At adult cabarets across Costa Rica, entertainers who disrobe and gyrate their shapely anatomies for captive audiences are noticing an interesting demographic trend: With greater frequency, men old enough to be their grandfathers are among their admirers. Such was the conclusion presented by Paula Ruiz Guevara, an investigative journalist from national newspaper La Prensa Libre. In 2013, Ms. Guevara filed a lengthy report on the issue of elderly Ticos whose libidos outmatch their fixed incomes.
Through statistical research, field investigations and interviews with psychologists, social workers, prostitutes, and sociologists, Ms. Guevara’s work paints an interesting portrait of an aging population whose appetite for sexual commerce has not diminished as they settle into their golden years. To this effect, Ms. Guevara introduces Jorge, a 92-year old man with the calloused hands of a farm worker, who recently returned to prowling for prostitutes after taking a 10-year break.
Don Jorge explains that he has sought the comfort of hired sex for 72 years of his life. At his advanced age, he still enjoys going to nightclubs to meet sexual workers. In Costa Rica, adult cabarets where exotic dancers perform in the buff are called “nightclubs.” Dance clubs, on the other hand, are called discotecas. Don Jorge visits nightclubs to evaluate potential women who will agree to sexual transactions; this retired farmer explains that not all prostitutes in Costa Rica will jump at the chance of engaging in sexual relations with elderly men:
“Many women do not want to go to bed with an old man, but some cater exclusively to guys my age. I think that men are never satisfied with just one woman. With sex workers, you don’t have to argue or play games because both people know what’s going on. The only problem is if you don’t pay, then they call the police. I like being able to call up a woman and say: Let’s go.”
For a man still sowing his wild oats at an advanced age, Carolina would be an ideal partner in a sex-for-hire transaction. She is an attractive woman in her mid-50s who has been working as a prostitute for less than two decades. She currently has a black book of seven clients, and all of them are elderly men:
“I have older clients. One of them is 92 years old [this could be don Jorge, although it was not confirmed]; the youngest is 74 years old. They pick up the telephone and call me; we agree to meet at a certain place. Among my clients, I don’t know who takes Viagra or who doesn’t … I mean, if you’re asking me about their level of performance, I can assure you it is all good and normal.”
Carolina mentioned that her clients tend to call her at the end of the month, which happens to coincide with pension disbursements made by La Caja, Costa Rica’s social security system. Another sex worker interviewed by Ms. Guevara was Naomy, whose story was more akin to that of a call girl whose company commanded much higher fees.
Naomy explained that she was a party girl who found out that elderly men would pay up to $300 a day for her company. Many of them were North American and European expats living in Costa Rica, and this allowed Naomy to travel. After 15 years of this life, Naomy fell in love with a 70-year old client, but she could not stand being tied down to one man. After breaking up with this lover-client, Naomy went back to the party circuit and blew more than $10,000 on a hedonistic lifestyle.
“I realized that my older clients, you know… the ones who paid the most; they were looking for affection. I blew the money I made on partying until I got old myself and was forced into early retirement, I guess.”
Unlike other jurisdictions, such as most of the United States, prostitution is not illegal in Costa Rica. When it comes to elderly men (and, as previously reported, some women too) still visiting nightclubs and prostitutes, a social problem arises; namely, overspending their pension paychecks. To this effect, Ms. Guevara interviewed a curvy exotic dancer named Brittany, who explained:
“What we are seeing here [at this nightclub] are more elderly men who come here with younger relatives. It is funny in a way because we know that families get together and agree that someone has to come to the nightclub with grandpa. This is good since many times these older men do not realize that they are spending too much, or that someone may want to steal from them.”