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Archive for the ‘Q & A’ Category

Ghost

On July 6th, Dan Savage asked sex worker Twitter for help with this question:

A lot of people answered, but most of the responses were quite short.  Below I’ve reprinted mine and three others I found notable, but if you’re interested there are more in Dan’s own column on the question.

Me: Sending flowers or similar forms of approach would be a VERY bad idea.  What he should do is search her stage name for a new ad; if there is one, he can attempt contact that way & see what happens.  If he can’t locate an ad, he should just assume she’s retired and move on.

Savannah Sly:  As a criminalized population, sex workers frequently change phone numbers, emails, etc.  I would advise seeing if she’s advertising online anywhere, and reaching out by the means she outlines in her ad.  I would not advise reaching out in person, or sending anything to her house.  Also, sometimes sex workers ghost.  Our jobs are stressful due to stigma and criminalization, our lives are complex.  Sometimes we ghost without notice, because anxiety runs high in our community.  Be patient, look online, be professional during outreach regardless of past intimacy.  Lastly, sometimes we actually disappear.  As in, violent crimes are committed against us.  If you suspect this, I’d advise reaching out to sex worker groups in your area (or as close as you can find) to tell them you’re concerned.  Then step back, and let the community ask around.

Mistress Matisse: OK just to be different: I’m going to go a different way from all the other advice has been given here. Now, all of the other advice IS very good advice and you will not go wrong by taking it.  However, if you would like to make one attempt – and only one – to contact this lady, here is what you might do.  Go to the store and buy a very generic “thinking of you” card.  Or a blank one.  Nothing romantic!  Write in the card something like this: “Dear X, I see that we’ve fallen out of contact, and I just want to say goodbye and wish you well.  I’ve always thought highly of you and enjoyed our time together.  If you ever want to contact me again for any reason, please don’t hesitate, my number is…”  NOTHING ELSE.  Don’t say anything about sex, don’t say anything about money, don’t say anything about love, basically don’t say anything that would sound bad if read out loud in court.  Do that and do nothing else.  If she wants to get in touch with you, she will.  One time and one time only.  Or, take the safer route and follow the advice of my colleagues.  Plenty of other ladies to meet and enjoy in the world.  I’m sure that’s what she would want you to do, meet someone else.

Anjel:  If she has an email or some other form of contact info, trying to send a feeler email out that way would be ok. But she has every right to end the business relationship without explanation.  No one can know how damaging and intrusive getting flowers might feel to her.  She honestly could have lost that phone number and lost all old contact info though.  But if she wants her old clients to find her she would have given them another way to contact her.  If there isn’t another way, accept that it’s over and be grateful for the experience.

(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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I’ve been a sugar baby for nearly a year now, but I really just want to switch from sugaring to escorting. I’ve used SeekingArrangement to meet clients but this will no longer work for me as they have a very strict anti-escort policy.  Do you know of any real sites I could use, and do you have any advice for a new girl starting out?

Sugaring, as you have obviously figured out, is just underpaid escorting.  This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to find decent long-term patrons on Seeking Arrangement and other such platforms; I have an ad there myself, as do several of my friends, because their “no escorts” policy is a laughable smoke screen designed to hide the fact that sugaring is a form of sex work.  Brandon Wade, the owner of Seeking Arrangement, is pissing himself so thoroughly over the possibility that he could be attacked with anti-whore laws like FOSTA that he not only makes videos filled with asinine whorearchical bullshit, but also employs full-time propaganda writers to convince sugar babies that they’re not whores, because if they understood that they were they wouldn’t sell their time so cheaply.  The engine which drives sugar sites has two pistons: men who want to pretend they aren’t paying for sex, and women who want to pretend they aren’t whores.  So the problem with SA and similar sites for sensible women like you and me is that first piston:  some dudes are so terrified of admitting they pay for sex that they don’t want to give their dates anything useful, like cash; they just want to buy designer bags and shoes and take you on pricey vacations (that aren’t worth nearly the time you need to spend with the sugar daddy).  As you’ve discovered, escorting is more honest, more lucrative and much less time-intensive, and therefore a better choice.  I’m afraid the options for advertising are more limited than they were last year; many sites have self-censored for fear of FOSTA, and Backpage was raided and shut down by the government using astonishingly sleazy tactics.  But there are still Eros, Slixa, Escort-ads and many local escort boards (many of which are free).  The easiest way to find the ones in your area is to do a Google search for “escorts + [your city]” and see what comes up; that’ll also show you what most escorts in your area charge.  As for advice, I recommend you visit my “mentoring” tag and read everything in it, then join Twitter and Switter and follow me and as many other sex workers as you can find.  That won’t exactly give you a textbook, but it’s a good start.

