TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Our investigation of sleazy health spas on Kennedy Boulevard has reportedly put a damper on Tampa’s prostitution trade, if only for the moment.
That’s the buzz among patrons on a prostitution message board regarding some of some of the Asian health spas with histories of prostitution that we featured in our report.
“Channel 8 ruining the action,” one customer writes.
Police records show four prostitution busts in the past five years in four of the 10 spas that line Kennedy Blvd. and police suspect it remains a daily occurrence in some of the Asian businesses that advertise massage services..
The adult sex site we monitored, which we are choosing not to name, reviews prostitution services and individual women who offer those services in Tampa and provides a forum for customers. The men who portray themselves as regulars in some of the spas featured in our story worry that our report has made an impact.
“This unwanted nuisance visibility could well result in the Tampa City City Council being sort of ‘cornered’ into taking SOME kind of action,” writes another man.
“I’m steering clear of the Kennedy Blvd/S Dale Mabry AMP’s [Asian massage parlors] for a while,” a third customer wrote. “Actually, I frequent these less often anyway, because I know too many people professionally who work around the Westshore area and don’t want to be seen near the front door of these places.”
Those messages provide confirmation for city council member Guido Maniscalco that the sex trade is prospering in some of the health spas that line on Kennedy Blvd.
“They’re admitting to it in the message boards that there’s something going, some things going on,” said Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco after we showed him some of the postings. “We are on the right track. This is not a waste of time and we go from there.”
One man refers to Tampa City Council members who told us they plan to take action as a result of our investigation as “twerps” and predicts nothing more than bluster.
“It seems like this is something they can give lip service to, but not actually take action on,” writes the spa patron.
But, Maniscalco promised action and so does fellow council member Mike Suarez.
“Absolutely on my end I will call for some type of action. What that’s going to look like, I don’t know yet,” Suarez said. “We will find a solution to either shut them down or severely restrict their access to these places where there’s prostitution or human trafficking.”
The Tampa City Council has scheduled a briefing about prostitution in Kennedy Boulevard health spas at its upcoming meeting on May 18.
“We are on the right track,” said Maniscalco. “This is not a waste of time.”
But, at least one message board spa patron remains skeptical.
“Like snowbird season, it will pass quickly,” he writes.