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Posts Tagged ‘escort review sites’

I met Elsi Dawson at my Vancouver screening a few weeks ago, and when our conversation turned to new advertising venues she offered to do a guest column on the new site Tryst, which I have recently started an ad on myself.  I really like the way the site looks and operates, and I’m really hoping it catches on well enough that we can all start to abandon platforms which regularly invent new ways to annoy or actively hurt us while offering no customer service.

It’s been well-established that FOSTA/SESTA has shuttered, or at least, stunted many advertising platforms that are based out of the US.  While that nightmare has been felt most acutely by American sex workers, especially those in marginalized positions, the ripple effects have hurt sex workers in Canada as well.  The puritan moral panic that sought to end all sex-slavery has succeeded—if their goal was to cut the legs out from under independent sex workers and drive human trafficking underground.  Bravo.

Backpage went down, but the supply didn’t.  In Canada, the overflow moved to the next nearest website, Leolist – similar in function, but with better aesthetics and a much higher price tag.  Initially it seemed much more sex worker friendly, with the ability to verify yourself, bump your ad, purchase upgrades with premium features and navigate on a mobile platform.  But the longer you stay on Leolist, the more you notice that, even though it’s your credit card attached to the account, you’re not the client, you’re the product.  And, with all the people hustling on Backpage now looking for somewhere else to grind, Leolist found themselves running a monopoly.  A few years ago, an ad cost about $2 US, would go to the first page, scroll off onto subsequent pages until it expired thirty days later on page 16 or so.  Or, one could pay another $2 US to bring it back to the top of the list again at any time, multiple times a day.  A heavy volume day would probably be four or five bumps, and one could expect nearly a thousand views on their ad from that.  But post-FOSTA/SESTA, ads which used to be on Page 1 for an hour on a busy day, now barely last 30 minutes.  The result is a sex worker either not getting as much “primetime” ad exposure, or bumping more frequently to make up the difference.  After a small struggle (and a change of bank vendor) the prices changed to Euros, with a promise to keep the rates comparable.  In a move that surprised exactly no one, they did not.  Every few months for the past year, their rates have been climbing.  Not content with being at the top of the pile or having the most local traffic, Leolist gradually increased the cost of an ad, the cost of a bump, the cost of premium features.  Was it a move to try to starve out the scam artists and the fake ads?  Maybe, but we’ll never know because Leolist doesn’t have any interest in answering to their advertisers.  They don’t take comment or feedback, and even their Twitter is locked (after they directed people to contact them there).  The result is a frustrated group of independent sex workers who are watching their overhead costs tick up like the start of a rollercoaster, while their ads get less visibility and fewer bites.

And then there are the review boards.  In Western Canada, we have the archaic and wholly unwieldy Pacific Escort Review Board (PERB.cc) run on vBulletin (you know it’s bad when even academia has left the format behind).  On any given day, the old guard of “perberts” post degrading and vulgar comments about providers, their bodies and a scale-ten judgment of their services.  Hobbyists take nit-picky circle-jerk punches at “girls with boyfriends” and “girls who have cellulite” and “girls who think they have golden pussies.”  They routinely marvel at how providers could even dare to ask them for a deposit.  They jostle to outdo one another on their conquests and oscillate between “I think I’m going to quit this hobby” and “I can’t wait until the market pulls the prices back down and these girls get a good idea of what they’re actually worth.”  A month of all the ad posting you can eat (but only two ads a day, and posting a selfie counts as an ad, by the way) runs $113.  There are a litany of rules spread across eight different threads, with vague wording and a system of infractions, points, expirations, perbatory and permanent deletion.  A provider is allowed to comment on their own review, but not anyone else’s, and only while they’re “in red” (a bassackwards term that means “paid up” to them and no one else in the English-speaking world).  Necroposting (replying to an old thread to bring it back into discussion) is an infraction, and so is reposting (starting a new thread on a topic that has already been discussed but may have long since gone quiet).  It’s a minefield and a distraction from the day-to-day operations of running an independent sex work business.  Oh, and Leolist has exclusive rights to advertise on PERB – a cute little bromance that keeps client traffic swirling around the same toilet bowl.

