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Archive for the ‘Q & A’ Category

Are there alternate screening methods aside from P411?  I’ve heard horror stories about the site’s actual discretion.  A hobbyist can get verified if a P411 girl recommends him, but the catch-22 is getting seen in the first place.  I visited two newbie friendly FBSM-only providers (they used LinkedIn for screening, which I felt was risky).  The first one seemed offended when I asked about referrals, and the second was willing to help, but didn’t know how to use TER whitelist or otherwise offer a referral.  How should I proceed?

As I’ve written in the past, there are indeed some well-known problems with P411, but most of those have been schemes to entrap and harm sex workers rather than clients.  Certainly, being on a whitelist like P411 or Date Check can expedite matters, but if you’re nervous about such lists you don’t have to use them; referrals are one of the most commonly-used and widely-accepted methods of screening, and they don’t require an intermediary at all.  You’ve already completed the first step by seeing two providers; some full-service escorts may not accept references from FBSM ladies, but I don’t think that’s the norm.  All you need to do now is find an escort you like and provide her with the names, email addresses & phone numbers of the ladies you’ve already seen.  If she doesn’t accept them (because she doesn’t know them, or excludes FBSM providers or whatever) you’ll need to try someone else, but I think you’ll be able to find someone pretty quickly.  If possible, try to pick a lady who’s well-established and has been around for a while; once you can give one or two strong names as references, you shouldn’t have any more problems as long as you are generous, behave like a gentleman and otherwise act in such a way that escorts won’t have any qualms about vouching for you to our sisters.

(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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Respect

How do you get deposits for appointments?  I don’t mean the physical logistics like PayPal or whatever, but rather the larger question of actually getting men to pay them (say, if they want you to get a hotel room or travel a great distance to see them).  Then, there’s the vastly larger question: how do escorts command more respect from clients in general?

Generally, the way anyone commands respect from anyone else in any sexual transaction is, paradoxically, by not needing them.  Let’s start with a couple of extreme examples.  Think about how you feel about men who are very emotionally needy; even if their deep neediness doesn’t induce you to run as fast as you can in the other direction, it’s not exactly going to endear them to you or inspire you to treat them with more respect.  If anything, it’s going to discourage respect because A) it’s annoying, and B) respect isn’t necessary to ensure their devotion, so why bother?  By the same token, one of the classic forms of abuse is to convince the victim that she’s unattractive in some way: she’s fat, she’s ugly, she has bad teeth and/or breath, she talks too much, her pussy smells, her sexual desires are repulsive and/or she’s no good in bed, etc, so nobody else but the abuser would want her.  When a person has no options, they don’t feel they can command respect, because most humans reserve respect for equals or superiors (which is why people react so strongly when someone “above” them gives them respect).

So the answer to both of your questions is the same: the more well-known, well-reviewed and in-demand you are, the more respect you’ll command from clients and the more hoops (including deposits) you can demand they jump through.  The more clients you have, the more you can turn away; the more you can turn away, the more guys who want to see you will be willing to do to keep your attention & goodwill.  Some ladies are fairly good at creating the illusion of being very sought-after, but no matter how much you call yourself “VIP” and “exclusive” there’s no substitute for the obvious confidence that naturally comes from knowing you can tell anyone who annoys you to take a hike without it affecting your bottom line.

(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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Can a client be an ally?  A sex worker recently told me, “An ally who is not a client is a time-waster.  Self-interest is irrelevant.  The more people on our side, the better.”  But I worry that the people I’m supporting will like me less if they believe I support their struggle out of self-interest.  If you knew two male allies who were equally good at being allies, all things being equal, toward whom would you feel more warmly?  The ally who is or has been a client, or the one who never has been?  Or is the question truly irrelevant?

skin-in-the-gameAs a pragmatist, I don’t give a flying fuck why anyone supports decriminalization, just as long as he or she does.  If a billionaire software developer is an ally because he has some software he hopes to sell to decriminalized sex workers, or a politician backs decrim because it will save huge amounts of money wasted on law enforcement, or a celebrity backs it because she thinks it will attract sex workers to buy her albums or see her movies, what difference does that make to me?  Activists who demand ideological purity tests aren’t really interested in winning the War on Whores; they want a secret handshake club.

That having been said, an ally who has no “skin in the game” might be useful for a time, but what happens if his circumstances change?  If he’s not invested in the outcome, it’s just a hobby to him.  If anything, I think that allies who act out of enlightened self-interest are probably more trustworthy, because humans are humans and we all act out of self-interest at least to some degree.  People who pretend otherwise aren’t “pure”; they’re just hiding their real motives, and that makes me wonder what those real motives might be.  So while I welcome all allies, temporary or long-term, all things being equal I would prefer one who’s got as much to lose as I do if the prohibitionists aren’t stopped.

