David Strecker became famous for all the wrong reasons.

The 66-year-old American became notorious as "Cuba Dave" - possibly the world's most famous sex tourist, bragging about his exploits and posting photographs of women he'd slept with on his blog.

From 2005, he gained a dubious following, detailing his sex-fuelled experiences at brothels and bars around the Caribbean.

In 2013, he wrote a book citing his expertise in "courting women of negotiable affection" to give other prospective sex tourists the lowdown on police crackdowns, overpriced sex holidays, brothel maps and how to navigate the seediest nightclubs.


It was so outrageous it was banned from Amazon.

Dave Strecker found fame writing about his many 'good friends'. Photo / MySpace
Dave Strecker found fame writing about his many 'good friends'. Photo / MySpace

His brand grew quickly, with thousands of readers regularly tuning in to his salacious articles, documentary-style videos and intimate photos. The comments ranged from blatant hero worship to practical queries.

"Cuba Dave" seemed invincible, until he was handcuffed on the tarmac of a Costa Rican airport last September and thrown into an overcrowded prison cell, accused of promoting prostitution.

He's the first person nabbed under new laws, and he's about to face trial.

It's a far cry from his glory days as a softball pitcher in Minnesota.

Three years ago, the Miami New Times said the "self-described sex addict" downs oestrogen blockers daily, injects himself with testosterone and regularly consumes Viagra so his age doesn't hinder his performance with women. Prior to his arrest, he reportedly lived alone, working out obsessively and living on protein bars and energy drinks to maintain his physique.

They reported he slept with at least 2500 women under the age of 25, and his bedroom walls were covered floor-to-ceiling with "nudie pics" of woman he'd slept with.

"Over the course of those years, I came to realise this is not real," he told Vice in a recent phone interview.

"This is fantasy. This is entertainment. A 60-year-old man sleeping with 20-year-old women and believing that they really like them is crazy. So the majority of stories and videos were to explain that."

He's travelled to Costa Rica more than 40 times, focusing his efforts on an area of bars and hotels frequented by prostitutes in San José known as "Gringo Gulch," according to writer Michael Krumholtz.

In 2010, Strecker wrote a blog post that read: "Miriam likes to have fun, and she is my girlfriend every day for an hour when I am in San Jose. She understands what I like, and I understand what she does. My advice is to remember what you are here for in Costa Rica, and don't question your (Costa Rican) girlfriends so much."

Although prostitution is legal in Costa Rica, pimping and soliciting business is not.

The overcrowded jail with David Strecker was allegedly imprisoned. Photo / cubadave.com
The overcrowded jail with David Strecker was allegedly imprisoned. Photo / cubadave.com

Authorities have charged Strecker under a 2013 human trafficking law prohibiting the media from promoting the country as a destination for sexual commerce. Fernando Ferraro, a former justice minister, told Vice it was designed to prevent illegal activity like sexual slavery and exploitation of children, especially since the economy depends on tourism.

"Certainly the country has to protect its image as a tourist destination," he said.

"But it's not just a matter of image. A lot of times criminal organisations, or human traffickers, are connected to the prostitution industry."

Basically, they want to make sure Costa Rica doesn't become the next Thailand.

It's quite an ask, considering an estimated 10 per cent of the nation's tourists - totalling about 80,000 people per year - visit the country to specifically to have sex with prostitutes, according to author and researcher Jacobo Schifter.

Prosecutors want Strecker to serve 12 years behind bars for three counts of promoting prostitution: his website, his Facebook page and his YouTube account. They took particular offence to a post that stated: "Your pleasures are only dictated by the size of your wallet".

"I didn't make prostitution legal," he told The Tico Times. "It's here. These people created this."

He argues his website was simply advising other travellers, not soliciting sex tourists.

The Miami New Times says he "thinks of himself as the good guy, a member of the fourth estate who helps men navigate international law and stay safe".

He says his work makes sure sex tourists won't accidentally sleep with an underage girl or fall victim to the wiles of an enterprising prostitute.

He also claims he's propping up the economy of impoverished towns, and improving the lives of people who live there.

Every single thing I'm being charged with is legal. They should actually be patting me on the back for warning some of the guys about this stuff.


However, prosecutors have a different view.

"The criminal case began after various publications were found on the internet made by the suspect in which he was apparently inviting other North Americans to visit Costa Rica, indicating that prostitution services in the country were easy to find," a spokesman from the prosecutor's office told Vice via email.

Authorities regard his American citizenship as a flight risk, which is why he's served 12 months in preventive detention without being convicted.

In an interview with The Tico Times, Strecker claims he's a "political prisoner".

"Every single thing I'm being charged with is legal," he wrote. "They should actually be patting me on the back for warning some of the guys about this stuff."

The content on each of his online platforms has been taken down, replaced with a plea for followers to "Contribute to Cuba Dave's Legal Defense Fund".

He'll be tried by a panel of three judges in November, and lawyers are racing to prove that since his website's domain belongs in the United States, he should be tried under American law.

Faced with more than a decade in prison, he's reflecting on why he was charged.

"This is going to be a landmark case and I think it's the worst thing that could happen to the tourist industry," he told The Tico Times in March. "Gringos might be scared to come here."