Mistake # 1 --Avoid Locations Under Threat of Military Invasion

I am reminded of the following joke: A Soldier returns from weekend leave absolutely penniless. His friend asks him what happened to all his money. He replies, "Oh, some of it I spent on booze, some of it on hookers, and the rest I just wasted.

It is a common assumption that war is good for the brothel business. However, this is not always the case. For instance, it was during World War I that the famed Storyville red light district of New Orleans was closed down for good. For though war often brings soldiers, it also often brings moral do-gooders who can accept our soldiers dying in war but are outraged by the thought of them getting laid first.

Based on careful research and painstaking analysis I decided to locate my business in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. I reasoned that not only could I tap the pool of Dominican tourists as customers, but the tourists in Haiti could hop on over as well. I was certainly aware that there was a possibility that the U.S. would invade Haiti, but traditionally, I reasoned, war has always been good for business, and good for this type of business in particular.

As I mentioned, ordinarily you would think that an invading army would provide a huge new pool of customers for an intimate little bordello in safe city not far from the battlefield. Think of Paris during World War I, Bangkok during the war in Vietnam, Stockholm during the 30 years war, etc. However, there were a few things which I didnt count on that rendered this thinking uncomfortably ineffective.

First, you cant really know when an invasion is going to occur. After all, these days they dont just invade anymore. They have to make alliances with a bunch of other countries to lend legitimacy to their violation of another countries sovereign territory, they have to try to win over public support, and they have to employ the element of surprise by not planning to invade until a respected team of their own negotiators is right in the line of fire. Thus, if you open a business counting on war to break out, the timing can backfire on you even if you are lucky enough to see the invasion eventually occur.

Second, if the troops dont feel in mortal danger they are not as anxious to spend their money on prostitutes as they are when they figure they may not make it through the next few days anyway. Thus, with the danger these days of a bloodless invasion, you just cant count on the troops as a source of income anymore. Reports have it that in Haiti our boys (and girls) were scandalously chaste.

I, of course, wouldnt know because none of our soldiers ever got to the Dominican Republic. I hadnt realized that with Haiti only about an hour an a half from the U.S., surrounded on three sides by sea, and with no impenetrable obstacles from above, the Dominican Republic was simply not needed as a staging area. Moreover, with Disneyland only 90 minutes away, neither was the Dominican Republic required for R&R. Even with the best of planning, you simply cant know everything in advance. Oh, what I wouldnt give to have had a brothel in Disney World!

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Mistake # 2--Low Budget Tourists Dont Frequent Upscale Bordellos

From the very beginning I decided that I was going to have the finest, most beautiful, classiest brothel in all of the Dominican Republic, with the most beautiful, most intelligent and educated, sweetest girls. This meant, of course, that my prices had to be the highest as well.

I decided that I wanted the girls to be not only beautiful but educated--worldly courtesans, so to speak. I would bring in tutors to teach them English and French, Art & Literature, how to play the piano, how to walk like a lady, correct table manners, the art of conversation, etc. Eventually I would finance their University education and as the business grew into a worldwide sex conglomerate, I would help them learn new skills as they gradually left prostitution (those, of course, who didnt marry some of the wealthy clientele).

The brothel would be decorated with beautiful antiques, not easy to come by in a nation where the state of design is vaguely reminiscent of Elvis paintings on velvet. We would serve excellent European cuisine, fine liquors, and the best cigars in the world. I briefly considered dressing the girls in Catholic school girl uniforms, but settled on elegant Little Black Dresses, sexy but refined.

No sex would actually occur in my brothel, it would all be "take out.". The girls would return with the customers to their hotels where mini-relationships would develop, not just sex. My customers were not to be those just interested in a brief interlude of fellatio (quick blow job, to use the technical term). They would come to find a woman with whom they could spend their entire vacation. Marriages between customer and employees would not be uncommon.

Now this all might have been a good idea had it been Venice, Italy, at the time that the crusaders were just returning from looting the Orient, had it been Tokyo when Japan was buying up the rest of the world, had it been Manhattan in the time of the Robber Barons, had it been London when the sun never set on the British empire. Unfortunately Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, is not quite in these leagues.

The Dominican Republic does attract more tourists than any other Caribbean country, but this is because it is the least expensive of the major Caribbean resort destinations. Hence the typical tourists are lower middle class German families who want to spend two weeks on the beach, but cant afford the south of France, or St. Thomas, or even Jamaica. And Sri Lanka is no longer an option because since the outbreak of civil war, one risks being blown to smithereens (a different sort of blow job).

