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Archive for the ‘Q & A’ Category

Viral Marketing

Is there a realistic danger that I might get infected with the coronavirus if I went to see a reputable escort in a city that has never been a hot spot?  Obviously, a reputable professional wouldn’t see customers if she knew she was infected, but people don’t necessarily know.  Hey, I could be infected too, although I find this unlikely.  Have you heard of a single case of anyone getting the coronavirus from a reputable provider?

Given the long incubation period and the relative ease of respiratory transmission, I don’t think there’s any sure way most non-hermits could say who they got it from, despite hooha about “contact tracing”.  If you’re somewhat concerned (I say “somewhat” because if you were very concerned you wouldn’t be considering this), you could do the mask thing, although that seems like it would be rather awkward in the circumstances of a date.  Personally, I don’t think it’s really worthwhile for a healthy man below 50 like yourself to worry about contact with specific apparently-healthy individuals in an area of low case numbers, but that’s me.

(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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In the Store

It used to be that when I ordered a box of my own books, it arrived just as quickly as anything else I purchased from Amazon.  But the pandemic seems to have dramatically slowed the process; it now takes weeks after ordering for the books to show up.  I ordered a box of Ask Maggie, Volume I almost a week before I announced the book was available, and it was finally delivered on Saturday!  Since I didn’t want to have to sit on a number of orders until the books arrived, I didn’t start offering autographed copies until that date was at least closer.  But now I believe and hope it’s close enough; if you’d like an autographed copy of it or any of my other books, please visit my store by clicking on the picture at the top of the right-hand column.  I’d also like to ask a favor; once you buy and read the book (whether from me or directly from Amazon), would you please take the time to review it?  Since I now have a number of products available there (five books, two short stories and a documentary), I only lack a sufficient number of reviews to trigger Amazon’s algorthms to start suggesting it to browsers in the greater Amazon ecosystem.  And given how economically difficult this year has been, that would be a great help to me.

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Despite delays and obstructions, Ask Maggie, Volume I is here!  It contains 80 of my answers to reader questions, and volume II (currently planned for October) will feature another 80.  I’m really pleased to have been able to keep up the pace I set for myself by publishing one book every three months this year; I’m hoping I can maintain that for the three books I want to publish next year, starting in January.  As usual, you can buy the book at Amazon (and here’s the Kindle edition); if you prefer an autographed copy, they’ll be available in my bookstore as soon as the box of my own copies arrives (last time they took much longer than expected).  Thank you for reading, and please consider helping me out by reviewing it on Amazon!

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Seven years ago I published “Catching Up“, in which I gave a new reader advice of how to get started reading my blog.  At the time, I compared the strategy of starting at the beginning and trying to read every post with “hacking your way across the Amazon Basin with a machete,” and since there are now roughly 3.5 times as many posts as there were then, that is barely even hyperbole any more.  Some of the advice is still good, such as the following:

…subscribe to the blog and read the new columns as they come out; most of them contain links to older columns, which you could then read as they come up…[twice a week] I publish a news column…made up of…short subsections; each item has its own title, and the vast majority of those titles refer back to older posts (each containing a link to the referenced post).  This will lead you to a lot of older columns every week, assuming you have the time!  Also, every Sunday I publish a “Links” column, and the bottom section, “From the Archives”, contains links to the posts from that same week for the past two years; you could click on and read any that sound interesting.  You can also follow me on Twitter, where I share lots of interesting links…and also remind readers of my columns from that same day one, two and…three years in the past…

But now that I’ve been publishing for over a decade, the best way to start is to simply buy my “best of” collections, The Essential Maggie McNeill, Volume I and Volume II; they’re available in both paperback and Kindle editions, and each contains 52 hand-picked, revised and edited essays from the first six years of the blog.  Then watch this space for future “best of” collections, including Ask Maggie, Volume I (a collection of 80 answers to reader questions, which should be available later this week) and Volume II (same, should be available in October).  In addition to presenting what I think are my most important essays in a more accessible and easier-to-browse format, these volumes give you the chance to support my work in a tangible way, which is especially important in these difficult times; it’s a perfect example of a win-win situation!

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What are the mechanics of retirement for a sex worker?

