,000 a week easily, even during winter. “I have a degree in psychology but I'm into money." She shows me the etiquette of her lingerie.
Answering my question about what she has learned about men as a strip dancer, she says without hesitation: “Men are driven by lust, not love."
She also informs me that she receives marriage proposals from men every week, often only 15 minutes after meeting them. At least 10 of the 150 girls leave the club monthly and disappear with the rich knights in shining armour they meet in Mavericks. I ask her if this is the girls' fantasy and she confirms it with a silent nod. She lets go of my hand and says: “Let me go and make some money."
Hierarchy of the corporeal kingdom
The beauty in the expensive lingerie walks up the stairs. My eyes follow her and rest on the neon “Exit" light at the door for a moment.
Further up the hierarchy of the corporeal kingdom you'll find the Platinum Lounge with its Chesterfield leather sofas, where hauntingly beautiful ladies can be courted in a VIP birdcage.
With even deeper pockets, the Empire Lounge with its burgundy velvet curtains becomes an option.
From there you can work your way up to The Library, the epitome of opulence with its green reading lamp and turn-of-the-century sepia photographs covering the walls. It's more body language and Pornhub than a professor with a sapiosexual text. In this library you'll find cigars, whisky and a “sensual sushi" option on the menu, and the Kenny Kunenes of the world can pay R2,500 for a 30-minute lap dance and raw fish.
I ask for the bill and sneak a wine gum from my top pocket. I've seen enough.
Mavericks doesn't strike me as a place of imagination. Rather, it's a place of show and go. The presentation is explicit and undiluted, and spread-eagled on the table. It's a place where the body is exchanged for rolls of blue notes. It's a night shift that conjures and practises magic.
Sexual capitalism is fearless, like a man on Viagra.
♦ VWB ♦
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