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Running Red-Lights

“Running Red-Lights” is a limited series podcast about the untold history of sex work in San Antonio and the women who ran the industry, but who weren’t allowed to make history.

We talked with librarians, pastors, archivists and sex workers to help uncover San Antonio’s red-light district. It was one of the busiest in the country.

City government, the military, the church — all institutions that still loom large in the city today — played a role in the making and breaking of the district. But the madams’ stories are mostly unknown. Today the sex industry operates underground. History will repeat itself if we lose these stories forever.

Latest Episodes
  • How do changing laws impact the day-to-day lives of sex workers? And where is the line drawn between work and trafficking?
  • Mary Volino was a successful madam of a San Antonio brothel in the late 19th century. One day, she decided to change her business into a rescue home.
  • A brothel-owner named Emelia Garza was arrested in San Antonio for not paying licensing fees. She challenged the city, and won — forcing officials to alter their charter and rewrite the bawdy house ordinance. Soon after she was deemed insane and put in jail. Thanks to digitized records, we now know how her story ended.
  • San Antonio was once home to one of the busiest red-light districts in the country. But exactly how big was the city’s red-light district? And how did it get that way? That’s what we try to find out in Episode 1 of "Running Red-Lights."
  • “Running Red-Lights” is a limited series podcast about the untold history of sex work in San Antonio and the women who ran the industry, but who weren’t allowed to make history.