MOTEL STAFF – 10 FACTS ABOUT KISS ME
When I first visited Motel Kiss Me in Cali, it was for an appointment with Humberto Villegas — owner of Latin America’s biggest theme motel. Señor Villegas gave me a warm welcome in his penthouse apartment, on top of his own motel, with gel in his hair and his bright white smile shining like a lighthouse for lost sailors. Upon my second visit, however, I had a chance to speak to the workers of the motel and discovered a whole new world behind the colorful façade.
Kiss Me motel is Latin America’s biggest theme motel. It has 185 rooms and together with its sister motel, Condoricosas, it has around 180 workers. I visited the motel for the first time in July 2017, yet had to go back for more photos in August 2017. As Señor Humberto Villegas was not available for a tour around the hotel when I returned to the establishment, I had the unexpected luck of being taken around by the head of HR, Marcela Toro, and the chief of the cleaning staff, Ceneida Benitez. In the meanwhile, we chatted about the reality of the motel.
Image: @Julian Rengifo O
10 Facts about Motel Kiss Me
1. Around 80% of the clients are unfaithful couples. People who are married, yet come with a different partner to the motel, or as a trio or more people.
2. Men sometimes call prostitutes to their rooms. Although there is no record of the relations people have between each other, the staff notices when a woman does not know the man she will be meeting.
3. It takes 10 minutes to clean a motel room – unless it is very filthy. Very filthy meaning vomit on the floors, blood stains on the bed and the floor, blood in the jacuzzi, pee next to the actual toilet seat, a heavy smell of cigarettes or marijuana, broken items…
4. There are several different types of rooms: Sweet, Jacuzzi, Turkish, VIP, Presidential and Multiple. The first being the smallest and cheapest, the last the biggest and most expensive. The most desired rooms are the ones with a Turkish bath.
5. The person who takes out all orders is called “Rondero”. He delivers the orders through a small window (like the ones dangerous lifetime prisoners have at their cell doors) and receives the money. All deliveries are on sale, none of the lingerie or sex toys can be rented out.
6. The staff works in 12-hour shifts, 7am to 7pm and 7pm to 7am, five days a week. The night shift prepares everything for the next day (sheets, pillows etc.) and checks that everything works (tv, remote control etc.), the day shift cleans between customers.
7. The motel is open 364 days a year, except for Good Friday.
8. The multiple rooms (with themes like Fifty Shades of Grey, Colombia…) are rented out for four people for a minimum of four hours. If more people are invited, each person pays an extra fee. The maximum amount of people in the multiple rooms is 60.
9. The multiple rooms are not always used for orgies, but also for afterparties. In fact, many times people rent out the rooms on a Saturday night and continue a party with electronic music, marijuana and cocaine.
Image: ©Julian Rengifo O
…and then the fact that still haunts me:
10. Sometimes the police has to interfere, when someone is clearly being abused inside the motel. Although it’s tricky for the motel staff to know when it’s an agreed game within a couple and when it’s real abuse, if they hear loud cries of pain, they knock on the door. If it is not opened, they call the police. The staff says it’s not only once or twice that a man has badly bruised his wife or sex partner inside the motel.
This left me very disturbed, as I cannot understand violence of any kind. I especially cannot understand, why anyone would want to hurt their sexual partner or a loved one against his or her will. Hearing these kind of things leaves a permanent stain inside me, and even more so on the person who is being abused.
A positive end note
During this trip, I witnessed a case of physical abuse within a family. I wrote about it here, in a post titled Mother’s Day – Happiness After Violence (translated also into Spanish by Mónica Dabalá). I’m more than happy to tell you now that the woman left the man two months ago, taking her children with her. She has written to me and is happily getting on with her life in a new environment.
Images: ©Julian Rengifo O