banned in Las Vegas
City passes tough new massage
while state Board of Massage
claims interference with
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
December 19, 2011
LAS VEGAS - Former Metro Vice cop Stavros
Anthony was elected to the Las Vegas City Council in 2009. Anthony
has a Ph.D. in Sociology and attended the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.,
so when he decided to go after the Asian mob and those in local and state
government who protect the massage and reflexology parlors that front for
brothels, no one at Las Vegas City Hall questioned his decision.
For over a decade, during the time former
Mayor Oscar Goodman served in office, Asian owned massage parlors popped
up in almost every neighborhood shopping center around town, sometimes
only feet away from places where families congregate. Most cabbies readily
admit that the majority of these neighborhood massage parlors are fronts
gain entrance, a doorbell must be rung and the patron scrutinized either
through a one way mirror or closed circuit TV system. If the person does
not look like a police officer or business license inspector, the door
is opened. The cab driver keeps his meter running as he waits outside usually
no longer than thirty minutes.
Inside, the patron is given a list of services,
but not immediately solicited for sex. However, shortly after removing
his undergarments (something police officers and license inspectors are
not allowed to do) the "masseuse" often will offer an extra service called
a "Happy Ending." This usually costs between $100 and $200 of which the
cab driver receives a cut.
In many instances, if simple masturbation
is not desired, the patron will be offered a "Full
girlfriend experience." This usually occurs in a house near the massage
parlor. Taxi cabs do not normally transport the patron from the parlor
to the house in order to shield the location. Transportation is provided
by the massage parlor operator in a private car.
Once at the nearby house, the garage door
is opened by remote control and the car disappears inside. There the patron
is escorted to a bedroom where a young, usually Asian, woman awaits. According
to witnesses, the patron is offered the option of protected or unprotected
In one instance investigated
by INSIDE VEGAS, the operation was so discrete that even the neighbor
living next door was unaware of its existence.
several years, community activist Peter Christoff (left) made appearances
during Citizen's Participation at city and county board meetings to tell
of the brothels in our neighborhoods. Police took notice and arrests began
being made, but the District Attorney's office refused to prosecute.
In the meantime, LV Mayor Oscar Goodman
advocated legal brothels in Downtown Las Vegas saying,
"It would turn old motels into beautiful brothels." His words, though not
politically accepted, indicated an official tolerance within the City of
Las Vegas to massage parlor operators who continued proliferating their
businesses until hundreds were present throughout the Las Vegas valley.
After a massage parlor called Oriental
Angels opened in 2006 less than a block from my home, I penned an INSIDE
VEGAS column entitled; "Las
Vegas is the end of the road in the sex slave trade."
One of my neighbors, an elderly bachelor,
told me of his affection for one of the girls working at Oriental Angels.
He described paying for sexual favors from the young girl who lived in
the back room of the parlor, and told me that he intended to ask her to
marry him. When my neighbor was observed by a parlor manager talking to
the girl in the alley behind the business, the next day she suddenly disappeared.
He described his unsuccessful efforts to contact her afterward.
INSIDE VEGAS column about the LV massage parlor sex slave trade inspired
an investigation by New
York Times columnist Bob Herbert (left) who was writing a series of
articles about Las Vegas' sex industry titled "City as predator." He asked
me to take him to a neighborhood massage parlor. I drove Herbert to Oriental
Angels. He asked me what he should look for when he entered the business
and I told him to ask to see the Nevada Board of Massage Therapists license
for each masseuse.
While I waited outside, Herbert rang the
bell and was welcomed in. He asked to see the state licenses, and was immediately
pushed out the door by a woman screaming at him in Chinese. That was enough
to inspire Mr. Herbert to call the Mayor and ask for an interview.
When Mayor Oscar Goodman found out the
interview's subject, he responded with "I'll take a baseball bat and break
his head if he ever comes here." The Mayor's threatening words were quoted
in the NY
Times, and Oriental Angels continued offering sexual favors until it
was closed by LV Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian and the City Attorney in 2010.
(Oscar Goodman was serving his final year
in office, and did not protest the council's actions in closing Oriental
Why did the City Attorney have to do a
job usually reserved for the District Attorney? City Attorneys can only
prosecute misdemeanors. The DA is empowered to prosecute felonies such
as operating a brothel.
INSIDE VEGAS was informed that LV City
Attorney Brad Jerbic took charge of the Oriental Angels case after the
DA turned it down.
One of Las Vegas' worst kept secrets is
that many Strip hotel executives would rather not see their gamblers leave
town to visit one of the legal brothels sixty miles away in Nye County.
The round trip usually takes a gambler away from the tables for at least
four hours, compared to a "Happy ending" or "Full girlfriend experience"
a few blocks from the Strip usually taking an hour or less.
