I went to Los Angeles, California with my best friend and roommate. We were young
and naive – both about 19 or 20 – and thought that by moving to California we could change our lives.
We did not know anyone in California and knew nothing about California other than things we had
heard or read about. We had very little money and no firm plan other than to find a place to live and get
When we landed in LA we told the cabdriver to take us to “the place to go in LA to get jobs, party, live
and have fun”. It was the disco era and our clothing reflected our youth. The driver took us to a motel
on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. The cost of the motel worked for our budget. We did not know that
prostitutes for business also used the motel. [Note – At no time during our stay in Hollywood, did I see
any person that I seemed to be a prostitute or behaved as prostitutes on the street, in the motel or motel
area]. It was not seedy looking or run down. It seemed a good choice because we could afford it and it
was a bus ride from downtown LA where we could get jobs.
We were young and partied more than we looked for work. My friend Raphael was gay, and we
quickly found the gay clubs to hang out in.
We were in Hollywood for about 10 days and, Raphael was ill so I went to a club on Sunset Blvd alone,
about 2 miles from our motel. The club closed at 2am. At 2 am I stood on the curb on Sunset dressed in
my disco clothes and tried to hail a taxi. Since I came from New York City, I was still unfamiliar with
hailing a taxi on Sunset although Raphael and I had gotten taxis in this area on other nights. I was only
on the curbside a short time, maybe 10-15 minutes, when a police car pulled over and asked me what I
was doing. At the time the police car pulled over I did not have my hand raised to hail a cab because
there was not a cab driving down the street. I told the officers I was waiting for a cab. The police car
held two officers – one white and one black, both mid-30’s. They started to give me a hard time.
They asked me where I had been, and I told them which club. Then they asked where I was going.
When I told them the name of the motel, I obviously raised a red flag that I did not know about. It was
at that time that they became very disrespectful. They asked me what my room number was, how long I
had been staying there, why I was staying there, where I was from, why I was in Hollywood, etc. They
remarked that I should have stayed in New York. I told them to leave me alone; that I just wanted a cab
and that I hadn’t done anything wrong and why were they asking me all these questions. Since they
made the nasty New York remark, I gave it back to them – and replied, well, in New York, cops are not
allowed to just stop and harass people for no reason. That of course made them angry.
The officers said to get in the car and they would drive me to my motel. I said, no, I’d wait for a cab.
They continued to insist on giving me a ride – and during this time no taxi had passed. So I said fine.
As soon as I got in the police car, the officers began to make lewd remarks about why a sexy hot young
woman would hang out in a gay club and didn’t I need a man. I got really angry and felt trapped and
duped now that I was in the car, so I made a nasty remark that I specifically remember all these years
later. I said, “Do you talk to your mother like that?” I was really making them very angry now.
When we got to the motel they wanted to see that I actually had a roommate, and they wanted to see my
identification (which I had left in my motel room). I was really getting angry – i.e., angry New York
female type-A personality. I did not see why I needed to provide any of this, but now they said since I
had been out without identification I had to show identification, and it was at that time, when we were in
the motel parking lot that they told me that this motel was also used by prostitutes to conduct their
business. I was incredulous. I was in shock, because I thought either they are lying or damn, now I look
really bad. So I knew I had to comply and take them to my room.
When we got to my motel room, Raphael was in bed with tissues, Robitussin and the TV on – it was
obvious that he was very sick. The officers did not give him a hard time but were more apologetic to
him that he had the misfortune of knowing me! I was REALLY MAD now, and Raphael was telling me
to just calm down and give them the ID and be quiet. Well, I couldn’t find my license so I took out my
social security card. Then I did a bad thing. I told the officer that I have some ID – I showed him that I
had it in my hand, then put in it my mouth, chewed it up and spit it on the floor. I was arrested.
Interestingly, once the cops arrested me at the motel, and put me in the back of the police car they
stopped talking to me. They took me to the California Women’s State Penitentiary. This blew my
mind. I didn’t even know what I was charged with, and I’m going off to a state jail. But I was still
worked up and angry with my adrenaline running, so I just went through the motions.
The officer was pretty removed and distant from me now. He didn’t speak to me and acted very official.
I found this to be hysterical and hypocritical. When he was having me booked into the jail, he told the
entry officer to be careful of me because I was a wild and dangerous one. This seemed to be his way of
having the last word. Then he left. It was probably about 4 am now.
The entrylbooking officer took my fingerprints, my purse, and my jewelry. I was told to disrobe and
strip-searched. I was given prison clothes. Female guards/officers who were pretty mechanical but not
rude or rough with me handled all these processes. I was then put in a single cell of cement block with a
cement slab for a bed, a sink and a toilet – nothing else. After about 7 hours I guess the guards realized I
was, in fact, NOT violent, since I had not said or done anything during those 7 hours. During those 7
hours, however, I was not given anything to eat or drink.
I was then put into a larger population room or holding cell with about 20 other women. It was
generally non-eventful in the holding cell. Most of the women were waiting to be charged. I still didn’t
know what my charge was. When another prisoner, a young black woman, asked me why I was there
and I told her my story she broke out laughing. This started a group of the women in the cell to start
singing a popular song of the day “Rapper’s Delight”, and we all chanted the song” … these are the
breaks, hotel, motel, holiday inn … ” while we marched in a circle. A prison guard came and told us to
sit down or we would get hosed down.
Shortly thereafter, Raphael came to get me; he had had the good sense to ask the officer where he was
taking me. The fee to bail me out was $20. My charge was loitering with no court appearance required.
My belongings were returned to me. I was free to go.