17 or 18 years ago, I was wandering around Hackney Wick just after sunset. I was new to town, having just escaped a near-death experience with a voodoo priest in Berlin.
I had left with a bit of a tingling for more, as if I’d been cheated out of some traditionally unpleasurable circumstance that of which I’ve always been fond of. (How close can you get to the flame before meta-instinct pulls you away?)
There was a smoking gal in an alley off some side street that I decided to approach and swap paradigms with- who is it and where is it you seek pleasure from? What kinds of outcomes do you expect out of your daily rituals? Are you a participator or a spectator?
She was having a difficult time following my accent so I turned around with my Budvar in hand and began to pray to the wall with barbed wire atop and shrubs poking through that I can someday learn a universal way of conveying my ideas and in turn get others to percolate theirs without inhibiting factors such as language, belief, region, archetype, sacred agendas, etc.
I caught from my owl-eye that her cigarette was almost out and that she was completely and utterly confused and about to write me off as a bag-bum and jolly her way back inside. I spun around on one foot.
“Do you live here? Or do you work here?”
“I work here- I, er, both,” she responded with a bit of absence in her tone.
“Sounds like a fortunate plight you’ve created for yourself.”
“What do you do?”
“Fine art,” I said all deadpan-like.
“This is a photography studio. I have client arriving in maybe 10 minutes.” She was probably from Italy or Spain. I could tell she wasn’t your typical ‘what do you do’ type. She definitely had her way of living and could appreciate a creature like me and all the strange antics attached.
“I’m a dabbler in photography myself. I like getting hands on and fucking the world with my lens.” She laughed at that. “Are there any vacancies in this building or in this neighbourhood that you’ve heard of?”
“Uhm I think that there is one availability- uhm no that has been rented… What will you be doing in 2 or maybe 3 hours? That is when I will be finishing with this client and I am hoping to talk to you more… About possibly interning for me. I need some extra help.”
“I may be able to help you, but not through putting the fucking lights how you want them, babe.” She frowned a bit. “I am interested in meeting with you in 2 or 3 hours though, and seeing further what you are all about and possibly collaborating with you.”
“What kind of camera are you using?”
“Yours, probably. I left mine in a Swedish girls backpack. She’s now in Budapest and never wants to speak to me again.”
“Let me give you my card so that we may be in contact.”
We said our goodbyes. I drained my Budvar and pissed half of it out next to a hobos tent on the other side of the wall that I had just been praying to moments ago.
I was a bit shocked. The sort of terseness I’d spoken to Corinna with earlier seldom gets me anywhere. But I work alone anyways. I network as a hobby, not a profession. I breathe because I was told to.
I’d wandered around for 2 or 3 hours speaking to ducks in the canal and pondering socio-anarcho ideologies in respect to penance and pissants and guilty compliance with poorly thought-out rebellions. I remember having a couple of breakthroughs but not feeling the need to record them, on grounds of Knowing too much. Bliss is ignorant passion.
I found my way back to the alley in which Corinna and I had met and knocked on one of the towering metal doors attached to the building she had gestured living/working in. There sounded to be quite some ruckus being made inside- possibly somebody metal-working, or maybe Dstroying all of their bric-à-brac for some predisposed reason.
The clamor paused when I gave a second round of knocking, this time with a little bit more gusto. The human that opened the door was not my smoking Italian or Spanish girl from earlier, but a masked monolith of a pale man scantily clad in chains and black leather.
Fortunately he was a very nice man, and informed me that there was no such gal named Corinna that he was familiar with, and that he used this space to constrain and painfully tease much smaller-than-he middle to late aged ladies that, at this point in their lives, just ‘never could get enough’. He gave me his card and before he closed the door to resume his torture I asked where the nearest payphone was. He told me I could use his landline if I didn’t mind the noise.
How fucking nice the BDSM community is.
I stepped through a corridor into a large open layout room with high ceilings, chains clinging and boots thudding from the gargantuan walking in front of me, the blindfolded client hanging from the wrists in the center of it all, head dangling from her naked shoulders, as if she had one foot on the boat to cross the River Styx, ankles locked together and attached to a chain going to the floor, but was still breathing and perspiring lightly.
He gestured around a corner to where the telephone was and as I turned the corner and picked it up, taking out the card Corinna had given me earlier, I heard a shrilling female voice cry, “No!” and I dialed the number.
