How Stella Lost Her Groove In Jamaica

It was a regular, sunny day in Negril. The sky was clear, the air was fresh, and the sun had kissed the sky blue water with its warmth. It was a perfect day for the beach. My friends and I were vacationing after a wedding and decided to take a trip along the 7 mile beach from for our favorite activities: swimming, jet skiing, and basic beach chilling. I revealed my pink, two-piece boy OP bathing suit and headed to feel the warmth of the Negril sea water. I was with my girlfriends in the water, when we noticed him walking towards a boat. He was 6’2, slender, as dark and smooth as unmixed coffee, with a model’s smile and physique. He was well poised and he walked with the typical Negril “hot boy” swagger. He was definitely the biggest fish in the water that day. We watched and whispered and then made our way over to see what attraction he had to offer on the beach. It was a glass bottom boat and he was willing to take us out at a “discount” rate if we were willing to go. As we talked to him, we noticed his smile and picked up on a subtle pretentious “foreign” accent. He soon mentioned that he was coming to New York in the very near future. He was cool and he chatted and laughed and quickly charmed us into becoming his friend. Here was another cool yardie that we could hang out with in The Jungle or at Chances or Alfred’s. He soon declared that he was a model and would be doing a photo shoot sometime in the near future, if we wanted to come and see. He was, indeed, charming and handsome. As I am the most talkative of the bunch, he took a liking to me and we exchanged numbers, hoping to keep in touch as acquaintances for the next time I returned.

Ty* called me every day. We soon became great friends. He told me about his life and about the abuse he suffered as a child from a hateful mother. He told me about his aspirations and how he was discovered by Pulse Modeling agency but didn’t have the money or the resources to pursue his life long dream of modeling and acting. He wanted to be a STAR! He wanted so badly to leave his life in the slums and migrate to lands greater than his own. He wanted to do more for himself. His brothers are in jail, his mother lives in another country, his father is wayward and he is left alone to fend for himself. He turned 27 in May and he feels as if his life was at a standstill. I felt his pain and thought of helping him but I had heard too many stories of “How Stella lost her Groove” in Jamaica and I wasn’t about to fall into the trap. He thanked me many times for letting him come into my life. He showed many kind gestures. He knew exactly how to charm his way into a woman’s heart and he couldn’t wait for my soon return to Jamaica; that would make his life so much happier than what it was at the time. He also wanted a pair of Ray Ban shades and some potato chips and some cologne by Avon that he loved. He told me about his yearning to leave that led him to use his entire life savings to purchase a visa that he thought was legitimate. He was held at the airport by security and all of his breadfruit and ackee spoiled in his luggage. He had to take all the fish he was going to bring to his aunt in New York back home and toss it in the garbage along with his dreams. He was truly a poster child. He was comfortable talking to me and I to him but something just didn’t click between us. He sounded too eager to leave Jamaica, the land that I love. But I returned to Jamaica for my summer vacation, ambivalent but hopeful.
I didn’t call immediately. In fact, I thought twice about calling. He called and I didn’t answer; he left messages that I didn’t return, and finally sent text messages that went unread. I finally decided to give it a chance and go to Negril to see him. He had outlined plans for us during my three-week stay. He had reserved both a hotel room and an apartment to suit me. He took me to a hole-in-the-wall apartment that I hated immediately and was disappointed when I informed him that it was substandard and I wouldn’t stay there with him. We went to a hotel room…that, too, was substandard but by then it was far past closing time for decent hotels and I really wanted to shower and rest for a night at The Jungle. I was displeased and there was just something about his aura that did not appeal to me. He really wasn’t my type and although we had established a solid friendship, there was a missing piece to this puzzle that I was determined to find. After all, I had booked and paid the taxi to go from Sav to Negril, he reserved the hotel room in my name, and now I was starting to wonder what his motives really were.

