Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Red Light District of Waco

Photograph by David Houghton
    Sherri Knight and I were interviewed by J. B. Smith, a staff writer for the Waco Tribune-Herald's July 27, 2011, issue about our joint writing endeavor, The Oldest Profession in Texas: Waco's Legal Red Light District. This 380-page paperback (released in May) was the subject of Smith's excellent, in-depth article about "the Reservation," the name given to the red light district of Waco. "The Oldest Profession in Texas takes a nonjudgmental tone toward the Reservation era," Smith writes, "but Pylant said he thinks Waco's containment strategy for prostitution was a mistake that trapped hundreds of women in an underworld." 
    While the legalization of prostitution brought money into city offers, it did nothing to curb crime in the red light district. Reservation women were frequent victims of assault, robbery, arson, alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, and murder. 
    We were also interviewed by Paul Romer about Reservation madam Cora McMahan for the Temple Daily Telegram. Romer's article then went nationwide on May 29, 2011, when it caught the attention of the Associated Press. Cora, not unlike other workers in the skin trade, took up with the wrong man. This led to her being ambushed and executed by a group of vigilantes in 1890.

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