Also, there are dozens of out-call massage
services advertised in the Century Link Yellow Pages, and many resorts
reportedly give pass keys to certain agencies who provide in-room prostitutes
to hotel guests as long as there are no "trick rolls", the experience does
not take too long, and the guest can return to the casino soon thereafter.
Hence our "What happens here stays here," and "Sin City" mantras.
Strip hotels are our state's most generous
political campaign contributors.
Local and state officials have ignored
the neighborhood massage (brothel) business for many years.
O. Cooper (left) is the politically appointed Executive Director of the
Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists
(NBMT). In July 2007, while she was attending a UNLV forum on sex slave
trafficking, I interviewed Ms. Cooper. Accompanying me was Dr.
Melissa Farley, a noted author who heads Prostitution Research &
Education in San Francisco, and has practiced as a clinical psychologist
for 45 years.
Upon being asked why her agency does not
police neighborhood massage parlors, Cooper appeared nervous. She explained
that the "massage therapists" working in neighborhood parlors do not need
Nevada state certificates as long as they have a certificate of completion
from a massage school in Los Angeles. Cooper specifically named Select
Therapy Institute, Rosemead, California as one of the schools she accepts
(It was later discovered that Select Therapy
Institute consisted of only a post office box, and for several thousand
dollars sold certificates of completion to women brought here from Asia
for the purpose of prostitution.)
Cooper's response inspired me to author
a July 26, 2010 INSIDE VEGAS column
entitled; "Nevada Board of Massage Therapy turns its back on neighborhood
massage parlor prostitution," and a Canada Free Press article
entitled; "National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork,
Rebuke of Nevada’s Board of Massage Therapy." The Canada Free Press
article struck a nerve with Ms. Cooper.
I made an inadvertent error in the Canada
Free Press article. The response it generated from a national association
would soon discredit the Nevada state massage board for allowing unqualified
persons to provide massage therapy in our state.
The National Certification Board of Therapeutic
Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) had not rebuked Cooper's actions in
granting Nevada certificates to prostitutes as I had written. In a "Letter
of support" Cooper posted on her State of Nevada website, the National
Certification Board disputed my article by clearly stating that the Nevada
massage board is autonomous from national oversight, and is individually
responsible for licensing massage therapists in our state.
My article generated a correction that
backfired on the Nevada Board of Massage Therapists and placed the blame
for licensing workers in neighborhood massage brothels squarely on Lisa
The letter sent to Cooper (below) states
"...the Nevada Board, as the main body for licensing and regulation...."
The letter goes on to state; "NCBTMB does not 'oversee accreditation of
all US massage schools' ", meaning that for years it's been totally Cooper's
call as to what out of state schools she accepted certificates of completion
from, and who receives a massage therapist license in Nevada.
After Cooper approved hundreds of unqualified
massage therapists and turned them lose in our city's neighborhoods, on
November 14, 2011, the Nevada Board of Massage Therapists was forced to
issue a NOTICE
OF SCHOOLS NOT APPROVED IN NEVADA which named Select Therapy Institute,
Rosemead, California as one of many un-approved schools.
on the efforts of Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony (left), masseuses
in neighborhood massage parlors must now possess a Massage Therapist License
issued by the Nevada Board of Massage Therapists, not some license mill
in California. (Legitimate massage therapists employed in Strip hotels
have always been required to possess a license issued by the State of Nevada.)
Now, all massage therapists working within
the City of Las Vegas must prominently post their city and state license
(or carry it with them if they provide out-call massages in hotel
rooms), along with a Clark County Health Permit.
But many massage brothels still remain
active just over the city-county line.
Following the passage of the City of Las
Vegas ordinance, other cities within the Las Vegas valley are running into
a familiar obstacle while formulating new rules for massage parlors in
A former Nevada state official from the
neighboring city of Henderson told INSIDE VEGAS: "I have been asked by
the city of Henderson to help craft policy that can lead to city ordinances
that are actually effective in curtailing the massage brothels in that
city. They have, within the limited powers the state gives them, been somewhat
successful but they have run into a few distinct hurdles where the state
agency that is supposed to regulate the massage industry is concerned.
Ms. Cooper, the woman heading the agency, has made it clear that she
sees any regulation and enforcement by municipal governments as interference
with the state, even though the state has regularly ignored chapter 25
of the NRS."
Next, it will be up to the Clark County
Commission, Henderson and North Las Vegas City Councils to ignore the protestations
of Lisa Cooper who only now is reportedly taking responsibility for license
enforcement within neighborhood massage parlors, and follow Councilman
Anthony's lead by establishing new ordinances to clean up this long neglected
problem. By passing new laws that require legitimate licenses for all massage
therapists, even at this late date the belated actions of city and county
leaders can help lessen our area's long time attraction to human sex slave
traffickers and the misery they create.