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A chapter from The dungeon Memoires

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Here's an extract from the book on the Studio I'm busy with ...

By 11 o’clock on a Saturday night, the straight party was well underway.  As is the nature of these things since time immemorial, liquor was flowing, the music was blaring, poseurs posed and the perves were perving.  I was doing my usual meet-and-greet number in amongst the crowd in the lounge area.  Robert was managing the bar, dispensing booze and wit in equal and liberal measure.  The man can charm a herd of water buffalo when in the mood.  He was obviously in the mood and practising.  His rapt leather clad audience playing their part, completing that little analogy with unnerving accuracy.  

As was commonplace, people would arrive in dribs and drabs through the evening so the chime of the doorbell was not out of the ordinary.  Nobody but Robert paid any attention.  

Security at The Dungeon was rudimentary and unusually efficient.  Being a more or less abandoned industrial area undergoing a major decline before an optimistically anticipated urban renewal, there was hardly any traffic after 5 pm during the week, and almost none at all on a weekend.  Having the police drive past on their way to and from the barracks which were literally within spitting distance, left me feeling safer than when I lived on the recently vacated farm.  I parked my jeep outside on the street for two years, and it was only a few months before I left that it was broken into, and on both occasions, the floodlights had not been operational.

People parked their cars in the street and the small brightly lit forecourt fronting the warehouse.  The tenant who occupied the ground floor had installed searing floodlights and an impressive alarm system so assaults and muggings were not likely.  What happened after admission however was another story.

My contributions to safety were limited to hiring a couple of off duty security guards who lived behind the warehouse to keep an eye on the cars, and installing a small and expensive intercom, replete with video link and a button to open the electronic gate.  People pressing the button at the door downstairs activated the system and could be seen from the bar.  Once identified as either friend or foe, they were buzzed in, or told to bugger off.  The only trouble I ever encountered was from the car guards who would regularly report for duty so drunk they could not stand, or got into very loud and heated arguments between themselves as to who’s turn it was to earn some extra cash.  These minor irritations I accepted and dealt with as par for the course.
 
“Torch!”  Robert’s voice carried across the room, over the music, weaving through sounds of buttocks being paddled, nervous laughter from those with clenched buttocks about to be paddled and the cackles of various dominatrixes wielding said paddles over aforementioned buttocks.

In the middle of a conversation, I turned to see what he wanted.
“You better check this.”  He indicated the small still lit video screen with a nod of his head.  In the ghoulish light, his eyes were round much like those of an innocent little bunny in the path of an oncoming freighter.  Curious but still calm, I eased my way idly through the crowd.
“Wassup?”
“We might have a problem…  ” His words hung in mid-air, undecided if there was more to come or the sentence was complete.  He tapped the view button on the intercom again.  An image filled the diminutive screen.  The stragglers around the bar all eased forward to discretely elbow in on this new drama that seemed to be unfolding around them.  From where I was standing, I could not see a damned thing apart from a greyish blob.
“What?”  I leaned over the counter to get a better look.
He leaned forward, and in his best, most practised vibrato whispered one word.  
“Cops!”

One of the emotions most inappropriate in any Dungeon is true and real terror.  I was emotionally inappropriate as every sphincter and valve in my body tensed simultaneously.  There was no need to panic the guests; the police would do that shortly if this were a raid.  I said nothing and headed downstairs to the front door, trying to head them off at the pass so to speak.

I can honestly say I don’t remember much of the trip down the two flights of stairs to the front door, other than it was fast.  All that kept running through my mind were the details of the last police raid I had heard and read about.

The previous month, police had made a very public raid on a seedy but discrete sex / nude bar down the road from me.  The reports of the fag bashing, the very public humiliations, the inappropriate body searches and the expressions of rampant homophobia made the local newspapers where even the community at large were mightily and vociferously upset.  It had taken over 30 heavily armed police operatives, male and female, to raid a small club occupied by 20 or so naked gay men.  One person was arrested, one of the owners, nabbed for selling liquor without a license.  I doubt it was the kind of publicity the police were hoping for.  It was certainly not the kind of publicity I was looking for.  I’m positive my guests upstairs were in full agreement with me on this count.

