edited: Thursday, December 06, 2001
By Jackie M Joice
Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2001
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Taxi clubs are rampant in the Los Angeles Area. Read what happens when two women dress provocatively and go undercover.
Going Undercover In A Los Angeles Taxi-Club
by Jackie Joice
It was August of 1999 when I received a phone call from my friend Sylvia. Sylvia was working on a documentary on taxi-clubs and she called me to go undercover in one in Los Angeles. What's a taxi-club ? A taxi club is a club or storefront restaurant that hires undocumented women to entertain men. Usually these women are Mexican or Central American and they turn to taxi dancing when they think that their options have run out. Some of these undocumented immigrant women are afraid that they may be deported. Taxi dancing is their last resort for income. In some of these clubs women are numbered and if men are interested in them, they'll request for that particular number. Yes, the women are numbered like cattle, and the healthiest fleshy-est is called out for service. The women get paid by the club on the basis of how many drinks they get the clients to purchase as well as tips. These women make even more money when the man buys her a drink too, so sometimes these women consume up to twenty beers in one night !
That evening Sylvia and I had to dress for the occasion. In other words dress like prostitutes. Sylvia wore her leopard print silk blouse and black mini-skirt with black spiked heels and I wore my black long fitted lycra skirt and black lace blouse. I met Sylvia at her house and we took her car with her video camera packed away.We fabricated a story about it being my last night of being single. Sylvia was taking me out for a few drinks before I left to go to Las Vegas the next day. That is what we told everybody that night. Well, everybody didn't buy the story, especially since I didn't speak fluent Spanish and that I was African American. When we walked in the dark dim-lighted shabby club with cheap chipped wooden chairs and tables.The stares and glares bombarded us. We were "fresh meat "and new faces on claimed territory. At this particular club women weren't numbered, they gained their popularity by their regular attendance. These women all cluttered together by the makeshift bar looked at us with suspicion because Sylvia had a camera and was with me an African American.Sylvia and I sat near the entrance in case we had to run out. As the night crept on, we started to witness suspicious activity; drug transactions. Suddenly, two drinks arrived at our table from a client. We had to drink beer to look like we were there to have a good time. If we had declined the drinks, we may have been harassed, kicked out, or worse. I was not happy with having to drink while investigating under potentially hostile conditions. We had a job to do and we needed to be 100% alert. Sylvia periodically filmed me drinking the beer as well as the activity that was going on behind us at the bar.After we accepted the drinks our table began to attract men. I was asked to dance and I accepted. All eyes were on the us ! I was doing fine until the man that I was dancing with yelled something in Spanish to a group of well dressed men behind us. I had no idea what he said. My heart began to beat a little faster and I was hoping that the man I was dancing with didn't sense my anxiety. The song was over and I thanked the man for the dance. It was getting later and later and Sylvia's informant warned us not to stay at the club later than 9pm. The informant also told us not to go straight home when we left the club, because we may be followed. We left the club without incident. Sylvia and I headed to a coffeehouse to view the footage that she had shot. Our mission was complete ! We got what we wanted on film. However, we still need to investigate one more club in the Los Angeles area. The documentary will be completed by January 2002.