Skid Row

I am providing the following as a response to [“Dying to Get Off the Row,” Aug. 4–10]. I want to applaud you for covering a story that was very layered and not a “quick and dirty” about Skid Row life (for those, see the articles by Steve Lopez of the Times).

I worked in Skid Row for five years, in a program that catered services to the mentally ill and chronic homeless. I saw the daily misery and the pain of the masses, especially those of the elderly whose families had all died or whose physical pain was so unbearable that crack became the only relief.

I often wondered, who will care when these people are dead, when their last legacy is dying on the streets? I want to thank you for answering those difficult questions and for providing Los Angeles with the real heartache that is Skid Row. Let’s see how we as citizens can turn our eyes away from this.

Nick Alenkin


History Lesson

Nikki Finke’s “terrible joke” [“Too Fast and Too Furious,” Aug. 4–10] that “Hollywood would do business with Hitler if he made money for them” is sadly no joke, but a fact. Between 1933 and 1939, Louis B. Mayer and Nicholas Schenck’s Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer removed the names of all Jewish personnel from the credits of their films, so that these products could be sold and distributed in Nazi Germany. Indeed, Paramount and Fox also continued to sell films to the Nazis, thus helping Dr. Goebbels create a sense of normalcy for the German people, while Jewish citizens were blacklisted, boycotted or murdered, unions were shut down, and all civil rights abandoned. It took the British blockade of Germany in 1940 to stop business as usual, although Hitler and the Nazi elite were still able to procure the latest Judy Garland film through neutral Sweden for screening in Hitler’s private cinema. Only Warner Bros. pulled out of Germany in 1934, after the head of their German distribution office, Joe Brandt, was beaten to death in the streets of Berlin by Nazi storm troopers.

Dr. Jan-Christopher Horak


Sexual Stereotypes

As a heterosexual woman who has been paying for sex since age 21, I sincerely hope that Ms. Fleiss will be able to pull it all together and overcome the obstacles to her new business venture [“The Heidi Chronicles,” July 7–13]. Ironically, our ostensibly sex-saturated culture is still far from truly sexually liberated; and female sexuality is the last taboo.

By female sexuality, I am not referring to the parade of bimbos, divas, models, “actresses,” heiresses, and lip-synching jailbait pop stars who provide a steady diet of TV, film and tabloid titillation. I mean real female sexuality, specifically, active female sexual desire: more specifically still, what Susie Bright once called the phenomenon of “she who desires but is not desired.”

Like it or not, we are all sexual beings. Women have purely sexual (not emotional or “relationship”) needs just as men do. And while the society steadfastly (and quite irrationally!) refuses to admit it, there are women who would have no sex lives at all if not for the existence of prostitutes. Moreover, most women have sexual likes and dislikes, turn-ons and turn-offs and, of course, fantasies — just as men do. For some, the easiest, safest, most convenient way to explore and hopefully satisfy those sexual needs might well be hiring male prostitutes. (Trust me, there really is no such thing as a free lunch or a free lay — for either gender. We all end up paying for everything we get in life, in one way or another.) My hat is off to Ms. Fleiss. She is a true pioneer. When her place finally opens, I look forward to being one of the first customers.

H.A. Carson

Santa Monica

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