Just this week, a friend of mine asked if I had ever paid for sex. Not in this lifetime. But I want to.
Most people sneer at prostitutes. Not me; they scare me. I think I was scarred as a ten year old. (No, I didn’t live in a brothel.)
The most popular brothel in Ibadan where I grew up was called ‘Asas Hotel’. For some strange reason it was located at the junction of my secondary school – a hub of at least eight schools actually.
One afternoon, a few friends and I jumped the school gate to go play Nintendo games at a video club across the road. As we passed by Asas, a middle-aged woman seated at the window of the second floor whistled at us.
All five of us stopped in our tracks, wondering what just happened. She whistled again. This time we looked up and she flashed a toothy grin.
But that wasn’t the only thing she flashed: in the blink of an eye, she raised the blouse she was wearing and flashed us a pair of fleshy, orange-coloured breasts. Then she beckoned for us to come through a side door. We glanced at each other and silently agreed to.
We slid in and madam bounced down the wooden stairs. I may have been the tallest but I was the youngest so my other friends went to sit close to her. She asked if we had any money and they surrendered the five N1- notes we had contributed to play Mortal Kombat 2. She rolled the money in one hand and whipped out a breast with the other.
As the bravest among us – who turned out to be the most unfortunate – reached out for a squeeze, she grabbed his hand, pulled him close and dealt the most savage slap I had ever seen to the boy. She didn’t let go; she kept punching and slapping him, at the same time cursing at all of us. ‘Una wan fuck abi, na your mama toto you go fuck. Bastard children’.
The ruckus woke the other residents of the brothel who soon joined in the beatdown. I ran out of the building but couldn’t escape the barman who doubled as pimp. They threatened to take us back to school and report to the principal.
After an hour of begging and receiving few more beatings, they let us go. In hindsight, I suspect that they knew they couldn’t waltz into a good old Anglican school where the principal was the revered Venerable G.B. Daramola.
As an adult though, that fear has evolved into fascination. I am fascinated by hookers and prostitution. Just this week, a friend of mine asked if I had ever paid for sex. Not in this lifetime.
But I want to; not for a few rounds though, I want to have a conversation with a prostitute. I want to find out how they got into the ‘business’.
Was it a vice? Was it sex slavery? The closest I got to finding out was asking a 15-year-old girl in Fagba, Lagos how long she had been doing ‘olosho’ work. Her reply was as caustic as it could get: Ogbeni s’o fe dobo ni abi ejo lo fe ro? Mi o raye oshi jare! (Mr. Man do you want to have sex or you just want to talk? I don’t have time for this rubbish).
However, Tinder has helped in unraveling the mystery: I no longer have to shuffle around Allen Avenue, knowing fully well that a random pricing of the ‘goods’ on display will attract exotic curses- which for the sake of my infant son, I am not ready to receive.
Tinder is an app for casual dating. It is designed such that with minimum fuss, you can see a profile you like and register – well, your like. If they like you back and swipe as well, then bingo! You have a match.
In other climes where it works ideally, you meet up, chat, have sex if the chemistry is right and that’s it.
Tinder is available in 190 countries across the world. Here in Nigeria, it’s been stripped down to its core and used as an app for outright prostitution.
The ubiquity of the Internet has made everything available on demand- every human need can be met by clicking on a button. There’s an app for food, clothing and shelter. Why not for sex?
The Nigerian prostitution industry is experiencing a liberalisation in its operations: why stand on the dark roads and wave at cars when you can upload half-naked photos on an app? Why negotiate with unserious customers when you can put ‘hookup only 30k’ under your profile on Tinder?
We investigated the rise of digital prostitution through the proliferation of Internet apps, particularly Tinder.
In the coming days, we’ll bring you a three-part story of sex in the city of Lagos and how, unlike in past years, it has become really easy to get laid – at drastically different price points.
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