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Posts Tagged ‘escort review sites’

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on July 20th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

All week long I collect sex-work-related news stories for my Saturday “That Was the Week That Was” news columns, and when I prepare the columns each item is filed under a subtitle which refers back to a previous post.  But as I explained in “Case Study”, “every once in awhile a story comes along which is so interesting, funny, horrible, odd or whatever, that I like to analyze it at length.”  This is one of those stories, and my attention was attracted to it by two things: one, that it was difficult to fit into only one heading; and two, that there’s so much ignorance here one almost has to admire the journalist’s dedication to spreading misinformation.  After all, she could have obtained nearly all the information she needed from the two activists she interviewed; instead, she chose to shove their input to corners of the article and instead concentrate on the pronouncements of a clownish cop and a self-important academic (whom I’ve criticized on several occasions for his dopey assumptions).  Author Jessica Guynn wastes no time, starting off with monumentally dumb statements from the very beginning:

For years, sex workers have been the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley that no one talks about.  But…the sex industry has been closely linked to boom times in the Bay Area going back to the Gold Rush…

Scott CunninghamThat it’s the San Francisco Bay Area is neither here nor there; every place there are men with money to spend, there will be sex workers for them to spend it on.  Guynn seems to imagine herself an intrepid investigative reporter exposing some hidden scandal; I’m sure she thought it clever to intersperse sentences about the mundane doings of sex workers with those describing recent anti-sex worker pogroms and the overdose death of a Google executive, no doubt hoping the latter two would lend some lurid spice to the rather dry meat of the former.  And even when she’s dealing with basic, easily-checked facts, the “pimps and hos” mythology she learned from cops (or television, or other equally-ill-informed sources) seems to interfere with her ability to transcribe them; when the story first appeared she referred to the screening service Preferred 411 as “Preferred911”, and even in the corrected story she portrays it as an escort service directory (with obligatory scare quotes around the perfectly ordinary word “escort”) rather than what it is, a screening service and ad platform.  I’m sure activist Siouxsie Q (the first source quoted herein) could’ve thoroughly explained P411 to Guynn, but instead she quickly turns to Scott Cunningham, who might actually be able to turn out good research if he’d consult sex workers instead of proceeding from his own wholly-erroneous preconceptions:

Scott Cunningham, an associate professor at Baylor University who studies the economics of prostitution, said the Internet has made the sex trade “extraordinarily efficient,” taking it from the streets and red-light districts to home computers and smartphones.

This is the fundamental flaw in Cunningham’s work:  he believes (and has repeatedly stated) that prior to the internet, the majority of whores worked on the street; all of his studies are based on this fallacy.  Street workers have never been the majority at any point in history, and under criminalized 20th-century conditions they represented 15% or less of American prostitutes.  While it is true that some street workers moved indoors after the advent of the internet, the majority of internet-based escorts are those who used to work in hotels, take out ads in alternative papers or contract with escort services (which largely advertised in phone books).  But Cunningham insists on comparing apples to oranges, resulting in strikingly-wrong statements like, “Before the Internet, clients didn’t know where to find the prostitutes and prostitutes did not know where to find the clients.”  That’s news to me, and to every other sex worker who did quite well in pre-internet times; I can assure Professor Cunningham that my clients had no trouble whatsoever finding me, and the idea that hookers had trouble finding clients seems to proceed from another ridiculous and false assumption:  that clients are only a small subset of all men.

Kyle OkiThe belief in a lost era of woebegone streetwalkers crying plaintively in the night for rare and elusive clients (and its counterpart, the creed of the magical whore-multiplying powers of the internet) is also clearly evident in the statements of Sgt. Kyle Oki of the San Jose Police Department Human Trafficking Task Force (formerly known as the San Jose vice squad), who said “prostitutes are gravitating to the Internet because they can charge clients they find there more money for the same sex acts”.  This is a fine example of the principle of Garbage In, Garbage Out; Oki proceeds from a set of faulty assumptions, and authoritatively states a conclusion which is literally the exact opposite of the truth:  because the internet makes it easier for amateurs to place ads, cheapskates can more easily find cut-rate girls and established ones must either charge less or do more to compete, or else resign themselves to less business.  In other words, contrary to Oki’s blather, most prostitutes find that because of the internet they can charge clients less money for the same sex acts.  In 2000, the going rate in New Orleans was $300 per hour, above the national average; though it’s still possible for an established lady to get that, $300 buys a lot less than it did 14 years ago.  And in some areas (such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles) the bottom has almost dropped out of what was once a very lucrative market.

