The evil that men do: As an AIDS activist and AIDS educator, I would like to applaud Westword for publishing Laura Bond's "A Grim Prognosis" in the November 18 issue. I have seen the typical profile of a person with AIDS or HIV change from a single white man in the late '80s to now mostly attached or married women of all ages, races and sizes contracting the virus. I have tried for years to get certain bathhouses closed, because they are simply a breeding ground for the virus among married and attached men, but to no avail. Perhaps if the mainstream media had addressed this issue in the mid-'90s, we wouldn't have the dynamics that we now have.
Overall, women are very clueless about men's true sexuality. This article may act as a wake-up call. However, for the vast majority of the women now infected -- many of whom do not know they are infected -- the wake-up call came ten or fifteen years too late.
Los Angeles, California
The lowdown: I would like to thank you for informing the general populace regarding the reality of HIV in the Hispanic community. It is amazing to me that HIV is still considered a taboo subject and that homosexuality is, as well.
When I was reading The Down Low, a book about HIV in the African-American community, it dawned on me that eventually this situation, the down low, would come out in the Hispanic community. Then I saw "A Grim Prognosis," and it was sad to realize that my fear has come true. Hopefully, your article will bring it more into the forefront, and people can once again stop and think about their next step and how it will affect their loved ones.
Michelle C. Schultz
via the Internet
Escorting disaster: Regarding David Holthouse's "Bada Bing, Bada Boom!," in the November 11 issue:
Given the painful experiences in his past that David Holthouse has written about, I find it surprising that he does not bring up the potential dangers of the escort-service industry. Instead of interviewing Bada Bing's clients and employees to provide a broad view of the industry, he homes in on Ms. Lake and her agency, which makes for a read akin to a four-page advertisement. This article made me seriously question Holthouse's investigative-journalism skills.
Like many who ooh and aah at the sex industry, Holthouse gives credit to the woman who runs the business instead of the women who take on many risks for Ms. Lake's first million. I do thank him, however, for revealing Ms. Lake's true character with her comment, "My clients are loyal to me, not my employees." Indeed! Marketing language aside, I'd hope that Ms. Lake might consider monitoring her johns' behavior with as much rigor as she does that of her employees. Ladies, is this someone you really want to work for? I suppose we'll never know, since Holthouse failed to give you a voice.
And to the "Grim Raper" (a loyal client, no doubt): I can't imagine how many men and women await your painful demise.
It's my party: I am writing to correct inaccurate information that was presented by David Holthouse in "Bada Bing, Bada Boom!" The Halloween party was not sponsored by the Other Board, and the purpose of the party was not for the ladies to market themselves and solicit future business. There was an open invitation that I personally wrote and posted on the Other Board for everyone to see. I am the sole person who planned, sponsored and hosted the party, with the intention of it being strictly a social event, and I just wanted to have a party for the reason that anyone would plan a party: for fun. There should not have been any solicitation whatsoever, and if I had known Veronika Lake and her girls would be attending with the intention of soliciting, they would not have been welcome at my party.
If you claim to be a newspaper, then you must attempt to accurately represent the facts. I would suggest training your reporters in the basics of journalism so they can write articles that have truthful content, rather than opinions disguised as news.
Hobby lobby: It is gratifying to see this "hobby" spotlighted. Funny how the escorts and hobbyists, those who claim they are providing a public service and who heatedly maintain I'm not doing anything illegal, because I'm not selling/paying for sex, I'm selling/paying for companionship are frantic and running for cover. Apparently Veronika Lake's statement -- "I don't have anything to hide, and I believe in marketing wherever I go" -- doesn't apply to the rest of the Other Board and similar communities. They act astonished, as though they were betrayed and unjustly exposed by the Bada Bing article, and yet they advertise, discuss and review prostitution daily on a public Internet forum! It doesn't take much to read the glossary of terms and the linked guides, such as "Sex on the Internet -- How to Get Laid on the Web" and "Shy Girl's Guide to Becoming a Whore," and figure out what's going on!
People may think that prostitution is a misdemeanor or a victimless crime. And sure, prostitution might not be high on law-enforcement's priority list -- but when there are children involved, it becomes a priority! I have seen firsthand how one woman's choice to prostitute destroyed a family, and how dedicated the police and social services become in protecting these children. In retort to Veronika's statement, "Am I harming anyone? No," I want her to step into my world, look into the eyes of a beautiful little seven-year-old boy and explain to him why his mom chose prostitution over him. Near to losing her son, she vows that she is out of the biz, then shows up at the Halloween party eight days later in a see-through dress. It is sad!
