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Inside Brazil's Upmarket Brothel Hotel Clubs

by Alex Bellos
18 June 2014 50 Comments

Brothels in Brazil are now competing with nightclubs and hotel bars for the attention of rich, young society types.

You’re a rich 25-year-old in São Paulo and you want to go out. There’s nothing on at the cinema and you are bored with hanging out at your favourite bar. What are the other evening activities available to you? An increasingly fashionable option is to go to the local brothel.

In the last five years prostitution in Brazil’s largest and richest city has had a makeover . A new type of brothel has proliferated – aimed at a younger, more funky, less reticent customer. Forget dirty old man, think guy-about-town. There are about 20 of these “luxury houses” in the city. It is no longer enough just to offer girls and a threadbare room in a sleazy backstreeet – these superbrothels are not even in red light areas; some have a restaurant, live bands perform and even the rooms are fancier, with saunas and flat screen TVs.

“Since the 1990s Brazil has become a more liberal country  – because of a democratic government, a stable economy and, to a certain extent, the internet,” says a friend who works for a Brazilian top shelf magazine.  “Investment in what are euphemistically called ‘houses of male entertainment’ has boomed. And they have changed – they have become more secure, and more glamorous. Young people have always gone, but now they go a lot more – the atmosphere is just like going to a normal club.”

The Café Millenium is the lodestar of this new phenomenon. It is the largest brothel, with the most girls, the fastest turn-around and the youngest, most up-for-it crowd. As well as a bar, a dancefloor and rooms to rent by the hour, the Café Millenium has a restaurant, a swimming pool, a stage for musical performances, a fitness centre, a hairdressers and a shop. And, on a busy night, about 300 girls.

I went there recently on a Wednesday night. The brothel takes up all of a large building set back from a main road, 20 minutes drive from the city centre. It was lit by an orange light, with a line of palm-trees in the front. There was nothing to suggest what was going on inside – no neon sign, nor hostess on the door.  Indeed, the non-descript frontage could have been an office block.

Inside, however, it was a sex supermarket. The reception area gave an idea to the volume of customers and the open way of doing business. Half a dozen uniformed staff stood behind several computer screens. Signs made it clear that all credit cards were accepted.  After giving your name you receive and electronic card, just like in a boutique hotel,  with which you buy whatever you want on the premises.

My receptionist entered my details on the computer and gave me a debrief. “Entrance is £25, which can be used as credit in the restaurant and bar,” she said. “If you want to rent a room, they are £17.50 an hour. You negotiate directly with the girls how much they charge, but there is a house minimum of £40.” On the upper floors there are 60 hotel rooms, and sometimes they are so busy that you have to queue for 40 minutes to get one.


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Behind the reception is the main area of the brothel – it looks like a large, upmarket international nightclub. The space was huge, enough room for maybe 800 people,  with a stage at the end where a band was performing hit Brazilian songs. The bar stretched down the length of one side of the room; on the opposite side were booths where you could sit and chat. Up a circular staircase was an upstairs balcony with views of the band and the dancefloor below.

But it was not the décor that caught your attention.  There were about 200 women, most of them dressed in skimpy lingerie. The women outnumbered the men – it was a slow Wednesday night – and just by scanning the room you would catch half a dozen of their eyes. Some brothels have a rule that the men must approach the girls. At Café Millenium anything goes. They wink, they pass you and cup your crotch, they pinch your bum. And they don’t mind if you pinch theirs back.

The girls were not sitting looking bored, waiting for passing custom. Some strutted up and down in their high heels, others sat at the bar and posed like footballers’ wives. They were mostly aged between 18 and 22, and as beautiful as you would expect in a stylish Brazilian nightclub. Although there were a few suited men in their fifties, most men were in their twenties and thirties and there with a friend or in a group.

Leading from the bar is the restaurant, which has about 50 covers.  I sat down on the only free space, on a table with three girls. Fernanda, aged 22, was thin and blonde and from Porto Alegre, a city 700 miles away.  She told me that she lived in the basement – about 100 of the girls did, in tiny rooms with two bunks each. In return for free rent she has to work daily eight hour shifts.

