Prostitution in Cuba has always been a legal profession, though it has periodically been regulated or repressed. Sex tourism has existed both before and after the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Many Cubans do not consider the practice immoral. In Cuban slang, female prostitutes are called Jineteras, gay male prostitutes are called Jineteros or Pingueros; the terms mean "jockey" or "rider", colloquially "sexual jockey", connotes sexual control during intercourse. The terms have the broader meaning of "hustler", are related to jineterismo, a range of illegal or semi-legal economic activities related to tourism in Cuba. Stereotypically a jinetera is represented as a working-class Afro-Cuban woman. Black and mixed-race prostitutes are preferred by foreign tourists seeking to buy sex on the island. UNAIDS estimate. Sex trafficking is a problem in the country; the country, Havana in particular, has been associated with prostitution in foreign eyes. From the late sixteenth century onwards, Havana was a port of call for transatlantic sailing ships, developed an economy serving the needs of sailors and passengers.
During times of economic slump in Caribbean sugar plantations, slave owners would place slave women on the urban market as prostitutes, or send out female slaves as prostitutes for ships' crews. Havana's rapidly-expanding urban population in the mid-nineteenth century, a result of the booming tobacco industry, led to colonial officials re-locating prostitutes to the margins of the city. Under Spanish law slaves had the right to buy their own freedom, some of the slaves working in Havana households used prostitution as a way of raising money for this purpose; the abolition of slavery in 1886, Cuba's three liberation wars against Spain, resulted in the migration of significant numbers of Afro-Cuban workers to Havana in search of housing and employment. A public debate followed concerning the relationship between the changes in the city's demographics and the levels of prostitution in the city. Havana's prostitutes used pseudonyms to protect their identity, advertise their personal characteristics or skills.
Attempts to regulate prostitution in the late nineteenth century arose as a result of concerns about syphilis among soldiers. After the Spanish–American War, there were attempts to set up "zonas de tolerancia" red-light districts for commercial sex. At this time there were around 200 registered brothels in Havana. Cultural and literary sources attest to the existence of male prostitutes during this period. However, they were not classified as prostitutes, but instead treated as criminals guilty of the crime of sodomy. In 1913, President Mario García Menocal announced Cuba's deregulation law, saying that regulated prostitution was "incompatible with... the spirit of freedom that governs our nation". During the first half of the 20th century, Havana was thought of, depicted as, "the whorehouse of the Caribbean". Prostitution in 1920s Cuba was a flourishing business, so much so that the Minister for the Interior made efforts to "solve the problem of prostitution"; the number of prostitutes in Havana increased from 4,000 in 1912 to 7,400 in 1931.
For many men, a visit to a prostitute was a celebrated feature of a trip to the city. By the late 1950s, about 270 brothels operated in Havana, with more than 11,500 women working as prostitutes; the city's Plaza del Vapor functioned as a large marketplace for prostitution. Descriptions of brothels appeared in tourist guidebooks, there were sex shows and live pornographic theaters such as the Shanghai Theater and the Tokyo Cabaret; the English novelist Graham Greene, writing in his autobiography Ways of Escape, described: "the Shanghai Theatre where for one dollar and twenty-five cents one could see a nude cabaret of extreme obscenity with the bluest of blue films in the intervals." The American journalist David Detzer wrote. A major industry grew up around them. Prostitutes could be seen standing in doorways, strolling the streets, or leaning from windows". Brothels and nightclubs were controlled by organized crime based in the United States. Tourism had become Cuba's second-largest earner of foreign currency, with around 350,000 visitors per year, the brothels and bars of Havana catered to Americans visiting on weekend excursions.
Cuban prostitutes worked at the US Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The sex industry in 1950s Cuba was based on the provision of sexual "services" by black and mixed race women to predominantly white North American men, it drew upon a tradition of exoticising mixed-race Cuban women which originated in the work of male Cuban writers and poets. Following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the new Cuban government saw prostitutes as victims of corrupt and foreign capitalism, viewed prostitution itself as a "social illness", a product of Cuba's pre-revolutionary capitalist culture, rather than a crime. In 1961, pimping was outlawed. Prostitution itself remained legal, but the government, assisted by the Federation of Cuban Women, attempted to curb it. Medical clinics for health examinations were established, along with rehabilitation programs for pimps and re-education programs for former prostitutes. A census of the sex industry was conducted in 1961, identifying 3,000 pimps. Troops raided the red-light districts of Havana, rounded up hundreds of women and fingerprinted them, required them to have physical examinations.
