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Posts Tagged ‘screening’

We’re not going to sit around and wait to be prosecuted before we fight this law.  –  Skye Wheeler

Real People 

Even shitty and somewhat exploitative sex work doesn’t really resemble prohibitionist fantasies:

Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss’ poignant documentary Lovemobil observes the Nigerian Rita and the Bulgarian Milena as they perform sex work in caravans (trailers) along a German country road.  The young women have escaped difficult economic circumstances in their home countries and are looking to earn money; they feel obligated to send Euros back to their families…they work for Uschi, a tough older woman who keeps them in line and advises them about pricing their services, but also appears to care for them, even as she chides Rita for trying to cheat her out of payments…Lovemobil deliberately keeps the sex acts off camera to focus on the larger issues of globalization, feminism and economic inequality that are part of this fascinating subculture of sex work…

Where Are the Victims?

Note the bizarre, stilted language used to describe a very ordinary-sounding escort service:

Jessica Nesbitt [of Chicago was]…charged with [various pompously-named]…prostitution [“crimes”]…for…own[ing] and operat[ing] a company called Kink Extraordinaires, which employed several individuals who engaged in prostitution…Nesbitt advertised prostitution services on multiple websites…and…also emailed her clients invitations to paid sex and fetish parties…In addition to activity in Chicago, Nesbitt arranged for herself and her employees to perform acts of prostitution in California, Washington, D.C., Florida, Indiana, Nevada, and Wisconsin…

Dirty Laundry (#452)

At least this judge gave the stolen money to someone other than Ruhama:

Money [stolen] by Laois gardai from [two sex workers was]…donated to two local charities by the court…the two [sensibly fled] and have not returned…Judge Catherine Staines directed that €3,410 got to the Laois Domestic Abuse Service, and around €1300 go to the Garda Youth Diversion Projects…

To Molest and Rape

Just another typical, representative cop:

A Miami-Dade [screw]…has been charged with raping a woman he was supposed to be supervising while she was on house arrest.  Yulian Gonzalez…paid regular visits to the alleged victim’s home during the course of his work as a case manager…Gonzalez threatened to issue a violation of her house arrest and send her back to jail if she did not [submit to rape]…Gonzalez rented a room at the Nexx Motel…and drove the woman there in his [pigmobile]…so as not to set off any alarms, Gonzalez tampered with the woman’s ankle monitor…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (#754) 

I love seeing prohibitionists hoist with their own petard:

report compiled by the Department of Justice has revealed that the [Swedish model]…in Northern Ireland is not fit for purpose…“This report…shows that there has not been a decrease in demand for sex work since the introduction of client criminalisation…in 2015,” [said] Kate McGrew…”Instead, we have seen an increase in sex trafficking by 26%…In the north, it led to massive increase in advertising (on one site alone over 1700 new ads) and demand (in one jurisdiction by 134%) and a 200% increase threatening behaviour in clients.  In the south, it led to an increase in violent crime against sex workers by 92%“…

Once the government started defining all third parties as “sex traffickers” and then passed a law whose natural consequence would be increased reliance on such parties, naturally “sex trafficking” by their definition increased.  And since prohibitionists pretended the intent of their anti-whore law was to “fight sex trafficking”, they now have no choice but to admit the law was a “failure”.  Oops.

Little Boxes (#792)

A federal court finally recognizes what should’ve been obvious years ago:

Fort Collins, Colorado, decided not to continue its challenge to a federal court’s decision that a ban on going topless in the city amounts to unconstitutional discrimination…The city decided not to appeal the decision…after [wast]ing hundreds of thousands of [public] dollars on the legal battle already…[this] effectively legalizes [female toplessness] in the six states covered by the 10th Circuit court…Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming…

Given that the 7th Circuit ruled exactly the opposite two years ago (see subtitle link), a SCOTUS showdown is now inevitable.

The Mote and the Beam (#900)

This is much worse than the typical government propaganda such as “DARE”:

…the FBI is launching its #StopSextortion [propaganda] campaign to [convince parents] and schools [that teenage sexting is a]…growing problem [called] sextortion…[affecting] kids…as young as seven or eight…The [FBI wants parents to believe that peer “sexting” is actually the product of an adult] extortionist [who] finds children and teens on social media [to]…convince…to send a naked photo—and…the[n]…telling the child that he will send the photo to friends and family or post online…the extortionist continues to threaten while escalating demands, which can include…sex acts…

The FBI is intentionally representing a rare crime as the norm so as to give the federal government power over teen sexting.  If you thought FOSTA and the drug war were great, you’re going to love the “war on sextortion”.

