by Joseph Incardona
Translated by Sandra Smith
Dreams are the enclosure of oblivion
It sounds like the name of a Scandinavian alternative porn actress.
Tanya Hansen. Saana Blond. Katja Keane.
Not far off: Heinola is a city in Finland
Alternative porn (“AP”) implies: a choice of partners, a desire for pleasure, a rejection of humiliation. The actors themselves plan the filming schedule. AP thus conjures up consensual, exhibitionist, authentic sex. The equivalent of a label certifying “organic”.
Sweet, fair and smart.
It matches a certain image of Finland: realism, social benefits, equality of the sexes, tolerance. Of course, there is all that soggy space – “water/earth” – for so few inhabitants. A little hideaway where you can revitalize yourself at the slightest sign of nervous weakness does indeed allow a better life.
Situated some 86 miles north of Helsinki, the capital. A little more than twenty thousand inhabitants. The city suffered an economic crisis in 2008: the closing of the saw mill and plywood factory, the principal employers in the area. Suddenly, everyone was pretty bored to death. Nature can quickly become boring. An inability to contemplate or, at the very least, the problem of living alone in the woods with a wife and children. At worst, alone with oneself. Result: boozing it up, badly. But especially: man seeks out other men. A place is defined by the men who live in it – even more so than its fauna, flora or geography.
Consequently, a certain naivety coupled with latent boredom motivates a series of activities that take place in the area during the summer season.
Wife-carrying World Championships
Swamp Soccer World Championships
Air Guitar World Championships (playing the guitar without a guitar)
Boot Throwing World Championships (men: size 10; women size 7)
Mosquito Swatting World Championships (stopped in 1999 under pressure from animal rights groups)
Chili Pepper-eating World Championships (Naga Morich variety)
Berry Picking World Championships
Ice Fishing World Championships (as the lakes are not frozen in summer, the competition takes place on slabs of polystyrene with holes in them)
Walking with a Crowbar World Championships
Cell phone throwing World Championships
Thus, as the Tourist Office explains:
The Finnish people enjoy having fun in groups to forget their isolation during the winter and to celebrate the arrival of the good weather.
The desire for friction.
Every year, in the month of August, Heinola organizes the Sauna World Championships.
Competitors enrolled: 102
Igor Azarov is a small man. 5’2”, 128 lbs.
After crossing the lobby of the hotel, he stands at the Reception desk, slightly raising himself up on tip-toe to face the blond Valkyrie behind the counter.
Igor is 60 years old with a full head of grey hair and a moustache. He is wearing a light blue linen jacket, a wine-colored shirt and beige cotton trousers. Everything is wrinkled because he came by car. He is wearing brown moccasins with tassels. He looks like either a salesman or a retired civil servant, hard to tell.
Igor puts down his imitation leather suitcase. An old-fashioned style, mustard colored, with a lock.
The Valkyrie looks up, smiles:
“Hello sir, do you have a reservation? The hotel is fully booked.”
Igor leans his head to one side as if he hasn’t understood
“English?” she asks.
The young woman’s blue eyes look over the computer screen.
“Terribly sorry, but I can’t find it.”
“A-za-rov. I’m enrolled in the competition.”
“Oh, you’re taking part in the Championships. We have a separate list for that, just a minute… Here we go, Igor Azarov, everything is in order. Did you come by car?”
“Did you park in the hotel’s parking lot?”
“In that case, I’ll give you a sticker for the rest of your stay. Please place it behind the windscreen where it can easily be seen.”
The young woman also gives him two magnetic keys in a paper wallet on which the number 412 is written, as well as the Wi-Fi password even though Igor has no Smartphone and no laptop. If he needs any information, he can use the computer available to the clients of the hotel. But there is very little chance that Igor Azarov will be surfing the web.
But He does have one more question to ask:
“Has Niko Tanner arrived?”
“Our champion? No, not yet, sir.”
The young woman’s manicured fingers tap on the keyboard.
Igor thanks her and picks up his suitcase.
The porter walks over to him and offers to show him to his room. Igor refuses and takes the elevator.
Two blond girls block the door just as they are closing. Dyed hair, cut-off T-shirts, belly button rings. Ethnic tattoos, miniskirts and flip-flops. Igor steps back to let them in, his eyes barely higher than their chests. One of them whispers something to her friend while pressing button number 3 with a pink fingernail. The two of them burst out laughing.
Groupies, Igor thinks. Niko’s groupies.
The elevator starts to move.
Igor turns his back to the mirror and looks down at his feet.
Rule number 1: autonomy.
Don’t listen, don’t solicit, don’t look, don’t rely on anyone or anything, not the web or the porter or the little whores in miniskirts.
Only count on yourself.
At 230∘,you only have your skin to hold you together, your skin is the only thing you own.
Two beeps sound when you’ve reached a floor. The doors open. The girls leave, taking no notice of him, leaving in their wake the smell of patchouli oil mixed with sweat.
The doors close again and open on the next floor.
Igor follows the arrow indicating rooms 400 to 412 to the right. The carpet with mauve and brown stripes absorbs the sound of his footsteps. He hears stifled laughter coming from room 402, which breaks the silence.
Magnetic key in the slot, beep, the door opens and the lights come on.
