I’ve always wanted to leave town on an old train carrying a battered suitcase and wearing a forlorn look. Maybe it’s raining and I’m standing on a platform, my hair wet having ran across the parking lot. Maybe the platform is dimly lit, the naked back overhead flickering. Maybe the wind blows wet leaflets of yesterday’s newspapers, history, past the platform. Maybe the train I’m getting on has no destination. It just goes and goes, blowing smoke over hills and through tunnels, chugging along to nowhere.
I think of this train sometimes.
But I’m not getting on a plane, I’m getting on a jet plane as they used to say in the 70s. Gloriah here will hold forte this week.
See you soon.
Don’t forget to always look up at the red moon.
By Gloriah Amondi.
“It was during those December holidays that, when you are a child, seem gloriously endless. We were going to Nanyuki to pay a visit to a shamba my parents had bought there and see how the warus we were farming were doing. It was that El Nino season of the mid-1990s; it had rained so badly, the roads were impassable. We decided to go back to Nanyuki town to spend the night, then try again the following morning, to see if the floods on the road had subsided. The hotel room my parents booked had two beds. They shared one, and I shared the other one with my small sister. I don’t know what woke me up in the middle of the night, probably the need to pee, but I caught my parents doing it – doggy-style.”
It must be- I believe– a common thing to find oneself a bit perplexed, and admittedly judgmental, whenever you are talking to someone a little, or a lot, unconventional. The interview happens on a Wednesday afternoon, and we (my guest, our host and myself) are on the balcony of our mutual friend’s house. The two of them (from what I gather) have known each other for years, and quite well. Perhaps even in the Biblical sense. Our friend lives in a fairly quiet neighbourhood, in a small tidy apartment on a seven-storey building which- by his own description- “gives him a good view of the city and of his ex-wife’s apartment” (although he swears that he had no idea she lived there when he moved into the neighbourhood).
Her name is Necessary Sue.
Years ago, before Necessary Sue was Sue or a necessity, she was just a girl, a 13-year-old girl who went for a 16-year-old’s birthday party in Lang’ata during April school holidays and was molested by a boy with raging hormones, who had just finished 4th Form, in the Master Bedroom upstairs as the unsupervised “Sweet Sixteen” birthday bash went on merrily downstairs. “I went to the loo in the Master en suite, came out, and he had locked the door behind him.”
Before then, she had not known what sex was, not even when she had caught her parents at it. She just remembers that it was very fast. And that she felt a little naughty, and a lot embarrassed.
At 17, while in college, she had her first (consensual) sex experience with a man, a Tanzanian called Zakayo. That same year, she fell in love with some other man, whom she got married to two years later, but at the time, Zakayo cut out the bedsheet fabric with the patch of her virginal blood – turns out the 18-year-old molester hadn’t penetrated her hymen four years earlier – and kept it in his wallet (which he creepily showed her years later, in 2016, when they randomly met in town, right outside the 20th Century building on Mama Ngina Street).
“I was 19 and he was 22 when we got married.”
“No, to the boy I was two-timing the Tanzanian with. I had known him from high school. His mother was in London. He insisted that she had said we get married and so we did. He was my first love, plus I was already living with him. One morning, we went to the AG’s Office. I was in 2nd year at the time. I didn’t wear white, but I was in a dress. It was a sexy floral dress, the type you wear to the beach, when you don’t want to be in a bikini. He was in a suit, a shiny black one that, in later years, made me think he looked like the under-age undertaker director of a small-time funeral home. Now that I think of it, it is hilarious. My parents were there, so were his sisters. When we left the AG’s, we went home to a small celebration. Then to an after party in Sohos.”
One day, about two years into their marriage, she got back home from a week of completing final year exams in school and he was not there. He had disappeared with all of their mattress savings- partly from the upkeep his mother had been sending them, and partly from what she had been earning teaching performance poetry at an international school. He wasn’t replying to calls, and nobody knew where he was. It wasn’t yet the proper social media era where one could put out viral alerts. The man had ghosted her before ghosting was a verb.
She moved back home with her parents.
