the rape palace
There was a Time.
We had to stop. We had to slip away from the Sunday night stream of traffic heading north down Bourke Street to the bridge and buy a few beers for later. No sense in watching the Sunday night game without a little oil. Especially after a wasted trip to Maroubra chasing a forecast swell gone missing.
Strange how you get a sort of premonition sometimes when you walk towards a city hotel that has a sound coming out of it that isn’t quite right. When every door facing the street is blocked solid by a rampart of broad backs and there is that instant before you decide to squeeze through them that gives rise to an instinctive choice.
Do you just want to buy a few bottles of beer, or do you really want to come in here.
The Three Bells Hotel squatted handsomely on the corner of Bourke and Cowper Wharf Roadway in Woolloomooloo and on Sunday nights ran an entertainment program that attracted men of singular intent.
This is 1965.
And the fair-haired young man pushing through the door who thought that buying a couple of bottles of beer would warrant no complications can still write about it forty years later.
The Three Bells was known colloquially as The Bunch of Cunts; a brutal name for a brutal hotel that in daytime hours was the hire centre for maritime storemen and packers – and by night was a male rape palace where men conspired to dress like Shirley Bassey and excoriate their maleness in the pursuit of a wicked and illegal pleasure.
Given the times.
How quickly social ambivalence gives way to moral decay, some may say.
They closed up behind him these men, sealing his entry, denying him his exit, and when he reached the bar and turned about to assay the merit of the men crowding up behind him he met contact with a dozen pair of eyes.
Here it is how to feel like a woman, here it is – They almost growled these men, like tomcats in a yard when the female cat is surrounded, has surrendered.
Beams of searchlight lust shining out of their hard-spent faces – Men on Man – and in the corner of the bar a broad shouldered youth in a bulging red satin dress sang For Every Man There’s a Woman. His, her audience watched his every move as he slid himself around inside his dress – The prison yard come to town. The fuck was on.
There was a suffocating heat in there that night, an indefinable excitement and the promise of a group rut that cooled like a change of weather when one of the drinkers stood aside and let the fair-haired young man pass back through the door to the street. Three bottles in hand.
There was a Time.