There are a few countries where sex workers have access to state pension schemes; even in the US a sex worker who diligently files taxes (as a “consultant” or whatever) is at least eligible for social security.  But of course that’s not what most people would consider a proper retirement income.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, most whores who stuck with the business long enough eventually accumulated enough money to set up their own brothels; even in the 20th century an ambitious lady might own an escort service.  In civilized countries that is still the case, though the rise of internet-based independent work has made it much more difficult for an agency to succeed.  And “sex trafficking” hysteria has made such services far more dangerous to operate because under criminalization regimes, cops and prosecutors actively seek to destroy such services and the lives of those who own and operate them.  Of course, it’s certainly possible for a sex worker of any sort to invest in a 401K or build up an investment portfolio, to set herself up in some conventional business (such as rental properties), or to marry for money, but that’s no different from what anyone else with a more conventional business might do.

I myself owned an escort service for the first few years of this century, but the changing world and the 2008 economic debacle killed any plans I had to retire on that; similarly, divorce ended my access to my wasband’s pension.  Currently, I’m working on building up my non-sex-work income streams, but unless a generous benefactor provides for me in his will or something like that, it seems unlikely I’ll ever be able to move beyond semi-retirement.  And in that respect, I’m afraid I’m a lot like many other self-employed people in the early 21st-century US.

P.S. – The original question was more specific and complex, but I felt it would be more instructive to generalize; if you’re curious about the original phrasing, just click on the link embedded in the question.

(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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Do you have any idea why some people’s Twitter follower count either stays the same or slowly drops?  Mine used to climb pretty steadily, but lately I’m losing followers even though I’m not doing anything different.

Most internet companies are more subtle than censorship-happy Facebook, which openly and proudly censors posts and bans users using a set of “community standards” so bluenosed they’d make a Puritan swoon.  Google is only slightly less censorious, using secret algorithms to monkey with search results in order to boost its advertisers and “de-weight” any site containing “adult content” (which is why my traffic to this blog from Google is only about 1/6 what it was seven years ago); it also “demonetizes” videos on YouTube (ie, makes them ineligible for moneymaking ads) using similar esoteric criteria.  Twitter, by contrast, likes to represent itself as the most free-speech-friendly of the social media sites, and to a degree that’s no empty pose; it’s the only one left which still allows (some) nudity, frank sexual discussion, and the open presence of sex workers.  But behind the scenes it still has a number of secret mechanisms, most of which it denies the existence of, that are intended to push nasty, dirty, sex into the shadows to make room for nice, fully-clothed bigots.  One of those is the shadowban, a blanket term for a number of occlusions which can be secretly installed by the corporation on the accounts of (mostly but not only) sex workers so as to make their accounts much harder for new readers to find while allowing them to appear normally to those who already follow them:  Twitter used to deny that there was such a thing as a shadowban, but as of January 1st its TOS states that it “reserves the right to limit distribution or visibility of content”, IOW to shadowban users.  But what you’re describing is different.  According to the shadowban checker I linked above, I’m not shadowbanned; yet my follower count, which used to increase by hundreds every month, has now been static for over two years.  I get at least 10-20 new followers every day, yet my count just bobs gently back and forth like a buoy on a calm sea, as though something were draining away followers at the same rate I gained them.  Then since about April, I’ve been slowly losing followers; it’s very gradual, about 220 followers so far, yet I’m still gaining a dozen to a score new followers evey day.  The only thing I can figure is that this is part of their anti-bot campaign; apparently, the site is methodically checking every account over time, and when an account trips some condition that Twitter has decided makes it “suspicious”, that account is either closed entirely or at least “disqualified” as a follower.  I know I’ve had a number of people tell me that Twitter has “unfollowed” me for them without their permission, such that they wondered if I had left the site until they saw someone else retweet me; I suspect a lot of the lost followers are due to a similar process.  But riddle me this:  if it’s an innocent by-product of that kind of routine site cleaning, why are all the people who have noticed it either “adult” or otherwise “controversial”?

(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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My marriage has been sexless for last 20 years.  During that time I’ve been fortunate enough to find three married lovers, but nothing recently despite dating sites.  I did search “escorts” but I’ve never paid for sex and can’t contemplate $750 an hour for those I saw on these sites.  However, I’ve heard housewives selling sex for money are much cheaper; how do I reach these?

Hire. An. Escort.