(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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Taking Sides

lady lawyerAs my close friends know, I have a deep-seated dislike of interpersonal conflict.  Now, I don’t mind mocking idiots on the internet, or chastising a stranger for being an asshole or a customer service person for not giving me what I want, or having an intellectual debate.  And I’ll always support someone I love in an argument with a person I don’t, without even a moment’s hesitation.  But when it comes to disagreement with a person I love, I will go a long way to avoid arguments, even to the point of giving in when I know I’m right because it isn’t worth the emotional pain.  In fact, the single most abusive thing my first husband, Jack, used to do in our relationship (and there were many) was to refuse to let me avoid arguments; he’d insist on cornering me and goading me no matter how much I just wanted it to stop.  So while I deeply disliked arguments before, I now have an aversion to them bordering on the pathological.

As you can probably guess, this also means it’s deeply uncomfortable for me when two of my friends argue with one another.  I don’t particularly even like hearing one friend complain about another, but as long as they respect my desire to remain neutral I can live with that.  But when there’s an implicit or explicit request for me to validate the person’s feelings (beyond the level of, “I’m sorry you and so-and-so aren’t getting along right now”), I have to draw a line.  It’s possible I might be able to mediate a reconciliation, as long as the parties both agreed to be calm during the process, but even then I wouldn’t like it.  And actually hearing two people I care about hurling harsh words at one another is so painful it makes me want to run away.

Lately, I’ve had a few requests from sex worker readers I don’t know to help them in fights with other sex workers I don’t know.  And while I can understand their desire to get a well-known and highly-respected member of our community on their side, my answer has to be “no” because if I don’t know either participant there’s just no way I can separate facts from emotions and decide which actions were understandable reactions to provocation and which were pure assholiness.  If the two of you can agree to calmly state your cases to me, and furthermore will agree to abide by whatever decision I make or compromise I propose, I can probably be persuaded to act as judge.  This doesn’t mean I want that role; if I wanted to be a judge I’d have gone to law school rather than library school.  But I understand that my position as one of the grande dames of the demimonde and my reputation for wisdom and rationality will naturally cause some people to want me to act in that role, and I won’t shirk my duty.  Also, if you’re a sex worker and your adversary isn’t, it’s possible I may be able to help you (though again, I won’t like it) because I’m naturally going to sympathize with a member of my own tribe.  If, however, you’re a whore fighting with another whore who just comes up out of the blue and expects me to take your side without hearing the other, I’m afraid I must decline.  I mean, think about it for a minute:  What if she had thought to contact me first?  The only way to stop the drama is to lay everything out in the open, and that’s impossible unless I can hear both sides.

(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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Has any of your past clients ever fallen in love with you and you didn’t reciprocate those feelings?  I ask because the last escort I saw was different from all the other ones I’ve met; she’s very smart, strong, confident, beautiful and she even told me I was cute.  She seems to be the kind of person I could be in a relationship with and I would like to get to know her off the clock, but I’ve had so many bad experiences with women in the past that I’m afraid to try anything.  What should I do?

lady-of-the-night-by-gweyeniAs I wrote in “Out of Bounds”, “It’s not at all unusual for a client to fall in love with a whore; sometimes, as in my case, that can actually go somewhere.  But there were a lot of men who fell in love with me before Matt, and every one of my sex-working friends has had clients fall for her; it’s a natural outgrowth of a situation in which a lonely man spends a lot of time in the company of a beautiful, alluring woman who only shows him her best side.”  But it isn’t common that the whore returns the feeling; I’ve answered a number of similar questions over the years from men in similar situations to yours.  And even in the very unlikely event that she does reciprocate and a romantic relationship develops (remember, I was married to a former client for 14 years), such relationships have the same kind of problems as others do, plus a host of special difficulties born of stigma and jealousy.

I’m not telling you that you should run away, nor that a relationship with a sex worker is doomed; I’m telling you that A) it’s very unlikely she feels the same way about you as you do about her; and B) if she is in fact interesting in seeing you “off the clock”, you need to be aware that the relationship isn’t likely to be easier, simpler or more idyllic than any other sexual relationship between two flawed human beings, which is to say “not at all”.  My advice to you is the same as it was to the two gentlemen I answered in “A Living Thing” and “Favor” earlier this year, which is:  Enjoy what you have with her and don’t try to turn it into something it isn’t.  And if she begins to clearly and directly express romantic interest in you, and it actually does turn into a romantic relationship rather than a strictly professional one, don’t go into it expecting it to be all sunshine and fairy dust, because I can absolutely guarantee you it won’t be no matter what you think right now.

(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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You’ve mentioned several times that you’ve never really “amateur dated”, but you’ve also said you were promiscuous before becoming a pro.  Those seem to contradict each other; could you explain?)

