While it might not have been the stupidest ever idea for a tramp stamp, it was certainly in the running.
My buddy Tom had introduced me to the leggy, bikini-clad hostess of the New Fantasy massage parlor in San Jose, Costa Rica about five minutes previously, and she was currently giving us a complimentary tour of the facilities. She had spent most of this time performing the spellbinding trick of walking backwards on four-inch stiletto heels while pointing out highlights such as the sauna and steam rooms, and after one near-miss with a working mamacita elsewhere earlier in the evening, it didn’t take much to get my mojo risin’.
My desire was soon cruelly crushed – not once, but twice.
“Hokay,” she drawled seductively in heavily accented broken English as she approached the middle of a long hallway. ”Here the private rooms.”
As she turned to open the door of an unoccupied chamber, I saw that she had four letters brazenly tattooed on her tailbone…L…U…I…S. Whatever fucked-up logic that led her to the conclusion her johns would want to know her boyfriend – or even worse, her father – held such a special place on her anatomy was beyond my comprehension.
I was shaken back into reality as she concluded her schpiel.
“So, papi…One girl, one hour, one sex – fifty dollars. Two girls, one hour, one sex – Seventy-five dollars,” she explained. “ju want sex ‘oral,’ or anal…is extra. Sex no condom…is extra.”
A pregnant pause, so to speak, followed. I recall saying “thank you” but I covered the distance from the hostess to the door so quickly I can’t be certain. What kind of suicidal sad sack would even think of having unprotected butt sex with these girls?! Answer: Some moron named Luis, that’s who.
Anyway, the Cuba Libre down the street was next on the list, and Tom – once he had caught up with me – had promised me great things from this hotel/brothel combo, although the several “No Guns Allowed” signs upon its heavily barred front windows gave me pause.
“It’s American-owned and operated,” he said in a calming, yet patriotic voice, and fairly licked his lips as he continued. “I was in there yesterday, and the owner had this great contest on. There’s a house band, and one of the girls was giving the guitarist a blowjob on stage while he played ‘Sweet Home, Alabama.’ Every guy in the place had a different guess as to how long the guitarist could play without missing a note. The winner got a half-hour upstairs with the girl of his choice. I guessed 30 seconds. The fuckin’ guy played over 2 minutes before he cracked – it was epic!
“The owner Mike does some shit like that every night. I think tonight’s the lottery. You’ll love it!”
And he was right. For starters, it was my kind of dive. A long, L-shaped bar to the left was mirrored by an even longer L-shaped banquette to the right. The bar seemed to be populated with a cast of male misfits straight out Bukowski’s ‘Barfly,’ and girls of all shapes and sizes lounged lazily on the banquette, every so often raising their heads and eyes with the absolute minimum amount of effort to consider a new arrival. One cutie had been assigned to pass out lottery tickets, and Tom and I each grabbed one. Behind the bar, there were risqué promotional signs, each with four-person-wide photo portraits of the house talent:
‘Spinner Patrol: Guess the combined weight of the girls and get a free ride’
‘Leggs and Eggs Special: Take a girl upstairs before 11 and when you come down, breakfast is on us!’
Whilst reading the above placards, I overheard two voices at the bar talking in Russian (my second language). Boris and Boris – their names as I soon found out – were the kids of Soviet émigrés living in Brighton Beach, a proud pocket of Brooklyn where the geriatric bartenders close out the bars at 4am by belting rousing renditions of the Soviet national anthem. The Borises were easily the youngest guys in the Cuba Libre, and were also staying in an upstairs room. Not trusting in their ability to score drugs in-country, they had brought down a veritable pharmacy that would’ve made Hunter S. Thompson blush. Each of them was trying to sleep with more women in the week than the other one – which helped explain the pharmacy – and also why Tom and they got on like a house afire right after I engaged them in friendly banter.
Now that he had an audience of three, Tom’s spoken guidelines took on a more collegiate, professorial nature – with a liberal dose of profanity, that is.
“At these kinds of places, it’s all down to how much time you look at the girls,” he intoned. “Anything under five seconds, you’re just checkin’ ‘em out. Even if your fuckin’ ‘em with your eyes, it don’t mean nothin’. Five to ten seconds, it means you’re giving some thought to a transaction, and you’ve probably got the girl’s attention…because if you make eye contact with one of these broads for over ten seconds, BOOM…she’s coming over. So it’s best to stick to under 5 seconds unless you’re really shopping. You don’t want to be one of those five-to-ten second crying-wolf-douchebags.
“The other thing is – don’t try to be clever – that shit don’t translate. I was out with a friend recently at the Beaver Lodge, who was tired of the same “where are you from/what do you do” line of questioning that the girls always ask right away. He told the hottest girl in the joint that he was actually a sea turtle and it had taken him ten years to crawl from the Atlantic Ocean to San Jose just so he could have the pleasure of answering her questions. To say she didn’t understand would be an understatement – it was like that response triggered a “does not compute” moment in her central core. Her face went slack and I’m surprised I didn’t hear a whizz-bang followed by acrid smoke pouring out of her ears. In the next sip of a drink she was twenty feet away in a protective gaggle of like-minded Latinas, doubtless telling her friends to avoid the deranged gringo who thought he was a Tortuga, heh heh.”
I’m glad that Tom hadn’t thrown me under the bus by revealing that his gringo Tortuga friend was none other than myself, and the incident in question was the aforementioned near-miss.
No sooner had Tom finished when the owner’s mic’ed voice came from the stage.
“Gentlemen, welcome to lottery night at Cuba Libre. One of you lucky fellows will be getting the girl of your choice and a room for a half-hour… and if you are one of our hotel guests, you get the girl for a whole hour,” Mike said with a knowing grin.
By the looks on their faces, Boris I and Boris II clearly very much liked the home field advantages.
“OK, boys, take out your tickets, because in just a few seconds someone will be getting lucky – double meaning intended…”
At that moment, a kind of bulletproof destiny engulfed me: I was going to be that lucky guy. While my mates were perched on the edges of their seats with raised hopes and eyebrows directed towards the stage, my own gaze lingered on a maroon-skinned young beauty across the room who was a cross between Jessica Alba and an Anaconda-era Jennifer Lopez. After five seconds, she noticed me noticing her, and with each passing second of eye contact the sultry smile on her face grew wider, until exactly at the ten-second mark the voice of the owner bellowed forth…
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, the winner IS…..”