QUEENS -- The NYPD Vice Division recently cracked down on a tiny strip of 40th Road in Flushing, Queens — where some of the beauty spas were charged with being fronts for prostitution — and women as old as 60 were sporting false eyelashes and heavy makeup to attract men on the street.
Yet even with the enforcement efforts, 40th Road remains an active place for women soliciting massage business — and steering clients inside to small units where “happy endings” and other sex acts are often for sale.
“You live in a community, you see what’s going on in your community,” said NYPD Lt. Christopher Sharp at a recent human trafficking seminar. “There are lots of legitimate massage parlors, but if you see the windows blacked out or windows with shades on them….if you see the massage parlor open at 2 in the morning…that stands out.”
All PIX11 had to do was Google “Girlfriend Experience” to find where a lot of these spas are located.
One spot listed at “Union 248” signaled the location was Union Turnpike and 248th Street in Bellerose, Queens.
When our cameraman called about an appointment, he received a text that gave the exact address, told him to expect four women and a table shower, and then directed him to enter in the back.
That meant our photographer was knocking on a door behind a nail salon facing Union Turnpike. The awning over the back door contained the name BODY WORKS AND SCRUB in big letters.
A woman wearing a light pink lab coat pulled back a curtain and let our cameraman in.
She told our PIX11 employee the “house fee” was $50 and then he would get “me.”
She was one of the few women our photographer encountered who would accept a credit card.
With Craigslist eliminating the “personals” section and backpage.com disappearing off the web — after Congress signed a human trafficking law — clients who are interested in seeking young, Asian women still know where to look.
“Girlfriend Experience” is a good start, and it often leads web browsers to another site called City X Guide.com, which is filled with phone numbers and a graphic description of services.
One ad took our photographer to a spa accessed through the side entrance of a surgical supply store near Woodhaven Boulevard in Rego Park, Queens.
This spot wanted $40 for the house fee. When the cameraman asked one woman in a negligee about tips, she replied “Tips up to you.”
Another woman wearing a polka dotted teddy outfit said the location didn’t have cash machines, suggesting that our photographer go downstairs to a bakery to get money.
In multiple spots, from Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing to Roosevelt Avenue in East Elmhurst, our PIX11 employee was greeted by women wearing scant clothing.
Virtually all of them were Asian, but their clients come from all backgrounds, with a high percentage being Latino or Caucasian, according to social workers who counsel some of the workers.
And although millions of women and girls are targeted around the world by human traffickers and forced into sexual servitude — including many in the Asian community — a number of people with knowledge of the operations said some women do the work voluntarily — and then buy real estate.
Part 1: "The Human Pipeline: Online ‘Girlfriend Experience’ ads recruit men for sex in day spas" aired on Wednesday, April 24.