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MOROCCO: LE ROADSHOW CAFE

THREE BORED SNAKE CHARMERS SITTING IN A ROW

‘Bong bong la-la, bong bong la la, Bong bong la la, bong bong la la…

‘I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with ‘T’.
‘T’, ‘T’…? Now let me see, uhhhh
‘To-o-o-rist!
ALL IMMEDIATELY ALERT. GREAT BURST OF ENERGY.
‘Bong bong la la, bong bong la la. Bong bong la la, bong bong la la…
THREE HEADS MOVE IN UNISON AS TOURIST MOVES PAST
‘ Bong bong la la bong bong la la…
SONG SLOWS DOWN AS TOURIST DISAPPEARS
‘Bong bong la la, bong bong… la….
SILENCE
‘What happened to the snake?
‘I dunno.
‘Maybe it’s asleep. Hasn’t been charmed for a while. Ay Snake! Wake up, snake!
‘Ooh ooh, snake…
‘He couldn’t be stoned could he?
She. She couldn’t be stoned.
‘Snakes can’t get stoned, can they?
‘I think he’s dead.
‘Sheshe’s dead.
‘Do you think it’s dead?
‘Snake, are you dead?

 

ONLY A FEW BATTERED POSTCARDS AND FRAGMENTS ARE LEFT OF A GREAT, IDIOT ADVENTURE:

Comfortable? Feelin’ good? You wan’ come on little trip wiz me? C’mon Australia, watchoo waitin for eh? You jus’ come along wiz me all safe, no money, anywhere you wan’ go we go, anythin’ you wan’ see, we see, anythin’ you wan’… unnerstand? Come on Australia, whatchoo waiting for eh? You got worries eh? You got problems? You wan’ good livin’? We got good livin’, whateva you wan’, Abdul he gets it for you – whatchoo say, eh? carmon Australia, whatchoo say eh? You say go, we go. You say stop, we stop. You say Australia, you say. Alla free, No money, mista, jusque pour plaisir, m’sieur; jusque pour plaisir…  

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Hey mista, you want hash, kif, opium, heroin, hash cookies, opium tea, cocaine? Psssssst Heeey mista You want hashish, marijuana, cookies, cocaiñe? Héeey mista You wan’ a chicken? – – Turkish chickens? What you doin’ mista, all alone? You wan’ go fuckie with me? Heeeey mista… Don’ walk away…heeeey mista…  

Watch the solitary sideshows in the city on Saturday night. Buskers on the street strutting their stuff, in competition with everything around them, relentlessly spruiking or singing their song, dancing their dance. So honest. We like what they do, they eat, we dont. Well, sooner or later someone else will come along who does. Indefatigable enthusiasm, the raw stuff of show business shining there on a busy city corner howling his heart to the moon. Saxophone echoes in the night.

I love you. You one angel. Every day, I pray you into my shop, you very beauty. You one angel. Every day you smile, all time smile, you very happy angel. You angel of happiness, you angel of smiling. Now what you wanna buy? Djellaba, Poof, Caftan, cape, cushion cover, blanket, shirt, carpet, jewellery, rings, necklace, leather bags? Heeey angel, where you goin’, eh?

Everybody juggling, everyone strutting their stuff, keeping those balls in the air, the crowd amused. That most fickle of audiences, the roving crowd, only entertained by what entertains them, and if you don’t know what that is you’d better learn fast because it’s a long humiliating public road to the toilet and a well worn path on the way. The crowd tells you what it wants by its reaction to what you think it wants. It can’t articulate its needs, only turn away when you fail to fulfill them, it truly knows nothing about art but it knows what it likes.

Ohhhh, babee, you look so good, you come inns my shop anna try on special Moroccan dresses, you so beautiful babee, you come inns shop, I got a hard-on lookin’ at you babee You got tits like a ostrich eggs, babee, come here: Ohhhh, baybee… 

Some things remain the same everywhere. The juggler in down town Sydney gets the same reaction as the jongleur in Grand place Djamma El F’naa in Marrakech. A Dirham or a dollar, it’s all food to me.

