Hotel Puta’ is an unflinching and brutal account of the workings of a luxury brothel in Madrid. The text is based on 18 months of careful and risky covert ethnographic observation in the brothel in which I worked directly for a man known as ‘el jefe’ (Pablo) by promoting the online porn forums and as an English teacher. Over the project period, I worked in the brothel a couple of nights a week doing these duties and came to know the women who worked there and the security staff, Pablo’s closest friends and family and his ‘inner circle’ of contacts and political support buffers. The book follows the stories of some of the women, predominantly the narrative of Gabriela, involved in the sale of sex. It also examines Pablo, the hotel manager, as I also got an intimate insight into how his incessant focus on business fed his aspiration for a class upgrade through the purchase of expensive cars, shopping and lavish holidays. The context for the lives of these people are the expansion of the sex industry and prominence of internet porn which manufactures desire in an era of neoliberal consumer society. The clients, who are generally well off men, work long hours and feel dislocated from their families yet are bound by a societal ‘injunction to enjoy’, and nurture their sense of personal indulgence and self-gratiﬁcation. Their ‘manufactured’ fantasies and desires are played out with the women who, in the face of austerity politics are bereft of formal labour market opportunities which catapults many into precarious situations in which selling sex becomes a profitable option. This has crudely mixed with cultural change in Spain in the wake of increased neoliberal economics which emphasises autonomous meritocracy while, at the same time, has hollowed out notions of culture, family and tradition.
“In this fascinating book, Daniel Briggs uses his ethnographic skills covertly in a project that he stumbled onto inadvertently. He works, undertaking several roles, in a luxury brothel in Madrid. In the pages that follow, he shines a light on the management, the women and the clients who inhabit this hidden milieu and situates their lives in the broader context of a neoliberal consumer culture that convinces us of our right to enjoy, regardless of the harm it may cause others.”
-Anthony Lloyd, Teesside University
“In this excellent new book, Daniel Briggs successfully penetrates the barriers and takes the reader inside a contemporary brothel to provide new insights into how prostitution works in a luxury context and exposes the day-to-day life of female sex workers. It does not shy away from the realities of prostitution but meticulously documents the lived experiences of female sex workers through a detailed ethnographic study of a luxury brothel in Madrid.”
– Sam Barnes, Arden University
“This honest and timely account of a new form of slavery presents the reader with a much needed shocking experience. RJ4All Publications is honoured to be hosting this book as part of its RJSeries joining the debate on power. Through ethnographic observation and evidence-based arguments, Briggs takes a bold step in helping us realise the growing phenomenon of sex slavery and the impact of privilege on social justice. This book is highly recommended to anyone with research interests as well as personal questions around gender inequality, power abuse and individual empowerment”.
-Prof. Dr. Theo Gavrielides, RJ4All Publications Editor in Chief