Girls are, of course, drawn to prostitution because of the money. Salaries are very low in Brazil – a call centre worker, for example, will earn less than £200 a month. At Luciano Moggi you can earn that in two days. Cintia, aged 21, also on the table, is paying for herself to go through college. But there is something else that draws girls to selling their bodies – it does not have the stigma that it does in Europe of the US.

One of the best-selling books of the last two years in Brazil has been the memoirs of Bruna the Surfer Girl, a former prostitute. Her graphic tales of sexual antics have made her a national figure – a film is already in the pipeline. Bruna’s take is that she enjoyed being a on the game because it gave her financial independence,  introduced her to glamorous people and it was fun. The most recent  hit telenovela  on TV Globo, the main Brazilian channel, features a luxury brothel. Camila Pitanga, one of the country’s top actresses, plays the role of prostitute.

Yet these arent the “tarts with a heart” of British lore, these girls are called “garotas de programa”,  which translates as something like “girls with a plan of action.” Brazil believes that it is the “country of sex” and there is a sense that prostitutes are merely professionals of what the country does best – proud ambassadors for the Brazilian way of life.

“I have pride in a job well done,” says Fernanda. “I know that I can give any guy a good time. And when I give someone a good time, I have a good time too. Every time I go to bed with a guy it’s a new experience.”

Brazil is the world’s largest Catholic country and was also in a dictatorship until the mid-1980s. As the country becomes more tolerant talking about sex has become more public and mainstream – one obvious way this has happened is in the greater acceptance of pornography. “Family” stars such as singer Rita Cadillac, soap actor Alexandre Frota and TV dancer Viviane  Rodrigues have all made porn films. This hasn’t finished off their careers – if anything, it has made them more famous.

Many of the girls I spoke to at Millenium are also porn actresses. Lots had filmed movies for the Buttman franchise in Brazil. The third girl at the table, 19-year-old Rafaela, is desperate to become a porn star. “I think it will be fun, and I will get famous,” she says. “At first, I didn’t like being a prostitute, but I have learnt to love it. I met my boyfriend here too.”When I asked if she had met any famous people in the brothel she said. “Of course, I cant give names of the men I’ve slept with. But look over there – there’s a player for Corinthians [São Paulo’s biggest football club].”

The girls here were not especially exotic-looking. Only two were black – most had white, European features. This is partly because São Paulo had less slaves brought here than, say Rio de Janeiro, but it is also because in Brazil race is still a strong determination of wealth. The girls here deliberately look like the sort of girl a rich Paulista would want to go out with, or meet in a bar. Tourists prefer mulatas.

One feature that linked most of the girls was their silicone breasts. Boob-jobs are seemingly de rigeur. If you ask a girl if she has had a breast enlargement, she will enthusiastically tell you how many mililitres she had put in and pull her bra out the way to show off the workmanship.

Both old and new media have flourished as prostitution and pornography have become ordinary. One magazine, Sexy Premium, is aimed at young frequenters of the luxury brothels. It reviews them, interviews the girls and features them in photo shoots. (Although, as the law insists, the word prostitution cannot be used nor is it mentioned that you can pay them for sex).

The girls all have different rates. The ones who have been in magazines – such as Sexy Premium, or Playboy – charge more. Rates also change depending on how many men are around. When I was there most wanted about £60.

The internet has also had a huge influence. There are dozens of sites in Brazil with thousands of girls who you can call up and arrange to meet for sex. Often these sites let thegirls stick up their own mobiles, thus eliminating the need for pimps. One site even offers a regular dowloadable  video of the “girl of the week.”

The boom in brothels has made them bigger, more acceptable and made the industry safer for the girls. Café Millenium insists all girls have STD tests every three months. And because everything is so above board – and well-staffed with security men – the girls are much less at risk of violence than they used to be. Which has also increased the number of girls willing to work there.

In fact,  if you are a girl you never need to leave Café Millenium. On the floor above the restaurant is a gym and a beauty salon. The girls can work out during the day, get their hair cut and have their Brazilian waxes. There is also a shop selling lingerie, bikinis and sex-toys. Men can also use the gym – during the day an acupuncturist and a non-sexual masseuse attend clients.

