“How to determine a legitimate provider from a fake if you don’t (or she doesn’t) participate in review culture”
When I began drafting this blog post tonight, I included the following paragraph at the bottom of the new entry. Before I could finish writing, however, news broke that the Adult Ads section of Backpage had been censored and taken down. This is heartbreaking and anger-inducing news for sexworkers everywhere, but it is especially catastrophic to the providers who rely on Backpage advertising to survive. It seems only appropriate, given this horrendous development, to move this paragraph from the end to the beginning of this entry:
As seems to be the case in almost all of my blog posts, I would be remiss if I didn’t include an acknowledgment of a very HUGE amount of privilege and the classist assumptions that underlie the content/approaches I include here. Sexwork is stigmatized work, and all escorts are subjected to that stigma. But there is a very real, unequal distribution of the consequences of that stigmatization for various women. Not all women have the resources available to advertise on expensive sites; to develop or maintain fancy websites; or to wax poetic in blogs or on Twitter. That does not make them less legitimate! But given the current social, political, and legal structures under which sexworkers operate, I am at just as much a loss as the next person when looking at the question: “How can I find legitimate providers across ALL sociocultural and economic spheres?” This is the best I’ve got, for now: a starting point; admittedly fraught with shortcomings, but one that I hope can someday expand to include all erotic providers—not just those of us who are privileged enough to operate in the realm of “professionalization” discussed herein.
I have written at length about why I choose not to participate in review culture (see here, here, and here), and I know many other independent escorts who have made the same choice and shared their thoughts on the topic. Almost every day I see new messages on Twitter from ladies who are choosing to de-list from The Erotic Review (TER), for a multitude of reasons. Just this week, changes to TER’s scoring system have prompted even more discontent and frustration, from both providers and clients alike (see this or this Twitter thread). Still, one comment I see or hear frequently from well-intentioned clients is, “I don’t like the review system and know it’s broken, but how else am I supposed to check out a lady without it?”
As such, this isn’t another blog about what’s problematic about review culture. Rather, it’s a discussion about how gentleman can get their needs met (find a legitimate provider) in the absence of it.
First things first: we have to unpack what is meant by “legitimate provider.” Although this may seem like a no-brainer, the reality is that different ideas about what it means to be “legitimate” absolutely impact how well a potential client and provider match up. The man who’s looking for a simple, quick, transactional exchange is going to have different selection criteria (and ideas about legitimacy) than the gentleman who’s looking for a deeper GFE date.
Knowing that the answer/approach to this question is largely contingent on what it is you’re looking for, I propose a 2-tiered framework: the basics, and the abstracts.
At the outset, I believe everyone starts with the basics:
- How do I know she’s not a cop?
- How can I know she’s safe? How can I trust she’s not going to rob me?
- How do I know it’s not going to be a scam or a bait-and-switch?
In existential terms, these are akin to our basic “needs,” and the approach to answering these questions is simple: cross-checking; using multiple avenues to vet her legitimacy.
Then for some gentleman, there are supplemental considerations that are more a matter of “match” (the abstracts):
- How do I know we’ll get along?
- How can I know our time together will feel special?
These are a reflection of our “wants,” and although the approach to answering these questions requires a bit more intuition than that for the basics, it can still be summed up simply: evaluating indicators of her professionalism and personality.
What follows is my suggestion about how to determine a legitimate provider from a fake if you don’t (or she doesn’t) participate in review culture, beginning with the “basics” and moving into the “abstracts.”
I don’t advertise on big sites like Eros, Slixa, Backpage, or CityVibe, but they are by far the easiest way for an independent escort to get noticed (and the easiest way to find them). If you use an advertising site to find a provider, use it as a starting point, not the only point, for your investigation.
P411 is another a site that some ladies love and others hate. Once again, use it as a single point of data, not the only point.
Google “independent [enter city here] escort”. The first couple of pages will be mostly (if not completely) escort directories and advertising sites, but shortly thereafter the results will start to include websites for/by actual independent providers. The downside to this approach is that you’re only likely to find established providers this way. How is that a downside? Because there are many, many wonderful ladies who either haven’t been in the business for long enough to—or who simply don’t care to worry about—maintaining a site that pings Google’s webcrawlers, the majority of legitimate providers will not appear in your Google search results. Nonetheless, the upside to this method goes without saying.
Many, not all, independent escorts maintain their own website (like the one you’re on now). In this day in age, when anyone can throw an ad on Backpage for almost nothing (until tonight, sadly), having a website may be an indicator that she’s a legitimate provider. It can show that she’s invested the time, energy, and resources into building a professional presence for herself. (Again, please see my opening comments for this blog entry!)
