The fat kid, a man on a ladder and smut.

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On a trip to Daegu last year I was fortunate enough to catch a street performance. The entertainers were all between the ages of five and ten years old. And each one of these youngsters was involved in either singing or dancing. I must have arrived shortly after their performance had begun as they had already attracted quite a crowd. About one hundred people surrounded a tiny stage in the middle of the high street, with the entertainment in full swing. The crowd was bouncing merrily to the music and I couldn’t resist bobbing my head accordingly as I strained to find a gap that would let me get a glimpse of the antics. Looking around, I saw that one man had anticipated this throng and had brought a step ladder with him in preparation. In a sense, he became part of the performance with his balancing act on the ladder. One hand clutched a small digital camcorder while the other steadied him from falling among the spectators. All he needed was an anorak.

Pushing my way closer to the front, I saw what was getting the crowd so excited. The children were wearing tight leather costumes that hugged their pre-pubescent bodies. The costumes ranged from mini-skirts to what can only be described as gimp costumes for the under-twelves. Amongst the children it was the unfortunate fat boy who caught my eye. He was either a last minute recruit or, more likely had not shed enough pounds for the ‘big’ day. He was now shuffling uncomfortably at the back of the stage wearing the same size outfit as his peers.

A group of boys and girls moved on to the stage clad in full dominatrix, thrusting, gyrating, spinning and splitting. Using moves that Britney Spears and the Pussy Cat Dolls would be proud of. I looked on in wonderment and disbelief at the exposed legs and midriffs visible to the audience.

Oblivious to this paedophile’s dream, the audience clapped their hands in time with the beat. Laughing and howling as one provocative action followed another. I found this level of naivety disturbing and it made me feel somewhat uneasy. Following the song; screaming, stomping and shouting started; conveying the unanimous euphoric feeling of the watchers.

The next act was the fat boy and his crew. He walked to the stage with the enthusiasm of a stone. The front of his belly, hanging over his tight leather trousers, rippled with each step he took. As the new performers stood in their starting positions, there was a moment of muttering in the crowd. You could almost interpret it as a collective whisper of a prayer for the overweight youth. A baby cried, perhaps sensing that in a few years time it would be its turn up there on the stage. The crowd, over-baited in anticipation, waited. Suddenly the sound erupted from the speakers and it began. Surprisingly, the fat boy could move, but not in time with the music and the other performers.

The audience gave the same vocal support as before. Whooping and hollering as more obscene moves were exhibited. I’m certainly no prude but I couldn’t help shaking my head in pity and despair at this display and turned to walk away. As I did so, I caught a glimpse of the man on the ladder. He seemed happy. Seemingly in his own world. Smiling as he looked through the lens, knowing that this spectacle could be replayed over and over again in the privacy of his own room. And who knows with what salacious thoughts attached to those captured images of innocent child performers.

© John Brownlie 2010


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