(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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I’m 23 years old and okay with waiting until I’m where I want to be career-wise to meet a nice girl and settle down, but I didn’t want to stay a virgin, so I went to a soapland.  I was really scared and nervous, but the girl was really nice and I think it was a great decision.  It was like going to a therapist, or a doctor, and even though I didn’t feel any romantic attraction to the working girl, it felt like she was a good friend helping me with my problems.  And of course it felt good to have sex.  I would like to go back, but I have a few questions.  Will seeing soapland girls instill me with a false sense of confidence?  Should I keep going to that one girl or try other girls out as well?  When I left, the people at the front desk gave me the address to a sister branch that was much closer to where I live.  Also, I feel weird when I hog the conversation in a normal situation, and I want to make the girl feel comfortable too, but at the same time I don’t want to pry into her personal life too much.

I don’t think you need to worry about “false confidence” as long as you remember that sex workers are professionals.  We are paid to make men feel good, emotionally as well as physically, and even though a genuine liking can develop it is not the same thing as romance.  I think you already understand this, and that understanding isn’t going to evaporate just because you keep seeing sex workers.  Some men like to keep seeing the same girl, whereas others like a lot of variety, and still others are somewhere in the middle (they have their regular lady but also see others as time & money allow).  I think you should probably adopt that strategy to start: keep seeing the girl you like regularly, say once a month, and if you have extra cash try other girls out.  As you become more experienced you’ll learn what works best for you.  Don’t worry about monopolizing the conversation.  Even if she likes you, it’s still a business transaction at its core, and if it makes you happy to talk most sex workers won’t have a problem with that.  Make conversation just like you’d make it with your barber, manicurist, or any other professional you spend time with, and you’ll be fine; the same rules of good manners (don’t ask rude or prying questions, etc) apply in this interaction just as they would anywhere.  Sex workers are people like any other, and will have different comfort levels; you’ll be able to suss that out just as you would with anybody else.  I understand this is new & strange to you, but you’ll quickly become comfortable with it over repeat visits.  Unless you’re intentionally rude, it’s very unlikely you will cause offense.

(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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I recently found an escort with several ads, but one of them is basically blank.  The other sites she advertised on had more information and pictures, but were of lower quality.  I had a feeling like her ads are illegitimate, so I traced her number using Pipl and apparently it’s her own personal number; it seems like she was arrested two years ago in a different town.  So now I’m a little spooked; how do big ad sites verify? Do they make the advertisers provide personal information?

One of the most important pieces of advice I give to sex workers on the topic of screening is, “trust your gut”.  Sometimes one’s mind unconsciously picks up on cues that, though they don’t trigger conscious recognition, still set off alarm bells.  Sure, it’s possible to get so spooked that one begins jumping at metaphorical shadows, but when that happens it’s time to take a vacation so as to allow one’s instincts to reset.  In general, it’s best to heed that funny feeling or little voice that says something is wrong, and wait for another client who doesn’t trip any red flags.  I think that advice is probably good for clients as well; if something about a sex worker’s ad strikes you as “illegitimate”, it’s probably best to just pass her by and move on to another provider who doesn’t make you feel that way.  As I explained in my recent Reason article, “check whether she has a blog, a Twitter account, message-board posts, pictures whose image searches lead you back to a website, and other signs this is a real person.”  While it’s unlikely that cops are going to go to the trouble and expense of setting up high-quality fake ads on sites like Eros or Slixa (and those sites do perform some verification), it’s still not a bad idea to exercise due diligence for your own safety and peace of mind.

