The hazy fog descends and the sinews slacken and ease. The mind relaxes and the world becomes your voyeuristic reality show. Through the haze you look at people in ways that you never looked before, or so it feels. A bike passes appearing to ride itself as a boy stands perched on its seat. Droves of camera-yielding cattle sport fanny-packs and chino shorts as they are herded from place to place by their leader. This cyborg-like creature – more fitting in a dystopic film noir – that is only capable of speech through the microphone on the right of her mouth. She waves a narrow, charcoal wand with a blue ribbon at its peak, like it was a leash.
My curiosity is now piqued and I decide to leave my perch in the audience and join the action on the stage. I quench my thirst with the dregs of my water bottle and veer through the coffee-shop door and out onto the stage-street to become an actor in the scene myself.
The streetscape soon dissolves into the ether and is replaced by a carnivalesque Disneyland of staged debauchery. All present become ‘Peeping-Toms’ drawn to the motley-ridden women cased in glass at every building. They stand eager to entice you with their wares. However, the general consensus is not to engage in supporting in the oldest human profession. Instead elderly tourists just ogle as a teacher hastens the pace as she tries to lead a group of pubescent boys off the stage.
A black tank doused in cheap aftershave and hair-gel catches my eye. He feeds me a spiel about the ‘Live Sex Show’ as he so poetically describes the proceedings. One might have been unsure of what it entails given the sign that proclaimed the same performance plastered in neon above the entrance; therefore, it was useful to have somebody explain the rather cryptic event in more detail.
The stage is lit as the crowd files into their cramped seats. A middle-aged, small-town-America couple enter from the back of the theatre. Everything from their clothes to their demeanour indicates that they had just left Sunday service and thought it nice to get in a show. I eye them as they proceed to walk up the centre aisle and attempt to wedge themselves beside an Australian bachelor-party. I scan the crowd and a few rows in front of me another curious sight catches my attention. An elderly Asian woman sits scrutinising the stage eagerly beside her adult son. An appropriate Mother-Son outing?
The ‘performers’ emerge from behind the curtain with the same pomp and ceremony one would associate with any artistic or sporting event. They quickly remove the few garments that they have on and begin the performance. They bang together in rhythm to the techno that blares across the theatre as the audience eyes the eroticless spectacle with confusion and wonderment.
As I file out and back to the open-air stage I can’t help but think what a strange surrealist-sex circus The District truly is.