The rest of the article suffers from the same syndrome that permeates all of prostitution law and much of the public’s conception of sex work:  the fallacious belief that sex is different from all other human activity, and sex work different from all other work.  Would a reporter find the idea that any other entrepreneur had grossed almost $1 million over several years of brisk business remarkable?  Of course not, but somehow it becomes so when the entrepreneur is a sex worker (I also doubt Guynn would use the demeaning word “servicing” to describe the work of a landscaper, chef, masseuse or therapist, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day).  And then there’s this line: “One sex worker [said] she uses credit-card payment processor Square to charge clients…” to which any normal person’s response should be, “So what?”  How many businesses have you run into lately that don’t take credit cards?  Accepting credit cards is not remotely notable, for sex workers or anyone else, and it hasn’t been for at least two decades; the fact that a businesswoman uses a popular payment processor doesn’t make it any more interesting.  But that’s par for the course with mainstream articles on sex work; rather than discuss important issues like sex worker rights, police brutality and how “authorities” use the moral panic around “sex trafficking” to justify massive violations of human rights, reporters prefer to present dry-as-dust details that they portray as somehow shocking because the transaction involves sex, then liberally moisten the mixture with lies, myths and sexual fantasies from self-appointed “experts” who know less about sex work than they do about quantum physics.

Professor Scott Cunningham says these indoor sex workers will have to wait at least another century for their clients to find them.

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Theoretically, all children in the United States are at risk of being trafficked.  Theoretically, I’m at risk of drowning in a bucket or getting eaten by a cannibal.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Savaging

Enjoy this thorough denunciation of sex work “abolitionism” as “the worst abomination created by [neo]feminism” (from the French):

…these vile bastards…attempt to starve the prostitutes, to make them homeless, to…force them to change jobs…They claim that the vast majority of prostitutes are sex slaves enslaved by pimps…[feminists] are…[as] proud of the damage [they do] as the soldiers were once proud banner of the Crusades because each pillage every rape, every murder was an expression of superiority over the enemy…they pull figures out of nowhere…and prostitutes are not allowed to talk at their meetings unless they “repent”…

Parable

Another excellent parody of “sex trafficking” nonsense, this one from Marijke Vonk:

…“Marriage is happening right in our neighbourhoods” warns Angela Tite, co-founder of Concerned Maidens for America, a non-profit organisation against domestic abuse and romantic slavery…“Young women are lured in with promises of love and respect, only to find themselves entrapped in what can only be called modern-day slavery…it is estimated that over 70% of wives experience some form of violence or coercion…Nobody would choose that kind of life voluntarily” …According to the FBI, the average girl becomes involved in romantic relationships between 13 and 15, and some 500,000…are at risk of becoming victims of marriage and domestic violence every year.  “Child abuse is most commonly found inside homes” explains Mary Addington of No Child Left At Home…Over three thousand children and women  have been taken out of homes into…protective shelters, where home-raised children and wedlocked women are rehabilitated…deputy [Tom] Kreapy makes it very clear: “if it saves just one child, we must continue home-stings and neighbourhood raids”…

Saving Them From Themselves 

Cops want to create “child porn” to prosecute teen for creating “child porn” of himself.  I am not making this up:

A Manassas City [Virginia] teenager accused of “sexting” a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant in which…police and…prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis…by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection, the teen’s lawyers said…The teen is facing two felony charges, for possession of child pornography and manufacturing child pornography, which could lead not only to incarceration…but inclusion on the…sex offender data base for…life…

Saint Death Santa Muerte of Nueva Laredo

the “indicia” of drug-dealing has always been…bizarre…The defendant had $324 in cash in his pocket?  Proof he’s a drug dealer…If he has no cash…it’s proof he’s a major drug dealer…[who has] people who do the dirty transactions for [him]…It used to be the beeper that proved someone was a drug dealer…Then it became cellphones…The prosecution will put a cop on the stand…to explain to the ignorant…jury why that cash in the defendant’s pocket is so fundamentally different than the cash in their pockets.  (Hint: It’s because he’s a criminal)…the latest…is  [representing icons of] Santa Muerte…[as] “tools of the drug traffickers’ trade”…the…notion [of] “narco-saints” borders on incomprehensible…But give it a cool name like “narco-saint” and it suddenly turns religion into proof of guilt…

Finding What Isn’t There

At least US “authorities” don’t yet lock up people who debunk “sex trafficking”:  “Police in [The Gambia]…detained Sanna Camara, a journalist…as a result of a story…[in which police officials] admitted that [they] face challenges in combatting human trafficking…due to the unwillingness of victims or their families to aid investigations…”  In other words, those identified as “victims” refuse to play their assigned roles.

Wise Investment (TW3 #335)

The Chief Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, Allan McEachern, ruled on July 4, 1984, that sex workers on the Davie Street stroll were a “blatant, aggressive, and disorderly public nuisance”…and…banned [them] from their neighbourhood…[they] were forced to relocate…to what became the killing fields of…Downtown Eastside, with 65 women murdered since the mid-1980s…we seek a formal, public apology from Vancouver…[and] financial reparations…for a permanent memorial near the corner of Bute and Davie streets…

Innocence Never Had

Emi Koyama on how the “trafficking” paradigm harms young sex workers:

…please don’t refer to the youth as “children”…most are 16- and 17- year olds who resent being referred to as “children”…”Rescue” approach presumes that young people have a safe home to go back to and the only problem is the presence of the “trafficker.” That is not the reality for the vast majority…Youth often engage in sex trade in order to escape from violence and abuse at home or in the child welfare system…”Rescue” only sends them back to the unsafe situation that they are escaping from in the first place…It may be convenient for…society to pretend that…violence only comes from pimps and sex buyers, but it is not true…police, hospitals, and schools are much larger source of violence than pimps in the life of street youth…

