The girls were kept in a locked room above the cantina, the door dead-bolted from the outside. The second-floor prison had a bathroom, so the girls would hardly ever need to be let out. Sometimes, they were locked up all day, every day -- once, this stretched on for a month.
The door would only open whenever a "special client" arrived at Las Palmas II, a Telephone Road cantina with a facade brightly painted with a tranquil ocean scene and palm trees. Bar owner Hortencia Medeles-Arguello, also known as La Tencha, or her daughter Delia Diaz would show the customers around the room, explaining which girls had been working at the brothel the longest and which ones were "fresh meat," as if the men were picking cattle.
For the big spenders -- men willing to spend $350 to $500 for an hour with the girls, some as young as 14 years old -- La Tencha had hardly any rules. Anything goes, she told clients -- oral sex, anal sex, slapping and hitting. Just don't strike the girls in the face, she told them. It could depreciate their value. More »