Monday, June 16, 2008
Vienna Dolorosa excerpt by Mykola Dementiuk
Vienna Dolorosa by Mykola Dementiuk is a full-length historical novel set in Vienna, Austria, in an inner city hotel managed by a transvestite and doubling as a brothel for men who like boys dressed up as girls. The entire book takes place during a one-day time period — March 12, 1938, the day Hitler “invades” Austria. Told from the perspectives of twelve different characters including various hotel personnel, hotel guests, brothel employees and brothel clientele, we also have a talkative Viennese official, German police, Nazi SS, and a darling street boy.
Synergy Press 2007
Frau Friska came down the main stairs and glanced out the curtained front window of the hotel. A few Brownshirt-clad men and boys staggered through the quiet street, either hung-over or exhausted from their night’s revelries, yet unwilling to go home and sleep it off lest they miss another celebration, another attack, another expression of their German-ness. She wished she had heeded Kurt’s advice that they install a rolling metal gate over the hotel entrance as the shopkeeper next to the Mozarthaus had done.
Where is Kurt anyway? She glanced at a wall clock and walked across the empty hotel lobby to the small office behind the reception desk. The role of hotel proprietress suited her; its professional and somewhat official standing gave her a sense of legitimacy and respect she would never have achieved as simply a madam of boys.
And it was a perfect cover, though a well-worn theme: a house of prostitution for the cognoscenti and a working hotel for the unwary; the trick was to keep the two identities separate and distinct. Houses for boys might be common knowledge in Berlin or London, but in Vienna, whatever depravity lurked beneath its cultured façade kept its passions and lusts hidden under a veneer of proper appearance, proper decorum, and proper respectability. As long as one acted, dressed and presented oneself in a manner correspondent to one’s social class, who would look or care what lay covered by the cravats and dining coats, the pressed pants and gowns and gleaming shoes, the neatly coiffed hair and polished fingernails?
It was all appearance and not much more. Frau Friska Bielinska passed easily in her proper feminine attire and respectful Viennese demeanor. Vienna and Austria had been her salvation, just as Berlin and Germany once were; but after Hitler’s coming to power and the orders to clean up the depraved Kürfurstendamm -- the night raids, the shredded clothing, the shorn-off hair, the forced sodomy and fellatio, the beatings and pummelings, the long train ride to the frontier with stops along the way for local Party members to express their own outrage on the vile pansies -- any city or country would have appeared a haven from the sickness Germany had infected on itself and was now spreading to Vienna, and to Frau Friska’s Hotel Redl.
She sighed and shook her head and bent over the ledger Helmut had worked on. With Kurt’s disappearance Helmut had taken it on himself to reconcile the accounts, and though it was a simple task of adding a few columns of figures, deducting the loss of unpaid-for rooms (the evicted guests were told there’d be no charge) from the expected earnings (one guest demanded he pay his bill in full and be done with the hotel for good), Helmut had made a total shambles of the simple arithmetic, coming up with a figure of profits earned in one night that was more than the hotel made in a month of full occupancy. He had not comprehended the impossibility of the gain or discrepancy of his count. He probably thinks we’re rich, Friska smiled to herself and quickly recalculated the sums in her head; Kurt could make the corrections later.
She pushed aside the balance book, retrieved a small key-ring from her skirt pocket, opened a locked bottom desk drawer, and pulled out a ledger book, much larger and thicker than the one for the hotel accounts, but already more than a quarter filled with columns of numbers, dates, names and cubicle assignments. She opened the book and glanced at last night’s appointments. Except for Kaufmann, not one of the other clients had shown and only a few of the scheduled boys appeared.
Like Kaufmann, the clients were probably nervous wrecks -- in hiding, scurrying out of Vienna, or else, like Kurt, marauding through the streets in a frenzy of beer-guzzling, store-looting and Jew-beating. Friska had dismissed the boys who did show up, though a couple of the clearly effeminate ones decided against venturing out again at night, and she took the new boy from the streets, Petya (who had appeared unannounced), to her quarters.
