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On Hobbyists and Reviews: Providers Sound Off

sexcriticReview boards aren’t for us. They’re for sad, sad clients to commiserate with each other and get back some of the power they feel they’ve lost by having to pay for sex in the first place. But I didn’t always know that. Once upon a time, I was a review board junkie. That only lasted until I forgot the reason I was there in the first place (to make money,) forgot that everything you post is essentially an advertisement, and started being a little too vocal about my opinions.

I complained about a thread entitled “Best Asses On [That Particular Board],” writing that it was problematic for these clients to post photos of escorts without their permission—taken from their websites or from their photo albums on the board—and that reducing us to bits and pieces was dehumanizing. I was met with many defensive responses from clients claiming that this thread (and others like it) were simply celebrating the female body. I replied, “I’ll believe you when you start posting some fat asses.” (Because believe me, you are never going to see a BBW escort in any of these stupid threads.) A few of us started trolling the thread by posting male asses and monkey butts. That’s when some of the so-called “elite” members—they have more than 1000 posts—started to complain that the site “wasn’t what it used to be” and boo-hoo, the women are talking when they should be sucking cock. (Ok, they didn’t literally say that, but that was the message they conveyed.) One day, I logged on to discover I had been suspended without warning for six months.

Handling The Review Boards

ABC
This isn’t the best way to handle issues with review boards.

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.

—Oscar Wilde

There is no human experience so intimate and personal that people won’t publicly dissect it. Childbirth. Funerals. Cancer treatments. And sex. I agree with much of what has already been said here on T&S about the problems inherent to some sex work review boards. The whole concept of reviewing an erotic encounter that one was a participant in is an odd idea; it’s like having like a theater critic be in the cast of the play. How can one ignore the fact that the critic played some part in how the show turned out? But, especially with experiences that touch on primal emotions, people search for ways to bring some intellectual analysis to what they are feeling—with mixed degrees of success. Some sex worker reviews are truthful, insightful, and useful: others are more like naked bathroom selfies of the reviewer, with all the perils inherent to that art.

I’ve been reviewed, as an escort and as a pro domme, on both escort boards and sites specifically about professional dominance. Some reviews were positive, some not so much. Of course I prefer the paeans to my beauty and skill—who doesn’t? But I’ve learned to not take any of them too seriously, because I got toughened up in an equally merciless school: reviews and comments on my writing.

The Big Ripoff: TER, The Texas Murder Aquittal, and the Myth of the Vulnerable Client

elms
Dave Elms, founder of The Erotic Review, possessor of a rap sheet documenting violent crimes and harassment against women.

In early 2010, Dave Elms, founder of the infamous website The Erotic Review (best known as the review site where clients rate prostitutes on a scale of 1-10), was arrested after talking to an undercover officer in an attempt to hire a hit man. Elms wanted to pay for the murder of an escort and the severe injury of a website founder who used his own forum to air the well-known but rarely publicized fact that Elms and other TER moderators extorted sex and/or money from escorts in exchange for maintaining their positive reviews. Elms was convicted of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. This charge, to which he pled guilty, was one of many legal issues he faced at the time. He was already on probation for drugs and gun violations from 2006. Furthermore, Elms’ decision to pay for the killing of Jane Doe came on the heels of his outing her to her family, as well as publicizing her legal name and home address online in connection with her escort name. Murder: it’s for when relentlessly harassing a sex worker just isn’t enough.

Though it was only three years ago that David William Elms entered official records as a man willing to invest in murdering prostitutes, this information is rarely discussed anymore among online-advertising escorts, let alone among the clients who position TER as a defining force in their sex and social lives. TER chugs along like the profitable, amoral machine it is, unharmed by its somehow secret status as the most enduring and powerful product of a scummy, thuggish psychopath. The company itself “parted ways” with Elms after his 2009 arrest (that’s the one where he tried to engineer an escort’s death, if you’re having trouble keeping track). This is no more accurate than saying the United States “parted ways” with Thomas Jefferson after his slave-raping became public. A project cannot be cleanly extricated from the ideology of the person(s) who created it, no matter how convenient or fervent the dream of tie-cutting may be. If his legal conviction wasn’t evidence enough, Elms is also on record as conceiving TER in the crucible of his intense sense of entitlement and permanent grudge against sex workers.

I Pretend I’m Horny, You Pretend You’re A Dog: Performing Consent In The Club

(Image via Comically Vintage)
(Image via Comically Vintage)

There was a post going around the stripper tumblrsphere about what is probably one of the most common lap dance rejections of all time:

“I would love to but I just don’t think I could control myself.”

It’s the perfect way for customers to say no; phrased as a compliment (of sorts), it expresses interest and desire, encouraging the dancer to continue her attempts to sell and thus give the customer more attention without him committing to anything. They usually deliver this excuse with a cute smile, like it’s a joke.

I recognize that they are trying to be charming—even trying to compliment me on my attractiveness!—but it’s so hard to bite my tongue and not ask, “In what world is having less self control than my chihuahua something you want to admit to?” If I’m having a good enough night and don’t need the money or energy, if I really can’t stop myself from beginning a profitless (literally and figuratively!) interaction, I’ll try to answer in a way that highlights what a stupid, embarrassing, insulting and creepy thing that is to say.

“Oh, you’re an adult, I’m sure we’ll be fine. I mean you’ve gotten this far in life!”

“No, no, you’re too hot, I wouldn’t be able to help myself.” This response is accompanied by a sad, regretful face. It is my fault that my sex appeal will make them lose control.

“Really? You have less self control than my dog?”

“Men are dogs.” Another sad, regretful face.

I Don’t Care About Clients

This post was removed at the author’s request.