Friday, July 23, 2010

Sex Trade in Angeles City

At a club called Koko Yoko, balding men with bulging bellies sit at an outdoor bar, sipping beers and leering at the young girls who pass on the model's runway gone wrong called Fields Avenue.

Many of the girls weigh barely 90 pounds, their high heels pushing their almost adolescent bodies at perverse angles. There are cross-dressers fooling no one, calling out to men with tattoos, Popeye forearms and gray hair on their backs.

"Lady boy!" they squeal. "Lady boy!"

Some men pass by with girls one-third their age, swinging their hands together like a couple on a first date. Others cavort with three girls at once, the women all clutching their client like daughters competing for Daddy's attention.

Fields Avenue, the main pedestrian drag in Angeles City, is a legacy of the time when this row of run-down bars was the romping ground of restless young American airmen stationed at Clark Air Base.

The U.S. base closed in 1992, and the often-randy airmen have gone with it. But the girls, the sex, the round-the-clock raunchiness remain. Only the customers have changed.

A thriving sex tourism trade attracts foreign customers by the thousands in search of something they cannot find back home: girls young enough to be their granddaughters selling sex for the price of a burger and fries.

Once populated by virile men in their early 20s who started each day with 100 push-ups, the place is now home to older men who need help pushing themselves out of bed in the morning.

Most are bused up from Manila, an hour away, on golf and sex package deals. This is no quasi-innocent boys' night out. Rather, it's a single-minded realm of weary-looking loners on a resolute hunt that smacks of feeding an addiction.

Many are ex-military men reliving former glories, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper wannabes, some gathering at the local American Legion post before embarking into the night.

There is a one-armed man, a retiree with a walker and another dapper gentleman who strolls along in a dress shirt, twirling an umbrella, whistling a private tune.

Many head to the bars with the red-light special called "The Early-Release": Buy your girl 10 drinks and she's yours, no questions asked.

Nobody asks questions here. Nobody gives their name. Credit cards are a joke; who wants to leave behind any economic traces that they ever set foot here?

A young dancer in tight red hip-hugger pants and matching sports bra acknowledges that Fields Avenue may not be pretty, but the money is good. She rolls her eyes at two overweight men who pass by looking like large reptiles dressed in children's clothing.

Sure, the sex is disgusting, she says. But at least it's over quickly.

Outside Koko Yoko, the doorman, a 33-year-old paraplegic, perches on a wheeled wooden pallet. He says his father was an American who once served at Clark, his mother a local girl. He contracted polio when he was 11 and has worked here ever since.

The street, he says, takes care of him. Soon, an idle stripper climbs onto his back, rubbing her crotch into the back of his neck.

Nearby a saggy-faced Australian lights a cigarette. He's been in Angeles City for about a month, his last stop on a sex circuit from Bangkok to Manila after getting laid off from his electrician's job in Sydney.

In Thailand, he says, the girls didn't speak the language. Manila hookers were too streetwise, the bars too spread out.

But this is Easy Street. He can sit atop his bar stool and ogle hundreds of passing girls fresh from the countryside who perfect the tricks of their trade before moving on to The Show in Manila.

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