The day to day life of an escort agency owner and manager who wants a long and successful career is very different to the expectations of most people, which are pretty much formed by films, TV and the media in general. The common expectation is that of some kind of Heidi Fleiss – the Hollywood Madam – character. They assume that most of the business consists of wandering in to major nightclubs and bars with a stable of glamorous, beautiful and sexy women behind her. They then get taken into the VIP rooms with all the celebrities and rich business men, drink network and get down to business. And then the clients get added to the legendary black book and become regular VIP clients. You get your name and photos in the papers, magazines, blogs. Twitter, Vine, YouTube, Snapchat and everything else. But here is the problem. Heidi Fleiss was in business for four years. And then she got busted for prostitution, tax evasion, supplying drugs, and dozens of other charges. She served twenty months of a seven year sentence. Ouch.
Her predecessor on the other hand, a lady called Madam Alex – real name Alex Adams – ran her escort business quietly, discreetly and under the radar for nearly twenty years. She was only caught when, quite frankly, her former protege Heidi Fleiss grassed her up to the police, despite later trying to flaunt her virtue in not revealing her client list. Which she was clearly paid to keep silent. Alex Adams had a black book of the most powerful, rich and famous men in the whole of the Western world and beyond. And she did it without anyone knowing her name beyond the whisper of the word “Alex”.
That is how you run an escort agency if you want to be successful. You keep your head down, your profile low and your mouth shut. But, unlike the illustrious Ms Adams you do not trust anyone. Ever. At All. About anything. Build an apprentice or protege? I would rather chew my own right arm off. I love going to nightclubs and dancing the night away. I even frequent the VIP rooms of those nightclubs. But only after I have made damn sure that none of my escort girls are working there that night.
Running an escort agency business in most situations is just like running any other business. It has its differences of course, but those are more of perception than reality. Well, if you are outside of the United States of America anyway. The United States has this weirdly schizophrenic attitude and actions toward sex and sexuality. They produce the vast majority of pornography anywhere in the world. They have technology businesses such as Pornhub who are at the very forefront of the tech industry, on the bleeding edge of just what can be delivered down a broadband or 4G pipeline. Silicon Valley is home to publicly traded companies who are largely based on putting out some of the most shocking and surprising images and videos I have ever seen – and I am a professional in the sex business, so you would think I could hardly be shocked. But Twitter and Tumblr manage to surprise me every single day.
And yet other technology companies such as Facebook and Instagram wage a constant and never ending battle against the most invidious and dangerous challenge to human morality ever created – the female nipple. Anything that even hints at or portrays such a wantonly disgusting thing is banned from their sites until their human checkers in a battery farm have decided that an image is acceptable. And sexy women who want to have sex with men and get paid for it are persecuted and prosecuted for doing the most natural thing in the world. But Hollywood can make mainstream TV series such as The Deuce and The Girlfriend Experience with prostitutes as the stars. Pretty much nowhere else will you be arrested for running an escort business unless you break one or all of the four golden rules: not under age girls. No drugs. No illegal immigrants. Pay your taxes.
In pretty much every other country in the world, if you follow those rules then running an escort agency is totally legal. It is pretty much only in America that you can but a fifty calibre handgun but not pay a woman to have sex with her. In forty two of the fifty states it is perfectly legal to buy a handgun with a suppressor. What the hell do you need a suppressed handgun for other than murder? Home protection so you can kill a burglar without waking the kids? But you cannot give a guy a blowjob and get a financial reward for it. Insanity.
I work in an industry where technology is at the heart of everything that we do. The sex business had forms of social media before Facebook was created in a Harvard dorm room. Bear in mind, by the way, when reading Mark Zuckerberg´s protestations that Facebook is meant to be a tool for creating community and happiness and giving people access to information, the original design of Facebook and the reason for its name. Facebook was originally created with all the photos of the female students at Harvard and an interactive scoring system. Basically, people went onto the site and scored the photos of the female students from the yearbook on a score of 1 to 10 for how hot they were. Hence The Face Book. Very liberal and permissive. But now Facebook and social media generally hates escorts and sex workers. How hypocritical of them! Especially as many of them steal their best ideas from the sex industry. Snapchat with its disappearing messages – not meant for sex at all, of course.
The different social media platforms all take different approaches to trying to ban or minmise sex workers on their media. And, when they do, it is always in the guise of preventing or taking action against human trafficking and human slavery. Ignoring every expert who all point out that the majority of sex workers are in the industry voluntarily and that the number of sex workers who are trafficked or working under conditions of slavery is tiny. Twitter shadow bans escorts by suspending their accounts or limiting the number of people they are allowed to follow. Which, of course means that people do not follow them. Facebook just bans anything to do with sex. Apart from gang rapes by Islamic State. They are news and free speech, as are be headings. Instagram is in the trenches of the war against the greatest threat to humanity ever identified – the female nipple. The list goes on and on.
And now the United States Senate has a bill before it that a couple of douche bags added an “anti trafficking” amendment to. Which would make it illegal for any American corporation, citizen owning a web site or even hosting a site relating to sex work on their servers or allowing it to move via their systems – you know, the whole interconnected internet – become liable to prosecution for aiding and promoting human trafficking. So the managers of the tech companies being misogynistic dick heads may soon be the least of our concerns in the sex business.
