Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Secret strategies

I have mentioned R. in previous posts as the “Angel of Montufar” because of her role helping street children. I also wrote about her long career on the streets, (since the age of six) and how the other sex workers deeply respect her because she pulls in more clients than anyone else, despite the fact that she’s at least forty. The other day when I greeted her and asked how business was she responded that she had already served 10 clients that day. That is a remarkable number, I was shocked. Most of the women are lucky to land 3 puntos in a day, which translates into $15. Yep, she said, “I’m carrying $50 in my purse.” Remarkable! I pleaded for her to tell me her “secret.” How on earth does she do it? R. is a very attractive woman, well-built and with beautiful eyes. But without a doubt, it’s her personality that stands out from the rest of the women. She is gregarious and funny, an expert flirt and seducer. That much I know from months of observation. It doesn’t surprise me that she can charm any man into bed, given her looks and personality, but still I thought, there must be something else.

R. looks at me with a wicked grin and says, “Well, it’s easy, I lie.” I wasn’t sure what she meant, so she explained further: “As you know we all negotiate on the street before going upstairs so I say I’ll do whatever they ask….most of the women say no to half the things so they lose a lot of clients.” Okay, fair enough, R. deceives the men on the street as she negotiates prices and services. “For example, all men want “tres platos” (three courses—which means anal, oral, and vaginal sex), but the majority of the women won’t do all three. I always agree, and give them a low price for it.” I listen to R. with interest because it’s true, most of the women complain about the constant demand for “three courses.” And R. is correct, as many of them won’t do all three. R. agrees to everything and asks for a modest amount on the street but once they’re in the hotel things change. R. says she demands more money upstairs once the clients are “caliente” (turned on). She changes the negotiation and always gets more money than the client had agreed upon. R. said that sometimes she won’t even do everything they had agreed to. She feels that once they’re up in the room she’s the one in charge. I asked if such deception would be incredibly dangerous for her. R. shook her head, nope. Nothing has ever happened. I’m sure she’s tough as nails with the clients.

I’m not sure how R. remains in control as she denies services or demands more money. Perhaps she carries a weapon for protection, I didn’t ask her. But because she readily agrees to provide all three courses to client, she obviously lands more men. The women who say no from the beginning don’t receive nearly as many puntos. But then again, I’m not sure R.’s method is worth the high risk. Miraculously in her 30-plus years as a sex worker she hasn’t been a victim of severe violence—indeed, it’s a miracle she is still alive. Perhaps her many years of experience make her prone to taking greater risks. Outright lying to clients seems incredibly dangerous—life-threatening even given whom some of these men are. Fortunately, R.’s is a world-class charmer and it’s impossible to say no to her. I’m surprised by her “secret” strategy. It makes me worry about her safety, but above all else, R. is a survivor. However, although R. has surely had many close escapes, a day might come when she faces an angry, violent client and won’t make it out alive. Having lived the vast majority of her life on the streets, she might feel invincible at this point, but surely such strength makes her twice as vulnerable. Interestingly enough, R. didn’t want me to disclose her secret strategy to the other women. I don’t think they would be surprised by her method because everyone knows R. is the ultimate seducer/manipulator on the streets. I’m sure many of them already suspect her less than honest strategy. Many of the women have told me that if they took larger risks they would earn much more money, but no one but R. is willing to put themselves in such provocative situations.

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