If she does have a website, what should you be looking for on it?
- Aesthetics: What does the design convey about the person, if anything? What does it convey about her personality? Look beyond the words. Just like in face-to-face interaction, sometimes it’s not what is said as much as how it’s communicated that provides true insight.
- Professionalism and attention to detail: Is her website unique or standard copy? Does she pay attention to detail? Most con artists aren’t likely to be too concerned with the details other professionals fret over.
- Specific references: Does she mention that she’s a Girlfriend Experience (GFE) provider or more into Porn Star Experience (PSE)? Does she say she’s disability friendly, kink friendly, newbie friendly, or duo/couple friendly, if any of these are important to you?
- Pictures: What is the setting in each set of photos? What do they convey? How retouched do they appear?
More escorts than ever now have a social media presence (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). If she invests in maintaining a social media profile, there’s a good chance she’s also invested in maintaining her professional image. That should matter to you because in an unregulated industry in which reputation matters, a lady who’s aware and conscientious about her reputation may be a safer bet than a lady with no or few obvious connections. Although we escorts are not big fans of “egg” profiles (the default photo on Twitter, used by those who are adamant about staying anonymous and “lurking” in the Twitterverse), make one and put it to use by following escorts who are actively engaged, watching who they interact with, and building your list of providers who may be a good match for you. Also, use Twitter to ask the community for recommendations or, if you have a specific lady on your short list, to ask others for thoughts on her via direct message. Something as simple as, “I’m considering spending time with [insert lady’s name here]. Is there anything I should know about this provider? Please DM me,” might be helpful.
References & Referrals
If you have already seen a lady, it is absolutely OK (in my book, at least) to ask her for recommendations for other providers. Many of us exchange website banners with each other, but we don’t all use the same criteria for doing so (i.e., I only exchange banners with ladies I’ve met or know personally, but some ladies may swap with anyone who asks). For this reason, take the time to ask for recommendations based on criteria that are important to you. (Note: By ‘criteria’ I mean things such as personality type, demeanor, etc. Although I am also happy to provide recommendations based on body type or age preference, asking for any “menu options” moves an email straight into my Deleted box, regardless of whether it’s referring to me or one of my friends.)
Just as I opened with a disclaimer about provider privilege, I do also contend that the process a client goes through to find the “best fit” provider also entails a certain amount of privilege: it requires that he have the time to investigate and to do his due diligence, and it also requires a certain amount of tact and wherewithal to navigate the murky waters where there is no “how to” handbook. (As an aside, I absolutely do NOT recommend The Beginner Escort Guide video, “Is She A Scam?” It is a bit of a scam itself, since the only “tool” it utilizes is TER: “If you want to take an advanced approach, check with review sites for reviews of her from your fellow hobbyists. There may be many review sites out there, but one specific site is better than the rest. Click here for a video on exactly how I use this review site to find an escort.”) Hopefully someday we’ll live in a world in which the waters aren’t so murky. Until then, stay safe out there.
A list of legitimate providers I’m aware of who don’t allow reviews and/or who have de-listed from TER (in no particular order):
- River J. Reaves (Twitter: @RiverJReaves)
- Seductive Sotrm VIP (Twitter: @supergirlstorm) (Website: seductivestorm.net) (Blog: stormspeaks.com)
- Tabitha Cooks (Twitter: @TabithaCooksNYC) (Website: kitchenmusenewyork.com)
- Emma Lowe (Twitter: @LovelyEmmaLowe) (Website: lovelyemmalowe.com)
- Jada Jacobbs (Twitter: @jadajacobbs) (Website: jadajusa.com)
- Lauren Avery (Twitter: @vitaemagica) (Website: vitaemagica.com)
- Cate Ford (Twitter: @CSuiteCompanion) (Website: http://csuitecompanion.com)
- Caroline Daly (Twitter: @datawh0re) (Website: http://meetcarolinedaly.com)
- Kylie Daniels (Twitter: @VIPKylieDaniels) (Website: torontocompanionkyliedaniels.com)
- Erica Obsession (Twitter: @filmnoirstarlet) (Blog: “Regarding the Review Stipulations on The Erotic Review”)
- Ava Raleigh (Twitter: @TheAvaRaleigh) (Website: youreroticmuse.com)
- Bianca Carlisle (Twitter: @EscortBianca) (Website: https://beautifulbianca.com/)
- Laura Bentley (Twitter: @LauraBentleyUS) (Website: http://www.LauraBentley.us)