*How women of easy virtue run the flesh business
BY TONY OGAGA & IKENNA OKAFOR
It is the oldest profession in the world so says the Holy Book. In Nigeria, ashewo, akwuna, karuwa, opio and ayambga are just a number of sobriquets for workers in the flesh business. All over the world, night and day, their services are readily available and the metropolitan city of Lagos is not left out. Saturday Sun hit the streets recently on the trail of these women and below are our findings.
Almost four decades after it was demolished by ‘Unknown Soldiers,’ the now defunct Kalakuta Republic aka Empire remains a haven for prostitution. Located in the Mosalashi area of Lagos, it could be described as a ‘prostitute’s connoisseur’s playground.’ As the reporters drove in through Funso Williams Avenue (Old Western Avenue) to connect Oguntokun Street, they met a bubbling environment at 1.30pm under the blazing sun!
Indeed, Empire, despite its small size has over 15 brothels. From White House to Number 6, Number 17, Cool Corner and Ludo, it was business as usual. Prices fluctuate according to the time of the day and the ‘economic situation’ of the Ashana. As we stepped into a bar, a beautiful and well-endowed lady beckoned at one of the reporters who immediately replied with a wink and chuckle to reveal his non-JJC status.
As we sat to deliberate on the strategy to employ, two other ladies, Shandy and Rose, took seats next to us and asked for bottles of beer. We obliged and the conversations began.
“You must be happy to be in this profession” one of the reporters asked. “Yes I am but the situation is quite tough now,” she replied. She was wearing a short dress with a plunging neckline which revealed every curve of her voluptuous figure.
“You are beautiful and I wish you will get a man to marry you,” the reporter added.
“Not now,” she responded, a desperate note in her voice.
Like the popular pidgin saying goes, time na money. The ashana before us was not ready for banter as she wanted to get down to action at once.
Her eyes darted around sizing up everything in trousers as she told the reporter to come to her room and the reporter obliged. As soon as they hit her room the following conversation ensued.
“How much is your ST (short time),” the reporter asked.
“N2000 and that’s the final price. I cannot do ST for less than that. Besides this is afternoon and I don’t know how tonight will be like. What if I don’t get up to two or three customers? I am already planning for December; I want to travel to my village.”
“Really? Where is your village?
“I am Igede in Benue State,” she replied as she picked up an item from under her bed. She brought out a condom and asked if she should do the insertion.
“No, not yet,” the reporter replied.
Oga abeg you dey waste my time, she blurted out impatiently. Abi you never do am before? She quickly un-zipped her skimpy jeans skirt to reveal a G string as she kicked-off her slippers.
Ok I go pay N1500 for the ST, the reporter pleaded. “Oya, bring am since you don enter my room already.”
Saturday Sun checks revealed that prostitutes are willing to accept between N1000 and N1500 for ST if you’ll meet them in their rooms because they make more money when customers come to their rooms rather than booking a hotel room. In most parts of Lagos, an hour costs between N700 and N2500. The brothels or hotels with air-conditioners cost more.
In Ojuelegba, Surulere, you may not need to walk around for long before you discover 24hoursservice brothel. Though the heady days of Ayilara Street being a prostitutes’ den are gone, there are still at least three or more bubbling brothels. Likewise Aguda and Orile also boast of similar hang outs where men dash to for quickies.
The prostitutes usually dress in skimpy, provocative clothing, regardless of the weather. Prostitutes pay between N3000 and N12000-a week for a room as rent and that puts pressure on them to work extra hard to eke out a living. Imade, in a popular guest house in Ayilara told these reporters that three STs in a day and maybe, eight in a week will help to sort out her bills but the market is quite competitive now.
“I used to make up to N6000 or more daily from ST’s and TDB’s but 2016 is really tough. It wasn’t like this last,” Imade revealed.
Asked if the change in government has affected her job and standard of living, she stated that politics has nothing to do with the trend.
‘If a man is horney and he has money, he will look for where to release it. That is why there are Osho-free people who will beg to have sex without paying or they might want to drop N500 for ST. Sometimes we collect just to make ends meet but some others will deny this fact. Well I collect sometimes because the next minute mugu fit come pay N5000 for ST. That’s the nature of the business.”
However, commenting, another prostitute, Nkechi said: “Things are really bad now. During Jonathan administration we enjoyed a lot. Ever since Buhari came to power, everybody has been broke and patronage has dropped drastically. My brother my bill for ST is N2000 but how much can you offer me? Let us go to my room and talk.”