For many years, the most cult nightclub in São Paulo has been Love Story – an after hours joint for off-duty prostitutes,  also frequented by clubbers and rich kids. It is a local institution where the sleaziness is embraced as cool. Clubbers like the thrill of the sex industry and the prostitutes like feeling accepted as normal. In order to cater for an expanding market of men, and women, who like this vibe,  Café Millenium will soon open a 1,000 person-capacity nightclub in the back of the building. The line between brothels and nightclubs in Brazil is about to become even more blurred.

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

stanbowles 5:26 pm, 8-Feb-2011

Brazil World Cup 2014 sounds much more fun than Jo'burg or Qatar.

Andre 6:01 pm, 8-Feb-2011

Very nice article. I would make just one little parentesis over your translation for "garotas de programa" - I guess it would be better translated as "gig girls" or something like that. Although the word "programa" have "plan" as one of its correct translations, "programa" is also something you plan doing with your friends, your girlfriend or your family, like going to a bar, a movie, a park etc. "Programa", in this case, is used for prostitution as a perfect eufemism - after all, you go out with the girl for a "programa".

terry 6:42 pm, 8-Feb-2011

This sounds really fucking grim, from top to bottom

Colin 7:41 pm, 8-Feb-2011

Not as grim as a smack-head with dirty fingernails and wearing a filthy bubble jacket getting into a car on an industrial estate in rainy Britain.

Curious 6:20 pm, 9-Feb-2011

!) ``The line between brothels and nightclubs in Brazil is about to become even more blurred.'' The line between what is moral and what is not will also blur with it. Why do some men choose not to go to a brothel? Fear of AIDS apart (and other reasons: no paying for sex, no sex without emotional connect etc) 1) There is the moral isssue. It's really not easy f***g a woman who is bearing the ordeal only to escape a pathetic situation. But here, as the writer says, the women too are enjoying it. Now that makes things easy for the fence-sitters. It's now not-a-burden-on-the-soul to pay n fck. For the women, there is no stigma attached too so the client's moral dilemma, if any, has been taken care of. Proof: ``And they don't mind if you pinch theirs back''. Would the writer have written an equivalent statement in an article about visiting a London prostitute? That would be scandalous, politically incorrect and corroding to one's image. here it is just fine, or rather, is a delicious allusion to the writer's own sexuality. 2) On the physical level: Brothels by simulating the familiar atmosphere of nightclubs, pubs makes it easier for the fence-sitters to turn customers. It's a hell of a smart marketing strategy. There are no negative images: no shady rooms, no Bangkok-like kitschy performances, no Amsterdam-like window shopping. here, paying for sex is no different from paying for your martini. This is not a moral rant or anything. To each his (or her) own. That the lines of morality too would blur needed to be brought out. If the writer disagrees, try the London prostitute experiment and see if you can write about it. BTW, did you have sex there? You waited for 40 minutes for a room. And was it the best sex you ever had in your life. Fernanda said she can give any guy a good time. I'm dying to know.

Louise 11:02 pm, 16-May-2011

And while youre fu**** Fernanda or some other girl in the fantastic brothelnightclub please forget all about the 500.000 childprostitutes working in the streets.

Kane 1:18 pm, 23-May-2011

This has been going on in Germany for years. I remember a business trip I went on about 3 years ago, my business partner, a respectable German banker, about 30, a fun down to earth guy, suggested we go to a "wind down" joint. We got there, it was like a boutique hotel, with pool, restaurant, bar, sauna and games room. But all of the women there were hookers. It was so open and casual and accepted. Get drunk in the company of friends, chat to afew girls in bikinis and then go for some alone time... eat, drink, play games and fuck - all in all a good night out! England is so backwards regards prostitution - which is why the English flock to Asia, South America and Europe for their thrills.

Simon Martin 1:49 pm, 23-May-2011

Kane, not "the English" just "some of the English". The ones who don't like women very much or at least don't care that the ones who they have sex with are doing it because they want to. Or that some other bloke has been there 40 minutes before him.

