On March 26, Edwin Lohr was a panelist at the Prostitution Impact Panel at the police store front near 54th Street and University Avenue.
“I am getting educated and we are telling these johns, 'You think you’re safe having sex with a prostitute, but your life can be in danger because we’ve had people that have been killed by the prostitute and their pimps.'”
Lohr, 60, is also known as the Mid-city Ambassador. He’s been bringing in artists to beautify the walls of the businesses in his Cherokee Point neighborhood (at University Avenue between 805 and 15), and he’s been working to eradicate the prostitution near the same murals.
When I interviewed with Lohr last summer by a Sand One mural on the North Park Dental office building, he pointed out a prostitute by the Finest Donuts.
“He wasn’t breaking the law with his shirt off,” Lohr said, “because legally he’s a man. That guys got more beautiful boobs than most women, and he was notorious for showing private parts to kids.”
Since our interview, a new 7-Eleven has opened up a block away from the donut shop. On April 2, I spoke to one of the employees there, and he said that he sees one “black prostitute” walking by his business on 35th Street on a regular basis. “I think he or she is on meds,” he said, “we don’t allow that here, this is a family place.”
“As much as I don’t care for 7-Eleven,” Lohr said, “that was the best thing right there to have — it's lit up 24-7, it’s clean, and it looks nice.”
Rifles works at one of the tire shops that is close to the 7-Eleven.
“The prostitution here is less prevalent,” he said, “I still see the a 6’5″ black man or woman with the stilettos that brings him or her up to 7-feet tall. They now take their [johns] up to Polk Avenue where it’s darker and there’s less activity.”
Iliana is an attendant at the Chevron gas station on University Avenue that sits atop the 805 Freeway. She lives in Cherokee Point. “Some of them come into our store,” she said, “they are nice, and it’s probably the only way the transgender prostitutes can make a living.”
Another Cherokee Point resident posted on her social media: “That trans folks have historically been persecuted to the point that prostitution became one of the few viable options for employment. I’m glad that the world is changing, and people’s hearts and minds are opening."
I reached out to her via a private message and she responded by saying “I haven’t seen the action some of these guys are talking about, but I’m highly disturbed by their use of what I would consider demeaning language.”
“I’ve noticed a decrease [in prostitution] and I think it’s good that they did a sting operation here,” Iliana said, “because one of them that came to my store was a 17-year-old. They hang out further that way (towards I-15).”
I spoke to a package carrier delivery-man who services the whole neighborhood. “Four of them have moved closer to the 15 freeway and I think they are homeless,” he said.
“You think you are going to have a $20 blowjob and its costing $500 because they took your billfold,” Lohr said, as he reenacted one of the personal stories that he’s heard, “… and then the prostitute yelled “What are you going to do about it buddy, are you gong to call the cops, you just had sex with me.”
Lohr said that he hasn’t witnessed any shady-activity on University Avenue, since February. “We probably cannot eradicate prostitution, but if we let them know that we live here too, and our space is valuable, you’re just gonna have to move somewhere else to do your business because it’s not welcome here.”