One requirement for any half decent dominant Leatherman is having supreme confidence in one's abilities and strength of character.  You have to be a little intimidating, not just pretend.  It's something I believe in, I teach, and something I believe I have, especially when I am suitably dressed and in control of a situation.  It was all I could rely on to get me through this.

At the entrance, pressed up against the security gate, completely blocking way stood a short and stocky police officer.  Behind him was what appeared to be the rest of the South African Police Force. All of it. The road was jammed with cars, vans, and trucks, all flashing their blue lights in a monochromatic and vertiginous disco.  Policemen and women, truncheons and flashlights drawn and at the ready, even a few very undomesticated looking sniffer dogs straining at their leashes.  Somehow, I always anticipated pitchforks and burning torches (leading to burning Torch) when imagining such an eventuality.  Shows just how wrong we can be.

“Can I help you Officer?  Is there a problem?”  I pressed the buzzer to open the gate.
“Naand Meneer.”  He attempted to open the gate by pushing it.  As is universally the case in such things, it opens outwards.  I pressed the buzzer and again he pushed.  A little flustered, he stepped back, I pressed the buzzer a third time, and pushed the gate open, towards him.
”What kind of club are you running here?” he asked as walked around the gate and swaggered, not too confidently, into the small foyer.  His eyes flitted around the tiny space, not missing a single detail.  Behind him, Johannesburg’s finest moved forward.
“Club?”  I was innocence itself.
Once inside, our size difference became more noticeable.  Towering under someone a good 30cm taller than he was, someone kitted out snug black leather trousers; studded and buckled knee high boots with 3-inch soles seemed to unnerve him.  I have that effect on people.  Ask anyone who has ever encountered me in a dungeon.
“All the cars … “ He gestured towards the gate. “  And the music…” he gestured towards the stairwell behind me.
By this time, there were three more policemen in the foyer and a few more trying to edge their way in.  It was starting to get a little close.  I backed up and was now standing on the first step.
“I’m having a few friends over for a party.”  They looked at me a little confused.  “Is the music too loud?”  I added.
“You live here?”
“Yeah, it’s my residence.  I rented it and turned it into a loft.  Nice big place … “ I could feel myself starting to babble nervously and fought the urge.

Had I stripped down and started blowing myself in front of them I could not have produced a better effect.  They paled a little, and started backing out the gate.

It turns out that as a private residence they had absolutely no right to be on the property performing a raid without due cause and /or a legal search warrant, which they never had.  Had I wished to, I could have turned this into a legal nightmare.  The officer, obviously in charge, pointed to my jeep parked right next to the entrance.
“This yours?” he asked.
“Yup.  I’ve been parking there for ages and never had any problems.”  The vehicles regular presence had been noticed.  However, he was not completely satisfied.  
“Why not come around sometime during the week, and I’ll show you the place if you like.”  I offered, still babbling.
“Tonight might be a little awkward and I have guests to attend to.”  I continued, following him onto the forecourt.  He looked up the side of the building.  My bedroom light was on and could be clearly seen.  Following his gaze, I pointed out the lit window.  
“That’s my bedroom, “I continued. “  And there’s the spare room...”
He muttered something to the cops nearest him and they retreated to the relative safety of their vehicles, all looking a little crestfallen if not disappointed.  
“It’s big hey. ” he said.
“400 square meters. ”  I replied.  “A bit cold in winter and a bitch to heat…”
“You live alone?”
“Yes.”
He politely apologised before heading off himself.

I returned to the foyer, and closed the gate behind me while they huddled together and planned the rest of their night’s festivities.

Half way up the stairs I started shaking uncontrollably and a wave of nausea struck.  I rested for a few deep breaths before continuing up to the bar and main play-space.

Eighteen pairs of wide eyes greeted me from the seductive gloom.
“No worries.” was all I could manage.  Robert and I had a complete conversation in a single look and both breathed a sigh of relief.  He placed two shot glasses on the counter and poured the tequila while I want upstairs to throw up.  The party picked up where it had left off.

I will never really know what Robert did or said to the guests while I was downstairs, or who’s idea it was, but I’m not sure that trying to hide a tall skinny incandescently white man, in late forties, buck naked but for some rope, a collar and his boots, under the pool table was a significant gesture.



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