Tag Archives: massage parlor

Medical Marijuana and today’s Dan Yorke show’s Indicators

Today Medical Marijuana centers became one step closer to being available in RI.  All that it awaits is the Governor’s signature.

The whole marijuana debate and history of marijuana has fasinated me.  Just like the “loophole” in the prostitution law.  I think that some of the propaganda used to keep marijuana criminal is similar to what has been used to keep prostitution illegal.  We are talking about adults doing what they want to do with their bodies right?

I put in the clip of “Reefer Madness” to show you how people with the best intentions use propaganda to try to move their adgenda forward.  We watch “Reefer Madness” now and laugh at how ridiculous it is, I wonder if people will look back at the situation going on with the link between prostitution and human trafficking with the same ridicule?

You can’t read any article in the paper about prostitution in Rhode Island.  It is always “Prostitution and Human Trafficking.”  It reminds me of how George Bush could not say 9/11 with out saying Iraq in the same sentence.  For years we were led to believe there was a connection, and then when none was found, we were told there was no connection.  Well, the same situation is going on here in RI.  The media and certain groups with agendas have decided to start a war on prostitution.  Since most people in the great state of Rhode Island don’t care what people do behind closed doors, going after prostitution would not get much traction.  If you talk about human trafficking, well that is a different story.  No one would support that.

For those of you who are new to this blog, let me give you a little background.  I am a grad school reject.  I was going to grad school for Gender and Ethnic studies, took one class before applying and getting denied.  I decided to make a film about the prostitution law in my home state of RI because it fascinated me.  I wanted to get all sides of the story.  When I got rejected from grad school I cried for a few days, but now I actually think it is great that I never got into grad school, if I did I would probably just be another student who recites stats and is beholden to a professors point of view.  I am completely independent.  All my opinions are my own, and formed over the four years it took to make “Happy Endings?”

There is a big difference between the Ivory Tower and Street Knowledge.  Donna Hughes is the “expert” that hails from the Ivory tower.  I guess you can say I am the “expert” that hails from the Street.

Today on the Dan Yorke show, Donna Hughes and Melanie Shapiro spoke on a film they have never seen.  I have sent over a dozen emails to Melanie trying to set up a showing to her and her Coalition Against Human Trafficking, but they never had time.  On the show, Dan said he had infront of him a seven page paper that attacked me in every way possible, “just short of breaking my legs.”  I am intrigued and honored that someone would write a paper about me.  I would love to see it.  It doesn’t hurt my feelings, I know she has to attack the messenger.  I remember writing seven page papers in college too, and I wanted to put in those papers anything that would give me a good grade and impress my professor.

What I want to put infront of the people of Rhode Island and anyone that reads this blog is this.   Look at the evidence. Here we have two women, myself and Ms. Shapiro.  Both of us are very interested in women studies.  Ms. Shapiro has a graduate degree, Ms. Hurley does not.  Ms. Shapiro is beholden to a professor, Ms. Hurley is beholden to no one.  Ms. Shapiro has never talked to any women in any Asian massage parlor in Rhode Island.  Ms. Hurley has spoken to numerous, 30 or more.  Ms. Shapiro uses terms like “there are indicators” that point to human trafficking”, Ms. Hurley has said there are facts that show the women I have spoken to have entered into this work of their own free will. Ms. Shapiro has watched spas from outside, Ms. Hurley has gone in and spoken to the women.

You can draw your own conclusions, you can point to the Ivory tower and use their propaganda to try and manufacture a link.  Or you can use commonsense and see that some people have an agenda.  Some people make more money than high priced prostitutes giving “expert” opinion on human trafficking and prostitution.  I have never made any money, I actually have spent over $30,000 making this film, bringing translators in to speak to women who were being arrested.  Even today on the Dan Yorke show a victim on Human Trafficking called in from California and disagreed with Donna Hughes and her viewpoint on the law.

