Disappointed by the low number of customers who turned up in Rio de Janeiro’s red light district during the 2014 World Cup, prostitutes in the Olympic host city are offering athletes and visitors an “early bird” special ahead of the games.
A flier that has been circulating around Rio ahead of the August games shows threesomes going for as low as $25 and an hour with one girl costing a little more than $18.
Streetwalkers in the city’s notorious Vila Mimosa red light district, despite high hopes of big business, saw little action during the World Cup.
Many of the prostitutes blame the rise of escort services that deliver girls to a patron’s hotel, and Vila Mimosa’s reputation for criminal activity as the reason that customers stayed away.
“We were all expecting so much from the World Cup, because everyone told us demand would be huge. We all thought we'd make a fortune,” 39-year-old prostitute Aline Docinha told the Daily Mail.
“But hardly anyone turned up. During the World Cup the road was virtually empty. I think the foreigners were scared to come to a place like this, which isn't close to the beaches or hotels. And they were probably afraid of catching something too,” she said. “There were a few Argentinians and Uruguayans, but they didn't have much money and tried to bargain right down. Even our regular Brazilian clients didn't show up, they were too interested in watching the football.”
Docincha told the U.K. publication, “But this time around, we're under no illusions. We know we'll be forgotten during the Olympics, just like we were during the World Cup.”
That’s why the flier – which is printed in English and features the famous Olympic rings – is meant to draw early visitors to the city who are looking for a good time.
Docinha added that Vila Mimosa’s sprawling complex of bars and nightclubs is a marketplace for sex, where tourists can shop for whatever they are looking for.
“There are women here for every taste – black, white, chubby, mature, whatever you like. You can walk around and take your time until you find the one you like the most,” she said. “And just like any supermarket, we've now got some great deals and we're cutting our prices. There's no other place in Rio like it. Take a bit of time while you're here to come.”
The district, which has been in constant operation since World War I, when single Eastern European migrants resorted to prostitution in order to make ends meet, is located less than a mile the Maracanã soccer stadium where the Olympics' opening ceremony is to take place on Aug. 5.
Besides the escort service business – which customers claim is safer, if more expensive – prostitutes in Vila Mimosa say that Brazil’s worsening financial crisis has cut down on customers, but also driven more girls into the business.
“It's never been this bad, and most of the women here are desperate. But few of us think anything will come of the Olympics. We're all worried that business will grind to a halt like it did during the World Cup,” Gabriela Alves said. “The clientele has decreased, and competition's increased.”
Prostitution is legal in Brazil, but it is illegal to operate a brothel or to employ prostitutes. That, however, has not stopped places like Rio’s Centaurus from becoming known worldwide as places where celebrities (i.e., Justin Bieber) and the moneyed elite spend their time.