This Brazilian Owns a Whorehouse, But He Won’t Be Called a Pimp

    The Bahamas polemic billboard Not that I wish to defend those who exploit prostitution. But it’s not easy to understand the fury with which Brazilian authorities are committed to convict Oscar Maroni, one among the thousands of explorers of that craft in São Paulo.

    This time, it was the Sepex-SP (Outdoor Advertising Union) that notified the three companies distributing the billboards that the Bahamas Hotel Club paid to be displayed in some São Paulo highways, such as Imigrantes, Castelo Branco and Bandeirantes.

    The displays started to be shown in recent weeks by the nightclub located in Moema, a neighborhood in southern São Paulo, known for being frequented by call girls. The place was closed in 2007 due to irregularities, but reopened last September after adding the word “Hotel” to the name.

    Sepex’s Executive Director, José Roberto Focaccia, says that the displays began to be withdrawn last Tuesday and that this is a shameful matter, since his group does not advocate nor does it in any way condone prostitution.

    “You can’t say that the billboard is illegal, but it’s an offense against morality and decency. That’s not how we would like consumers to see our advertising. The union, which represents outdoor media companies, has done several campaigns against crack, and in favor of blood donation, and good deeds to benefit the public. That’s the way we wish to be remembered,” stresses Focaccia.

    Advertising companies use women to sell from beer to cars, and suddenly the union of the class gets its panties in a bunch because some ads are selling…women.

    The ad copy reads “Bahamas Club Hotel – Where your fantasies become reality” and shows a tanned woman, in a sexy pair of shorts and high heels, She’s crouching in front of a man in cleats with his  shorts down. The billboard also shows a photo of Oscar Maroni, who faces charges in the justice on suspicion of encouraging prostitution. He is identified as “owner”.

    As if women weren’t merchandise in our little capitalist world. Judging by the reaction of the union, it would seem that prostitutes do not exist in this country.

    On October 2011, judge Cristina Ribeiro Leite sentenced Oscar Maroni, the self-styled “Entrepreneur of Eroticism,” to 11 years and eight months in jail. No doubt he is a businessman. His nightclub, next to the Congonhas airport, which was open until 2007, was visited by call girls and customers of high purchasing power.

    The Bahamas used to offer what dozens of nightclubs continue to offer in São Paulo: striptease shows, coed sauna, executive restaurant with varied menu and also featured 23 luxury suites for intimate encounters. When the Formula 1 circus came to town, the club used to play important social function.

    It used to receive in average about 400 guests, among them the crew of famous teams of Formula 1, offering erotic shows with call girls who used themes based on the race-car event. Now that the World Cup is coming our way, they want to steal from athletes, tourists and authorities the good side of life.

    Maroni has been arrested by order of then São Paulo mayor Gilberto Kassab, for having built a 11-story hotel on the corner of Chanés Street and Anapurus Boulevard, 600 meters from one of the runway’s endpoints at the Congonhas airport, by the side of the Bahamas Club.

    After the accident with TAM airlines flight 3054, the mayor canceled the planning and construction license of the hotel. It turns out that the TAM accident had nothing to do with the height of the building. The plane smashed into a gas station. The case is still dragging today in the courts.

    Judge Cristina Ribeiro Leite used vast erudition to deliver her sentence, calling on experts in the field. Among them, the celebrity-prostitute Bruna Surfistinha (the Little Surfist), who in her book O Doce Veneno do Escorpião (The Scorpion’s Sweet Poison) so describes the Bahamas, where she has never worked: “Tasteful, fashionable even. From the outside, you’ve got no idea what’s inside. The girls I saw there didn’t have anything unusual, they had no whore seal stamped on their forehead. And they weren’t on the door offering themselves to passersby.”.

    “If the Bahamas is not a whorehouse, what would be a whorehouse?”, argued the judge several times throughout the sentence. Of course it’s a whorehouse and Maroni does not deny that. He simply doesn’t accept to be called a pimp.

    “I’m just a businessman who is being persecuted for working in the field of male entertainment. The Bahamas never got a single penny from what the girls earned as prostitutes”.

    According to him, the site was open to men and women who were looking for adult entertainment. “If someone wanted to go to bed, this was agreed privately with their clients. The house had no participation in it “.

    Well, São Paulo has thousands of such clubs, some of high luxury, others less expensive and even many low class, which keep selling sex to whoever wishes to pay for sex. Similar to the Bahamas, there was until recently the Café Photo, with sumptuous interiors. After closing for a few years, it’s back in business in the upscale neighborhood of Vila Nova Conceição.

    It had been closed in 2010, not due to prostitution, but for lack of a business license. With the ban, the girls simply migrated to another nighclub, the Garden. And everything remains the same. The owner is waiting City Hall’s green light so the nightclub can be back in business.

    If Dr. Cristina intends to send to jail whoever has a whorehouse in Sao Paulo, more jails would have to be built. The question that arises is: why Maroni? He is charged with exploiting prostitution, which is a crime in our Criminal Code. But this is something hard to prove.

    First of all, no one saw the girls handing money to the owner of the Bahamas. Second, no professional will denounce someone who offers them a working environment, comfort and protection. Third, Maroni can do without any collaboration of the girls.

    Maroni was charging US$ 35 per hour spent in one of the 23 suites of his love hotel. According to the judge, each room would bring 24 times US$ 35 or an amount “worthy of the Ritz in Paris, for a room with lots of mirrors and no cabinets! Certainly, without the beautiful call girls there would be no wasteful clients willing to pay this price.”

    The judge seems to have discovered America. Of course there would not be wasteful clients without the beautiful girls. As far as being wasteful, this is neither a crime nor a sin. The spendthrift is not someone who wishes to be one, but someone who can be one. Apparently, the doctor would prefer a dirty and cheap dump, within reach of the non-wasteful ones.

    With this take, there is no need to extort the girls. Not to mention the minimum consumption, beverages and food. On the other hand, her honor lacked consultancy. Had she asked the surfer girl, maybe she would have understood why there are no closets in a motel. Brothel is a workplace, not a residence.

    Prostitution, particularly the luxurious one, requires management. Someone has to provide the location, the facilities and even the safety of the girls. You wouldn’t think a luxury professional would be picking up customers on the sidewalks.

    Incidentally, these poor girls who prostitute themselved on the streets would have a better life if they could find a manager. Forced to fend for themselves, they have to give much of their meager earnings to their pimps.

    By the way, the only crime of the “entrepreneur of eroticism” is to succeed in his business. Among the thousands of motels that advertise their services on the highways, only the one from Maroni is provoking outrage.

    Janer Cristaldo – he holds a Ph.D. from University of Paris, Sorbonne – is an author, translator, lawyer, philosopher and journalist and lives in São Paulo. His e-mail address is janercr@terra.com.br.

    Translated from the Portuguese by Arlindo Silva.

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