“Moooo!” “Moooooooooo!” “Moooooooo!”
Belgravia, London is no place for a cow. I was certain of this. It’s more Upper East Side, New York City than farm country. This was the city where even the freshest ingredients came from food trucks far away to replenish every restaurant’s inventory. Curiosity has always killed the cat for me. I decided to see where the sound came from and patrolled the vacant area as the night fog rose.
I witnessed three large heifers going inside a nondescript white building the size of a boutique hotel. A farmer rounded them all up from behind and gave them a love-slap every once in a while to get them to move inside the building. More animal sounds were heard. I didn’t know what kind, but they didn’t come from cows. I stood silent and observed. Out of a large carriage that seemed to house a miniature traveling circus exited a goat, a yak, a reindeer, a horse, a water buffalo, and a camel. I followed the camel inside. The farmer stopped me in my tracks. “You’re going to need the password, Son.”
“Moo?” I uttered. The farmer let me in.
Flesh-like, naked, albino, female mannequins, lighted the main room. I starred at the realism of one. “Don’t be a wanker! Go up and squeeze her,” a British young man in his late teens yelled. He was apart of a larger group of people all around the same age. Some of the members looked at me as if they wanted to kill me. I squeezed the boob and milk came out. I took a glass from nearby and filled it up. The milk was watery and more translucent than creamy and white. It tasted like raw cow’s milk.
My eyes adjusted to the darkness. Several groups of youngsters looked at me. All seemed to be wearing expensive accessories with no care in the world. They did shots of what seemed to be milk and then do lines of white powder that seemed to be cocaine.
I approached the bar where the farmer stood from behind. He changed his wardrobe. I didn’t remember what he was wearing before, but now he looked like a Good Humor man from the 50s and 60s, in pressed and heavily starched all white clothes.
I looked at the shelves and inside the see through refrigerator doors. Instead of liquor there was milk of all different kinds: whole, skim, 1%, 2%, goat, soy, almond, pasteurized, unpasteurized, homogenized, UHT, rice, evaporated, and condensed. Flavored syrups hung from above. There wasn’t a mixer for a milk shake or a shaved ice machine for a Taiwanese shaved ice. Only milk. I was in a legitimate milk bar, a bar where people get dressed up and socialize but instead of drinking liquor they drink milk. This was not some spin off of the Momofuku Milk Bar in New York or the dessert shop,Milk, in Los Angeles.
One of the mannequins looked at me as if she was in a moment of ecstasy. I looked on the bottom of the pedestal she was bolted into and a plaque read, “Yak.” Every mannequin had a different placard below her. The yak milk was a bit thicker than the cow’s. It was like a liquefied farmer’s cheese. The milk coming from the water buffalo had the same consistency and textures as the yaks. The richest of them all, reindeer milk.
My stomach tossed and turned. I’m not lactose intolerant, but something inside of me was brewing up something big. The farmer ran from behind the bar and gave me two white pills. He told me they’d clear everything up, the best lactate around. He said it was his home remedy. Hey, when in Rome, I thought and gulped them down. Everything cleared right up. I walked up to the bar and ordered a glass of regular whole milk.
“What kind?” The farmer asked. I had no clue what he meant by this. He handed me a menu. Brown Swiss, Dexter, Guernsey, Holstein, Red Poll, and Jersey were the only options.
“If you don’t want it from the draft, you can squeeze some yourself,” the farmer said. He looked to his left. I looked over too and witnessed one of the late teens clamp the teats of a Jersey.
Women started bunching around me. They stood motionless in a bathroom line. These women were a different clientele than the youngsters seated in all of the lounges. They seemed to be working class in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. From the outside of things, all had a healthy tone, were properly dressed, and not bruised or malnourished. They carried neutral expressions. I got a glimpse of where the line ended and it turned out to not be a bathroom line at all. Along the side of the bar were three pairs of parallel large circular divots. They looked as if someone launched a fastball out of anger and didn’t seal it over with plaster and stucco. The women faced the divots in the wall, took off their tops and bras, and stuck their chest in. Less than three minutes later they put on their clothes and walked out. A small boy, no older than ten ran from behind the wall carrying two large glass bottles of a watery white substance. He ran over to one of the naked mannequins that looked like she was giving fellatio to another statue. The young boy twisted off her head (with the tongue sticking out and all) and poured the jugs in. The boy hustled back behind the wall.
