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Over 200 jobs lost as Providence Board of Licenses votes to close Foxy Lady



Today the Providence Board of Licenses decided, on a 3-1 vote, to close the Foxy Lady, after three misdemeanor charges of prostitution were brought against three workers in an undercover police sting on December 11.

“Merry Christmas! Thank you very much for ruining over 200 people’s lives,” said a woman who has worked as a manager at the Foxy Lady over thirty years. “This is ludicrous.”

Another woman was more pointed. “You are insane!” she shouted, at the three Providence Board of Licenses members who voted to shut down the club. “Clubs are still doing it, and you’re doing nothing about that. [Foxy Lady]’s done it once. Have a Merry Christmas!” she said, slamming the door on her way out. In the hallway she could be heard saying, “Fucking assholes!”

“We have over 130 entertainers who feel safe at our establishment. They are happy to work at our establishment,” said the manager with 30 years experience, who declined to be identified for this story.

Around 200 people were employed at the Foxy Lady in total. This includes entertainers, management, security, waitstaff, bartenders, dishwashers, cooks and support staff. Now, one week before Christmas, they are all unemployed.

“This is blatant, blatant, ugh! I don’t even know what to say. I am livid about the whole thing,” continued the manager. “Who’s to say that the cops – They didn’t have a wire on them. They didn’t wear a wire. They haven’t even gone to court, those girls. Ridiculous. Unbelievable.

“This is despicable, what they’re doing to the establishment,” continued the manager. “They slandered our entertainers. They posted their pictures in the paper. [The police] let them go that same night… Now [the police] are delaying their case.

“You put over 200 people who have Christmas time, who have families who come to our establishment to work in good faith, and they’re out of work now? It’s despicable, this city.”

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“I can’t buy my kids a Christmas gift,” a woman who works at the Foxy Lady tells me, walking by. “Not one gift.”

“Yeah, exactly,” agreed the manager. “Of course not. It’s despicable what they did. But they allow these other places to stay open…”

The one vote in favor of keeping the Foxy Lady open was from former Providence City Council President Peter Mancini. Board Chair Dylan Conley and Board members Charles Newton, and Delia Rodriguez-Masjoan voted to close the club.

“It wasn’t proven to me that the establishment knew of it,” said Mancini. “If the establishment definitely knew about then that’s a different story. But it wasn’t proven to me 100 percent that they knew about it.”

Bella Robinson, director of COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) Rhode Island, which advocates for sex worker rights in the state, issued a statement co-signed by RICARES, TGI Network of Rhode Island, and the ACLU of Rhode Island that says, in part:

The raid on the Foxy Lady confirms that Rhode Island law enforcement’s policing of sex workers serves to harass and intimidate workers under the guise of protection. This raid is a grotesque misuse of taxpayer dollars to oppress adult women whose only alleged crime is selling services to consenting adults in a private location.

Criminalization of sex work has done absolutely nothing to curtail “the oldest profession.” Instead, it has led to increased rates of violence and stigma against sex workers, and even adverse health outcomes. A recent study showed that that repressive policing was associated with having three times the odds of experiencing sexual and physical violence from clients or other parties. That is why such diverse and respected groups as the World Health Organization, United Nations AIDS, and Amnesty International all recommend decriminalization of sex work to reduce violence against, and incidence of HIV among, sex workers.

For more, including an interview with the Foxy Lay’s attorney Fausto Anguilla, see WPRI/Channel 12 reporter Dan McGowan‘s coverage here.

Here’s the video of the Providence Board of Licenses meeting:

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.