They say “the best things in life are free” right? Which is great because I have no money because I spend it all on shit, and trust me the shit things in life are expensive. But they also say that “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. So either lunch is not one of the best things in life (which I have to strongly disagree with if I am tucking into some sausages around midday) or “the best things in life except lunch are free”.
In my days when I worked spare time with the music management company, I often found myself in places I couldn’t normally afford. Expensive bars and clubs, but they were usually worth the extra outlay in the end, many many fun times were had. And besides I’d usually get to point of knowing the owner which would often reduce my bills as 1am approached and it was kicking out time.
The Atlantic Bar & Grill was a quite well-known restaurant, bar and club right on Piccadilly. My boss in the music venture was a member which was the only reason I managed to get within half a mile of the place without having my back broken by bouncers and the words “go home scum” tattooed on my face.
Atlantic Bar & Grill – it was mostly underground…
I never ate there, we only went for the drinking in the club downstairs – think more gentleman’s club than nightclub. Down this massive elaborate staircase there were various rooms with bars, I think they even had one just for the purchase and enjoyment of cigars. It was very much a cigars place. The décor was luxurious and each room had a real homely cosy feel, with lush furniture and architecture. It was the kind of place where you always expected your evening was about to be turned into a bloodbath by some guys with tommy guns.
The atmosphere there and the layout of the furniture (at least in the rooms we frequented) really lent itself to getting to know new people and chatting to the characters you were sitting near. One night me and James and a couple of other friends had got chatting to two young far eastern girls, Korean I think they said, who had appeared a little bit lost and looking for company. One of them, her name was Song, was right up my street. Really short but quite curvy, and super cute – she was just adorable. Her friend was taller and slimmer, and I guess more conventionally “hot”. She was also ever-so-slightly mannish and given I can’t remember her name or never paid attention when she told me, I will call her “Dong”.
We quickly ruled out them being prostitutes, a standard procedure in a place like that given how expensive the drinks were, and I had taken a shine to Song. Much to my surprise, so had she to me. We chatted away and me and Song were soon in each others arms while James kept her friend busy. Every so often I would notice her friend scowling at me or at Song as we chatted.
Me and Song popped out of the room for a little while to a quiet corridor for some private cuddling and kissing, before being interrupted by one of the bouncers who told us we’d come out the fire escape and we had to get the fuck back in. Later in the evening an argument erupted between Dong and Song, in Korean, which baffled the rest of us. The only thing we got from this was when Song said in English “but I like him!” as she stroked the furry jumper I was wearing. She loved that jumper.
The evening continued and things were looking positive for me and Song. She was so cute, and girls from that part of the world are not normally my type. Then another argument broke out after her friend had been scowling some more from across the table. This turned into a standing argument with two of them shouting at each other in Korean as the rest of us looked on puzzled.
Every so often, one of them would point at me as they screamed. I was clearly the subject of the fight. Awesome, I thought, hot girls fighting over me.
Then Song’s friend drew her hand back and smacked her in the face, and stormed off. James went after the friend while I looked after my new little sweetheart and probable future wife. But it wasn’t to be. The friend never came back and Song left in a hurry to catch her up. It had all been going so well. According to information James had gleaned from Dong, the two of them were basically a couple. Hence why she had frowned upon her affections towards me and eventually punched poor Song in the face and ran off.
I was a little bitter as I really liked Song, and to be honest, this kind of shit always seems to happen whenever I like someone. After we left the club shortly after and I was walking across Piccadilly Circus I saw the two of them standing arguing in the street. I foolishly tried to intervene, the friend went nuts at me, told me to fuck off, threatened to hit me and I left them be. By left them be I meant I ran away very quickly.
My luck was to change a few months later.
Me and James were back in Atlantic and this time the whole evening was on him.
I’d recently completed work on the company’s new website, showcasing the artists we were representing, including a little-known starlet called Leona Lewis. We’d launched that day and we were out celebrating the new site, and I was getting a nice treat. I think James had asked me to pick where we went and I’d replied with something like “can we go back to that place where we met the hot lesbians?” We were back in Dick’s Bar, our favourite room in the club.
Dick’s Bar – sorry about the watermark, it is literally the only picture of the inside of this place on the whole internet…
As I sipped my tequila & cokes and we chatted I was thoroughly enjoying my treat. We also got chatting to a woman in her mid-30s who was sat on the sofas next to us. She joined us, and me and her got on particularly well. She told me was in the “restaurant business” and we described our kingmaking role in the music biz with only slight exaggeration.
James was starting to feel a bit of a gooseberry and entertained himself, popping off to chat to various other people he knew, as me and (I can’t remember her name but it was something like) Elaine got closer and closer. James had popped back and Elaine went off to the ladies’. He said to me “Do you know who that is, did she tell you?”
I said “She only told me she was in the restaurant business…”
James had gone up earlier to one of bouncers and asked him who the woman sitting with his friend was. “She’s the owner,” he said.
Nice. I always get in with the owners of places, but this was the first time it had been a nice lady. James decided I was having plenty of fun, with the promise of more later, and decided his work on my launch day treat was done, so he left us to it.
Now Elaine was buying all my drinks. This was shaping up to be a hell of a thrifty night. Eventually we went to a private room she had and chatted some more and engaged in some smooching. And at closing time we headed off back to her place.
The only time previously that I’d seen a penthouse in Mayfair was when I built one in Monopoly. Her place was immense and lush, she invited me to scour her CD collection for something I liked.
In what was to prove a mistake later on, I was immediately drawn to an Olivia Newton-John album and stuck on a bit of Country Roads (Take Me Home). She poured me some rum from the most expensive looking container of alcohol I have ever seen and we began smooching anew on the sofa. It was only then I realised that Country Roads was on repeat. I mean I like that song, but not necessarily as a soundtrack to a whole evening.
Especially an evening which was progressing fast to more than innocent smooching. I beckoned her to the bedroom – well in reality I said “where is your bedroom?”; it could have been anywhere. But she didn’t want us going there for some reason. What was in there? A husband? Mexicans? She fetched the relevant protective male equipment and we moved to the next level; to be fair it was a particularly comfy sofa.
Now… I’m sure you’ve all had or heard of people saying things in the middle of lovemaking which are inappropriate. Shouting out an ex’s name, etc. Well that is nothing compared to what happened next.
In the middle of “things” she said to me:
“Are you sure you’re not a rentboy?”
I’m normally a very thick-skinned person but I found that quite offputting. Maybe I’m going a bit soft. In fact, that’s exactly what was happening!
Yes, somewhere in the process of lovemaking I had given her cause to think I was a homosexual prostitute. I wondered, what part of this vaginal intercourse had led her to believe this? I reacted, perhaps as she intended, with renewed vigour, a sort of “Oh thinks I’m a rentboy, well I’ll show her.” Maybe this was the plan all along – a kick up the arse (but nothing else).
In hindsight, I think perhaps my pale, skinny frame, youngish looks and fondness for Olivia Newton-John was the culprit here. In any event I like to think I disproved her assumption. Morning came (and so did she…) and it was time for me to leave.
She asked me if I had money for a cab. I genuinely didn’t have any cash. She gave me £20 for a cab home. I left with the realisation I had literally not spent a single penny of my own money.
My friend James had paid for the first half of the night, Elaine for the second half, we’d got through a load of very expensive rum, and she’d paid for my taxi home.
Maybe I was a rentboy after all…