By Hal Collier
The fourth part of a planned trilogy.
If you missed the first 3 parts, e-mail me and I’ll send them to you free of charge. Of course I live in California so I’ll have to charge you a tax of $12.96.
My last Ramblings talked about how to identify a drag queen. Now I’m going to tell you how I became a Department expert in a field so disgusting. My background: I worked A.M. (graveyard) watch for the first fourteen years of my career on the LAPD. The hours were roughly 11:30 P.M. to 7:30 A.M. During those hours the prostitutes come out from under which ever rock they dwell. It started out innocent enough. I took a couple of reports when men dressed as women robbed their customers. The suspect usually gave a first name to their new-found love. Usually Steven was changed to Stephanie, Robert to Roberta etc. and there were always an abundance of Bambi’s, well, you get the picture. After a number of reports where Roberta robbed Paul to pay Peter the pimp, I thought that Roberta was driving up Hollywood’s crime stats. All I needed to do was ID and arrest Roberta. KISS—”keep it simple stupid.”
I began stopping drag queens who matched Roberta’s description. I filled out a field interview (FI) card and if possible took a picture. After collecting a few dozen FI cards I needed something to store them in. My wife bought me a green plastic receipt box. It was the perfect size and became known as the “The Green Box.” A few officers called it the “Drowning Rat File.”
Soon the “The Green Box” became two boxes, A thru L was the Green Box an M thru Z was a tan box. Whenever possible, the suspects were taken to the station where we had a strip mug photo machine. Just like you had at the carnival, four pictures for a buck. The “Green Box” became popular not only among officers but the drag queens themselves. If an officer was looking for a particular he/she, he would look thru the “Green Box.” The drag queens wanted to see if we had a good picture of them. One even offered to go to the station for a better picture. The Green Box evolved into two I-Card books. Each individual had it’s own card with all it’s alias’s, DOB’s (date of birth), criminal arrest numbers and a small picture. Once a homicide detective used my Green Box to ID a murder suspect.
I was the keeper of the Green Box or the drowning rat file books. I guarded them with your tax dollars. The information contained hundreds of hours of computer time as well as a who’s who in the drag queen hall of fame. I once used the Green Box as a Christmas list. I checked the current Hollywood drag queens for warrants. I used the wanted queens as a shopping list. Two days before Christmas I arrested and booked the “Ladies” who caused the most crime. It was my present to Hollywood Officers who might otherwise have to take crime reports with drag queens as suspects.
Some of my non-police friends might wonder why I spent so much time and tax dollars on drag queens. It was because of RD’s (Reporting Districts) and crime stats. Each police car is assigned an area which is broken down into RD’s. The officers assigned to an area are somewhat responsible for the crimes in their area on their watch. Sometimes the Watch Commander (W/C) would say “Collier, why is your area leading the division in robberies?” I’d say, “It’s the prostitutes, they’re robbing their customers.” Wrong answer! The watch commander would counter, “Collier, what are you doing about it?” Do you still believe it’s a victimless crime? My robbery statistics and watch commander didn’t say so.
My W/C said I had to do something, so I figured I would move two hundred drag queens out of my area and give my problem to the bordering car’s area. My area was Hollywood Boulevard from Highland to Vine, Franklin to Fountain. I couldn’t drive them west, that’s where the Chinese Theater was. Unwritten rule, no prostitution around the tourist attractions. I’ll just get them to go east of Vine St.
I started telling the queens who frequented my area that if they worked east of Vine I wouldn’t harass them, I mean give them selective enforcement. I even wrote up an east of Vine pass. About a dozen of them started working east of Vine. I would stop by and compliment them on their nice clothes and make-up. I didn’t write them any tickets or check them for warrants. My crime statistics dropped, and crime went up east of Vine. Other officers started giving out RD (reporting districts) maps detailing which areas they could ply their trade.
Some officers become department experts in narcotic sales and identification. Me, I became an expert in drag queen recognition. It started out one night when my partner and I saw this guy trolling for a drag queens. We ran his license plate and it returned to a John XXXXX, legal owner, LAPD Credit Union. Oh, oh, my partner recognized the name as a classmate who was now working Rampart Division. We looked at the driver and sure enough it was an off duty cop. After notifying a supervisor we kept an eye out for the cop. A month later a Hollywood sergeant stopped the cop with a queen in his car. He resigned but later requested a trial with a police review board. That’s where I testified as an expert on the recognition of men dressed as women. This was in the 70’s and cops supporting the oldest profession was a no no.
Last entry on drag queens and a kind of funny. This is the very early 70’s and we stopped this young, I want to be a lady at a bus stop. It was about dawn and the normal citizens were coming out and heading to work. After a consent for drug search the queen took off his blouse and then took the dirty socks from his bra. He removed his bra and shoes and placed them on the hood of our police car. I noticed this little old lady sitting on the bus bench. She was watching us and had a “Oh, my God look on her face.” I walked over to her and advised her that it was a man, a prostitute and a drug abuser.