Saturday, April 24, 2004

Nino's, Melville

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Service: * *1/2
Food: N/A
Ambience: * * *
Babe Count: * * * 1/2

Damon's just left. He's off to have supper with Wendy. So I'm stuck with Akbal.

"Here," he says, looking a heck of a lot like Jay Naidoo when he was a student activist, "look at this one. A real collector's piece. Not more than thirty of these in the world! You know how much? Guess. Take a guess how much."

We're on the sixty-seventh movie poster. This one's for a movie called EPIC ASTEROIDS. It's Japanese, and the photos on the poster are really cruddy kung-fu style pics, but with sci-fi costumes. Sheesh.

"Nah, not for me," I say. "Next one, please."

"It's very collectable," he says. "EPIC ASTEROIDS. Only R400. But make me an offer."

"Akbal," I say, "I'm really only interested in the R50 posters, so you might as well skip the expensive ones."

"Okay," he says, and he bites his lip a little in disbelief. I'm passing up EPIC ASTEROIDS. Chance of a lifetime.

Akbal comes to Melville twice a week, and goes around the restaurants flogging these old posters. He gets them by buying up the stock of old movie companies.

The only reason I'm looking at them is cos he might have some outrageous horror-movie titles. And since Damon and I are writing a horror together, it'll be nostalgically correct for later on in our careers to have crappy b-movie horror posters.

He turns to the next one. Carefully unfolds it. "Early 70's porn," he says. "R800."

A hand gesture from me. The bitten lip from him. A pause before he opens the next one, as if to say, 'Are you ABSOLUTELY sure you want me to move onto the next gem??? This is a CLASSIC!!!' He opens the next one.

I'm passing time, really, so it doesn't matter how long it takes him to get through his pile. As long as he's through by the time Mandy arrives. She's smsed me to see if I want to do coffee. Of course I do!

"Please, Akbal," I say, "if it's more expensive than R50, please don't even show it to me. Truly. If it crosses the impulse-buy pain threshold, I'm not interested."

"But this one!" he says, and he can't go on. I fear tears, and am about to ask the waitress for a wad of serviettes. But he composes himself. "Look," he says, "this one's starring Red Buttons."

"How much?"

"This copy is R1800."

My hand gesture.

He holds up a hand. "But," he says, "I've got a damaged copy in my car. R50."

I look at it. It's for a movie called WHO KILLED MARY WHATS'ERNAME? The slugline reads, 'Somebody just murdered your friendly neighborhood hooker.' Hmmm. It's not horror, really. But it does sound like a slasher. And the movie Damon and I are writing could be called a slasher.

Mandy arrives.

"Akbal, Mandy. Mandy, Akbal." They shake hands. Mandy sits.

"I'll take the damaged one," I say.

He keeps showing us posters for the next twenty minutes, and my stomach starts asking for supper. Eventually, I take two extremely damaged posters for R50 each, and he throws in a third even more damaged poster for free. When he leaves, I ask Mandy if she'd like it.

"I quite like that one," she says.

Damon and I have just had a minor adventure. We wanted to see the five o'clock show of STARSKY AND HUTCH, but we couldn't really decide where to see it. Eastgate and Cresta would have queues around the block. Sandton was too far. Rosebank Zone would be filled with trainer bras.

"Hey, hold on!" said Damon on the phone. "What about The Carlton Centre?"

"Hey," I say, "that used to be a flagship movie house." I was actually thinking of the Kine Entertainment Complex across the road, but it's been a long long time since I've seen a movie in Johannesburg central.

After a bit of discussion, we decide to see it there. We'll be urban warriors reclaiming the city centre. We'll be white boys showing that we're not afraid of inner city thuggery.

We get to the cinema, and I pull out my Vitality Card. This entitles me to see movies for a mere R11. I don't even know what mortals like Damon pay for the things. Somewhere around R30, I reckon. But the guy at the ticket booth looks at me as though I'm a crazed whitey. "Eish, broer," he says, "tickets here are R10. But if you WANT to spend R11, gimme your card."

"I'll save a buck," I say, and we all grin insanely.

Buy popcorn. Go into the cinema. And it's in top-notch shape. Ster Kinekor must be spending bucks upgrading inner city cinemas. Very impressive. The sound isn't as good as it could be, but it's a beautiful experience.

The adventure part comes when I slip out to the loo midway through the movie.

There's this shady looking rasta man lurking outside the door when I arrive at full trot, bladder full to pre-bursting. I go into the loo, and he follows me. 'Ah damn,' I'm thinking. 'Shoulda given my wallet to Damon. And my palmtop. And my cellphone.' But hey, I've got my Swiss Army knife. So this guy must just try. AND I do tai chi.

He steps up to the urinals, unzips, and lets rip. I do too. And for a moment we're busy having a pissing contest. I'm using my stream to write, 'Jacqui, I still love you,' on the porcelain. He's just gushing. I glance down at the urinal next to mine.

In it, covered in yellow wee, a frilly, lacey pair of white panties.

And that's my movie adventure in The Carlton Centre. I'll definitely be going to see more movies there.

Mandy says, "I'm quite hungry. Where shall we go for supper?"

"Let's walk around Melville and take pot luck," I say.

"Great," she says. "But supper's on me tonight. How about Mezza Luna?"

"Excellent," I say, and pick up my two posters. She picks up hers, and we head into the Melville night.

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