“If you aren’t soliciting, you have no reason to worry about finding one of these letters in your mailbox. But if you are, you and your wife or family will have something to discuss at dinner. This letter will discourage you from returning. Soliciting for sex in our neighborhoods is not okay.”
Since my car is frequently seen on Sepulveda Blvd., I guess I can look forward to receiving many such notices like this.
Mrs. UpintheValley‘s car is on Sepulveda twice daily. In fact, she’s in the habit of frequenting the known prostitution hot spot that is the Jon’s supermarket parking lot, the better to prize meat for her husband. No, really. You don’t think…?
Gee, and to think we were sharing the same bed all these years.
Seeing a gaggle of booty-shorted women working a corner in the harsh, unforgiving morning light, one thinks: who does this? Who pulls over in the middle of the commute, in full view of the yoga moms and clock punchers and school buses and negotiates a curbside transaction for full release?
Men do. Otherwise these ladies wouldn’t be here.
The Daily News profiled an undercover operation not long ago, in which the first john nabbed was suddenly surrounded by his wife, mother and kids, all yelling at the police demanding to know why he was being arrested. It turned out he was procuring his…date…down the block from his house. In daylight.
Amidst the anticipation of this week’s Supreme Court decisions regarding gay marriage and Obamacare, yesterday with quiet fanfare the great edifice of law put scales to the question of Sepulveda Blvd motels.
Our motels! Our hooker strip! Us! Right here in the Valley!
In Los Angeles v. Patel, the Court struck down municipal code § 41.49, which allowed the police to inspect motel records without a warrant, specifically to identify patrons paying cash and staying less than 12 hours. Meaning, hookers and johns.
The decision was argued on fourth amendment grounds, with much discursive argument as to what constituted a private record and whether motels met the definition of a ‘closely regulated’ business, and what exactly was an undue burden on owners.
Short version: The vice squad now needs to go before a judge to make a garden variety motel bust.
Shorter version: That’s never going to happen.
Subtext: A tacit admission by the motel owners association (Patel) that street prostitution represents a significant percentage of their bottom line. Enough so, they were willing to go to the Supreme Court to hang on to it.
The winners are…well, you can guess.
The Court did not hear the testimony of Kat Stacks, former prostitute, turned hip-hop groupie and now as-told-to-author:
“I got turned out by a nigga when I was 14 and he was almost 10 years older than me and he my baby daddy. He gave me my new name and my tattoo…I was wit him for five years, and I was faithful, I did whatever he wanted and I worked seven days a week…I seen girls working on crutches cause they Daddy broke they leg…He put me out on the track in New York. Once I went through that horrible experience he put me in white places where I won’t get hurt at, but he first had to put me in a place where I could go through all this shit and learn not to be a weak bitch.”
All three women justices voted in favor of the motel owners. Make of it what you will.
Sepulveda, Sunday afternoon. A blogger we all know is biking to the gym. Up ahead he sees a…potential photo subject…promenading along the sidewalk, a celebration of booty short, thigh tattoo and wedge clogs.
As he reaches for his trusty point and shoot, a utility van cuts to the curb in front of him, interposing between photographer and subject.
The van driver honks at the woman. Two short demanding beeps. Turn your ass around, business is at hand.
She spins on her heel, displeased. She lets him know.
“Yo no soy una puta mierda, mother—–”
The driver is confused. The Woman Presumed To Be a Ho advances angrily on the Man Who Would Be Her John. She slaps the front of his van. He shrugs, looks at her in bewilderment, as though to say, ‘what was I to think?’
Nury Martinez has Good Hair. Even by lofty Latina standards, Latinas being naturally advantaged in all matters coiffure, Nury has gorgeous, telenovela quality hair. That’s my takeaway from last night’s ‘debate’ between her and repeat challenger for la jefa of Council District Seis, Cindy Montanez.
Cindy’s no slouch in the hair department herself, though. She’s abandoned the pantsuits of 2013 and adopted a kind of I-shop-at-Costco-just-like-the-rest-of-you-Van Nuysians look. And I can prove it, see? I just toss it carelessly over my shoulder along with my sensible bag and push my own grocery cart across the lot to my minivan.
If I didn’t know she pocketed over a million dollars in taxpayer money from a pair of political patronage appointments while waiting for the party machine to clear a seat for her, I’d almost believe it.
Now wait a minute, you might be thinking. What kind of misogynistic nonsense is this? These women are professionals. One of them is your councilperson. How dare you dissect their appearance. For shame.
Well, they didn’t leave us much choice in the matter. Because there wasn’t a whole lot of substantive distinction between the two.
They’re both Opposed to Street Prostitution. Opposed! Asked what they do in the way of interdiction both women emotively delineated the state of play on Sepulveda Blvd and left it at that. This re-describing the problem in lieu of answering the question would prove to be the operative template of the evening in all questions relating to Van Nuys. Budget shortfall? Tough decisions need to be made. Raising the minimum wage to $15/hour? It’s hard living on $10/hour. It requires further study. Developing Van Nuys Blvd? It used to be nicer when we were growing up, now it’s blighted. We should work with the business community to improve it.
In matters pertaining to the Great Wide Realm Over Which the Council Has No Authority, they offered opinions freely. Alternative energy? Yea. Fracking? Nay. GMO foods? Double Nay. Free trade? We should be very concerned, but…yes. Er, unless it takes away American jobs. Then no. Sort of the way they both favor alternative energy mandates, as long as they don’t raise electricity rates, which of course they do and which have already locked in a 30% surcharge on every DWP bill for life.
