September 21, 2001

In the Reeds: Inside A North County Sex-Camp

By Manuel García,
Promotores Pro Salud

A Sex-Camp is normally a secluded location where female sex-workers are driven to or drive out to and wait for men to arrive. The men drive out to this location and pay the "girls" for sex. The girls range in age from 14 to over 30 with an average of 25  to 30 girls "working" a camp. They stand a few feet from each other in tight and revealing clothing. Some wear "see-through" outfits while others just wear a lacy top or bra and very short skirts. One or two may have on pants. The men are constantly coming and going. In one day, as many as 200 men will attend one of these camps. Some hang around in groups. They are anywhere from 17 to 50 years of age. A man will first go up to a girl and say something like "come on" or "ready" and then he will follow her back to her "nest".

These nests are simple clearings that have been made in the bushes and are barely big enough to lay down in. The nests are away from the main area and even more secluded so that there can be some privacy when they are engaging in sex. Sometimes the girls have some sort of padding on the ground for what minimal comfort she can obtain in these cramped spaces. It appears that each girl has her own particular nest that she uses and that the price is $25 with a condom and $30 without. After researching and asking, the vast majority of the girls are in fact, only having sex with a condom and other forms of contraception including vaginal film despite the offers they receive from the men to have sex without a condom.

This particular sex-camp is one that is out of the ordinary. It is about 45 feet from a moderately active street. Driving along this street one wouldn't think that anything unusual is going on so close to such an active area, especially this near to downtown. The truth is that this sex-camp happens every Sunday, all day long. It takes place along an old riverbed where the reeds are very thick and the ground is still somewhat soft. The river doesn't run anymore, but there are still some wet spots so the mosquitoes are abundant. Because the reeds are so thick, and due to the water that is there, it is very muggy inside the main clearing. This main clearing is about 25 to 30 feet long and varies in width.

At one end is the only entrance, where one must stoop low and almost crawl to get through. It is just a small tunnel made in between a few, large bushes. The reeds and other plants provide a canopy over the area and over some of the nests. Other nests are farther back on each side of a small trail with no shade, just tall, growing plants. They are staggered along this trail. The nests that branch off from the main clearing located in the reeds have shade, but are very humid and the mosquitoes run rampant. These are also more private since their "doors" are narrow paths and holes made in the reeds that surround them.

After having gone to a few of the sex-camps, the different girls that work more than one have started recognizing us. Also, the men know that we are safe, and that we are there to help them. A few of the men just come up to ask for the condoms that we hand out. The girls also accept the paperwork and "packets" that we give them. These "packets" consist of condoms, information on how to use them, alternate forms of birth control and information on cancer. Every so often, a few men or women will thank us for being there. This is just one of the many sex camps that happen all of the time, this specific one is just closer to home.

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