Women who wished to leave prostitution were offered factory jobs. The result was that prostitution was eliminated fr
Thorstein Skarning was a Norwegian-born musician and bandleader, who toured the Upper Midwest for over two decades and was a Twin Cities radio personality in the 1930s. Skarning, who grew up near Drammen, immigrated to the United States in 1909 and by 1917 had begun performing in the new country. From the beginning his wife Anna joined him as a vocalist. In 1925 they were greeted in Grand Forks, North Dakota by a large crowd that filled American Hall to capacity for a program of Norwegian folk dances, Grieg recital pieces and sentimental ballads. A review in the Grand Forks Herald praised the "celebrated accordionist", who played solo versions of Den store, hvide flok and Solveigs sang during one set, it referred to his "charming wife" and called her a "singer of note", who captivated listeners while singing Breil's Song of the soul and Hvalbye's Å, mor. Advertised as the "world's greatest accordion virtuoso" and "greatest player of classical music on the accordion", Skarning demonstrated his skill before rapt audiences and enthusiastic dancers alike.
The high-brow fare was not to everyone's liking. At the MWA hall in Strum, Wisconsin the crowd showed "little appreciation of a Mozart sonata but raised the roof when he stooped to rip off a Norwegian hop waltz." In 1925 when Skarning and his musicians had an engagement in Blair, the local newspaper wrote: "This company never fails to please and their every appearance here is greeted with a packed house. After the musical entertainment is over, the players play for the dancers —and this is where both Mr. Skarning and his people come in for a rousing good time." A master of the chromatic button accordion, Skarning recorded "Skarning's Mazurka", "Vals Brilliante" and a few other tunes while still in Norway. Five of these numbers are on the 2017 album "Trekkspillnostalgi fra Modum og Eiker" and available through iTunes and Amazon mp3. In 1918 Skarning made a trial recording of "Old Comrades" for Victor Records; the same year he released four songs on Columbia Records. In 1930 he put out two songs on the Brunswick label.
Skarning adapted to the changing tastes of the public and during the 1930s performed with his sons Thorstein and Osmund as "Thorstein Skarning and his Norwegian Hillbillies", a group whose broadcasts aired three times a week on WDGY radio in Minneapolis. One of their most popular numbers was a country western rendition of Farvel Mit Fædreland; the violinist Ted Johnson and musicians Ernest and Clarence Iverson played in a hybrid manner, both Scandinavian and American. In the early 1930s Skarning and Ted Johnson were the leading Nordic bandleaders in the Twin Cities as well as good friends; the Minnesota Historical Society has an autographed photo of Skarning that he inscribed to his "old friend Ted Johnson, violinist par excellence." Thorstein Skarning died in 1939, but his son Thorstein kept the orchestra going into the 1950s, promoting it as "the only Norske band in the United States featuring old style mixed music." Thorstein Skarning at Find a Grave A Passion For Polka at the University of California Press.
Historic American Newspapers Thorstein Skarning advertisements and articlesPhotos Thorstein Skarning and his Norwegian Hillbillies Thorstein B. Skarning's famous Norske OrkesterArticles and advertisements Thorstein Skarning 1918 - 1925Album cover "Skarning's Mazurka" and other melodiesDiscographies Thorstein Skarning in Ethnic Music On Records Page 2633. Thorstein Skarning on Victor Records. Streaming audio Den store, hvide flok Old comrades march Solveigs sang Song of the soul Scandinavian old-time Skarning songs recorded by various artistsDocumentary Emigrant entertainment — and nowVideos Old comrades march on YouTube Solveigs sang on YouTube Valse brilliante on YouTubeThorstein and Anna Skarning lyrics Den store, hvide flok Emigrantvalsen Solveigs sang Å, mor la meg legge mitt hodeAnna Skarning sheet music Song of the soul at the Sheet Music Consortium. Select view sheet music