Hosted by Goethe-Institut, contemporary artist Michael Soi presents a series of 17 paintings celebrating women from all over Nairobi, bringing you different takes on the...
Now that I plan to quit the Street in the next six months or so, I am thinking of a retirement plan. The ideal retirement plan for most girls here is to hit a jackpot and live happily ever after. The jackpot could be through marriage to a rich white man, or pinching a substantial amount of money from a local. The Street is full of legendary stories of girls who have retired that way.
Yet that rarely happens nowadays. The white men, I think, have decent, professional girls to choose from. It seems more than ever before, many Nairobi girls are willing to throw themselves at the feet of white men. I always see this when I occasionally pass through Westlands at night, or while in a cyber café where a girl has opened an online dating service, “Love Find Me”. On the other hand, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard of a girl who has stolen more than 20,000 Kenyan shillings from a man. I bet that over time, the local men have learned not to carry more than a few thousand shillings when hitting the Street.
I am not planning to quit as a result of a moral conversion or having identified something better to do. I am simply avoiding reaching the point of diminishing returns. In our trade, supply outstrips demand by a factor of almost three; the girls outnumber the men. The men who come to the Street are somehow a constant. Their numbers and identities don't change much. It's the same men who started coming here five years ago who still come. Those coming to the Street for the first time increase at a less proportionate rate to the girls, and also to the men who disappear for good. There will be nights where every car coming to the Street is familiar, and often weeks where I sleep with the same regular “johns” who know how much I charge and my point of faking orgasm.
By the time a girl hits three years on the Street, the men know her. However “good” a girl is, she always gets to a point where she stops being the first choice for the man trawling the Street. A man will only pick up such a girl if he has come late and all the “fresh” girls are gone, opting to do so for old times’ sake, or when he is too drunk to recognize her. It is more or less, I imagine, like what happens in marriage after a few years.
When a girl is no longer the first choice of any of the men, anger and hatred starts building inside. She insults men who leave her behind and the girls who go with them. She drinks a lot and starts developing a cold, aged look, which makes her less attractive. I have seen it with many girls here.
Of course, there are exceptions, girls who maintain their shine even after practicing for three years and more. But they are few and far between, and many of those who outwardly look beautiful are ugly inside. I know myself, and I don't expect to be among the exceptions.
Marriage has never been part of my plan and pinching a good amount of cash is a long shot. So my retirement plan has me thinking of doing something with similar traits to what I do now -- the adrenaline rush, some creativity, independence, and the lack of formality and commitment.
Sometimes I think I am lazy. See, I want to do things at my own pace and for my own satisfaction. I don't want to be measured by others, or set goals according to them. Anyway, I digress. So what sort of thing could be similar enough to life on the Street while still lifting me out of it? Well, I’ve enrolled in a certain course. And that means I’ve been missing in action the last two and a half weeks while reading and writing exams.
My next occupation is just one of the challenges of retirement. How to fill the emotional and physical gap left after quitting is another thing. I am not talking about lovey-dovey emotions, but the simple emotions that come as a result of connecting with people who really matter to you. The happiness that I feel when talking of my escapades with colleagues, or the temporary comfort I get when I sleep on the chest of a nice client. Such emotional connections take time to build, and when out there, I am not sure I will be able to make that happen. Or if I do, it may take long too long, by which time I will have been labeled a snob, freak, recluse, or other labels that describe those with emotional oddities. Yet, I am not so much worried about these emotions. When all is said and done, I will have a great relationship with my local barman.
I have previously said that I don't care much for sex, especially the fun part of it. But that does not mean I do not have urges. I do. My clients, whether good or bad, help satisfy my sexual urges, and I naturally feel whole again. So what will I do about sex when I’m off the Street?
A relationship for me is out of question. I will fail. It will be difficult for me to commit and not cheat because after what I have seen and done, I will always be convinced my man is cheating on me. Although I won’t tell any man about my past, some of the habits I have acquired from the Street might live with me forever. And when they do pop up, they will certainly create tension between my partner and me. For instance, in moments of frustration and drunkenness, I use rough filthy words that no man would be pleased to hear from his girl.
There is also the option of going for one night stands, but these would be almost the same thing as what I do presently. I won’t enjoy them as much. I know that these days, a girl can pay a man to have sex with her, like I once did. Yet this snatches away a key component of sex -- the testosterone part – that I experience when I’m having sex with a “real” man. A man who agrees to be paid to have sex, rather than fight for it, may not have enough testosterone in him.
Yeah, I also can't forget the toys. I have couple of those, but like a friend said, everybody sometimes craves 3D sex, where you hold and kiss each other during the act. A sex mate is the best option. But men have presently become very poor in bed, and to find a good one I will have to road test several toys -- something I am not very enthusiastic about. I can only wait and see, but I am sure to find a solution for this little problem.
When a girl joins the Street, she soon hears of the legends and experiences of others who have been in the trade before. Some of these sound exciting, others generate curiosity, while others speak about feelings that I’ve had. There are so many positive and negative stories about the white men who pick up girls here, and every girl wants to experience it. I have slept with several of them. There are also claims about men from a certain tribe, and only when a girl spends the night with just such a man does she feel she’s not missing out.
There have been days I wanted to know how it feels to drug and steal from a man, something I have done. I also wanted to see Viagra in action where it is rightfully needed, with a man past 75, and I got to see it when I slept with a 78 year-old. There are so many colorful things one can do with men on the Street, but they can only be done when you’re in this trade where there’s the right opportunity and attitude.
Recently I heard about the Great Lakes Civilization. It is the great art of lovemaking by the men from the Great Lakes region -- Burundi, Rwanda and the others – which caught my attention. Apparently, the name “Great Lakes” is a result of the small lakes these are able to create “down there” in women’s bodies. So I have to sleep with a man from the Great Lakes within the next six months, or I might never have another chance to experience the civilization without any inhibitions. And here, for reasons I might mention later on, I exclude the Congolese men based in Kenya.