Red Light Neon: A History of Vancouver’s Sex Trade

Vancouver used to know how to run a red-light district. Back in the day, Errol Flynn would drop by Sin City to hang with the hepcats at the Penthouse, and, if you credit the exhaustive research conducted by local historian Daniel Francis, we were a major stop on North America’s mack-daddy circuit, dancers and valley girls getting all hustled-and-flowed out of downtown hotels and onto the Ho Express, destination USA. Now we’re as puritanical as—God forbid—Toronto, or so it seems in Francis’s recently published Red Light Neon: A History of Vancouver’s Sex Trade (Subway Books, $22). Pay the jacket price and get a one-hour guided stroll this Sunday or next (February 18 or 25) when Francis takes the curious around the Downtown Eastside, beginning at noon at the Chinatown Millennium Gate (West Pender Street at Taylor Street). Wear comfortable shoes and a smile. Leave your camera at home, though; people are workin’ here.