Letters to the Editor

From the week of May 16, 2002

A Churl in Every Deport

True Brit: Regarding Jonathan Shikes's "British Invasion," in the May 9 issue:

Nick Williams acted, as we Brits like to say, like a "complete and utter wanker." Pot? He's an idiot. Pot and guns? A fucking idiot. There isn't a legal resident in this country over the age of ten who doesn't know the law: "Act like a jerk and we'll deport you."

As far as I am aware, working for a cool guy like Barry Fey doesn't mean that you aren't subject to U.S. law -- but that seemed to be the point of the article. There are enough people in the INS system with real grievances that we need to hear about and work for; this dickhead doesn't warrant one column inch in your paper.

Mark Newnham
Centennial

SOB story: Nick Williams

1. is an SOB;

2. does pot, which is illegal here;

3. got snitched on, because he's an SOB;

4. had the gall to leave/return, when working aliens who don't violate drug laws know it's hard.

We have Americans who can do his job.

Also, I saw The Lion King at only $35 a seat. The artistry was good, but at $200, who were those sad folks? And yes, the stage was too small, as Juliet Wittman said in her May 2 review, "The Roar of the Greasepaint." The first ten minutes were great, but the humor was at a nine-year-old's level, just as she said.

Nick Werle
Colorado Springs


The Avs and Av Nots

Gump ball: I want to thank you for Bill Gallo's Sports column featuring Lorne "Gump" Worsley ("A Gumper Stumper," May 9) and, in particular, question 19. As a season-ticket holder from day one, I often whine about how prices continue to skyrocket. However, now that I understand the reason tickets are so high is because "Gump Worsley says so," I feel much better.

As a former goalie, I would never question the Gumper, but Cheevers was better.

Duncan Harrington
Denver


Colfax or Fiction?

The blame game: When I first read David Holthouse's May 2 "Tricks of the Trade," about the prostitution business on East Colfax Avenue, I was enraged at him. How could he drive around with such a disgusting creature and not do anything about it? Then I realized I'm as much to blame as he is.

I had no idea this kind of slavery existed on our streets in Denver. Readers of this magazine have spent thousands of dollars to rescue whales, prevent the slaughter of prairie dogs, feed the homeless and rescue slaves in Sudan. Why aren't we doing anything about this? It's right in our back yard!

I think it's a lame excuse by our police department that they can't nab these pimp slave-owners because the girls won't fink. Come on, guys -- you can bust a curfew-breaker more easily than that.

I don't know how it will work, but I want to call on readers of this magazine to stand up to this outrageous slavery that we allow to exist on our streets. We need to support the police, provide alternatives to these young girls and clean up the neighborhoods. It won't be easy. It may even be dangerous -- that's big business.

I invite you to write Westword with your ideas on how we can clean it up.

Maybe we need to put a few of those pimps in our trunk for a long drive around town -- they can keep Earl company!

Jamie Whyte
Denver

The write stuff: While I have been taking writing classes, I've recognized writing that I find exceptional. I started reading "Tricks of the Trade," noting how visual it is. Several paragraphs into it, I stopped and asked myself, "Who wrote this?" David Holthouse made us feel like we were along for the ride with him, as he covered so many minute details. It was like a mini-movie played in my head!

I started the article, then stopped because I was at my desk. One question I had early into the reading was, "Why would a girl who brought in maybe $400 to $500 per night not get herself an apartment? " But as I read further, Holthouse answered that when he included an excerpt from an article that referenced "modern slavery." That answered my question, even though I knew what Kid Rock meant when he said "she was still thinking for herself."

Reading along, I also thought that "now anywhere there is money to be made, there is fierce competition" -- and he answered that one, too.

Excellent article, an amazing insight, with a little bit of humor, too.

Marrianne Rizzuto
via the Internet

The cold facts: David Holthouse's "Tricks of the Trade" appears to cross ethical boundaries. Anyone who knows the streets -- informed vice cops, social workers, etc. -- can recognize that Mr. Holthouse's street scenes, hookers' earnings and alleged sources, including "Kid Rock," are gross exaggerations or pure fiction. Mr. Holthouse doesn't even know enough about prostitution on East Colfax to make his fabrications remotely plausible.

The whores on East Colfax are the lowest rung of prostitutes. Virtually all of them are freelancers, feeding their addictions to crack, heroin and the hustle of the streets. Pimps are rarely involved. It is doubtful that any of the current pimps on "the Fax" would confide in Mr. Holthouse, much less allow him to ride with them while making the rounds.

