Interviews 1


Milena is one of the first women I met in Vila Mimosa in January of 2012. She was working as a manager at the house Aline works as a prostitute.

In this interview, she talks about what her job is like. It varies from house to house, but most brothel managers in Vila Mimosa work 24-hour shifts, like Milena. The work is hard, and it doesn’t pay as well as working as a prostitute:

  • Most women we interviewed in the Red Light Rio project make $15-$20 (R$30-40) per program with a client
  • Milena makes $35 (R$70) per 24-hour shift as a manager, the equivalent of two programs
  • Red Bull costs $6 per can (R$12) – $10 at some houses

As Milena says in her interview, she’s personally responsible for any money missing at the end of her shift.  She told me one time another woman who works in the Zone stole half a dozen Red Bulls from the fridge and put Milena back her entire shift’s wages.

The fridge to the right was the scene of the Red Bull crime.

The fridge to the right: scene of the Red Bull crime.


In April of 2012, Milena invited me to spend a night with her on her shift. 

By 3 or 4am it was murder. Mostly because there was nothing going on.

Watching TV.

Watching TV and waiting for time to pass.


I couldn’t stay up a single night without stimulants. And a lot of women who work the night shift in Vila, as prostitutes or managers, Milena included, said the same thing. 

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Daybreak out a window on the third floor.


Milena’s drug habit got bad enough last year that she decided to leave the Zone and re-establish her equilibrium.

While she talked about her family as unsupportive when I interviewed her, this time they helped her out with childcare and her expenses, and after a few months, Milena came back to work.

“It’s a hard life. It’s hard as hell. And for precisely that reason, I’d like some respect.”

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