Today I’m answering a question from a newbie escort. She’s just starting out and, understandably, she’s researching how to stay safe. “Bad client lists” are one of the resources available to escorts, though their usefulness is widely varied depending on the type of list, whether it’s maintained by a for-profit business or by volunteers associated with a sex workers’ rights organization, and the geographical focus of the list. Here’s her question:
I hope you are well.
I am reaching out to you specifically because you have such a great explanation for screening on your website. I am a newbie in Toronto hoping you will take a minute to keep me safe by sharing any blacklist type sites you use for screening clients (besides TER, P411 and getting references). I am thinking of paying to get access to the National Blacklist and wondering if there are others.
Essentially, I really don’t want to run into any aggressive types that could hurt me.
Thanks for being a shining example of “doing things the right way”. I hope life is treating you well.
And my answer:
Fuck National Blacklist. That site hasn’t been relevant in like 3 years (at least).
Plus, I don’t now anyone who has ever paid for a membership. And it’s not cheap–I think it’s downright comical that they’re charging $20/month or $150/year, considering the fact that there have been a total of 8 posts for Toronto this year, and 8 last year. And that includes a post about a client who was “annoying,” a post about one who “sent a dick pic,” and a post warning that a guy is a “no show” who “stinks of B.O.” (can she smell him through the phone?). Then again, I can only see the first few words of each post, so it’s possible that those guys really are dangerous in addition to their obnoxiousness, dick pics, and disagreeable body odor. But I’m not paying $20 (to a company that hasn’t updated its website in at least 5 years) to find out.
And that’s the problem with this type of site. Unless EVERYONE has access to a site like that, it’s pointless. Any provider can be victimized by a bad client or a cop, but if she doesn’t have access to this list, you’ll never know that it happened. I think that it was once possible to add names/numbers/etc. even without a membership, but even so, since it was of so little use unless you actually paid for a membership, nobody really bothered with it.
That’s the biggest problem I have with paid blacklist sites–even if a lot of escorts DO pay for access, they’re always going to alienate the most vulnerable among us: those who can’t afford a membership, or who don’t have a bank account, etc.
There’s a site called VerifyHim in the US. It’s a paid site, and they use misleading scare tactics to convince providers to sign up, and I’m not giving money to a company that does that. But *a lot* of providers love it.
Honestly I don’t know of any blacklist sites that would be worth it. A few years back there was a free site called ProviderBuzz, but it disappeared very suddenly and without explanation. I’m guessing they got sued for libel. It wasn’t public–you had to first prove you were a legit provider before you were granted access, but I can still see how someone could argue that they were the victim of defamation due to accusations posted on the site.
There’s BadBoyReports.com, but again, I don’t know anyone who uses it. And I’m not sure who runs that site, but it looks like anyone can make an anonymous post about a client. And that’s great because any provider, regardless of her financial resources, can warn others about a bad client without worrying about the risk to her reputation. But that also means the site is open to submissions from anyone–enemies of the client, angry girlfriends or wives of the client, providers who, for whatever reason, want to prevent a safe, respectful guy from seeing other providers, etc. Everything on that site is published publicly, so a simple Google search of the client’s name will bring anything on the site right up, so I don’t think it’s too farfetched that someone seeking to humiliate a guy might put him on that site.
Even when they do work, the problem with lists like these, at least in the US (I don’t know how this works in Canada), is that the owner of the site is, at least to some degree, responsible for the content on the site. As you can imagine, there aren’t a whole lot of people who are willing to take legal responsibility for what providers might post about clients, nor are there many people who are willing to be the target of a “bad client’s” rage when he discovers he’s been blacklisted on your site.
Some providers use the providers-only section of local forums to exchange info on clients. For example, in my area, there’s a “Providers-Only Infoshare” section of ECCIE New Orleans where providers can post about clients they’ve had bad experiences with. Usually, this means he was dangerous, a thief, or a cop. However, it’s moderated by “hobbyists” (plus one provider), and posting the guy’s real name or contact information is prohibited. So, you see posts like,
“Do not meet with this guy; he’s a rapist:
The provider must obscure letters and numbers so that the guy’s identity remains hidden. Because, after all, even rapists deserve anonymity in this business–having his identity revealed could ruin the poor guy’s life!!!
You can send the provider who posted that warning a direct message requesting the guy’s complete info, of course. But that system only works if you’re constantly on the site, watching for those posts, and the guy happens to be contacting you around the same time. Also, you’d have to check every single area’s local Providers-Only Infoshare forum, contact each provider for the full info on the bad client, etc.
If that works for the providers who use that resource, that’s great. But for me, it’s pretty useless.
In the UK there’s a project called National UglyMugs run by UKNSWP where providers can post warnings about dangerous clients. To my knowledge, we don’t have anything nationwide like that here in the US. I’m not sure what Canada has to offer. I would suppose it has a lot to do with the laws in each country and how they could be applied to something like this.
Some places have private “Bad Client” email lists they circulate via email. You might want to check with any sex worker organizations in your area. Maybe Maggie’s Toronto? Oh damn, I just checked. They have something called “The No List.” You should contact them to get access. I would definitely use that resource if I were you, but only in addition to other screening methods.
Honestly, I trust my own screening much more than any of these lists. The absence of a guy’s name on a list doesn’t mean he’s safe, and good screening will filter out most of the guys who providers eventually make reports about. That said, if Maggie’s Toronto is maintaining a list, get access, and use it! Don’t waste your time or money on National Blacklist, though.
UKNSWP’s National Ugly Mugs project was recently named a winner of the FSI Small Charity Big Impact Awards:
Oh look, a police officer who supports National UglyMugs explains how a sex worker organization’s efforts are helping to stop serial sexual predators.
American lawmakers and law enforcement, are you listening?