Content notice: this blog contains homophobia, whorephobia, racism, sexism and mentions of trauma and rape.
Also, this will hurt some punter feelings.
Reviews! They're something that sex workers, clients, and establishments all need, so why all the hate? It's the culture. BUCKLE UP, this is really long.
We obviously require reviews; this is the service industry. Reviews tell you that you're doing a good job, that you need improvement in some areas, that you should consider adding something to your services or your facilities - restaurants get them, medical practices get them, Etsy sellers get them; why would we be exempt? Sometimes they're totally useless and they're nothing you should take personally, because the customer is not always right; sometimes they're a good lesson for you in customer service. Reviews are good for clients, because it shows them who are the real escorts, who are the scammers who just ask for money and waste time, and which escorts give less than stellar performances or wonderful ones - it's an integral part of the research they should be doing before booking with you, if they want their hard earned money to be going to an experience that they will enjoy! Where the line is drawn for me, though, is at unnecessary detail, and at the culture surrounding review boards.
Say you want to book an escort, so you go to look at her reviews to see if she's a genuine provider, and to make sure people have had a good experience with her. When you get there, you find an account from a man who clearly had his dick in his hand the entire time he was writing it, because it goes into massive detail about the way your chosen escort's boobs bounced, and what her face looked like when she was giving him a blowjob. Listen gents, I hate to tell you this (no, I don't), but you really suck at erotica. You really suck. The accounts are far more icky than they are sexy, and they actually don't add anything to a review to be helpful to other clients; they're just you, wanking alone in your room, talking about the fact that you've had sex. It's actually really gross, and it's kind of demeaning for the escort in question. In my opinion, the only place Punter Planet and AusXXX get it right is in the summary before the review, where clients answer questions about the particulars of the date - when it occurred, whether the escort was an honest representation of their images, whether the experience was a waste of money or awesome, what colour their hair is, how to contact them etc. This is really the only information you need as a potential client, and then a short passage explaining that the escort was good etc, or a bit about the experience they offered is alright, but honestly the current status quo is weird. That's why I ask that clients run their reviews past me before they post them, because I don't like cheap erotica - you can read the ones I've selected for my website here as an example of "enough detail".
The second really big thing is the culture surrounding review boards. The amount of truly revolting misogyny, transmisogyny, racism, and whorephobia that goes on on review boards is honestly astounding, and the people who run them simply don't care to fix the cesspit they own. The only positive aspect of many of these forums is that if you protest about a review being fake, or you report that someone threatened you with a bad review for not doing what they wanted, the owner will often take action. Sometimes they listen when they are told that certain posts are actively threatening the safety of sex workers in the immediate future, but otherwise, it's basically a free for all. If you are engaging with escorts, and you insist on calling them "prozzies" at every turn, even after being asked not to, you are not a good person, and your disrespect for a simple request shows that you shouldn't be booking escorts at all. If you think all escorts are out to deceive clients, what are you doing booking them at all? If you sit there and think yourself a champion for haggling with escorts and pressuring BBBJs out of sex workers who don't like to offer them, you're a bad punter.
As a client, you should also be concerned about this. Why? Because review board quotes have been used in the past to attempt to criminalise sex work or institute the Nordic Model - which, in case you're not aware, legalises sex work, but criminalises clients and closes down brothels and agencies. The shitty forum comments are literally being used right now in the debate in the UK to follow in the USA's footsteps with their own FOSTA. There's even a television show called Top of the Lake with some characters inspired by reviewers on punter boards - and it isn't flattering. It makes it looks a lot more like clients are monsters we need to be saved from rather than just guys seeking out a service. If you're a client of sex workers and you're not actively trying to prevent the culture on the review boards, or to make it a more positive space, you are kind of shooting yourself in the foot, as well as us. It makes you look bad when you're not a bad person, you're just someone who employs sexual services!
There is no need for reviews to be outright nasty, cruel, or false, but they are anyway. I'll include some images and first person accounts of the horrible culture allowed to thrive/fester on review boards and punter forums; then you can try to tell me in the comments how this kind of thing doesn't contribute to the stigma, violence, and oppression of sex workers, because I'd love to take you on. My inbox is open. Including you, forum owners.
