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Acapulco's prostitution is neither intense nor obvious, when compared to many other tourist destinations in Latin America. There, the dance clubs have largely been overrun by working girls, and the hooking is very much "in your face." Not so, in Acapulco, where prostitution stays on the margins of the nightlife scene. Most practitioners of the world's oldest profession restrict themselves to a few fairly well-defined locations, and that's it.

To be sure, prostitution is perfectly legal in Acapulco. It is even regulated by the municipal government, which requires all prostitutes (ncluding the men and women who work in strip clubs) to be 18 or older and to pass periodic health checks. Enforcement is not always 100%, however. Several years ago, a special investigation by the city government turned up several cases of prostitutes who were underage or without current health certifications, resulting in the closure of several clubs for a while.

The six main outlets for prostitution in Acapulco are: quintas (basically, brothels where girls line up to be chosen by the clients), street hookers (often seen late at night in the Condesa area between Baby Lobster and Mangos), strippers (virtually all of whom provide sexual services), escort services (which advertise in the classifieds and the yellow pages), and bars in the "zona roja" (or red light district) where locals go to dance (and where the women are available for more than dancing). Finally, you have the freelance hotels, mostly in the downtown area near the mercado El Parazal (where the hotel guest can have someone sent up to the room).

Prostitution in Acapulco is by no means an occupation reserved for women. Many males moonlight as prostitutes, mainly for male clients. Acapulco's growing trans-gender population seems to have staked out turf on the opposite side of the Costera from the female prostitutes along the beachfront side of La Condesa. The shemales can be more feminine and voluptuous than their female colleagues, so if you are not in this market, be careful or avoid the street scene altogether.

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