Of course, there are some wealthy Dominicans who might have been interested in such a brothel, except for a few problems. First, there arent very many of them. Second, wealthy Dominicans tend to be very wealthy. They already have beautiful mistresses for whom they rent small but tasteful apartments overlooking the sea. Third, Dominican men already know the secret about Dominican women--Dominican women love sex--you dont have to pay them for it. Just ask politely and dont beat them too hard afterwards (Dear Feminist who has mistakenly started reading this article: that was a joke, moreover it was a joke that recognizes the horror of violence against women, in whatever country it may take place. It in no way is intended to nor could be construed to encourage such violence. Really.)

Unfortunately, in planning my brothel I was starting backwards. Rather than asking what kind of customers were available and building a brothel to serve that type of customer, I started by imagining the type of brothel to which I would like to go, assuming that I had made enough money from that type of brothel to be able to afford to frequent such a brothel in the first place.

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Mistake #3--Avoid Handling the Merchandisel

Most products are "perishable". Obviously something like bananas or brussel sprouts are perishable, but even such things as airplane seats or hotel rooms are perishable. For example, if an airplane seat is empty on a flight from Salt Lake City to Boise, part of the value of that seat has perished, never to return. So too, if a hotel room is vacant for a night, part of its value has perished. This is why airlines and hotel operators will sell their products for deep discounts at the last minute through brokers. If they dont sell them, the products will perish anyway.

The brothel business is similar in that the product is perishable. If the girl just sits around all night, that night is lost forever. And she will likely have a working life far shorter than that of a hotel room or airplane seat. All this makes it tempting, when faced with an utter lack of customers, to sell the product through a broker for a deep discount, or try to get some use out of the product yourself.

Both of these tacks are unwise. Selling your product at a deep discount can often make your product feel "cheap". Not only do you not want your girls to feel cheap, but in this business it is traditional for outside brokers (usually called pimps) to treat the product in a rough manner that tends to bruise it in ways that may be unattractive for its display. Best just to have the product work on its English lessons when not with a customer, although the product tends to prefer to watch television.

Even more important, you must avoid at all costs the temptation to use the product yourself. Keep in mind that hotel rooms, although perishable, dont get pregnant and cant catch a sexually transmitted disease. Hotel rooms dont get annoyed and threaten to go to work for the competition if they are used without proper compensation. And finally, a hotel room wont try to turn to its own political advantage the fact that you might have been inside it at one time or another.

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Mistake # 4--Dont Get the Help Pregnant

Now, in most of the world motherhood is revered, and getting the help pregnant with your child may give the help more power then you may have intended to give. After all, when your employees consider that the womans child may one day run the business and when they consider that anyone stupid enough to get an employee pregnant in the first place will probably not be running any business for very long, especially not this one, then they begin to get confused about where their loyalties and best interests should lie. And when you throw into this pot the fact that you dont speak Spanish terribly well whereas the help, both pregnant and un-pregnant, speak it quickly enough that you dont understand what theyre saying, particularly when the pregnant help doesnt want you to understand, then you have a situation spinning out of control with a steep precipice in sight..

And there are more problems. The help, being pregnant with your child, begins to have an agenda which may differ from your agenda. Jealousy begins to rear its ugly head. Suppose, for instance, that you have an employee who you find attractive, which isnt difficult to suppose since attractiveness is one of the prerequisites for many of your employees. But the help who happens to be pregnant could rationally believe that if your employee is attractive, that you might be attracted to that employee--after all, what is the purpose of attractiveness if not to attract.

The pregnant help, therefore, feels it in her interest to rid the company of this attractive employee, which in this business would be comparable to an auto company only selling cars that dont run, or a restaurant only selling food thats inedible, or to use an example from another "service" business, a tour operator only using guides who dont speak the language of the tourists. But you get the point.

So, I got the help pregnant.

It was not out of pure stupidity that this happened, perhaps a large percentage of stupidity but not pure stupidity. When I first approached this business I decided that one of the dangers of it might be a certain "weakness of the flesh" on my part, a problem not for religious reasons but because of the dangers inherent in "handling the merchandise" (see Mistake # 4.--Avoid Handling the Merchandise), and the risks of certain diseases which can be transmitted by promiscuous sexual behavior. I felt fairly certain that I could mandate the use of condoms and other safe sexual practices between my employees and customers.

However, any such liaisons between myself and an employee which might accidentally occur while I was looking the other way would be plain old sexual intrigue and power maneuvering, thus raising the excitement quotient for all involved and decreasing the likelihood that I would use my better judgment, which even in the best of times I tend to store away for times when I dont need it.

