Acapulco by Lawrence Russell
Lawrence Russell


««« 3 »»»

««« the Platinum Circle

My Name Is Bond

Standing on a terrace, the Bahia de Puerto Marques below, blue and sparkling, the potted palms, etc. Catch my reflection in the window of the postcard boutique. My name is Bond -- James Bond, I say... as if my reflection is speaking to anyone but me. Sounds good but could be better, so I try it again: My name is Bond, James Bond.

I'm still bonding with Bond when Brutus comes out of the shop.

Hey, he says. What's happenin'?
My name is Bond, I say. James Bond.
Are we going to the beach or what? says Brutus. I got sun screen.

The beach is small but clean, exclusive to the hotel. The beach jockeys set up a shade tent and we lounge on our recliners, watch the action.

Man with gold chain around his neck, gray hair on his chest, the swell of his belly. Hand in hand with a young woman, thick black hair, black swimming suit. South American but maybe not Mexican. They linger in the surf, scan the water. He points to something beyond the safety nets, maybe the big beach, south... or the silver hotel tower on the peninsula. They wander back and forth like horses on the edge of a river they must cross, nervous, sensual, illicit.

Finally they take the plunge, start swimming. I wonder if she's with him for the money or the sex. I know why he's with her.

Can you swim? I say to Ajo.
Sure, says Ajo. Used to give lessons.
You're kidding, I say. I thought you hated the beach.
My mother was a swimming instructor, says Ajo.
I can't believe this, I say. Let me see you swim out to that raft.
O.K., says Ajo. Any particular stroke?
Just get out to the raft, I say.

Ajo kicks his sandals off, starts down the beach.

Hey, I call, what about your watch?
Waterproof, he calls back as he wades into the surf.

Brutus is wearing black shades. He's like Chac Mool, the Rain God, waiting to collect rain in his stomach, his powerful legs raised, feet jammed into the sand either side of his recliner.

Would you swim with your watch on? I say.
He doesn't give a shit, says Brutus.
He's got his wallet too, I say.
He's the Cisco Kid, says Brutus. Cisco don't give a shit.

Ajo is up to his waist, looks around, launches forward.

The Australian crawl, I say.
No way, says Brutus. Dog paddle.
He can swim, I say.
If you call that swimming, says Brutus.

Ajo circles the raft, then treads, head up like a seal. The woman is lying back, eyes closed, one knee raised, glistening in the sun. Sugar Daddy sits beside her, hands flat on the deck.

You going in? I say.
Later, says Brutus.

I amble down the incline, find shade in the big rocks where the jet bikes are beached, start filming with the digicam. The hotel, hanging from the hillside like a beached liner... flunkies in white sweeping the decks, adjusting sun umbrellas, delivering drinks... family on the sand, kids digging... bikinis... bikinis... large millionaire launch rumbling past... Mexican kid with jet ski swamping tight circles... the raft, Sugar Daddy and his dreaming woman.

Zoom in. Sugar Daddy is like Juan Peron, Dictator of Argentina. An exile from another era. His woman is a flamenco dancer, a Panamanian butterfly, a forest nymph.

Ajo is circling the raft slowly, head up, maybe talking to Sugar Daddy.

Pan back to the sun tent, Brutus receiving a fresh Margarita.

A young hustler approaches.

Amigo, he says, you want hoochie coochie?

He's smiling like coffee, fresh and rippling. Shark tooth on a string around his neck.

How much for the jet bikes? I say.

surf riders in the sun

Ajo and Brutus are cutting circles on the bay, their jet bikes bucking over the wakes of launches and the dreams of drunks. Ajo in a standing crouch, gripping the handlebars, humping and roaring. Brutus big and heavy in his saddle, also humping, roaring. Plumes of water spraying from their tails like peacocks, droplets fanning like rainbows, splitting light.

Ajo roars up to our beach, hair matted, shades dripping.

Ya gotta try it, man! he shouts. Fuggin' wild... aw, you should see tha shit other side of the bay...! Chicks like you wouldn't believe...!

Brutus roars up like he's sliding into first base.

Let's rent the fuckers fer the day! he shouts.
You gotta see the house, says Ajo.
Yeah, says Brutus. He's gotta see the house.

I'm strapping on a life-jacket, wading into the surf. Kid brings up my bike, holds it as I climb on, slips the safety string around my left wrist. The Kill Switch. Hit the starter button, engine rumbles, throttle up, start moving out. Ajo and Brutus buzz around me like outriders.

Roaring across the blue chop, hotel receding like the Titanic, pass a catamaran, a speed boat, crouching like a jockey. Pass Chick Beach, the bikinis, the booze huts, the water-skiers. Brutus, Ajo crisscrossing, yelping, surf-riders in the sun.

Follow Punta Diamente to the gap... small island and beyond that Acapulco Bay. Throttle back, behold the solitary beach house built on the rocks, sandstone towers, neo-Moorish. A gleaming cigarette boat waits at the dock.

Some house, eh, says Ajo.
Some boat, says Brutus.
Dope runner special, says Ajo. A Scarab, right?
Looks like a Hustler 388 Slingshot, I say. Poker Run Edition.
Can that bad boy run or what? says Brutus.
8 litre V8, I say. 88 mph, cruise at 45. Think about it, guys.
What kind of man would own such a thing? says Brutus.

There's a stairway, twisting among the boulders and the eucalyptus. Where does it lead? To the crest of the steep hill, and the big neo-modern villa of Sylvester Stallone.

