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The Video Vigilante isn’t much of a vigilante…

Reuters recently did a profile on local perverted videographer extraordinaire Brian Bates. In the story, you get to learn that Bates — better known as the Video Vigilante — videotapes hookers, is a "commercial activist," and likes to masturbate to all of his videos that feature Asian girls. Just kidding, he probably masturbates to all his videos.


For a man who surprises prostitutes and their customers with a video camera to announce, "You're busted, buddy," Brian Bates is remarkably unscathed.

No visible scars, no missing limbs.

After 15 years of exposing, documenting and railing against street prostitution in Oklahoma City, Bates is known as the "video vigilante." It's a moniker the local TV stations hung on him years ago after they noticed recurring police reports about a man making prostitution complaints with videotaped evidence...

Yeah, I'm not so sure that you can say Brian Bates "is unscathed." Just compare the photograph used in the Reuters story to the an earlier image of the Video Vigilante:

When you go from looking like the guy who leads the Cub Scout pack to Gary Busey's long-lost meth-addicted cousin, it's hard to say your "unscathed." I guess the stress of videoing prostitutes in the act can really wear on man...especially when that's your livelihood.

He prefers to call himself a "commercial activist."

Commercial, because he makes money selling the licensing rights of his videos to TV production companies. Activist, because he's a loud and relentless voice in the ear of police, elected officials and society at-large about what he sees as the mostly ignored ugliness of street-level prostitution.

There have been plenty of instances of people with camcorders documenting pimps and prostitutes, but one is hard-pressed to find anyone like Bates who has done it for so long.

Bates explains it this way: Some people want to save the whales; he wants to dissuade street prostitutes and their "johns" from the public spectacle of sex-for-pay; if it's behind closed doors or arranged online or by phone, he doesn't care.

Let me get this straight. The guy markets himself as an anti-prostitution activist, films people in the act and then sells the rights to whatever he films, but...he's totally OK with prostitution as long as people do it behind closed doors or arrange it alone???  That doesn't sound like a "vigilante" to me. It sounds like an exploitative and creepy hypocrite.

That being said, I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this revelation. Several years ago, Bates was charged with pandering and aiding in prostitution. Among other things, he was accused of paying prostitutes to take their John's to locations that were easy to videotape, but hard for police to detect. Bates claimed that the accusations were part of some evil agenda by DA Wes Lane. Since Lane was A) a goofball and, B) the charges were dropped on a technicality, I kind of believed the "Video Vigilante." Oops.

Anyway, since Brain Bates makes a living by condemning, exploiting and supporting prostitution, maybe we should retire the whole Video Vigilante moniker. Perhaps a more appropriate nickname would be "Master Bates," "Joe Francis of the Midwest" or "Creepy Guy Who Videotapes Prostitutes As They Give Head." Any of them would work.

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