a Cheap Holiday

Cheap Holiday

Welcome to a cheap holiday in my life. At least you get to go home at the end of the day!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Back from Libertine Ball
Hmmm...AC...how to describe it to someone who has not yet visited it in its torn and shabbily arrayed flesh? Personally, I tend to glamorize the honesty of AC. Yes, its brazen honesty. While Vegas has camouflaged its underbelly so well with dancing waters, family vacation packages, and the memory of Siegfried and Roy, no amount of neon lighting and $12 shrimp cocktails can protect you from the filthy, scaley, vice-ridden underbelly of AC, stalking you down the Boardwalk, even in broad daylight, begging for spare change.

Let's just put it this way....AC is one of the few places in the world I wouldn't dream of walking alone at night and those of you who know me are aware that I'm pretty brazen about my personal security.

Satyr and I made great time on the drive to AC. Apparently we had just missed the rush hour window and got there in a skosh over an hour. Here, we make our acquaintance with the first cast-off handmaiden of AC...the decrepit family-run vacation hotel/motel, in this case, the Miami Hotel. Sodomized on the west side by a newer Econolodge (complete with balconies for every outside room), the Miami harkens back to the day when your Uncle Frank and Aunt Betty thought running a seasonal hotel would be "fun" and a possible way to pass the retirement years, only to miss the opportunity to cash-in and escape to Florida with all their other friends and now they're stuck in this crummy heap with their mildly-tetched son Lee and their German Shepard named "Rommel." In fact, the Miami Hotel is so distinctly lacking in renovative ingenuity that is still employs a hand-cranked Otis elevator that only Frank, Betty, and Lee are allowed to operate. Once you have your bags in your room, if you are of sound body, it's preferable to take the stairs.

Joyfully, Dorei had arrived earlier in the day and was thoughtful enough to stock the room with a cooler full of ice, bottled water, and sodas, and a few bags and boxes of salty snacks and cakey treats. Once everyone has their bags reasonably settled, we walk over to the Surfside Resort Hotel and Club Tru, where the Libertine Ball is to be held. The Surfside is what the Miami wishes it could become: a tarted-up Mae West of an older motel that has undergone just enough renovation to make it a viable business again, especially since it's being sodomized on the west side by a dance club that specializes in after-hours partying. Once we check in with V and Littlelethrgrl who are busy with Ball preparations, Satyr, Dorei, myself, and our friend Tammi (who we pass on the street, searching for the Ball site), hie off to the Boardwalk in search of a hot meal.

Ahhh, the Boardwalk. The Great 2"x4" Way of the Jersey Shore. Many a forest was decimated to create and maintain this behemoth of construction. It's not just that the Boardwalk is a long stretch of lumber that covers the sand just enough for you to traverse it, the AC Boardwalk is also elevated at least 10 feet above the actual Earth, you usually have to walk up a ramp to access it. Fires that are either set or sparked from underneath the Boardwalk are not uncommon, typically devestating a navigable section. For the entire length of the Boardwalk, you can find any piece of wretchedly-made kitsch or nutritionally-poor food manufactured. We settle on a food court offering a few different types of speedy cuisine. I opt for the turkey club and fries, suspecting that it will harbor the least chance of food poisoning per bite (FPPB).

After dinner, we return to our rooms to freshen up and then head over to the piano bar at the Surfside for the weekend's first event, the Pervy Piano Bar. This involves an obvious veteran of the Piano Wars, Johnny D'Angelo, tickling the ivories while the attendees (at least one or two of whom where wearing full-length latex in the un-air conditioned room atmosphere, talk about fetishistic dedication!) sang along to bowdlerized lyrics in laser-printed songbooks (including an impromptu and inspired version of "Sit on My Face"). Apparently at one point, an equally grizzled piano veteran--we'll call her "Betty" too, just because I have a tendency to refer to all women above a certain age with obviously peroxided hair as "Betty"--stepped in and sang a straight rendition of some jazz standard and then quickly escaped. Apparently we had absconded with her weekly outing and she was none too happy with our naughty lyrics or manner. (In case you're wondering, I just wore a simple brown cotton Ann Taylor sundress.)

Once the sing-along wrapped up, there were several other after-hours events to attend, but I wasn't in the mood for any of them. I wandered with two friends back to the Boardwalk and promptly lost $30 at roulette (usually a good game for me), while they went in search of some late dinner. After that, I made my way back to the Miami to fall asleep in the glorious icebox conditions we had created in the room (the window air conditioning units being the one thing the Miami had updated in the last 50 years).

