Inmates Diss Web Dating
You meet a lot of pervs
By Mandy Oaklander
June is Celibacy Awareness Month, which we singles have appropriated from the Bible-thumpers. Not that we're celebrating our celibacy with the same gusto, but we're just as aware of it — especially as the weather's heavy wetness coaxes layers off of our bodies.
Oh God. We need to get laid.
But what about Texans who can't simply join a kickball league, or take a date to Marfreless? What about those stuck behind bars, instead of in them?
For them, there's Lost Vault.
It's a prison pen pal site where inmates across the United States take out free ads looking for correspondence, companionship or something more. Friends and relatives can also post ads on an inmate's behalf. It's similar to a standard dating site, but stripped of all frills. The form replaces the typical "Dreams and Aspirations" field with "Convicted of" and "Release Date."
Online dating has never worked for Hair Balls — we always end up being matched with some dog — so we reached out to some lovelorn prisoners and releasees to see how Lost Vault is working out.
Topangelia Bingham is the world's hottest computer hacker. She'll be out of the Fort Worth pen in December. Here's her ad, which comes with a hot photo and says she is a "serious, beautiful woman, searching for her soul mate."
But is that photo really her? Bingham wrote us back and fessed up.
"No its not me," she said via letter. "The reason why you don't put your picture on there, because you get some strange reply. And you don't want your photo on there.
"When I receive a letter, I always inform them that the picture is not me. I even send them a picture of me," she said. "A lot of them, say that I am more beautiful then the one in the ad."
We don't doubt it. Still, Bingham hasn't had much luck with the site. "My experience was not good. Because the guys that write me don't want a relationship at all. They want sex letters. And are looking for a lot more than just that."
Ew, gross. Who's sending these letters? Says Bingham, "The type of response I receive is mostly from older men that is pervert."
Benson, a six-foot white male who did four years in Beaumont for burglary, found Lost Vault via an advertisement he got in jail mail. He signed up last August.
Benson got out in March and spoke over the phone about the site. "It was terrible," he said. "I got one letter and it was from an old white guy — retired Air Force, said he was a model. And I was like, 'Oh man, I'm gone.' He was really old," he said. "After that I was scared."
(In case you were wondering: "Hell nah, I didn't write back to him.")
Tammy Whitehead is a 5'3", brown-eyed SWF. She was convicted of assault and will be out of her Dayton jail in August of next year. Her ad: "Hey its me Tammy!!! 36 yr old single mother of 4 boys!!! I'm bored as hell in here and lookin for LOVE!! All welcome to write PLEASE send pictures !!!"
Whitehead responded to our letter in kind, and explained that her friends actually wrote the ad for her: "I loved them for hookin me up, and for thinking of me :)," she wrote in a letter.
About 20 people replied to her ad — all straight men in their 30s and 40s, and one female swinger. Some of the letters were strange, she said — underline hers — but none were vulgar.
"There are 3 main people I write constantly (back + forth)," she wrote. "They seem to care and are interested in my well being, but who knows really." Still, Whitehead's not giving up on the real thing. Although she hasn't met any of her pen pals in person yet, she's toying with the idea.
DOING IT DAILY
Theres tons of stuff each day on the Houston Press blogs; youre only getting a taste of it here in the print edition. Head to blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs (or /rocks or /eating or /artattack).
Annise Parker was accused of having a "gay agenda;" the examples cited expose possibly the lamest gay agenda ever. Residents in Houston's Oak Forest neighborhood near the Loop will share a U.S. representative with the deep Piney Woods, under a proposed redistricting map. Dan Patrick may run for U.S. Senate (oh please God, yes). Last week in Doing It Daily, by the way, we wrote that former state Rep Kristi Thibaut is running for City Council from District C; she's actually running for an at-large position.
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That East Texas snake farmer (owner of "High End Herps") has an even stranger story than we first thought; a TDCJ guard was all about the service as he was charged with distributing heroin to inmates; prosecutors got the high-stakes felony murder charges they wanted against Jessica Tata, owner of a daycare center where four kids died in a fire; and the Houston Fire Department is still pressing the search for a serial arsonist who's been hitting the southwest part of town.
We worked over the Memorial Day weekend to bring you day-to-day coverage of Comicpalooza, Houston's answer to comic-con, and threw in some Memorial Day-themed underwear while we were at it. We looked at some local artists who paid tribute to Elizabeth Taylor through their work and dug up some iconic fashion ad campaigns from the past (mostly from the '80s). We figured out the horrific subtext of our kids' favorite TV shows, and we talked with a guy who custom-builds Steampunk offices.