That Fishy Smell

Slooow Wins the Race in Boca

So the Boca Raton cops bust David and Michelle Bachmann for running a prostitution ring out of their house. This was one heckuva painstaking investigation. Detectives spent almost three years allegedly establishing that the Bachmanns' various escort services, carrying such colorful names as The Butt Man, Centerfolds, and Florida's Finest, were actually providing sex for money before arresting them on January 12.

Why does the 'Pipe detect the smell of mackerel here?

The cops say David Bachmann was an inveterate hoochie monger who loved to sample his own wares, while Michelle was the business' talent recruiter, interviewing potential escorts in her Mercedes while parked at a Boca Raton gas station. The daily papers were full of stories about how none of the Bachmanns' neighbors in their gated Laurel Pointe community ever suspected the couple of being in — good grief — such a sordid occupation.

But were the Bachmanns any different from hundreds of other pimps and procurers operating in South Florida? Not from what Tailpipe hears.

"They operated the way most escort services operate nowadays," says one sex-business entrepreneur who knows the Bachmanns. "They got a website, ran newspaper ads, then sat in front of a computer and booked the girls."

The case does raise a batch of questions (one of which, by the way, is why a blond hottie like Michelle would have married a dude who resembles Chris Farley's older, less-fit brother) about the Boca cops and the nature of the escort business. Since this is way outside Tailpipe's range of expertise, he turned to the publisher of Pynk Pages, whose nom de plume is Jim Ironman (though in previous incarnations, he has identified himself as Ralph Teetor). Pynk Pages is South Florida's Consumer Reports for information about adult stores, massage parlors, escort services, and general all-around whoring tips.

Yeah, Ironman says, he's familiar with the Bachmann empire. "They're a typical bait-and-switch operation that preys on tourists," he says. He's not talking about visitors who come here to deep-sea fish. "The organization that this rascal ran advertised 100 percent in print magazines. He always ran pictures of women who didn't work for him and frequently had never worked for him. So when the victim" — that would be the john — "calls up, he'll tell them anything to make the sale. And the girl who shows up has only an accidental relationship to the person in the picture."

The switcheroo is no sin worthy of a Better Business Bureau complaint, says Tailpipe's pimp acquaintance. "It always happens," our friendly pimp says. "A guy sees a blond, blue-eyed girl with big titties. She's not available, so they send someone else. It's the guy's choice whether he wants the girl to stay or not. Most of the time it's, 'You're here already. I'll do you. '"

The usual scenario in an escort bust, the pimp says, is that one of the escorts feels wronged by her employers and drops a dime (or 35 cents nowadays, if you can find a public phone). "They must have pissed off one of their girls, who told the police they were running a service out of their house," he says.

That brings us to the police investigation. Two and a half years? Laughable, Ironman says. "The only person who couldn't manage to put these guys out of business in a one-day investigation is Inspector Clouseau."

Sex for hire is a big part of the South Florida economy. Shut all the escort services down and there would be an audible hiccup in the gross national product, local businessmen say. As Ironman sees it, there's a delicate balance between the letter of the law and the pressing demands of a tourist economy. "The reality is, so long as these guys don't generate complaints, they're providing a service to the tourists," he says. "They're good for business."

Adds the pimp: "Letting an investigation go on for three years — that's just wasting the taxpayer's money."

Yellow Brick Highway

There are plenty of drifters along America's asphalt arteries but not many with their own fliers. "I am known as the PEACEWALKER," reads the 812-by-11-inch sheet that Mike Oren has been carrying along on what he says was his walk from Californy to Gotham. About 18 months ago, the rangy 51-year-old was working at a Las Vegas golf course, mostly marking time until his 60th birthday when his bartender's union pension would kick in. Then Oren saw on CNN the story of Carlos Arredondo, the Hollywood, Florida, father who torched himself and the van of the Marines who notified him of his son's death in Iraq. Oren then began a journey to protest the Iraq War from the terminal point of old Route 66 in San Bernardino, California. When the 'Pipe ran into Oren, fresh off a night's sleep on Fort Lauderdale Beach, the flannel-clad pilgrim didn't realize he was but ten miles from Arredondo's old home.

"I've been walking through red states the whole way," Oren said. "I've found Republicans are very supportive. They say, 'I don't agree with what you're saying, but our troops in past wars gave you the right to say it. '"

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