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Much Better Than Sex

Nóra Bükki Gálla
I always wondered how secret agents in films gritted their teeth but still kept their mouth shut when they were tortured in various inventive ways. They say it’s training, a kind of technique they learn about how to endure suffering, both in a mental and a physical sense. Pieter Ampe and Guilherme Garrido in their provocative and courageous duet of pain management are actually turning it all into a game. A game in which we cannot just stand aside and be polite observers.

The two of them look crazy enough at the first glance – Garrido with his gayish red pants and big shiny earrings and Ampe with naive air of gestures which simply don’t fit his thick Neandertal beard. And they really are up to what they promise – no, they actually go way beyond that. There’s hitting, kicking, trampling on the other and whipping with belts; it hurts even to hear but later we realize we’ve haven’t seen anything yet. There’s nudity and a way of using and abusing the other’s body in every possible sense, but with a special focus on sexual organs (yes, that pulling and twisting of penises is something to remember). One can either shriek of laughter or horror but you definitely have to echo some of the animalistic sounds they let out during the ‘intercourse’. T he experience wasn’t scary, now that I think back on it, although I never thought I would be having mental group sex at a dance performance – we simply had to face what we think about our own denial of basic instincts bordering on perversity . And facing our limitations can be a painful but liberating experience. Or should I say orgasmic? Anyway, it wouldn’t do justice to Ampe and Garrido if I reduced their play to the sexual dimension.

In the rare moments of piece and quiet, when the performers are panting heavily and not moving for a while, we find the subtle feelings that surface when we are not overwhelmed by the ferocious ones of desire and aggression. We witness the rare moments of contemplation, a kind of quiet unity and understanding that comes only when the worst is over – the two bodies are entwined again, but this time with the intention of rocking each other to sleep or one simply gathers the other’s body into his arms recreating the image of Pieta, the sufferings of Christ. When the magic is gone, the body is dropped to the floor and treated as a doormat or a towel absorbing the other one’s sweat.

Thinking about what this all meant to me, I would not stick to psychology interpretations about the subconscious or the ethical point of view on what most people think of S&M sex. I prefer to keep the image of Garrido offering his own feet as stepping stones for his partner (ouch again!) and Ampe running around with his underpants on his head.

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