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Posts Tagged ‘screening’

Recently two providers in one city discovered that they had me in common; I never intended to visit both.  I contacted one following her instructions and waited a week, but when she failed to respond I contacted the other.  After another week, both got back to me on the same day, so I saw both.  But they’re friends, and since they discovered I saw both of them, they’re both treating me kind of indifferently now.  Is this some kind of jealousy or possessiveness thing?

It would be highly unusual and unprofessional for an escort to get jealous over a client, unless his seeing other women would put her in dire financial straits (for example, if the economy is very bad in her city and she depends on him for a large part of her income).  But even in that case, it wouldn’t really be “jealousy” in the sense you’re thinking, but rather concern for economic survival.  Under ordinary conditions, escorts are not only non-jealous, we actually give each other references for clients or provide introductions; it’s not at all unusual for one of my gentlemen to ask me for an introduction to one of my friends, and I’m always pleased to see one of their names in the references a new gent provides me.  Aside from the pleasure of helping out people we like or love, and the necessity of sex workers being respectful of each others’ safety and survival, such cross-pollination sometimes leads to duos, which many of us enjoy a great deal.  All that having been said, I notice that one of these chicks took a week to get back to you and the other two weeks; unless they had some kind of vacation notices on their websites, that strikes me as both unprofessional and just plain bad business.  Plus, if they’re friends I can’t see why they’d object to both seeing you; that happens in my circle of friends quite frequently.  So it may be that you had the bad luck to run into two not-very-professional escorts who just aren’t very interested in making money, or else their indifference to you is caused by some other factor in your own behavior that you haven’t mentioned.

(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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Forbidding the promotion of prostitution on the Internet…would be “to burn the house to roast the pig.”  –  Alex F. Levy

Unless you were overseas, deeply inebriated or in a coma for the past two days, I’m sure you’ve heard that the massive internet censorship bill known as FOSTA passed the US Senate Wednesday as unanimously as bad laws based on moral panic always do; all it lacks is Trump’s signature to become law, and unless he pulls one of his bizarre reversals that’s pretty much a given.  The law is so blatantly unconstitutional (on several grounds, including flagrant violations of the first and tenth amendments, and article 1’s ban on ex post facto laws) that even the DoJ (which never saw an expansion of federal power it didn’t like) recognizes that, and it will indubitably be challenged as soon as it hits the ground; unless the judge who hears that challenge is some kind of incompetent lunatic he’ll issue an injunction against enforcing it until the case is settled, which could take years.  But that doesn’t mean we can relax; the big businesses which control the internet are so risk-averse many of them are unlikely to wait for the outcome of that ruling, and will simply start pre-emptively censoring sex work content as Reddit already has:

Sometime around 2 a.m. [yesterday], Reddit banned several long-running sex worker forums from the platform.  The move comes just hours after the Senate passed a bill making digital facilitation of prostitution a federal crime.  Under the new law, social media sites and other hubs of user-generated content can be held criminally liable…Even if individuals aren’t targeted by law enforcement for placing ads, and even if individual cases brought by state prosecutors are struck down as unconstitutional, a lot of platforms will preemptively ban anything remotely related to sex work rather than risk it.  So far, four subreddits related to sex have banned:  Escorts, Male Escorts, Hookers, and SugarDaddy. None were what could accurately be described as advertising forums…The escort forums were largely used by sex workers to communicate with one another…

Craigslist followed last night, removing its US personals ad section and posting this apology:

US Congress just passed HR 1865, “FOSTA”, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully.  Any tool or service can be misused.  We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline.  Hopefully we can bring them back some day.  To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!

I and many others have explained why this law is so uniquely awful, but let’s just sum it up once more:

  1. It allows US government censorship of the entire internet, destroys social media in all but the most neutered form, and creates a de facto internet cartel controlled entirely by the wealthiest and most powerful media corporations;
  2. It criminalizes all sex work advertising and creates a new federal prostitution crime;
  3. It allows both ambitious DAs and greedy opportunists to attack any internet entity with either criminal charges or civil suits for activity that was perfectly legal when it occurred.