When her husband disappeared, she immersed herself into a religious period of church going, and exorcisms, and of sisters and brothers-in-Christ and throwing away satanic things she had owned before like body spray and jewelry. But mostly, she was experiencing Revelations, which is to say that she could hear voices, and was seeing things, mostly supernatural beings, some with horns, others with wings, that nobody else could see. Or, in other words, she was hallucinating.
The husband came back a year later, and she ran back into his arms despite everyone else’s discomfiture, and the visions disappeared, but then he left again after six months for South Sudan.
“I will be here for two years, as per my contract,” he texted, not even having told her he was going to be working in South Sudan. “I guess I’ll see you someday.”
They were done!
“He left me in a BIG mess again. I had to quit my job where I was working at the time. I had no friends and I was seeing things again. The voices were really the most agonizing. I could hear conversations people had in their own minds. When it all cooled, I traveled around Tanzania for two months with a loose music band, and I almost settled there.”
“With Zakayo?” I ask.
She laughs at that for a while.
That was years ago. Today, she is in a small, black dress with terrific cleavage, showing off boobage, drinking vodka and occasionally, flirting lightly (to their delight) with the Somali lads passing on the street three floors below us, blowing kisses at them, that kind of thing. She is really a reflexive seductress. As the afternoon advances, and the mood gets lighter and sensual (because of the alcohol and because the daylight is slowly fading), she reads from a copy of her new poetry book collection, which she brought for me to review:
/Those like her are spoken of in low tones; Yet dialed-upon days before the vows;
Or just for girl-talk/
/…Taking in her bedroom lessons; Her waterfalls, her scents
…contributing to more bedroom joys; The wetness, the light, the heat
Paradise, in solo or couple’s beds/
Necessary Sue became Necessary Sue when she started hosting the Erotica Open Mic events and later (not too long after), the sex parties. Sue is the name she performs under, which also forms part of the title of the poem she has just read: Necessary Sue.
The sex parties didn’t start as sex parties. Initially, they were just Erotica Open Mic Events for erotic poetry, art, music, dance, fashion or anything anyone could think of in that line, really. That was in 2018. They picked up faster than she had imagined. They were always full, and people would pay whatever amount they were charging, often in the Shs. 2,500 range. People not only came there to be entertained, but also to express themselves, and be scandalized.
At the time, she was also working as a sex guide, in collaboration with a sex therapist we’ll call Matthew, whom she had met while organizing a Stag party for a friend.
“Matt called me and asked whether I wanted to earn some money. The task was simple- I was going to orgasm in front of women. I worked with him for many years. It was easy- all I had to do was open my legs and show women how to orgasm. In the 2010s, getting women to orgasm was suddenly all the rage.”
“Kachabali is the only import that Uganda has given to Kenya,” our host interjects, dryly.
“We had sessions for individuals, couples and groups,” Necessary Sue goes on. “Sometimes we would perform for solo women, sometimes married women with their husbands, but most often, it would be a group of women. We were invited for bridal showers, to Chamas, to women’s nights out and to bachelorette and hen parties. It was a golden period. Sometimes, though, Matt would organize his own events. We taught the women how to achieve orgasm, but other times, we also showed them sex positions. I remember being five months pregnant, and performing before a bunch of women. Also, live sex is not as scary as you might think. Once you get into it, you forget where you are, and you come back only after climaxing. But humans are complicated – they will pay to see you orgasm, then they’ll judge you for it. Performing for couples is the most sensitive. I have had a lot of women trying to fight me, even in the course of doing a performance they asked for.”
The first sex party was almost accidental. She had held one of the erotica events in Malindi, hosted by a German friend in his villa. At the after-party, which was intended to be a bikini party, people got free and a lot of things happened, “openly and delightfully” as she puts it, with a naughty smile. After that, she started having the open mics and the sex parties on a monthly basis.