Suddenly, a ray of hope appears.  Tryst.link arrives on the scene to balm our wounds and bring sanity to online marketing.  The superhero geniuses that brought us Switter (the Sex Worker Twitter, get it?!) when FOSTA/SESTA scared the other Twitter into shadow banning everyone with a visible nipple, have branched into making an advertising platform and it’s like a breath of fresh air.  Their team, Assembly Four, has put together a platform that works for the sex worker.  Do you want to set your weekly availability?  Sure. Wanna promo a tour? Here’s a drop-down menu for that.  Do you have different rates for different session types and lengths?  Go ahead and list them in as much or as little detail as you’d like.  Tryst, like Switter, has been built while avoiding the use of US companies, and prioritizing the privacy of the workers who reside on their platforms.  They ask for minimal personal information from clients (the basic username, email, and password) upon sign up.  Provider verification for Tryst is also quite standard and based on a handful of factors such as social media presence, other verified accounts, and verification photos.  They don’t ask for or require any civilian forms of ID for verification, and any information sent to them is treated with extreme sensitivity.  Tryst is rapidly gaining user profiles in Asia, Australia + NZ, Canada, Europe and – you guessed it – the United States of America.  As their traffic has increased (by 15.6x since November), they have encouraged feedback from providers and clients alike.  Since their launch, they’ve added features to better advertise genders, ethnicity, and transgender disclosure options at the suggestion of their members.  Their mission is not to be “your elite [cis white conventionally attractive woman in her mid-twenties] companion website” but to offer affordable and effective advertising with a sleek, contemporary, and user-friendly interface to sex workers at all price points and in all specializations.  This year, Tryst plans to implement a range of other features to further help workers of all demographics thrive in a post FOSTA/SESTA world.  For the first time, possibly ever, the way we advertise online is within our own control.  Solutions which cater to the needs of sex workers and still bring in clients are finally within reach.

What this development says to me is that whores are collaborating, investing in our communities, and coming back stronger than ever.  FOSTA/SESTA is devastating and terrifying, particularly for US providers, but It’s going to take more than a short-sighted and thinly-veiled prohibition/censorship bill to break us apart.  We’ve got a revolution on our hands, honey, and we’re not going anywhere.  This may be the world’s oldest profession, but we’re also gunning for the title of boldest as well.

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I’m not sure what’s scarier, the idea of putting people permanently on a public list, or aggressively incentivizing hotels to pry into the sex lives of their guests.  –  Kaytlin Bailey

The More the Better

It’s so very important for celebrities to be “out” if they did sex work in their youth:

Janet Mock, the writer, television presenter, and activist, grew up in Honolulu…she fell into the protective company of a glamorous cadre of transgender friends and mentors; her seventh-grade hula teacher was a māhū, a native Hawaiian term, Mock explains, for people who live outside of the gender binary…”Merchant Street…was…where the girls worked…I first went there when I was, like, fifteen, when I was able to go out at nighttime.  At first I came with…all these puritanical views…about what it meant to use your body, your only asset, in a world that’s not taking care of you…And so I knew that, by doing this sixty-dollar hand job, I would be able to have two months of hormones.  And so I remember making the decision to get in that car and, at fifteen years old, to do this, and to continue to do this…for, like, the next two years of my life.  And that was my way into sex work…

Business As Usual

It’s the same everywhere our work is even partially criminalized:

Sex work is legal[ized] in the Dominican Republic.  But despite this, sex workers are still vulnerable to abuse—particularly at the hands of [cops], who know they can torture…sex work[ers] with impunity…A new report…by Amnesty International…“If They Can Have Her, Why Can’t We?” features interviews from 46 trans and cisgender women sex workers, all of whom report suffering horrific violence at the hands of [cops]…“At least 10 out of the 24 cisgender women interviewed for this research described having been raped by police officials, often at gunpoint…Most of the transgender women had been subjected to…violent actions by the police that could amount to torture or other ill-treatment, typically focused on their gender-identity or expression”…

Now They Notice

It’s about goddamned time:

…LGBTI activists worldwide resolved to address the stigmatisation of sex workers, including in the LGBTI movement…and [to] oppose…all forms of criminalisation and legal oppression of sex workers – an historic first for…the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.  “By approving this resolution, our global LGBTI family is saying…that addressing violence, criminalisation and human rights violations against LGBTI and all sex workers must be a priority for our movement”, said outgoing ILGA co-Secretaries General Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy…this global LGBTI network representing more than 1,500 organisations from each region of the world join a growing number of human rights, health and anti-trafficking organisations demanding governments recognise sex work as work, and protect sex workers’ labour and human rights…

A False Dichotomy (#652)

Even in Australia, spineless “journalists” prefer to print prohibitionist pap than to consult experts:

Air Asia…decided to use “Get off in Thailand” as a campaign slogan, but considering the abundance of sexual tourism in the country, you’d think the…airline might have put a bit more thought into the reaction such a tagline would attract [from puritans].  Posted around the city of Brisbane, Australia the “Get off in Thailand” campaign promoting the airline’s direct route to Bangkok has not gone over well [with puritans].  Collective Shout, a [prohibitionist organization best known for its] campaign…against [pictures of]…women, [screeched] that the campaign was promoting sex tourism in Thailand…

“Collective Shout” has a long and infamous history of campaigning against lucrative jobs for women, including such tame & innocuous forms of sex work as bikini modeling.

