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Erotic massage parlors taking over L.A.

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According to L.A. police, illicit massage parlors are sprouting up like mushrooms after a downpour in areas like Hollywood, Koreatown, the San Fernando Valley, and especially Eagle Rock, a community that previously dealt with a glut of medical-marijuana dispensaries. A typical rub n' tug joint, Surprise Massage, beckons potential customers with their "Fairytale Oriental Massage" featuring "Sexy Pretty Asian Girls NOW."

The reason behind the explosion of erotic-massage parlors has to do with a 2009 state law that created voluntary state certification for massage therapists, facilitating the ability of "legitimate" massage therapists to work throughout the state, bypassing strict local vetting, which might entail applying for police permits and background checks. But L.A. dropped the ball, asking massage-parlor applicants only to state if they were certified, not to show proof, unlike other cities. In addition, budget cuts reduced the number of spot checks and raids. And thus a rampant, unregulated influx of parlors came to be, with some suggesting that L.A. rewrite its code.

Restaurant owner Rudy Martinez, whose Mia Sushi is located on Eagle Boulevard (which alone boasts fifteen erotic-massage establishments within a two-mile stretch), is frustrated that his neighborhood has morphed into a veritable red-light district. His happy ending would paradoxically come about if the establishments were gone. He says:

"If you sit on our patio, you can see about thirty to forty men coming in and out of there. They stay for fifteen to twenty minutes. I've never seen one woman walk in. It's sickening. It's ridiculous. It takes away from that community environment that you want where you live."