Seacoast Industry

Sometimes a story will popup as a clear reminder that the world is not always as it seems. I will admit both surprise and amusement when I found that Foster’s Daily Democrat reported Saturday on the content of a federal indictment of a Kittery, Maine, health club. Geography lesson: Foster’s covers New Hampshire’s seacoast — all 18 miles of it — and Kittery is a shopping destination squished into the southernmost corner of Maine. The indictment accuses Gary H. Reiner of running “an interstate prostitution ring.” Foster’s reports that the club has operated under various names, most recently the “Danish Health Club,” owned by “Kittery Health Club Inc.” Reiner was apparently both the owner of the club and the former town council chairman and had a role in shaping the local regulations of spas and health clubs.

The story clearly had some history, and I’m fortunate the web, and Foster’s archives, can educate me.

Federal agents raided the club in June. The mid-afternoon raid surprised residents, but Ed Strong, the Kittery chief of police is quoted as saying: “it won’t break a lot of hearts around here if the place is eventually closed down.”

Reports say Strong had been cooperating with the FBI prior to the raid. Local investigations and undercover stings “never found enough evidence to warrant stripping the Danish Health Club of its license,” according to a June 15th, 2004 story in the paper.

A June 22 story adds that “Strong confirmed that previous undercover investigations — and arrests — had taken place at the club as mentioned in Foster’s news reports from the 1980s and 1990s.” The story further explains that the women working at the club where required to have 500 hours of training in a state licensed facility. Most of “the women working at the club received training at the Royalton School of Alternative Medicine in Wells.”

The IRS seized accounts related to the spa in August, and in November the paper reported on items siezed in the June raid:

An eight-page list detailing items seized during the June 9 raid of the Danish Health Club in Kittery includes multitudes of condoms and other sex aids not normally found in therapeutic massage parlors.

A December 1 Portsmouth Herald story is more specific.

A contributor to in late 1996 reported:

At the Maine end of the older Route 1 bypass bridge, there is the Danish Health Club. Usually girls from Boston, they are typically slightly better looking and often better at what they do than their Lewiston colleagues. They also charge much more — you can expect both full service and Boston prices.

The December 18 Foster’s story describes operations at the spa like this:

The indictment outlines the standard procedure when a customer arrived at the club. A manager would buzz him into the front lobby and collect a house fee from the customer.

The house fee structure changed over time, but by June 2004 the usual fee was $70 for a 45-minute session. The majority of customers paid the house fee in cash, although many paid with credit cards.

After collecting the money, the manager handed each customer a towel and a robe, then pressed another buzzer that unlocked a door to the men’s locker room.

There, a customer could use the showers, steam room, sauna and hot tub. After changing into a robe, the customer went into the lounge where the female attendants sat on sofas.

Most of the women were from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Many of the women from Massachusetts worked for pimps who persuaded, directed, or ordered them to work at the club.

The women paid the club a fee to work there. In 2004, the fee was $100 per week, plus $10 per each day they worked.

Once a customer selected a woman, she would take him to one of the massage rooms. She would give him a massage, and they would negotiate a fee in return for sex.

I’ve reported on the sex industry in Nevada, New York, and elsewhere, but I was still surprised to learn of it in Kittery. I guess I’m a little naive.

2 thoughts on “Seacoast Industry

  1. i used To work at the Danish, and the sad fact is that the girls who worked with me are no longer in a safe atmosphere, and I am sure they are sitting in hotel rooms waiting for guys to visit them (very risky)/going to different guy’s houses (even riskier), or walking the streets (something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy). Now, you tell me-why was working in a quiet little place tucked away in Kittery, Maine so horrible? The ‘powers that be’ should learn how to live and let live…

  2. i used to frequent that establishment…
    and i agree with concerned… it wasa sad day when they closed the DHC

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