You are going to get caught if you keep playing around with amateurs, and unless you’re looking in NYC or at porn actresses, escorts aren’t charging $750/hour.  I’m “high end” and I charge $400 for one hour, $1200 for a four-hour dinner date; that’s pretty typical in most sizeable US cities.  I wrote an article for Reason a couple of years ago with advice on finding a good pro; I suggest you follow that advice before you get caught.  And I guarantee you a divorce will set you back more than a few hundred bucks once or twice a month.
(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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Are “talkers” still a type of customer?  It seems like sex workers perform a lot of therapy as part of their job; there’s a lot of sexual stuff I would never talk about to any therapist, and I’m sure there are plenty like me out there.

Oh, sure.  Contrary to the twisted, ugly sexual fantasies of prohibitionists, most clients aren’t interested in the human equivalent of a sex doll; as I wrote in “The Pygmalion Fallacy“,

Prohibitionists…are fond of characterizing men’s interaction with whores as “use”; they constantly speak of hookers “selling their bodies” or clients “objectifying” us.  But as every one of my readers who has ever participated on either side of the equation knows, this is pure bunk; the vast majority of men who hire prostitutes aren’t just looking for warm holes, but rather interaction with real women…

If the fantasies of prohibitionists and “sex robot” fetishists were based in reality, one would expect the demand for passive, inarticulate whores to be much higher than the demand for those with strong minds, strong wills and strong communication skills.  But if anything, the opposite tends to be true:  in general, the more an escort charges, the less sex she has and the more talking she does.  Most guys won’t pay high-range prices for a companion who can’t carry on a conversation, and this has been true throughout history (as demonstrated by the number of famous courtesans who were also accomplished poets, writers, artists, and even philosophers).

This is only half of the equation, however.  As you pointed out, many people don’t feel comfortable discussing intimate (and possibly embarrassing) details of their sexualities with academic types; it’s why surveys about sexual topics are so notoriously unreliable, and the results of such polls are a better indicator of what the respondents think the researchers want to hear than what they actually think, feel and do.  Add to that the existence of “mandated reporting” laws which demand that pschiatric professionals snitch to the cops about the feelings some of their patients divulge under the mistaken belief that their confidences will be kept confidential, and I think you can understand why many men prefer to discuss their private sexual feelings with members of a profession who have been comforting men and keeping their secrets since the dawn of human civilization.

(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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On Monday, I gave clients some ideas about how to help sex workers during this time when everyone is doing “social distancing”.  I was considering doing one about shifting to working online (camming, phone sex, selling porn, etc), but there was only one problem with that idea:  I have never done any of that kind of work before, and therefore don’t know much about it.  However, my dear friend Matisse started this thread that same day, and it’s getting plenty of contributions from people who DO know; Melanie Moore’s subthread is especially thorough.  So if you’re a sex worker considering this option, please read this thread.  And if you’re a sex worker who has experience with this, please contribute to help your sisters.  Sex workers are flexible and resilient, and one of our greatest strengths as a community is the way we stick together and help each other against a world which has been hostile to us for over two millennia.

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Many years ago I was in the business through Craigslist, but am looking to get back in as a true courtesan.  Two topics baffle me and I’d appreciate your advice.  First is screening; I never did this before, just used my gut and only once regretted it.  Is this a common practice?  Do men give their real info?  Second:  I have a legitimate job, so what I make here is going towards debt and savings.  I want to deposit any money in the bank.  Do I need to pay taxes?  Do people want to pay with credit cards?  Should I form a LLC?

I think you should do a bit of research before going any further with your plans.  You can start with my “mentoring” and “screening” tags, both of which should give you plenty of material to help with your questions.  Next, you need to get rid of the idea that sex work is not a legitimate job, because it is, albeit a suppressed one.  Many people who have a square job and just do a little escorting on the side do not report their cash income even though it’s illegal not to, because prostitution is already illegal so I guess they figure “in for a penny, in for a pound”.  But being a “true courtesan” is a full-time job; if you’re going to go that route it would be most unwise to completely avoid taxes because the IRS will destroy your life if they catch you.  If you’re only doing it as a side-hustle you probably don’t need to take credit cards or start an LLC, because you simply won’t have the kind of volume that requires that.  However, it’s easy enough to take credit cards via Square.  And if you’re going to start an LLC, you had best think long and hard about what you’re going to claim it does, because banks and such are nosy and will cut you off (and possibly steal your money) if they think it’s from sex work.

(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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