The Course of a Disease (#778)

Remember that Irish prohibitionists celebrated this increase in violence vs sex workers:

Crime against sex workers has almost doubled in the two years since…Ireland adopted the “Nordic Model” on March 27 2017…[despite the warnings of] sex worker organisations [that exactly this would happen]…Statistics from UglyMugs.ie…[demon]st[r]ate that since the law came into force, the number of incidents of abuse and crime…has greatly increased…The number of sex workers using UglyMugs.ie has remained steady at between 6,000 and 7,000 per year.  The number of incidents reported from 2015-2017 was 4,278.  Since the law change, from 2017-2019, incidents rose to 10,076…crime has increased 90% whereas violent crime specifically has increased 92%…

Disaster (#885)

We did warn you dilettantes that this wouldn’t stop with actual sex workers:

Targeted online advertising by the Hump! Film Festival has been kneecapped by FOSTA/SESTA, according to festival founder Dan Savage…“Hump is largely dependent on targeted Facebook ads for ticket sales, and thanks to Facebook’s overreaction to…SESTA/FOSTA …it will not accept ads for the festival any longer, despite the fact that the ads themselves are G-rated and are only targeted at adults”…Savage notes that “Facebook no longer allows ads for, quote-unquote, adult content…as a result…we can no longer advertise on Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook also owns”…the festival’s Facebook business account was [also] “shuttered”…Savage urged listeners to follow Hump! on their social media channels and to subscribe to the festival’s official newsletter to stay up-to-date…

Elephant in the Parlor (#894)

I’ve been saying I distrusted Avenatti since the beginning:

Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti has been arrested and charged with federal wire fraud and bank fraud in California as well as four counts of extortion in New York…Avenatti tried to extort more than $20 million from Nike…[and] embezzled a client’s money to, in part, pay off expenses for his coffee business, Global Baristas US LLC, which operated Tully’s Coffee stores…Avenatti purchased the coffee stores in 2013 with actor Patrick Dempsey, who sued Avenatti that same year to break their business partnership…prosecutors in California also accused the lawyer of defrauding a bank with phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans…

The Course of a Disease (#896)

Looks like the Spanish case of the Swedish rot may be especially virulent:

Finnish websites used by sex workers to advertise and share information with each other have been closed down following a judicial warrant by Spanish police…Sihteeriopisto (Secretary College) and the international counterpart, sexworknet, were launched in Finland but…maintenance was moved overseas when the sale of sexual services was outlawed in Finland in 2003…A sex worker in Spain said:  “The…website had [a] forum, where sex workers were sharing warnings about bad clients, robbery…There are of course other websites, but none of them has a forum.  We lost the platform…where we could communicate and support each other”…These closures follow closures of similar websites in other countries, including in the USA following FOSTA-SESTA…

You may have noticed that the cops always go for the best boards, noted for civility and sex worker forums.  This is not accidental.

Lack of Evidence (#900)

All prostitution “stings” are entrapment; that’s the whole point of them:

Dee Curry…an outspoken advocate for transgender rights in the District of Columbia for many years…said she…was arrested on Feb. 8…as part of a D.C. police “sting” operation…she considers the police tactics used to arrest her as a form of entrapment…and…a misuse of police resources…her arrest involved a…[vice pig] who posed as an Uber driver and…[offered] her…a ride…then…said…[he] wanted a blowjob for $30 and [specifically wanted to] park [next to]…a school …“I said no you’re not, not with me…And that’s when the police came”…Curry [is a former]…sex work[er who retired] after a previous arrest in 2011 in which she said she was similarly entrapped…[but] found not guilty…when the [lying pig] gave the signal, three or four police cars with flashing lights and sirens rushed to the scene, with at least two [pigs] in each of the [swinemobiles]…to arrest her…[instead of dealing with actual] crime…

Yes, cops are actually trying to press prostitution charges against a 64-year-old woman for walking down the street.  I’m sure you feel safer now.

