Mon | Jan 22, 2018

Patria-Kaye Aarons | The rent-a-dread is dead

Published:Tuesday | April 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM


English translation: Fake Rastafarian male prostitute.

Definition: A man with dreadlocks who sells his companionship and body. He normally struts along popular beaches in Jamaica, in places like Negril and Ocho Rios where his services are utilised by women visiting the island.

Stella dolly house mash up. She and others with similar desires will find it considerably harder to get their grooves back. The rent-a-dread profession is dying - if not already completely dead.

Last week, I had occasion to be in Negril for two days and the customary chiselled Rastaman with a blond-haired, blue-eyed female vacationer in tow were noticeably absent from the beach.

I thought at first that there were fewer sightings of the unlikely couples because it was the end of March, and the tourist season was winding down.

But I looked outside my hotel and saw people everywhere. Winter abroad has been unusually cold and long, so the tourists are still coming in droves in search of sunshine. Many of the visitors I saw were obviously single, white females who had travelled for Jamaican warmth and 'Jamaican warmth'. I was confused. Where were all the rent-a-dreads?

And then it occurred to me. Perhaps a more lucrative opportunity had presented itself. My theory is that yet another casualty has fallen prey to scamming. The once rent-a-dread has found more fortune in swapping out his fake Jamaican accent for a fake American accent, and scamming people.

It's sad. Not that I was the biggest fan of the prostituting professions, but at least it was an honest living.

The rent-a-dread is just one of many professions we may lose to scamming. And there will be more. We will be hard-pressed to convince this upcoming generation of the need to work for a living.




I've come to learn that there are some high-school students in western Jamaica who, right now, ride motorcycles to school. Motorcycles they clearly cannot afford on their lunch money. Motorcycles their single-parent, minimum-wage households clearly cannot afford to buy them. Teenage scammers - recruited early by bad influences and lured with shiny things.

How do we stop the cycle? How do we rescue Jamaica's future from the lucrative life of crime?

One suggestion I'm proposing is a big-brother, big-sister programme. What if alumni associations and guidance counselling departments worked together and started pairing past students with first-formers come September?

The idea would be to foster a one-on-one mentorship relationship that would see each student being supported throughout their five or seven years of high school by a single person looking out for them. A single person who takes an interest in whether or not they eat lunch, or if they are having difficulty with a topic in school, or if they just want to be heard.

The reality is that parental involvement in children's lives just isn't what it should be. It needs to be fortified with a past student the kids can relate to. They can know that this person was in my shoes, worked hard and they turned out all right. And I can, too.

It wouldn't be about money. Yes, some big siblings may see the need to dip into their pockets. But more important than money to today's youth is time. Big brothers and sisters would dedicate perhaps an hour a week to just steer a child down the right path, counteracting negative influences. It wouldn't always have to be face to face. It could be a Skype check-in, or WhatsApp video call. That way, past students living abroad can also make their contributions.

I'm sure this can't be the only solution, and I'm not even sure this suggestion will work. I'm going to try with a single student leaving my primary school, Mona, come September. We may not be able to rescue the rent-a-dread from scamming, but I'll be damned if we don't rescue our children. We have to try something. Suggestions welcome.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to and, or tweet @findpatria.