The Wages of Sin

When Miami's tourist season heats up, the flesh trade flocks to town to satisfy those unbridled urges

For top porn performers escorting often overshadows their video work in terms of the sheer amount of money they make. Others who are not as well-known may come here to make a skin flick, but they need to supplement their finances for the trip by escorting.

Among the out-of-town studs-for-hire is Manhattan-based Carlos, known to his clients as Papo. He is 22 years old with round, boyish features and a dancing dragon tattooed on his left shoulder. Since arriving this past January, his cell phone also has been buzzing nonstop, he says. For the past four years he has run a "Papo ad" in Hot Spots that has proved lucrative enough for him to return to Miami. "I come down here because it's too cold in New York," he says. "But I also come down because people fly here all the time. During the season business really picks up."

Carlos stays for about three months, then returns to New York. Even though his ad is new, he can receive up to five or six calls per day. At $200 per hour -- and he charges for the entire hour -- making a trip to Miami to work as an escort is very good business. Most of the people who call during the season are out-of-towners looking for companionship or married men who secretly desire other men, he says. "I've seen all kinds," he boasts. "It's a career, and you have to be ready; you have to be well trained to do this."

Yet making thousands of dollars in a day is not guaranteed. The ebb and flow of business is ever present in the sex trade. "It's not something you can depend on every day," he admits. "One day I can make $1000 or $2000. But then maybe I won't make that much in the next two weeks."

To keep expenses down, he stays at his mother's house in North Miami Beach. He spends time with a circle of friends, sometimes swapping clients with other escorts. If business is slow, he'll cruise hotels or gay joints where wealthy clients hang out. He scans lobbies and bars for older men with expensive clothes and accessories: Prada suits, Gucci sunglasses, and Rolex watches are on his radar. If an older potential client approaches him for sex, Carlos is blunt about the man's chances. "I tell them something like, “You're 45, and I'm 22,'" he says. "“If you want my ass, you're going to have to pay for it.'"

Carlos has learned the tricks that keep him from being ripped off or arrested. He screens his calls carefully. While setting up a date at a hotel, he warns clients to be prepared -- not only with cash but with ID and a plane ticket. "You need to know it's not a cop," he says. "You ask them if they are affiliated with police."

Upon arriving at a hotel room, he asks to see a driver license or passport and the plane ticket; he also takes a look at the money. He collects his fee at the end of the date. To avoid being set up, he always lets the client make the first moves sexually. "It's a business, and you have to be careful," he reveals. "There are cops around all the time." Since Carlos works independently, he accepts only cash from new clients. He takes personal checks only from his regulars. A handful of patrons make direct deposits into his bank account. "It's like a job," Carlos says. "Business is business."

In Miami Carlos expects to make thousands while avoiding the Northern frost. But New York and Miami are not his only stops. "I got a huge list of clients," he says. "I can hop on a plane and go to L.A., Miami, Chicago, or Houston and call my clients and I'm fine."

As a sex and pleasure hot spot, Miami not only attracts flocks of escorts and prostitutes, but the city exports its expert trade as well.

Miami-based escort Abby has a small independent practice sexually satisfying her regular clients. But in the past year she's found a new groove in the industry that takes her to different cities for days or weeks at a time. The niche is a network of female-owned and -operated bordellos scattered across the United States. Last year Abby made thousands of dollars during short trips to modern brothels in New York City, Pittsburgh, and Raleigh.

The madams, Abby says, do not advertise. Instead businessmen are referred to the houses personally, and the girls who work them can make hundreds of dollars per hour. The madams swap girls throughout the year, as the business depends on cultivating a variety of sex workers. Most of the girls on the circuit are not from the towns in which they work. "The women who own them are always calling each other up asking, “Who you got? Who you got?'" she explains.

When she arrives at a destination, Abby signs a contract agreeing to see clients for a specific period. Her travel expenses are paid, but once at the bordello, she pays rent. She's free to roam around a city, but if she is late making a scheduled rendezvous, she is fined. A girl could be blacklisted from the circuit if she is found using drugs or stealing. "You can't fuck up. If you fuck up, they're all over you," she points out.

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