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Sex `steamers' targeted

Police to crack down on Hillbrow's Beat Street

Sunday Star ­ 02 April 1992 By Maureen Isaacson Police involved in the battle against prostitution have a new strategy. Instead of concentrating on arresting prostitutes, they are targeting their clients - known in the trade as "steamers". MAUREEN ISAACSON explains why and investigates the trade in Hillbrow's notorious "Beat Street". STEAMERS, the men who cruise the "Beat Street" area in Hillbrow for sex, are out and about this evening. The cars have been coming and going sincee we began strolling up O'Reilly, down Claim and along Kaptein. Now we're in Esselen. My guides - three prostitutes - are plainly dressed. No fish nets. Rather shorts and tackies, and leggings and a waistcoat over a long shirt, and tight white pants, tight black T-shirt. The drivers stop and negotiate, confident that their identity will remain anonymous. The girls whistle to friends across the way. A woman in a denim mini-skirt gets into and out of several cars. "She's blonde", says 21 year-old Jean. "Sometimes you can walk for four hours before you get any luck."

Sex A man in his 60s, in navy jacket and white pants, approaches Jean. "You working? How much do you charge?" he asks. "For what?" she says. "Everything." ''Two fifty," she says, warding him off with an offer that exceeds the standard price on the street for sex . "For one thing?" ''R200.'' He disappears.

A Toyota Cressida pulls up with two guys who look as if it wasn't long ago that they both hit 30. The one next to the driver calls 19-year-old Candy. "I said RI50," she tells the steamer. "That is not marketable." he answers. "R120 for straight sex with one of you?" she asks. "yes." Now they are looking for a second girl. "Those are my friends"she say, "which one do you want?" "How about you taking both of us?" they ask. "How much?" asks Candy. "It's your product, you sell it." he says. He flashes a pile of R50 notes at her and offers her R150 "to service" both him and his friend . "Get lost," she tells them. Down Tudhope Avenue, a white BMW stops. A window is opened by remote control. In his grey suit, stiff white shirt and tie, this bespectacled man could be your husband or your boss. He asks 25-year-old Louise for the price of "the normal". "Depends what you call normal ..." she says. Oral sex, he asks, looking as if his life depends on it. "R1l2", says Louise, adding R37 to the going rate. "Is that VAT inclusive?" he asks. "Okay, where do you work from?" This is obviously not his beat. "You got condoms?" she asks. He coughs. As if nothing had been further from his mind, he asks, "Have you?" He makes off to the nearest chemist. "Once a steamer says he's going to draw money or goingn to the chemist, he's gone forever," she says. Steamers are so called because the "stem" the streets, or, in the words of an SAP member, "because they are so hot they steam". They pick up schoolgirls. Prostitutes. Anyone who will go with them. Sometimes they masturbate while they drive; Or take pictures of the girls' pelvic areas fro mtheir cars. They will pay from R75 for oral sex with a condom. A certain steamer, who also happens to be a doctor, uses three condoms at once. Others beg for condomless sex, for an extra 20, an extra 40 bucks. For 15 minutes of releas e/ escape / diversion/ "kinkiness" , they drive the girls to underground parking lots, to deserted spots, to their offices, or seedy hotel rooms. This is what they do, but who are they? "Most of them have wives," says Louise. "They tell me, I give my wife everything, she has security, and she has no reason not to trust me. The guys with money are usually married. The ones in Mercs usually pay less than the guys who drive crocks. "You always know in the first few minutes what the steamer's like but you can be wrong. A steamer can sommer give you one big fat klap or punch. He drops you on the highway and tells you to hike. "One guy gave me money then he held a gun at my head and made me give it back to him", says Candy." Sometimes you get into a guy's car to negotiate and he tries to ride away with you. The ones who drive round and round. the block are likely to be duds (they go away without picking up a girl). The ones who rape you stop immediately - they don't want anyone to

see them. You can get raped about once a week when you're on the street. The stories run on about steamers. The cons. The ones who fall in love with the objects of their desire, who treat them like "ladies" in an attempt to purchase their affections. They're lonely or bored or frustrated. They're all in it for different reason but they have one thing in common, their contribution to the degradation of women who are caught in the trap of needing the large amounts of money they can earn. Kicks "Sometimes they're good ous and the want to get you out of the scene. But a steamer's always a steamer," says Louis "Steamers are all the same. They all want sex. They like to think they're great lovers - sometimes you get kinky ous who want to tie you up or have methylated spirits injected into their private parts. "They're all rich ous who're looking for kicks. They're normal guys from offices, lawyers, doctors. "The trade is unscrupulous - the guys are asking for 12 and 13-year-olds. The guy who drives the ice cream van told me a schoolgirl offered him sex for R60. "I know two girls who have Aids who go without condoms for extra and sure as hell the guys will take it home to their wives."

Scanned and Prepared by Adéle du Plessis [email protected] The House Group Saving the girl child from the street http://thehousegroup.org

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Sex 'steamers' target - Police to crack down on Hillbrow's Beat Street

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