Even if you aren’t a sex worker or civil libertarian, you should be able to see the issues with this, and so should all of the politicians who voted for it, who are guilty of nothing short of criminal incompetence:

Notre Dame law instructor Alex F. Levy:

The law relies on the unsubstantiated idea that reducing prostitution will reduce trafficking.  Indeed, the legislative report defends the regulation by proclaiming, without citation, that “[p]rostitution and sex trafficking are inextricably linked, and where prostitution is legalized or tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial sex slavery”…But the claim that legalizing (or decriminalizing) prostitution leads to sex trafficking is widely controverted by scholars…Congress does not even inquire into the basic reliability of the premise that undergirds this sweeping content-based speech restriction…it…restricts Constitutionally protected speech, yet fails under both strict and intermediate scrutiny standards.  It is unconstitutional and should not be passed into law…

Tech law journalist Mike Masnick:

…Senator Richard Blumenthal — who has spent years attacking the internet, and who has already stated that if SESTA kills small internet businesses he would consider that a good thing…sent out a letter…[in which] almost everything stated…is 100% factually wrong…so wrong that it raises serious questions about whether Blumenthal understands some fairly fundamental issues in the bill he’s backing.  Professor Eric Goldman has a pretty concise explanation of everything that’s wrong with the statement, noting that it…shows that SESTA’s main sponsors don’t even understand the very basic aspects of CDA 230…you have to start wondering what the hell is happening in the Senate, and in particular in Senator Blumenthal’s office.  He is not just doing a big thing badly — he is gleefully spouting the exact opposite of basic facts about both the existing law, and the bill he sponsored.  I know that politicians aren’t exactly known for their honesty, but he seems to be taking this to new levels…

Even economist Scott Cunningham, whom I’ve castigated more than once for not grasping basic facts about the demimonde, sure understands this one:

…This bill claims to be all about sex trafficking, but it seems to have a deep ignorance about how these markets work and a deep ignorance about the benefits of these technologies.  The people who support it don’t know about the client screening, they don’t know about the movement indoors and they don’t know that women are using these online platforms in order to avoid danger.  They don’t know or they don’t care…

Though Cunningham is perhaps being cautious and/or polite in his last statement, I think it’s pretty obvious that the latter clause is far more likely than the former.  Don’t you?

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Last summer I saw a client whom I have good reason to believe is quite capable of violence, and he is now stalking me.  For about a month now he has parked in front of my house and watched almost every night; it may have been longer, because it took me longer than I am comfortable with to notice.  Last week he switched up his game: he got out of his car, prowled around my house, and left much sooner than he usually does.  Then later, I found a ladder and a flashlight near the easiest entry point to my home.  I called my attorney to tell him I wanted a restraining order, but he told me to first file a police report; I stalled a bit, but when I finally went to the cops they refused to take a report.  After that, I immediately fled town in terror and am writing to you from several states away from my home.  I want to return as soon as I can and get a restraining order, but is there a way to file such an order under a stage name?  Please tell me you have some advice.

I’m so sorry to hear about this horrible situation.  I’m not at all surprised the cops wouldn’t do anything to help you; cops don’t give a damn what happens to sex workers, and commonly write “NHI” (“No Humans Involved”) on reports about violence toward us.  I would also advise against putting faith in restraining orders; they don’t have magic powers, and can’t stop violent people from being violent even when the cops are willing to enforce them (which in your case they won’t be).

I think it was a very good idea to leave town for a while; that won’t get rid of him, but it may put him off your scent temporarily.  You’re going to need help from friends and associates to deal with this, and if I were in your place I’d contact the local SWOP chapter (I know there is one in your city) right away in addition to informing all the friends you can trust.  I think it would be best if you find another place to live; if possible, get a friend, family member or trusted client to sign the lease for you, and you may want to consider not living alone for a while.  In fact, if you’re not especially tied to the city you’re “currently based in” (that sounds like you might not plan to live there permanently), you might consider moving to another city entirely (one where you have friends).  If your stalker has a regular job (it sounds like he might if he only sits outside your place at night), send your friends (do NOT go yourself) to move your stuff while he’s at work; if you can’t be sure when he’ll be tied up, you’ll have to be sneaky about this because you CANNOT risk his following them.  And even after you move, I would suggest being very watchful for at least a year; he’s already proven he’s obsessed enough to follow you for over half that long.