(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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Just in case you missed the news, I’ve got an article on how to hire a sex professional in the new print edition of Reason, and I think y’all should show your support by picking one up!  But if you have neither subscription nor newsstand handy, here it is online.  A sample to get you started: 

Despite being a common activity, buying sexual services can be intimidating.  As with all black market transactions, there is an element of risk and uncertainty caused by prohibition.  Maybe you’re considering buying sex but are unsure how to proceed.  Or maybe you’ve done it in the past but are nervous in the current climate of aggressive “end demand” stings and “john shaming”—complete with names and pictures in the news.  Either way, you’ve come to the right place: Hiring an escort is neither difficult nor dangerous as long as one exercises patience, diligence, and good manners.

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I’d like to see you frequently, but that would add up pretty fast.  Do you give discounts for regular clients?

Every independent sex professional in the world has heard the line, “if you give me a discount I’ll be a regular”, and every pro in the world who’s heard it more than once (which is to say, everyone who’s been doing it for more than a month or so) rolls her eyes when she hears it.  Would you walk into any other business and make such an offer?  Of course you wouldn’t, because everybody including you knows it’s bullshit.  That’s not how volume discounts work, as anyone who’s ever been to a place like Sam’s or Costco understands; the way to get a lower price per unit is to buy a larger package deal up front.  Want a “regular client” discount from your favorite provider?  Offer to pay her up front for x number of sessions, and ask how much of a discount she’d give you for that.  Yes, it requires you to trust she’ll make good once you fork over the cash…just like you want her to trust that you’ll make good on your promise of regularity.  I can’t promise that any given sex worker will actually make such a deal, and I’m not telling you that some might not grant your request for a lower price after you’ve been seeing them for a while.  What I am telling you is that nobody is going to give a total stranger a discount merely on his say-so that he’ll be back, because we aren’t stupid.

As for me personally, I offer two kinds of package deals.  Since my hourly rate decreases the more hours you buy, I’m willing to sell a block of time for the multi-hour rate and then let you divide it up as you like (incall only; we’d need to work out a slightly higher price if you expect me to drive somewhere every time).  So, you could pay me up-front for a 16-hour gig and then take it as 8 two-hour sessions or 4 dinner dates; I’d even let you break it into 16 one-hour sessions, but I’d expect an extra tip for that much prep time  (remember, I only have to get pretty once per date, so 16 one-hour sessions is a LOT more prep time in all than one 16-hour session).  The other way to do it is a sugar-type arrangement wherein you pay me every month and I give you a agreed-upon amount of time every week.  The reason I’m willing to make these deals is simple:  regular clients are far less work and stress (no screening, no uncertainty or time-wasting back-and-forth initial-contact dance), and I like the comfort and certainty of prepaid appointments (so I naturally want to encourage them).  Again, I can’t promise that other ladies will be as generous, or that they’ll even make such a deal in the first place.  But the number willing to make such a deal is bound to be dramatically higher than the number who will respond well to a no-skin-in-the-game “if you give me a discount I’ll be a regular”, because the latter number is approximately zero.

(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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I’m in love with an escort who has some very severe mental health issues; is it true that most escorts have such issues?

There’s no good evidence that sex workers (escort or otherwise) are any more likely to have mental health issues (and yes, that includes substance abuse issues or a history of childhood sexual molestation) than women in the general population.  That having been said, some women with mental health issues find sex work a good fit for the simple & practical reason that it’s both flexible and lucrative.  The high hourly rate means that even a woman going through a bad spell with her mental health can usually keep going for long enough to see a gent, make a few hundred bucks, and then do self-care the rest of the day.  No boss breathing down her neck, no arbitrarily-limited number of sick days, no busybodies micromanaging her time, no having to stay in one place for eight hours straight or else, and no production quotas except what’s necessary to get the bills paid.  So while prohibitionists want you to believe that sex work is a symptom or product of mental illness, the actual truth is that it can in some cases be a tool for managing it.  In other words, it’s a lot more like therapy than it is etiology; we don’t look at therapy as a “symptom” of mental health issues, and sex work isn’t one either.

(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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