Los Angeles: Wanting Acupuncture, Find Sex.

As I was cruising Santa Monica Blvd. on Saturday afternoon with a good friend, we decided to go get a manicure at a small shop near her house. As we pulled in, we noticed an acupuncture shop, which I pointed out to her as a “typical shop that could very easy be offering sexual services rather than acupuncture services”. I asked her if she would mind going in before heading over to get our manicures, “just to check it out”. She didn’t.

The windows were covered with lace curtains, meaning that we couldn’t see inside. We pushed the door open, and found ourselves in a different world. The room was small, dark, and humid – and reeked of sex. A room divider was on my right, forcing me further into the room to get an idea of it’s layout and content. Two men were sitting on couches, waiting. I asked them if anyone was working, and they pointed me towards a small window I had failed to notice when I walked in. A young korean girl pushed the sliding mirrored window open just enough to find out what I needed. It was all black behind her – nothing was visible. I asked if I could get a price list for the acupuncture services that they provided. None was available at the moment, and the door was quickly shut on us. Colette and I turned around and left, amazed at what we had just walked into.

This is a modern day brothel.

These places look like your everyday shops. I’m once again reminded how important it is for us to ask questions and be aware. Of course, the next question is: “how do we put a stop to this?”

Later that night, Darrell and I were getting gas at a nearby gas station and saw a member of the LAPD lounging in his car, so we decided to ask him some questions. He seemed very hands off when it came to prostitution and human trafficking in LA – and while he answered my questions, was not exactly eager to help. I did, however, glean one insightful bit of knowledge from him.

These “AMP’s”, or Asian Massage Parlors, know the loopholes. It can be completely obvious that sex is coming out and that it’s a modern day brothel, and yet they know how to skirt the law. By only offering sexual services for a “tip” rather than charging the man, it then becomes consensual sex, and neither person can be arrested for it.

When I pointed out that the laws differ for prostitutes and trafficked victims, and asked him how they make a point to protect victims of trafficking, his only response was that the two are very intertwined. That didn’t answer my question.