Reportage : Las Maricas del Santa Fe Bogotá, Colombia - 2014

Santa Fé, the former upper-class neighborhood located in the city center of Bogotá, presently offers all kinds of satisfaction for men. This megacity, which is the capital of Columbia, is offering all kinds of satisfaction to pleasure-seeking individuals these days. Women of all ages and from all over the country provide temporary pleasures by offering their bodies. The streets are filled with people and a certain level of safety in this old neighborhood characterizes an area of tolerance for those who make a living out of prostitution.
The two friends, Natalia and Arelis, built their social and economic ties between those 15 blocks. They were born as men in the rural villages of the Colombian highlands and moved to the capital in hopes of finding acceptance for their sex reversal; they took the chance to escape the countryside, where they faced misunderstanding and discrimination. All across the country, people, especially transgender women, are moving to the center of the capital to work on the streets and thus improve their quality of life.
Few women have adequate money to get their sex-change surgery done; therefore, they take certain hormone-pharmaceuticals and enlist at least for hormone therapy. Arelis does not even have enough money to buy this medication; thus, she fills her bra with socks to obtain a more feminine appearance.
The red-light district is located in the center of Bogota. In the fifties, this area was still an upper-class quarter; owing to a rural exodus, however, it developed into a popular living space for people from the lower classes.
In the morning, Arelis lights the first pipe with marihuana—even before eating breakfast. Apart from dope, not many drugs are seen in the house.
Natalia does not like to work on the streets at night; it is too dangerous out there. When she does not make any money during the day, however, she has to stay until clients come. On occasion, she has to wait for around 20 hours to make some money. Like many other prostitutes, she takes pills to avoid feeling the cold.
The house is located in the residential part of the red-light district; therefore, it is calmer there.
Natalia has been living together with her husband since over two years; however, they only share one room. They mostly wash their clothes by hand; sometimes they rent a washing machine for several hours. It is brought to the house by a service provider.
Relationships between trans women and biological men are quite common in the red-light district.
Relationships between trans women and biological men are quite common in the red-light district.
Christal (shown right in the picture) takes a picture with Diana, who is checking the entrance door and looks for safety in the house. Diana lives on the first floor, together with her children as well as her grandchild.
As the district is an unsafe place, working also in the district is difficult. Through social ties and a sociable atmosphere in the house, they manage to countenance the daily violent conditions. None of them would like to live without their friends in their own apartments.
The house is not limited only to trans persons but open to everyone who does not have a stable income. Angelica lives in the house with her two children and one grandchild. She makes her living by selling coffee and juice in the streets, and is currently pursuing her high school graduation.
The house is not limited only to trans persons but open to everyone who does not have a stable income. Angelica lives in the house with her two children and one grandchild. She makes her living by selling coffee and juice in the streets, and is currently pursuing her high school graduation.
Natalia's husband, Alex, has to do most of the housework because he does not have a job. In this typically “male chauvinist” country, gender roles have been set upside down.
Natalia cooks with Juani. Juani was born as a woman and lives next door. Whenever Natalia needs something, she just calls for Alex to bring it over.
High heels, dope, a shaver, and the Bible lies next to Arelis’ bed.
No subtitle.
Even when there is no money, they always find some pesos for an Aqua Diente, the local brand of alcohol. Even when the children are already asleep, the party does not end.
There is no Colombian party without salsa and merengue dancing. They work hard during the day and over the weekend nights, they relax with their friends.
In Angelica’s room, there are a lot of details to discover. Some toys are not even unpacked so that they last longer.
Natalia dresses Arelis up for her birthday party.
Arelis received a cake for her 26th birthday.
No subtitle.
Natalia’s dog is one of her closest and best friends. Sometimes, she dyes the dog's ears pink.
Trans people in Bogota have a short life expectancy. Barbara, around 40 years old, is the oldest trans woman in the house.
As there is no common kitchen on Nicole’s floor, she cooks her lunch in her own room.
No subtitle.
When there is no housework to do and no need to work, Arelis and Natalia like to relax. They sit in the bed, watching films, and smoke weed together with Alex—at least until it gets dark and Arelis needs to start working.

This is the end, my friend ...

Show all stories