Harold Monk 2:19 pm, 23-May-2011

I don't know what all the fuss is about.

Louise 3:17 pm, 23-May-2011

@ S.Kane exactly. Those who don't care if the girls are traffickingvictims or not. I know that Germany are maindestination for trafficking. I'm so glad that you are pointing it out that its only a small part of men who are so deluded and psychopatic callous in their minds that they think its ok to buy a piece of meat in a brothelwindow.

camila 6:35 pm, 25-May-2011

So you are an asshole promoting prostitution and sexual turism....what a mouth full ha?

Shei Petersen 6:47 pm, 25-May-2011

I actually despise those who want to promote themselves at someone else's expenses. You are a DESPICABLE journalist who lives in Brazil, and takes advantage of it to promote yourself. And probably due to people like you this sort of place exist! This is widely known as 'popular' business all over the world, especially in YOUR country, where I happened to live half of my life. This is a narrow minded, one-sided, mediocre point of view and you deserve no credibility. This is one business in a country that is rich, growing richer, full of opportunities and people who work hard and try to live a decent life! And if you have any sort of professionalism, you'll post this comment.

4lexR 7:30 am, 26-May-2011

Isn't there an Italian saying 'clean hands hide dirty feet' or something like that. Lots of the prostitutes live in a basement and have to work eight hour shifts, but other than that it's like Pretty Woman for the night club generation. I can't think of anything more degrading than paying for sex; except of course being force by circumstance to charge for it. As soon as we put a price on sex acts, we put a price on the human body. It's dehumanising and it reinforces destructive and damaging boundaries. Let's be honest though, aside from the implicit misogyny in this article and the sniggering temptation to ask if he can't get it for free, I really wonder if it's acceptable to be a journalist in Brazil and find this the most interesting thing to write about.

Ed 8:07 am, 26-May-2011

Talk about Russian Roulette

Drury 1:53 am, 27-May-2011

Not good. STD check every three months? What could go wrong?

Mr Obsession 9:49 pm, 19-Jun-2011

Osti Archivers forum meet? can we wear stone island or shall we dress like nancy boys

Adey 1:46 pm, 25-Jun-2011

£100 for an 8 hour shift fucking random people. where do I sign-up?

rafael palmeiro 10:08 pm, 5-Jul-2011

£60 is hardly an accurate figure for the top 25%, their range is more like £300 - £400.

PP 3:02 am, 18-Sep-2011

What's the address?? Btw, is this the same place as Scandallo Lounge?

GP 2:59 am, 1-Nov-2011

Louise- hey, lets be frank. Brasil is riddled with crime. Why dont you get the government to get the police to sort out the 5000000 child prostitutes. Prostitution is legal in Brasil. Don't blame us - we never made the laws.

GP 3:07 am, 1-Nov-2011

After reading more of the comments... I begin to wonder - promoting sexual tourism? Buying a piece of meat in a brothel window? Dehumanising? Etc Etc? Funny - Of all the problems that Brasil has, I wouldn't think that prostitution is by any means an important one. The crime rate here is out of control. Police organising Judges assasinations, Youths under 18 murdering whoever they like, and getting a few months in a juvenile facility. Women shot and beaten and murdered waaaaay too often by their jealous ex husbands, or boyfriends. kids taking guns to school. Weak education... Hmmm, shoot, yes wait a minute. you are right. Prostitution is the root of all evel. The other problems in Brasil, pale into comparison. Prostitution is LEGAL. You may not like that. You may not want to partake. But its LEGAL. So, rather than crucify the author. Instead, read an article that makes you happy. Don't rain on our parade. Before you write an answer. try to be decent. Rude, is something that doesn't get anyone anywhere. Thanks.

