Jamaican Sex Tourism the Subject of Steamy Documentary
Rent a Rasta
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DVD Review by Kam Williams
Very good (2.5 stars)
Running time: 45 minutes
Studio: Passion River Films
When white women flock to Jamaica for a little fun in the sun, the R&R they’re often looking for is not ’Rest and Relaxation’ but to ’Rent a Rasta’
according to director J. Michael Seyfert. His eye-opening expose’ of the same name sheds light on a barely acknowledged form of sex tourism, namely, white women who visit the Caribbean Islands to get their groove back with the help of black locals.
This documentary claims that, each year, as many as 80,000 females from a variety of relatively-wealthy Western nations descend on Jamaica alone. The long-concealed phenomenon was also recently the subject of Heading South, a fictional account of similar goings-on in Haiti.
Most of those inclined to indulge their Island Fever with wanton abandon are apparently middle-aged and/or overweight spinsters. Ignored by white men, and afraid to date blacks openly due to the social taboo, they look for satisfaction at remote resorts amidst the anonymity offered by a virtual paradise.
These decadent dames safely lure their boy toys with money, electronic gadgets, designer clothes, baubles, or whatever material item it takes to get uncomplicated sexual favors in return along with the strict understanding that like in Las Vegas, ’What happens in Jamaica, stays in Jamaica.’ As one satisfied customer, a 45 year-old spinster from the Midwest explains her addiction to her hedonistic getaway, ’A girl who no one looks at twice gets hit on all the time here. All these guys are paying her attention, telling her she's really beautiful, and they really want her. It is like a secret, a fantasy, and then you go home.’
While this glimpse of the lucky ladies' rationale for their no-strings liaisons is certainly informative, the picture is actually far more interesting when chronicling the history of Jamaica, winding its way from the slave days through the rise of the Rastafari to the present. Framed from this perspective, we suddenly see a persistent pattern of utter subjugation and economic inequality, with islanders providing stud service only being the latest form of exploitation.
Perhaps most telling is the desperate summation of a suffering black woman seen begging for an end to the Jamaican people's neverending cycle of poverty. She wants, ’the white world to come give us our deliverance, because it was them who take us out of our land and carry us here.’
Viewed in this light, Rent a Rasta is a clarion call which establishes that sex tourism is not merely the harmless indulgence of horny white women gone wild, but a burgeoning trend which continues to wreak havoc on a Caribbean culture and family structure already in crisis.