Political prostitution

It’s the topic everyone is talking about but nobody wants to admit it: Hookers during the political conventions.

The Star Tribune started it with an article today that featured police departments in St. Paul and Denver dismissing the notion that there’ll be an increase in prostitution during the Republican National Convention here and the Democratic National Convention there.

St. Paul police spokesman Tom Walsh said his department discussed the issue with police in New York and Boston, which hosted the 2004 Republican and Democratic conventions, respectively.

“And what they have reported to us is that is that there is not an increase in that kind of traffic,” Walsh said.

In other words, “Who are you going to believe? Me? Or your lying eyes?”

Let’s let history, be our guide. At the Democratic National Convention in Boston 2004, business was so good, it caused a near panic in the, ummm, “hooker community” in New York City in advance of the Republican convention, according to New Yorker Magazine.

A special Boston Phoenix Democratic National Convention issue included an adult section with ads like “Boston Welcomes You! Truth Escorts is offering the most beautiful bodies and faces of Boston’s finest ladies.” Reports were favorable on many escort review sites–consumer message boards that are the Epinions of hookerdom. One Boston escort posted that her $150 DNC GFE (“girlfriend experience”) special had filled so quickly that she was extending it. “After talking with people who own agencies up in Boston,” a New York escort-agency owner e-mailed me, “we are in the process of hiring two to three times the number of girls, as we have been told that business in Boston tripled during that time frame.”

As for New York, I’ve waited four years to figure out how to fit this in to a post: there was a van with two hookers in it doing a booming business in a mobile bedroom one block over from the Minnesota delegation’s East Side hotel. There may not have been an increase in prostitution arrests during the week, but that might only be because the cops were busy arresting protesters and looking the other way.

Other cities, contrary to what the local cops are saying, have reported an increase in prostitution during political conventions. A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles police, which hosted the DNC in 2000, said “there’s ‘definitely a spike’ in prostitution during large events like political conventions,” according to the Rocky Mountain News which published a story in February similar to the Star Tribune’s today, but drew a different conclusion. The story also featured Carol Leigh, “a San Francisco prostitute ‘over 50’ who has traveled to previous conventions in Los Angeles and Atlanta” and suggests that if prostitution is going to increase, it’ll likely be most noticeable at the Republican convention.