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A friend who is travelling with my group in 3 weeks wants to go to a strip club while in Jamaica. As many times as I've been to Jamaica, I've never gone to one so have no clue where to take him. Anyone know of any other good ones that would be in closer proximity to where we'll be staying?
There is a sea of expensive-looking cars in the parking lot, and several male patrons are outside in the yard swilling liquor.
The second you walk into the club, they notice you. There seems to be a ripple effect of some sort. Two good-looking, skimpily-dressed young girls walk by, looking at me smilingly, like I'm the most attractive man they've ever seen. The women, dressed in fishnets, tiny shorts and bras are strippers - also referred to as 'go-go' or 'strip dancers'. By all s, the operators of these establishments - found in major towns across Jamaica - the dancing girls and the men flocking to the clubs to pay to see them, are collectively driving the sex industry in Jamaica, which is reportedly raking in millions of dollars.
Back inside the club, the place is lined wall to wall with men. The bar is buzzing and a pool table nearby is like a flame attracting some of the men. I choose a corner spot strip clubs in jamaica settle down to watch a rotation of beautiful girls most in their twenties of various sizes and descriptions dance onstage.
There is even a pregnant dancer onstage working the pole like a pro.
A few make eye contact. Lisa, a fair-skinned girl and the skinniest of the bunch, turns towards me after seeing my notebook. She makes her way over and a conversation ensues. I have a nine-month-old son and that is how I take care of him, by dancing," the year-old says. She makes it clear that she is strictly a dancer who does not engage in any kind of "loose behaviour". She only provides lap dances. I don't need to do anything else with the men.
I am satisfied. My boyfriend takes care of me otherwise. He trusts me because it was at the club I first met him, and now we have a baby together," she reveals. By this time, a group of heavy-set men enter the club and Sasha, 26, takes Lisa's place by my side. She is wearing a two-piece bathing suit with six-inch heels. I don't feel no way about what I do.
It is just a job like what anybody else has. It's what we do to make our living," she says. Strip clubs in jamaica, 33, also has no qualms about her line of work, pointing out that she enjoys getting large tips and is saving up to open a beauty shop. I will dance and collect the tips plus my weekly pay from the boss. That is enough for me," she adds. But it's not just men; a few women are here too, some with male companions and some by themselves. A quick chat with one of the couples reveals that they're here "to spice up their love lives".
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Others say they're here out of curiosity. Whatever the reason, the dancing girls don't seem to mind. In fact, they seem to gyrate their hips more wildly in front of the couples than for men sitting alone. And if the words of Garcia, the supervisor at Pablo's, are anything to go by, most strippers make "decent" money nightly. We pay them separately from the tips that they get from the men. When they add that to the tips they get, they are alright for the week.
They are able to work up to five days a week and they get two nights off. But that's just in Kingston. On the north coast and in places like MoBay and Strip clubs in jamaica, the girls make much more," says Garcia, a short, light-skinned lady with low-cut dark hair.
The security is tight, and everybody is well-protected. If you respect your job, it will respect you. The dancers are not allowed to go out into the yard or on the street in their costumes. It's the same at another hotspot we visited in New Kingston, where the men range from husbands with dazzling wedding rings to young, thug-looking brothers.
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But these days the money is not flowing freely for sex workers of every category. While the strip clubs and sex shops are reporting good business these days, the street prostitutes make it clear that their 'business' is not as lucrative as it once was.
According to several of them who shared their stories with the Sunday Observer recently, the clubs are wooing their men. But that's not all. With the spotlight now being focussed on the sex industry more than ever, they say many of their regular customers have become fearful and refuse to visit them on the streets.
The man dem not coming out to we like one time; dem scared. So mi have nuff bills pile up right now," explains year-old Marcia, a single mother of one, who has been a prostitute for seven years.
A friend introduced her to the practice. I encounter over a dozen variations of Marcia's story. Some complain that the homosexual male prostitutes are taking away their customers and are ridiculing them. The gigolos, we are told, work from sex houses. The prostitutes say they sometimes drop their prices.
She is clad in black lingerie.
Stacy, who operates in the Braemar Avenue area, says she has to provide financially for her two. We don't want so much attention. It not good fi business at all. I have two kids to send to school and I don't have no help.
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This is my only source of income. But with no other source of survival, they still come out after dark strip clubs in jamaica sell sex. As the women share their sad tales, a few cars drive pass. A strip clubs in jamaica of the drivers slow down but none of them stop, despite the pleas and compliments from the women.
In the meantime, Sunday Observer sources reveal that in towns like Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, the experiences of sex workers are vastly dissimilar. Reportedly, some sex workers including the transgendered variety seek out tourists to date, sometimes without asking explicitly for cash in return for 'favours'.
Instead, they derive benefits from staying at swanky hotels, dining at expensive restaurants, partying at all-inclusive resorts and attending high-end social events. They often cook and clean for these men, and even carry them on tours of the town. It's very discrete," one source tells the Sunday Observer from a popular hotel in Ocho Rios. Last summer, during a Sunday Observer visit to the White River rafting attraction in St Ann, we met O'Neil, a lifeguard who bragged about the many female tourists he's had sex with for money. Mi get nuff tips and ting.
One of them even promise fi send fi me so mi a wait fi see how dat go," he boasted.
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Beyond the monetary hustle that goes on in the sex industry, one cannot avoid the fact that there is an underside to this sexual candyland. The sex workers, both in the clubs and on the streets, insisted that they use protection whenever they engaged in sex acts with customers.
But with the prevalence of STIs in Jamaica, Lovette Byfield, Director of HIV Prevention at the Ministry of Health, says interventions and peer education training for sex workers is important in contemporary Jamaica as the of sex workers operating in Jamaica continues to climb at alarming rates. We are working on that currently," Byfield said. Health workers from the ministry including Richard Reid and Bernice Fearon visit strip clubs and prostitute hangout spots weekly to distribute condoms and impart knowledge about safe sex practices.
We try to engage them in risk reduction conversations," said Fearon, whom we met at Pablo's. Reid said they also use their weekly strip clubs in jamaica to invite patrons to their workshops on safe sex practices. I think it's an honest living for these women and some of the men who do it too, so we don't condemn them," Reid said. While local and international experts like Dr Veronica Salter argue that many women who turn to prostitution and other forms of sex work are "hurt and abused women looking for love", psychologist Dr Leahcim Semaj says this is not always the case.
You have some dancers who love their work and see it as a semi-professional way of getting into prostitution. There are dozens of reasons for women becoming prostitutes," Semaj explained. Meanwhile, Marsha Grant, who works with the National Sex Workers Association, said she also believes the of sex workers in Jamaica is growing rapidly.
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A group of them, she said, came together in March of this year to form the association. She added that the group was looking out for the best interest of sex workers. Back inside Pablo's, Lisa is relaxing on a black sofa.
Like many other Jamaican sex workers, she says she has ambitions for "a better future". People might look at me, and because I'm young and they see me dancing, they might think I'm confused but I know what I want in life," she declares boldly.
The men like it. That's why they come to the club. Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. Subscribe. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; addresses will not be published. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material.