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26 June 2000

Sex and Viagra and rock’n’roll

Geoffrey Beattie hangs out with club bouncers and doormen, and finds them very insistent that he sho

By Geoffrey Beattie

Mick was standing in his usual spot in this narrow bit of the club, with smoke and perfume and expectancy hanging in the air. He is small for a doorman, and squat, but not to be messed with. You can tell just by looking at him. A fist that can break jaws was holding a small lager, which he was sipping. He reached out a large horny hand and I squeezed it as I walked past. “Long time, no see,” he said. He was talking to a punter with a yellow shirt that hung out over his trousers. A blonde girl in a small PVC top and tight, matching trousers squeezed past the two of them. The man in the yellow shirt protruded his lips and went “Oooooh!” right into the side of her face. She appeared to take this as a compliment. She smiled at Mick.

“He knows them all,” said the man in the yellow shirt. “Every decent-looking bird in this town walks through the doors of this club sooner or later, and Mick clocks them all.”

Another doorman with a shaved head and jug ears approached Mick. There had obviously been some sort of trouble earlier. You can always tell by how they talk. There’s a sort of excitement about it. But it’s talk that is done at very close quarters, to exclude outsiders. The jug-eared bouncer’s hands were gesturing wildly. I could just make out what he was saying. “He did this,” he said, talking about some unfortunate punter, “so I eventually had to respond.”

His gestures, however, said something different. His flat left hand was the unfortunate punter. His right hand was a big fist. “He did this,” he said, and the flat hand wandered across to the mid-point of his chest, “so I eventually had to . . . ” And I watched the fist of his right hand slam hard into the left hand, which fell limply to the point just below his belt. The punter, presumably, had gone down like a sack of spuds.

I watched Mick’s eyes. He clearly loved to hear about violence. The man in the yellow shirt noticed this as well. “It’s a blast to you, Mick,” he said. “A real blast.”

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“Fighting and fucking,” said Mick. “The two best things in life.” He corrected himself. “The only two things in life.”

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I wanted to make a note of this small slice of life, so I stepped back into the shadows of the club and pulled a small notebook out of my trouser pocket. A thickset man with a completely shaved head, wearing a dark suit and black T-shirt, came up to me.

“What are you writing?” he inquired. It sounded chummy at first. He was smiling at me.

“Notes,” I said. “I’m just making notes.”

“What sort of fucking notes?” he asked. “You’re not the filth are you?”

His friend took up a position on my other side.The thickset man reached across me to light his friend’s cigarette. There must have been something wrong with his lighter because there was a very strong smell of petrol in my face. It was a pleasant enough smell, but I thought that the lighter might flare up.

“You want to be careful with that lighter,” I said.

“What?” said the thickset man. “Is he the filth?” he asked his friend. It was more menacing this time, but I couldn’t tell if he really meant it. He had stopped smiling. “Because we couldn’t have the filth standing here making notes right in front of us. We’d have to shoot him.”

I stood writing this down as well.

“I can’t believe this character,” said the thickset man. It was time to extract myself from this situation, so I beckoned Mick over. “Don’t be stupid,” said Mick to the pair of them. “He’s not a copper.”

“Oh, I was only checking, Mick,” said the thickset man, almost deferentially. “You have to watch your backs in here sometimes.”

I thanked Mick, the man who knows everybody, and offered to get him a small lager. A girl of about 20, quite pretty with a mole above her mouth, approached with her boyfriend, whom I took to be Italian. “Hi Mick,” she said in a high, girly voice. “This is Carlo.” Carlo shook Mick’s hand.

“Mick looked after me about a year ago,” she said, “when I had a bit too much to drink and this guy started bothering me. Mick took me home and put me to bed. Didn’t you Mick?”

“Oh yes,” said Mick. “A lot of birds need looking after.”

“He was a real gentleman,” said the girl with the mole.

“Let me shake your hand,” said Carlo, “for looking after my woman.” Mick looked a little embarrassed, but he stretched out his hand.

“All part of the job really,” he said modestly.

The girl started heading up towards the wine bar. “I’m taking it nice and steady tonight,” she said. “I might get tipsy, but that’s as far as I’m going tonight.”

Mick waited until the pair had left. “I looked after her all right,” he said. “I got her home and I got her face down and I gave it to her. She’s never mentioned it again. I was horned up that night. I’d popped a tab of Viagra. The 100-gram one. My dick was like that pole there.” He pointed at a long, shiny pole with some greasy fingerprints on its barrel. “It was full on that night. It was like fucking toothache. The ache from down there is terrible when you’ve had one.”

