Epworth may have been the source of some of the most bizarre stories to come out of Zimbabwe, but the tale of Booster, a self-proclaimed male prostitute, takes the prize.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
At the young age of 34, the single father of three claims he has been doing sex work for 14 years.
His source of livelihood is providing “great” sexual pleasure to women of all ages, stature and status for a fee in and around Harare.
He says his client base has grown to include sex-starved wives of top politicians, business executives and other prominent people who might not be finding sexual satisfaction in their matrimonial bedrooms.
Nicknamed “Mr Booster” after the name of the place where he stays — close to a mobile network base station — the link between the names and his “job” is equally curious.
A slender-looking Mr Booster claims he discharges firepower “enough to pull a loaded haulage truck” when it comes to sex, and all sex workers in the area solicit for his services — not for money but for satisfaction.
So popular is the man who has chosen a rare profession that he is now chairman of an association of commercial sex workers, both female and male.
“I make an average of $50 a week through sex work. I am hired by businesswomen, wives of ministers and some influential people who want a good sex session,” Mr Booster said.
“They come here for my services and book hotels for me so that we can treat each other well. I obviously charge for the services.”
Mr Booster says he received regular undisclosed health services from a non-governmental organisation working with the National Aids Council — Springs of Life Zimbabwe — to ensure he is constantly available to his needy market, which he said was growing owing to failure by many men to sexually satisfy their wives at home.
“Many of these married women have never reached orgasm so when they meet some of us, they will always come back and pay more,” he said proudly.
“Some pay as high as $200 for a whole night and I will do everything in my power and expertise so that they are satisfied. It’s not that I love sex, but it is my source of livelihood.”
While some men use sexual enhancing pills to boost their sexual drive, Mr Booster claimed for him it was natural and he could do long sessions.
“I have programed my mind such that I can go as far as the client wants me to go. I do take drugs at times but I have a high sex drive naturally,” he said.
“I have three kids whom I fathered with my ex-wife and through this work, I am able to send them to school and take care of my extended family.”
Before becoming a sex worker — a profession he takes pride in — Mr Booster confessed he was into homosexuality.
“I was a woman to other men and I was being paid but it is very painful. One could even die. Homosexuality destroys the body, especially the spinal cord, hence I opted to be a male commercial sex worker,” he said.
“There are so many male sex workers, it’s just that some are afraid to come out in the open and speak out. Because of Springs of Life Zimbabwe and National Aids Council, we are now able to access health and other life-line support services.”
Male prostitution is the sale of sexual services by a male to either male or female clients.
Unlike female sex workers, the male prostitutes do not walk the streets and are not visible to the general public.
They work either in-call, where the client comes to them, or out-call, where they go to the client.
Springs of Life Zimbabwe co-ordinator Precious Msindo said they had records of two male prostitutes in the Epworth area who regularly received medical and life assistance from the NGO.
“We are here to give life, be it economic, spiritual and health wise. Our duty is to support all sex workers, be it male or female, hence we have Mr Booster, or simply the chairman here. He is very active and protects even these female sex workers from abuse,” Msindo said
Although male prostitution is and was often associated [particularly in the West]with teenage street kids, “runaways” and drug addicts, prostitution is practised by people of every social, economic, and relationship status, and it is also practised by some people as a career choice.
Compared to female sex workers, male sex workers have been far less studied by researchers, and while studies suggest that there are differences between the ways these two groups look at their work, more research is needed.
Financial incentives are cited as the primary reason that prostitutes engage in this work, but they are by no means the only motive.
“Whenever I want to be sexually satisfied, I look for the chairman and he does it so nice. I pay him any amount I can afford so that I am sexually satisfied,” said a female hooker aged 36 who preferred to be called Lucy.
Generally, female prostitutes can sleep with 10 men on a given day or night.
Lucy said she was not satisfied by any of her paying clients as she would not be emotionally attached to them.
“For me, sleeping with 10 men or more is not for pleasure, but just for the money and I am not satisfied sexually. So whenever I look for chairman, I will be looking for someone who can make me reach orgasm, which most men fail to do,” Lucy said.
This may be the underlying reason why wives of business executives and high-flying politicians, some who travel overseas leaving their spouses behind call on Mr Booster or his friends in the profession for sexual gratification.
The advent of male prostitution in Zimbabwe is likely to undermine the fight against Aids as male prostitutes the world over have limited knowledge of Aids and self-protection.
Msindo said she was worried that male sex workers were not eligible to be initiated on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) early to prevent new HIV infections unlike their female counterparts, a development that exposed them to deadly diseases.
“We need to appreciate the reality that we have male prostitutes and understand that they are in great danger of contracting venereal diseases and Aids more than their female counterparts,” Msindo said.
PEP, which provides an additional prevention option for those at risk of HIV, is a combination of antiretroviral drugs taken once a day to reduce the risk of contracting HIV.
Msindo said society had to accept this reality and find a better way of dealing with it than discriminating against male prostitutes.