The cowboys "hunt" at Kuta Beach sprawled on the sand near dusk, when it's early enough to "make a promise" to meet a woman later that night. The women have just started to apply sunscreen when a cowboy trots over. April is a low season for tourists and competition is fierce. Many of the boys are with minnows, but they hope to fry fatter fish.
"I like the older women because they have more money", says a 21-year-old gigolo who calls himself Montana.
"We say, 'No money, no honey.'"
The young ones just want to party. The old ones are nice, they take care of me and give me massages. I not care if her body's old. We say, 'A face like Italy, a body like Toyota.' I tell the woman she's the only one, because otherwise it sounds cheap." Montana pulls out a wallet thick with snapshots of the only one from Sweden, the only one from Australia and the only one from France.
The cowboys say falling in love is a hazard of the profession, but through on-the-job training, they've learned to avoid that trap. "I don't give love anymore because I was hurt by one girl who said she was coming back and never did," explains 24-year-old Made. "If the woman says 'I love you,' I say 'Me, too.' I lie because I care."
Made is courting four women scattered around Europe in hopes that he'll win a trip there. After they return home, many women wire money that the cowboys use for rent and clothes, and some pay for a flight so he can visit. If a boy is really good, Santa gives him a marriage license, a one-way ticket off the island. That's what the boys really want - our paradise is their purgatory. Newspapers in Bali are cluttered with ads placed by university graduates seeking jobs, and former economics majors can be found hawking necklaces on the street.