I decided that to protect the business from indiscretion and myself from a terminal disease, that I should find myself a monogamous relationship. It just so happened that the night I made this decision I was doing some scouting at a "discotheque" called "Salon de la Fama". This was the kind of discotheque you can be pretty certain that if you ask a girl to dance, shell dance, and if you ask a girl to go back to your hotel with you and make whoopee, shell go back to your hotel with you and make whoopee, and where you pay about $100 bucks a night of such whoopee. But I was there to scout the talent and learn about my competition, not to make whoopee.

The woman who seated us was unusually attractive, but more importantly she had a kind of regal bearing, a glowing self confidence, that was unusual for the country as a whole. Just watching her it made you want to be sure to remember to daintily hold up your little pinkie finger whenever you raised the mug of beer to your lips. Actually, I dont even drink beer but watching her it was hard to remember the things I dont do.

I assumed that she was the proprietor or certainly the hostess, but when she came to the table and politely asked if she might sit with us, I began to re-evaluate. I still wasnt sure if she was actually a working girl. I remembered the books I had read on classic brothels and her demeanor reminded me of how the great madams had been described, brilliant hostesses all. So my fantasy machine started working overtime, particularly since I had forgotten that I dont drink beer, and I began to start thinking about killing two birds with on stone, forgetting how easy it is to break the window in front of which the birds are sitting. Why couldnt she be both my girlfriend and my madam. Thus was born my relationship with Magalys.

Magalys turned out to be just as impressive as I thought she was. She was incredible in bed. She was fun. She knew when to suggest a manage-a-trois. She was smart and sly. She was strong and dynamic. She knew what she wanted and how to get it. Unfortunately, what she wanted and how she got it were often quite the opposite of what I wanted and frequently precluded my getting it. As far as I can ascertain what she wanted was me and she firmly believed that she couldnt really get me unless she first got rid of my brothel.

Soon after we became an item, we had the talk--the one about protection, in the intimate sense. She explained to me that she couldnt get pregnant. She explained to me that the only man with whom she had ever been and not used a condom was her former boyfriend, a wealthy Chinese-Dominican whose father had built the biggest toilet paper company in the country. She said that she had wanted to get pregnant with him, but never did, because something was wrong with her.

Now Im not complete stupid. Just plain stupid. I knew not to believe this rubbish about her not being able to get pregnant. So I started arguing with her. I explained that she was young and healthy and of course she could get pregnant. The problem was probably his. I argues myself right into the position of having to prove I was right.

And of course the only way to prove I was right was to get her pregnant. Early on there were some problems. While I was working on other aspects of the business, Magalys assured me that she would get the girls for the business. However, as time went on she didnt get any girls. As it turned out, getting the girls is not difficult in the Dominican Republic. We put an advertisement in the paper for "Camareras", waitresses. When an applicant came, she first filled out a short application, asking name, telephone number, etc.. To find out a little more about her, we also asked questions such as:

What are the names and ages of your children? What is the name of your boyfriend and/or husband? What do you want to be doing in five years? Are you a virgin? What languages do you speak? If you could, would you like to return to get more education?

There are some countries in which some of these questions could land a company in deep shit. When she finished the interview, I would have a short talk with her, and then we would take a Polaroid so that we would remember who was who. Later, we called back the ones in whom we were interested, and told them what the business really was and what we really wanted them to do. About 80% of them were thrilled and wanted to work for us.

Subsequently, I found that Magalys and I disagreed on many of the girls. All of the ones I thought were attractive, she thought were "feo" (ugly). The ones I thought were ugly, she thought were "hermosa." Unfortunately, all of the ugly ones were the ones who seemed to be called back, in spite of my instruction to the contrary.

When we finally did have the six or seven girls that we started out with, girls perhaps more attractive than Magalys had wished, but not of the class that I had imagined in my original plans, a heavy stultifying atmosphere fell over the club. This was partially due to the 105 degree heat with no ventilation (See Mistake #5.--Its Too Darn Hot).

But it was also because all the employees could feel Magalys watching them like a hawk. They were scared to even talk with me.

When I finally realized that it just wasnt going to work, I rented an apartment for us to live in that was a good 20 minutes from the club, moved us there, and told Magalys that she was no longer to work at the club. The atmosphere immediately lightened up at LEcole and you could actually see some smiles and hear some laughter.

But of course, not being there only made Magalys more jealous, suspicious and determined. Thus she told me that she loved the new arrangement, and was happy that she didnt have to go to the club anymore. And she didnt come in for a few days. Than one day she came by, dressed to kill, saying that she needed to talk to me about some marketing strategies.