Once you’ve ensured your physical safety as best you can, I suggest being extra-cautious with new clients from here on out.  If you’ve been a loose screener before, it’s definitely time to change that; he knows your stage name and contact info, and once he can’t find where you live he’ll almost certainly try contacting you through work, possibly pretending to be someone else.  So it’s absolutely imperative that you get good references from every new client, that you make sure you know his name & job so you can be ABSOLUTELY sure it isn’t the stalker, and that you talk to every new client on the phone so you can hear his voice before meeting him, to be sure in your mind that it really is a new person.  Finally, if you can afford it, you might also consider renting a separate place to be your incall, so that even if this dangerous person figures out where you work, it won’t automatically let him know where you live.

I’m going to publish this on Thursday (with identifying details removed for your safety) and ask readers for input as well; please look at my blog and Twitter feed on Thursday, because one of my readers may have been through something like this before, and may have some good advice.  That’s all I can think of at the moment, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not go home until you have a plan in place, and friends on alert who will come to you instantly if called.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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I’m an experienced sex worker who started out years ago on the street, and in more recent years escorting for an agency.  Now I’m back in school, working to change my previously-difficult life for the better, and I’d like to shift from working for an agency to working independently; do you have any advice for me?

The internet has enabled sex workers to advertise much more easily and cheaply than ever before, without the help of third parties such as escort services or brothels.  Of course, that means having to do the work of advertising and answering messages oneself, but it also means saving the agency fee and setting your own hours and the like.  My suggestion is that you spend some time looking at the escort advertising resources in your city; one good way to find them is to Google “escorts [your city]” and look at what sites come up.  Eros, Slixa, Cityvibe and others are pure advertising malls, and there are also many local review boards which allow advertising as well as putting you in touch with other sex workers in your area.  You’re also going to want to start a Twitter account under your stage name so as to follow and interact with other sex workers; by looking at other sex workers’ ads and Twitter feeds, you’ll be able to see how they market themselves, and shape your own marketing accordingly.  Don’t try to call too much attention to being new on the indy scene; besides the fact that you aren’t actually inexperienced, cops and their busybody stooges now use “new in town” type ads to ensnare careless clients, and you don’t want the good guys who will be your best clients to be scared off by thinking you’re a filthy pig jerking off to the thought of busting him and ruining his life.  I also suggest you take some time perusing my “mentoring” tag; while I’m sure you have the actual work down by now, the essays in that tag contain a lot of advice and links which may help you shift to doing your own advertising and screening.  Finally, I suggest you try to find out which activist and social organizations such as SWOP may exist in your area; as you already know, this work can be very isolating, and being able to socialize with other sex workers in real life will not only help you to learn more about our trade, but also give you the emotional support you’ll need as you embark on this new stage of your career and life.

(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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Claudia Christophe is a Chicago-based escort currently on hiatus until 2019.  Nonetheless, she has returned to blogging on her own blog, The Claudia Chronicles, here on WordPress and she may very reluctantly return to Twitter later this year.  Previously, she has been an active participant with SWOP-Chicago under a different identity and remains an ardent sex workers’ rights activist in her own way.

Not one second, not one dime.

Let me make something very clear at the start:  I’m not interested in “not all” protestations.  I’m not interested in “No True Scotsmen” objections.  I’m not interested in catering to willful stupidity.  If we’re all on the same page, let’s proceed.

Sex workers need to screen Potential Feminist Allies (PFAs) the way escorts screen potential clients.  Why?  For the same reason escorts screen potential clients:  to make sure that those who will be sharing intimate space with us won’t violate us in said space.  In the case of the sex workers’ rights movement, that intimate space is the movement itself.  Thanks to the tireless, too often thankless, and overall, unpaid efforts of the worldwide sex workers’ rights movement, our voices and diverse experiences within the sex industry are being listened to with increasing respect.  But in the public sphere, that is the media and halls of power, we’re still drowned out by the voices of mainstream feminists who outright hate us or, at the very least, pity us as eternal victims.  It is the latter group of feminist allies that we have to guard against as the former will never be our allies.

