The Wanchai Vortex
It might start with a phone call from a mate coming to town, or a suggestion from some drinking partners in LangKwai Fong one Friday night, or be the general consensus of the Old China Hands at an Aussie Club function: "Hey dude, we're heading to... [looks around to see if the girls are listening] umm, Mes Amis in Wanchai, wanna join us?"
You might notice a look in their eye. Intense, but unfocussed. "I LOVE Wanchai," they say. What can they possibly mean? It's just another series of drinking holes to you. They're not so much looking at you as they say this as THROUGH you. You can imagine reflections of various previous debauches playing in the video of those eyes... They're not looking into Mes Amis with those eyes. Into another place.
Into another room behind a velvet curtain hidden from the busy street. Someone has grabbed you by the forearm as you reel past. "Have a look. Just one drink..." And she has somehow managed to turn you around so that the curtain closes behind you and you are now inside. It is a Lynch-scape. Mirrored walls, chromium poles. Smokey and dark yet vividly bright. You look for dwarves or wrinkled old ladies. Disco ball reflections spinning across the torsos of bikini clad girls milling on the stage. Rammstein music is playing, seductive in its anthemic fascism. One of the girls is looking at you, pulls aside the crotch of her G-string as she laps at the air with a pointed tongue. A wrinkled old lady whispering is in your ear, "Buy her a drink, handsome man, buy her a drink..."
Into the foyer where a dark-shirted bouncer lets you in without having to pay the charge - hey, you're not Indian or Chinese are you? Down the stairs to a dance-floor teeming with tiny, dark-haired women. None over 5'2" - apart from the lady-boys who are 6'2" mostly. The lighting is dimmed enough to mask the facial features of the girls, you can only make out eyes gleaming with a glazed UV-blue sheen, teeth UV-yellow, the deep curve of bronze Filipino cleavage. You won't know if they're ugly or not until tomorrow morning. A band is playing hip-hop covers with a Filipino accent. You feel like dancing, it's an irresistible rhythm. A girl backs into you and almost accidentally she grabs for your crotch. She turns, still holding your dick and smiles up at you sweetly...
Into the traffic where you stand unsteadily, swaying by the corner at Luard Rd. You should go home. You are tired, dog tired. A woman in a ridiculously short skirt and with ludicrously enhanced breasts approaches, giving you a steady stare. "Hello, you my boyfriend?" You smile. What a great line. Just out of interest's sake and totally out of character you ask, "How much? Can you show me your tits?" She pulls you into the nearest bar, almost empty, one of the untrendy ones, and standing at the counter lifts her shirt so you can see the healing scars of fresh breast augmentations. You look out the open door to where a Police Van is parked. You run your finger along the stitches lightly. The bartender asks if you want a drink...
You've dipped your toes into the water for the first time and you enjoyed its exotic freshness... and soon, somehow, you've gone down again, you're wet, it's slippery and you're loosing balance... The nights are getting later, and the late-nights more frequent, the credit-cards bills soaring, the phone calls to family less frequent, your SMS is going off all the time with messages from Honey, Lovely, Nam and Pla, there are videos on the Internet of you dropping your strides on stage, but there is this one girl so nice so pretty - she says she loves you... She may be lying, but you Just Don't Know! Yet.
And before you know it you're in trapped in the suck of a vortex that's pulling you under. There's no swimming against this tide. You are going down.
So I'm not asking myself "how did I get here" because I know the answer to that. I guess the question I should be asking now is, "how do I get someplace else?"
Spike showed me a phone-cam picture of T.
I can't say I would recognize her. I can't really remember her from the photo. I couldn't see her face too clearly from the phone's small display. Plus I was drunk (was it a phone or real camera? - I can't tell these days), plus I wasn't wearing reading glasses, plus I didn't realize at the time Spike had just broken up with her. Again. Again again.
He's a sharp guy, experienced, intuitive and obviously very smart.
So why is he in such a spin with these various women? Hands up those who REALLY believe we've heard the last of T?
Answer: because he is a sharp guy, experienced, intuitive and obviously very smart and he writes it all down. And, one thing I notice, everyone is a real person to him.