Social media can have effects on mental health, both for good and ill. No real surprise there to anyone who has smiled at a cat video or been astonished by the almost physical aguish that a thirteen year old experiences when their network goes down for a few minutes. But there is science behind the observations too. Studies have shown that getting “likes” for images and posts actually results in a release of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure. Moreover, sad or moving posts can promote release of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” which makes us feel protected. It seems that even the way we use it makes a difference. In a face book study at the University of Missouri “surveillance use” of Facebook was studied . Surveillance use is, lurking and deliberately seeking out posts that may feed insecurity — “was a significant indicator of the potential for depression,” says Duffy of her study.
The sex industry are early adopters and heavy users of anything and everything social media related. The sex industry has been and always will be at the very leading edge of technology. Instant messaging was not invented by the sex industry, but the sex industry took it, worked with it and perfected it. Escorts especially have benefited from that particular tool and the modern versions including WhatsApp,Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and so on. Streaming video was first put on to mobile phones by the sex industry. Video compression was developed for and by the sex industry and so on. So we in the sex business are some of the experts on social media and the effects it can have.
Follower counts, likes, reposts are all explicitly designed by the social media companies to drive “engagement” and increase the amount of time that users spend on their social media accounts. Which means that they can sell more advertising at greater prices. And also, of course, as we re tweet, like, follow, re blob we also tell the social media businesses about our interests tastes and beliefs. Which means that they can sell more advertising at greater prices. So do not buy into any founder of a social media platform talking about making the world a better place. It is about money and power.
But for us poor users, the research tells a simple message. Less time on social media means more happiness. Less, as they say, is more.
With my job running escort agencies requiring me to be involved in, manage or design marketing through every promotional channel you can imagine, I spend a lot of time either on or thinking about social media. And, to be honest, I am bored with it and it pisses me off. But I know that there are only two sets of responses to social media. Love and hate. For people who engage in it, that is there are lots of very successful, sensible and happy people who have as little to do with social media as possible. And that includes, interestingly the senior management teams and programmers at most of the major technology companies. Hmmm…interesting.
So I did a little research and this is what I found. According to research here are the ways to get happy with Social Media, whether you are a civilian living what I am told is a “normal” life, a hobbyist who hires escorts as often as possible, a marketer or a professional escort girl. And incidentally, what is this normal of which people speak? It sounds so dull.
Apparently according to research just being a heavy user of social media, like Facebook, doesn’t mean you’re likely more vulnerable to depression. I found that hard to believe personally, but that is just my prejudices at play. Certainly for me, spending hours every day on the various social media accounts that my business operates is a loathsome experience. And not just because of all the dick pics that we get bombarded with even on supposedly non adult media such as Instagram. Even though much of the process of posting is done by other people, I can not understand how people find social media fulfilling. And I say that even as someone whose businesses have a total of four hundred thousand followers across all platforms.
Perhaps my view is prejudiced by the fact that I spend so long looking at social media as a business tool for winning clients and sourcing suppliers or for SEO purposes that the idea of sitting down on the sofa and looking at Facebook or Twitter fills me with an existential dread. Though I do still like looking at clothes on Pinterest because I do not use it for business. But cat videos still get me though. I am human after all!
Let me out this as simply as possible. If you have not yet seen “Molly´s Game”, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin and starring Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain, get moving to your local cinema. It is truly amazing. With Aaron Sorkin writing, the dialogue is fast, witty, thoughtful and intelligent. And with actors like Elba and Chastain, the delivery is worthy of the script and the acting levels are top notch. It is the story of Molly Bloom, a former Olympic level skier who finds herself helping out running poker games – first in Los Angeles with Hollwood celebrities (it is easy to find out who some of the real people were, so let me save you the time – Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rick Salomon, Nelly and others) then in New York with Wall Street traders, hedge fund managers, property developers and – eventually – Russian mobsters. Which is where her troubles come from.
Watching for me came with an extra edge of interest, because it has so many parallels with my business in the sex industry. At one point one of her lawyers (an ass hole before she works with Idris Elba) makes the statement “Do not break the law while you are breaking the law.” She asks him whether she has been breaking the law and he tells her that she has not. “But still, do not break the law while you are breaking the law. And that has always been my philosophy too while running my escort agencies, whether in London or anywhere else. Though I do not think I have ever expressed it that neatly. In the movie, Molly runs a poker game, which is not itself illegal as long as she does make money directly from the game itself, but from tips or entry fees. But she makes sure that she does not sell sex (oh the hypocrisy of America!) or drugs. And she is a registered business and pays her taxes.
In the same way, in my businesses I never sell drugs, I only work with girls who are legal to work in the relevant country, and I never, ever, work with an escort who is under eighteen. I prefer them to be over twenty one. I also make a point of having a legally established business structure and paying my taxes. I cannot control what my subcontractors do, of course. But I can make damn sure that I do not break the law while I am breaking the law. Especially as I am not breaking the law in the first place.