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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  January 11, 2005
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The Investigators
Sex in the city: The oldest profession moving indoors
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For years, the image of prostitutes has been as street walkers, hookers, women who walk the streets and hook up with men who cruise by in cars and who pay them for sex.

But some prostitutes in our area are now taking their work, indoors.


In The Providence Phoenix, the ads are everywhere, every week.

Amid sexually suggestive language and photographs, self-described "Spas" advertise hot and dry saunas, hot rocks saunas, steam saunas, body scrubs, body rubs, body treatments, body wraps, showers, and on and on.

The publisher of thePhoenix says it's not his responsibility to determine whether the spas operate legally.

Veteran police detectives believe many don't.

�What's the real deal here, it says National Spa, what should we really know?   That it's a location where prostitution activity took place, as the investigation found out.�


This is Benefit Street in Pawtucket, and the police say the benefits from this spa went well beyond mere massages.

The police busted this operation recently, right next to a playground, as part of a larger crackdown on prostitution that's moved indoors.

Here and elsewhere.

�Does it make it harder, detective, that they've taken it indoors?    It's just given a new perspective to look at.    Naturally, it's not the same as girls on the street.   It's a new avenue to investigate it.�

This was the Tokyo Spa until the police recently shut it down, too.

Detective Paul Sylvestre showed us how the operation played out.

�They have the front room, the office area where the gentlemen pay 60 dollars through this window.  It's usually locked off, see the buzzer here, you have to be buzzed in, the door opens and there's access to those side rooms, they strip down, there's a sauna in the back there, a shower room off of that and then they're brought back to one of the side rooms.   And what was really going on?    Prostitution activity, the gentlemen were being solicited.�

A professor at the University of Rhode Island predicts the police will stay busy busting indoor prostitution.

He's interviewed 92 men as part of a major research project on why men pay for sex.

�There are many myths about men who frequent prostitutes, that they love women or think of them as their girlfriend.   The fact is they don't.  They way they talk about women is not a pleasant and positive way.�

�Different rules, same game?   You adapt.  They change, we change.   You adapt to how they change.�

The attitude is, catch us if you can, and the message from the police is, we can, and we will.


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