Most of Frau Friska’s boys were recruited from the canal walkways, the Prater paths, and the alleys of the Leopoldstadt, though she did take on boys who lived at home with working or middle-class families but who showed a natural proclivity and willingness to dress up. Unlike the other houses in Vienna which catered to men seeking boys, hers was distinct in that the majority of her clients did not want the boys as boys but boys as girls. This Friska gave them. Because Friska knew, after all her years of dressing up and living as a woman, that there was a clear distinction between homosexuality and transvestitism, between male longing for another male, and male desire for a male as female.
It was all a matter of control: males in female clothing destroyed the mask of male pretense, the societal image of masculinity as assuredness, as dominance, as control, and allowed the privilege of sensitivity, of gentleness, of playfulness, of femininity. The donning of makeup, of skirts, of bras, of stockings, stripped aside male delusions of male power and control. If clothes make the man, clothes certainly undo the woman in the man. But would the man dressed as a woman be allowed to accomplish half as much as he had dressed as a man?
For Friska, if there had been a surgical procedure to dispose of her penis and open a vagina, to implant breasts, to mold and soften the sculpture of her masculine self, she would not have hesitated to undergo the altering and correcting operations. It was a mistake of nature to have been born a male; all her proclivities were to be female, all her aversions were the daily intrusions of her masculinity. It was no help to her gender identification and acceptance that as a child she was introduced to the little-girl-fashion of long bowed hair, satin dresses, lace stockings and frills so common of upper-class Central European women in attiring and adorning their young sons.
Whether her mother had wanted a daughter instead, Friska never learned, since her father one day caught the mother in bed with a lover, a woman, and killed them both, then took his own life, leaving Friska to be placed in an orphanage for girls. There it was soon discovered the girl, Franziska, was a boy, Franz. He was immediately stripped of his pretty laces, shorn of his beautiful tresses, and transferred to a boy’s orphanage where he was forced into a mode of behavior he knew nothing about.
Of course it didn’t take long for the other orphaned boys to recognize his difference too, and by the time Friska left the orphanage four years later (fleeing with the staff from the approaching Red and White Russian armies battling their civil war) she was sixteen years old. Not only had she lost her physical, mental, and emotional virginity, but she had mastered the feminine stance and attitude of being a girl in a world of boys, as well as being a girl with certain indulgent staff members who found her pubescence as enticing, alluring, and erotic as that of any young school girl or flirtatious daughter of their own.
Though her first sexual experience was rape, forced sodomy, and fellatio, she quickly learned and mastered the female art of teasing, withholding, offering, and drawing back. But it seldom worked; a blow to the head dropped her to her knees where she forgot her feminine cock-teasing intent and complied with the brutal cock-pumping in and out of her mouth.
As a refugee she plodded her way across the hodgepodge borsht-and-kasha dullness of Central Europe until she reached Berlin. Within a month she was again dressed as a girl, with identity papers proving the same, installed in a house on the exclusive Kürfurstendamm. She had attained not only her maturity, but her sexual destiny. There was no going back, because there was nothing and nowhere to go back to.
Frau Friska flipped a page of her ledger to the evening’s appointments. Much like her other boys, Suze’s name appeared twice: once for a seven o’clock appointment with the banker Kessell and then at ten for the counselor Waldmann. Friska doubted either of those respectable gentlemen would show; still, telephone calls had to be made canceling tonight’s and all future dates. Business was business and Friska was one to hold to proprieties. She studied a few of the Jewish-sounding names (who knew there were so many Jews if the Nazis hadn’t pointed it out?). Would the Nazis have already occupied the telephone company?
She reached for a city directory and heard the heavy thud of boots pounding down the stairs and across the lobby. Helmut was stepping behind the reception desk, his face red, his brow pursed, his breathing staccatoed. Wanda and her tits, Friska frowned, and moved her chair from her desk, certain the oil-dry wheel squeaks would draw him in. Helmut entered the office. Friska glanced at the bulge at the side of his crotch and pulled back her shoulders, her fabricated bosom rising slightly and puffing out at the front her blouse.
Helmut approached and stared at her breasts. Friska remained still; Helmut reached out and gently cupped a breast, his fingers slowly pulsing around the soft pliant cloth. Friska sighed, and Helmut leaned and pressed his crotch against her other breast. She regretted they weren’t as big or real as Wanda’s. Friska shut her eyes; Helmut ejaculated.