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XXX district keeps on rolling
By : Adair MacGregor
Montreal has made itself known worldwide with its budding sex culture. In the most liberal province of the already liberal Canada, it has often been compared to Amsterdam by more than one objective critic.
Tell any traveled tourist that you've visited Montreal and it's almost guaranteed the first thing they'll ask you is if you've been to Club Super Sexe or to Le 281, two of the extremely popular strip clubs that run a busy racket in Montreal's downtown core—and it's not only because most strip clubs allow physical contact with their dancers.
Montreal's red-light district, which began as a necessary evil to protect innocent girls from the dangers of lusty sailors, is as much of a long-standing Montreal tradition as its smoked meat, bagels and poutine. Historically, several factors have lead to the trend of traveling to Montreal to get down and groovy.
During the United States prohibition, Montreal became a hub of gangsters and bootleggers looking for a good time. With this surge of tourism, not only did the authorities turn a blind eye, but it became en vogue for girls of little means to apply to the various brothels. After the two world wars and the return of the soldiers, the brothels made enough money to pay off the fines and keep a regular clientele satisfied.
Although brothels themselves were shut down sometime in the 50s, street walking, escorts, and strip clubs have become quite trendy. Today there are about 6000 men and women working in the sex industry, generating an estimated $350 million per year. That's a lot! How much? That's how much the United States pledged for rebuilding Southeast Asia after the 2004 tsunami.
It's an on-going joke among Montrealers that you can't walk three blocks without hitting a strip bar, and for the most part it's true. Mostly along Montreal's major downtown drag, Rue Ste Catherine, you'll see neon signs advertising the cheapest and hottest dancers at almost every intersection. No matter what your interests or money-spending habits are, with so many to choose from, there is guaranteed to be a strip club that is made up just for you.
Peep shows are another Montreal novelty, with dozens of cinemas at every major section of the city. Some of them sell erotic DVDs while others have a liquor licenses. Many of them are heavily advertised and on busy corners of the street, while others have found their niche hidden off the major routes and targeting the more discreet customer. In Montreal it's not hard to find, it's hard to choose.
The future of Montreal's red light district may be heading down a new path. Many well-recognized organizations are rallying to legalize prostitution in order for it to be more protected and safe for both the customer and the seller. If all goes according to plan, the next couple of years may see Montreal becoming as sexy and liberal as Amsterdam.+