Disaster (#935)

News about the FOSTA challenge:

Human Rights Watch and four other plaintiffs…present[ed] arguments on September 20 against the dismissal of their challenge to a…law that imposes criminal liability for online speech about sex work…FOSTA…’s language is [so] broad and vague, it could prevent sex workers and others from writing about sex work and posting about critically important health and safety issues, and it would restrict organisations like Human Rights Watch from effectively reporting on and advocating for the decriminalisation of sex work…FOSTA has [already] endangered [sex workers because]…websites that made it easier for sex workers to screen clients and to sell sex in safer locations have stopped sex workers from posting.  The co-plaintiffs in the case with Human Rights Watch are the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, the Internet Archive, and individuals Alex Andrews and Eric Koszyk.  The lower court [incorrectly] dismissed the case [a year ago]…without addressing the substantive claims, on the [pretense] that plaintiffs faced no imminent risk of prosecution…[but] in cases involving free expression, the appropriate lens is whether speech will be unconstitutionally burdened or chilled…

A Moral Cancer (#972)

Authoritarian idiots respond to deaths from a black market product by dramatically expanding the black market:

Walmart said…that it would stop selling e-cigarettes at its stores in the United States, dealing a new blow to the vaping industry as [hysteria] mount[s] over the health risks of [black market] products [which have nothing to do with the banned e-cigarettes]…The decision…comes amid a [dumpster fire full] of new [moral panic] about the potential health risks of [black market THC cartridges] that has [inspired prohibitionists to]…increas[e the danger by banning completely different currently-legal] products…

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For the past two weeks, I have only seen my regular gentlemen and a single new client with excellent references (who found me via Twitter), and it has been wonderful.  As I’ve mentioned several times in the past year, I’m really tired of dealing with traditional escort advertising sites, especially since FOSTA demolished the old demarcations between the different types of sex work advertising, resulting in my being subjected to a barrage of the kind of unschooled, semi-literate, rude, stupid, screening-averse wannabe clients I haven’t had to deal with in years.  As a result I am in the process of phasing out Eros and similar sites entirely, and an ever-greater fraction of my clients find me via other channels such as my blog, Twitter, other writing, my public speaking, TV interviews, etc.  I haven’t taken a cold voice call this year, and I reply to no-information texts with a polite but short copy-paste text including my website address (visible in part here) that rarely results in any kind of response, much less a paying client; yet despite these changes to make my life more pleasant, I’m still two months ahead of budget as I have been for the past couple of years.  That lets me know that my strategy is working, which means it is very likely that next year I’ll start moving toward my next goal,  namely to eventually stop taking new clients without a referral from one of my friends.  What this means for you if you’re already in my “good guys” list is that everything will go on as it has been, and it may even get easier for you to get an appointment; what it means if you’ve never seen me, but would like to, is that you should probably get on the ball and make an appointment in the next few months, while I’m still accepting new clients.  I’m getting to that comfortable stage of maturity where I dislike change even more than I did in my youth, and by two years from now I’d like nearly all of my in-person visits to be with clients I know, trust and feel comfortable with.

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If you don’t follow me on Twitter, here’s a sample of recent tweets you missed out on:

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Unfortunately, the government’s wanton destruction of advertising platforms has thrown the industry into disarray. Idiots like the one who sent me this a week ago today are now approaching professional escorts when they’re used to dealing with unprofessional dabblers, and things like screening flummox them.  But screening protects decent, normal clients as much as it does sex workers; it demonstrates to the client that he’s dealing with someone professional and careful who has something to lose.  You know who doesn’t screen?  Cops.  They just want to get as many warm bodies into their trap as possible before the word of it gets out, and that means they just love it when guys who are thinking with the wrong head and want a no-questions-asked nownownow date contact them through their fake ads.  This certainly doesn’t mean that everyone who doesn’t screen is a cop; however, it does mean that of those who don’t, a share approaching 100% are either unprofessional, extremely desperate, totally inexperienced, or up to no good.  From our side of the equation, even the request for screening info acts as a form of pre-screening; if a man is in too much of a rush or is too much of an entitled clod to comply, or else refuses because he has something to hide, I’m uninterested in seeing him anyway.  The short exchange illustrated here demonstrates another value of the process.  A large fraction of low-intelligence, poorly-socialized men respond to what they perceive as rejection with insults and rage; imagine if I had upset this cretin in person, in a private setting.  And then think again about whether you want to eschew screening.