All quotes were taken with permission and either had names included or not at their discretion. Can't say the same for the screenshots, but they were sent to me.
Just some classic woman hating in the forums, nothing too out of the ordinary. Thanks for that - on a forum visible to mainly female, mainly Australian sex workers. Good job.
"I was accused of lying about being raped by the first client I had after the rape. He got angry at me because I was in pain when we had sex. I had no choice but to take bookings, I had no money. Then he wrote me a really bad review because I was upset, I couldn't get it removed." -- Anon worker.
"I had just recovered from anorexia, and I'd gained weight back to a healthy size. I had my very first client ever write that I was a size 14, and not a 12 as advertised. He also told me I was really bad at it and that my vagina smelled, but the weight comment hurt more than anything else - I was probably not very good, because he was my first client, but like he'd know what a size 12 looks like! I honestly self-harmed after reading the review, it really put my recovery back. Because of this one review, every time there's another review posted, it starts a shitstorm, so I have them removed." -- Anon worker.
The above said in regard to sex workers who ask for money using GoFundMe, like no one else ever does that if they fall on hard times. And if you take a quick look at the GFM campaigns that have passed, you'd see that the majority of donations are made by fellow sex workers. But hell, we're not rocket scientists, right?
"A girl I know was outed on a review board. She was 18, brand new and naive. She had a chatty client, and because she was so green she completely exposed herself in their conversation. Told him the name of the small town she comes from, where she lives, what uni she goes to and what she's studying. She told him all about herself, but not her name.
He wrote a review about her and included all of the info she told him; and he really should have known better than to share her information. Someone she knew read the review and of course immediately recognised her. He told EVERYONE. Her whole family, everyone at uni, everyone in her small town. She had a major breakdown and ended up in hospital." -- Anon worker. After this comment was made, several others agreed and said they too knew someone this had happened to.
"About two years ago, I did a double with Jane* and a regular of mine. Jane left the industry after this, but returned later, rebranding as Mary*. This guy is always obsessing over any new ads, like he's some kinda of SherCock Holmes, and he booked a double with Mary and me. Mary arrives and I'm stoked to see her. Over the next couple of hours client continuously addresses her as Jane and tries to steer the conversation towards previous experiences with Jane. I snapped. It was not my most professional moment... "Look, if Mary wanted to be called Jane or remembered as Jane, then she would have just fucking advertised herself as Jane again. But, she didn't. The reasons are irrelevant. But MARY is how she identifies now, and you damn well know that!" It was total power tripping, like he had something over her, or that he was closer to her because he knew the 'real her', thanks to being a reviewing punter, or hobbyist. After Mary left, I told him "You probably scared her, constantly reminding her that you could out her, and also disrespected her by blatantly ignoring her wishes." His reaction was to feign shock and hurt." -- Anon worker.
Yep. This was really said. And kept live. I'm also not going to bother hiding his name, because this is such a gross quote.
"I had this one review... He said I was disinterested in him. But in reality I was trying my hardest to hide my disgust. He smelt. Not only did he have dick cheese, he had full body cheese. It was so bad it the long term moisture from it had started to wreck his skin and was causing him to BLEED. It got in my hair. He also had furry grey teeth and he wanted DFK. I gave him a tentative careful blowjob because I didn’t want any of the blood from under his stomach fat to touch me.
After the booking was over he mentioned PP casually. Then he said he felt like I didn’t like him. I gave him a hug and tried to comfort him. I felt for him, it must be hard to walk through life with such horrible hygiene and low self-esteem. He interpreted my kindness as me back peddling. Like “ oh shit, I gave this guy a bad service I better try and make it up to him with cuddling or else he will give me a bad review.” He wrote this in his review and ended it by saying “nice try, [Name]”. Other punters came to my defence, saying I was a great service provider. He then had the balls to write “oh maybe I will give her another shot then.” As if it totally wouldn’t matter to me that he had said all this horrible stuff about me and that I would be happy to have sex with him again.
