Sugar Girls & Seamen (Paperback)

A Journey into the World of Dockside Prostitution in South Africa

By Henry Trotter

Ohio University Press, 9780821419632, 242pp.

Publication Date: March 15, 2011

List Price: 28.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Sugar Girls and Seamen illuminates the shadowy world of dockside prostitution in South Africa, focusing on the women of Cape Town and Durban who sell their hospitality to foreign sailors.

Dockside “sugar girls” work at one of the busiest cultural intersections in the world. Through their continual interactions with foreign seamen, they become major traffickers in culture, ideas, languages, styles, goods, currencies, genes, and diseases. Many learn the seamen’s languages, develop emotional relationships with them, have their babies, and become entangled in vast webs of connection. Henry Trotter argues that these South African women are the ultimate cosmopolitans, the unsung sirens of globalization.

Based on research at the seamen’s nightclubs, plus countless interviews with sugar girls, sailors, club owners, cabbies, bouncers, and barmaids, this book provides a comprehensive account of dockside prostitution at the southern tip of Africa. Through stories, analysis, and firsthand experiences, it reveals this gritty world in all its raw vitality and fragile humanity. Sugar Girls and Seamen is simultaneously racy and light, critical and profound.

About the Author

 Henry Trotter is a doctoral student of African history at Yale University. He lives in Cape Town.

Praise For Sugar Girls & Seamen: A Journey into the World of Dockside Prostitution in South Africa

 “Adamantine research and thoughtful analysis . . . brilliant and detailed.”
Sunday Times, South Africa

 “The author’s skills of observation, and affection for the real-life characters, results in stories that remain with you.”
O Magazine, South African edition