Worse Than I Thought (#914)

A rare victory for sex workers against the state:

Florida [politicians] have for now ditched plans to create a registry of prostitution clients…after sex workers and activists showed up at the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee to protest and give testimony…A version of the legislation passed the committee without the solicitation registry included…It [still] requires that cleaning and reception-desk staff at hotels and motels be trained on spotting the “signs” of trafficking—a list of absurd and ordinary behavior that includes not wanting cleaning service—and creates new regulatory liabilities on hospitality businesses…Heather Fitzenhagen…author of the failed solicitation registry idea [was unhappy, and vomited out some lawheaded bigotry]…”a prostitute…is committing a crime…It is not my intent to work with them going forward”…

An Avalanche of Bullshit

This could potentially be very good for us:

Lawyers for…Robert Kraft…want the 77-year-old’s solicitation of prostitution case to be tried by a jury instead of a judge…Kraft…was charged [after a massive massage-parlor pogrom] along with…about 300 men…in total…Kraft rejected a plea deal in which…he…and his fellow defendants [would be forced to pretend]…they would be found guilty if their case went to trial, [pay] a $5,000 fine, [perform] 100 hours of community service…attend…a [brainwashing] class [much like the dangerous “gay conversion therapy” which has been banned in a number of states]…and be tested for sexually transmitted diseases…

A jury trial will allow the lawyers to present expert witnesses and debunking of the “sex trafficking” hysteria which drove the raids; it will allow them to dig into the money trail and present that in open court; it will provide ammunition for the lawyers of the other victims of this raid, and other raids like it; and it may inspire other men to fight.  As I’ve been saying for the past decade, if everyone charged in a “prostitution sting” would fight the charges by demanding a trial, the machine would grind to a halt and the carceral system would be forced to change its tactics.

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (#922)

Even “legal” sex workers were harmed by FOSTA:

…HB 1756…strives to improve working conditions for strippers in Washington by implementing mandatory trainings, establishing an adult entertainer advisory committee, putting panic buttons in VIP rooms, and making a blacklist for abusive patrons…Savannah Sly, a sex worker and community organizer with Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Seattle, believes the organizing started after FOSTA/SESTA…[and the government destruction of]…Backpage…sent shockwaves throughout the sex worker community…”There are displaced sex workers and clients who are looking for a place to connect,” Sly told the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee…[w]hen…internet spaces for sex work…disappeared…it forced [many] sex work[ers] offline and back onto the streets…former [escort] clients, without the spaces they used to frequent, are making their way into strip clubs…

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I recently had an appointment with a male escort, and when I arrived and asked the room number he said he had decided to host a friend in his room and asked me to wait for 2 hours past my appointment time.  Naturally I didn’t want to wait, and pressed the issue; he agreed to see me on time and the session was fine.  However, he asked me to leave early and brought up the possibility of a partial refund.  I didn’t take him up on it at the time, but a few days later decided to ask for it; he was surly and complained that the title for the payment I used on my payment app (“Fun”) got his account flagged.  The whole thing has left a bad taste in my mouth, so how do I write a frank, honest review that encapsulates my feelings about this without royally screwing him? I feel like I couldn’t really justify more than 3/5 stars on the rating site; how much detail should I give so future buyers can beware?

It seems to me that your escort behaved in an extremely unprofessional manner.  While emergencies can arise on either side of the transaction, “I decided to have a friend over” is not an emergency.  Moreover, given the situation, the proper solution is for the escort to say to the friend, “Hey, I need to work for two hours; here’s $50 so you can get dinner in the restaurant and I promise I’ll make it up to you,” not “Hey client, would you please loiter in a hotel lobby or parking lot for two hours so the staff will get suspicious and call the cops, and we can both be busted.”  And having decided to do the session, asking you to leave early was shitty.

Your offenses weren’t nearly as bad as his (and not only because he is supposed to be the pro, not you), but they’re not trivial, either.  Since you didn’t accept his offer of a partial refund right away, asking for it later was kind of graceless.  And putting “fun” or any other such word in the memo for a payment could potentially cause him to lose that account entirely, not to mention possibly being put on some kind of list (I don’t know such a list exists, but in the current police-state climate I wouldn’t be surprised).  Since you were not entirely without fault yourself, I wouldn’t write any review at all if I were you.  I definitely think his offenses were worse, but what purpose would such a review serve?  Frankly, “so future buyers can beware” strikes me as disingenuous; it seems more to me like you want to get back at him.  I’m not saying I don’t think your annoyance is justified, but I see this as feeding into drama when you could nip it in the bud.  Of course you shouldn’t see him again, and if another review board member directly asks you what the encounter was like you shouldn’t lie.  But if his behavior is often that unprofessional, others will write bad reviews without your help; I think you will be better off just shaking the dust of his room from your sandals and considering it a lesson learned.