This review was a catalyst for this one guy who is a bit obsessed with me since I declined a booking with him. He emailed me for many many different accounts hurling abuse at me and saying how horrible I was to get this guy a bad service and how lucky he was to have not had a booking with me. Then every week he would change his email address and try to book me..." -- Anon worker.
"Once [a forum member] offered me a review in exchange for bareback anal. Tempting, but I had to decline." -- Anon worker, read that dripping with sarcasm. (For the record, most forums have rules saying not to do this. However, the culture that is allowed to fester there makes men like this feel welcome.)
Posted 23 September, 2014 - how sad that this review board has become just like the place he left! The culture is inherently nasty, unfortunately. The place he left was likely one of the other large review websites: FIA, MyHookerGuide, or AusXXX.
"As an example, there is an escort I recently started seeing. She is lovely. I hesitated in booking her for various reasons but one of them was a less than average review on Punter Planet. It dawned on me that the review says nothing about the reviewer himself and his behaviour. I actually discussed the review with the escort and she told me that the guy was one of those “hobbyists” who spent a lot of time seeing escorts and writing reviews. A very generalised description of him would be a “dirty old man” and she tried to be enthusiastic during the booking but ended up going through the motions. I don’t even bother going to the Punter Planet forum now." -- Anon client.
"My personal experience: I strongly dislike Punter Planet and the atmosphere it has created amongst clients. It constantly puts me on edge and has previously prevented me from stopping a client from hurting me in fear of getting a bad review. I have never had a negative review on the public forums but I'm sure people have talked some shit in the star lounge lol. I now couldn't care less if I get a bad review because it will detract those sorts of clients from seeing me. Which I am totally fine with. I have had clients attempt to barter natural sex for a good review as well as attempt to blackmail me at the end of a session because he believed I was not worth what he paid. Those are the sort of clients I want far away from me. However I do think reviews on professionalism are perfectly fine and welcome them on my Scarlet Blue. I also ask them to be PG in nature. I mean discretion works both ways right? Whereas users are actively discouraged from only posting reviews on their escorts professionalism. It's a shame because I've had great clients from it... But the rest of it is a cesspool of revolting people you couldn't pay me $1,000,000 to interact with. I'd rather put my labia into lava. Whenever someone tells me they heard about me from PP my vagina makes the windows shutdown noise." -- Peyton Sins, full service worker. (via Twitter.)
"My ex-boss at a brothel got her staff to write fake reviews about me on Punter Planet, and you could tell they'd never met me, because the descriptions were way off. I did tell [Punter Planet owner] about them to ask they be taken down, but I never followed up. Often PP clients are so bad that I didn't want bookings from them anyway." -- Anon worker. (This owner usually removes fake reviews at the worker's request, so they are probably gone, for everyone's reference.)
"A client had been following me on Fun In Australia. I saw him, and I had a great booking with him, we even went to dinner. He put up a glowing review of me on FIA! But a terrible review on Punter Planet... Over the years, his was the only bad one on PP, and it was false." -- Anon worker.
Not whorephobia, but a good example of the toxic culture. Blatant racism, which stayed up as well, I believe.
"If you’d like an example of more mundane stupidity - I had a client write a review once where they complained that I used lube during the booking. Obviously the need to use lube at any point was a sign of my failure to be sufficiently attracted to him." -- Anon worker.
"Someone just gave a rave review of an Adelaide worker and the comments (including [notorious rude board member], of course) are gloating over the worker having reduced her rates and saying how the worker thinks she’s hot shit but is actually “plain” and “fat”. Sure boys, suuuure. It’s funny because it’s about one of the most conventionally mainstream gorgeous-porn star-look glamorous-pin-up-type workers in Adelaide. I can’t believe how invested some of them are in shitting all over other punter's good reviews, like nobody is allowed to say they had a good time with someone one of the losers don’t approve of. Men policing other men. It’s so pathetic. Stop caring about other men’s boners so much, you losers." -- Anon worker.
"I’ve only had two reviews but they were both inaccurate. One said I do CBJ, which I don't, and one said he was shocked I’m short. I advertise my exact height. Douche." -- Anon worker.
Even lots of clients despise the culture of review boards.