Opting Out (TW3 #401)

The parental filters of U.K. ISPs are blocking 20 percent of the 100,000 most-visited websites…according to the Open Rights Group…”Different ISPs are blocking different sites and the result is that many people…can’t access their websites…there is a lack of information about how to get sites unblocked”…

Hall of Shame (TW3 #406) Dennis Hof

Your periodic reminder that Dennis Hof really is a revolting excuse for a human being:

The man who owns a well-known brothel in Nevada…is submitting plans to Phoenix city leaders asking permission to open a similar business…a month before the Super Bowl and then close it down a month after…”After [an] initial $500,000 up front, the city would take in additional tax dollars…I was raised in Phoenix…and prostitution was rampant then and is still a problem now…I do background checks on all my girls, they get tested frequently, I will cut down on the pimps and the clients will not go to an illegal source for sex if they have a legal source…Phoenix is one of the worst sex trafficking places in America and this will combat that”…

Drawing Lines

Another good one from Belle Knox, this time on Jezebel:

…I am often asked if there is solidarity among sex workers.  The answer, as I’ve come to slowly and painfully discover, is no.  We’re all essentially doing the same job — selling tickets to a fantasy — so you might imagine that, like retail, food service, or any other profession, we might have some form of solidarity.  But what I’ve learned about the…whorarchy…has helped shed some light on some of the lies I believe all women are buying to one degree or another…

Meanwhile Margaret Corvid, the dominatrix whose writing I criticized in the original of this title, apologized for her original wording and wrote this article to demonstrate her real feelings on the subject:

…I’ve seen the reports of people…forced to do sex work.  They are called trafficked women, and are often depicted at the point of a police raid, with flashing cameras shoved in their faces…I write today to stand with Agustin, Grant, and Maggie McNeill, who have so powerfully argued that this portrayal, and the very concept of “sex trafficking” that underpins it, is a myth…[which] deprives sex workers of agency and identity, as it…fetishises our lives and bodies…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #414)

If your local cops claim that “prostitution is…one of the biggest problems they face,” I suggest it’s time to stop wasting money on a police department.  The most hilarious part of this article: the idea that there is such a thing as a “legal escort service” that can be “differentiated from illegal prostitution”.  Blah blah blah “not a victimless crime”, blah blah children, blah dirty whores, blah disease, blah licenses, booga booga SEX TRAFFICKING!

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

Elizabeth Brown analyzes the danger of the latest “sex trafficking” Trojan horse:

The “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act“…would…require all sites that host adult advertising (whether paid or free)…to review ads before publication, request a valid telephone number and credit card number from each poster, “prohibit the use of euphemism and codewords”…and prohibit the use of prepaid debit cards or cryptocurrencies in placing paid ads.  For sites that run paid adult advertisements, publishers would be responsible for verifying the identity of every person who placed an adult ad by obtaining a copy of a government-issued ID containing their name, photo, and date of birth.  The publisher would have to hold on to these records for seven years and make them…available to the ["authorities" on demand]…The bill insists that information won’t be used against registrants in criminal proceedings unrelated to sex trafficking.  But knowing how fond government and law enforcement officials are of privacy and keeping promises, you can see why those advertising adult services…may be reluctant to hand over such information…

The most important real-world effect of this law would be to drive virtually 100% of adult advertising to sites hosted outside of the US.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #422)

France avoids the Swedish rot for now:

A landmark bill in France that would see clients of prostitutes hit with fines of up to €1,500 may never see the light of day after senators voted to scrap the legislation…Senator Esther Benbassa cited the bad example…[of] Sweden where…it has failed to reduce prostitution and simply made life more dangerous for sex workers…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423) C-36 protest

The proposed prostitution bill could make sex work even more dangerous and may be unconstitutional, more than 200 legal experts said in an open letter to the prime minister …In fact, they argue, it’s no better than the old law struck down by the Supreme Court late last year for violating sex workers’ Charter rights…

If Men Were Angels

A job centre employee has admitted demanding sex from unemployed former prostitutes in exchange for work…[and] is now facing sexual assault and bribery charges…The man had been responsible for a project since 1990 in which women who wanted to escape prostitution were found work…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #426)

Digging through the prohibitionist nonsense in this article yields this kernel:

…Dolly has been home…to 1,187 sex workers and 311 pimps (according to official data)…Unofficial reports found no fewer than 9,000 people, including those operating hundreds of lodges, cafés, karaoke bars, massage parlors and food stalls, were involved either directly or indirectly in the…sex industry…The possible massive exodus of former Dolly residents has caused great concern among provincial and regional governments…health campaigners, women and human rights advocates and members of community-based organizations across Indonesia, especially in Bali, which many consider a…perfect spot for sex tourism…“Within the framework of our [Bali’s] efforts to end the HIV epidemic, the closure of Dolly could become a time bomb — a social and health disaster for the island,” a doctor who conducts outreach programs for sex workers…said…

