- Politics and Social Issues
Hooking In Huntington
Prostitution is recognized as the "world's oldest profession". Hookers have checkered the streets of Huntington, WV for years. Decades ago in the 70's and 80's, 4 and a Half Alley developed the reputation as "the place where the hookers hang out." In fact local legend, and rumor at the time, told how Ward's Donut Shop which sat at 1345 4th Avenue, had a sign and the word "hot" would light up when girls were working in the alley (of course, this was never proved as true.)
Now, the a stretch of 6th Avenue which runs from 1st Street up to about 8th Street, commonly referred to as "Ho Stroll", is littered with hookers trying to score drug money. Prostitution is popular in other areas of the city and is also running rampant on the Internet. Ignited by the drug epidemic burning through Huntington, prostitution may be more prevalent than ever.
Huntington resident Josie Burgess said, "It is disgraceful. The girls march up and down 6th Avenue like it's a parade. I'm afraid to let my kids play in the front yard. If I walk to Food Fair, the men driving looking for hookers, yell all sorts of things at me and try to pick me up. I even had policemen pull over and watch me as if I was a hooker."
In the Winter of 2013/2014, three youth picked up a prostitute from around the 6th Avenue area and gave her a ride. They conversed with her about what she offered and the prices. While she was talking, one of the boys recorded the conversation on his cell phone without her knowledge. The video was placed on youtube and went semi-viral gathering thousands of hits. Here is the video's location
I interviewed a hooker who calls herself "Roxie". Roxie informed me that she sells cheap selling "bjs" for $20. She said that she gives about 10-20 to twenty a day and sells everything for $40. The money she "earns" supports her two-gram of heroin a day habit. Two grams of heroin costs in the neighborhood of $200. Roxie walks up and down 6th Avenue all day. She says her clients come from all over the area. She says a couple of police of are among her regular customers. She said she had several affluent customers if she ever wanted to blackmail customers for money, then she felt like she could.
The streetwalkers of 6th Avenue charge far less than the hookers that operate out of bars or on the Internet. Mostly that is because most of them are very undesirable. Many are either very overweight with rolls of fat oozing out under too small and slinky clothing. Others are very skinny and look like they have been ravaged by Meth. Their counterparts in bars, strip clubs, and on the Internet are usually better looking and charge far more. The girls of 6th Avenue literally go for the "turn", which is a retail term for charging less profit and relying on quantity to make money.
A hooker named "Mandy" told me she supported her drug addiction by utilizing the internet site called Plenty of Fish or POF. She did not even need a computer to round up clients, she used her cell phone. When she first started she even stated that she was hooking. She would often send pictures of other girls and say they would join in on the sex act and negoiate a higher price. Then, when the client got there, she said the girls had to go and she would try to get all of the money. After a while, she figured out another angle that made her more successful.
Her new plan involved not telling her customers she was a prostitute. So the customers did not even know she was a prostitute. She would request $50 for a babysitter so she could stay out all night even though she did not have custody of her kids. She would get the money and then go have sex. In the morning, she would be dropped off at home and buy drugs. Sometimes she would do it in the day and not even have sex, but would still get the 'babysitting' money... and buy drugs.
One of the big dangers of these kinds of practices is the spread of diseases. Since most of theese prostitutes shoot up heroin, they run the risk of catching and spreading AIDS, hepatitis, and a plethra of other STDS.
The police pick up hookers in Huntington but it takes three arrests for it to be a felony. The first two offenses are merely misdomeanors and they are quickly back out on the streets.
Huntington has become complacent and chooses to look the other way. Mayor Williams has chosen to overspend on positions we do not need like Assistant to The Public Works Director and to over pay for other positions. He has done this at the expense of the police and fire departments. We have fewer patrols than in the past and response times are longer. Plus, the police do not have time to pick up hookers for petty offenses... so the problem spreads.
It is a matter of priorities, we need to consider the safety and well-being of our citizens as top priority and make sure the police and fire departments are well-staffed before we add luxories like a Communications Director. We spend alot of money fixing up Huntington but if the first sight a visitor sees is a fat hooker in a small, small dress, can we really say we beautified Huntington.