FF101 9:22 pm, 15-Nov-2011

I like to laugh at the woman that leave negative comments. You can't stand it when men are having sex and you are not in control can you? Hey lady, If you had a sex drive in the first place you may understand why men are attracted to sex tourism. The more places and destinations like this become popular and available the more you women lose control of your men. You can withhold all the sex you want now....I'll just go to Brasil or Germany or Thailand. Better yet ladies, why don't you hold out for Geroge cloony so all us avearge looking guys have to go home and wank it. Not anymore! Go fuck yourself you do-gooder! Your not really concerned with trafficing or underaged prostitutes or the spread of STDs....Your concerned with controling men. I say FUCK YOU!

Jack 10:43 am, 22-Nov-2011

I have never hear so much nonsense about Brazil in my entire life. I has never become more liberal, sex isn't an export product in the minds of your average Brazilian and no prostitution is not legal. Guys, before you unload your crap knowledge of an whole country please do your research.

GP 11:34 pm, 8-Dec-2011

Jack... Prostitution IS legal... how long have you lived in Brasil? Being a pimp is ilegal, but prostitution is 100% legal in Brasil. Crap you say - haha. HELLOOOO!!!

Neo 9:59 pm, 10-Sep-2012

Can anyone provide a link to Cafe Millennium? Can't find it anywhere.

Gallius 4:14 pm, 24-Oct-2012

You must be crazy telling people to go to love story. The amount of gringoes that I have seen coming out of there drugged up and heading home with a hooker to be robbed of their passports and money is too many to count. There have also been shootings of policemen and regular fights outside. As for the clients being middle class I think you will find that they are just a rough lot of favela boys looking out for a cheap fuck or to have a fight to impress their friends.

Pete D 6:08 pm, 5-Dec-2012

The more I read about Sao Paulo, the less I want to visit it.

Matt Ramsey 1:07 am, 15-Dec-2012

The thought of having a Brazilian wOmen lick my nutts and after deep penetration relieving myself on her back is amazing.

LZ 2:02 pm, 13-Jan-2013

Just visiting CM this week. Ok experience, but the racket is simple, drinks are extraordinarily expensive and not transparent. It's all about expectations but when you get charged US30 for a can of beer, it adds up. The attempt to reconcile with the 'manager' was of course fruitless.

Peaches 7:52 pm, 26-Jan-2013

many of these places are to be avoided as they have become expensive and the talent is less and less as the girls - are on internet or just marrying foreigners. Cafe Photo is one example - a rip off , as for Milleniuem best avoided - as for Bomboa well worth a try might be lucky taht night! best of abad bunch

Fabricio 10:26 pm, 7-Mar-2013

Well, I think that I should clarify some points. Firstly, prostitution are not illegal in Brazil. Child prostitution and exploration of prostitution associated with slavery or people´s traffic are illegal and severely punished. Brothels are technically illegal, but this rule aren´t enforced often. Many of this girls save as much money as possible and leave as soon as possible. I don´t know this "500.000 childprostitutes" come from. The problem do exist, but the numbers are much lower. It is a total bull shit to say there is not a stigma about prostitution. It is not recognized as profession and "Filho da Puta" (Son of a prostitute) is a very offensive term. My personal opinion is that it should be recognized as a "liberal profession", pay taxes and have strict regulations. No one under 18 could be or use the services of prostitutes. No drugs allowed. Regular STD and aids checks.

Fabricio 12:18 am, 13-Mar-2013

I made a mistake in my comment. Actually, since 2002, prostitution is regulated as a profession, and a prostitute can retire...

boby richards 1:40 am, 26-Mar-2013

i like this fine. sounds far superior than thailand

vishal taunk 8:40 am, 4-Jun-2013

how much does these in brothel charge and wats the time period to have sex

nlcreampie 1:53 am, 7-Jun-2013

Forty pounds is not cheap, never mind the "admission fee" and room rental. Total: at least 150 bucks, that you can get for 30 in Thailand. Who cares who was there yesterday? I don't think its the business of the 200 or so women that I've porked...