Igor puts his suitcase down in front of the closet. He pulls back the curtains, opens the French doors and goes out onto the narrow wooden balcony. In front of him a dense, dark forest of pine trees and the creaking sound of branches bending in the evening breeze. The scent of resin, like some bitter, invigorating honey. The paneling and benches in the sauna are made from this wood which is resistant to heat. Igor places his hands on the railing. In the past, he would have rolled himself a cigarette and smiled at the irony of it.
Igor thought he would surprise his rival by arriving at the last minute, but Niko had gotten the better of him, again. A way of proving his superiority.
Niko Tanner is the local star. Three times Sauna World Champion in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Who was the runner-up for the title those past three years?
No one remembers. Not the hotel receptionist or the girls with the piercings, in any case, or they would have recognized him.
Igor gets undressed, puts on his Navy jogging suit with the red star sewn on the chest. Its blue color is faded from being washed so many times, but the tough, thick cotton was made to last. He puts on his trainers, a new, American style, no messing around there. Igor finishes tying his shoelaces, stands up, fills a glass with water from the sink in the bathroom. He removes the magnetic card from its slot, puts it in his pocket and zips the pocket closed. The lights suddenly go out.
Igor takes the emergency exit stairs. Don’t run into the girls, don’t see the other competitors in the hotel lobby.
He pushes open the fire exit door and goes outside. He gets into his Lada, puts the parking sticker behind the windshield and locks the door.
Further away, the road separating the parking lot from the golf club leads into the woods and will bring him back to where he started after he’s run about six miles. Then a quick visit to the steam room in the hotel and a cold shower. Finally, he will order steamed salmon and rice from the hotel restaurant, drink some water and go to bed.
Recover from the twelve hour trip from Pskov, the journey through Estonia, waiting for the ferry, crossing the Gulf of Finland between Tallinn and Helsinki. Relax his muscles, clear his lungs, send oxygen to his brain.
Igor Azarov is ready. He is at his ideal weight for the competition, his BMI is 22.0, he has planned his ordeal with a former army doctor.
He’s been waiting for this moment for twelve months, ever since he nearly dethroned King Niko, with only about ten seconds between them.
While she was asleep, the young woman had clutched the sheet between her thighs and turned over onto her side. Niko studies the curve of her hips, her heart-shaped ass. Blond fluff is scattered around the tops of her thighs. One arm is hidden under the pillow, revealing almost diaphanous hair under her arm. Loviisa is snoring softly. No man on earth would leave a body like hers at day break.
Niko places one foot after the other onto the synthetic bear skin rug at the side of the bed, takes his phone from the pocket of his jeans, which he had thrown on the floor. As a precaution, he had set the alarm for 6:30, but he cancels it before it goes off.
When Niko stands up, Loviisa seems to bounce on the mattress, her cheeks wobbling like Jello. Niko is 6’2” and approximately 242 lbs. of meat, muscle and fat.
Daylight filters through the sunflowers on the curtains. The room is bathed in a yellowish color that is perfect for a morning fuck. Niko pulls in his stomach a little and touches his long, thick cock. He pulls back the foreskin then puts in back in place. It’s a habit of his, his prick is his work instrument and he takes good care of it. All men take care of their cocks but to him, this gesture has a more universal meaning: Niko is a “stud”. He works in the porn business – the traditional kind, with no frills or ethnic implications. He works under his real name, a token of transparency for his public. All the fuss about this alternative porn is just hot air, something to create a market, like they do for food. Unless you’re forced to take part in a snuff movie, no producer would ever force you to fuck someone, either male or female, who you didn’t like.
Niko Tanner, aged 49, is a cunt traveler. Heterosexual, he will go so far as to participate in scenes that are vaguely sado-masochistic, a gang-bang set in nature (parks, forests, beaches) or a double penetration on a sofa, but nothing more. He considers it important to know his co-workers and to feel at ease with the film crew. He is a professional held in esteem in his field. He respects his acting partners, uses a condom in his personal relationships and avoids oral sex with girls who are not certified 100% clean, both on set and in real life. People usually think of AIDS, but there are all sorts of dirty diseases you can catch just by using your tongue: syphilis, hepatitis B, gonorrhea, herpes, lesions, genital warts, fungal infections, human papilloma virus (HPV)… Michael Douglas and Bruce Dickinson got screwed by HPV in spite of their millions and fame. Sometimes the virus is active but hasn’t yet been detected in the woman. This is the major risk in the business. Niko is up to date with his Hep B and HPV shots, and that limits his chances of infection. In reality, he’s come more often without a rubber on a film set than in real life.
Niko finds some vodka that’s been left at the foot of the bed. He can ingest stupefying amounts of the stuff, enough to cause an alcoholic coma in anyone other than him. Still, his liver is functioning normally. A matter of enzymes, or metabolic elimination, he’s never really looked into the issue. In any case, last night, he made do with sharing the bottle with Loviisa who is now completely out of it after having sniffed a double line of coke and fucked herself senseless.
In the bathroom, Niko brushes his teeth, makes his gums bleed a little, then gets into the shower. It is too narrow for his massive body and he bumps into the transparent plastic and hits the tiles, which make him shiver in spite of the burning hot water. Niko rubs the shampoo into his dyed blond hair and soaps his whole body, that has turned all red. The bathroom is full of steam. He breathes in the air saturated with dampness that opens the pores of his skin. No one else could put up with such hot water without screaming.
But Niko Tanner is gifted at three things: boozing, fucking.