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Last week Alex Andrews of SWOP Behind Bars asked me to spread the word about this serial predator, or more specifically the effort to bring him down.  If you have information and would like to talk to the lawyer she describes below, please Twitter DM SWOP Behind Bars or see the lawyer’s contact info below.  If you’re not on Twitter, I can forward your email to Alex.  I’ve also attached all the info on this monster people have shared on Twitter; his email address and physical address are here, and a few of the many phone numbers he’s used here.  As you can see, there would be more than enough had he not cunningly chosen to target a group cops consider subhuman.

Joey the Player has been a predator in the sex worker community for many years; barely a month goes by without a horror story of his assaulting an unknowing provider.  Just last week there was an incident in Las Vegas.  And of course since sex workers were kicked off the internet in the FOSTA debacle, its been really hard to continue to warn each other about dangerous and abusive clients.  And because of criminalization – we can’t go report these horrific assaults to police because they would probably put a target on us, rape us themselves or do some kind of harmful cop shit that would make our lives harder than they are.  His victims  have been working on a strategy for a long time and SWOP Behind Bars wants to support their efforts, especially since most of his crimes have taken place in New Jersey and NYC.  If you have been victimized by this sleaze or have information and would like to talk (pro bono) to the lawyers, please contact Noam (nbiale@shertremonte.com) or Anna (aestevao@shertremonte.com) or call 212-202-2600.

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It’s no secret that I do not suffer fools gladly, and never have.  In the past few years my reaction to imbeciles online has resulted in my being compared to a Western gunfighter, various warriors, a wronged wolverine, and even a psychic mutant (sorry, I can’t find that column); earlier this year, Matisse said I was like a “flaming sword of doom on Twitter”.  But while at one time I had a great deal more patience with work calls, the events of the past few months have necessitated a change in that department as well.  Up until this year, a large enough fraction of the texts and phone calls I received led to paying work to justify my taking at least a few minutes with each caller.  But now that Backpage is gone and the guys who used it have flooded into all the other sites, and Eros has made the incredibly asinine decision to remove all advertiser’s website links (thus driving browsers to contact providers by phone or email), I’ve been forced to improve my phone-screening skill set so as to eliminate the > 80% of phone callers or texters who are time-wasters, clowns, or cheapskates.  Even if I’m awake, I’m unlikely to answer a voice call before noon or after midnight, because those guys are most likely looking for a session nownownow and I don’t work at any AM hour (if they really want to see me, they can text or email).  Texts from any number not already in my phone book receive a short reply with my website link (and I wish I had a way to save that as something like a macro), and most of those don’t reply once they see my rates (or else they’re too lazy to even visit the site).  Guys who voice-call and mumble, ignore my questions, make stupid comments or just keep saying “hi” are going to be hung up on, and those who then try to pursue by texting are likely to get their feelings hurt.  Some of you reading this may not understand why this strictness is necessary, but I know the sex workers get it:  if I spent just five minutes with everyone who contacts me I’d be on the phone for about two hours a day, and less than a fifth of that effort would actually lead to any money.  So it’s absolutely imperative that I quickly separate the grain from the chaff so as to concentrate on the former rather than wasting my time and emotional energy on the latter.

Still, I recognize that there may be some men who want to be good clients, but simply lack the phone skills to present that way; maybe English isn’t their first language, or they’re painfully shy, or nervous about contacting an escort because they never have before.  To those guys, I advise doing what a new client I saw last week did:  use email.  All the emails I received from this gent were clear and polite, and I had no trouble screening him, but when we chatted so I could give him directions I noticed he wasn’t very verbal, and when we actually met I don’t think he said 40 words in the whole hour.  The reason it worked out anyway was that he made a realistic assessment of his competence in spoken English, understood that his written English was much better, and so followed his strong suit.  So unless you’re both eloquent and confident, and quite familiar with my rates and such, email is probably the best approach; not only does it give you the opportunity to put your best foot forward, but it also allows me to answer when I’m in the proper frame of mind.

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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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