Sacha Walters, Staff Reporter
A section of the Montego Bay Hip Strip which gigolos often frequent. - Contributed
'Sex sells' and young men in the resort areas of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios are taking advantage of this.
The gigolos working in these areas have been providing sexual favours to women as a full-time job and have been making big bucks in the process.
One such person Marcus, a 23-year-old father of three, told THE STAR; "I'm doing what I like. I like girls. It's better than a nine to five."
He got many of his possessions through the business. A 2004 Toyota Carolla motor car with its classic leather interior and music system along with three cellular phones. He lives in a rented one bedroom home. "My washing machine, flat screen television and sofa were also acquired from being a gigolo," Marcus said
Nicholas,also from Montego Bay, is a part-time gigolo with nine years experience. "I really took it up seriously six years ago," said the 26-year-old who has an asso-ciate's degree in computer information and technology from an overseas college.
The least he has made during a week is US$500 and the most was US$5,000. He drives a 2004 Mark II motor car, lives in a rented two bedroom apartment in a nice neighbourhood which is lux-uriously furnished.
Originally he was doing it full-time but changed to part-time after he made enough money to buy four cars and start his own business renting cars.
Nicholas said he started be-cause he was curious about sex with different types of girls but when he saw the money he could make, he was convinced to stay on. One of the ways he gets clients is through contacts in the hotel industry with front desk clerks and security guards who indicate the visitors who might be potential clients.
Marcus frequents the beach and the Hip-strip, where a number of popular hotels and clubs are located to attract women. They range from foreigners who are stockbrokers, to strippers to married couples who request that he have sex with the wife while the husband watches. He gets most of his clients during peak tourist season and he has the link in the street for marijuana and ecstasy pills which many of his clients request.
Marcus says he usually oper-ates by first approaching a girl in a club, then striking up a con-versation and the relationship progresses from there. He said they do not always pay directly for sex but the money eventually comes into play.
"Even if I spend my money it's worth it in the end," he said. "I pretend I have my bills to pay, my kids to feed," and he might get US$200 or US$400. In another instance, he told a client who returned abroad that he was in prison and needed help with money to get a lawyer and he ended up getting approximately $100,000.
The women also have been having a good time. Robertatold THE STAR that she came to Jamaica on vacation but wanted some 'spice' so she arranged with a friend to meet a gigolo.
"I was there for an entire week and he spent all that time with me. I had to pay extra for him to stay but it was worth every penny of it," the 48-year-old Jamaican who resides in New York, said. "That was like 10 years ago and every year I come back for my, what you call it, proper fix?" she laughed.
She has kept the same gigolo except on two occasions when he was busy.
Although she has her boyfriend and they visit Jamaica often, she says she has to make time to visit her 'stud muffin'. "I've told other friends and at least one of them has done it," she says. "Its a shame that it has to be low-keyed cause that type of thing is available in almost every country. It adds to the fun and adventure you seek when you get away from your busy schedule."
But there is a valid reason why the gigolos have been keeping their operations undercover. The Montego Bay Police say they can be arrested for breaching the Jamaica Tourist Board Act by offering services without a licence. The fine can range from $2,000 or 10 days imprisonment, upwards, depending on the judge's sentence.
The Ocho Rios Police say that they have arrested the gigolos for offering themselves as tour guides. They are said to frequent the town when a number of cruise ships visit. Otherwise the police say they get involved if there is some robbery involved but they say most often the visitors do not want to pursue the matter.
Gerry McDaniel director of corporate communications in the Ministry of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture said that it is difficult to tie up government funds with trying to target something like this.
"(It's) not for tourism policy ... it's a personal choice," said McDaniel. He said institutions like churches, the ministry of health and the Values and Attitudes programme are things that can help to effect a change.
"Open solicitation is illegal. The police in these instances can arrest the person in question but consensual relationships are not a crime. If people don't complain about it. It's tricky."
For the gigolos, the risk of the job does not end there. There is the ever-present danger of contracting sexually transmitted infections.
Marcus told THE STAR that some women have asked him to have sex without a condom but he refuses.
"Sometimes the condom burst on me," he said in describing his flashes with danger. He says when this happens he just washes himself off and puts on a new condom because he has to finish the job. While he gets a HIV test every three months, he has not totally escaped any brushes with sexually transmitted infections.
"I catch Gonorrhoea like three times," he said while pointing out that on other occasions he has also got bumps on his penis.
Nicholas says he uses two condoms and does an HIV test every month although the recom-mended time is every three months. He rotates doctors to facilitate the process and has never had a sexually transmitted infection.
Newton Wynter, the liaison officer for the National Aids Committee, said that practising risky sexual behaviour increases the chances of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Wynter said that individuals who find themselves having to get tested excessively are usually engaged in risky behaviour. "It's like playing Russian Roulette and you might get caught," Wynter said.
Horace Peterkin, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, says, however, "I don't perceive that it's creating a negative impact on tourism."
He said that once the tourists are not being robbed or harassed it is not something that the author-ities can do much about. "There is a segment of the market that is attracted to that and we'd be unfair to deny that," he said.
In the meantime, the gigolos intend to gain what they can from the business. Marcus' aim is to buy a home in the long run and he does not see himself stopping any time soon while Nicholas says that he will stop and settle down in a relationship when he gets his business completely off the ground.
* names changed