The Smelly one
by José Luis Cuevas
I stay at the bar, alongside two other alone strangers. I see Nora and La Chihuahua and greet them in the distance. Eva comes down from the dark floor above, an elderly gentleman follows her. Nora sees her in the stairs and says – “You fucking Eva, did you do it two times? Eva jokes, and answers back “No, four”, she leaves her purse on a table and goes to the toilets, the gentleman washes his hands, she comes back and rinses her mouth (her oral caressing abilities are well known and have made Eva famous). Alcohol and sex, things around here can be summed up in those two words.
So what brings me here, to this small sanctuary of men and women over-enthusiastic about booze and lust? Why go to “La Apestosa” (the Smelly one) instead of any other place? There is no answer, and then I drink, beginning to feel drunk, but not enough to lose the fear to take out the camera and approach to people. I ask for more beer. And another question comes, or perhaps an answer instead. Maybe I came to find out that I am also a devotee of the same religion, of the same idols: alcohol and sex. From the back of the bar, a bottle arrives to my hand and scares the question away from me. Nora also comes to remind me that she wants a nude portrait of her. I tell her that it’s a done deal, that is definitely happening. Just one more drink, and I go to the bathroom. I walk across the dark corridor that goes to the toilets; I arrive at the exact spot from where an overpowering stench comes out and which gives the place its name. I cover my nose and mouth with my hand, and despite the disgust, I’m thrilled to be listening to all the bustle happening behind me, men and women gone wild, dancing, shouting, drinking, staggering, giving themselves to one another, in an exchange of solitudes that make the stench and darkness of the place go unnoticed.
Its official name is “Salon Orizaba” and perhaps it’s the most singular beer hall in all of the old downtown Mexico City. To find it, you can ask for “La Apestosa”, the nickname that the place has literally adopted and keeps with pride to the last detail.
“La Apestosa” is a place of encounter for alcoholics and prostitutes. This photographic essay documents the relations between them and the atmosphere of the place. A dark place where alcohol and sex reign.
José Luis Cuevas