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"Negra," who "conducts business" at the Hotel Lina, and hangs out in the lobby area waiting to see a man displaying "the signs." She says she usually spots a potential client who is older, usually in his 50’s or 60’s, sitting at the Piano Bar or Casino alone, having a drink. She knows this will be her score. She approaches the man and begins her conversation, always being overly friendly. The men usually know what she’s there for and she says that the next move is always to the hotel room where business is finalized. On this particular night Negra is seen walking hand in hand with an older gentleman in his 70’s. For her this is an ideal customer because he requires little "service" and she can get it done in about 20 minuets and hit the lobby and casino once again. For her 20 minutes of service she charges different rates depending if the customer is a foreigner or a local. Age is not really a problem for Negra. She says she takes what comes and walks around between the lobby, the casino and the Piano Bar until 2am or 3am looking for a score.

As is with any business, everyone gets their cut. She greases the palm of the security guards to let her walk the lobbies with no problems, making sure they never become an issue and if a client wants to get more raunchy she can just call on some of her "associates" to come in on a job. Interestingly enough in this line of work the pimp is not always a male. In some cases, as is in many hotels, there are women who go out and find prostitutes for clients and take a cut for themselves, sometimes servicing clients as well. In many hotels, bars or clubs prostitution isn’t advertised but you can’t shed a blind eye to the realities that are occurring there.

Beeper chicas
"Josefina" is 22 years old and has a 2 year old daughter. She’s a great looking girl who works out daily to keep her body in shape, but her health isn’t her concern. Her body is her money maker. It’s her ace in the hole and she knows it. "Josefina" lives in a nicely furnished apartment in the Gazcue section of Santo Domingo. One would think she’s the daughter of wealthy parents or has a large inheritance but by all accounts it’s her "sponsors" that pay for her two bedroom apartment and keep it nicely furnished with the latest fashions. "Sponsors" are well to do men who pay all the expenses of their mistresses or "girlfriends." She’s not shy about what she has and though she doesn’t consider this prostitution. "Josefina" has three different men who she’s "faithful" to. For her, as long as they don’t find out about each other things are good. Each one of her men thinks that things are exclusive and for her that’s enough. She has one man who lives in the US and sends her about US$3,000 per month so she can cover her costs. Another one sends her about US$1,000 for her party and clothing needs and a third one of her men has even made arrangements to buy her a Mercedes, which he will pay for. The apartment she is living is paid for and is owned by one of her sponsors and he pays for the maintenance of the place. "Josefina" also has a few "friends" hanging in the wings that are only a phone call away from giving her what she needs. And what does "Josefina" do so well that can have her living so well. She offers the possibility of being seen with a beautiful girl out on the town and sexual pleasures. Though she would never define it as that. She says that all the relationships are legitimate, though the money for he is a perk. "Josefina" studies part time in Santo Domingo. A nanny takes care of her daughter, but she spends most of her time in the mix hanging out with Santo Domingo’s young and rich.

"Mary" , just like "Josefina", is using her looks and her body to get everything she can from her "sponsor."

"A friend of mine introduced me to him (the sponsor) and then one day he offered to start paying for things. I didn’t ask, he just offered, but I didn’t decline. He would pay for things I couldn’t pay for. Phone, school, clothes, food everything. He would pay for everything and when my friends would come with us he would pay for them too. I was doing that for about a year, but at the moment I don’t have a sponsor, I’m more like a free agent. In change, I would give him my "love" and affection and all I had to give him was some of my time on the weekends. Go to dinner with him now and then, he knew what was going on, love wasn’t really a part of it. The only thing is that I could only go out with him and my friends. People know me and since he was paying for everything I couldn’t just go out with anybody else. When I was with him I had everything I needed. It’s not such a bad thing to be a person who treats you like a queen and gives you everything you want and need. That feels good and I like to feel that way. I always had money and clothes and everything. I had jewelry, bracelets everything was there and he would always say to me that he didn’t want me to be without money. This wasn’t a business that sounds ugly; I mean it’s ugly to take money after the sex happens. I could potentially love a man with no money, I mean I have no money, now. All he would have to do is conquer me and love can change a lot of things, but not everything. Still though I am waiting on a new sponsor, so I can get my car, but that should be after I get a new boob job."


True to herself, her lifestyle and her point of view, "Mary" explains that...

"good girls go to heaven, bad girls go to Casa de Campo in a Mercedes."


Sanky Panky
The sanky panky is a local term for a male gigolo. Sankies essentially are Dominican con men who prey on unsuspecting female tourists. They almost always come from poverty, have little or no education and are frequently illiterate. This does not mean that they are not intelligent, however. The vast majority of these sanky encounters occur on the all-inclusive resorts that scatter the coasts and the sanky use carefully crafted techniques to con women into giving them money, gifts or getting them visas to the US or Europe. The techniques have been passed down and though you can warn unsuspecting tourists of the dangerous of these sly men, it’s those few nave souls who always think it can never happen to them. "James" , now in the US, is a self described retired sanky, living the dream of the sanky and he knows it. "James" , who is now working a comfortable job as a security guard, which his wife got for him, speaks about his sanky experiences as the greatest moment of his life and says that he undoubtedly hit a homerun when he met his "gringa."

"I'm from Santo Domingo, I was poor growing up, didn’t have much, and didn’t like to study, so when I was about 18 I hopped a bus to Boca Chica trying to find some girl to take me with her. You know how it is; you have to do what you have to do!! I liked sankying. Partied all night, hung out all day and when I finally got the hang of it I had some extra money to just spend from the few girls who would come and visit. I didn’t have anyone to support so all the money they’d send was mine, plus a few of the girls I met would send me things that I needed, so life was good. But then came the point when I had to make a bigger move and really get myself on my feet. That’s when I decided I needed to head to America. I had family here but a "gringa" was my way to go. I met my wife on the beach one day and then I knew what it was, there was my ticket. She wasn’t real pretty, but her passport was the prettiest thing about her. Her father was a well connected businessman, into politics and stuff, she had a lot of money herself, so after a few months of just playing the game, we decided to get married. I got what I wanted. After a few years I got my papers and I was in America. And that’s when things got really good. My new wife bought me an apartment and put it in my name, bought me a car and gives me some extra spending money each month so I can get by. Only problem now is that we have a son. He’s about 10 years old and I adore him, but that’s the only thing keeping me here. Honestly, I wish I could just leave, divorce my woman and go back to Santo Domingo. I have enough money to live well; I have my papers what more do I need? But my son is the only thing keeping me here. I’ll be here until he’s old enough to understand and then I am gone. I’ve got my own plans for my future."

"James" isn’t shy about his sanky background, though the only one who is really clueless still is his wife, but he justifies it all by explaining that he’s just did what he had to do to make it through. For him there was no other way to get out.

The reality
It’s easy to judge prostitution. It’s that dark little secret in the corner that only comes out at night, but prostitutes, pimps, and sankies, at least to them, are trying to make a living and make it through. You can’t judge or justify what happens between people, you can only acknowledge that it happens. At the end of the day the perception, though slightly misleading, shouldn’t be that in the DR every man or woman is hanging out on every corner, 24/7, trying to get a quick buck, instead the perception should be that there are underlying social issues at play that make this profession seem like the only option for success and that should be the reality we focus on.
 
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