By the standards of the 1970s, my mother was quite overprotective; her level of caution would be considered fairly low in these days of bubble-wrapping and helicopter parenting, but 40 years ago she was definitely on the strict side.  Like modern parents, she “seemed bound and determined to control my natural free-spiritedness and to delay my sexual maturation for as long as possible“, and part of that was “she did not allow me to date until I was 16, and even then only in groups to chaperoned events.”  Of course, that backfired (as authoritarian prohibitions generally do); all it did was to stop me from dating, but not to stop me from having sex (especially since nobody bothered to chaperon me when I was alone with other girls).  It did, however, mean that I never developed the weird habit of going places with guys I barely knew and then letting them grope me.  By the time I was out from under my mother’s roof I had already had my heart broken once and wasn’t exactly eager to experience it again; I had a few long-term arrangements with women, including my second heartbreak and my first sugar mama, but until Jack started pursuing me my relationships with guys were largely pragmatic rather than based on mutual attraction.  After he left me I didn’t want to be with anybody for a long time, and by the time that feeling faded I was already a pro and had no interest in giving away that which I could sell.  So even though I had sex with a lot of strange men in my teens, they were all guys I met via my social group and my motive was profit or some other practical thing rather than auditioning partners; the majority of girls who hit on me were already partnered with men and were only interested in experimentation (except for that second heartbreak, about which the less said, the better).  Therefore, even though it wouldn’t be accurate to say I’ve never been on an uncompensated date, the idea of making a regular practice of going out with strangers of either gender and giving them sex for free, and of wanting to do that badly enough that I actually take the time & trouble to create an ad on a website and somehow work out how to decide which messages are even worth answering (again, without profit in mind), is so alien to me that it’s like an outlandish custom practiced by some exotic culture I read about in National Geographic.

(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 was wondering if it might be to big a jump for Americans to go from fearing sex to seeing it as a normal human activity; might not the Swedish model be a shorter step?  Decriminalization is best of course, but is it to much of a shift from criminalization to make all at once?

false-compromiseProponents of the Swedish model want you to see it as a sort of compromise position; that’s how it was sold in Canada, where the Middle of the Road is practically the national symbol.  But it’s actually nothing of the kind.  First of all, the Swedish model has never been adopted any place where sex work was already criminalized; it always results in the criminalization of behavior that was not previously criminalized.  Even if it were to be adopted in some US jurisdiction, the oft-heard claim that the model “decriminalizes the seller” is a blatant lie.  Because prostitution is a misdemeanor, arrested sex workers are usually charged with whatever the cops and DAs can think of to get a more serious crime, such as “promotion of prostitution” (ie pimping) or even “sex trafficking” if the cops’ victim was working with another whore; these laws are still in place under the Swedish model (described therein as “going after the pimps and traffickers”), and because there is no lesser prostitution charge the impetus for cops to level such serious charges against ordinary sex workers is actually increased.  But there’s another, more insidious and dangerous effect of the model: it establishes the legal precedent that adult women who behave in a way of which the state disapproves are not merely criminal, but incompetent.  As I explained in my essay, “Treating Sex Work as Work”:

[The Swedish model] is solidly rooted in an archaic and sexist view of women as particularly fragile and vulnerable, and…posits that paying for sex is a form of male violence against women.  This is why only the act of payment is de jure prohibited: the woman is legally defined as being unable to give valid consent, just as an adolescent girl is in the crime of statutory rape.  The man is thus defined as morally superior to the woman; he is criminally culpable for his decisions, but she is not…the law has been demonstrated to increase both violence and stigma against sex workers, to make it more difficult for public health workers to contact them, to subject them to increased police harassment and surveillance, to shut them out of the country’s much-vaunted social welfare system, and to dramatically decrease the number of clients willing to report suspected exploitation to the police (due to informants’ justified fear of prosecution).  Furthermore, these laws don’t even do what they were supposed to do; neither the incidence of sex work (voluntary or coerced) nor the attitude of the public toward it has changed measurably in any country (Sweden, Norway and Iceland) where they have been enacted…a Norwegian study found that banning the purchase of sex had actually resulted in an increase in coercion)…and…despite the hype, the truth is that even operations framed as “john stings” or “child sex slave rescues” end up with the arrest and conviction of huge numbers of women; for example, 97% of prostitution-related felony convictions in Chicago are of women, and 93% of women arrested in the FBI’s “Innocence Lost” initiatives are consensual adult sex workers rather than the coerced underage ones the program pretends to target…

And we haven’t even touched on things like Norway’s “Operation Homeless” (in which the cops sent letters to sex workers’ landlords, telling them they could be prosecuted as “pimps”, so as to get the women evicted); the forcible collection of “evidence” from the “crime scene” (i.e. sex workers’ vaginas); and the expulsion of student sex workers who refuse to pretend that they’re “victims”.

Tl;dr version of the preceding: “No”.

(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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