The world’s oldest profession wants to step out of the shadows and become our newest legitimate industry.
Ailing Toronto strip clubs have bold plans to become glitzy high-security bordellos that feature both prostitutes and exotic dancers now that the Ontario Court of Appeal has thrown out a ban on hookers.
The bordello option is gaining steam with support from some Toronto city councillors who say it will bring millions of dollars into the cash-starved city. They remain keen as the federal government has confirmed it will take the matter to the Supreme Court.
The push for the sex dens in Toronto has intensified as some advocates call for a downtown red light district. Others want sex to be sold and packaged like the Nevada-based Moonlite Bunny Ranch, a legal brothel near Carson City, Nev., whose officials will travel here in June on a fact-finding tour.
Prostitution was made legal after the court struck down a ban on brothels last month, saying it puts prostitutes in danger and they should be allowed to work safely indoors.
A campaign to make prostitution mainstream is being closely monitored by U.S. border states that predict tourism will spike in Canada from American men visiting brothels.
“Americans for decades have crossed the bridges to Canada to sample Chinese food, sometimes-lower gas prices, the ‘Canadian ballet’ and the lower drinking age of 19,” declared the Buffalo News on April 10. “Starting next year, they could head there for a different purpose - to visit Ontario’s brothels. And it all could be legal.”
Advocates for brothels claim rooms for sex romps can be constructed to existing Toronto strip clubs, which are already zoned for sex use. Nurses will be on site to conduct medical checks on sex workers and there will be security cameras in common areas and emergency alarms in the sex stalls to protect women.
Club owners said the prostitutes will undergo training and must pass a police background security check before they’re hired.
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, chairman of the community development and recreation committee, said the city stands to gain millions of dollars in taxes if licensed adult clubs expand into legal brothels.
Mammoliti says an enhanced licence will be required by the clubs to feature strippers and hookers.
“The adult clubs will be a perfect fit for this activity,” Mammoliti says.
“The clubs are already there and some jurisdictions have given them permission to place brothels on their property.”
He is back-tracking on a red-light district which he previously supported due to a proposal by MGM to create an Las Vegas-style entertainment complex in Toronto.
Mammoliti claims brothels can curb the trafficking of women for the sex trade, clean up the shady massage and sex parlour industry, place health workers in clubs, force pimps out and make it safer for prostitutes and their customers.
“This is a very lucrative business and we can earn a lot of money as a city,” Mammoliti says. “We were the largest pimps in North America because of the amount of massage parlour permits issued.”
He said it will be up to club owners or managers to find qualified prostitutes to work at the clubs.
“The owners will have to come up with their own plan to get staff,” Mammoliti says. “It will be up to them to get their own girls.”
He said the brothels will be clean, well-inspected and customers issued a receipt after they’ve paid for using a prostitute.
“Perhaps others with legitimate body rub licences in good standing could be part of the conversation,” Mammoliti says. “The shifting has turned from Toronto having a red light district to finding professionally run businesses that are properly licensed, inspected and zoned.”
Tim Lambrinos, of the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada, said there are 15 clubs in Toronto that can be converted into brothels. There are about 35 strip clubs in the GTA and more than 100 in Ontario.
“We are against morphing the industry but there’s a big demand for both services,” Lambrinos says. “There’s a huge demand and the biggest thing for us will be to educate the workforce.”
He said the brothels will have a separate entrance from the strip club and up to 20 or more rooms can be added to each club depending on its location.
“Some clubs will have to be re-converted and rooms added,” Lambrinos says.
“Our clubs are already zoned and the impact to the community will be minimal.”
He will be meeting with city officials from Windsor, Niagara Falls and Toronto who are interested in the plan.
The association, in a letter to city officials writing a staff report into a red-light district, claim their clubs are already zoned under a City of Toronto Act and are permitted to “conduct and provide services to appeal to erotic or sexual appetites.”
“These licensed establishments have invested a great deal in constructing their venues to be respectable entertainment facilities,” the association told councillors. “Owners have a lot of investment risk for failing to comply with government regulations as it stands. “
The group claim there would be little noise or disturbance from the sex clubs.
“Any possible nuisance factor to the surrounding community would be non-existent if enhanced activity were allowed to occur,” the clubs said.
“The surrounding community would see a status-quo or business as usual from the exterior.”
Most club owners claim the bordellos will help protect vulnerable women as they earn extra income and upgrade their clubs.
Club owner Simo Rudan said dancers already have a safe environment to work.
“We provide safety for the dancers,” Rudan said. “The prostitution trade does not provide this for the women.”
Rudan expects the law to be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“I just think that, if it goes through, the stakeholders who have these establishments should have the first right to sit down with the municipality,” he says.
Toronto stripper Alexandra likes the idea because it will mean more security for her.
“I would feel a lot safer with all the security,” Alexandra says. “Customers who want a little extra can now go to the brothel.”
Another dancer named Julia hopes to make more money as the business becomes a “one-stop sex shop.”
“I am only doing this for the money and I hope I can earn more,” Julia says.
“I don’t plan to be here for a long time.”
Toronto Police Const. Tony Vella said the force cannot comment on the issue because the matter is under appeal by the federal government. The case is now destined for the Supreme Court of Canada at a date to be set.