By Hal Collier
The following stories are true to the best of my memory, but then I’m beginning to write my name and address in my underwear. Now, if I would just remember to wear underwear.
I never worked Vice or PED (Prostitution Enforcement Detail) but I did spend a lot of time, pissing in the wind, trying to stem the flow of untaxed prostitution.
I was working the best job I would ever have on the LAPD. I was walking a foot beat on Hollywood Boulevard. I still laugh when some supervisor on a cop show threatens to send a cop back to pounding a foot beat. Anyway, I’m working a morning watch foot beat assignment on Hollywood Boulevard. A morning watch foot beat is unheard of in other divisions. That’s right 11:30 P.M. to 7 A.M. Anyway, I got a handle on the drag queen problem—they’re all working east of Vine.
My lieutenant says “Hal, the whores on Sunset are out of control and Vice can’t work all night. I want your foot beat to go down to Sunset and give them some attention.” Uh oh, I’m going to need another recipe box. PED hadn’t been invented and Public Nuisance laws hadn’t been enacted. Anybody who knows the law, knows that uniformed police officers don’t make arrests for prostitution. Only a Darwin Award candidate would go up to a uniformed cop
and offer a sex act for a specific amount of money. So, all I could do was write them tickets or book them for the tickets that I wrote them and they didn’t pay for. The circle of a Hollywood cop’s life.
So, Randy Witkamp, my partner at the time, and I headed down to Sunset. We began filling up a recipe box with a whole new circle of friends. Mud Ducks from the East side and the more attractive and expensive girls from the west end. I knew they were girls, because if you remember, [see post from May 3] I’m a department expert on drag queens.
We immediately encountered one girl at Sunset and La Brea. Her name was Bobbie XXXXXX. I remember her last name but she’s probably a member of some city employees staff and I can’t afford a civil suit. Bobbie was attractive, smart and only dated regular customers. Vice had a hard time arresting her. I think she actually graduated from college; her brother went to UCLA and played football. Any way Bobbie had a bad attitude toward the police and we became her new favorite nemesis. Randy and I would drive down Sunset, right after stopping at Limelight Liquor for sunflower seeds and cigars.
If we saw Bobbie, we would park right in front of her. Bobbie always paid her tickets so all we could do was put her out of business. Bobbie once told me she makes a $1,000 a week, tax free. I was making about a $1,000 a month, before taxes. So we would sit in our car and Bobbie was put out of work for the night. Because we didn’t have to respond to radio calls we could sit for an hour at a time. One night we brought a thermos of coffee, pulled up in front of Bobbie poured ourselves a cup and sat back drinking coffee and eating sunflower seeds.
Bobbie said something about a waste of tax payers dollars and jumped into a taxi cab. She’s not paying taxes so who cares. We followed her southbound Hollywood Freeway to southbound Harbor Freeway. The taxi exited at Century Boulevard and so did we. We got back on the freeway and stopped at PAB and topped off our gas tank. We got back to Sunset and La Brea just as Bobbie was getting out of the taxi. We made sure that Bobbie didn’t make any money that night.
One night we were sitting in front of Bobbie when we heard this car speeding northbound La Brea. It was a van and it sped right through the red light at about 60 mph. Randy and I looked at each other as another car somewhat slowed and ran through the same red light. This has to be better than watching Bobbie give us the finger. We turned northbound and followed the two cars. They both ran the red light at Hollywood Boulevard and again at Franklin Avenue. We hear a horrendous crash. The van was still going about 60 mph when it ran into a block wall where La Brea ends. I won’t describe the driver’s condition but he died within minutes. His van crashed into the block wall right in front of the yellow street sign that said “END” The second car was an off duty cop who saw the van speeding and thought he had just committed a robbery. The irony is the van driver was drunk and going home to the 1900 block of South La Brea. He died in the 1900 block of North La Brea. Right street, just going in the wrong direction.
I’m working station security one night. This white guy pulls up in a pick-up truck. He shows me an LAPD badge and asks if Sergeant Houchin is the Watch Commander. I tell him yes and he sprints into the Watch Commander’s office. I notice the guy is bleeding from his head. Minutes later, I hear a crime broadcast, murder just occurred at the Sahara Motel on Sunset, suspect is described as a male white in a pick-up truck. I’m putting 2 and 2 together and this time I come up with that’s the murder suspect.
Turns out he’s a Wilshire sergeant who picks up a black prostitute and goes back to her room for that 30 minute nap. He’s just entered her room when the pimp emerges from the closet and tries to rob the sergeant. The sergeant takes a couple of hits to his head, pulls out his gun and sends the pimp to the afterlife. The homicide was ruled justified but the sergeant’s career path hit a major speed bump.
Ok, last story on prostitutes, I think. We’re driving down Sunset early one night and we spot this attractive prostitute, new to us. We stop her and she informs us we just arrived in Hollywood from Fresno. She tells us they needed to turn a few tricks for motel money. I’m no English major but I pick up on we and they. I ask who’s she with, thinking it might be a pimp. She tells us her girl friend just got a date before we stopped her. I ask whats her girlfriend look like? She tells me she looks just like Farrah Fawcett. I’m thinking yea, right, they are on the west end where the better looking hookers work, but come, on Farrah Fawcett!
We drive around for an hour looking for Farrah, when we see a line of cars trying to pick up a hooker. Yep, it’s Farrah. Damn if she doesn’t look just like Farrah, even with the famous hair style. We get in line and it’s surprising how many cars ahead of us give up their spot. We interview Farrah. Yea, she got the looks but three words out of her mouth and you can see why she is a prostitute. She couldn’t make change for a dime. I swear my Lab has a higher IQ.
I’m not going into stories about the following but these are locations which catered to male prostitutes. Most of my retired cop friends who worked around Hollywood could tell you stories that will amaze you. Non-cops will find them unbelievable.
Ferndale #4–A men’s bathroom at the end of Ferndale Park.
Barnsdale Park–During the day a world class art gallery and Hollyhock House, after dark dozen of men running around looking for someone to share that 30 minute nap.
La Jolla and Waring–Nice neighborhood in the daytime, men having sex on your front porch at night.
I didn’t like working the prostitutes and equated it with standing Station Security. Very little return for your effort.