Review 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.
This site was my primary source of advertising, as it is completely free to have a profile with photo albums, and to post ads. At first, I panicked that I’d have no clients and wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. I had become convinced that my presence on the board and the reviews I was getting were integral to my business…but they weren’t. In fact, getting booted off the board increased my business because now I was getting clients who wanted to know what had happened. I was getting clients who wanted to see me just because it was their way of fighting back against what they saw as the injustice of how it all had gone down (no warning, etc.). A few even came to see me because other board members had talked shit about me and they wanted to find out for themselves what I was really like (fucked up, but I still took their money).
You don’t need reviews to succeed. It is absolutely not important to your success that you have extensive, explicit, detailed, often HIGHLY EXAGGERATED reviews. Half of the shit that clients have written about me either didn’t happen or is extremely overblown. I don’t need clients to advertise for me, which is essentially what reviews are. Between the overt fat hatred and body-snarking, and the assumption that an escort should provide the same acts (e.g. bbbj or cim) with every client, they’re soul-sucking, and should be avoided at all costs.
—Berlin, in Ottawa
Whenever I get a message from a hobbyist, the first thing I do is sigh and roll my eyes. These are the guys who promise they’ll be regulars and visit you every Monday night, so please reserve it for them. (And since they’re booking your Mondays in advance for all eternity, the nice thing to do would be to provide them a discount even before meeting.) The general attitude of the man who calls himself a hobbyist is that he’s somehow special because he spends a lot of time posting on message boards. My immediate reaction to such a man is, “you have nothing going on personally or career-wise, so you have plenty of time to critique some chick’s ass and whether or not she kissed you passionately enough.” Let’s face it, hobbyists: If you had something substantial going on, you wouldn’t be shooting the shit in a chat room all day and night, preoccupied with if some chick has a “poor attitude” (won’t see you,) has gained 10 pounds, or didn’t give you the best blow job of your life even though “HugeDick888” said she gives banging’ head in a review.
While I do advertise and participate on boards regularly, I don’t depend on reviews. If I did, I would be out of a job. I’ve been at this for almost 4 years, and had very few reviews, probably because I’ve never gotten over the weird factor of having my body and kissing skills rated. I never ask anyone to write one and most of my clients don’t want to put their business out there like that. My rule is to stay away from the hobbyists as much as possible, and instead see the lurkers who use the boards only to verify that the sex workers are actual humans.
—Elke Coleridge, in Western New York
Hobbyists: they have done this before. A lot. They’ve been on the boards and they have a great understanding of what they truly want in a companion. That should make for a perfect afternoon, but I find they usually end up being pushy and self-righteous, without much thought to how they represent themselves as clients. Intangibles are what make a great escort: the way she touches the back of your neck before she unbuttons your shirt, the way she makes a client feel like he is her true boyfriend by remembering his tastes and interests. Review boards encourage clients to think about a booking in measurable elements, but rating a blow job on a numerical scale? How does that work? Eye contact—one point. Deep throat—one point. Hummed the Star Spangled Banner while doing a handstand and balancing a tea cup on her foot—one point. Great meetings are about experiencing something that leaves you breathless. If all you’re thinking of is what you’ll write for the review board later, you will never be swept up in that moment.
—Lila, in Vancouver
Not too long ago, I found out through the magic of Google that while I haven’t been reviewed on MaxFisch, the main go-to spot for domme/switch review in NYC, I have been reviewed on TER, back when I was a house girl at a dungeon. It seems I was amazing enough to be one of the few house girls who gets that swag! (Haha, just kidding. I was actually just unlucky enough to get the clients who thought he was walking into a kinky massage parlor.) His comments were jarring to read, as a lot of what switches do varies client-by-client and is very much not advertised (e.g. level of nudity.) The brief parts of the reviews I could read without a membership, though, were pretty positive, so I linked to them on my shiny new independent site.
A few weeks later, I got an email from a client asking me if I’d read the full reviews. I admitted I hadn’t, and he sent them my way. Holy fuck, guys. The intimate details were shocking, but much worse were client’s repeated insistence that “I’m sure next time she’ll be giving me a hand job.” That clinched it for me. I’d dealt with clients who were obvious “hobbyists” before, and they were always rude and pushy. I’d also dealt with wannabe clients who tried to exchange reviews for discount rates, which is obviously gross. But reading this guy’s deluded, rape-y comments about me really drove home the fact that clients steeped in review culture view sessioning with a pro as equivalent to buying new stamps for a collection: drive a hard bargain and take all you can get.
Whereas before I mostly ignored them, I now actively avoid TER and prolific reviewers. I want clients who see me as a person to interact with, not a trophy to be put on the shelf. That said, I do ask for reviews to post on my site, and I think having reviews as a pro domme is vital to proving you know what you’re doing and won’t accidentally rip someone’s balls off while doing CBT. The next guy to wonder aloud, in public, if he can coerce a handjob out of me will definitely be getting his testicles removed, though.
—Lori Adorable, New York
I was barely able to introduce myself to this customer before he inquired, “Oh, you’re the sassy one?”
“The sassy ONE,” I contemplated “I don’t know about that.”
“Yeah, you’re Betty,” he said. I normally don’t let customers steer the conversation, but he was talking about me so I was intrigued. He noticed my confusion and quickly explained that he’d read a review of my strip club that mentioned how rude I was to the anonymous reviewer. Though Mr. Anon claimed to dislike me very much, he apparently described my looks and attitude in great detail.
“Yeah, that’s me,” I said with pride. I asked him if he wanted a VIP dance. He did, and as I lead him by the hand to the private rooms in the back of the club I beamed. I must truly thank that online hater. For unintentionally making this one customer super stoked on me, and quite honestly making me seem a lot cooler than I really am.
It’s the best review I’ve gotten since a pimp called me “too spicy.” It’s like the opposite of a back handed compliment, and I appreciate it very much.