Bread and Circuses

The June 25 seizure of…MyRedBook…by the FBI has been heralded by some as another win in the war against…child sex traffickers…the FBI and CNN…fail to mention that the site also functioned as a critical exchange for sex workers looking to reduce harm and share best practices…the seizure has not only cut off a source of income for sex workers, but also a source of information and community…among crusaders committed to criminalizing sex workers and the people who purchase their services…sex workers…are either trafficked girls shackled to beds when they’re not servicing sadistic ghouls, or they are thrill-seeking degenerates blissfully unaware of their privilege…The former daydreams of a police raid that will liberate her…while the latter feverishly supports the “Pimp Lobby” from Twitter…The massive gulf of silence between these two caricatures gives space to a convenient narrative that…the overwhelming majority of sex workers require intervention by benevolent law enforcement agencies…

Lucy Steigerwald points out that there are scary implications for amateurs, too:

…The warning on My Red Book states that domain names count as property, therefore they can be taken under racketeering laws.  But that is a wide and rocky road towards censorship which needs to be challenged.  A website is speech…Shutting one down without due process is nothing more than censorship.  Just because the federal government wants to shield our eyes from prostitution doesn’t mean we should let it…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 29th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

MyRedbook seizureOn June 25th, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation seized the venerable San Francisco escort website, MyRedbook, under the usual vague and evidence-free charges the US government always uses when it wants to destroy peaceful businesses who have hurt no one.  This time, as you can see above, the pretenses are “money laundering” and “racketeering”, but others cases include “conspiracy”, “mail fraud” and “tax evasion”.  You may believe that these are actual crimes, but the truth is they aren’t (except on paper); they’re simply blunt instruments defined so vaguely that any competent prosecutor can jam nearly any business into one or more of them.  Here’s how it works: “racketeering” can mean criminals operating a legitimate business, like when a mobster owns a restaurant.  So a “racketeering” charge usually means “we think you committed crimes but can’t prove them, so we’re just going to assume you’re a criminal and prosecute you for owning a regular business.”  Any money you’ve deposited is then called “money laundering” on the grounds that you deposited “criminal proceeds” from your imaginary crimes into your legitimate account; “tax evasion” is based on the pretense that you have failed to pay taxes on imaginary income they can’t prove you actually made; “conspiracy” means merely talking about committing the imaginary crimes, and so on.  And if you believe that the targeted business is protected by the presumption of innocence, think again.  The FBI’s excuses are partly visible in this article:

…Eric Omuro, 53, and Annmarie Lanoce, 40, were arrested during a FBI raid…Both are charged with…interstate travel in the aid of a racketeering enterprise, and Omuro is charged with…twenty-four counts of money laundering…prosecutors say the pair used the mail and the Internet to facilitate prostitution…”The website hosted advertisements for prostitutes, complete with explicit photos, lewd physical descriptions, menus of sexual services, hourly and nightly rates, and customer reviews of the prostitutes’ services”…The indictment seeks the forfeiture of more than $5 million in property and assets Omuro allegedly gained by facilitating prostitution…CNN reports  that the shutdown was part of a broad FBI crackdown on child prostitution…In 2011, San Mateo County prosecutors used the site to arrest…suspects who were believed to be pimping underage girls…

The lies about “child prostitution” (unproven three-year-old police “beliefs” do not constitute evidence) are designed to throw up a smoke screen in front of the real motive for the prosecution: “…the indictment seeks the forfeiture of more than $5 million…”  That profit motive is both direct (through stealing the owner’s assets) and indirect:  though the “sex trafficking” hysteria has proven a bonanza for cops (via government “sex trafficking” grants) and “rescue industry” organizations (via gullible donors), the “authorities” need to manufacture at least a few “victims” and “pimps” to justify the tremendous amount of bread being flushed down the “trafficking” toilet.  Every year the FBI conducts a massive series of “sting” operations designed to deceive and entrap sex workers so they can be arrested by local police; their children are abducted and labeled “child sex trafficking victims”, and their spouses or drivers (and male sex workers) are arrested and labeled “pimps”.  After the first few operations the FBI announced how many adult sex workers had been arrested, but for the last two years it has hidden that data because a few in the media were beginning to question the morality of spending millions and brutalizing more than 10 women for every teen “recovered”…especially since their “pimp” conviction rate is a mere 4.06%.  Given that the label “pimp” is applied willy-nilly that low rate isn’t surprising, but actual convictions aren’t necessary to maintain the appearance of “doing something” against the phantasmal bogeymen the government has conjured to distract the populace from the real economic and social problems it can do nothing about.

