Trick Town

Boys will be boys, especially in Nuevo Laredo, Where legal prostitution draws generations of Texas men across the border for cheap, sleazy and anonymous sex

Smugglers are a destabilizing force on the border, and since NAFTA, the scourge is an international issue. Lederer says most smugglers of women also traffic weapons and drugs, making smugglers a high priority on police "to do" lists.

Big operations to shut down smuggling rings have captured headlines while potential abuses of homegrown prostitutes remain ignored. Until the Mexican government gets a plan to regulate its legal red light zones, life will remain as it has since Clayton Williams and his Aggies drove down for cheap sex.

The Border Patrol is always present at the bridges that span the border, but they are helpless to stop waves of pill-heads and johns who indulge in Mexico.
Joe Pappalardo
The Border Patrol is always present at the bridges that span the border, but they are helpless to stop waves of pill-heads and johns who indulge in Mexico.

A slim hand slides down into your crotch and gives a firm squeeze. Turn your head slowly; her face may be closer to yours than you expect--or want.

"I want to suckee you," the woman says. It's impossible to ignore the lusterless gold tooth and the network of deep lines in her face. You'd say she was 50, but a hard life of prostitution throws all guesses in doubt.

Her hand becomes more desperate in its grim work before you pull away. Polite rebuffs are not enough. Competition is tough, and it's a john's market, making the women desperate. You find yourself rationalizing, pleading and finally paying just to get her away from you. She lingers, eyeing your resolve from a nearby table. The woman seems to know that nothing's changing. Next week will be the same for her as this one, except she may not have any money if she can't get the seduction train rolling. Mulling the failure of her crotch-grabbing approach, she waits in a corner and sips a beer.

There's one last gamble left, taken as the john heads for the door and the dusty Boys Town night. "Come back later," she whispers, hand tracing light circles on a shoulder. "We go to my room for free."

Her line inflates the ego bubble with insensible testosterone and pride. Men and money are soon parted when their penises and insecurities meet at center stage. The rejected solicitation has a physical effect: puffed chest, bright eyes, straight backbone, a James T. Kirk swagger.

It doesn't matter that her generous offer is a lie. The whole place is an outright fabrication that hookers, johns and the Mexican government have all chosen to believe out of convenience.

For all its legality and forthrightness the business of Boys Town is founded on the most desperate and false motives of both sexes, with both sides eager to get into character to fill powerful but different needs. Those inside the stark walls of Boys Town are cut-rate actors filling roles: the tall-stepping undersexed gringo, the willing dark-skinned woman. They dance in shadows, renting and buying bright moments of intimacy as the dark nights drag on into years.

So the whore lied. You're damn right the whore lied. If you didn't know it going into La Zona, you realize it coming out. The whore always lies.

Now ask yourself if you care; the answer determines if you'll return to Boys Town or remain outside the walls, bathed in harsh light and wanting.

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