Thirty years ago in Morocco the freak show was still there, trapped in time since before there was even a medina, when those speckled, slatted streets of salesmen were just curbside collections of trash. Thousands of pimps, hustlers, street slaves of all description provide lubrication for the punters, devil worship for the avaricious, fortune telling for the cautious, treats to delight and surprise, freaks to release your demons, bizarre spectacle to alleviate despair.

The tooth show, outdoor extractions in the centre ring, helpless victim twisting in his chair, open-mouthed and captured by the tongs, unwitting star in a compelling spectacle for fifty or so spectators.

The conjuror dentist spruiking all the time, holding up grisly colour photographs of carious fangs, selling his patent lotion, doctor death in the desert, triumphantly extracting bloody molar from howling youth, wildly thrusting it at the crowd, free hand out clasping for cash.

Two boxing boys thump each other while a hundred men make bets. Ten, eleven years old, whalloping into each other till they bleed, spun out of the circle when used, replaced by two more little battlers in baggy red shorts. An acrobatic group from Ethiopia, line—up of musicians with more performing boys leaping, tumbling, building pyramids in the dirt, a cuff around the ear for failure, a pounce on the punters for success. Miniature Coliseum of pounding drum and cymbal, Fagin and his boys working the crowd.

A single grubby white dove totters round a tablecloth in a narcoleptic daze. Wreathed in hashish smoke from the hookah beside him an ancient fortune teller sits cross—legged, swaying from side to side singing his dreams in high pitched chant, forecasting destiny by the move of his dazed dove. Two elderly companions sit either side, all beards and dribble, an unholy trinity of muttered affirmation and scattered applause, matted hair piled high like Katherine Hepburn.

Crowned by the geek, drivelling, sniffing puddle of flesh, all head and attitude on wheels, dragged round the square, single gaunt arm outstretched, clawing at the tourists dresses, tugging at the trousers, pulled along on the billy-cart from hell, screeching his catastrophe at the world.

Still the same freak show today, just the deformities no longer allowed, just the reminders that not everything works out O.K. excised from public view. Even in Morocco. But still that powerful link between business and show struts its stuff every afternoon in Djamma El F’na, seducing the punters with a glimpse of the darkside, spruikers and hustlers all promising that black dream of wealth and good fortune, diving into your petty greed and avaricious nature, closing in on your sex and secret needs, spinning a web of cut steel. Only way out is to pay your money and take your chance like the rest of the world before you. Caveat Emptor sucker!

*

TWO               Ooooh ooooh.
THREE           Wake up, snake…
TWO               She’s dead.
THREE           Dead.
ONE                Shit.
TWO               Business’ll slip…
THREE           What’s a snake charmer without a snake?
ONE                An’ three mouths to feed.
TWO               How much did we make today?
THREE           Four dirham.
ONE                Four dirham?
THREE           You heard.
TWO               That’s only $1.25 at today’s exchange rates.
THREE           Not exactly gonna put us up at the Marrakech Hilton, no.
ONE                $1.25 and a dead snake,
TWO               Snakess.
THREE           We could stick a wire up his burn an’ I could work a pedal.,
TWO               An’ what about her fangs?
ONE                What?
TWO               Her fangs, her fangs…
THREE           You know, the fangs, darting little pricks of cobra death, you know, the excitement, the razz-ma-tazz…
TWO               Showbusiness…
THREE           I’ve just had an idea.,
TWO                Cobrette. Cobrette. A rearing cobrette.
ONE                Fark.
THREE           Hollow out his fangs an’ attach a tube an’ blow up it’s bum to inflate…
ONE                Lissen, why don’t you just get used to the idea that it’s finished…
PAUSE
TWO               Well…
THREE           Well…
ONE                Might as well…
TWO               Vamoose….
THREE           Piss off….
PAUSE
ONE                It’s been great workin’ with you….
TWO               Do it again, sometime…
THREE           See ya around.,
ONE                Adios, amigos…
TWO               Suraba, Johnny…
THREE           Yeah. See ya.

CHRONOLOGY

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After about a week of performances in Sydney the company disbanded. Why? Too hard. Too stupid. Dunno. Bills weren’t paid…

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