Interracial adult personals
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Another key player, particularly in the organisational structure of the elite brothels and to a lesser extent in the “pleasure flats” is the “madam” who is responsible for the day to day management of the workers within the brothel. The madam functions as the onsite mother figure, psychologist, conflict resolution expert, and organises work schedules. The importance of her role is well recognised by organised crime and the madam is highly compensated for her work.
Another key position in elite brothels is that of the bartender. The bartender mixes drinks, collects payment at a highly inflated rate in comparison with charges outside the brothel, and fulfils an accounting function by maintaining a record of the amount of alcohol consumed by each sex worker’s clients since she will receive supplemental payment for every drink her clients consume and for non‐alcoholic drinks the client purchases for her. In some cases the functions of taxi driver and bar tender may be performed by the same individual at different times.
Within the elite brothels there often is a security guard who combines the functions of a butler and bouncer, controlling the entry and exit of clients to and from the house. A central position is the sex worker herself who functions as a conversational or drinking companion and/or sex partner, depending on the wishes of the client. It is clear that a non‐negligible proportion of the clients purchase the company of young women without engaging in sex. Several interviewees estimated that 50% of the visitors to the elite houses are looking only to purchase companionship without the sex. Costs are the same.
Entry into organised sex work is usually self initiated in response to employment advertisements or word of mouth from friends who are already employed within the industry. Within the elite brothels there is a well defined probationary period. Potential cohorts of five to six sex workers spend 1–7 days being observed for the possibility of drug use and undergo HIV and STD tests before they can begin providing sex services. A 3 month trial period in Tallinn is followed by a 2 month rotation in Helsinki. After that time, the probationary cohort is separated in order to minimise any interpersonal conflicts that develop among the members of the cohort after being in such close proximity to one another for 5 months. At that point, they have the option of returning to a Tallinn brothel or may select a location abroad in Finland, Norway, or Sweden. Income potential is reportedly greater in the foreign locations and the sex workers maintain the privilege of choosing where they work throughout their career. Some reported that they rotate back and forth at will between countries as they wish. Drug, HIV, and STD testing is reportedly repeated intermittently in the elite brothels and condom use is encouraged by the management.
The legal owner of the elite brothel is typically registered as owning a legal business such as a hostel, dance club, striptease bar, or massage parlour. For example, one consortium includes 14 elite brothels that are owned by six individuals who jointly set policy, prices, and rules in common for the operation of these brothels. While they are the legal owners, they answer to higher echelons of organised crime. Recently, a concerted effort at brothel closure by the police reduced this cartel’s brothels from 21 to the current 14.
The positions described above are highly differentiated and their roles highly scripted. Such specificity characterises the operation of the elite brothels. In smaller establishments such as “pleasure flats,” the same functions are served; but the extent to which positions and roles are differentiated depends on the size of the establishment and the economic resources. In the smallest and cheapest establishments, all of the above functions may be served by one or two people. The existence of freelancers who work on their own and perform all of the above functions themselves has been mentioned. However, it appears that survival as a freelancer is difficult and time limited in the face of severe and organised competition.
Last, but not least, is the central importance of the client, who provides the financial foundation on which the entire system relies. Approximately half of the male clients are from Finland—only 3 hours away by ferry, and another 25% come from other Scandinavian countries. Recently the proportion of clients from England has increased as a result of the entry into the industry by travel companies that arrange “stag parties” to Tallinn for British men. Clients may also be from Russia, Italy, Spain, Japan, or other international origins. It is estimated that only 12% of Estonian men, in contrast with 50% of Italian men, have visited a sex worker in their life times (I Pettai, personal communication, 23 May 2005). The same informant estimated that only 2–3% of Estonian men purchase sex services regularly. Estonia is an attractive destination for international clients because both alcohol and sex are cheaper than in surrounding countries. For example, in Norway the cost for sex services and for alcohol is reported to be four to five times higher than in Estonia. Interestingly, Tallinn also provides counterfeit Viagra for clients of sex workers as they disembark from the ferry at the port. It is said that children from orphanages are used to sell this fake Viagra, as well as mislabelled cigarettes, and other supplies to unsuspecting purchasers entering Tallinn.