Sunday, May 9, 2010

Au revoir sexy cinema

The Benhil Raya sexy cinema has closed down.

Grimy banners displaying illustrations of men and women in Mills & Boon embraces used to hang above Jakarta's city-centre Benhil fruit and vegetable market. The cinema had one screen and the cheeky banners changed about weekly. One week I went up the shadowy concrete staircase to the cinema's grubby foyer. The ticket kiosk was shuttered behind a grill. At the time the film being advertised was Love Letter, which had the tagline: "One Day Suddenly Discovered How Bone Sweet... Can Be!"

"It's a good one," a man said. He was sitting on a bare step, leaning against the closed grill of the theatre entrance. "Two shows a day, more at the weekends when we're busiest."

"Foreigners don't come here, though. Especially not women." I wondered if he was challenging me. "Lots of men though, men of all ages."

Raped by an Angel was one of the more blunt titles fluttering above the bananas and courgettes of the market. If the film titles were in the Indonesian language, would they be so publicly accepted?

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