She told me that she planned to go to the fancy hotels, talk to tourists who looked lonely, and give them cards. Then she would talk to the Tourist Guides and Taxi Drivers, give them cards, and tell them about the club. It was a good idea, so she started doing it. Sometimes she would take one or two girls with her, to make a better impression.

She started spending more time at the club before the excursions or after them. Then more time, and more still. And all this time she was talking to the girls, managing to find out everything that was going on. Magalys was brilliant politically. She could get a hold of a little piece of truth and use it to extract a lot of truth, like a prosecuting attorney. Then she could take the big chunk of truth and use it to fabricate an impenetrable falsehood. She could find a small difference between two people and pry it into a huge chasm. She could unite people with nothing in common into supporting a plan entirely against their best interests.

When it came, the coup was sudden, impressive, and final. Magalys had lined up her forces beforehand and struck with lightning speed, using the natural suspicions that all the girls have for one another, using the Dominican reverence for motherhood, using the pure forcefulness of her personality, and using the fact that the owner (me) was a wimp. The girls who I had hoped to help me manage the club were out. Magalys was in. And there was no getting her out, short of calling the police (which meant paying off the police) and having a pregnant woman (pregnant with my little embryo) thrown out on the street.

After this there was nothing I could do to get rid of her. Its difficult to say why. Its kind of like why the U.S. and Europe and NATO and the UN cant do anything about the Serbs. The Serbs know exactly what they want and will do anything to get it. The U.S. and Europe arent quite sure what they want or how to go about achieving it, or whether its even worth doing whats necessary. Thus, it doesnt matter how mighty they may be. Theyre powerless. To this day I have to admire her. Just the same, Im happy to be in a country other than the one shes in.

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Mistake #5--Its Too Darn Hot

They say that in the Dominican Republic there are two seasons: summer and hell, and this is true of most banana republics. Bananas, it seems, like it like that. But Americans and Europeans like it to be a bit cooler than do bananas. I think the Cole Porter song goes:

Its too darn hot..

Its too darn hot.

Id like to woo with my baby tonight

Pitch & Coo with my baby tonight

But I cant do with my baby tonight

Cause its too darn hot.

I had always intended to put in air conditioning with the money that would come rolling in shortly after opening, but the money mysteriously never started rolling in, and central air conditioning is extremely expensive in the Dominican Republic where the art of tariffs and duties is highly developed. Moreover, because the electrical power goes off approximately 12 hours a day one must not only have air conditioning but most have a power generator hearty enough to be operating half the time, and this can be as expensive as the air conditioning itself.

I did cleverly bring two window air conditioners as a stop gap measure, but the more powerful of these was dropped by one of the men helping to carry it into the house and it was always reluctant to work properly after that. It probably learned that trait from the guy who dropped it. However, this didnt make too much difference, because the electricity only worked about 12 hours a day, and it was impossible to guess which 12 hours it was going to work. Sometimes it would shut off while we were sleeping, sometimes while we were having dinner, sometimes during the day. Sometimes it would be off long enough to melt everything in the freezer, and sometimes it would go back on right away.

Moreover, even when it was on it was only kind of on. It might be enough to keep the refrigerator cool or might not be. Might be enough for the air conditioners to work. Might not be. Might give us bright reading light, might force us into romantic candlelit atmosphere. Made things exciting, but hard to plan for.

I also discovered that when it gets really hot, youre pecker isnt the only part of your body which stops working. I found that the other organ which I think with also slowed down so much as to be nearly useless. I remember sitting on a sofa for hours at a time chanting, "What am I doing here? What am I doing her?", and not being able to remember the answer until the power went back on, the small room air conditioner started up again.

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Mistake #6--In a Country of Beach Resorts, Put Your Brothel Near the Beach

Not long before we received the cease and desist order from the "Officina de Patrimonia", I decided to make one last push to try to get customers. We had steadily been loosing girls, because without customers the girls werent making much money (actually they were making twice what most Dominicans earned, but it still was less than $200/month).

After we received the cease and desist order from the "Oficina de Patrimonia", we decided to make one last shot, to use the money that our landlord would refund us from the deposit to move the whole kit and caboodle to the beach resort, Boca Chica, where there were plenty of European tourists and no homes in which Salome Urena had once lived.

So I started hanging out in Boca Chica, and I learned a few things:

First, that I could have bought a small guest house if not a small hotel, instead of blowing the money renting and improving a building in which I was not permitted to have a business;

Second that the temperature was 5 or 10 degrees cooler in Boca Chica and there was a much better breeze; third, that there was no competition to speak of in Boca Chica, other than some "independents" (girls who worked the beach or the discos but werent actually employees of any particular establishment);

Third that they would have been happy to pay me to live at my place, because they were always overcharged by the local landlords, and thus I could start with much of the ongoing expense paid for;

Fourth that our landlord had absolutely no intention of refunding any of the deposit. After all, what was I gonna do? Sue her?