Of course, somebody has to pay for this monumental show; as mentioned above, some of the cost is recouped by stealing the victims’ possessions, and the taxpayers (or rather, their children and grandchildren) are stuck with the rest.  But there is another cost, a human one, which is mostly borne by sex workers.  I estimate more than 2000 sex workers’ lives were destroyed in the latest “Operation Cross-Country”, and the attack on MyRedbook (which was timed to coincide with the “anti-trafficking” games to as to make them seem related when they actually weren’t) will have enormous repercussions for California sex workers:

…My Redbook not only served as a transparent marketplace…for…adult services — it also provided free advertising for sex workers, community for an isolated and marginalized population, and a tool for avoiding dangerous clients.  My Redbook served as a stable and thriving online business district for thousands of…workers and a centralized location for welfare, anti-trafficking, and HIV-Prevention services to reach geographically dispersed and hidden target populations.  The…action against My Redbook resulted in the sudden loss of a resource thousands of west coast sex workers use to help build community, screen clients, stay safe, and attain economic stability and well-being…The arrest of My Redbook’s owners and the site’s sudden closure epitomize the disruptive, destabilizing and harmful impact of criminalization on the lives of individuals involved in the sex trade.  So long as this industry is criminalized, any marketplaces, networks, and community spaces its’ members work to create are subject to criminal proceedings and can easily disappear overnight…

This prosecution also sets a very dangerous precedent; if it succeeds, other advertising and review sites may be next, cutting US sex workers off from the safest, most effective way to work until companies based outside the US appear to fill the gap.  One might question the wisdom of attacking an entire industry in such a way as to ensure that money which previously circulated within US borders will now flow overseas, but only if one misunderstands the purpose behind the attacks.  The “sex trafficking” hysteria in general, and gigantic police actions in particular, are Roman circuses; they are intended to pander to the bloodlust of the masses rather than to actually accomplish anything concrete, and judged by that standard these tremendous anti-whore pogroms are a howling success. 

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I am seriously considering taking up prostitution as a second job; I honestly think I can handle it as I like sex of any kind.  I plan on strictly condoms only, and for 2 or 3 nights a week.  I have sent some messages to agencies, but I don’t have an ID so they won’t hire me, and I have no idea how to get to know the girls on the street.

I can’t really give you any advice about street work, because I’ve never done it; frankly, I’m not sure I could handle it.  Some girls prefer street work for its simplicity and lack of need for advertising, but it’s also much more dangerous and the chance of being arrested is much higher because if clients can find you, so can cops.  I must point out, however, that there are other alternatives besides working for agencies and working on the street; the majority of sex workers nowadays simply place independent ads (for example on Backpage) and/or advertise themselves by participating on message boards.  If you have a smartphone you can take pictures pretty easily, and since most clients pay extra attention to new girls in an area you can get started very quickly.  This approach also has the advantage of letting you see how other girls advertise and taking lessons from them (both in what to do and what not to do).  Even if you don’t have a credit card to pay for ads, message-board advertising is generally free and it gives you the added bonus of being able to chat with other ladies.  If you don’t want to deal with ads at all, you could try to find work in a massage parlor, which has the advantage of being very regular job-ish (in the sense that you work at a specific place for set hours), but one of the same disadvantages as street work:  it’s really easy for the cops to find you.

Before you decide which way to proceed, I suggest you look at the “mentoring” section of my “Previously Asked Questions” page, especially “What advice do you have if I want to start working immediately?”  And one more thing:  you say “I plan on condoms only”, as though you had an option to do otherwise; please let me assure you that you don’t.  You must absolutely use a condom, every time, no matter how “clean” a client looks nor how much he offers you to go without.  There is no way of knowing for sure who might have an STI, and HIV is still not curable; it’s simply not worth the risk to you and your clients.  When it comes to sex a large fraction of men are completely irrational, and will take risks despite knowing better; it is therefore incumbent on you to insist that unprotected sex is simply not an option no matter what a client says.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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What would a young escort con/swindler look and behave like? And what her target most likely be like?

One of my very early columns was on just that subject; as you can see there are a number of different types, but I must point out that a con artist who can easily be identified as such wouldn’t be a very successful con artist.  The best rule for avoiding sex work scams is the same as the best rule for avoiding any other kind of scam: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  Beware of lowball pricing and exorbitant promises, don’t be in a hurry and look for signs like a well-designed website, good reviews and a businesslike manner.  Even if a lady doesn’t allow reviews, the fact that she invested in a good website and professional photos rather than relying solely on cheapie ads and motel-room selfies tells you she views her business as a business rather than as a con game, and that she’s in it for the long term rather than trying to get as much as possible as fast as possible before getting out.  Similarly, a professional manner of dealing with clients tells you that she’s been doing this for a while.

Though some clients would tell you that there’s no such thing as a good Backpage girl, I disagree; I have lots of friends who advertise there, and some say it makes them more money than the pricier, more “upscale” ads do.  A few years ago a regular reader told me he loved Backpage and had found plenty of good girls there; however, he kept the “too good to be true” principle in mind, looked at how she had written her ad, avoided ladies under 25 and took his time making the dates.  That last is very important; both con artists and cops will try to rush you, so it’s better to avoid anyone who does.

