The advertisement on Craigslist for massage services by “beautiful Asian girls” caught the attention of the Los Gatos vice-cops. But while Amy Hu, a certified massage therapist at Relaxing Massage on North Santa Cruz Avenue, is indeed beautiful and Asian, when an undercover cop requested a “happy ending” massage, she indignantly refused.
“I don’t do this, I only do massages,” Hu said, mortified that anyone would think that the business she and her husband opened last year was a front for prostitution. “I am a good girl.”
A good girl and a good massage therapist, according to her clients. But not, apparently, a businessman good enough to be successful in Los Gatos.
While the police sting did not turn out to be insignificant, it did reveal some code violations. One afternoon in April, the police broke into a relaxing massage and dragged Hu’s husband, David Jie, to jail while she and their 6-year-old daughter watched in horror. The city has withdrawn their license and now Hu and Jie risk losing their business and reputation.
“We thought Los Gatos was the perfect city,” Hu, 36, told me on Friday, his eyes filled with tears. “It was clean and nice and the people were friendly. I think they didn’t want us here.
Not a good fit
Los Gatos might be clean and nice, but it’s no place to bend the rules – at least not for Asian massage therapists. None have been open downtown for more than a few months. Hu thinks it’s because companies offering $ 59 massages aren’t welcome in upscale downtown Los Gatos, with its upscale boutiques, furniture merchants, and spas.
But city attorney Michael Martello says that if cops are particularly tough on massage parlors, it’s because the industry is teeming with prostitution and unlicensed operators.
“They are not like other companies,” he said. “When they massage and touch people, they become intimate with them – not in the biblical sense, of course – people have a right to know who they are, that they are not criminals.”
I understand his concerns. Still, I think the cops may have gone too far on this one.
Chinese immigrants Hu and Jie borrowed $ 40,000 to renovate their studio and signed a three-year lease. Their owner, Joe Vieira, told me that Hu was meticulous in securing the necessary permits and licenses from the city before the opening in October. If she broke any laws, he thinks it’s ignorance. For example, it is illegal to put signs on the sidewalk, but a lot of downtown businesses do. Why was she the only one cited?
“I think she’s getting a rough deal,” he said.
Stung by the cops
According to police records, the provocative Craigslist ad, which Hu says a friend created for her, started it all. An undercover agent twice attempted to catch Hu providing her with illegal favors, but she did not take the hook. At one point, the cop reported, his genital area was briefly exposed, a code violation. During another, she was assisted by a therapist who did not have a permit from the city.
Then he asked to come for an after-hours massage, claiming he was a chef who worked until 10 a.m. Hu says she reluctantly agreed, not wanting to disappoint her client. She had no idea it was a setup.
Obviously, Hu made mistakes. Martello says she’s done too much to forgive.
“If you say it was all wrong then you don’t know how to run your business,” he said.
But this affair never endangered the good citizens of Los Gatos. By closing it, we lose a lot more than we gain.
Contact Patty Fisher at [email protected] or 408-920-5852.