No Happy Ending for Hair Salon in Court

Storeowner indicted on prostitution charges; $50 for 15-minute ‘massage’

Alexis I. Caloza ’04, a first-year student at Harvard Law School, was browsing through the antiques section of About Hair with his roommate one day in early September when a woman on a couch in the back of the store approached them with an unusual offer.

In addition to selling antiques, styling hair, and displaying risque art, the salon also offered another amenity: massages. A woman who said her name was “Meece” offered the service to the men, Caloza said.

When Caloza asked why the price of the massage—$50 for 15 minutes—was so steep, the woman replied that she would “make it worth his while,” Caloza said.

Caloza and his roommate politely declined the invitation, but not before they were approached by another woman with a similar offer who, according to Caloza, was young. In fact, he said, she “didn’t look quite legal.”

Caloza said he and his roommate didn’t think much about the encounter until they heard of store owner Duncan W. Purdy’s recent arrest, following an undercover investigation by Cambridge and Somerville police, who allege that Purdy ran and profited from a “house of prostitution.”

Purdy’s lawyer, Francisco J. Fernandez, said he had no comment on Caloza’s allegations.

On Dec. 1, a Middlesex grand jury indicted Purdy, 52, on charges of maintaining a house of prostitution and deriving support from a house of prostitution.

The indictment was a largely procedural measure, because Purdy’s charges carry a maximum sentence of more than five years each and the district court only hears crimes that carry lesser sentences, according to Middlesex District Attorney Spokeswoman Melissa Sherman.

Fernandez said he was not surprised by the grand jury’s decision to indict Purdy.

As a result of the indictment, Purdy’s arraignment will be in the Middlesex Superior Court. No arraignment date has been set yet.

Fernandez said that Purdy would enter a plea of “not guilty.”

Purdy was arrested in early October at his salon and antique store on Arrow Street after an undercover operation involving the Cambridge and Sommerville Police Departments—prompted by complaints filed with the Cambridge Police Department (CPD), according to CPD spokesman Frank T. Pasquarello.

—Staff writer Sarah E.F. Milov can be reached at milov@fas.harvard.edu.