These were not helpful questions for undecided voters, frankly, and the moderator would have done better to skip them.
Which brings us back to…presentation.
Cindy, I have to say, came off well in that respect. She grew on me as the meeting wore on. My ears pricked up at the mention of the civic impact of aesthetic improvements in San Fernando. It made me wish she showed up at my house as promised 18 months ago.
You can file this under condescending remarks from a white guy, but she’s articulate. Nury….I’m not sure what’s going on there. She’s hanging on to a rather baroque accent for a college graduate raised in the United States. This may be an entirely political calculation for all I know. In the absence of policy differences, each side appeared to be utilizing semaphores to hint at who they were and whose votes they were seeking.
As a side note, Nury packed the room with shills who punctuated her pablum with orchestrated clapping and cheering. This was off-putting, and toward the end of the meeting skirted the edge of outright intimidation. Not an attractive look for an incumbent. She would be well-advised not to repeat this if there’s to be a return match.
The Classy Lady was a valley institution for decades. It would be difficult to imagine a sadder strip club. There was no cover, which should tell you something right there. There was no VIP room. You could buy a pitcher of Coors Light for $8. Cheapskates would hang out by the pool table in the back, pretending to play while taking in the view free of charge. Management didn’t seem to mind. The ladies would wander by with a tin cup and ask for money for the jukebox, and by money I mean coins. They would clomp the two steps up to the pole and grind it out for a couple singles on the tip rail, or frequently nothing at all. There were women working with fresh C-section scars and moonscapes of acne on their derriere. The place was annexed to a gas station and a store which sold rims. I can’t believe it’s actually a strip club, was the instinctive reaction. Sort of like wandering in to your own private David Lynch film. For the women it was not even a waystation on the road to perdition, but perdition itself, in which one panhandles naked without remuneration.
It shames me to say this, but a couple years ago, after regaling dinner guests with a description of The Classy Lady, they demanded to ‘see the ugly strippers’ for themselves. Off we went. Only now the strippers were of an entirely different quality. They were thin. They were tone. They had skills. There was still no cover, and no one was putting money on the tip rail. In the depth of the recession.
But you do what you have to do, when you’re a working mother.
That’s all done with now. Sort of. Classy has been gutted, expanded and replaced with Synn. In keeping with Nury Martinez’s self-promoting ’45 day ban’ on adult business, all the strip clubs on the boulevard have renovated and enlarged, like the cup sizes no doubt, in the new, improved Synn Gentlemen’s Club.
Media scenario: Up and coming starlet makes out has sex with boyfriend in a Mercedes with the door open on a busy street next to a studio in the entertainment capital of the world. In the middle of the day.
Workers in adjacent office building suggest the couple get a room. They don’t.
Someone calls the police to complain.
Police arrive, tell them their performance is interfering with business. Ask for ID’s.
Actress refuses to comply with the request. Police detain her.
I have a publicist, she warns.
The officer has encountered many people with publicists. They show ID when asked, he explains.
Boyfriend begins taping incident for Facebook.
‘I serve freedom and love, you serve detainment.’
Viral marketing ensues:
The police presumed she was a prostitute because she was black!
You won’t believe what the LAPD did this time!
They think black women are streetwalkers!
Django Unchained actressarrested handcuffed in front of her workplace! For kissing while black! Authorities investigating…
From Buenos Aires to London, the pistons begin turning the great cam shaft of public outrage. Ferguson II! Or Trayvon III, if you prefer, but without the chalk outline on the sidewalk. Even better, a sex angle. A showbiz angle, too. The trifecta! Get this girl on the set! We can all be outraged together, without guilt. No one has to take shelter in his ideological bunker. A freebee. The promise of weeks of good cable TV, sexy B-roll footage, and pop culture Deep Think explaining What It All Means.
Grab your remote. Start clicking those links. Why not? It’s not like there’s an election going on. Or a war. To be more precise, a resurrection of the Conflict Formerly Known as the War on Terror authorized by a Congressional Resolution denounced by the President before he was President, which will have war-like features but none dare call War. No wonder we love the tabloids.
Here’s the bottom line: LAPD as a matter of departmental policy does not make prostitution stops off a black and white patrol car. All interdiction is handled through vice, working undercover in unmarked vehicles. Two overt acts are required to bring departmental action. Consequently, patrol cars roll past working hookers on Sepulveda every day, in full regalia, leaning into car windows…and don’t even give them a glance, much to the consternation of residents of Van Nuys. Which is to say, there is pretty much no chance uniformed LAPD officers rolled up on Ms. Watts in the teeming slum of Studio City, across the street from Trader Joes and Laurel Tavern and just up the block from CBS studios and said to themselves: ‘hmmm, black lady/white man having relations…if it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck…cuff that b***h.’
But here’s what’s interesting. In Django, Daniele works at a brothel called the Cleopatra Club which offers pretty young black women up to wealthy white men who first arouse themselves by watching gladiator-like death matches between black slaves. At the coup de grace of one of the more brutal scenes of recent American cinema, she coquettishly spills her gumballs across the floor in a kind of sexual release, a moment worthy of an essay of its own. Back into the pop culture ether went Daniele Watts, and now this sudden reappearance two years later, accusing Los Angeles of treating her like the character which launched her career. Which for the moment, has resurrected it.
Is she acting in one of these photographs or both of them? I say it’s all performance art.