In between the sounds of lashed flesh and screams and the receiver emitting a ringback tone, I heard another noise that left my mouth agape as I turned to where the sound was coming from. It was a cellular phone ringing and there was a figure in the shadows.
Corinna emerged, pointing her camera at me and snapping a few photos as I stood there incredulous. She let the camera hang from the strap around her neck and ended the still quietly ringing phone, putting it back into her bag. She approached me and put her finger on my lips indicating me to keep quiet.
“Walk back outside. Be sure to wave to the man goodbye. I will guide you from there.”
I nodded and turned and walked back into the main room. I made eye contact with the man as he was in the process of repositioning the limp lady to be hanging upside down. I waved and lipped a ‘Thank you’, and he responded with a smile and, taking a hand off one ankle, waved back.
I exited the building and shut the tall door. I looked around and rolled a cigarette. As I lit it I heard a psst from above me and cranked my head up to see Corinna on the roof gesturing for me to walk down the alley a little farther. I followed the order as she walked parallel up-top.
“Here,” she said, pointing to a dumpster beneath a series of pipes and ledges that led up to the roof.
I climbed up without an issue (I’ve been scaling the sides of buildings since I was a cub).
“Nice studio,” I told her, with suppressed superciliousness.
“I have a few others as well.” She smiled devilishly. “Come with me. Step light.”
We crept atop the rooftop like little cats in heat in the summer, hopping over little ledges staying in the dark and climbed down a little ladder that took us to another side of the building. There was a door held cracked open with a crowbar. As we walked through I could tell that the door had been brusquely introduced to the crowbar that was now holding it open.
“Thank you for coming like you said you would,” she whispered as we stopped in the darkness of an inside room. “I waited until you knocked to open the door.”
“You probably could have just asked for a key. He’s a very nice guy.”
“That would destroy the purpose of my intentions,” she hissed.
“Now might be a good time to fill me in on these intentions?”
“Just follow me and do as I say.”
We continued on as the sado-masicho noises grew louder. I really had no room to argue or intervene. When you’re met with precedentless circumstance, gotta roll with the punches till your mind catches up.
We stopped, and Corinna drew her camera and removed the lens, replacing it with a 200mm. She knelt to the ground at a corner and aimed the camera around the corner as if she was in Afghanistan. I, standing above her, peered around as well.
The subject was hanging by her ankles. Kronk (I never got his actual name- this is what we’ll call him for brevity’s sake) was lighting a small incense sized stick with an oversized chrome torch that looked like it was shaped to be Satan’s billygoat, or whatever that figure of symbolism is.
He drew the burning stick closer to the woman’s ass and held it firmly there till the she began to oscillate wildly and shriek. I could hear Corinna’s shutter firing off. Kronk knelt to the ground and put his face next to the upside-down woman’s and whispered something to here, then smacked her a good one and stood back up, holding the torch to the stick again.
Corinna rose before I could get out of her way. Her head went into my chin, causing me to bite my tongue and stumble back a few steps. I bumped into some shelving something fell to the ground with a loud but not too loud noise. Corinna grabbed me and pulled me into the next dark room. We waited for a few moments. The noises of anguish had ceased and we could hear approaching footsteps. She held her finger to my lips as she had done as I held the telephone earlier.
I could feel my heart beating. Why? We hadn’t fucked up Kronk’s evening yet. We were only breaking and entering. He seemed like the kind of guy who’d be fine with what we were doing anyways. Or he’d tell us to leave. He wouldn’t mush our brains to mulch and drag us out for the dogs… or would he? Who knows.
In the former case, it would change the entire outcome of what Corinna had in mind; the ‘watched’ would know. Everything would be ruined. It would be a superficial act. We had to NOT be found so we could remain flies on walls.
And so my nervousness switched flow at that moment. Be sneaky and have your sacred agenda so you can see through your vision. Usually, at least. Who knows, it could have been wicked if he knew we were watching and carried on. Or he could’ve asked us to leave. Or he could’ve murdered us.
The outcome is always impossible to ascertain. Always. But you must find your threshold of fight or flight, and when you’re flying, be ready to improvise.
And when you least expect it, your assaillant naturally looks into the darkness and doesn’t see you, then returns to his beating of a chained up old lady.
Kronk resumed the torture and we crept back to our post.
“I want you to go to the corner on the far side of the room and turn on the hoover, but get out of sight before he sees you. Got it?”
I hesitated. “Uhm. How-”
“Just go! Just do it!” she hissed.
