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Friday, March 31, 2006

Finding a lady of negotiable affections in Tenerife

Tenerife, where everything is on the menu.
Hookers, whores, prostitutes, tarts .. These days they call them sex workers, so that it seems an acceptable "employment service" to contract and, clearly, there are plenty of er, "gentlemen" wishing to do so.

One such visitor from Finland used Google to search for "tenerife prostitute price" and the unfortunate fellow ended up here.

So, always aiming to, uhum ... give satisfaction (though I would emphasize that my own street walking adventures are of the purely non-prostitute kind), I thought I would carry out a little research into this, erm, niche of the service sector.

What price for pleasure, eh?

Certainly, there isn't and never has been, a shortage of prostitutes in Tenerife.

Getting directly down to business, the World Sex Guide (don't go there, unless you're a grown-up open minded enough to read explicit content), quote prices for these services in Tenerife, in pesetas, from 2000. Undoubtedly, these will have risen (no pun intended) since then, as they seem to have in everything since the introduction of the Euro.

The price for a 5' 10", blonde, "porn star quality" prostitute in Playa de Las Americas in Tenerife back then, apparently, oscillated around 30,000 Pts per hour. That equates to 180.00 Euros in today's money, which is roughly £120.00 sterling or US $220.

World Sex Guide also (WARNING: The following link contains explicit images tell us) that "The word "whiskeria" is often used for brothel. So in Santa Cruz de Tenerife you can find the "Whiskeria del Luna" and that "Barra americana" (American bar) are bars with a very long bar where you can find girls. They say the best was the "bar de la rosa" at a highway exit shortly after the Tenerife South Airport northbound in direction Santa Cruz de Tenerife. They don't say when or for what, but they say they paid 15.000 ptas (90 Euros/£60).

Nightclub The Matrix Club offers a variety of euphemistically named relaxation and escort services of varying levels of luxury and exclusiveness.

Out on the street, there are bargains to be found, although one man "blew his top at the €20 price charged by a prostitute for oral sex and tried to denounce her for over-charging", said The Western Sun Newspaper, under the headline of "Blow me! That's a bit steep!"

They went on to say that, "The 48-year-old Spaniard was still complaining about the rising cost of loving as he was arrested and charged with drunk driving", after he arrived at the police station in Santa Cruz in his car, with the prostitute still in the passenger seat.

(Oh boy, never let it be said that we journalists write predictable phrases. :-)

Of course, the world's oldest profession is nothing new, even on this island.

Tenerife manages to get a mention in this book, The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts by Sian Rees, set in the 1780's and sub-titled "The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and its Cargo of Female Convicts".

The female convicts antics are compared to the notorious dock-women of Tenerife in Chapter 8 of The Fatal Shore: History of the Transportation of Convicts to Australia, 1787-1868 (Harvill Panther), which contains the following passage:

"Since the liaisons were free of legal ties, a settler could simply throw a convict woman out when he was tired of her. This caused a troublesome floating population of whores and unattached "disorderly women" to accumulate around Sydney Cove, whose westerly arm, "The Rocks," soon acquired a well-deserved name as the rowdiest and most dangerous thieves' kitchen in the colony. As early as 1793, these women were offending all who met them, including a Spanish lieutenant who stopped in Sydney on an exploration vessel, the Atrevida: They made "continuous seductive advances" to his crewmen, slipped them Mickey Finns, robbed them blind, and were so "degraded by vice, or rather greed" that the notorious dock-women of Tenerife paled in memory beside them."

Mostly British, French and German travellers chronicles from the 18th and 19th Centuries also reveal the invisible History of Canary Islands Women, in which,

"Some travellers also spoke of how misery drove many island women to prostitute themselves in exchange for a few coins, mainly those who did not have a man to look after them. And there are stories of how women offered themselves to sailors or a group of thirty girls, accompanied by their old mothers, who begged insistently for "the favour of an intimate conversation"."

The history of prostitution in Tenerife gets even darker when it gets linked to politics and cult religion with "the ancient practice of religious prostitution" and the story descends even further into the murky depths when Tenerife sex cult messiah turns killer.

The Canary Islands get a fictional link to the sex trade in Christophe Honore's film Ma Mère, but it isn't always all it's cracked up to be. The critics said that the Hooker's Oedipal romp was boring. Upon reflection, perhaps this shows that reality is preferable to fiction.

But, speaking of fiction, it must be remembered that not all "happy hookers" wind up with their "Prince Charming" like Vivian (Julia Roberts) in "Pretty Woman".

It is not my place to judge and I am not against someone voluntarily providing services for which there is obviously a demand - and it should be underlined that this is also perfectly legal in Spain - however, there is an increasing problem, where "around 80 percent of prostitutes working in Spain are immigrants, many of them illegal, from Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa, as seen here in the Canary Islands. There is little doubt that many of the foreign prostitutes have been coerced into the trade by criminals who lured them to Spain with false promises of other jobs", as reported on numerous occasions in The Paper, particularly with the headline 'Europe's brothel' - referring to Tenerife - Spain seeks solutions to prostitution.

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