"I have no idea if I have bad reviews and I don’t care. I’ve knowingly seen two clients directly from review boards and both were major boundary pushers in different ways. One was always trying to get as much personal information as possible and then sharing it with clients and other workers though he paid very well. The other was some fucked lawyer dude who kept trying to take his condom off and obsessively did calculations of what my time was actually worth at market value (surprise! It was less than my rates but he graciously said he would pay what I asked anyway) and whined and went into rages about how I was taking advantage of him when he would push for services I didn’t offer and I would stop the entire booking until he gave me more money. Urrrggghhhh. Perfectly happy to have the lot of them steer clear of me because of bad reviews. There’s plenty of work to be had without anything to do with review boards." -- Anon worker.
"Someone I know agreed to let a client film the session for personal use... He then posted it in a secret forum on a review site without her knowledge or consent (which is technically illegal). At the time she was blurring her tattoos so as not to be recognised by her violent ex. The tats were all clearly visible in the video identifying her as her work persona to anyone who knows her in real life." -- Anon worker.
No court case forthcoming; I guess it wasn't a slam dunk for this guy against the "fat arse" escort trying to "ruin" his review business? Ableism thrown in there as well - I guess it's hard to remember that we don't use that word anymore, just like we don't use f*ggot or tr*nny or the n-word. Pretty difficult. And this is who is running the place with a terrible culture. A mystery why it is this way.
"Within about 6 months of launching my own business as a private erotic massage, as opposed to working in a massage parlour, I was outed as a sex worker on a post on a review board. My full real name, my personal Facebook page, my nutritional business business page on Facebook, my nutrition business website, my personal phone number and address of my home/incall was posted in a thread about my last massage establishment, along with five other workers from that establishment. We were targeted and also extorted for money, and more info was available via an email address included in the post. Once I emailed [the owner] a few times, he removed the post but would not cooperate any further. All he needed to do was to trace the IP address and give it to police and he wouldn’t even do that. I shut down all Facebook accounts and my nutrition business website in total fear." -- Anon worker.
"Tell me, what other industry has their private information OUTSIDE THEIR WORK PERFORMANCE shared? It’s not just reviews that go on review boards - what is behind the golden door once you get to the secret boards? Who bloody knows what predators lie in that section! Do hotel staff have to pay or fight to gain access and reply/rebut/apologise to reviews? Oh yeah hang on, we cant reply to our own reviews, not unless Andy allows us and he has the power to moderate and refuse the post. In what industry does that kind of bias occur? NONE!" -- Anon worker.
Just some casual slandering of Samantha X in a forum chat.
Continued, but now we're onto Ida Blume, and discussing her value, as dictated by men who have never booked her.
Use of words we've constantly asked them to NOT use, like "prozzie" and "hooker", and being nasty to one of their own.
Comparing Ida to Hitler's partner, Eva Braun, and a lot of general nasty German stereotypes. Racism, again.
And finally, stating that the fundraiser for Valentina, a woman who was attacked so badly she had to have her ovary removed at age 19, is a scam, and that we should work in brothels if it's so dangerous. Let's actually note that the majority of the money for her was raised by other sex workers rather than clients. I doubt these bottom feeders contributed. Then a bunch of talk about how Nazi Germany would have won if... blah blah. Great chat boys! Really positive and productive!
You have seen why review culture is so utterly terrible, but let's not forget that we still need and should want the reviews themselves. I did also collect positive accounts, including my own! Not every experience on review boards is awful, and this shows that the culture can change.
"I had a review on an American website which caused a client to fly from New York to Melbourne just for an overnight booking with me, which was amazing! Unfortunately, that website is now gone due to FOSTA." -- Aaliyah Dell'Aqua, full service worker.
"I've never had a booking simply from a review, but I have had clients book with me after reading a review of mine and deciding that I am probably a worker they would like to see, and that I'm real and look like my images. I've also had plenty of clients who frequent review boards, but don't participate - they're just there for the information." -- Sienna Charles, full service worker.
