Friday, November 23, 2007

Queens Courier presents 'The Ghost Workers' Series of articles

THE GHOST WORKERS’ SERIES was reported by The Queens Courier staff writers Pete Davis,THE GHOST WORKERS’ SERIES was reported by The Queens Courier staff writers Pete Davis, Noah Rosenberg and Christina Santucci during a three-month span beginning the end of August. Damian Ghigliotty and Joe Hirsch contributed reporting for the series. Christina Santucci was the photographer for the series. Lou Parajos edited the series, and Stephen Reina designed it.

From 'It is about the families left behind' BY PETE DAVIS
...Queens, which has more than 1 million
foreign-born residents, making it the most
diverse county in the United States, has seen
an influx of Hispanic residents with 31 percent
of the immigrants classified as Latin
American, according to a report entitled,
“The Newest New Yorkers,” based on data
from the 2000 census.
The number of Hispanics is even greater in
Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona,
Elmhurst and East Elmhurst – the neighborhoods
surrounding Roosevelt Avenue and
69th Street – with 38,076 born in Ecuador,
32,297 in Colombia, 29,439 from the
Dominican Republic and 23,105 from
Mexico, according to statistics from the

Jackson Heights (11370, 11372)
Total, Foreign-born 64,242 100.0%
Colombia 11,420 17.8%
Ecuador 9,303 14.5%
Mexico 4,676 7.3%
China 4,643 7.2%
Dominican Republic 4,262 6.6%
Peru 2,680 4.2%

From 'Dreams and Dancing'BY DAMIAN GHIGLIOTTY
...Two dollars per dance add up over the course of a night,
especially when the DJ blends several songs together in a matter
of minutes. However, as long as customers have the cash on
hand to pay, a house of 20 to 30 women – nearly all South
American and Caribbean – awaits them at The Flamingo Club
in Jackson Heights...
...The Flamingo stays open seven days a week from 5 in the
evening to 4 in the morning with roughly between 80 and 90
dancers. On busy nights, the price at the door is $5 after 10 and
on other nights there’s no cover at all. The dancers, however,
are employed as independent agents and earn all of their
money in hard cash from customers on the spot. Minus a $10
house fee charged at the beginning of the night and a penalty
of $10 for every half hour late to work, those working full-time
– about fifty hours a week – can make up to $2,000. In return,
The Flamingo’s management enforces a strict dress code for
each night.
“On Mondays, the dancers dress up as cowgirls with hats
and boots, Tuesdays in lacy pajamas, Wednesdays in bikinis,
Thursdays as police women, Fridays in mini skirts, Saturdays
in dresses, and Sundays as Catholic schoolgirls,” said Carlos.
“And for all the fun, it’s a lot less stressful than trying to pick
up strangers at a regular nightclub. As long as you treat the
girls with respect, they’ll treat you the same, and as long as
you have enough money, you’re guaranteed companionship.”...

On Sunday afternoons...hundreds of Ecuadorian immigrants
fill dozens of makeshift, dirt volleyball
courts in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
These men, many of whom travel with
their wives and children in tow, attend
Mass in the morning, so games often begin
at 2 or 3 p.m. Families line the sidelines of
the courts, cheering on their team and
feasting on empanadas and hot chocolate.
Nearby, a vendor slices up “cuey” or roasted
guinea pig, an Ecuadorian specialty.
“We work Monday to Friday, Monday to
Saturday, the only day we can enjoy is on
Sunday,” said Louis Pintado, a 42-year-old
immigrant from Cuenca, Ecuador, after finishing
a volleyball match.
...Some guys travel from their homes in
Jamaica and Jackson Heights for the
games each weekend, but they keep in
touch with their teammates via cell
“We just make phone calls to come over
there,” Pintado said...

from 'Faith is their comforting bridge' BY CHRISTINA SANTUCCI AND NOAH ROSENBERG
...“You cannot define the Latin American culture
or Latin culture without the Catholic
faith,” said Monsignor Otto Garcia, pastor of
St. Joan of Arc Church in Jackson Heights.
“When they emigrate from their countries
and become immigrants in the U.S., the one
thing that they can bring that is the same in
their country is their faith,” he said...
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