CNMI Adult Businesses

December 2, 2008

For several months there has been discussion that the CNMI government was exploring the idea of transforming the vacant la Fiesta Mall into a sex park. Apparently, that idea has been trashed.

The CNMI Zoning Office is informing the owners of "adult businesses" on Saipan that they will be required to comply with new zoning laws. Effective August 2008 all "adult businesses" were required to observe new zoning laws regarding signs and building design. Some of the requirements include: advertising displays describing certain body parts or sex acts must not be visible to the public; building openings and windows must be screened to prevent the public from seeing inside; entrances must be posted with a visible sign stating “no minors allowed”; signs must not display flashing lights, neon lighting or other internal illumination or uplighting; and signs must be in English.

Effective September 2009 the "adult businesses" will have to relocate to the new "adult business overlay zone", which is "the area within 200 feet of each side of the centerline of Chalan Pale Arnold (Middle Road) from Chalan Msgr. Guerrero north to a line extending along the center of Commonwealth Avenue (south side of Sugar King Park)." The CNMI Zoning Board web site features adult businesses on Saipan frequently asked questions.

Saipan has a population of about 65,000 and there are about 150 "adult businesses." That is a very high percentage of sex shops for such a small population.

The zoning board lists adult businesses as adult cabaret, adult motel, adult motion picture theater, adult theater, escort agency, massage parlor, nude model studio, sex shop and sexual encounter center. Will the federal guest worker program allow the categories of exotic dancer, stripper, sexual masseuse, escort, an other "adult business" employees? I doubt it.


cactus said...

Actually, there are far fewer strip joints and karaoke bars on Saipan now than there used to be.
Ten years ago, they could be found in every village from San Antonio to Tanapag, even a few in San Vicente. Now, I can only think of one or two outside of Garapan.

In fact, both of the places pictured on your post with advertisement featuring pretty girls are now closed. As for the two massage places, I don't know whether these are sexual type massages or not. I suppose they could be, but nothing particularly suggests it.

wendy said...

Hi Cactus

I think there are fewer, but there are still so many. And so many prostitutes opening selling themselves in the evenings. My daughter even noticed this summer. The CNMI has a growing reputation as a sex tourist destination. Did you see the report on the internet detailing the bars and clubs? It is here.

cactus said...

The report you link to is dated 1997. I recall reading it many years ago, and it was more or less accurate at that time.

Not any more. In fact, the most noticeable thing about the girls you see prowling around Garapan in the evening is that they are nowhere near as young or pretty as they used to be back in the garment-factory era.

I expect that as Saipan becomes increasingly "Guamified" ("Guamized"? "Guamanianized"?)under federalization, prostitution on Saipan will increasingly come to resemble prostitution on Guam --leering, tawdry and not very tempting. Certainly not a reason to come here from anywhere else.

wendy said...

Hi Cactus

Oh, I know it is old but it is still there online to attract business or maybe to make tourists stay away if they stumble upon it. If you go to Trip Advisor there are several references to sex on Saipan. Some iof the description in the 1997 report still rings true today. The description of the four types of "clubs", for instance. The girls outside the Garapan clubs that I saw in August were very young. The prostitutes on the street corners behind the Summer Holiday are not as young and look desperate.
In 2007 I went to Saipan with a friend who investigated the clubs and massage parlors. The massage parlors were brothels and many clubs had VIP rooms. There is a hotel that has an organized prostitution syndicate. I think that the night scene is damaging to the reputation of the CNMI as a family vacation spot. The CNMI may get more tourists promoting the rich culture and the beauty. The zoning laws seem to suggest at least the "adult businesses" will be less obvious.

cactus said...

Well, this is one issue where you, the local government, and Taotao Tano are all in agreement -- and there can't be many of those.

As for me, I am skeptical. I think the combination of the federalization laws and the zoning laws will have a significant effect on the remaining adult businesses, but the effect will not be that they will go away or become less obvious, only that they will get uglier.

wendy said...

I agree zoning laws will not have a real impact on the businesses except to stick them all in one spot, and try to mask what is happening inside them. I think what could have an impact is if the federal government cracks down on human trafficking and refuses to issue work permits for categories of workers that are too often abused in the clubs.

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