The almost twenty something’s turned into figurative apes. They grunted, hollered and jumped as if the starting bell to a race sounded. When they stood in front of the mannequin their refinement schooling clicked on once again, and they reached and poured each other a glass as if they were about to experience a fine wine. They returned to their lounge couches and snorted up more milky powder. Some of them felt dizzy and dozed off. Others threw up. A few seemed like they were becoming Hulk-like. I went up to the mannequin and tasted the milk. It didn’t taste good. It tasted like dirty water, not chalky like a medicinal supplement, but rather like watery glue. My emotions didn’t change. My brain didn’t start producing an over abundance of chemicals.
“It’s the placebo effect,” the farmer said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“The breast milk has no effect. Sure rumor has it that all of the milk here is laced with drugs, but the truth is, everything here is just milk. These kids are already high off of the newest pill by the time they come in here. You tell them anything, they’ll believe it,” the farmer rambled on.
“But what about the white powder?”
The farmer responded, “Dried milk powder. Loaded with nutrients. I want these teens to be healthy. Plus I want to keep them off the streets and get a little rural culture in them.”
More of the young adults attempted to milk the animals. “You see, they’re being put to work. No milk machines needed,” the farmer said as he laughed.
I gave the farmer the third degree about the breast milk. The farmer introduced himself as a mad scientist. He once was the head of theDairy Council for all of the United Kingdom but was exiled when he ran a breast milk platform that didn’t quite take off outside of his own head. He said he wants to provide feed to the millions of hungry babies across the world who need appropriate milk when their mothers have either disappeared of have too many mouths to accommodate. He said he pays all of the women handsomely. We went behind the wall. The women’s breasts on the other side were covered by a mold that looked like paper mache. Machines sounded off. Little circular rotating spheres moved every which way pumping out the formula. It traveled down tubes going beneath the floorboard. The farmer took me down to the basement where he had a slew of pasteurizing machines, one for each type of milk. There, the young 10-year-old watched the milk drop into a pot no bigger than what hotels use to drop mass quantities of chicken stock. It was cooked in something reminiscent of a pressure cooker. The boy then filtered it as it was dropped into jugs and bottles. When one large crate was filled with the breast milk, the farmer opened the back door of the building and loaded his supplies up in a black unmarked van. The van drove off as soon as its doors were shut.
“Say hello to the new milk man,” the farmer said.
None of this was legal. The farmer said he wanted his project to remain underground. The wanted the youngsters to think of his milk bar as the 9 ¾ Platform, after the secret train platform from the Harry Potter books. The farmer explained that by the kids drinking milk, they were detoxing their bodies from their earlier parties and receiving a healthy dose of vitamins. His business is supported by the rich kid’s parents who think they’re investing in their child’s “Pre-Oxford Learning” education.
As far as the mannequins are concerned, they have been a staple for the last40 years. It’s suppose to get the hormones ragin’ like a Cajun.’
“Why let me in and divulge all of this information?” I asked.
“Because I can trust you,” the farmer said.
“How do you know?”
“Because you’re just a genuine fan of milk. All kinds of it. You’re intentions are not to shut me down, just report what is. I feel the people who read your post will be more inclined to come in and join rather than set up a protest to shut me down.”
“Do you have chocolate milk?”
“Only the best,” the farmer said.
I was happy with that.
KOROVA MILK BAR
ATMOSPHERE: Dark and moody. Pre-twenty youths of Britain’s high society calm down from their night of debauchery or they recharge for more. Not a comfortable environment. A place to see and be scene only if you want to experience Britain’s remaining underground clan
SERVICE: Serve yourself out of dispensers that look like-life like naked women. If you have questions or concerns, there is one bartender who runs the entire business and knows the ins and outs of everything
SOUND LEVEL: Quiet and unnerving. It’s not a comfortable silence. Cacophonies are only heard every once in a while from the patrons in their own private parties
RECOMMENDED: The chocolate milk. It really is much better than your local dairy with a Hershey’s additive
DRINKS: All kinds of milk from cows all the way to humans
PRICES: A membership costs 10,000 pounds a month
OPEN: At night from midnight to 5am Fri-Sun only
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
Restrooms: Yes. The Korova Milk Bar actually has an original Thomas Crapper in good, working order