The last part of your question is the simplest to answer, but the one people are least likely to accept.  One of my university boyfriends used to say, “Nobody can take advantage of you unless you have larceny in your heart.”  In other words, the majority of scams are based on the mark’s desire for a free lunch, easy money, something for nothing, or some other unfair advantage.  If you’ve spent more than an hour perusing escort ads in your locale, you know what the going rate is; be willing to pay it and stay far away from “bargains”, “deals” and “specials”, and the chances of being fleeced are as almost as low as they are in any other business.

Without recommendations from friends, what’s the safest way for me to find out if an escort is real and not a cop?  I’ve found a girl based near me; she seems to tour, has all positive reviews for years, has appeared in a recent documentary, and googling her name brings up Eros and only a few other sites linking hers.  I’ve also googled escort busts in my area and come up pretty empty aside from a few streetwalker stings.  I feel like I’ve done all the due diligence that I can to ensure my safety, but wonder if there’s anything else you could recommend?

If she has a years-long history and reviews, and appeared in a documentary, I think you can be pretty sure she is what she claims to be.  Enjoy your date!

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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The history of America’s first sex panic should give us pause before we latch onto a new cause whose benefits are likely to be minimal at best but will almost certainly put more women in jail and more cops in our lives.  –  Thaddeus Russell

R.I.P. Michael Glawogger Michael Glawogger

Acclaimed Austrian director Michael Glawogger, famed for his…documentaries on the lives of the…poor, has died while on a shoot in…Liberia after contracting malaria…Whore’s Glory (2011) examined the world’s oldest profession with portraits of working girls in Thailand, Bangladesh and Mexico…

Celebrities

one of the drivers from…Ice Road Truckers…Tim Zickuhr has been charged with…kidnapping, extortion, and coercion…[he hired a] prostitute…who goes by Snow White…[and] gave her his ATM card to withdraw her payment, but…later accused her of taking too much…[he] arranged a meeting…the next day to settle their money dispute — and he attacked, punching her in the face, and threatening to kill her if she didn’t get him the money…[he] tied her up…beat her, and…poured cold water on her…then locked her in his closet and demanded a phone number for someone who could get him the money…she gave Tim the phone number of a police officer she knew…and…he…called it, claiming he’d kill Snow White if $1,000 wasn’t delivered to him…[he then] forced [her] out his second story window…the cop met Tim and immediately arrested him…

Here We Go Again

Historian Thaddeus Russell:

…the movement against “white slavery” helped create, expand, and strengthen the police powers of an array of government agencies…[which] have imprisoned and sterilized hundreds of thousands of…prostitutes, taken their children from them, forced them onto the streets and into dependent relationships with male criminals, and made their jobs among the most dangerous in the world.  Those same government agencies also prosecuted [non-white] men for simply having intimate relations with white women; tightened restrictions on immigration; established precedents for some of the worst government violations of privacy and civil liberties in American history; and formed the basis of the modern surveillance state.  The contemporary movement against “human trafficking”…is strikingly similar…both in rhetoric and in implications for individual freedom and state power…

Well worth reading in its entirety.

The Camel’s Nose

In case you thought the government had given up on censoring the internet:

state attorney generals [sic] [are] pressuring Google to obscure sites that promote illegal activities…The gang…[want] Google to enhance content screening…and place increased “human scrutiny” on content uploaded to YouTube and Google Drive; to delist sites that sell…any…illegal materials…and to provide “swift responses” to law enforcement officials…Google, to its credit, wanted no part of the AGs’ evil schemes…and…patiently explained…it does not own or run everything on the Internet nor have a desire to be censor in chief…The…AGs aren’t satisfied, of course…they’ve threatened to pursue legal action…

Pay close attention, ladies; you know what “promote illegal activities” includes.

Maggie in the Media

Here’s a student article which quotes Ronald Weitzer, Barb Brents, Norma Jean Almodovar, SWOP Chicago and myself, but also cops and prohibitionists; it’s pretty uneven and has inaccurate graphics, but considering that the writer seemed pretty prohibitionist when she started the story it’s actually pretty even-handed.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

A…King County [Washington] sheriff’s deputy is under criminal investigation over an allegation that he helped his wife work as a prostitute…[by] using the county’s computer system to check the backgrounds of her clients…”  The investigation was apparently triggered when the moron thought he’d gain advantage in their divorce by outing her.

Old Men and Young Women

The grand-daughter of…Benito Mussolini has become caught up in [an]…underage prostitution scandal, after…her husband [was]…accused of paying for sex with teenage schoolgirls…

Rooted in Racism

The Swedish model is GOOD for women!

…three mothers [who were] stabbed and beaten…[were deported by] the police…[soon after a] similar case [in which]…nine Nigerian women…were thrown out of [their] apartment…after reporting rapes…when foreign prostitutes report violence or abuse…police investigate them and try to find reasons why they must leave Norway, said Bjorg Norli of Pro Sentret…The women…had permanent residence in Italy, and can therefore travel freely into Norway…The women thought they would get help from the police….instead, they were imprisoned…and [put] on a plane…[before finishing] treatment of [their] injuries…

Somehow, I Doubt She Thought This Through

…a woman called to report that a man she was paid to have sex with robbed her…sheriff’s deputies…[arrested] Imani K. Williams…[for] prostitution [instead]…

Uncommon Sense

In Switzerland, an oral agreement is…recognized as a binding contract…Every time a sex worker agrees with a client on the price, time, and…other terms of their exchange, a contract is made…[but] a contract…can be declared null and void is if a court decides it is immoral…[which] the country’s highest court…did around 30 years ago with prostitution.  So…even though prostitution is legal, sex workers cannot rely on the courts to uphold their legitimate employment complaints…

What the Hell Were You Thinking? (We’re Not Done Yet)

Here’s a new service called “Kitestring”.  Is it too much to ask for amateurs to at least be grateful to whores for thinking of these things?

