|Veronica Silva (a pseduonym) worked as a hostess/stripper and occassional prostitute for seven years in Japan. Born to a family of seven in Brazil, she came to Japan to raise money for her family and get away from the slums of Rio de Janerio. Last year she married a fairly wealthy Japanese man 16 years her senior. Now she lives in the outskirts of a city in central Japan as a housewife. She also works at a local coffee shop part time. This interview was conducted on August 15, 1996 near her home.|
Q: How did you get into the flesh trade?
A: Basic economics. I was working in a factory for just above minimum wage and realized that my job had no future. When I heard of a way to make more money, I became interested. Isn't it the same across the world? Poverty promotes prostitution.
Q: So would you say you were coerced into the business?
A: Not really in my case, but the dudes who run the sex industry are experts at manipulation. Some of it's subtle - and some painfully blunt. A combination of threats and rewards keep most people hooked into the system. I lasted seven years in the business. . . it wasn't so hard to get out since by then I was an stale commodity. In this business, there's a premium for fresh meat.
Q: So is the business run by gangsters?
A: I dunno. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between businessmen, politicians, and gangsters. They seem to work together more than most people realize. The folks I was working for were fair enough to me as long as I followed the game. People who don't are fired quickly.
Q: Was your work sometimes dangerous?
A: Of course. I was often worried about AIDs. Though I'm still HIV negative, I picked up several other STDs. Some dickheads don't wanna use condoms - they're a pain. My boss made sure they understood the rules clearly.
Q: Didn't you worry about rivalry with other sex workers?
A: I was pretty cautious. To play this game well, you have to accept certain short-term losses for the sake of long term gains. Sometimes I would do favors for others - but I knew how to call in favors. Actually, it's quite complicated. I'm glad that I'm out of this business now.
Q: Sounds like life on the streets was pretty harsh . . .
A: I had it better than many. Being unemployed is harsh. Very few Bralizians in Japan have creamy jobs, but it's often better than what folks back home have to do. Few things in life seem fair.
Q: Why did you get out of that business?
A: (puffing a cigarette). You age quickly in this sort of work - not only physically, but emotionally. I wanted to slow down and change my pace. After a while, the flesh trade gets awfully boring. Needless to say, I'm living far away from where I used to work.
Q: Any final comments?
A: Not really. I've probably said too much already.