So why am I without ONE Wanchai girl's phone number? Why, in 8 years of Expat-dom I have never had MY Suzi Wong, MY long-term (i.e. more than twice) hooker girlfriend?
Answer: because I am an ugly dullard, shallow, thick and obviously woefully stupid.
Because compared to Spike I am so self-centred and me-focussed that I never see what these people are feeling, never really care if the girls are happy, beyond pleasured. I KNOW they are just girls out to rip me off, everyone of them, girls who think that they know what I want and are right 98% of the time. Never play the "where you from" conversation tape. Never have any plans for more than the next 5 minutes. Never remember my friends. Never call my family. Never think about getting a real girlfriend, Western OR Asian...
Because I am too busy SURFING THAT FUCKING VORTEX!
Actually, despite the artistic licence I've taken by placing his quote so near to my faux-novel's precis, I don't think Spike is one to go down The Vortex, at least not without coming up bearing aloft Excalibur! (N.B. photo may not represent the actual Spike.)
If anyone wants proof that men do have profound struggles in their emotional lives and actually think a lot about their relationships, even with ladies of the night, and that they are not just sports-addicted, sex-addicted, TV-hooked, couch-potatoes, read Hongkie Town. And I said not JUST sex-addicted... Then when he has published it, read his book.
As he said to me the other night outside Cul-De-Sac (I thought it was Ebenezers, but I live in Singapore these days what would I know?), he is "such a drama queen" - it's all nowhere near as bad as he makes it out to be. (He also said he a nealry full set of PKD novels with FALSE author signatures on them! How cool is THAT!) Well, drama queens write good books as rule, because drama is what keeps you reading!
Mind you, having said not to worry, then he goes home that morning and writes another most impressive and god-damn it, touching series of heart-on-the-sleeve posts, laying bare his feelings about his smashed relationships once again to such a depth that many of us soulless, stone-hearted Sexpat wannabe-lotharios can get our full quota of emotional hits completely vicariously. We can just keep on being shallow dicks, because Spike is not shallow.
I think because of his constant analysis of his feelings and motives behind his playing the field, he is actually surfing The Vortex a hell of a lot better than most, certainly better than me, for all my blagging. I think he has his head together, as you can tell from the coherent way he can keep you hooked on his story.
& I didn't ever really think he was suicidal, though I may have said I was worried, because hey, you never know. Anyone could flip out anytime; that's one of the risks of The Vortex - to be concerned for a fellow surfer should not be taken as an insult. And not just because there is a such a good film/book/blog there that we don't want to lose, he is nice guy too.
But we definitely need to move more of those trashy Sexpat novels to the HONG KONG Airport!
p.s. And sometimes, OK a lot lately, I really do think about getting a real girlfriend, Western OR Asian. And I DO try to remember friends and um, what are they called? oh yeah, family.
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
During the day, this is all business...
But while i went for the unnamed (no ads) well known grocery store, a lady apporoached me....
Now I've left this world of plenty
not to the fault for the lady in question
Central is high street like, and theres a street in Wan Chai sure... take off from MTR the right way and - just there off MTR station - ...
Maybe you and Spike should form Expats. Anonymous!
North, you'd be talking about Lockhart Rd?
Dover, it's a bit late for me to be anonymous, everyone in Singapore knows my name - I was photographed an placed in the StraitJacket Times as the "oldest" blogger at BloggersSG last year.
Expat, the Anonymous groups are about addictions not anonymity.
My name is John, and I... am an expat.
one expat is to many, a hundred not enough....?
Yes, I've heard it said.
Oh Lockhart Rd it is, im not good with road names... (prefer GPS) - known spot nowadays. But its a just a part of the road of that go-go area I think.
But if anyones going there, watch which Exit A B C like you take from the MTR. I had to do take corner after wrong exit (to get to the grocery store, you see). Or walk all the way and miss it if you cant speak Cantonese brand names.
Anyway, if you are for all of that part of Wanchai take flight to BKK. Go Patpong or Cowboy soi (soi = street) or other places like Nana. There's excellent public transport w/ Sky Train, but taxis arent like China, HK or Macao taxis...