Clients

Home Clients

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.

A Review Primer

Screenshot of review on Punter.net, the main escort review site for the U.K.
Screenshot of review on Punter.net, the main escort review site for the U.K.

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.

“Pretty Woman” Is Real

Ahh, marital bliss.

If there’s one element Pretty Woman is most commonly maligned for, it’s the improbable ending of a street working prostitute whisked away by a filthy rich client. Civilians love to crow about how wildly unrealistic it is to think that a john will ever marry his sex worker and yeah, if you’re entering into sex work with the goal to use it as a dating service, you’re probably going to be a disappointed. That goes for clients and providers. But it’s not uncommon for sex workers to have romantic, unpaid relationships with men they first met as clients. I’ve been in just such a relationship for almost six years. And at last count, I know five married couples who fit the same bill. (I should stipulate that two of these are now divorced, which is consistent with the national average.) It’s not just escorts; strippers, too, can end up with a patron. Nor it is limited to folks who work indoors. A street worker I know spoke to me once about a burgeoning unpaid relationship with a former client, although she made it clear to me (and to him) that she had no intention of quitting work just because she began dating him.

That’s where Pretty Woman really gets it wrong: even when sex workers find a man willing to support them, they often want to keep working.

Ask Ms. Harm Reduction: Getting High With Clients

If your session looks like this, Ms. Harm Reduction urges you to read this month's column. (Image by Flickr user Doki hawk)
If your session looks like this, Ms. Harm Reduction urges you to read this month’s column. (Image by Flickr user Doki hawk)

Dear Ms. Harm Reduction,
I’ve been escorting and doing pro domme work for a year and a half. Sometimes I do a gram of coke with regulars, or even do drugs with new clients on occasion. I’d like to be smart about this, but I feel like I can’t ask the the sex workers I know for advice because none of them would ever take that risk in the first place. Do you have any tips on how to stay safe while partying with clients?
Wilder Than (my) Friends

John Franc Wants Us Hooked (2011)

“We were all monsters” the nameless narrator tells us four sentences into Hooked by John Franc. The “we” refers to nine men who live in a city where prostitution is conveniently legal and when the men learn this fact, they begin a downward, hooker-hopping spiral of frightening velocity that ends in the most melodramatic plot development in the history of ever. (Does any American man have nine friends he’d trust to join him as he frequents brothels? I digress.) As you might imagine, for me, a prostitute, that opening line was about as appealing an introduction as a fart in the face. But it was accurate warning for what lay ahead. I can’t think of many books I’ve hated as much as I did Hooked, and it’s easy to explain why. The book, a novel imitating a memoir, is essentially a polemic. The husbands are unsympathetic villans, the wives are unsympathetic victims, and prostitutes are the objects with which men hurt non-prostitute women—and ultimately, destroy themselves. Shorter version: prostitution is bad, mmkay? When men hire prostitutes, other people end up hurt. It’s a literal [spoiler alert, as if anything could spoil the already terrible experience of suffering through this] killer!

The plot, which doesn’t show up until halfway through, centers around one of the men deciding he has to tell his wife the truth about his philandering. The other men are all like, “nooo, don’t do it, because we’ll get in trouble too!” and then someone disappears and children start crying and there’s suggestions of committing murder and finally the police show up—you know, the usual fall out from paying for sex even when it’s legal. If you’re conservative-minded enough, Hooked‘s course of events is completely plausible, and the book will be unhesitatingly received as a sober warning against a pressing contemporary danger. (Did you know that nowadays men can cheat on their wives without much trouble? Cue the pearl clutching.) But if you’ve got any objections to our time’s most commonly held sexual mores—monogamy is essential in a romantic relationship; cheating, unavoidably, ruins lives; women are always the vulnerable/wronged parties when it comes to sex—Hooked is going to seem about as hysterical and offensive as those anti-marijuana ads where the guys at the drive-through window killed a little girl on a bike. It’s not profound; it’s just stupid.