After reading this article, girls may well think, This is the lifestyle for me -- easy money and the attention I so desperately need. These lost girls are also the victims, "turned out" by people like Veronika Lake and wealthy older men filling their empty hearts with money, glamour (or so they think) and instant gratification. Fines for prostitution are small compared to what a girl can make daily. The only real drags are the criminal record and the risk of disease, but who cares? After all, you are only thinking about today and not tomorrow...for tomorrow is when you will realize that your bodies and souls are limited resources.
via the Internet
Board games: The Bada Bing article, while interesting, had several errors, as well as a couple of glaring omissions.
First, the Halloween Party was not sponsored by the Other Board. This was easy to find out for anyone willing to do actual research by reading the board. TOB organizes nothing other than a discussion board where like-minded adults meet. The party was mainly the work of one lady and one gent who have no connection to the board other than using it -- as all are free to do.
Second, the fee is $20 a month, not per day -- a fact that is clearly stated on the separate ad board for anyone willing to do actual journalistic research.
Third, nobody dubbed me anything. I chose my Internet name months before I started handing out my distinct calling cards. Again, this is easily verifiable by the e-mail addy I include with all the posts under that name for anyone willing to do the research rather than passing along gossip as fact.
As for omissions, when talking about the money to be made in the adult service industry, I notice you didn't include how much Westword makes from the five full pages of ads of adult-service providers -- seven and a half pages, if you count the phone-sex ads. Also, how about the origins of the story? Did the author approach Veronika about doing a story, or the other way around? Did he pretend to be her friend, wanting to hang out and party with her, all the while knowing he was going to stab her in the back?
Ours is a very large, diverse and interesting community that didn't even exist as a community before the Internet. It is a story that should be told without compromising identities, destroying the reputations of individuals and businesses, or printing gossip as fact. You do your profession wrong using such poor reporting methods, all to print a cheap-thrills story instead of searching a little deeper for the real story.
R. W. Shannon, aka Crazy Horse
David Holthouse replies: Ashley may have sponsored the party, but it was promoted on the Other Board and attended largely by men who use the Other Board and the escorts who service them. Not only did Bada Bing girls, independents and escorts from other agencies hand out business cards like Halloween candy, but numerous liaisons were arranged for that very night at a nearby hotel. The going rate was $250 an hour. Crazy Horse is correct about the Other Board's advertising rates for escort agencies. As for my relationship with Veronika Lake, it was and remains that of a reporter and a source, and that alone. For more response to the Bada Bing story, see "Off the Hook."
Sprawl in the family: I enjoyed Adam Cayton-Holland's November 4 What's So Funny? I am a Colorado native, born in Englewood and raised in Littleton; I, too, stay away from the 'burbs now and have been living in Denver for ten years. I'm studying urban and regional planning in graduate school at the University of Colorado at Denver. Last semester I wrote a paper on the current conditions of Colorado Boulevard and also reminisced about the days of Celebrity Sports Center.
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That said, I have a few comments about Adam's T-Rex bashing. Townhomes built quickly with conveniences for "yuppies"? These developments not only cater to young urban professionals, but all locals who stop by. They also serve an important role in the calming of urban sprawl. Let's be realistic: Is T-Rex really creating a higher demand or allowance for migration to Denver? No, people who are young are moving here no matter what. We have good schools, great weather and plenty of outdoor and indoor activity. So when the people are moving in by the swarms, we must accommodate them with transit and housing!
Building up development in Denver (up high, like condos and townhomes) frees space along the periphery of the metro area. Sure, we could keep the same Denver charm with one- or two-story single-family housing in the city, but the boundary of the urban area would take over to the north, south, east and west. It is important to continue with the pattern of infill development, densifying the urban core (Denver) in order to keep the overall city in check. I live one block from Sushi Den on South Pearl Street, and I am welcoming the light-rail expansion by my house, as well as the lofts and condos adjacent to the stations that make these transit stations efficient. I think I will find many economic groups, not just yuppies, using the first-floor commerce planned in these sections.
Anyway, it does touch the soul to watch your home town change so rapidly, but come on: People are moving to Denver whether we want them or not.
Tareq S. Wafaie