Profit from Panic

The White House wants to blatantly expand fascism by courting an “elite group” of young billionaires:

…Patrick Gage, a 19-year-old heir to the multibillion-dollar Carlson hotel and hospitality fortune…is an industry leader in enforcing measures to combat trafficking and involuntary prostitution…Gage was among the presenters at a breakout session, titled “Combating Human Trafficking,” that attracted a notable group of his peers.  “The person two seats away from me was a Marriott,“ he said.  “And when I told her about trafficking, right away she was like, ‘Uh, yeah, I want to do that’”…

In other words, those who will never have to work a day in their lives want to ensure that the rest of us have as few options as possible besides working for their clique. Nathan Bantick

Above the Law 

A Royal Marine commando …[attacked] two…sex workers and another customer because he was unhappy with the service he received.  Nathan Bantick…was caught on a massage parlour’s CCTV…He was sentenced to 12 months after admitting assault, actual bodily harm and criminal damage, and faces being discharged from the Marines…[Bantick insisted] he hadn’t received his full 30 minutes and…threatened to hit two masseuses if they didn’t give his money back…he took out his military ID saying: “Who do you think the police are going to…believe, you or me?”…

The Birth of a Movement

As I’ve pointed out many times, the myth of French sexual tolerance is repudiated by the fact that France was the first European country to subject whores to the police, starting around the middle of the 16th century.  Here’s a long and interesting article on a police operation to spy on Parisian courtesans which ran from 1747 to 1771; the author subscribes to a couple of minor fallacies and hits a few sour notes, but it otherwise does a good job of analyzing how the demimonde appeared through the myopic spectacles of a narrow “law and order” police mentality.

Presumed Pimps

airport workers…are uniquely positioned to help rescue victims of child sex trafficking…Oakland…Airport employees…were taught how to recognize potential victims and their abusers, who take advantage of the fact that minors can fly without identification…a former sex trafficking victim…warned that abused children may deny being mistreated and are psychologically unable to escape their predators’ clutches…She told the airport workers to close their eyes and picture their own children being forced to engage in sex acts…a trafficked child might have a bar code tattoo on her neck, signaling she is owned…

With Friends Like These…

I’m sure Gena Korn really thinks she’s speaking up for sex workers by decrying due-process-free shaming tactics (and to some extent criminalization in general), but in the fifth sentence she launches into Swedish-style “what about the johns and pimps?”; she soon moves on to a false “villain or victim” dichotomy, followed immediately by “no little girl dreams of being a hooker”, “abducted into sex slavery”, childhood trauma and “selling themselves”, before concluding with praise for New York’s “diversion” program which defines all sex workers as damaged children in need of nanny-state “help”.

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #314)

Observation:  rapist subdues his victim with pepper spray.  Conclusion: sex trafficking!

…a teenage girl found naked and pepper sprayed…may have been the result of sex trafficking, police say.  The 16-year-old girl is still in the hospital after neighbors found her…she told police she had been raped…”The pepper spray looks to me, sounds to me like a buyer that has decided he’s going to take advantage of a minor he’s found,” [said] Vanessa Scott…of Love Never Fails…

“A minor that he’s found,” as though she were an inanimate object lying on the side of the road.  How can anyone take these warped perverts seriously?useful idiot Farley

Under Every Bed (TW3 #314)

This incredibly-bad article on “sex trafficking” in Montana reaches a whole new level of idiocy:

Melissa Farley…said…“Money entices, persuades and coerces a person to perform sex.  The payment does not erase the sexual violence, verbal sadism, domestic violence and rape”…Farley [pretended that only]…2 percent of female prostitutes [are escorts.  She fantasized that]…97 percent…are in the trade without a choice…performing…sex [acts] for a cheeseburger or a tank of gas…She also [imagined that] where men congregate in large numbers…human trafficking is likely present…

I was wondering when Farley would attach her medicine show to the “gypsy whores” carnival.

