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Monday, June 27, 2005

Love (and Beds) for Sale

Come learn about a story bursting with all the seamy, sordid details of human existence: prostitution, human trafficking, gambling, guns, and Hammer pants.

Big local news in Houston is the arrest of [alleged!] prostitution king Evan Loewenstein. Loewenstein [allegedly!] owns/owned a number of "spas", which are [allegedly!] in actuality brothels. Several of these businesses are on Highway 6 in far west Houston, and we drive past them all the time on our way out to dinner or shopping. There were several of them in a row, which leads one to ask how many spas (legit or otherwise) one area can support in a mile-long strip.

Most of these businesses are now closed, although the Velvet Touch (its website -- google it up yourselves, pervs -- calls it a "stress clinic") is still open. Also closed is The Dam icehouse (an icehouse is the local name for a kind of bar), but there's a sign on it saying it's going to re-open as a bikini bar (used to be a biker bar; hope they weren't planning on putting the bikers in bikinis), and another place that used to advertise "lingerie modeling".

How many of these are/were/will be [allegedly!] owned by Loewenstein, I do not know.

Now a mile or so in the other direction are several more businesses -- including an all-night "newsstand", the Alohaa [sic, yes] Spa, and another "spa" -- that are still open. Presumably, since they are, these are not owned by Loewenstein.

You can see we live in a high-class area of town. These places, or others like them, have been in business since Niles came here ten years ago. (Niles says he always thought they were "spas" as installed by the place on the other side of the road, named something like "Deck, Pool, and Spa" -- a business littered with large plants, lumber, and mulch.) Apparently Houston has a new police chief and he's eager to clean up the town and make it a fit place fer wimmin 'n kids.

Here are some choice bits from above-linked Houston Chronicle article:

[When Loewenstein's home was raided] Police cars packed the street; helicopters circled overhead. As Loewenstein, 60, and his ex-wife, Vickie Lynn Hegar, 40, were arrested, he whispered for their 13-year-old son to call his attorney and bail bondsman, police said.
Just last year, Loewenstein was arrested when deputies found several guns in his BMW after a wreck on Texas 249. A loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol was in the car's center console. In the trunk were two pistols, a rifle, a fixed-blade knife with knuckles and five boxes of ammunition, Harris County sheriff's reports show.
He dresses only in white or black, usually wearing tight shirts and pants made popular in the 1980s by the rap artist MC Hammer -- baggy workout trousers that ride high on the hips and fit tightly around the ankles.

And lastly:

All of his bank accounts have been frozen by the courts. He is unable to buy groceries for his two sons, prompting him to sell his weight-lifting equipment and white baby grand piano for a few thousand dollars in emergency cash. He is driving a borrowed car and looking for a job, his attorney said.

It must be true, for as we drove past the closed Ocean Spa yesterday, we saw banners hanging from its awnings which proclaimed:

Everything must go! Beds $50

I swear I'm not making this up. I couldn't possibly.