He reached into his pocket and retrieved a packet of blue pills. “Yours for only 25 quid a tab. The best hard-on you’ll ever have. It’s like having your cock pumped up with a bicycle pump.”

He passed me one of the pills. “Are you fixed up for the night? Because if you’re not, don’t be taking one now, for fuck’s sake. But if you are fixed up, go ahead and pop one now.”

Another of Mick’s friends joined us. Mick obviously thought that it was time for a bit of a sales pitch. “Tell him what Viagra is like, Dave,” said Mick. Dave made a blowing sound like he had just tasted a very hot curry. He screwed up his face at the same time.

“What did I tell you?” said Mick. “Words can’t describe it. It’s that good. When I first got them I was a bit reluctant to try them, so I used my next-door neighbour as a guinea pig. He’s unemployed, so he popped a tab one afternoon. He sat there all afternoon in his dressing gown staring down at his dick. ‘It’s not working, Mick’ he kept saying. ‘Nothing’s happening.’ But I thought to myself that they have to do something or there wouldn’t be so much fuss about them. So one Sunday afternoon I took one whole tablet at three o’clock. By a quarter to four, I had the biggest hard-on you’ve ever seen. It was like somebody else’s dick down there. My bird thought that I was a different bloke. Honest to God. I was waiting for her to call me by a different name when we were on the job.”

Dave just stood there nodding. He was the rick in this sales pitch. I could feel the pressure to buy. But I thought that I had a way out. “But I’ve been drinking lager,” I said. “Presumably they don’t work if you’ve been drinking.”

“Oh no,” said Mick. “You’ll not get brewer’s droop with Viagra. It will be up there hammering away.”

I noticed that his fist was making a sort of piston movement. So was Dave’s, but his piston gesture was less forceful, less convincing in a way.

“It is 25 quid, though,” I said. I was trying a different tack; I was starting to quibble about price.

“You mean to say that a man like you can’t afford a few quid for the fuck of a lifetime?” said Mick. “What do you think of that, Dave?” Dave just gave a short, disdainful laugh, and looked at me pityingly. “I mean,” continued Mick, “what would you rather spend your money on than the fuck of a lifetime?”

“I haven’t got 25 quid on me,” I said.

“You mean to say that you go out to a top-notch club and you haven’t even got beer money?” retorted Mick.

“I’m sorry about that,” I said.

“Listen,” said Mick, “to be honest, when I take a whole tab my face goes like a carrot. I walk around looking like a fucking beetroot. I sometimes think that my head is going to explode. You’d be better off with half a tab. Twelve pounds fifty for a half. That would do the trick, and you must have that kind of money on you for the taxi fare. Or are you planning to walk home?”

Dave just gave a derisory laugh. “Walk home,” Dave repeated. “That’s a good one. This guy knows how to have a good time all right – go to a club, have a skinful of beer and then walk home.”

I joined in the laughter, but I don’t know why.

“I’ve been getting into some right skirmishes since I started taking Viagra,” said Mick. “Last week I went home at half-five in the morning with only one sock on. I couldn’t find one of my socks in this bird’s house. My girlfriend went berserk when I got home. She had waited up for me. I tried to get undressed in the dark, but she put the light on. She said to me: ‘Where’s your bloody sock?’ I swore to her that I had been working the door all night with only one sock on, but she didn’t believe me. She said: ‘I may be stupid to put up with you, but I’m not that bloody stupid.'”

Tom Jones was singing in the background, “Sex bomb, sex bomb, you’re my sex bomb”. There was just no getting away from it. “I’ve got a lot of regular customers now,” said Mick. “I’ve got one Chinese guy who comes down from Worksop to get some. He buys ten at a time. He’s a big spender.” He looked straight at me, as if to say that here is somebody who is clearly not.

But none of his hints were working. Mick eventually gave up. He broke one of the blue tablets in front of me. “Hold out your hand,” he said impatiently, and he dropped one neat half into the palm of my hand. “And don’t lose it, and don’t take it until you are fixed up with a bird.” He left without taking payment.

I went off and wandered around the club. It was nearly two in the morning, that time when you can feel the desperation of the men still on their own. I saw Dave standing in a quiet corner looking wistfully across the dance floor at a dark-haired female. “She used to be my girlfriend,” he said, when I walked up to him. “We lived together for nearly seven years.”

His ex-girlfriend was talking to a young, good-looking man with short, spiky hair. Dave looked crestfallen. His little routine with Mick all seemed a very long time ago. He paid no attention to me: it was almost as if I wasn’t there. He just stood there, quietly watching.

“To be honest,” he said eventually, “I don’t really need Viagra. What I need is a good woman.”