Sun, September 5, As night falls on a west Oklahoma City truck stop, the chatter rises on the citizens band radio. A trucker, lonely for more than conversation, waits for word on Channel A woman giggles and clears her throat before making her pitch. She is a commercial lady - truck-stop lingo for someone pursuing the world's oldest profession. So do at least two other voices of the night. The commercial lady wants more proof of her potential customer's identity. He walks on, apparently unaware - or unconcerned - of the sideline business being conducted.
The deal goes awry, but another voice is ready and waiting on the CB's channels. It's the nocturnal world of trucking, prostitution and drugs, where police throw up their hands and truck stop owners tolerate the unmanageable. It's a society full of familylike ties and jargon, where reputation is everything, where feuds can erupt at the slightest provocation. Truck washer Denver Smith's spotted mutt lies upside-down on the bed.
Another mutt hobbles between the narrow gaps of furniture in the smoky, half-packed room, a room serving as a temporary home for Smith and his wife, a room facing the Truckstops of America near Interstate 40 and Council Road.
It's called the "TA," a place to wash, sleep, and find "lot lizards" - nickname for truck stop prostitutes. Smith's whiskey-filled eyes swim out the open hotel window toward the lumbering trucks.
Surely a lizard will be along. Although he's avoiding prostitutes these days, his curiosity forces the look. If nothing else, he says, you can hear them on the CB. He'll sell the used radio real cheap, by the way. Legal just like that gauge shotgun that protrudes from between the mattresses. Smith, see, has been threatened by the pound husband of a local prostitute. It's a tale to be resumed later.
Radio Against Radio Truck-stop prostitution is blatant, but police say they can do little to prevent it. The same technology that gives officers the edge in busting other criminals with sting operations also helps truck stop hookers avoid getting caught.
At most, officers say they can try to keep the activity from spiraling out of control. Some commercial girls have radios in their own cars; others use truckers' CBs; still others camp out in hotel rooms with radios tuned in.
But they will talk if it means staying out of jail. Officer Jimmy Parsons, who patrols several northwest Oklahoma City truck stops, said he'll cut a deal with commercial girls who can lead him to bigger arrests. The women point out where drugs are being sold, where other hookers are working - anything to help out.
He keeps photos of the women, with criminal histories and intelligence cards attached. The petite woman in one photo is 20 - she looks like a shy high school cheerleader. Another woman has two photos - with and without a wig. The wig, however, doesn't change the woman's hardened, bitter glare. The officers say some of the women deal in drugs themselves, often working to support drug habits. And some truckers have a penchant for speed and other eye-openers to help make their long stretches more interesting.
So some prostitutes become informants, Parsons said. But burn the police and it's off to jail. Truckers Who Steer Clear Not all truckers participate.
Many, like Karl Norberg of Poteau, are offended when approached by prostitutes at truck stops. Norberg has called the sheriff on such women, only to be disgusted by law enforcement's lack of enforcement. For Norberg, it came to a head one sunset back in June when a commercial girl approached him at a Logan County rest area along I The lizard, he said, had the audacity to solicit him with his wife sitting in the rig.
Another offered to sell him drugs. I told them to go away and leave me alone," said Norberg, who has been driving a truck for 22 years. The women smiled and waved at the approaching officer, Norberg said, and he simply chatted with them and left. Randy Biggs admits prostitution is rampant at rest areas, but said police lack the manpower and time to fight it. She bonded out of jail that day; she was back out there that night," Biggs said.
Truckers often hinder arrests by hiding women in their trucks or warning them. Since June 29, 11 arrests have been made in Logan County for prostitution, Biggs said. Others use foul language to chase the women off. Many trucks display bumper stickers telling the women that lot lizards aren't welcome.
But others just laugh it off. And plenty jump into the game, luring commercial company to their domain-on-wheels without any more information than hair color. Call me Tingling Sensation and call my sidekick Showtime. What do you look like? We be two good looking blondes, darling. Two good looking blondes? Well, I'd like to see.
I'm right beside the TA right now. Well, turn around and come back. If truck stop Manager Jamie Turney had his way, he would like Tingling Sensation, Showtime and other commercial ladies to turn around and go away.
I've got managers out there trying to catch them, and we spend a lot of money on security trying to keep them away. The only thing you can get them for is trespassing, because to catch them for prostitution, the law says you have to catch them soliciting or in the act.
But there are a few who are going to use prostitutes. I don't know why they'd want to. The story reveals what happens when things in the underworld of truck stop prostitution go haywire - when someone breaks the unwritten codes of this transient community, this wee-hour crowd strung together by the CB and a lot of blind trust. Truck washer Smith's wife, Marsha Clinton, has striking blue eyes, except for that big black bruise under the left one. The eyeliner doesn't seem to hide it any more than the blue eyeshadow, although the effort is clearly there.
Clinton got the daylights beaten out of her one August weekend by two prostitutes who resented her and her husband warning truckers about them.
Clinton has no regrets. Clinton said the two had been ripping off truckers. Sometimes they allegedly took advantage of an unguarded wallet while a trucker snoozed.
Not true, say the women. While truckers did complain of getting ripped off, the women said it was because the truckers were unsatisfied with their own performance. So when the girls saw Clinton standing there with a tire jack, they went after her. They said they have no regrets either. Their reputations were at stake. Smith and Clinton said they have no problem with prostitution.
Drugs aren't an issue either. Heck, they drink daily themselves, they say. They just don't drive when they do it. No, it was that truckers were getting ripped off. That just wasn't right.
Now with the one woman's big husband after Smith, the two are leaving town. You've just got to keep the peace. NewsOK has disabled the comments for this article.