The Brazilian Prostitution Gauntlet
There was a little café on the corner block of our hostel. It was tacky: plastic chairs, plastic tables, plastic gazebo window sheets and plastic advertising boards. Hell, I bet they even served up the stodgy ‘food’ with plastic cutlery. Wipe clean for convenience. It was a surprise even to us five Scots then when we found ourselves seated at their array of outdoor garden furniture, indoors, sipping on some cold ones and shooting the breeze.
A bald man from a neighbouring table kept glancing over. He was also foreigner at first sight. A true gringo. Unlike most tourists we’d met along our travels however, he was clearly apt at conversing with the locals. Sat opposite was a pretty little Brazilian girl who couldn’t have yet matured beyond her teenage years. It was surprising therefore that he was clearly and shamelessly more interesting in eavesdropping on our uncensored drivel, chuckling away and paying minimal attention to his date. She sat there stolidly, pushing a straw around her glass, head towards the picnic-blanket table so any possibility of eye-contact could be avoided.
“Are you guys from New Zealand?” he called over in a strong American West Coast accent. We glanced at each other perplexed, Screen and Skills both sporting Scottish rugby jerseys and talking about the potential marketing opportunity for importing Irn-Bru. We put this error of judgement down to the Canterbury logo’s sewn on the right chest; this design being strongly identifiable with its Kiwi origin.
“Scotland bro, you American I presume?”
“Ahh, my bad guys! Yeah straight from Cali. Down here to enjoy the beautiful woman and the beautiful weather.”
Ryan was a handsome 30-something, a real extrovert with a rugged Jason Statham look about him, a computer programmer who could remotely work so decided to split his time 20%:80% between Rio and his home-town of LA. Over the past 6 years of hopping back and forth he’d become fluent in both Portuguese and in the customs of the city. If it weren’t for his pale complexion one would have been none the wiser of his real origins.
“You lads hit up the whorehouses yet?” changing the conversation in a blasé manner and almost shocked at our lack of response. “Aww you’re missing our boys! 300 Real will see you through the weekend no bother. And they’re classy. Not the dregs and red lights you’ll find in Amsterdam. It’s done proper here!” We peered over at his date, slurping on the remains of her smoothie and shifting uncomfortably in her camping chair. Whether it was the topic of conversation or the numbing of the plastic was hard to tell.
“Don’t mind her troops”, Ryan laughed, “Doesn’t speak a word of English! She’s actually one of those girls herself”. The penny suddenly dropped. The uncomfortable silence; the lack of eye contact; Ryan was treating a prostitute to dinner!
“Classy, you see? Twice a year I get my mates to fly down to Rio for the week and crash at the apartment. I make them run the Gauntlet for their troubles. You boys fancy giving it a shot?” The gauntlet, as Ryan had so aptly named it, was his idea of the ultimate night out in Rio. A harlotry pub crawl if you will. His pals would hit up 5 or 6 bars and an equal number of brothels, the last man standing being the one who……..well you get the picture!
Originally thinking this was an elaborate joke we played along, until it became clear that Ryan was being completely serious. He was taking his date to the cinema after dinner and then wanted us to join him on a night of debauchery never to be forgotten. His enthusiasm and passion were winning us over; unsure at first we were warming to this prospect. Unfortunately however (or perhaps fortunately), we didn’t even have 300 Real between the five of us. Skills was pumped and suggested that he could get some money wired from home and we could pay him back. This was met by a sharp prod from Endy under the table, evidently entertained by the American but not willing to accept his proposal.
“Come on guys, it’s completely safe. They are all checked weekly and you don’t just get a lay for your money. Don’t think of them as brothels, more like miniature Playboy Mansions. You get a robe and slippers, can watch movies, and sip champagne, all whilst a host of beautiful Latinas pleasure you to your heart’s and part’s content. I have to head now or we’ll miss the start of the picture. Take my e-mail and drop me a line when you get internet access.”
He handed over a plain white business card with his information, gave a salute, and then left arm-in-arm with his date as we struggled to contain our smiles. Embossed along the top was his full name: “Ryan Cosling”. Replace one letter of a Hollywood A-lister and what do you get? A comedic computer whiz with a Cheshire cat grin, an addictive personality only succeeded by his addiction to ladies of the night. We e-mailed him straight away of course. How could one not?
6 months later we are still waiting a response. Perhaps the favela underworld has finally sucked Ryan in for good; or perhaps his ‘pay to cum’ philosophy has finally drained the South American piggy bank… I like to envision that he is still living the high life in Rio however, coding by day and running a pimp ring by night. Perhaps I should hang out in run-down eateries more often.