"My best, most lovable, most supportive regular in Brisbane writes reviews. He has written me and a few EM’s lovely and respectful reviews that have definitely helped our business. He is also very respected in the Punter Planet forums and is an influencer on social media. He also sees full service workers and does the same. He wrote my first review when I started advertising on Scarlet Blue. He emails me the draft first and when I OK it (I don't need to ask him to change anything, as he just doesn’t embellish), he posts it. Other ways I have done reviews is a testimonials section on my website, clients like to see themselves in it. A few email me first and ask what I think, and its usually 100% awesome and the respect goes both ways. When I receive a glowing thank you text post session, I ask permission to post it to social media or pop it in the testimonials section of my website." -- Arianna Gold, erotic masseuse.
There are great comments in the forums too, these shouldn't be overlooked.
"I certainly rely on reviews mainly posted on Scarlet Blue but other sites too when selecting a potential candidate. While I do find many reviews are poorly written or too graphic in nature, the presence of them (and tweeting or endorsement) of the reviews gives me the confidence that the person I may see is legitimate and committed to forming a connection with a client (especially new clients). Having said all of this... in terms of the content in the reviews, I understand that every experience is tailored to each client and ultimately it is what both people make of it, so I do approach reviews with a discerning eye. Also, 99% of reviews are written by straight white men and girl I don't trust these fools in my professional life so why would I with my sex life?" -- Anon female client, who sees female sex workers.
"I can understand why WLs [working ladies] hate review culture because many reviewers reduce ladies to grades, ranks, scores, and menu selections. But I'd like to think that I am one of the better reviewer clients. I provide reviews as a way of thanking a WL for providing a great experience, and also to help promote her business. But I specifically word my reviews in a way that I hope will attract more clients like me, assuming I'm the kind of client they want to attract." -- "Reddragon", reviewer and client.
"Personally, I prefer Aus XXX Reviews over Punter Planet. I generally find their reviews (and reviewers) more respectful and courteous. They also allow sex workers to participate in the general discussion forums, and I’ve found the debate to be courteous as well. I’ve seen some shocking descriptions on PP, and the way that some members talk about sex workers in general, without others calling them out for it is not positive for the industry in general. On AUXXX, though, I’ve noticed a few more, shall we say, discourteous members being taken to task and called out by other members before being shut down by admin. While I do have some (very) descriptive reviews on AUXXX, and appreciate them, I would prefer just the general gist of the session be given, rather than a blow-by-blow script & more intimate details shared. I have emailed admin suggesting this as well. That they encourage an overview of the experience, rather than something that men can wank over later It doesn’t need to be a porn script for someone to know if the sex worker is someone they’ll likely enjoy spending time with. I’ve also found the culture likely depends on the admin of the site. PP were very dismissive. AUXXX are responsive to my queries and concerns and genuinely seem to appreciate input from providers." -- Zoe, erotic masseuse.
An admin ripping someone a new one for being nasty in their review. I have several pages from this thread full of clients agreeing with the admin that the review (which has since been deleted) was way out of line. The culture can be changed if people refuse to put up with nastiness.
After this kind of mostly horrific blog post, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank those who do not participate in this nastiness. I can see that there are many people who stick up for us on review boards, and that there are plenty of clients who don't go there at all - in fact, the majority of clients don't even know about these places, they just message people directly from the escort directories without doing much research (risky, guys; do your research). Most clients I've come into contact with have either never heard that there are review boards, or stumbled upon them and backed out in disgust. Some use them, but stay far away from participating in the revolting chit chat. So by no means is this a critique of clients in general, I just want to say that again - my clients are lovely people who respect me and the other escorts that they see, and I'm quite fond of several of them. I know a lot of you are reading this, even some who haven't booked with me yet, and I need you to know that you are not a bad person for being a client of sex workers, you're not a bad person for writing reviews either. What makes you a good person is the choices you make when interacting with us, and if you ever sit there and question them, I'm sure you won't find anything that needs to be examined too closely.
The last thing I'd want is for this to be used to portray sex work in general in a negative light - we don't need rescuing from these people, we just need them to fade into obscurity or die out like the dinosaurs they are.
We're respecting women and sex workers now, catch up.
TL;DR: Review board culture is revolting, reviews are a good concept and we need them as we are in the service industry and they're an expected feature of that industry. Culture needs to be changed, owners need to step up.