Saturday mid-day dawned too soon. After a scalding shower (apparently the hot water heater at the Miami is the second thing updated in the last 50 years, proving that Frank and Betty and Lee are not complete slouches in the hospitality industry; guests will forgive a lot of things as long as the room temperature can be managed and the showers are hot), Dorei and I meet up with Satyr to secure a couple of chili dogs from the Stewart's stand outside the Sands Casino for lunch. From there, we return to the Surfside to prepare for the weekend's second event, the Latex and Lace Pool Party, hosted by Mistress Mimi Divine. Ahhh...boistrous, Aussie Mimi and her aging, transvestite sidekick Pinky. Think "drag-queen-Penn-and-Teller" and you'll conjure a reasonable simulacrum of Mimi and Pinky's presentation in your mind.

The pool party was quite the hit amongst the pervy rank-and-file. As V was later to heard to exclaim: "All these people with their expensive toys and clothes...who knew all that was needed for them to have a good time was to let them get naked in a pool and blow up a few beach balls?" The member of AC's finest who was assigned to guard our gathering (guarding us from something? guarding others from us? that was never fully explained to me) found it all terribly amusing and was even sporting enough to bring us a few Dunkin Donuts Munchkins!

At this point, I am updated on the previous evening's adventure. Apparently, on their return to the hotel, V and Satyr and a few others stopped along the way to get a few slices of pizza (or "pie" as the locals say). Given the patina of the neighborhood in which we were staying, and V's neo-Bettie Page attire, she was approached by men asking her if she "needed a date" in rapid succession. V, of course, being V, immediately began to articulate her job description and imminent qualifications as a professional domme. This led one or two to ask her if she would give them a spanking right then? "Do you have $200?" was her retort. Alas, no one was able to provide the required fee and all were turned away spankless. Millions of dollars in cash flow through the town daily and yet no one has a dime to spare for a proper butt-warming.

Around 3pm, Satyr, Dorei, Littlelethrgrl and myself freshened up from the pool party and hit the Boardwalk again, this time in search of amusement. We'd had a plan to hit the Borgata, but the Borgata is like the Palms in Vegas, it's set way off the Strip and one must either drive or take a life-endangering jitney bus to reach it. As much as we wanted to, we decided in the interest of time it would be easier to walk down the street to Bally's. Bally's is actually two casinos: Bally's on the north side and Bally's Wild Wild West on the south side. We'd been to Bally's Wild Wild West the previous year, so thought it might be interesting to check out the generic Bally's side. After quickly winning $24 on the Slingo slots, we talked Satyr into teaching us how to play craps, which he had threatened to do the previous year. As we were having difficulty locating the craps table in generic Bally's and I could actually remember their location in Bally's Wild Wild West, we took the breezeway south over there. Once we located the craps table, I coughed up $10 and Satyr contributed $20 and then began explaining the game to me. The board printed on the table is quite confusing and camouflages the simplicity of the game itself: basically, you are betting on whether the dice roller will hit a certain number with a given level of accuracy. For example, say I roll the dice and it comes up "8" on my first roll. You will then bet on whether I will roll a "7" (or "craps") before I will roll an "8" again. You can bet on the "Do not pass line," which means you are betting that I will crap out, or essentially you are betting with the House. This is the safest bet, because let's be fundamental about this, if the odds weren't with the House, then these places wouldn't be in business making obscene amounts of money. Of course, it is possible to lose big by betting with the House, but only if you're not smart about it. Bet only the minimum amount to start with (in this case, $10), slowly build your pot, and then never bet a large amount on any one game (we never exceeded our maximum bet of $25). If you lose two games in a row, take a break from betting until a roller you've seen perform before comes up in play. I even rolled a few games myself, each time betting with the House, or against myself. And yes, I crapped out both times, winning money on my own losing game! Ultimately, I probably made about $100 net, after giving a few chips to Dorei and Littlelethrgrl to try betting, and of course, tossing a $5 chip to the dealer as a parting tip.

Around 4:30pm, Littlelethrgrl gets called to return to Ball duty and we hit perhaps the most low-rent buffet available outside of a casino and then I pick up a couple of turkey sandwiches to take back to Littlelethrgrl and V on my return. After passing them food, I return to the Miami to clean up and rest a bit in the room's Artic chill before getting dressed for the Ball. I've not been in much of a dressup mood for the last two years, so I went with the minimum acceptable costume for the theme of "Voyage to Atlantis": a sailor shirt (a real one) borrowed from a friend, a cheap sailor hat procured from the Boardwalk, bright blue spandex boy shorts, and clear plastic platform slipon high heels. Given that the weekend was given to 95 degree F temps and 90% humidity, I felt minimalism was the best sartorial approach. We make it over to Club Tru about 9pm, while the night is young and the bartenders are still relatively unencumbered. About an hour later, Satyr offers to do the first tie of the night on me. Ian is a practitioner of Japanese rope bondage (shibari), specializing in suspensions (please don't ask me to recall the Japanese term for it). He does a tie on me that basically puts me in a belly-down position, legs and arms bent slightly above, or what he called the "parachuting" position. We have a bit of difficulty together--he's finding it difficult to alter the chest harness to take some of the pressure off my ribs and for some reason, suddenly, I feel this sharp, burning sensation in my right tricep, almost as if someone had jabbed me with a lit cigarette. I'm able to hang for about 8 or 9 minutes, not as long as I had hoped, and then he begins taking me down, stopping for a few moments in mid-untie to tug on the rope ends, causing me to imitate the movements of a hopelessly tangled marionette, which was fun.

