Editorial: Keep the massage parlors honest

Their storefronts are often covered with thick curtains or tinted glass, making it nearly impossible for passersby to see in. There are colorful neon signs calling the business a spa, often accompanied by handwritten notices advertising discounts on back and foot rubs.

More and more of these types of “spas” have opened up on shopping strips across Queens. Because of the effort taken by the proprietors to veil these businesses in secrecy, people often wonder what’s going on in there — and, particularly, if the spa is offering something more than just a legal rubdown.

Sure enough, police have revealed the answer through their own investigations of these “spas,” which revealed that workers inside these establishments offered to perform sex acts on clients. Police inquiries also revealed that many of the spas, and the workers they employ, failed to have proper licensing.

Last year, the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood hit a number of illegal massage parlors, arresting individuals for propositioning customers and/or being unlicensed. The precinct even worked to have a few of them closed for good.
The NYPD is doing an excellent job keeping watch on the local shopping strips and looking into questionable businesses. Even so, they need additional tools and authority to legitimize these businesses and keep others from reopening.

It’s the reason why Assemblyman Mike Miller and state Senator Joseph Addabbo introduced new legislation designed to shed some sunlight on new spas. Their legislative package increases licensing requirements, prohibits proprietors from blocking view of their lobby area and grants the city’s Consumer Affairs Department the authority to institute fines against spas for illegal or unlicensed practice.

We hope the state legislature, as it gets back into gear for the new session, takes up and swiftly passes this legislative package, and that the governor signs it into law. Queens residents should feel confident that new massage parlors in their neighborhood aren’t fronts for X-rated activity.

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