It's fantasy to believe that any street hooker in Denver is earning $1,500 a night charging $100 to $150 or more per trick. These rates are comparable to what men frequenting escort services and massage parlors pay. The "johns" on East Colfax, who include lawyers, businessmen, truck drivers and the unemployed, share a common trait: a "flea market" mentality when it comes to paying for sex and companionship. Their price range is usually $20 to $30 and rarely exceeds $60 in cash or crack.

It is also a stretch of the imagination to think that a pimp would pay $5,000 for a "ho." Pimps cruise bus stations, restaurants and the streets for runaways to "befriend" before turning them out. They also approach "working girls," both freelance and those attached to other pimps, in an effort to build their stables.

Girls in the Third World are sold into prostitution, occasionally by their parents, knowingly or not, for as little as $50 to $150. Chinese, Russian, Mexican, Nigerian and other criminal networks are involved in smuggling women for prostitution into the United States and other countries.

Mr. Holthouse appears to have been strongly influenced by The Mack and American Pimp. Perhaps these films were the inspiration for the characters and dialogue found in his article.

When dealing with fringe criminals, an investigator must also be careful not to show too much enthusiasm or emotion during the interview. Doing so will encourage the source to fabricate events when they have exhausted their actual experiences.

The fact that Mr. Holthouse is allowed to concoct characters, events and quotations brings into question the journalistic ethics of Westword and the credibility of all of your articles and alleged sources -- past, present and future.

Michael Salerno
Denver

David Holthouse responds: Mr. Salerno is a careless reader.

One of my article's main themes is how a new breed of younger, out-of-town, pimp-controlled hookers on Colfax has displaced the local, freelance, $20 and $40 crack whores of yesteryear. And while I reported that these "circuit girls" charge more, the $1,500 figure Mr. Salerno waves around as evidence of my deceit was in fact presented only as the upper extreme of one night's earnings. When Kid Rock says, "This is going to be another $1,500 night for sure," it is clear from my writing that he is calculating the earnings of all three of his hookers, not just one.

Later in the article, the "$1,500 a night" figure appeared in an excerpt from a letter sent by south City Park resident Laura Straka to Mayor Wellington Webb, in which Ms. Straka complains of scores of horny men trolling for high-dollar streetwalkers in her neighborhood. Does Mr. Salerno consider her a fabricator as well? And what of the male caller to Peter Boyles's talk-radio show the morning of May 6, when I was a guest, who phoned in to report that he is a customer of Colfax hookers -- whose price had gone from $40 to about $100 in the past year?

It appears that Mr. Salerno has uncovered a vast conspiracy, one that also involves Denver Police Department lieutenant Mark Leone, whose twenty years on the force, thousands of hours patrolling Colfax and role as a john in numerous undercover operations might place him in Mr. Salerno's category of "informed vice cop." In a quote that didn't make it into the story, Lieutenant Leone had this to say: "There are definitely two groups of prostitutes on Colfax. The circuit girls, the out-of-towners, they're younger, they're better dressed, and they're motivated by accumulating profit, not to just turn around and blow it all on crack. Granted, their economics are driven by their pimp, but a good-looking girl can come out here and earn better than $1,000 at a time. They'll tell you that, and they're not exaggerating."

I've never seen The Mack, but the documentary American Pimp was most definitely an influence on this article, because, as I took care to note, it is Kid Rock's favorite movie and he quotes from it freely. As to Mr. Salerno's suspicion that Kid Rock is a concoction of my imagination: Had my accuser bothered to contact me directly to communicate his uninformed skepticism, I would have told him the story behind this story.

I'm certainly not claiming that I simply went down to Colfax one evening and caught a ride with a pimp. To score those interviews, I spent a month's worth of nights on Colfax, trying to work my way in with "fringe criminals"; I also got one huge lucky break. If anyone else has any doubts about my reporting, they should contact me. I'll gladly run down precisely when, where and how I got the story.

Mr. Salerno could have done me that courtesy before recklessly accusing me of lying to more than 200,000 readers. Were he my bitch, I'd have to trunk him.


Losers, Weepers

Club dread: I had to laugh after reading all of the letters responding to David Holthouse's April 11 "The Hot Seat," about the Club-seat fiasco at Donkey stadium.

First of all, you bleeding hearts voted this stadium in. And second, to Rob Levinson (May 2 Letters), who is afraid that the NFL will black out the games: Does anyone really care? I sure don't. I never watch these losers. Third, how are the donkeys going to win any games this season, anyway? Romo and his pills are gone.

Boo-hoo, boo-hoo. Cry, you suckers, cry.

Vincent Sandoval
Denver

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