From that point on, I ended up being both his rope assistant and "bondage cop." At these larger events, Satyr is routinely approached by women to be tied up, many for the first time. Typically, I stay close in order to rewind the ropes once the suspension is over, or to grab him a drink, or sometimes to help him with a suspension, which rarely happens. He's usually able to leverage bodies on his own, typically with a lifted knee. On this occasion, I was routinely having to direct people to walk around the bondage frame. There was just enough clear space behind the frame and between the wall to tempt people into trying to use it as a traffic lane. Or, worse, people are sometimes tempted into creating a traffic lane by walking through the bondage frame space, which when there is a body in motion being pulled off the ground is unadvisable.

Another typical circumstance is some hot chick who has previously been suspended by Satyr but hasn't seen him in awhile will locate him at these large events and hector him into a repeat suspension. Well, usually not "hector," it's not like Satyr needs his arm twisted into tying up a pretty girl, unless he's just not in the mood or too tired or sore. But after the second tie of the night, a tiny, pulchritudinous blonde wearing an airy chain mail-style halter and miniskirt coats Satyr with herself and asks to be tied up. I vaguely remember her and he then fills in the missing pieces: he had suspended her at a Playground party the year before on her birthday. She is one of the innumerable strippers that a certain "lawyer" in Philly (thought I've yet to see his Bar credentials, so one can't be certain of his true professional activities) tows around in his gravititional orbit, obviously to publically compensate for his miniscule genital stature. Satyr promises to suspend her, but he has a couple of other reservations already in line that he needs to complete first. She merrily runs away to fill the intervening time with too many shots.

About an hour and two suspensions later, Blondie returns in full drunken bluster, attempting to barge through the suspension area to press Satyr into conversation as he is untying a mutual friend's girlfriend. This, my friends, is exceptionally poor etiquette. Scene space must be respected; interrupting a scene, even one that seems to be in the closing stages, is rude, just as if you were interrupting a sermon by the Pope. I hop to the left to place my significantly larger body between hers and Satyr's.

"Excuse me...you can wait until he's finished untying her."

At this point, she looks at me with a flicker of drunken shock. What? Someone thwarting her obviously entitled efforts? Was I not blinded by her silky, shiny blonde hair? Was I not impressed by her surgically-enhanced chestal wall? Was I not enamored by her near naked state? Who was I to be impeding her? At this point, she decides on her opening strategy:

"It's ok, honey. I know Satyr, he's tied me up before" she slurs, again attempting to bypass my larger frame.

"You...can...wait...until..he's...finished...untying...her," I repeat, nonplussed by the fact that she would apply the old "don't you know who I am?" chestnut on me. I also find myself resenting her for causing me to feel even larger and more unwieldy in my body than I usually do. A mix of dedication to Satyr and immediate petty dislike of this woman who makes her living on displaying her more lucrative and culturally-appreciated physical charms spurs me onward.

"No, really, he tied me up on my birthday, oh, what's your name?" she purrs, extending her hand.

I offer my name, politely returning the offered handshake.

"Oh that such a pretty name," she coos, with unconvincing sincerity. "My name is blah." I only type "blah" as a filler, because honestly, I was so disinterested in her existence, I didn't even hear what her name was when she said it. At this point, she launches into some further drunken blather that I don't even pay attention to, as I look over my shoulder to see Satyr removing the last rope from his subject and giving her a warm, parting hug. With this gesture, I consider Satyr's obligation to his current subject complete and stand aside to allow Blondie to pass on to her quarry. Fuck, I need a drink.

By this point, Satyr is less enamored with tying Blondie up. She's pushy, she's fidgety and he's already done at least five ties that evening without a significant break. He begins to throw something relatively fast and easy on her: a tie where she's on her back. Aware of my irritation with this particular subject, he lets Blondie know that once she's suspended, then *I* get to have fun with her. Usually, I would relish the opportunity to torture someone who has caused my own body image to plummet so severely, but my heart wasn't in it. And, well, neither was hers. Once she was sufficiently off the ground and secure enough that she won't hit the deck, she begins writhing and flailing and hoisting herself over the frame crossbar, all to the adoration of her entourage. Oh yeah...I get it...she thinks the bondage frame is a stripper pole and begins employing it with that intent. I find myself immediately disgusted and hang around long enough to determine if Satyr needs assistance. Fuck, I could use another drink.

