The following is a quick guide to review practices and terminology across different fields and even countries, compiled by Tits and Sass editors and contributors including Jemima, Lori Adorable, and others.
Escort Reviews in the US: Though there are several popular American venues for reviews, one site in particular (The Erotic Review, better known as TER) has established clear dominance in visibility and popularity. Its insistence upon assigning numbers to a provider’s appearance and the customer’s overall experience have led to lists of highest “ranked” escorts across the country and within each major city. Many escorts advertise with this information (“Ranked in the TOP TEN of escorts nationwide”) while even more advertise with encouragements to “check out my reviews.” Because reviews are such a large part of escort marketing in both urban and exurban areas of the States, escorts may solicit write-ups from clients, write their own positive ones under a fake account, incentivize good reviews with discounts, or even pay someone to praise them in review form. (Review writers for hire will often spam escort email accounts with their own rates.) Despite claims to the contrary, there is no fact-checking that goes into approving submitted reviews, and so false reviews are published with some regularity, both those portraying the escort positively and those attacking her as ugly, unpleasant, or dirty. There is no review board that prioritizes escort and client concerns equally; all are skewed to favor the client and escorts are often ignored or penalized for speaking out against rude customer attitudes, dangerous practices, or retaliatory reviews.
Though academics and civilian observers regularly treat reviews as an indoor work phenomenon, reviews are not limited to women advertising online or using indoor work spaces. For over a decade, men have traded review-type information online about street workers as well, even when they don’t know the woman’s name or regular location.
In Canada: Escort review sites are common in Canada, though it is possible to go through your entire career without using them. In big cities like Toronto, a hub for business travelers, using review boards to find an independent or agency escort is more common than in other parts of the country and many escorts use them as a marketing tool. In Ottawa, the capital, recommendation boards are also common, possibly because of the perceived privacy concerns of those involved in politics. In Vancouver and Calgary, smaller and less central cities, the boards contain a tight-knit community of reviewers and hobbyists, but men who travel there don’t seem to rely on reviews as heavily to find an escort.
In the UK: The largest site (Punternet) is largely used by clients visiting parlours/brothels or booking through agencies. Other, smaller forums also provide space for people to leave reviews. Sex workers can respond to reviews, and their responses are shown publicly. The largest listings site only has a review facility if the client has made a booking via the site. This means that only a small portion of bookings can be reviewed. Both sex worker and client can leave a brief comment after a booking, though, and both are able to dispute the other’s feedback. It is also described as feedback, rather than a “review.” Clients with negative feedback have this highlighted in red next to their name when they contact an escort. There are almost no reviews of street workers.
In New Zealand: The dominant reviews/client discussion site in NZ is AdultForum, which is linked to and run by NZGirls, a major online advertising venue for full service workers, and some fetish and kink workers. Review and hobbyist culture is reasonably strong in New Zealand, particularly in major cities, although plenty of clients and sex workers do not participate in this at all. While it’s certainly possible for sex workers to successfully opt out of review site culture in NZ, the small market and relative prominence of hobbyist culture mean that many seem to find it necessary and/or useful to engage to some degree. Escorts who request Do Not Review status tend to be viewed with some suspicion by clients who frequent the boards regularly, and although many sex workers choose not to maintain an AdultForum presence, both agencies and individual workers will often harvest reviews from AdultForum to enhance their own advertising elsewhere. Workers in walk-in style parlours may ignore the boards totally, while career-escorts seem more likely treat it as a brand-building platform, and sometimes as a space to solicit clients directly via private messaging. Similarly, some parlours and agencies (particularly the ‘elite’ ones) cultivate a presence on the boards, and encourage clients (or ‘punters’) to review their workers, and some place pressure on workers to participate also.
Stripper Reviews in the US: There are two main boards for reviews of strip club in the U.S. (and internationally, but by far mostly used here). Customers post reviews ranging from the general, covering club atmosphere and rules, to the highly specific, using stage names and performance specifics. Some clubs wind up with endless comment chains of trash-talking between customers or among dancers. There are also strip club forums on escort review boards where customers discuss which clubs/dancers are most likely to provide sexual services beyond a lapdance.
Fetish Provider Reviews in the US: Reviews seem to be different for BDSM pros than they are for escorts. In general, reviews are both less nasty and less necessary, though the prevalence and importance of reviews depends on where and how you work, and who your clients are. Many pro dommes and pro switches work for commercial dungeons with built-in client bases and for this reason, it’s rare for girls at most dungeons to get reviews. The high turnover rate is also likely to blame for the dearth of reviews of house girls.
Independent dommes and switches, meanwhile, are more likely to rely on forums, FetLife, social media, and fetish events to lend legitimacy to their brand, though plenty also court reviews. Many BDSM pros aren’t pleased to find themselves reviewed on TER, though. It’s designed for escorts and, to a lesser extent, massage girls: workers who have direct sexual contact with clients. Because a provider can’t get a particularly high score if her only contact with penises is kicking them, a lot of pros will look suspiciously on their colleagues who have been reviewed highly on that site.
Every Hobbyist is a Client, But Not Every Client is a Hobbyist: Plenty of sex worker patrons would not and do not describe themselves as “hobbyists” because while they might use review boards to verify legitimacy, they don’t write reviews or maintain a presence there. Some men actively reject the subculture and others don’t feel the need to define themselves within it, while still others don’t even realize it exists. A man does not become a hobbyist by sheer virtue of paying for some type of sexual service. Rather, a hobbyist makes the purchase of sexual services into a defining aspect of who he is, and communes regularly with other self-identified hobbyists about doing so.