Maybe I should buy it, says Ajo. I'm the Cisco Kid.

And I'm thinking, yeah, my name is Bond -- James Bond.

bondage chic

Night. The main drag. We stroll in the muggy heat beneath the towers of the luxury hotels... The Hyatt, The Fiesta Americana, the Fugg del Sol... the neon, the traffic, the shops, clubs, bars and open lobbies spraying light like anti-aircraft fire.

What's the matter? I say to Brutus.
Been poisoned, he says.
You've just overdone it, I say.

Ajo's looking for a bank machine. Brutus and I browse in Sanborn's for a few minutes, then exit into the lobby of the El Presidente, see Ajo filming three young beauties in bathing suits and white sashes with Pepsi logos. They don't speak any English but this doesn't stop Ajo. They're smiling, he's chuckling as he circles with his digicam.

You get the money? I say.
No problemo, he says.
Who are these young girls waiting for? I say.

We're back on the street again, moving south.

I wanted to get them out on the steps, says Ajo. Have the neon in the background... but next time maybe.
Helmut Newton, I say. You want a little kink.
Is he still alive? says Ajo.
Sure is, I say. Still photographing for Vogue... now and then his stuff turns up other places.
Still got that book of his? says Ajo.
White Women, I say. Two copies, hardcover lsts. The definitive bondage chic maestro.
Had a big influence, says Ajo. You see it everywhere... advertising... I mean, Calvin Klein be impossible without Newton.
What about Cronenberg's movie Crash, I say. That's pure Helmut Newton.
Yeah, says Ajo. Crash -- got it. The book, the movie.
You know that fashion designer, Thierrey Mugler? I say. He's into bondage chic.
Mugler, says Ajo. Don't know him.
Shaven head, earring, lisp, I say. He's pretty good.
He work in leather? says Ajo.
He uses it, I say. No, he's more into modernism, I say. Like French deco. His women are cats, salon kink.
No work boots, says Ajo.
No work boots, I say. Corsets.
They coming back? says Ajo.
They wear them on the outside, I say. A reversal of sexual possibility.
Dig it, says Ajo. Once the last defence, now the first opportunity.
Dressed but undressed, I say. That's Mugler.
Well that's Newton, says Ajo. He always leaves his women something....
Pair of elevator shoes, a mask... something, I say.
Women, says Ajo.
Yes, I say. Women. Made by God, dressed by men.
Who said that? says Ajo. Chanel?
It's not what you take off, it's what you leave on, I say.
That's art, says Ajo.

Some construction going on, big excavator, workmen with yellow and red hardhats. Trucks, engines throttling. Deep trench in the street, big enough to bury a couple of buses in. Big lamps like a movie set.

There's where I'd photograph them, I say.
Photo who? says Ajo.
The Pepsi Generation, I say.
In there? says Ajo. That's for a sewer!
Sure about that? I say. Perfectly sure?
Isn't for a fibre-optic cable, says Ajo.

Brutus wanders up.

Hey guys, he says. Check the hole.
Brutus, says Ajo. What's this hole for?
Nuthin', says Brutus. Come back ten years, be the same....

night gallery on costera

It's on the corner, overlooking the hole, marque like an old movie theatre, but now it's a gallery. Brutus is looking at a painting in the window.

What is it, he says, that makes their stuff so unreal?
The Mexican personality, I say. Indian and Spanish, that mixture of mysticisms.
Looks like a Remedios Varo, says Brutus.
More Mexican than her stuff, I say.
I thought she was Mexican, says Brutus.
Spanish, I say. She came to Mexico City during the war as a refugee.
She's great, says Brutus. I covet those posters you have.
Just posters, I say. The painting is what you want.
I dunno, says Brutus. I like posters.
Because they're advertising, I say. Advertising dramatizes the art.

Some people are sitting at a table drinking wine. Man with a black goatee and black frame glasses stands up, makes room for us to squeeze past.

Senores, he says, yes, we're open....

Space is tight, the paintings large and stacked as corridors. Some hang on the walls, anywhere there is space. Are these the artists? The women are middle-aged, bourgeois, gallery poodles. They ignore us, continue talking, drinking, smoking.

Remedios Varo: FarewellAw look at this one! says Brutus. Is this not Remedios Varo?
Definitely under the influence, I say.
The two shadows kissing, says Brutus. I've seen it.
Farewell, I say. One of her last paintings.
So cool, says Brutus. Like time-lapse photography or infra-red.
Well Varo is an orthodox surrealist, I say.
Yeah, says Brutus. Freudian to the hilt.
Her draughting is much, much better than this artist's, I say. Varo's technique is superb.
The details, says Brutus. This is graffiti in comparison.
Varo did advertising, you know, I say.
What, says Brutus, illustrating?
Great ones for a drug company, I say. One for insomnia, another for back pain. Excellent stuff.
Five thousand pesos, says Brutus.
Five hundred bucks, I say. What's five hundred bucks?
If it was any good, says Brutus, sure.
Some of them are o.k., I say.
Graffiti, says Brutus. Could do better myself, just gimme a brush and a joint.

We're moving between the canvases towards a door. With all the paintings surrounding it, the door looks like it's in a painting itself, a Magritte trick.

What's in there? says Brutus. Another gallery?
Let's take a quick look, I say.

It's like a patio -- you can hear the sea, see the stars.

It's a garden, says Brutus. Nuthin' here, man.
Somebody over there, I say. By the fountain.

Cut To:

the Garden of Sylvester Stallone »»»

© Lawrence Russell

Culture Court 2000