I guess my point is this:  If there is Human Trafficking and all of these women need to be saved, why is there not one woman who has come forward to say she was a victim?  I am sure that she would have anonymity.  When Jerry Lewis does a telethon he puts his kids out there for all the world to see. It is a great way do a fund raiser and directly show the issue.  Jerry Lewis doesn’t go on the radio and say “We have indicators” he shows reality.  I wonder if the first thing you learn in grad school is how to skirt the issue with “indicators”?  Why have we not seen one victim?

Oh yeah, one more thing.  Today it was said that I was starting a Union for Sex Workers in RI.  I am a filmmaker.  In my opinion I think it would be good to have a union, and if anyone wants to use my film as a rallying tool that is fine with me.  When I was growing up, I lived with my va voo (portuguese for grandfather) he told me three things to live by.  1.  Always vote Democrat, they have done the most for our people (typical Rhode Islander)  2.  Always buy American (I just bought a car and it is a Nissan, but I bought it at an American dealership so I don’t feel so bad) and 3.  You gotta have a union.  I know unions are important, especially for people who can be exploited.  With that being said, I got into this because I wanted to make a film.  I still want to make films.  Documentaries are my passion.  I think bringing up unions is another way to cloud the issue, and what does a union that protects sex workers have to do with human trafficking anyway?

Don’t kill the messenger

I have been questioned about my motives for making the film “Happy Endings?”  I have always been questioned about this.  Even when I started the film, the women would ask me why am I interested in this topic.  I am putting this clip up so you can see one of the women ask me this very question.

I have Johns attacking me because they think I am trying to close the massage parlors.  I have people in the Coalition Against Trafficking questioning my motives.  I have RI State represenatives saying that I am misrepresenting the issues.  I find this all to be very interesting seeing that none of these people or groups have seen the film.

I have reached out to the Coalition Against Human Trafficking on many occasions and tried to set up a screening for them. Here is one of the emails I sent and after sending the information, trying a few times to set up a screening, they never contacted me back.  But my story, or actually my truth, stays the same.  They asked why I made this film and how I got the interviews, this was my response.

I was going to grad school for Gender and Ethnic studies at Simmons.  I didn’t get into the program, and I was always making films.  This woman I had worked with at the time  had inherited a 3 family house in Providence.  In the house was a Korean woman and her husband, an American.  One day at work I was talking about how I wanted to do a film on the sex industry in RI because I had heard about how it was big in this state.  (I went to Providence College, a priest I had said that RI was actually a tourist destination for sex travel because it had more sex clubs than any where else in the east coast beside NY)  At the same time it came up in the news about the prostitution law, and this woman I work with said how she was renting a appt to this couple and she was friends with them.  At the time she was going to sell the house, so I helped her clean it out and met them.  “Heather and Chris” in my film.  It is funny because the woman who I worked with had grown up in the house and her father had hidden money all over the house.  I found 5,000 in the basement and brought it to her so “Heather and Chris” saw me do this and really trusted me because of this.  I would never steal anyway.  Heather didn’t speak English too fluently, I went to Brown and found students to translate for me.  That was the best thing to do, basically because when they translated for me they would give me back the translations with footnotes, cultural references and things like that.  It was very interesting to read things like that, things I would never know about Korean culture.  I am attaching one of the notes that my translators made on Heather about the spa industry.

Basically this is what I think about the film.  I put all points of views in the film so people can make up their own mind on the subject, and more likely than not everyone will hate it.  The Johns are represented in the chat rooms.  The ALCU is represented, the police are represented, the politicians are represented, and the women in the business are represented.  I never saw any women who were trafficked.  I met a ton of women, even though only 3 are on film.

I am sure there are women and children who are trafficked, but none in the spas that I was in.  Actually when women were asked to leave because their gambling problems were interfering with work they would ask me to go to Heather or Chris on their behalf to try and let them stay there.
There is one thing I learned through out this whole process, believe none of what you hear and none of what you see, and trust no one.