(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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Melissa Mariposa is an escort and owner of Red Umbrella Hosting; she has also established and improved several other sites to help other sex workers, since our options have been steadily shrinking due to the war on whores.  I asked her to write an introduction to these sites because I’ve seen too many shady operators attempting to capitalize on the panic the US government has intentionally sown in our community.

As someone with an IT background, I knew as soon as FOSTA-SESTA passed that our web presence was in trouble.  Many mainstream web hosts have officially prohibited sex work related content while actually looking the other way, but I thought this might cause a shift towards enforcing those policies — as under FOSTA-SESTA, they become liable for that content.  Without hesitation, I cancelled my next 2 tours, acquired an offshore server, and was up and running before the weekend.  I spent most of my spring both migrating and rebuilding sites from the Internet Archive for those that had lost their free sites without warning, and as I was plugging away, I started to notice a change in ad sites.  EROS was making huge policy changes but staying silent (remember they had been raided six months prior by DHS and which we still do not know what is going on), TER had excluded US providers entirely, P411 was announcing “upcoming changes”.  It seemed our ad market was slowly folding one site at a time.

Then Backpage happened; they operated flagrantly with their servers in Arizona and we all paid the price.  While having an offshore setup does not make you immune in itself, there are definitely ways to maintain anonymity — otherwise  Pirate Bay would not have an almost 20 year running time.   There is a right way to do things, and Backpage did not do it.  At all.  And what I’ve since discovered (to my horror) is that none of the big ad sites in our industry were following the path laid out by internet pirates before us; no one is following best practices for a grey market site.  Not one site.  Most of them are hosted in the US, or they use Cloudflare which is a service that is in no way safe for sex workers.  The most well known escort ad sites grossed in the millions; Backpage made $135 million in 2014 alone, and sites like P411, TER, and EROS are also unquestionably in the 7 figure club.  I naively thought that these multimillion dollar businesses that get so much from us at the very least had a qualified IT person who understood the nature of what they were doing; I was wrong — and in retrospect, I was really fucking stupid to think that.  This was a sharp reminder of what I already knew:  No one is here for us, they’re here to make money off of us.  Sex workers aren’t exploited by our clients, we’re exploited by these sites, and some of the worst actors in this industry have been owners of some of the highest grossing sites.  Why do we put our money in the pockets of pimps and panderers?  Because they make us feel like we have to.  They aggregate false ads from our real ads on other sites, draw our clients in, we think that’s where clients like to look, so we make ads there and give them our money.

So I started looking around for legitimately offshore provider-run ad sites.  I was tired of putting my money in the hands of opportunistic dudebros, people who wanted to make a fast buck and should have known better, but didn’t.  I want to put my money in the hands of qualified women in IT who know our industry, know security, and who work to help us.  What I found was Have We Met, which had been around since 2016 (I was a beta tester, as I love the concept) but with strict policies that hindered them in the pre-FOSTA market.  I decided to reach out the owners (a provider and her partner) and they took me on as a silent partner.  I started implementing small changes to policy and pricing, and after a few months they asked if I would be interested in acquiring ownership of the site.  I happily accepted, and after some restructuring, Have We Met became what it is today:  A place where a provider can create a profile with their stats, website, and photos, and list themselves for free in up to 20 areas.  They can also write one single ad which is automatically listed in whatever areas they choose to list their profile; so if you’re touring 10 cities, you just add those cities to your profile, set up your ad, and the ad is automatically listed in those 10 cities when a client searches for providers — no expiration date.  Have We Met isn’t just an ad site — there is also a dual sided verification feature.  The provider and the client  are both asked eight basic, non-intrusive, non-sexual questions about the encounter involving subjects like punctuality, safety, and hygiene.  This is a checkbox only system with no room for textual fantasies of illegal activity.   After the verification is complete, it shows up on the provider’s profile to show future clients that others have found her to be clean, safe, reputable, and pleasant to be around.  Clients can pay a small fee to show verifications on their profile.  The questions clients are asked seem more helpful than what a simple “whitelisting” or “okay” provides, and I also felt this would provide a nice alternative to reviews whilst providing the assurance clients seek from them.  A “review” on the legal exchange of time for money and nothing more.  Verification without incrimination.

