Nobody seems convinced that the lingerie modeling shop Secret Rendezvous (10518B N.E. Sandy Blvd.) isn’t a front for prostitution. And though Secret Rendezvous is located .37 miles from Prescott Elementary along a Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT)-designated “Safe Routes to School” path, police say their hands are tied.
Making a statement at an Oct. 16 Parkrose Neighborhood Association (PNA) meeting, Sergeant Greg Stewart turned heads. “We thought potentially that some of the people involved would be on probation or in the position that we could influence it. That’s not the case. If a business is legal, we can’t do anything if what they’re doing is not illegal. To the best of our ability, I’m not saying there’s nothing illegal going on there, but we can’t demonstrate with any proof or evidence that illegal things are occurring, so our ability to do anything is pretty minimal.”
PNA president Annette Stanhope responded, “They’re out there advertising on the sidewalk in their skivvies. I mean they’re not supposed to be out on public property doing that, are they?”
In the defense of a model for Secret Rendezvous, Stewart brought up the First Amendment. Some in attendance were not convinced. Sean Lechner, another critic, also spoke at the meeting. He says he discovered Secret Rendezvous’ true colors by happenchance, while on the job.
“I’ve been doing Uber and Lyft, so I got a call to pick up a gal that came out of there,” says Lechner. “I started a conversation with her about the lingerie shop, and she said it’s like all the other lingerie shops and it solicits prostitution. It’s frustrating because there used to be a lingerie shop [in that location], and when Deanz Greenz moved in, it was better. Now we have another one.”
Lechner believes some of “the girls” live and work out of the Courtesy Inn, 11324 N.E. Sandy Blvd. He says they visit different bars around the neighborhood, and they’re not shy when it comes to talking about their work lives. He agrees with Stewart in that the legality of the situation is complicated. “The thing is, I kind of understand it. They don’t care if they talk about it or not because they know that the police actually have to catch them in the act. They can say whatever they want, as it’s freedom of speech.”
The PNA devoted the “Crime/Safety” component of its October meeting to Secret Rendezvous. In early October, in a new plan of action, the PNA sent a letter to Secret Rendezvous’ property owner, Katherine Nguyen.
Annette Stanhope broke down the content of PNA’s letter in an email to the Mid-county Memo. “We stated that many in our community are concerned about her new tenant, Secret Rendezvous, a lingerie modeling business, and included a link to the Change.org petition that was created by Historic Parkrose. We told her why lingerie modeling businesses are troublesome, that they’re unregulated and are frequently sites for prostitution. We encouraged her to give Secret Rendezvous their notice and that we would coordinate with Historic Parkrose to help find a tenant that works with the family-friendly vision that we have for Sandy Boulevard.”
Historic Parkrose’s Change.org petition—entitled “Get ‘Secret Rendezvous’ Lingerie Modeling OUT of Parkrose”—was created in September, but it nearly doubled in signatures after the meeting and subsequent online marketing.
Both moves come one month after September’s PNA meeting when it was decided not to support the Change.org petition as a group.
Samantha Montanaro, Historic Parkrose’s Chair, stands with the PNA’s letter. “We signed and supported the letter from the PNA. We are expressing our concerns for the location of this business, and we are still collecting signatures on the Change.org site. We will continue to work with the other associations, as well as the building and business owners to do what we all feel is best here.”
Mingus Mapps, the executive director of Historic Parkrose who left his position last month, says that Historic Parkrose will likely follow up with their own letter to the property owner. Any letter from Historic Parkrose is news to Montanaro. “I am not aware of said letter from us. The board is focused on our executive director transition right now, and at our next board meeting in November, we will discuss the next steps for this situation.”
As of late October, Stanhope states she has not received a response from Nguyen.
Without police intervention, some in Parkrose have filed complaints over business violations with the Portland’s Bureau of Development Services (BDS). This echoes similar strategies utilized to push Tush Lingerie Modeling out of the neighborhood in late summer 2017.
According to PortlandMaps.com, Secret Rendezvous is currently “under inspection” by BDS for potentially hanging a sign on the façade of the building without a proper permit. In addition, BDS has been “notified” of a structural violation. PortlandMaps.com defines this violation as “No change of Occupancy for new business.”
In Tush’s case, it was also targeted for being along a “Safe Routes to School” zone, and––like Secret Rendezvous––it was hit with a Change.org petition.” Tush was different in that its inspection was crowdsourced. But Tush’s building violations may have been more severe.
When asked about any BDS investigations concerning Secret Rendezvous, Mapps brushed off the severity of the allegations. “It’s my understanding that there are some code violations in the building that need to be addressed. Frankly, I think they’re relatively minor.”
Mapps does acknowledge that “the neighborhood is coming together” against the lingerie shop.
While Tush was never formally exposed as a den for prostitution, locals maintain that they weren’t born yesterday. “I worked for the family that owned Tush years and years ago,” says Lechner, “and I know it was a front for prostitution.”
Dionne Allen, the business owner behind Secret Rendezvous, could not be reached for comment. Stanhope says she has not spoken with him.