House of Maximon
There’s a rumour around town that a dark and mysterious Guatemalan Saint is roaming the streets.
Some say he is without arms or legs. Some say he is headless. Some say he stole their wives, or is a symbol of virility and sexual power. But among the hearsay, everyone at least agrees that Saint Maximon is real.
The legend of Saint Maximon [pronounced mah-shee-mon] dates back to the 18th century. Like Chinese whispers, the story has been told time and time again til it became folklore, amalgamating facts and fable, in this case blending Catholic Saint Simon and a Guatemalan legend called Maximon.
Rumoured to be a drug addict, chain smoker, alcoholic and seducer of other men’s wives, Maximon became a symbol for degenerates and illicit lovers. Disdained by the Catholic Church and regarded by many as an outcast, those who worship him must do so in secret.
Maximon is a saint of the people of Guatemala who set up candle-lit shrines in their home in his honour. He is moved from house to house under the cover of darkness. To be worthy of Saint Maximon in their home, his congregation douse themselves in vodka and smash the bottle. Visitors must pay him tribute with cigarettes or food, often also leaving flowers and burning candles.
No one knows where he is, and no one knows where he will be next. One thing is certain though, we found him here in Melbourne guarding all the sacred symbols of his homeland.
Upon entering you are greeted by Catholic effigies, bowing you through the door and simultaneously praying for your lost souls.
My first impression was that I had entered a hushed and secret church with twisted deities I barely recognised.
Distorted portraits of the Virgin Mary are given hypnotic Dia des Muertos makeup. A taxidermy bull’s head with human skeletons adorning the end of his horns leers out over the booths where guests sit, but do not quite relax.
Tipping the warm, South American style towards danger and intrigue, stunning candelabras made from bones sourced from the Australian desert hang imposingly, with rumour there are human bones within these macabre light pieces.
Artwork by Dennis Ropar, the artist once described as “Andy Warhol on crack”, is displayed prominently on the walls. His wacky and slightly insane style sets the surrealist tone that gives House of Maximon its dreamlike feel. Laser beams shooting from the eyes of his subjects and their simulated screams keep everyone on edge.
Leave your preconceived expectations of sophisticated art spaces at the door. As a symbol of lust and immorality, when Maximon invites you into his house, it means you’re ready for debaucherous fun.
On weekends House of Maximon turns on its Latin charm with a chilled Friday night vibe, followed by wet and wild Saturdays. Mendoza Social Club pumps with Latin, Salsa and Reggae beats. DJ’s Chamo, Chicho and guests on the decks invite hot’n’heavy Latin dancing under splashes of neon light. Tequila shots appear to be the drink of choice as temperatures rise.
Sliding doors and wrought iron hide snug, secret spaces. The popular private booths can be booked by those that prefer to cosy up, but are closely watched by the guards of the house who stamp out forbidden shananigans.
The house fills with laughter every Wednesday at the venue’s Crab Lab comedy show. Mixing famous comedians with Melbourne’s underground scene, funny people strut their stuff and mingle afterwards. Even Arj Barker has been known to make a regular appearance at Crab Lab.
Between the skulls draped with flowers and church confessional, which doubles as an exclusive VIP area, House of Maximon crosses over from the macabre to the virtuous. It does more than just strike the imagination.
And there in the corner is Maximon himself, tucked away on his shrine watching over those that come to worship at his altar.
As you’d expect of a South American bar, you’ll find a good supply of Tequila and Mezcal including some rare and special ones, such as the Don Amado Rustic and Claze Azul.
Drop by for Thursday night Happy Hour when House of Maximon offer 2 for 1 El Diablo and The Captain Mule. And make sure you accompany all drinks with the highly addictive, Argentinian glazed popcorn.
The Agua de Fresa
Sangria has always been a perfect party starter. This sweet twist mixes house-made strawberry syrup, mint, lime, tequila and triple sec. Served to share.
The Captain’s Mule
Classic, refreshing flavours in this signature twist on the classic mule. Spiced rum, vanilla syrup, ginger beer, lime and mint.
The Swordfish Trombone
Applejack, cinnamon bitters, burnt orange and maple syrup come together for those who like to experiment with the dark side.
Pre-batched and as ready as a bull on heat. Single malt scotch whisky, mezcal, dark rum and chocolate. Intense, warm and smoky.
Wed 7.30 pm to 12am | Thurs 5 pm to 1am | Fri 4pm to late | Sat 7 pm to late
Level 1, 16 Corrs Lane, Melbourne
“Sublime is something you choke on after a shot of tequila.”
― Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves