Trosper Park Vice Sting Triggers Memories of Late 90s OKC Sex Industry Shaming Boom…
1:46 PM EDT on June 5, 2023
Over the last five years or so, there’s been a push by over-sensitive types, anti-bullying activists, and other righteous fun haters to stop local media outlets from publishing the photos of local Johns and prostitutes who were busted in local prostitution stings.
I don’t think the movement has been very successful.
Earlier this week, the OKC Police Department conducted another prostitution sting operation near Tropser Park, arresting 10 men for engaging in prostitution. Just like when they did a big sting back in May, every local TV channel took the bait:
I’m not going to be a total hypocrite here.
We’ve had a lot of fun over the years on TLO showcasing the adventures of local Johns and prostitutes. I think my favorite was the famed Doritos hooker from 2009 who took payment in the form of a bag of Doritos, or the former OU cheerleader prostitute and her former football player pimp who were busted at the Biltmore Hotel back in 2017. People LOVED clicking on that one.
Is the coverage kind of mean? Are we publicly humiliating people who are probably experiencing hard times and simply want to fulfill an addictive animalistic urge or make some money?
Yes, but in all fairness, I’m not sure any of us want to live in a world where we can’t poke fun at people who were caught doing something a lot of people get away with doing. How else will prudes who are too scared to conduct a financial transaction involving sex feel good about themselves?
Plus, shaming and making fun of prostitutes and their clients is a time-honored human tradition that, I assume, dates back to the dawn of civilization. It’s something our ancestors did, so I guess it’s okay if we do it, too.
I guess the difference between us and the traditional media is that we have no problem saying the quiet part out loud and acknowledging that we’re poking fun at people who were caught engaging in something that should be regulated and legal. We also don’t mind admitting that we’re exploiting their personal struggles for easy entertainment and eyeballs. That's how media works!
The traditional media, on the other hand, ignores all that, and instead tries to pretend it's all presented as a legitimate and important public service, when deep down, we all know the exploitive truth.
On the topic of that exploitive truth, this resurgence in prostitution sting media coverage triggered some nostalgia, and took me back to the good old days of the late 1990s – the moment right before Oklahoma City officially entered its cultural “Renaissance.”
Back then, about the only thing our city was known for on the national level was a terrorist bombing that killed 168 people and a little man who would lurch around the seedy streets of S. Robinson filming prostitutes and their clients having sex in back alleys and parking lots.
As we know, that man was Brian Bates – a.k.a. The Video Vigilante – and it seemed like every couple of weeks or so he was either on Maury Povich, 20/20 or Inside Edition showing off his puffy bubble gum cheeks and sharing his handy video work for the world to see.
Partly inspired by Mister Bates' success in getting attention and eyeballs, Cox Communications and the City of Oklahoma City soon partnered to launch a program called "John TV."
Sandwiched between City Council meetings, public notices and “Generally Speaking with Dave Bialis” on the city’s government access Channel 20, the program would cycle through the names and mugshots of all the people who were arrested in Oklahoma City on prostitution charges, providing a quick dose of shaming entertainment for people as they flipped through the channels one remote click at a time.
City leaders even credited it for a drop in prostitution:
"John TV" may be making a difference.
While the faces of those involved in one of the world's oldest professions have been appearing on an Oklahoma City television program for less than a year, the number of prostitution-related arrests has gone down.
The women of the night - or sometimes broad daylight - and their customers arrested in Oklahoma City on prostitution- related complaints are seen on "John TV," a 15-minute program aired on Cox Cable channel 20 each Wednesday at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
It first aired in March, and 1999 crime statistics show fewer prostitution-related arrests than in 1998.
Eventually, the Internet became a thing, the oil and gas industry took off again, and Oklahoma City grew into the modern liberal gentrified American city with cool gastropubs it is today.
The channel then faded away into obscure oblivion, and the joy of snickering at prostitutes and the people caught paying for them become a clickable pastime that anyone could do from the comfort of their home computer.
The Video Vigilante lost some of his luster, too.
Although he’s done okay in the online world – and moved to filming people with drones, writing angry BBQ restaurant reviews, and fighting to free a convicted serial rapist who targeted women while working as an OKCPD cop on the City’s east side – Brian Bates started squabbling with the local DA and was eventually charged with his own sex crime for allegedly “paying hookers to ensure that they serviced customers in an area where he could easily film the illicit trysts,” leading to his own mugshot making the news:
Once again, Brian Bates is still around, but his prostitution voyeur website and YouTube Channel are rarely updated, and like an old, beaten, drug-addict searching for a cheap trick on Trosper Park, have seen better days.
Anyway, if you want to go laugh and snicker at the mugshots from the most recent prostitution arrest sting, you can do so on Channel 4 or Channel 5 or Channel 9 or Channel 25 by clicking any of the tweets above. If you want to re-live to magic of Video Vigilante, you can do that at JohnTV. If you want to leave a comment and chew us out for our role in helping shame people for engaging in prostitution, you can become a subscriber and leave a comment.
Stay with The Lost Ogle. We’ll keep you advised.