Meanwhile, I decided to also build a simpler site, something familiar which everyone knew the feel of, which could be completely managed from a smartphone because I know a lot of providers who don’t use computers anymore except to advertise.  So SWAN was born:  A familiar-feeling classified system where everything from searching to ad building can be done from the tiny computer in your pocket.  Ads are free, and all upgrades are under $10 (and you just so happen to get $10 credit free when you sign up for the site).  Like Red Umbrella Hosting, these sites require no ID to advertise and take no personal information to get started; they both offer free advertising, with optional paid upgrades with three methods of anonymous payment: physical gift card, crypto, and money order via mail.  I do not wish to tie your work life to your real life in any way; I don’t want your drivers license or pictures of your face with your work name written on it.  Those measures, used by other sites, are overly intrusive and unnecessary.  I have tried to approach building these sites from the angle of, “What do I as a provider want?” as well as asking others.  I welcome all feedback — positive and negative — on all of my offerings so I can continuously improve them.  I want to make tools that people want.

When FOSTA-SESTA hit, some of the popular blacklists began “cleaning up” entries that had titles such as “rape”, changing them to “bad date”.  In fear that we would no longer have an unadulterated blacklist, I set up OurList; I also have a site launching this week called Relax With Me, which you’ll just have to wait and see about (I will tell you that it involves advertising and another non-vulgar alternative to traditional reviews, and will also be free for providers).  Coming up in 2019 there are two large projects on the horizon for my company Trystworthy; Michael Fattorosi has speculated that within the next year our social media options will be gone, and I agree.  So I have been working with another developer on how to best start and implement a new social platform (NOT Mastadon) and am hoping to open something by the end of the first quarter at the latest.  The other project is completely under wraps for now, but you should be hearing something soon; it’s completely different and totally unrelated to any other offering I have and I am beyond excited.  My goal going forward is that I want to continue to offer useful tools to providers in this industry affordably, reliably, and transparently; all sites I build are fully functional for providers without a single dollar invested, and optional upgrades are exactly that:  Optional.  Advertising should not be your biggest overhead, a headache, or something you dread thinking about; it should be the easiest part of your job, and that’s what I am striving to do.   These sites are labors of love for an industry that has given me my entire life.  Building tools for the future is the best way I feel I can “give back”, and I will continue working towards this goal for as long as I draw breath.

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Even those who mean well are often operating with bullshit information when it comes to figuring out how to help sex workers.  –  Tristan Greene

Where Are the Victims?

In which renting rooms to people in a legal trade is pretended to be a “crime”:

Paul McGrory…sub-let a three bedroom house to prostitutes over a nine month period in 2016…McGrory…charged the women £350 per week for each room…the prosecution [admitted] McGrory was not involved in human trafficking and had not coerced the prostitutes, taken a cut of their earnings or…obtain[ed] clients for the[m, but felt compelled to pontificate that]…”You were not a pimp, but by your activities you have upset the good law abiding people of Argyle Street”…The judge…imposed [60 hours of community service and] three year[s of]…probation…

With Friends Like These…

What kind of warped mind quotes prohibitionist myths while claiming it wants to “help” sex workers?

A recent report from KIRO 7 on sex workers on Seattle’s…Aurora Ave….[gave lip service to] the increased dangers in the profession [created by prohibitionists].  But is there a way the city could actually help?…“Women who experience prostitution have a rate of PTSD that’s twice that of returning war veterans,” [lied prohibitionist] Alisa Bernard…“In a city where we’re going to have safe injection sites, there are not safe places for [street workers] to go to exchange money for sex,” said The Ron and Don Show’s Don O’Neill on KIRO Radio…“I know that kids sometimes become sex slaves.  I know those stories…The johns want to be left alone, and the prostitutes want to be left alone, so why not tax it?…Why not make sure that they are safe?  If they want a way out, why not help them with a way out?”…

The popular myth that sex workers don’t pay taxes is probably one of the most subtly damaging ones.