I can remember 2019 well, with all the posters and WhatsApp notices of sex parties going down, mostly in Kilimani, and it hits me I have finally met their Fairy God Mother – Necessary Sue
“2019 was crazy,” she says, taking a sip of her drink, her eyes shining with the memory of that year. “The first party we held in Nairobi in 2019 was wild. There were over fifty people in the 3-bedroom apartment we had hired in Kilimani. I remember we collected so many condoms, bras and underwear the morning after. After that, they grew popular amongst certain circles in Nairobi. The parties were generally open to anyone. I charged 5K per person admission for BDSM and the open-ended ones cost 10K. Later, I separated the parties because I got requests to have some of them apart. So, every month, the BDSM would start, then ‘Ladies Only’ the weekend that followed, then Swingers’ parties, then open-ended (orgy) would close the month. I would still perform in these parties. I remember performing in one of them, and two of my sisters (one had brought the boyfriend) watching in the audience. My brother was in-charge of the door and taking pictures of my performance. There are no rules in my parties, the only rule is that you don’t come in with the phones. My brother collects them all at the door.”
“Your let your siblings came to your sex parties?” I ask, and the moment the words come out, I realise too late how judgmental I sounded.
Sue shrugs, her shoulders doing the “so what’s the big deal?” thing.
“We are open minded,” she says.
Sex parties, she says, are about ‘vibing’ and being open to trying new things. Not everyone who gets in gets laid. Some chicken out, others just want to watch like voyeurs, and there are others who get no request to participate. It depends on the vibe you give.
Her strangest experience is of people falling in love during these parties, something which even her, hardened as she is, has been a victim of.
At some point during the interview, her phone rings, and she excuses herself to pick it but does not leave. It’s her seven-year-old daughter whom she named after a luxurious, Italian car brand.
“Mama, remember tomorrow something something Esther will something something?” the little voice asks from the other end of the phone.
Suddenly, her voice and face transform from the carelessly merry tone to a soft, gentler almost child-like manner. A transformation that not only perplexes me but also leaves me feeling like an imposter, like a ghost – hollow and insubstantial, hovering between the world of the two phone-and-soul connected beings – the merry and jaded, and the innocent on the other end to whom she is just ‘mama.’
Later, she will tell me about a 50-year-old corporate woman she once lived with when she was 28, who told her how she had struggled with trying to get a child in her late thirties after her career was on the up-and-up, and who without knowing, ignited a crazy baby fever in her.
“Before the fifty-year old corporate mathe, whom I left for being way too possessive over me and my time, making me report my movements like those peeps told to report to the police station thrice every week, I was with a very sweet young man whom one day when we were on holiday in Malindi, I walk in on being snogged by a mzungu in the same holiday apartments. I dumped him.”
After the corporate woman, and now on the cusp of thirty, she describes how she, whilst living with a biker boyfriend who at the time had just survived a near-fatal accident (on his way to see some other woman) decided to have a baby.
Since her biker boyfriend was not-as-regular in performance in that department after his near-death accident, she ‘asked’ their neighbor (Necessary Sue code for ‘seduced the helpless jirani’)- a pretty, mixed race half-Belgian half-Kenyan man- to father her child, and he “agreed.” After a six-month affair, she finally got pregnant. However, a few months into the pregnancy, her biker fiancé (who had assumed the baby was his) was arrested together with some part of his family for a huge hacking scheme in the USA (you might have heard of the story). How the gender of the baby was initially misidentified, and how she had a whole baby shower with boy stuff; and how, finally (but with a lot of pain and poop), she gave birth to her girl, seven years ago
But what about the sex parties of 2019?
“The last one happened on the Saturday of March 14th, 2020, because of Covid-19. I had fifty bookings, but overnight, almost everyone canceled. Only five people came. During the long Covid-19 period that followed, Necessary Sue finally put her poetry collection together. Then recently published it. In fact, it was what she’d come over to talk about at first.
She has a poem she really likes by a guy she calls a real ‘literary gangster’ that she reads to us.
“Last night I dreamt I was at the party/ where I was conceived.
Mother had Dad straddled/ on a hippie chair made of cloth.
It was a Saturday/It was August/ It was 1984.
I walked in on them, on me, through the burnished door.
Mom shyly looked over her shoulder/ attempted to cover her breasts.
Dad yelled: Don’t interrupt us, boy, when you’re about to be born …”