Dec 2014

Michael Blumenthal

Atelier Rheingold

Berlin, January, 2000

Here is the room in which,
for a mere 200 Deutschmarks and a smile,
you can, in a plastic or a rubber suit, be tied
to the violent cage, and be beaten
or kicked, stepped-on, role-played
into oblivion, where everything
that can never be yours at home
can finally be yours, at least
for an hour, in which you can be
a Salvador Dali in red tights
or a Dracula in black, a Count
of Monte Cristo riding a wild horse
(named Eszter or Monica, as you wish),
or even, once again, the Lone Ranger
in his sweet black mask, you can be
a beaten bundle of whimpering flesh,
a master, a slave, a circus of needs
which, for a price, some sweet young girl
will try to satisfy, sending you home
to your ordinary life again, a little
less needy, a little less in love.

And here is the room—
“the clinic,” as they say,
in which you can play “Doctor”
yet again, this time with a paid nurse
dressed in tights, or simply lie back
and let yourself be probed and penetrated
as you were as a child, with tools
and utensils too sterile to be true,
beneath loving fingers hired for a song
and mirrors of all kind in which
 Atelier Rheingold 2

to view yourself, relishing a pain
that hurts so good, as if it were
your lifelong destiny made new again.

And here is the room,
the simplest one of all,
resembling most of all
the analyst’s domain
(but for two long mirrors
slanted on the wall, a single dildo,
and these ropes of different shades),
with its rubber bed and glass of juice,
a good deal less expensive than the rest,
into which the merely miserable descend,
and where the able-bodied Paula comes,
bringing a relief both palpable and kind
from all the disappointments life can bring,
here in the well-presented Atelier Rheingold,
for which you exit once again
onto the undivided streets, a world
made whole again for just a fee,
a kindly universe where there’s a cure
for every unlived fantasy a life provides,
chargeable to EuroCard, American Express,
with an e-mail address all its own,
just seconds from the U-Bahn each one takes
to get, in his own way, home again.

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