Tools of the Trade

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.

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Image from NabbCafe

Image from NabbCafe

Sex workers are a profoundly diverse group of individuals, with wildly different backgrounds, circumstances, and work tactics. But I’ve been around the block enough times to know that within this corner of our lives, our experiences often coincide. On a near-daily basis, I recognize another escort displaying the signs of an attitude I too once held. So without further ado, here are five common hooker states of mind that I suspect most of you will recognize, in others if not in yourself.

Everyone Must Know — The most embarrassing, cringe-inducing mindset is also one of the earliest to appear among a subset of privileged, politicized, very young sex workers. Think about the worst qualities of most middle class college kids: their naiveté, which they’re (naively) convinced is actually a very sophisticated and hard-earned understanding of the world; their youthful earnestness; their awkward, hyper-self aware social skills or lack thereof. Throw in a job at the local strip club/jack shack/full service incall and it’s a recipe for humiliating disaster. I was convinced that I could single handedly eliminate at least, like, 50% of the stigma around sex work by making it clear that I — a white, educated, intelligent young woman! — was selling sexual services and was TOTALLY EMOTIONALLY FINE and THRIVING and indeed, STILL WHITE AND EDUCATED in spite of it.
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Burnout is a beast with which anyone doing emotional labor is all too familiar. It can be devastating when you pay to work and your income depends on appearing… not burned out. Isn’t it wild how you think everything’s cool and then out of nowhere you find yourself paralyzed by the mere thought of approaching customers because you just know they’ll say something stupid and ruin your night?

Maybe you strip in a city where 60 strip clubs compete for a small market by continually raising stakes and lowering prices, desperately trying to lure business with $9.99 surf ‘n’ turf, $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon, dollar dances, free buffets, free porn, midget features, topless bartenders, topless waitresses, topless DJs, naked violinists. Your peers are diving headfirst into laps chasing single dollar bills like retrievers, two-girl tangoing, butt-plugging, Tootsie Pop-penetrating, and that’s just on stage.

Maybe you think about how much money you spend on the costs of being a Responsible Adult and divide it by $20 lapdances and it hurts your heart. Or you hear “Young Turks” and you think about how many times you must have heard that song when it was on the jukebox of your first club in 2003 but now you really understand “life is so brief/time is a thief when you’re undecided,” and the thought of having to shave is reason enough not to try today.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to find out that I’m describing myself. But you might be surprised to know that I’m still a decent earner. All it takes is just a consistent conscious effort. I’m out here fighting the good fight against burnout. If your shifts are wastes of makeup and sometimes you make a U-turn in the strip club parking lot, I feel your pain. This list is for you. [READ MORE]

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image via tatguy.com

image via tatguy.com

Even if you’re not a fan of astrology, you have to admit it’s at least an easy way to relate to your 18-year-old coworkers who just graduated high school (besides asking if they like Justin Bieber) or making small talk with an awkward customer while waiting for the next song to start. If you’re into astrology, then you’re in luck. We at Tits and Sass want you to wish you a happy and prosperous new year with some work-centric horoscopes from Miss Kenny

Aries: In 2013, it’s your time to release yourself from the bonds of strict planning and setting rigid goals. Maybe you’ve decided that you’ll do double shifts so you can buy a house (or an alpine white Range Rover). Maybe you’ve decided this is the year your longtime boyfriend BETTER propose to you. Maybe you’ve decided to quit the industry altogether and focus on getting your real estate license so you can be as fabulous as Fredrik Eklund (LOVE HIM!). The point is, I know you’re ambitious, but this year you can ease up just a smidgen—stop to smell the flowers, so to speak. You’ll find that when you take the scenic route you discover more about yourself than you would in the fast lane.

Taurus: This year, let’s try to see the good in all things and people (i.e. douchebag customers). As the bull tends to be a bit misanthropic, I think this is a good time to not allow those guys who wear sunglasses indoors to get on your nerves so much. You lean towards glass half empty, so this year try to alter that damaging mindset. Use your wit and humor to make more money, even if you have to smile through gritted teeth every now and again. To the victor belong the spoils. So in 2013, make yourself the victor in every situation even when face-to-face with the cocky jerk drowning in Axe, bragging about his Camaro. [READ MORE]

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Dressing slutty in public loses its novelty really fast when you have a dozen pairs of platform heels—made by Pleaser or Ellie, not Jessica Simpson—in your closet. So, for strippers, Halloween isn’t some once-a-year opportunity to slut it up. It’s a once-a-year opportunity to judge other women for dressing slutty, and the stupid costumes that are sexified!

But hey, you’re only young once, and if you don’t get to work off that excess sexual energy at, uh, work, have fun on the one night of the year it’s totally OK to wear underwear in public. I have nothing to say about how Slutty Halloween is a symptom of the decline of the culture or whatnot because I am OLD and I remember my mom and her friends dressing slutty for Halloween back in the 80s for crying out loud. Not a new thing.

But that doesn’t mean that everything needs to be turned into a fucking Sexy (Blank) Costume. Is nothing sacred? No. Nothing is sacred. Here are the costumes that made me click. I had to suffer for this post, and now it’s your turn. Remember, I’m a career stripper, and I’m passing judgment on these costumes, so you know they’re special. I myself will be taking my costuming cues from this piece. Or continuing to work on my Sexy Binder Full of Wom(a)n costume. [READ MORE]

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