Unbound by mores of the masses, one night in a mansion masks to unmask the boundaries that inhibit
By Anna Langley
I arrive home and spy an exquisite gold envelope wedged between the door and the knocker, addressed to "Madame B---," no postage, no return address. There is no cause for alarm. I know its origin, if not by whom. It’s the same each year: my invitation arrives two days prior to the party and my life becomes a maddening dash from the moment I break the wax seal until I slip on my costume and mask into place.
It’s a breathtaking Saturday night and I’m waved through the imposing mansion gates by a burly guard — face unknown. Tonight, I've opted for a vinyl cat mask, not unlike Halle Berry's feline vigilante second skin. I chose to ignore the tail and pointy ears, but the whip lies cradled in my curled fingers that end in fire-red, pointedly sharp fingernails.
The elaborate opening ceremony is dazzling — an array of frozen expressions molded in decoupage. Two arrow-like lines are formed, one female, one male, dividing the ballroom. Below the antique chandelier our host and his mistress welcome all, turn and embrace each other, and the music begins.
I walk toward my eyes’ desire, gliding, floating in a sea of caped intrigue. In his arms, I truly become my attire: I move differently, speak boldly, tease with abandon as if my body were made malleable by an alien character. I'm comfortable. My heartbeat thunders. Adrenaline and desire make my skin flushed and damp. I’m gripped by a sexual tension that weakens my knees — and not necessarily for my partner. The sensation surrounds . Bodies trickle through the halls in all states of undress, sometimes in groups or couples, sometimes single, a voyeur such as I. Laughter and earthy sounds of excitement mingle with the eclectic mix of music, creating a beat of its own.
The Sun God and I toy with each other. The mansion’s numerous nooks and crannies stand as a metaphor of exploration for us. Explore on I say.
I never ask for clarification of identity. However curious I am, I don’t want to kill my cat, so to speak. To breach that etiquette not only means expulsion, it means the ruination of a fantasy for everyone involved. Just as my identity remains a secret — no vulnerability, no crude reality, no social judgments — the same is true of every faceless persona.