The waroks of East Java are world-renowned for their traditional masked dance, Reog Ponorogo, but in fact play a central role in rural communities as healers, advisors and elders.
Beyond that, they are known for another practice that was an official part of their role that is less commonly advertised today – taking on a boy servant, a gemblak, aged between 7 and 15, who caters to his master’s every whim.
RT Documentary traveled to Indonesia to speak to both waroks, and their gemblaks.
“Once you gain the magic power and knowledge, should you become fond of a female being, your power shall dwindle or be gone. To prevent this from happening we prefer the masculine love of a gemblak,” says Saadi, a warok, who currently has a pre-teen boy, Kadam, living in his house, who shows the crew his room, right next to his master’s from which he can be called at any time of day or night.