Remember Kuramo Beach? A couple of years ago it was notorious for prostitution and peddling of hard drugs. Consequently it was sealed thus displacing thousands and majority of the prostitutes relocated to Second Gate, Lekki Expressway. Welcome to the new Kuramo Beach aka Small Kuramo.
As early as 7pm the area is pulsating with loud music and business is thriving. Here pimps call the shots and take a huge percentage of income accruing to prostitutes and to the shock of a first timer, the ‘ashanas’ could be girls barely in their early teens. The air is thick with the smell of marijuana and Wizkid’s Carol is blaring away on a speaker overhead. As we make our way through endless rows of bars and matchbox dwellings with skimpily dressed ladies, a couple of guys were playing snooker in a corner while others strolled by dazed by excessive use of Indian hemp and alcohol.
Blessing was one of the displaced prostitutes from Kuramo Beach. A pretty lady with big body parts, she winked at us as we approached smiling broadly.
“Aboy, how na. Come browse my tin na,” she said grinning from ear to ear and smelling of cheap perfume.
“How much for ST?” the reporter enquired.
“Why na?” Na gold de there,” the reporter asked feigning shock. “Na how much last?”
“I wan f*ck you and your friend. Una money na N4k last but una go pay for room oh.”
Eventually we settle for N3000 but we decide to take a drink and she happily joins us. After two bottles of Odeku, Blessing is ready and roaring to go. “Aboy, make we go enjoy yourself na,” she says looking lustfully at us.
Indeed, Kuramo beach is a prostitute’s connoisseur’s paradise. During the peak periods, Blessing reveals that ST might go for as much as N3000 while TDB goes for as much as N7, 000. When ‘market is dull,’ Blessing says short time might go for as low as N 1,000, even less sometimes, depending on the customer’s bargaining power.
A drive through Opebi, the epicentre of hustling any day of the week at night reveals a sea of female flesh especially at Peckers, an open air night club. As early as 8pm, Opebi Roundabout is overflowing with prostitutes in different shapes and sizes provocatively dressed. Here a lot of the girls are under graduates in universities.
“I am a student of LASU,” says light complexioned Grace dressed in a pair of bum shots, a sleeveless top and high heels. “I am not like all these other cheap girls you see around here. How could you offer me N3000 for TDB?” she says in a fit of anger waving her ID card. “If you want me give me my due!”
After calming her nerves over a couple of drinks, Grace reveals that a lot of UNILAG and LASU students hustle at Peckers and most of the clubs around Ikeja.
“I am young and my body is very flexible. I can handle like eight men on ST a night. The best part is when you get TDB which goes for between N7000 and N15, 000. But sometimes business could be bad especially during Ramadan. I use the money I make to fund my education and I also cater for my family in the East. I send them something every month.”
Are her folks aware of what she does for a living? “Never! If my parents knew they would disown me.”
I want to quit but – Edith, Italian returnee
Forty-five year-old Edith is a veteran in the flesh business but she is willing to throw in the towel and do something ‘meaningful’ to make ends meet. Saturday Sun caught up with her at home in Surulere, Lagos, and she opened up on the good, the bad and ugly sides of the job.
Is the business growing?
There are more people in it now compared to five years ago. There are so many young girls in it now. You can imagine a 20-year-old girl who has three ST at 3k each. It means she would make 9k within six hours.
So you went into it because of quick money?
Yeah, I must confess. I had a lot of problems as a single mother with two children. I had a misunderstanding with my husband and we fell apart. My second child was three years old when the marriage failed. In 1997 I left Nigeria for France. I had a madam but I never knew I was going into prostitution. I wanted the survival of my children. After a while I left France for Italy. I made a lot of money but my uncle failed to remit it into my Nigerian account. I worked hard over there but came back to nothing.
You must have slept with so many men to have made a huge amount of money?
No, you know it is foreign currency. I can’t remember the number of men I slept with but in a day, may be one or two but I made a lot of money even though they paid directly to the Madam.
How long did you live in Europe and what is your biggest regret?
My stay in France and Italy was for four years. I was deported but I had no regrets because I made money and I didn’t test positive to HIV. Today, I understand basic Italian but I also understand and speak French. When I returned to Benin because I am from Edo State, I felt so bad but when I set my eyes on my children, I was happy because they made me forget all the pains. Now, my daughter is 25 while my son is 22. My daughter will soon get married.
Do they know that you are in this kind of business?
No, they don’t. It is a secret that I will take to my grave. I have been in Lagos since 2002 and I send money to them in Benin.