It is tempting to accept help from our “sisters” in the feminist movement if they show even the slightest inkling of sympathy for us; it is equally tempting to lend support to a feminist event, even though there’s no hint that such sisterly support will be reciprocal.  But we have to make sure that the support is for sex work itself and not, ostensibly, just for the sex worker; that is how we get monstrosities like the Nordic Model and all its equally gross mutations.  Feminists who can only support sex workers when we talk about bad clients (because it reaffirms their belief that deep down all of us actually hate sex work and can’t wait to be violently rescued), or feminists who only support us because of similar reproductive organs (excluding male, trans and nonbinary workers), are not allies at all; they are the feminists who will inevitably turn on us as soon as it becomes inconvenient to stand with us.

The way we need to screen these PFAs is not a one-to-one analogy to client screening, but it’s close enough.  Let’s start with real-world identification:  Who are they, individual supporters or an organization?  At this point with a client, I would require employment information for verification but in the case of PFAs, I need references:  what background research did they do to make their decision to support the sex workers’ rights movement?  And how have they cast their votes regarding sex work and the law?  Have they consistently voted for politicians and propositions that promote carceral solutions?  Will they continue to vote for these politicians in the future because they subscribe to a “lesser evil” mentality in the voting booth?  Have they donated money to organizations that promote sex trafficking propaganda and an obviously biased exclusion of dissenting and highly nuanced sex worker voices?  Just like verifying references, employment information, checking for previous violent interpersonal actions, and IDs upon meeting, these would-be allies need to prove that our standards for safeguarding our autonomy are ones they will support also.

I, and many other escorts, have a requirement to meet clients in public first, with a few exceptions.  PFAs all need to meet us in public; we are not the “side-chick”, okay?  If we’re invited to participate in a function, we can’t let them hide our presence and thus lessen the impact of the invitation.  If an organization has come to the conclusion that their previous stance on sex workers’ rights was flawed, then the organization needs to publicly amend that stance at the same or greater volume as previous statements on the subject.  This is especially important if said organization ever promoted legislation and policies that have been proven harmful to sex workers:

This is extremely important if the PFA is a politician or other policymaker or influencer.  PFAs, whether individual or organizational, must take responsibility for any past harm they committed against us before we extend our hand in friendship, and nothing less than this.

And then there’s the money aspect.  The obvious screening analogy to this is the deposit:  would-be allies need to put their money where their mouths are before an alliance is solidified.  This is especially important with any famous, wealthy feminist celebrity who might decide, even for a brief moment, that openly supporting sex workers’ rights will be great publicity.  Oh, so Famous Actress made a statement with a half-hearted support for the movement?  Let’s contain our excitement until it’s backed up with cash or other valuable resources (like writers’ rooms!) that Ms. Actress has access to and we don’t.  If supporting our movement becomes unpopular again for whatever reason, at least let’s not expend our precious resources of time, money, energy, attention, etc., on a fair-weather friend.  Maxine Doogan brought up a similar point in this YouTube video where she called out Hollywood hypocrites who make money off portraying us for a substantial paycheck on-screen, while pleading with politicians off-screen to incarcerate us “for our own good”.  For individuals who aren’t wealthy but are new supporters to the cause, well, time is money and we’ll gladly tell you how best to spend it.  Goddess knows that the coffers of the sex workers’ rights movement are sorely in need of filling.

Harsh?  I don’t think so; this is merely the minimum we should expect.  I have a feeling that there may be an upsurge in new feminist support for the sex workers’ rights movement coming soon, but I also fear that it could be very superficial.  In other words, they might offer just enough support to lull sex worker activists into thinking we have more people on our side than ever before until, as I wrote earlier, it suddenly becomes inconvenient to stand with us…until Ms. Privileged Feminist with the large checkbook and larger voting bloc threatens to withdraw support from her feminist organization of choice for their support of sex workers’ rights.  It’s very important to make sure ally participation in our movement doesn’t become a “trend” with a shelf life shorter than an Instastory.