Sex Rays

When “Red” was a student…she worked as an exotic dancer…”I later told a history professor…I was asking for a recommendation and he asked me what I did, I thought he was a great guy…after that my grades immediately went down”…

January Q & A (TW3 #344)

Apparently this self-important little weasel realized that “anti-prostitution advocate” doesn’t quite have the cachet he craves:  “Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate Brian Bates…was outraged when he learned [an Oklahoma] prostitution bust had only resulted in traffic tickets.  ‘[If] the media doesn’t know about [these cases] they figure I’m not going to know’…says Bates…[who] is…cross referencing and checking names…

Something in the MilkP411 lily

A client post from the ECCIE board for Tennessee, dated April 16th [all sic]:  “P411 Client flips 5 High Dollar providers in Knoxville on Monday…Someone should have been screaming this on line since monday night.  Whats going on—nobody knew???  P411 Client Handle “Justin Credible”…Apparently he got caught in a sting so he helped LE catch 5 providers and an unknown number of Clients…”  The next day an escort added, “We had the same thing happen in Nashville on Monday…same account was used in both cities…

Train Wreck (TW3 #407)

Renewed Initiative Against Diseases and Poverty (RENAGAIDS), has challenged the recent raids, arrests and detention of sex workers in…Abuja…police…[were] assisted…by another NGO, the Society Against Prostitution and Child Labour in Nigeria…The executive director of RENAGAIDS, Mr. Alban Anonyuo…[said members of  the “task force”] raid sex workers to steal their phones, jewelry, money and other personal effects and most times rape them…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #411)

Small-scale, short-lived gang sex attacks = “not credible”.  Immense ongoing global conspiracy involving millions = totally believable.

A rumour of a gang initiation in Winnipeg targeting nurses isn’t credible, police said…“Head’s [sic] up Nurses.  We just got a call from the hospital and police due to gang initiation’s [sic] this weekend looking to rape or stab nurses.  Especially ER staff”… Robert Ihme wrote in a [Facebook post] that has since been shared more than 300 times…

Rough Trade (TW3 #414) 

I’m not sure what the word “jilted” is supposed to mean in this context:

…Danford Grant…now claims the [women]…he’s accused of attacking are jilted prostitutes…Grant…attacked a massage parlor receptionist as she walked to her car…[after identifying] himself as a police officer, [he] drove her to a secluded area and raped her…he…went to a…masseuse’s home…forced his way in…and raped her.  Nine days later, Grant…grabbed [another masseuse], told her he wanted to marry her and recited her home address…[and] husband’s name…[he then] drew a folding knife and threatened to cut [her] face if she fought with him…he [then]…raped her…

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I work for a large company which has many different contracts with both private companies and governmental institutions.  I wholeheartedly support most of the work we do, but I’m less happy with our association with law enforcement, which might lead to the abuse of innocent people.  Worst of all, in the past few years another division of the company has become involved with the trafficking myth pushers, and it makes my skin crawl.  But I’m not high enough in management to have any influence, expressing my views can only do me harm, and good jobs are hard to come by these days.  How can I reconcile my conscience with continuing to work there? 

blood moneyAs a whore, far be it from me to condemn others for taking “dirty money”; some of my clients were politicians, gangsters, drug dealers, ambulance-chasers and other lowlifes who got their money in morally reprehensible ways.  Money cannot be “tainted”, either by sex rays or anything else; as I wrote in “O Tempora!  O Mores!”, “if a thief buys food from a grocery store with stolen money, that transaction is the exact moral equivalent of buying food with money that was rightfully his; the grocery store owner is not morally responsible for the thief’s actions unless he somehow caused them himself.”  As long as your actions with regard to your employers are moral, it’s not your fault if the money they use to pay you comes from sleazy deals that you were not personally involved in.  Besides, it’s probably impossible these days to work for any company larger than a mom-and-pop that doesn’t have some questionable association.  If it continues to bother you, perhaps you could make donations to organizations committed to advancing sex worker rights; that way you’ll feel as though you’re helping to undo a little of the wrong your employers are helping to do.

I’m a woman who has never done sex work, and I have a male friend who’s shy and socially awkward; he’s still a virgin at 32.  He wants to lose his virginity with a professional, but has made a couple of mistakes and is now hesitant to move forward; one escort tricked him out of some money, and another turned him down when he said he was a virgin.  On top of that the higher class escorts all seem to require references which, of course, he doesn’t have.  I advised against blindly going to Backpage, but I have no idea what other advice I could give him; can you help?

Woman Talking to a Shy Man by Ravi VarmaWhat your friend needs is an established escort who is “newbie friendly”.  This means a lady whose screening methods are not dependent on references; she’s going to ask him for some kind of identifying information, and use it to be sure he isn’t a cop.  That’s one of the reasons he should pick only an established escort with a good reputation; it will help him to know she isn’t going to steal his money like that other woman did.  Do tell him that a regular escort in his city shouldn’t ask for money in advance; it’s generally only traveling escorts who do that, and it’s better for him to get someone local just in case his nerves get the better of him and it takes a few dates to accomplish what he wants to accomplish.  An older woman would probably be best for this; they tend to be much more patient with nervous first-timers and some of them really enjoy breaking younger guys in.  Point your friend to my column “The First Time”, and tell him to read the comments, too, because there are a couple from other adult virgins there; “Sensitive Guy” might also be helpful.  Finally, you might also direct him to my “Questions” page, which has many links to my answers to previous questions; the first two under “General Sex Work Questions” are especially important, and he might also find some that speak to him in “Requests for Advice” farther down the page.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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