One wonders if you still attract any attention at this age and how much would any young man be willing to pay for your service?
In the night you can hardly know who is beautiful or ugly because we spend a lot on makeup. I am 45 years-old now and some men still find me attractive and sometimes, young boys do approach me. Maybe, they are already high and just need a sharp sharp thing. TDB is usually from N5000 upward while ST is N3000 or less.
But you said you would like to quit this business?
I want to quit but if I quit, how do I pay my house rent and other bills? I make at least N5000 a day. I go to clinic at least once a week as I also do check-up. The business is favourable to the younger ladies because they are hot cake. Men always prefer the younger ones and it is tougher now. Police is the bane of the job. Besides, the business has been tough since the beginning of the year and patronage has dropped.
There are allegations that Juju plays important role in the business?
Some use it to attract customers. I don’t and I have never tried it. What I know is that ladies prefer married men because they are humble and pay promptly.
Do you experience depression because of your job?
I do. I drink alcohol and I also smoke. Anytime I am depressed and lonely I do all these. I prefer mature men. They like to advise prostitutes. I am fed up and I really need help, I want to quit.
Confessions of a runs babe
It is a cold Saturday evening and I am sited at a popular joint in Ikeja, Lagos, and waiting for my date for the evening. We met on facebook, chatted and exchanged numbers and now I was finally going to meet her face to face. What attracted me to Sandra (real name withheld) were her provocative pictures on facebook and her posts which suggested that she was a runs babe.
At exactly 6:30pm the door swung wide open and in strolled Sandra clutching a designer bag and looking like she just stepped off the Red Carpet of a Hollywood premiere. But don’t get carried away. Beneath the veneer is lurking a hardened runs babe who has seen it all and done it all. After a couple of drinks, Sandra was at home and was chattering like a cockatoo divulging how she entraps men on facebook and her escapades.
Once upon a time
Twenty-eight year-old Sandra, an indigene of Rivers State from a broken home reveals that until 10 years ago she was a good girl who went to church regularly and dreamed of the day she would meet the man of her dreams. But all that came crashing like a pack of dominoes after her mum’s boyfriend raped her and threatened that if she ever spoke up he would kill her.
“I was devastated. I couldn’t tell my mum and the abuse was getting worse and so one night I ran away from home.”
That journey brought her to Lagos in 2006 where she squatted at Kuramo Beach and was introduced to prostitution and also worked part time as a dancer and a stripper. She later got pregnant and even though the father of her child, a fellow squatter and drug dealer ordered her to have an abortion, she went ahead and had her baby. However, soon after his first birthday in 2008, he was kidnapped by a fellow prostitute and to this day she is yet to set eyes on her son whom she named Gallas.
“After Kuramo Beach was sealed I realised I had to up my game. I met a couple of friends who introduced me to a clique of girls and they let me know the advantage of using social media to hustle especially facebook. I have over 3000 followers. I get calls from lesbians and guys but I am straight.
“There was this manager of a popular joint in Lekki I befriended. He advised that if I wanted to hustle at his bar I had to be classy because most of their customers come there with their wives. I must not look trashy. I should come with a group of my friends say four or five and buy a bottle of Hennessey. He said that way only responsible men will be attracted to us.”
According to Sandra, dating a white guy is the best thing that could happen to a runs babe: “White guys are great because they pay well! There was this Jewish guy I hooked up with who spent so much money on me. He was staying at Eko Hotel and was about 68 years and all he loved was blow job. He pays $150 per session. He takes me out and spoils me with gifts. I went for him because of the money. We met at the pool side of Eko Hotel.
“Sometimes they want you to tie them up and flog them or the reverse could be the case and I charge extra for that. Sometimes they want you and your girls to do it with them. There was this retreat politicians had at a popular resort in Lagos. We were there for a whole week and it was fun and when we left we all went home with N200k each.”
Despite all the money she makes, Sandra is lonely and depressed and says she needs a man in her life: “Even if you are doing this thing you must have someone in your life that you look up to. I don’t have a boyfriend. I am not lucky when it comes to love. I have never had a stable relationship.”
Sandra adds: “I want to build my career. I believe the hustling should be secondary. I just finished studying at Allianz Francais. I have not been going out for a while because I am trying to focus on my career. Every church I go to they have been prophesying to me. I was complaining that lately all the men I have been sleeping with have not been giving me good money when a prophetess told me that God was punishing me for refusing to heed His call by concentrating on my career.”