Longform

Cubadave's Sex Tourism Empire in Jeopardy

David Strecker is a skinny former softball pitcher who lives in a modest Key West duplex and maintains a healthy head of fine, sandy-colored hair. He prefers tank tops that show off his muscular biceps. He is also a connoisseur of Caribbean prostitutes and has slept with more than 2,500 women under age 25. He has no plans to stop. His scheme, though, is complicated by time, possibly the only cruel mistress Strecker has ever encountered.

This self-described sex addict is 62 years old.

At that age, it isn't easy to keep up with two or three women a day for weeks at a time. Chemical assistance is required. Strecker downs estrogen blockers daily, injects his buttocks with testosterone monthly, and consumes Viagra as the situation requires. A grueling P90X regimen is obsessively adhered to, and a bench press occupies the position of a TV set in his living room. The excessively tanned senior might eat a chicken caesar salad if you really goad him, but he generally subsists on protein bars and 5-hour Energy drinks. Sex might be Strecker's only vice; the native Minnesotan doesn't drink or smoke in order to ensure maximum performance with his chicas.

This lifelong bachelor keeps his toilet seat up and eschews the use of dishes, excepting a bedazzled gold pimp cup. His bedroom looks as if it were decorated by a feral teenage boy: A New York Yankees comforter is the sole object to break the monotony of the floor-to-ceiling nudie pics that cover his lime-green walls. These are no Playboy centerfolds, though — they are graphic, basically anatomical photos of the women Strecker has been with "at least ten times," he says.

In his earlier years, Strecker was elected to the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame. Now he goes by Cubadave — an alias so central to his being that he even emblazons it on credit cards and screen-prints it on T-shirts. His eponymous blog, which provides mostly logistical advice on locating the best prostitutes, is rabidly followed by thousands of male travelers from all walks of life. A typical post on Cubadave.com receives anywhere from 50 to 150 comments ranging from blatant hero worship ("Cuba Dave for president") to practical queries ("Dave, can you buy Viagra over the counter in Sosua?")

The blog readers' common interest is reclaiming their youth or feeling economically powerful in Sosua, a town on the northern Dominican coast. There, Strecker leads a large fraternity of such men from his headquarters, a beachside café that's been renamed in his honor.

Experts estimate thousands of men travel to the Dominican Republic each year for sex, although it's impossible to come up with a specific number. In much of the Caribbean and some of Latin America, prostitution is legal as long as a third party doesn't profit from it. Just recently, though, turf wars seem to have popped up in this multibillion-dollar industry. A 48-year-old sex tour leader from Brooklyn named Noah Goldberg was recently shot dead, gangland style, at a restaurant in Medellín, Colombia.

Strecker has had a different kind of trouble. This past October 30, customs officers detained him and confiscated his laptop, cell phone, and digital camera. The owner of a club he promotes in Sosua was thrown in jail.

So why does he choose to play the smiling spokesman of a seedy sexscape that was — until recently — kept under wraps? He thinks of himself as the good guy, a member of the fourth estate who helps men navigate international law and stay safe. He wants to make sure people traveling to Sosua know how to avoid being tricked into sleeping with an underage girl or falling in love with an enterprising hooker. He also thinks he's propping up the economy of an impoverished town and improving the lives of the people who live there. A story about a 9-year-old Haitian girl who was forced to sell a basket of bananas before heading to school each day proves to him that not all whoremongers are exploitative.

"Every morning, my friends and I would buy all the bananas and make her our guest for breakfast," he says.

But of course, one whose raison d'être is to sleep with hookers cannot be entirely selfless. His value to the men who monetize him and the ones who read his blog is that he doesn't hide behind a screen name like "DRGuy1." That's because Strecker loves exactly three things: softball, hard bodies, and himself.

"If you're having all the fun in the world and nobody knows about it," he says, "what fun is that?"


It used to be that Americans could get laid in Cuba for a Coke and a smile.

Sex tourism got its start there during Prohibition in the 1920s, when the island became a one-stop shop for free-flowing booze and women. The party paused briefly during the Great Depression but was revived when the Mafia took control of Cuba's tourism sector, erecting glitzy casinos and nightclubs such as the infamous Tropicana. Immediately after the 1959 revolution, Castro kicked out the Mob and sent the prostitutes to the fields to work.

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Allie Conti was a fellow at Miami New Times and a staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach, where her writing won awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. She's now the senior staff writer at Vice and a contributor to the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Atlantic.