Nairobi Nights: An Allergy To Rubber & Other Latex Anecdotes

My first ever client wore two condoms. He had voluntarily worn one but I had insisted he insert a second. This was as a result of intelligence I had gathered from Njoki, a girl I had befriended, and who had been at the Sabina Joy (SJ) for years. According to her a girl could not risk sleeping with a man who wears a single condom. “What if the condom tears?” she asked. This was the Njoki who recited Yeats and whose experience and perceived brains were impossible to ignore, especially as an anxious novice. So there I was lying on a tattered mattress in a stuff dimly lit room, telling a rather drunk man to wear an extra condom or bounce.  Of course he protested claiming I was giving him a raw deal, but too bad for him, he had already paid for the room and walking away would have meant him losing Sh200. As he penetrated me I was dealing with the relief of at last doing something I never imagined I would do and the discomfort of too much rubber.

Word spreads fast at the SJ and it didn’t take long to know I was not endearing myself to men by always insisting on the double potion of condoms. Also after some research on my own I realized using two condoms may actually have been doubling the risk rather than the protection. So I went easy on it. That said the number of men who wanted raw sex; kanyama as they called at the SJ, was amazing… A man would ask to have unprotected sex with me, and if I asked why his answer would be a vague statement like “That’s what I enjoy”. Unlike on the streets where monetary gains may tempt a girl to have raw sex, at the SJ there were no such incentives. At times a man would try to penetrate me without a condom and if I alerted him to it, he would pretend to have forgotten. That however was a ridiculous excuse because the condoms would be lying on the bed for him to see. Yet what perplexed me most those initial days was why anyone would decide to have unsafe sex with a prostitute. It’s a puzzle I have never solved to date.

The sex at the SJ was no frills. This made it impossible for men to trick me to having unprotected sex. You see the short time sex at the SJ follows a very predictable pattern: You smile at man. He smiles back. If he is at a distance you wink. He comes over to you. Twende shortie you say. The man asks how much. Two hundred. If he agrees he goes to the reception and pays Sh200 for the short time room, and gets a pack of condom wrapped in tissue paper. Both of you queue awkwardly outside the short time room where there is always a couple inside. If those inside the room stay for more than five minutes, you start intensely knocking the door until they get out. Once inside you ask the man for your fee. Money in hand you lower jeans, lie on the tattered mattress, apply some saliva on your P and wait for the man. If he makes as if to touch your breasts and all or ask for funky styles you turn him down; money and time are not enough for the extras.

On the street nothing is as predictable. The venue of the sex is an unknown just as what will happen when there. Since on the street I charge a premium, I am more flexible and give or act as if to give my all. Still a number of men have tried to penetrate me raw, especially when I am on my fours. Some wear the condom then try to remove it. But I am always alert and none of those odd men have succeeded in their trickery. There are other men who will offer me extra cash in return for kanyama. In such circumstances I, and most girls, decide what to do based on individual greed, desperation and need for money.

As much as the effects of a an ailment such as AIDS may be more adverse on me than say pregnancy, like most girls I am equally worried about getting impregnated by a random customer. Most of the girls practicing in places like the SJ or on the street, and who have children are proud to pin point the father. In most cases the father is a boyfriend in their neighborhood. (Yes, many girls have boyfriends.) . In cases where the father is a client then it one of those they have built a special relationship with. While at the SJ I believed a condom could protect me more from disease than from pregnancy. No wonder I got pregnant despite my being extra careful. I have never understood how it happened. But luckily or unluckily something came up in the early days of the pregnancy and I didn’t carry it to full term. And no, I didn’t abort.

There was another time when I had a pregnancy scare. A man picked me from the street around 4 in the morning. He was fairly drunk and so I was. We went to a hotel within the CBD and had this rough sex. Either he didn’t wear the condom properly or climaxed and continued thrusting, but somehow the condom came out. I only realized when we were done.  I was not very polite with him and used some choice words to express my disgust. He laughed, placed my fee on the bed and left. Such was a “Shit! I am a prostitute!” moment; a few seconds which reminded me straight on the face of my place in a righteous society. Anyway I didn’t want daylight to get me in town, so I left the hotel and went home with the condom stuck in me. I managed to remove the filthy thing. Though it was during my unsafe days, I was lucky again as I tested negative both for diseases and pregnancy.

Still on condoms, a man picked me one rainy night. He was not so good looking but quite polite.  We went to a hotel in the outskirts of town. Immediately we entered the room we were all over each other with kisses and touches.  When time came for the actual sex, he removed some cream from his trousers and gave to me. I thought it was a lubricant. “That’s a spermicide. I am allergic to rubber”. What! I looked at the packaging and instructions, sure it was a spermicide. There was even an applicator which I was to use to apply it inside me. “I will use it too “the man said. For a moment I was frustrated and confused. I was broke and needed the money. “What happens when you use rubber?” I get very sick. He looked and sounded genuine. “Are you married?” No. This broke my heart. He was a prostitutes’ man. “Will this protect me from infection?”  “I don’t know, but I have used it with other women and nothing bad has happened. Do I look like I can infect you intentionally?” There was a moment of silence. I then took the cream, squeezed and applied generously inside me. In silence he applied it on himself. We made love, nothing forceful, and nothing steamy. But everything mellow.

That was a few months ago. Nothing bad has happened to me.

Writer: Sue        Photography: Black Erotica