No Difference 

Statists tell us that the slippery slope is a “fallacy”:

[Ugandan] model and socialite Judith Heard was asked to pay $3,000 in blackmail money to stop her stolen nude selfies being published online…she…didn’t pay up and…her…photos…were [published]…followed by a warrant for her arrest…under Uganda’s Anti-Pornography Act…the Ugandan…Pornography Control Committee (PCC)…issue[s] arrest warrants for…women who[se]…nude pictures and sex tapes [a]re shared online without their consent…PCC chair Annette Kezaabu…[bloviated] “We know that she took this photo privately, but…why did she take it in the first place?…Where do we want to see Uganda in the next 50 years? Do we want to be led by perverts?”…She said the government’s “eventual aim is to have no footage of sex or nudity on TV whatsoever,” and that the committee intends to “go after” pop stars who wear revealing clothing…

Traffic in Nonsense

Since Quickel’s “Vigilante Truckers” got out-competed by “Truckers Against Trafficking”, he apparently decided to rebrand:

The organization Vigilante Truth [cl]aims…sex trafficking…is a growing epidemic in Charlotte…North Carolina…“We’re not law enforcement,” said Bo Quickel, the owner of Vigilante Truth, “we’re just citizens out here trying to [profit from] the [hysteria by spreading myths to] the public”…Quickel…explained [that women are so stupid we can’t take selfies or run a business on our own, so]…“there’s somebody else there taking the picture…and that person’s always going to be a pimp, a trafficker, a handler…none of them get any of the money, so it’s all about forced coercion, fraud, blackmail”…

Even by “sex trafficking” standards, Quickel’s misogyny is outrageous; all of his propaganda presents women as inert vegetables.  Once he even compared us to bottles of laundry detergent.

Virtual Unreality 

Why do “futurists” prefer to make ignorant statements about sex work rather than consulting sex workers?

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Surrey and the University of Oxford [fantasizes] that autonomous cars will usher in…a new paradigm for sex workers…within a few years – a decade, tops…they could provide a safe place for people to be alone in public…there are obvious reasons why sex workers shouldn’t visit client’s homes under most circumstances, or allow them to visit theirs…Driverless cars provide a solution…both the non-participating public and those engaging in sex work could benefit from a paradigm that keeps prostitutes out of seedy motels and off the sidewalks by putting them on the streets, inside warm cars full of security features and snacks…

Though the writer clearly means well (and even quotes yours truly), he’s too caught up in this silly fantasy to see the gaping holes in it.  First, there’s the typical belief that street workers are common, when in fact less than 10% of us work that way (and that number was shrinking before the US government started intentionally destroying advertising venues).  The “obvious reasons” why we “shouldn’t” do outcalls or incalls aren’t “obvious” to either me or the very large number of escorts in the developed world, making this a solution in search of a problem for us.  Robot cars have 27% higher rates of rider motion sickness than human-piloted vehicles, meaning some 6-10% of riders, and there would be no way to be sure that their insides were not full of hidden surveillance devices; in any regime where sex work was not 100% decriminalized, robot cars could lock their doors and transport both sex worker and client to the nearest pigpen.  And though these futurists tout such vehicles as “safer” for sex workers, imagine trying to escape a violent client in an area too small to get out of his grip which is also going at 100 kph down a motorway.  It’s rare that an epigram I choose is so correct, yet so ironic in context.

Full of Themselves (#807) 

As I predicted, it looks like Rubmaps may become the new prohibitionist bogeyman to replace Backpage:

Many San Diego Massage parlors are offering [happy endings]…and [yellow journalists] found [what wasn’t hidden:] a public website…[named] “RubMaps” [which] publishes reviews for massage parlors…[there are] 243…listed in San Diego County and, according to the reviews on the website, 173 of those parlors offer sex services…An online company statement [reeks of terror that it will be targeted, parrots “sex trafficking” hysteria and obsequiously promises to lick cop boots]…16 of the 173 parlors that are allegedly offering sex services…are within 1,000 feet of a public school…

Sex rays! Pearl-clutching! Bootlicking! Pretending reviews are a new thing! So much filth in so few words.

Pyrrhic Victory (#814) 

Another step toward the end of privacy, everywhere:

Chinese authorities have begun deploying a new surveillance tool:  “gait recognition” software that uses people’s body shapes and how they walk to identify them, even when their faces are hidden from cameras.  Already used by police on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, “gait recognition” is part of a push across China to develop artificial-intelligence and data-driven surveillance that is [not] raising [anywhere near enough] concern about how far the technology will go.  Huang Yongzhen, the CEO of Watrix, said that its system can identify people from up to 50 meters…away, even with their back turned or face covered…“Gait analysis can’t be fooled by simply limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching over, because we’re analyzing all the features of an entire body”…Security officials in China’s far-western province of Xinjiang, a region whose Muslim population is already subject to intense surveillance and control, have expressed interest in the software…

Welcome To Our World (#853)

Locking pregnant women in cages for “trafficking” themselves.  Had enough yet?