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Only Time

I’ve heard of escorts pricing individual acts, but have no idea how the prices are communicated to the client without possibly exposing yourself in front of an undercover cop.  I don’t think a handjob should be priced the same as anal considering the disparity in risk and effort between the two.

In general, it’s a really bad idea for an escort to charge for anything other than time, though most escorts have a lower social rate for dates without private time (in other words conducted completely in public such as dinner or drinks).  It’s true that BDSM and fetish are generally priced a little lower than full service, which I personally think is stupid; dommes take a long time to learn their craft and they need to invest a great deal more energy and imagination in a session than GFE escorts like me have to.  Furthermore, they need a lot of expensive specialized equipment in addition to the lingerie, makeup, beauty costs, condoms, lube, etc that escorts need.  So they should charge more than regular escorts, not less!  But I digress; other than the disparities I mentioned, no escort I know charges a la carte, or if she does she doesn’t tell me.  Flat-rate pricing generally operates in the sex worker’s favor anyway; would you really want to have to give a refund if a client pays for full service, but then climaxes while you’re warming him up with mouth or hands?  Because I sure wouldn’t.  If you feel a particular menu item is more effort than you want to expend, either don’t offer it at all or only offer it to regulars you like.

As for cops, I’ve said this many times but it bears repeating:  You cannot actually protect yourself from a cop trying to trick you, because cops lie; if you let one in your door or go in his door, you will be arrested no matter what you say or do.  He will simply claim you said whatever the local DA requires to press charges on you.  The only way to be safe from a cop is to detect him before you meet him or even talk very much.  If you meet him, you’re going for a ride no matter what you said or didn’t say, so proper screening is your best safeguard.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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I’m trying to join a site that requires a reference; could you provide that for me?

Unless you’re someone I’ve actually met in person and know to be a sex worker, the answer is “absolutely not”.  Ditto if you’re a client I haven’t actually had a full-rate appointment with.  The reason should be obvious: the entire point of references for joining sex worker sites is to provide some measure of trust.  If I’m a trusted member of a site and I give a reference for a lady or gent I’ve met and feel reasonably good about, that says something about that person.  But if I just give references for people who haven’t actually done anything to earn that vouch, I’m deliberately cutting at the webwork of trust such sites rely upon and sabotaging the system; that’s an ethical nightmare which could allow any number of awful and even dangerous people behind the walls.

Now, it’s absolutely true that all a cop needs to do to infiltrate an escort board is to talk somebody into seeing him, then using her as a reference to see someone else, and after he does that a few times getting them to vouch for him (maybe even writing a few reviews for good measure).  That’s morally reprehensible behavior; it’s serial consent violation for the purpose of destroying a community, ruining lives and wrecking careers, which puts it on the same moral level as rape even if the individual women who were tricked don’t realize it.  Of course, cops (being moral retards) have no aversion to rape and other vile, thoroughly loathsome violations of the most basic human decency; they are, however, subject to limitations imposed by time, money and their own stupidity, and therefore tend to prefer low-hanging fruit to that which can only be harvested via years of sleazy spying and exploitation.  With a few notable exceptions like the violation of Seattle’s The Review Board, cops prefer to capture and parade the largest number of victims possible in front of the reporters’ cameras for the least possible effort, and that means when they bother trying to infiltrate sites at all they generally do it in the quickest, easiest way possible.  And you’ve got to admit that if it worked, getting a fake vouch from a well-respected escort would be a helluva lot quicker than the months-long process of actually behaving like a decent paying customer for long enough to worm his way in.  Of course, most well-respected escorts are going to answer this question in exactly the same way as I did back in the first sentence, though without the explanation.  Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s very likely that the person who asked me this question is a real sex worker, but I don’t know that for a fact.  And the stakes are much too high for me to gamble them on a guess.

(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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