Response to Who among Us? (Review)
Potterat, John J., Dowe, Tisha, Brewer, Devon D., The Journal of Sex Research
In a recent review of a prostitution anthology, the author states that "It is not by accident that the greatest number of prostitutes in the United States is in Colorado Springs, the home of the Air Force Academy. Prostitution has become institutionalized there" (Fithian, 2000, p. 92). We are aware of no data in the reviewed volume or elsewhere supporting either assertion.
First, the greatest number of prostitutes estimated for any of the last 30 years in the Colorado Springs region (current population: about 500,000) is roughly 200. The annual mean number of prostitutes observed between 1970 and 1999 is 103, with a range of 57 to 174 (Potterat, Woodhouse, Muth, & Muth, 1990, p. 238; Potterat, Rothenberg, Muth, Woodhouse, & Muth, 1999). Many North American metropolitan areas have larger populations of prostitutes, both numerically and proportionally (Berry, Kanouse, Duan, & Lillard, 1992; Decker, 1979; Rossmo & Routledge, 1990; Weiner, 1996).
Second, although servicemen once constituted the largest group of "johns" in Colorado Springs, a region hosting 4 large military installations staffed by about 30,000 troops, they relinquished that dubious distinction more than 20 years ago. Advent of the all-volunteer Army during the mid-1970s attracted older, and therefore sexually more stable, recruits who were not as inclined to solicit prostitutes as (typically younger) conscripts. Our health department's continuous ethnographic observations since 1970 point to servicemen's substantially diminishing demand for prostitutes over time. More relevantly, ethnographic and epidemiologic evidence indicates a minor role in such demand by Air Force servicemen, with cadets rarely being implicated with use of prostitutes locally.
We trust that the multifarious reports published in the literature as a consequence of our work with prostitutes do not mislead readers into an exaggerated impression of the magnitude or direction of prostitution in Colorado Springs. …