Corinna had taken the sticks in the cockpit of my brain somehow. I wasn’t even thinking about fucking her- she caught me with my pants down with this crazy conception of hers: breaking into a BDSM master’s lair? Sneaking around taking photos of him at work, now trying to haunt him with mysterious noises and feigned poltergeist? I felt bad for Kronk- he’d been so hospitable and human to me. That is so rare to find. But I felt that I had no power or authority to make any suggestions, or to simply leave.
I crept through the dark hallway back into the kitchen and along the wall opposite of where I presume Corinna is still standing. I notice the hoover is already plugged in around a corner, but is sitting out in plainsight. Go time.
I unplugged the hoover. I crawled out like a rodent out of its hole at high noon. I pushed the on switch. I crawled back, still apparently unnoticed. I grabbed the plug and with a deep inhale thrusted it into the socket.
The hoover came to life. I scampered back along the same route back to the other side of the room. I passed the kitchen and glanced down the hall. Corinna was gone. I heard a fierce roar come out of Kronk that echoed through the chamber like the bass of a choir, and made a B-line for the backdoor (maybe that’s where the expression comes from?).
Before I could reach it however, Kronk’s heavy footsteps were approaching through the kitchen. I couldn’t make it out the door in time. I swiveled around and headed back down the hallway and out into the open chamber. The slave was still obediently dangling by her ankles, like a prisoner that hasn’t seen the light of day in 12 years and has accepted the terms and conditions of captivity.
I dashed for the front door and found Corinna there waiting patiently.
“What do you think? Are you finished?” I asked breathing because I was told to.
“Almost. We have one more thing to do.”
“Fuck,” I muttered under my breath.
“Don’t be a fucking pussy, man,” she said with a crooked crazy eyed grin. “You need to go back on top of that roof. Come here.” She guided me back to the chamber. Kronk was steadily orbiting around slave woman, seemingly having forgotten about his search for a menace. She put one hand on my shoulder and with the other pointed to the subject and followed the chains up to the ceiling, where there were a couple of open skylights around where the chain was being held. “You need to cut that chain. There is boltcutters there that you can use.”
“That doesn’t seem like a very nice thing to do,” I pondered, but didn’t have any choice.
“Once you are up there and in position, look down to me and I will signal. Count to ten and then chop that fucker.”
“You got it.” I went back through the kitchen and to through the backdoor, climbing up the ladder and along the roof until I reached the skylights. There was a pair of boltcutters staged like the forbidden fruit, but I didn’t see any talking snakes, then realized that role was assumed by Corinna.
I looked down at her and she nodded her head. One, two, three - “Ahhhhhh,” screamed the slave after harsh whipping noise. Six, Seven - the cutters in place - nine ….
I gave it all my might and the chain busted, as I got out of view of the skylight. This was followed by thud - like dropping an encyclopedia onto a wooden table.
“Kranke verdammte Hündin blutsaugender Teufel,” Kronk relented, in a genuinely worried tone. “Slave! Slave! Wake up! You are to wake up now!” It sounded like there was a bit of a situation down there. Did I just kill someone? Did they deserve it? I sat down on the roof in a confused state, and rolled a cigarette. As I lit it, Corinna appeared over by the edge of the roof.
“It was beautiful. Beautiful!” She said in triumph, zipping up her camera bag.
“At a cost,” I said pensively, standing up to face her.
“Real emotion is best captured from the real life,” Corinna said. “The best directing is the kind that directs itself.” She then lowered her lids lecherously, and puckered her lips, raising them towards mine. I closed my eyes and ushered in the kiss.
And before our lips touched, my chest was met with a forceful double handed blow, separating my feet from the shingles, putting me in mid air, probably a 5 or 6 meter drop.
Fortunately for your humble narrator, I landed in a dumpster full of wet and stinky rubbish, breaking the fall. Unfortunately, I shattered my left wrist on the edge of the dumpster.
Looking up, Corinna’s pearly whites were shining down on me. “But sometimes the artist must assert some level of control.” She cackled and disappeared from my vision. Never saw her again.
I heard approaching sirens. With much difficulty I removed myself from my saviour dumpster. I whimpered off back to my squat and spent the rest of the night licking my wounds and smoking changa.
In my brazen youth I needed something like this to happen to me. Anybody who is anybody has needed at one time or another for somebody to push them off the edge. The only people that understand this are those who have gone there… Most stop or slow or do whatever it takes to stay clear as to not have to choose between Now and Later. HA! Thanks, Hunter! Thank, Corinna! RIP