David Strecker was returning from a vacation in the Dominican Republic this past October 30 when U.S. Customs officials at Miami International Airport told him to line up with six other people and hand over his electronics. The Key West resident dutifully surrendered a laptop computer, two cell phones, and two digital cameras. Then the 62-year-old sighed. This would be a problem.
Cubadave, as he is better known, is the man behind an eponymous blog promoting sex tourism in Sosua, a town on the northern coast of the DR. He has thousands of acolytes who worship him online for his stories about prostitutes -- and for his pictures.
Dave claims to have slept with thousands of Caribbean sex workers. Today, his goal is to help other -- often older -- men do the same so that they can reclaim their youth and that the impoverished women of the DR can supplement low incomes, he says.
Since at least the early 2000s, the Dominican Republic has been a hot spot for sex tourism -- thanks in part to Strecker's blog posts and ebook. But as the opening date for a $65 million Carnival cruise center looms, officials from the Ministry of Tourism have scrambled to eradicate sex on the beach.
The Amber Cove Cruise Center will open in 2014. This past July, Peter Jensen, a German expat who ran a Sosua club called Passions, was thrown in jail and charged with trafficking 32 women. (Sosua is less than 15 miles from Puerto Plata, where the cruise center is located.)
"Prostitution is not considered a crime in the Dominican Republic, but a third party makes you a pimp," Strecker explains. "That's what Peter was charged with."
On October 29, probably the second-largest club on the beach, Caribbean Men's Paradise, was also closed.
Strecker promotes clubs such as Passions and is also a patron. This crackdown couldn't be more of an inconvenience for him. And although he was told it would take two or three days to get his stuff back, he's still waiting. He has so much material he wants to put on his blog, but he needs his pictures. Sex tourism is changing in Sosua, and he wants to relay those changes to his large online audience.
However, some of his longtime followers are imploring him to take a break. Strecker would often hold court at El Velero Restaurant Bar & Grill, and a large banner of his image was hung on the side to attract fans and expats. It was closed at the end of October for "stealing all the customers," according to Strecker.
Aaron Perry, an energy worker from Alberta, Canada, wrote this to Strecker on his Facebook page after he learned of the shutterings: "Dave notice that any where you go gets heat? Now don't get me wrong I'm a huge fan. I watch and read everything you put up. But I think you should go on the down low for a bit."
Does Strecker think he'll be arrested? Absolutely not. He does, however, think the construction project stands to change the character of his favorite place to meet young women.
"There's a real power struggle going on between big-time business people there and against the people who run these clubs," Strecker says. "Sosua wants to revamp their image to get some of this cruise business."
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Carnival Cruise Lines could not be reached yesterday for comment, but Riptide would still like to hear from them, and we'll update this post if we do.
Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.
Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti