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Inside Vegas - Steve Miller

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his website at:

"Happy endings" banned in Las Vegas
City passes tough new massage parlor law
while state Board of Massage Therapists
claims interference with its authority

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 for prostitution.

To 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 sex.

In one instance investigated by INSIDE VEGAS, the operation was so discrete that even the neighbor living next door was unaware of its existence.

For 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.

The 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 Angels.)

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.

Lisa 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 certificates from.

(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 Cooper!

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.

Based 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 their jurisdictions.

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.


Councilman Anthony's ordinance



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