The Phnom Penh Municipal Police arrested 15 people related to surrogacy who were together in a house in Sen Sok district.   Eleven of the persons…are surrogate mothers, two cooks for the ladies, and two unspecified men…the detainees were sent to the Anti-Human Trafficking Office for [interrogation]…

Whither Canada? (#860)

Why do journalists with the facts in front of them feel compelled to cede ground to prohibitionist lies?  Why do they keep repeating the blatant lie that Canada’s Swedish Model Plus was “meant to protect sex workers” when we have reams of data, including the clear and on-the-record statements of politicians, that exactly the opposite is true?  This law was not intended to “protect” sex workers; it was intended to exterminate us:

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I often get questions from women who are interested in becoming sex workers.  Sometimes they have specific questions, but more often they want general advice; you can find past questions like this in my Mentoring tag, or on my “Previously Asked Questions” page under “Mentoring”.  But while I was answering last week’s question I realized that I cannot in good conscience continue to advise young American women to enter full-service sex work (i.e. escorting or other forms of prostitution) at all until “sex trafficking” hysteria has imploded and the ramped-up persecution of sex workers, our clients, our loved ones and our associates has at last died down.  Every day I read stories of women being raped, beaten, humiliated, locked in cages and even murdered by cops who claim either that they’re “rescuing” us or “abating” us (like a disease).  Every day I receive communications from time-wasters and psychos, and read other ladies’ complaints of similar incidents.  Every few weeks another advertising site or escort service falls victim to a high-profile pogrom, and a constant stream of new surveillance weapons are deployed against us (and this doesn’t even count the shockingly-invasive amounts of information websites like Eros are demanding as a condition of carrying escorts’ ads).  On top of all that, I myself keep advising gentlemen to stick to contacting well-known and well-established providers, and to avoid unknowns; that’s excellent advice for them, but very bad for new ladies just getting into the business.  And while the vast majority of clients are probably unaware of my advice, it would be pretty shitty of me to help women get into the business while simultaneously warning men to avoid them.  No, I’m afraid that for the duration of the moral panic I’ll have to limit myself to helping those who’ve already crossed the Rubicon, while suggesting that those who haven’t consider taking up a branch of sex work that hasn’t been criminalized…yet.

(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 am a mid level ($250/hr) escort in a large US city and have been in the business for a dozen or more years, and I’ve never seen so many clients assume they can have sex without a condom.  It used to be if they even asked for bareback I wouldn’t even see them; now that request is more than half the people I speak with, and a good percentage think they can just hop on bareback without even asking.  Is it because I am older?  One guy said he assumed I would be OK with it because I can’t get pregnant (which isn’t even correct).  Haven’t these idiots heard of STIs?  Also, what is the definition of GFE?  A good portion of men now seem think it means BBFS.  That has never been my definition of those letters.

It’s not because you’re older; it’s because of the government’s war on us.  The increase in stings and persecution of clients has made some guys either stop seeing escorts for a while, or stick with girls they already know and trust, or turn to higher-priced girls with a bigger web presence.  That means a lot of the semi-pros and low-priced full-timers don’t get the business they did only a few years ago, and some of them have (understandably) become more desperate because of that.  Some are lowering prices, others are relaxing screening, and some are doing bareback to catch the foolish guys others are turning away.  Also, with the demise of Backpage, a lot of the budget providers who advertised there don’t know where to turn & can’t afford more expensive ad sites like Eros or Slixa; a lot of the guys who were able to find “anything goes” semi-pros on Backpage are also flooding into other ad sites & they don’t know the rules.  So the whole market is in chaos, and mid-range providers like you are forced to deal with stupid yo-yos who think “STI” is a government agency.

I’ve been in the business since the ‘90s, and I can state categorically that GFE does not and never has meant “bareback”; it has always meant a style that’s more relaxed & friendly, with conversation, kissing & cuddling.  In fact, I remember arguing on hooker boards around 2010 with guys who were trying to claim it meant some checklist of activities (which it doesn’t & never has), but even then everyone understood it did not mean bareback.  I’m not sure where the idea that it does came from, but this is the second time recently I’ve heard this; the other was on Twitter, where someone quoted from an idiot cop’s claim to a court that GFE and PSE both mean “bareback”.  My only guess is that over the past decade some group of really dumb hobbyists, probably on a “bros before hos” site like TER, intentionally decided to try to shift the meaning of GFE (because they’re stupid and think with the wrong head), and now that their site has been shut down due to FOSTA they’re spilling out into the general community and can only be stopped from their filthy habits by scrupulous professionals like us. 

(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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