You Broke My Boyfriendby Brandon Edmonds / 10.11.2010
Werner and Marius own a screen. They rent out décor. It’s made of white lycra. You stretch it across a wall and beam ‘3D effects’ on it. Gives any club an instant techno-futuristic vibe and “can change the shape of a room” as Werner puts it. He and Marius are gay. They’ve been together for almost a decade. That much commitment makes their love rock solid in high turnover gay terms. But this has little bearing on the horror to come. They’re event planners and familiar faces in Cape Town’s trance scene. Everyone likes them. They’re fun, open and honest.
Anyway the screen is languishing at Club Ras below high-end men’s club House of Rasputin. Why Rasputin? Russian owner, Mark Kozhanow, who had one of his dancers imprisoned at Pollsmoor last year when she couldn’t repay her R120k debt to him, explains: “I like him – he was a crazy motherfucker!” Okay. The boy’s haven’t been paid for the use of their décor at an event in the club. It was a weird gig to begin with. Marius fell off a ladder and broke his elbow putting up the screen. Weeks in a cast. It was a bad omen. The event organizer won’t give the screen back. They’re owed money. It’s not looking good.
Marius and Werner go to the cops. “They’re holding it against your will. It’s illegal. Go get it.” Fair enough. But the organizer begs them to use the screen one last time. Even invites the boys to the party. And they let him. Because that’s who they are. But around 4am they heedlessly to go get their property themselves. “It was a bad choice,” says Werner. “We should have waited.”
The place is open. Proving that the nighttime economy never sleeps. They go in. Werner begins removing the damn screen. Marius disappears. It’s not easy getting the thing down yourself. Then one of the girls runs up and says, “Marius is busy being beaten up.” Which is exactly what’s happening. Bouncers are working him over. “They’re obviously much bigger than we are,” says Werner. It doesn’t stop him from defending his lover. He urges someone to call the cops and squares up to them. Marius is unconscious by now. “There’s blood coming out of his ear.” Werner is soon punched in the face. A blow that instantly dislodges his cheek. Asked if the attack felt motivated by their sexuality, Werner doesn’t hesitate. “It felt like they were beating us up for a reason.” The bouncers weren’t local. “Maybe they come from places where they don’t have a diverse outlook on life as we do in Cape Town?” Eyewitnesses say it was mainly “one violent bouncer” who hurt Marius. “A big black body builder guy with short dreadlocks” – who has since been arrested. “The bouncer needs to be shown,” Werner says, “that he can’t just act like that!”
One of them tells Werner he broke the club’s projector when taking down the screen. This is offered as belated grounds for violence. Meant to explain. With Marius still unconscious and bleeding, a desperate Werner replies, “You broke my boyfriend!”
Marius has no recall of what precipitated the assault. Remembers nothing of the night. The police arrive and stand around. They’re rumoured to be on Rasputin’s payroll. The bouncers want Marius off the premises. He’s clearly grievously wounded. Blood keeps coming out of his ears. He’s terribly still. Werner begs them not to move him. To wait for the paramedics. But the bouncers want him out of sight, off their hands. He asks the police to intervene. They do nothing. “Our police need to be held accountable for what happens on the streets,” Werner says. His partner has a fractured skull. Later blood will be drained from his brain at Groote Schuur. His head cut open. Bouncers each take a limb, carry him out and put him on the pavement. Marius on the pavement. Bleeding outside Club Ras. And the House of Rasputin.
Sociological studies have shown that the ‘job satisfaction of bouncers is related to their self-image as a strongly masculine person capable of dealing with – and dealing out – violence’. Depending on the sensibility and professionalism of the bouncer, a gay couple immediately challenges that volatile mix. There’s a Private Security Act in Britain. It imposes licensing and training requirements on door stewards and other private security. Anyone with a criminal record is denied accreditation. Things are less regulated in South Africa. As someone writes on Marius and Werner’s support group wall – “Security is normally ‘outsourced’ to the large security firms that control the various territories in Cape Town. These guys have no desire to protect patrons. It’s a super shady world that the law is too afraid to tackle. Unfortunately the majority of bouncers are in that position not because of their desire to protect but rather their ability to inflict serious pain and feel no remorse whatsoever.”
They still haven’t got their screen back.
Werner and Marius (who is walking and talking again) do not have medical aid. They’ll need a lawyer.
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Account no: 2010130197
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