At this point, while Blondie is having her 15 minutes in the camera strobe glare, I decide to take some time for myself. I wander the crowd, talk to friends, check out CarpenterBoy's suspension of Reddgrl. CarpenterBoy met Reddgrl at Shibaricon in Chicago and they do make quite the hot couple. Earlier in the day, they had hatched a plan for CarpenterBoy to suspend Reddgrl by one foot over the hotel's pool. During the last daylight hours, CarpenterBoy had managed to string up and anchor a rope crossing above the pool. In the previous 30 minutes, he had gotten a sturdy pulley in place on the rope, buckled a cuff securely around Reddgrl's booted ankle (you really want to do a one-leg suspension while wearing as tall a boot as possible--take it from me), and towed her extended body out over the water using a guide rope. Reddgrl in her resting state is impressive enough. Reddgrl in her inverted state over a pool is nothing short of magnificent and she was obviously having a fabulous time of it. The unscheduled sideshow was the talk of the evening, so much so that they repeat the event about 90 minutes later.

At this point, the evening is nuzzling up against 2am, and Littlelethrgrl goes off to find out whether Satyr needs to dismantle his frame or whether he can leave it til later in the morning. She returns to tell him that the club will be opening the deck to the general public at 3am, so if he leaves it, it's at his own risk. The wise decision to dismantle is made and we begin tearing down the frame, which for its size, was designed for portability. An ingenious set of pegs and slats keeps the frame upright, so all one needs to do is remove these for travel. We do this and then lay the large lumber pieces across a set of two Rubbermaid storage bins. As he is packaging up some other items, I stand in front of the frame, just resting my brain. An older woman, say, late 40's, wearing a sequined gownlike costume walks right up to me, and when I say "right up to me," I mean we are nose-to-nose close. Then, her face begins to descend in front of mine. "Wait," I think to msyelf, "is she planning to sit on the bondage frame?" As her body becomes lower and lower in view, I realize, yes, she is planning to sit on the bondage frame! Christ, who are these rude freaks?!

I slide my hand firmly under her butt cheeks, maintaining a distance between them and the frame. "Nononononononono" I stutter. As I slowly lift my hand under her arse, her arse obediently responds by rising.

"What?" she blinks.

"You can't sit there," I instruct.

"This isn't a bench?" she blinks.

"No, it's not a bench," I explain.

"What is it?" she blinks.

"It's a bondage frame," I detail. A $1400, vintage/recovered hardwood, custom-designed and custom-made bondage frame, I think, but obviously this level of detail would be beyond this woman's comprehension, so I keep that to myself.

After this incursion, we encounter yet another example of someone being overeager when it was neither requested, nor called for. Once Satyr's frame is securely Saran-wrapped for transport, Satyr and CarpenterBoy turn their attention to dismantling CarpenterBoy's frame, which is both significantly larger and impressive, but far more unwieldy. Built to resemble the tora gate used outside Shinto shrines, it's a beautiful product of his ingenuity and handiness with woodworking tools. However, the wood is particularly sensitive to changes in humidity, and it's not uncommon for the pegs to swell to the point of being unremovable with simple hand force. For this reason, CarpenterBoy keeps a rubber mallet at the ready, and more often than not, it's required. Several other men familiar to Satyr and CarpenterBoy begin assisting them with the dismantling. Upon discovering that, once again, the rubber mallet will be required, CarpenterBoy goes off in search of his tool bag. However, in the interim, no one has explained to another friend that CarpenterBoy has a specific plan for removal of stubborn pegs that will not damage the expensive and beautiful frame, and in his earnest drive to be helpful, this friend takes another piece of the frame and begins banging on the recalcitrant peg with it, much to the screaming horror of the more experienced persons nearby, including CarpenterBoy, who is running across the deck to the scene of the woody crime with alarming speed. The friend is immediately relieved of further frame duties.

Once all of the frame duties are covered, Dorei and I decide to head back to the Miami to catch as much sleep as we can before check-out time. It's about 4am by the time we reach the hotel and get undressed, so I'm optimistic about getting in a solid five hours, which comes to fruition. Around 10:30am, the cell phone chatter to plan the day's events begins, and by 11:30am, we've loaded up cars and driven over to the Surfside to coordinate with Littlelethrgrl, who by staying at the Surfside was completely deprived of sleep, as they play music on the open deck all night long, in order to live up to their after-hours partying advertising. The bags anchoring her bloodshot eyes are so prodigious that when it is mentioned that the club/hotel's proprietor was so pleased with our party that he was begging the Ball staff to return in November with the Diabolique Ball, she exclaims "Well, we won't be staying here then." After a brief organizational meeting, we head off to the Boardwalk in search of lunch, before beginning the tedious return drive to Philadelphia.


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