It will be interesting to see what is said tomorrow on the Dan Yorke Show.

A letter from behind closed doors…

Dear State of Rhode Island,

I have worked in the Rhode Island spas for the past seven years.  I know there is a lot of talking on the radio and in the newspapers about the spas so I am dictating this letter to Tara with my point of view.

First, the women are not slaves.  Nobody is pushing anyone to make money.  It is our choice to do this.  Nobody holds anyone’s passports.  I work there, I know how it works.  There are no sex slaves.  When women make money they keep it and no one takes it.

Second, the spas are businesses.  They pay taxes and provide a service.  The customers come when they have a problem with their relationship and are not being satisfied.  We are not forcing the customers.  They come to us.  They come and have fun for one hours and leave.  We don’t have a relationship with the customers.  We are helping them.

Third, the newspapers and tv stations are using us.  They just want to make money and don’t know or don’t care about what is really going on in the spas.  Every report talks about mattresses on the floor.  People who visit Korean people’s houses will see a mattress on the floor.  This is how we are comfortable.  We also take off our shoes in the houses.  It is the same thing.  The tv stations always focus on us and never the customers, and that is not fair.  You never see a John on the news.

Forth, I don’t understand why the police have been bothering us when we are not breaking the law.  They look at us in a different way because we work at the spa, but we are the same people.  They look down at us.  I think they should spend their time catching bad people, people with drugs, murderers, gangsters, or even real human traffickers.


Danielle dictated this letter to me as she packed to leave for another state.  After writing this letter, I brought “Danielle” to an interview with the Providence Journal.   It is yet to be determined if that interview will ever be published.

Barney Miller & Asian massage parlors

I have been doing searches on massage parlors, happy endings, prostitution, and the things that are my usual tag words.  I thought that “Happy Endings” as a term was recent, or maybe just as recent as the nineties.  I find this Barney Miller clip when I searched “Massage Parlor”, and this is what I found.  It is incredible because this video is from 1976, even before I was born!  So this is not a recent phenomenon.

More Raids…

State House DomeIn the words of George Bush, you fool me once shame on you.  Fool me again, I won’t be fooled again.  Well, I feel as bright as that statement.  Yesterday I went to the State House to testify against the prostitution bill.  As I made “Happy Endings?” I realised that if you change the prostitution law, all you will do is arrest women.  I felt that it was my duty to speak on the behalf of the women who are working in spas, some of them in my film.  These women are the ones who “work behind closed doors”  .I thought that my insight on the spas would help some legislators see through the propaganda.

I should have known that there would probably be raids the day after or the day before the testimony.  That happened in 2006 with one of the women in my film.  At that time Providence Police raided 3 spas the day before a “Human Trafficking” forum.  I should have seen it coming, but like George Bush says fool me once…

Here is what I don’t understand, actually I don’t understand a bunch of things, but here is one thing.  If you believe the women working in the spas are victims, trafficked from a foreign country, would you send a bunch of police in to question three women, take their cell phones, laptops, licenses (yes drivers licenses, they are citizens), and cash and keep it all as evidence and tell those three women “we are saving you”.  (Also there were no translators)

I consider myself a regular functioning American woman, but if you want to take away most of my ability to function, separate me from my cell phone, lap top and cash, and I don’t know what I would do.  I don’t know anyone’s number, they are all in speed dial.  I don’t even know my sister’s number and I talk to her everyday, she is just programed to speed dial.  If you took away my phone, money, and even my license, I would be messed up.  I am lucky that I have enough family in RI so I could just jump on a bus, but from what I hear, the women in the spa today were left with nothing.

Now put that into the perspective that these women were running a legal business.  It would seem to me that if you wanted to “save” these women from  human trafficking, you could do that in a more humane way.  Since these business have licenses, why not send in health or business inspectors to find out if any of the women are hear against their will?