I got dressed for Jungle and my friends met me at the hotel. After he saw me getting dressed, he decided to come along so he tagged along with us to the club. I even had to pay his entry fee and my friends had to buy him drinks. We got to the club and I started to act shady. My friends felt sorry for Ty and begged me to pay him closer attention but something just wasn’t right. Soon, an old friend came along and we engaged in conversation. He took us to the VIP room, and I walked away from Ty and left him standing alone. We had drinks in the VIP room and danced and reunited with friends from high school. We had forgotten all about him when suddenly, I saw him walking towards me in the VIP room. I was standing next to another guy and he beckoned me to “Come here, now”. I hesitated and then walked over to him. He wanted the keys to the hotel room so he could go to sleep. I wasn’t ready to go and I was certainly not giving him the keys to the room where my prized possessions were. I told him to wait until I was ready and then he disappeared. People who know me saw me with him and approached me about the interaction. It was then that I found out the truth about Ty.

It is one of Jamaica’s fastest growing occupations in the informal sector. Gigolos prey on women from “foreign” who are beautiful and friendly; those who will give them the time of day and, better yet, their U.S. telephone numbers. Ty is a member of this fraternal organization of gigolos and I was his new prey. He had left his cell phone in my friend’s car earlier in the day and she had read some of his text messages, all of which were from New York numbers; women sending kisses and good wishes all while he was with me in the club. Business, for him, was thriving and I was his newest prey. It had only been one day and I had already spent close to $5,000JA in his presence. I was one of the lucky few that got away from such a man. After we were told about his ways in the club, my friends drove me to the hotel room to retrieve my stuff and I found a hotel room by myself with my own money. I left him to foot the bill for the room (he decided to stay since he didn’t even have taxi fare to get back home. He was expecting me to return the next morning to pay the hotel bill). It’s a part of their game plan. They select women that are sophisticated and flashy and they dig for gold at every opportunity.

Gigolos roam the streets of tourist areas on a daily basis. They are gorgeous men with stories that will break your heart and cause you to open your mind and your pockets to help them overcome the life that you were too fortunate to lead. You feel guilty for sitting up in America with the latest name brand clothing and jewelry when they are in Jamaica “suffering” or complaining about the quality of life. You feel the immediate urge to reach out and lend a helping hand or dollar to such individuals. But you cannot fall prey to such things. Be informed and know the true motives behind their conversations. If something sounds fishy, chances are, it is. Terri McMillian screwed a lot of women’s heads up when she went to Jamaica and found her husband. But keep in mind the result of the McMillain-Plummer union and you will look, but not touch when you see another gorgeous dark-cocoa man with pretty white teeth walking towards you on the beach. Stella got her groove back but lost her soul and her publicity to a homosexual gigolo. Be ye warned!

After my $600 phone bill arrived in my mailbox, I woke up very fast. I figured I’d put this information out there as a true personal experience to warn women, visitors and non visitors alike that going to Jamaica and finding a “stukie” is very easy but be careful where you put your heart and your money because sooner or later these gigolos will capture them both for a green card. Watch out, ladies! And the next time one approaches you with a sob story, refer him to a therapist. A true Jamaican man who wants to get to know you will willingly put his money on the table to feed, clothe, school, and entertain you. With an authentic man, you would never have to touch your wallet, except to retrieve your mirror and lipstick to keep your fresh look alive, or if you want to of course. What’s sad is that they prey on tourists—black and white—and if you aren’t strong you fall right into their game and the next thing you know, you’re on Oprah’s chair looking all bitter, getting pissed about the amount of money you spent and the numerous things you bought him and the many times you let Western Union debit money from your account to save his sorry behind. WATCH OUT!

*an alias

About the author

Kerri-Ann M. Smith

Dr. Kerri-Ann M. Smith is an author and educator. She is an Associate Professor of English at Queensborough Community College, CUNY. She is a patois translator, a wife, and the mother of two beautiful little girls. She is a senior writer for