Whorehouses I Have Known

I get wistful whenever I think of Rio de Janeiro . The most beautiful women in the world live in Brazil , many of them what polite society would call working girls.

But I get ahead of myself.

Now most parents haven't the slightest clue what happens when their little Johnny gets his gun and finishes his training for war. They think the US military might make a man out of him'if it doesn't kill him in the process.

But something else happens to a huge segment of these testosterone-laden males. Speaking from my own experience, we are suddenly free, suddenly freed of parental restraint. A lot of us become like frisky pups in perpetual heat.

Most of those who served in the US Air Force trained at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas . Five military bases surrounded San Antonio at the height of the Vietnam War, when I was stationed there. Tens of thousands of men, hundreds of thousands even, most of them recent high school graduates, guarded the Lone Star State from Vietcong terrorists determined to sweep across the Rio Grande river.

Four hours south of San Antonio lay Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and a legendary place called Boys Town . It was a walled compound on the outskirts of town also known as La Zona Rosa (the red zone).

A veritable village of Mexican working girls, whom impolite society might call whores, worked there. They met and pleasured the mostly shy yet exuberant servicemen from the dozens of military bases within driving distance. Literally tens of thousands of men spent some evenings there, some paying for the first sexual experience they ever had. Good kids, church-going kids, army draftees or air force enlistees, tasting the bittersweet pleasures of something bought and paid for but not necessarily earned.

The best place in Boys Town , the place with the prettiest girls, a place that's been around forever, was the Papagayo (parrot) bar. But any bar in the red zone offered the wide-eyed patriotic warrior, a smorgasbord of sex for very little money.

'Boy's Town is about five blocks of brothels,' said one recent visitor. 'There are hundreds of women available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Alcohol is cheap and is also sold 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Walk around, check the place out. Don't stop at the first place you see - go in, the girls will come to you and will try their damnedest to convince you to go to "Mi quatros" (My quarters).

'Most of the young, pretty girls ask for twenty five dollars, plus five for the room. I don't know if that price is negotiable or not; almost everything in Mexico is, but what the hell? A beautiful, disease-free woman for thirty bucks? Where you gonna beat a price like that? (Remember - the government runs the place, and each girl is checked for STD's at regular intervals).'

The last time I visited Boys Town was 35 years ago. I imagine a whole lot of the God-fearing, red state folks might wince if they ever realized their precious boys were bird-dogging whores at hundreds of places like Boys Town , around the hundreds of US military bases we occupy around the world. But then most American parents would die if they ever discovered what most of their soldier boys have done in the name of duty. Things a whole lot worse than fucking, I can guarantee you that.

I survived the military with most of my faculties intact. Never had to personally hurt anyone and never felt remorse for fucking foreign girls. Funny how polite society wants to scare teenagers about the dangers of illicit sex (the best kind) but is perfectly willing to send teenage soldiers off to fight various, fabricated wars built on carefully constructed lies. Seems illicit sex is a whole lot more worrisome than illicit killing done in the guise of patriotism.

About 20 years later I found myself in Rio de Janeiro . At the time, Rio was considered the 'Most dangerous city in the world.' I might have been the only US gringo there, in 1989-90. The working girls there considered me a non-renewal resource, like a rich coal seam suitable for strip mining.

Beautiful girls of every shade of skin flocked to the beaches of Rio . Many of them were born to poverty or were single mothers with little else to sell besides their bodies. Indeed they were everywhere, looking for tourists. On the beaches, in the nightclubs, even in the malls.

One mall near my apartment in Copacabana had an establishment called a 'termas.' The word meant "steam bath," but the steamiest thing I saw there were the scantily dressed young women. Yup, you guessed it'a whorehouse.

You see, Rio de Janeiro'and all of Brazil---at that time suffered from a corrupt government of elites (much like our own), that wrecked the economy, enriched themselves and their cronies, squeezed the middle class, kept the lower classes impoverished, and favored and protected the wealthy.

Brazilian government officials presided over the worst inflation in modern times. 'To finance its expenditures, the Brazilian government resorts unendingly to the printing press. In October, 1990 price inflation was running at approximately 40 percent a month, or well over 1,200 percent a year,' wrote Richard Ebeling in his essay, On the Edge of Hyperinflation in Brazil.

By contrast, the Brazilian working girls always gave good measure, always giving of themselves more than anyone could ask.

And that is true everywhere. Whores will sell you the sex you want and (generally) give you the satisfaction you crave for the agreed upon price. They may even service you with a warm smile. Frequently two people may even arrive at an arrangement not much different from a warm and lasting love.

Several years ago I returned to Washington DC . I'd visited the nation's capitol a couple of times before, about 20 years ago, just before going to Rio . (No, I don't work for the State Department or the CIA, at least not to my knowledge). Anyway, like a lot of veterans, I pilgrimaged to the Black Wall'the Vietnam War Memorial.

There I felt a mixture of rage, frustration, fatigue, sadness and utter dissatisfaction. Surrounding me stood Washington DC , a city of sculpted marble and architectural buildings that would put to shame the whorehouses of Boys Town in scale and grandeur.

And yet what had this huge, world capitol, the capitol of the mightiest nation in the world, done for these 58,000 youngsters whose names adorned the polished black granite? Had it given them many moments of pleasure while robbing their parents? Had it given these kids anything but a passel of lies before finally killing them off?

A fellow by the name of Gerry Spence once wrote, in his book, Give Me Liberty : Freeing Ourselves in the Twenty-First Century: 'The most dissolute whores in America do not wear skin-tight hot pants and low cut blouses. They wear business suits with dignified pinstripes, starched white collars, and two- hundred-dollar silk ties. They will sell themselves to whomever and whatever will buy them'usually on the cheap. They have become the most powerful, the most skilled whores in the history of the world, piously, willfully screwing us under the bedcovers of government in the largest brothel (polite name for whorehouse) in America , the Congress of the United States .'

Yup, I never looked down at any whore except the elected ones who stuck out a greasy palm, grabbed the loot, and left a whole lot of young fellows'and their families'shafted without a second of pleasure and a whole lot of pain instead.

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Douglas Herman's picture
Columns on STR: 136

Award winning artist, photographer and freelance journalist, Douglas Herman enjoys exploring the occasional ghost town or spooky conspiracy and can be found wandering the back roads of America. Recently Doug finished writing, directing and producing an independent feature film, naturally a "road movie," and credits STR for giving him the impetus to write well, both provocatively and entertainingly. A longtime gypsy, Doug completed a 10,000 mile circumnavigation of North America, by bicycle, at the age of 35, and still wanders between Bullhead City, Arizona and Kodiak, Alaska with forays frequently into the so-called civilized world of Greater LA.