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Mistake # 7--How Can They Sidle Up to the Bar, When Theres No Bar?

Im not a drinker. I have many vices--I smoke cigars, I like loose women, I lie a lot (but heaven knows, everything in the book is the absolute truth! Really! Well, some of it is based loosely on my perception of the truth, except occasionally when its an outright fabrication), and Ive been known to be slothful. But Im not a drinker.

One of those things is a bar. I had never understood the point of a bar. Why would someone want to sit on an uncomfortable bar-stool in a position where he or she cant easily look at the person he or she is talking to, unless that person is the bartender. Later I realized that this is precisely the point. A bar is a transitional device for someone who is not ready to make a commitment. By sitting in an uncomfortable position, the customer can easily decide to leave without causing a big commotion. Or, once comfortable and in the swing of things, he can go sit at one of the tables or on one of the sofas. By not facing the people with whom he is talking, he isnt taking the risk of actually engaging in any kind of a relationship. Its only a faceless person sitting next to him at the bar. He is not alone with her at a table. In other words, he can come and spend some money without having to first make a major commitment to the establishment or a particular person from which he may later feel inclined to withdraw uncomfortably.

At LEcole, we never had a bar, and thus we would often see men come up the stairs, look in, and leave. There was no bar, and on top of that the damn place looked like a womans home, and he didnt understand what the hell it was. This was a problem.

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Mistake #8--The Work Ethic of Independent Contractors Varies Inversely to the Amount You Pay Them In Advance

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Mistake #9--Dont Stop Taking Your Prosac During a Crisis

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Mistake # 10--In Some Businesses Its O.K. To Screw the Customer

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Mistake # 12--Product Testing is Essential

This is a dicey one, because it directly contradicts (Dont handle the Merchandise).

Lets say you go to buy a piece of fruit--a peach, perhaps. It looks beautiful on the outside. It feels perfectly ripe. The smell is divine. You have to have it. You pay a premium for it. Finally, you bite into it. And its mealy and inedible.

There are many working girls who make peculiar restrictions. In my career as a "john", I have witnessed many such restrictions, including the following:

You cant touch her breasts.
She has to keep on some particular piece of clothing (socks, bra, T-shirt, entire ski-outfit, etc.)
You cant kiss on the lips.
TV must always be on.
5 Minutes and thats it.
Only the missionary position.
Only from behind.
No cunnilingus.
No felatio.
You can touch her with only that one part of your body.
No sex.

If you own a produce store you can try a fruit or two from each batch and youll have a pretty good idea of how the rest of the fruit is. But what if you have a rule that you cant eat the fruit?

Well, there are several courses of action. If you are a fruit lover, you can discard the silly no-fruit-eating rule. If youre going broke anyway, this is probably the best course of action, and Im still kicking myself that I didnt eat more fruit, so to speak. You could find a taster. Maybe give him free fruit in exchange for letting you know how it is. But if the fruit has to be paid $50 dollars a night, this could get expensive.

The fact is, though, that it must be done, particularly when you are starting out, because you need to develop a reputation for having the best fruit in town, and this can be pretty difficult if it turns out that your fruit is mealy and you didnt even know it.

OK, let me be a little more concrete. We had a girl named Ilsa (not to be confused with Ailsa, the maids daughter, who was a real pro and pretty darn sexy to boot). Ilsa was young, very pretty, bright, spoke some English, and wanted very much to be a prostitute. She was itching for the chance, and as weeks went by and we had no customers, she grew more and more impatient.

Finally we had a customer--more than a customer, a man interested in helping us market the vacations in Miami. He seemed to be a nice, sweet man, as are many customers of brothels. And he was immediately attracted to Ilsa. He chose her, paid us, and left with her for his hotel.

What happened next is hard to know for sure. But it went something like this: They got to the hotel. They had dinner. The went to the room. She didnt want to undress. She didnt want to sleep with him. She didnt want him to touch her. After hours of talking, she finally agreed to him have his way with her. However, his way was not to include touching her. He could enter her, but that was the only part of his body that was to touch.

Not only did we have to give him is money back (well, we didnt have to, but we did), but it kind of hurt our marketing plans for Miami as well. On top of this, Ilsa had a boyfriend who hadnt known what she was doing. He knew where she worked, but he thought it was just a cigar club. After this experience, she told him about it. He was upset and threatened to kill Magalys, whom he was certain had lured Ilsa into the life.


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This page has been updated on the 2018-09-27.