Kurt Hollander: Architecture of Sex

In the past few decades, love hotels and motels in Cali, Colombia, have become an integral part of the local culture and of the architecture of the city. Those hotels photographed by Kurt Hollander come in all shapes and sizes and for all wallets with everything from dingy flophouses with bare mattresses in unfurnished rooms, giant bars and discos with up to 50 women working the floor, elegant establishments that look like 4-star hotels or classy health spas, and erotic webcam studios offering virtual sex on the Internet. Many are designed with fantasy facades and suggestive names, such as Night Flings, Afternoons in Paris, The Goddess of Love, Paradise, The Tower, The Hideout, The King, G Spot, Geisha, You and I, Fantasy.

"For the past five years I have been documenting the places where people in Cali, Colombia have the most sex. I believe that the quality and availability of places within a city in which people have sex, both those designed for couples as well as with sex workers, reflects the quality of life in a city. In order to understand the workings of these places and to photograph them more faithfully, I lived in several of these sex establishments for several weeks.

Sex is in the air and on the streets of Cali, Colombia. People have sex in parks, under bridges, in abandoned buildings, on public transportation, behind bushes, by the river, in the woods or in movie theaters. Couples with a bit of extra cash, however, can choose exotic, safe surroundings in which to have intimate encounters. Cali is the third largest city in Colombia, with less than 4 million inhabitants, but after Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires it boasts the greatest number of love motels, many of them pleasure palaces. There are over 400 sex establishments legally registered with the local government, as well as hundreds more that operate clandestinely.

In these formal and informal, real and virtual sex establishments of Cali, both those catering to couples or offering the services of sex workers, the architecture, interior design, furniture, curtains and lighting, even when crude and inexpensive, are designed to provide a fantasy setting to enhance the physical act of sex and offer a temporary escape from peoples’ daily routine within the city. Although it is true that some love motels in Cali are used by sex workers, most are for local lovers and married couples looking for a bit of class and exoticism to spice up their love life.


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