Bawa 6:14 am, 26-Jun-2013

@louise, disregarding the fact that there are issues with prostitution i dont understand why you are so uptight about it. There are enough ladiesI know who do their own thing in India of all places to make pocket money. Please take it easy NB : I would never pay for sex but if there are people willing to satisfy a demand I say live and let live

Marcelo 1:19 am, 15-Sep-2013

Mr Bellos. I am sorry but your translation to garota de programa is incorrect!! Programa in Prtuguese is the term for 'date'(of course meaning a date w/ a prostitute) that's all it means NO paln or action or anything like that

Tikn 6:07 am, 17-Sep-2013

For everyone that has an issue with prostitution, let me ask you this... On average, how many dates does a man pay for before getting the chance to sleep with a chic and find out if it was even worth all of the time and money spent. This is just getting to the point without all the games. Of course women here have a problem with it, just as they have since the invention of prostitution. Its like someone cutting into your profits. For every female that has a problem with prostitution, level the playing field, take men on dates and try to get in their pants. Other than that, you are just hypocrites.

Rimski 8:34 am, 28-Oct-2013

Brilliant, girls dressed in skimpy lingerie, bring it on...all at the price of a pair of running shoes...great

brazil is a sesspool 1:33 pm, 2-Dec-2013

I understand why the men and women on this site are debating prosititution. When will we women learn that asking men for money and exchanging it for time, consideration, convo whatever is a type of prosititution? (Not child prosititution, which is also common in Brazil) Brazil is the land of prosititutes not because of the economy but because women are low wage earners, men are typically not with their children/families (leaving women to fleece whatever men they can) and women (and girls) are taught from a young age to use what they have to get what they want. Every woman I have met from Rio, be they lawyers or simple favela people, consistently they lead with sex or sex connotations. It is the way they have decided to make their society. Leave them in their mess.

brazilian 4:48 pm, 5-Dec-2013

Interesting article but I think the writer has a partial vision of the prostitution in the country. Prostitution has a stigma, yes, those girls probably are not going tell their parents what their are doing. Low wages in Brazil are causing that, there's no "proud in being the country of sex", this is bullshit for silly tourists.

Benjamin Button 12:50 am, 9-Feb-2014

I do not pay for sex, not because I think it is morally wrong I just prefer to take on a challenge and conquer a women's mind before I slide inside of her but that's just me and those that choose to pay well that's just them so for all of you boasting how prostitution is dehumanizing and wrong well why don't any of you do something about it like donating $200 a week to a prostitute who can only make a decent living selling her jewels.. either that or keep your opinions to yourself because many of these women have no opportunities to make a decent living sad but true... And many of you spend that much on lunch for two for shitty food but great drinks

Lou Roll 4:42 pm, 27-Feb-2014

Nah, not for me. Give me a smackhead in a pair of Reebok Classic anytime.

nonmous 12:54 am, 16-Mar-2014

The oldest profession Because women since the garden of eden have been ho's Eve screwed satan conceiving Cain Then adam conceiving abel talk to a woman she asks what is your work...=( how much will I get b for signing marriage contact with this guy c and screw him every day ) Every woman is a prostitute they ask n use the power Between their legs Trafficking and slavery will never go away stupid people think they can legislate it away they can't poor people want to sell themselves b to get out of poverty .... People should let them ..... my ancestors came b to America as bond slaves and bond slavery should exist everywhere in the world .... If you allow it i will be happy to buy some poor people out of their poverty and give them the same opportunity my bond slave for father's had

lee jing 7:03 am, 18-Mar-2014

do what u may at your risk there is no safe sex now in the 21st. cenfury its just plain filth orgy or not it takes7 years to be rid of each sex partners bugs germs etc and the sex partners they had sex with ztop thinking with your sex drive the sex partner may b fine but. u don't know what's inside tbem how many sex partners they had in the past or what germs they and their partners have don't b stupid because it looks good dummies

john doe 10:08 am, 27-Mar-2014

thank you for nice review, i will be there on opening game at sao paulo, cant wait to nail as much brazilian girls as possible !!! wooohoooooo :)

João 9:56 pm, 21-Jun-2014

A great blog for those who goes to brazil is I was warmly welcomed... ;)

paul 1:28 am, 13-Jul-2014

Go and get a bit of self confidence and pull a woman in the pub its much cheaper .. them girls are a bit messed up.

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Kristi James 11:33 am, 8-Oct-2014

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