Their Influences  

Posted by H in , , ,

Google already announced the 2009 edition of its Zeitgeist annual overview of the web in search.

I went to have a look to see if some of the major events of the year with regard to prostitution were ranked noticeably, if at all.
Unfortunately, I didn't find anything, note even a mention of Dr Brooke Magnanti's coming-out as Belle de Jour. Not even in the UK-specific edition.
Could it be that Google prefers to filter out search terms and themes that are a bit too raunchy?
Or maybe it is just too early, as Zeitgeist seems to cover historical data only up to September, unfortunately.

But then I figured Google Trends could give me some data. And it surely does, as shows this graph for Belle de Jour. As it seems, the biggest news of all definitely was her late coming out, maybe because of the notoriety she acquired over time. Or maybe because of the pop-effect of the TV series? Or simply because of simply human voyeurism to read about tendentious cases, especially when we smell someone could loose some feathers in the fight? I'm afraid the 3rd option might be quite important.

Still, it is a very satisfying to notice the impact Belle de Jour had, and no matter where you stand on the debate (you know, the usual stuff, whether she's glamorizing prostitution and might make it more appealing to the youth as a way to get financial support by selling sexual services - more or less willingly - instead of working a few more hours and sleeping a few less), one cannot deny that it benefits everybody by raising the issue.
Or maybe it won't benefit everybody, as raising the awareness might actually allow some ill-advised politicians to surf on this wave to start new crusades against prostitution in the wrong ways! I could surely see that happening in some conservative regions and counties of several countries.

Google Trends for "Prostitute" and "Escort"

You can also surf for other trends of interest. It's an interesting way of revisiting past news and see how they were received.


Interesting, in reading your post that mentions Belle De Jour, you touch on the debate about her, "the usual stuff", the glamorization of prostitution, etc. Waht I'm more keyed into, even in light of the recent disclosures about "Belle's" real identity, is the fairly common opinion amongst real, working escorts here in the States that "Belle", her blog and her exploits are fabrications. Fiction.
And she's certainly not the only one. Currently, someone who writes a well-distributed blog about escorting is being exposed as a fake.
No matter how many sites her blog is linked to.
And the feeling is, generally, that worse than just glamorizing the industry, it puts real working girls at danger by creating a false perception of what they really do.

Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts. I had a quick look at your blog and I have to say I find it very interesting.
I do understand your fears about the army of "fakes" running loose on the internet streets. The web has its perks and it drawbacks, unfortunately, and this falls in the latter category.
And I'm afraid this might get worse, as with big topics showing up in media news cycles like Belle de Jour's outing (fake or not), it brings the matter to the public attention's, and generates a demand. That's right, it becomes, unfortunately, a commercial matter.

I can safely bet that we will see an enormous raise in the publications around prostitution and most probably mostly "high-class" escorting. Actually, a trip today to a local shopping center and a big bookstore proved me right already. Belle's book was on the shelves, reviews were on display, and most of the area it was show-cased in was featuring books targeting similar audiences, with a strong appeal for voyeurism.
Novels where mostly very bad B-class writings from unknown or forgotten authors. "Arty" books where mostly more or less raunchy nudes. And the usual "quick-shop-for-christmas" books where also lurking in the area as they could benefit from the glamour-effect (You know, small books with half-tongue in cheek comments and jokes, "How to be a good husband/wife" and the likes).

I don't know what blog you're talking about (you can drop me an e-mail if you want), and I haven't been much in touch with the web lately. And I'm sure there are countless "well-distributed" blogs and sites I am probably not aware of, as I don't pretend to be a complete expert on the scene or anything. But I surely do think some of the blogs I came across where also the works of fakes. In most cases, I found them harmless though. Mostly because they had a small distribution (I assumed, at least), and seemed to be mostly ramblings of your girls on the lookout for some adventure or simple attempts at casting waves. I am more concerned about blogs of real escorts, strippers or other sex-workers who depict their job in such a light and rant indefinitely about its qualities and their pride of doing it without considering that some of their readers (and potential followers) might not be in the same situation as they are or were.
Times change, and places are different. Having the good life escorting one place doesn't mean you'll have it in another one. In that I think lies some real danger, because their testimonies are not inherently wrong or misleading: they depict the truth. Unfortunately, it as many facets, and they don't all apply to everybody.

Thanks again for commenting, I'll be visiting your site more often.

Thanks. I like your very informative and personal site here.
Just yesterday, Carnal Nation published an article by Monica Shores, editor and contributor to Spread Magazine, regarding the issue of "Faux Hos." Essentially, since the blow out success of the Belle blog/book/TV show, there's been a plethora of pretenders, trying to position themselves as the next high profile hig dollar hottie, in pursuit of the book deal.
Some of this can be overlooked. Role playing, dress-up. But some of it also presents real dangers to real working girls. Unrealistic representations lead to unrealistic expectations. And worse, bad advice given under the guise of the 'learned courtesan' who's been there, done that, can become extremely dangerous when presented to aspiring escorts as truth.
Check out the Carnal Nation article here:
It's well written, well researched, and does a good job of separating the posers from the real sex workers. There are many real, verifiable sex workers writing and blogging out there, and they have real, funny, honest, interesting, sexy stories to tell. The pretenders do a disservice to all of the real girls.

Sorry I took so long to reply. I don't really know where that story has gone so far.

When it comes to AlexaRPD, in all honesty I always thought there was a possibility that she would be a fake (but I would still think she's a "she", or a group of person where a "she" is doing the writing). Her blog always struck me as too professionally designed, with everything so perfectly laid out to struck a nerve where it matters and look nice to attract the layman.

BUT, on the other, I am well placed to know that being called a fake is always a very unpleasant feeling, and I think we should never underestimate people's capacity at refusing to see the plain truth. Sometimes we would prefer to see the most complicated lies and form the most tortuous conspiracy theories just because we cannot bear the thought of the current situation just being what it is.

There's a part of jealousy in that (and God knows the jealousy effect is powerful on the escort blogosphere...), but there's also a simple reaction that we have to everything that is just too good to be true. It has to be faulty somewhere, and we would prefer it to be faulty.

Back to Alexa's case, now that the cat is out, maybe we'll know for sure. But the thing is I never really cared. I don't think what she wrote was in general harmful anyway. I don't think she enticed people into thinking escorting looks cool. She looked cool, but I don't think the job did. I don't know, maybe it's just my perception. In the end I just enjoyed reading her blog for what it was, and I tend to always keep in the back of my mind that what I read online can be just a big web of lies. Or an enjoyable fiction. And it doesn't mean that because things are fictions, they cannot be beneficial in some way for you. You can find something in them. Find some truth, find some educative content. Or just some escape.

I guess, if Alexa were to be a fake, at least she gave some people some escape, and I don't quite see the harm in that. Like I said, she seemed to perfect. I would agree with people who say she looks like she came right out of someone's fantasy. Damn right. But isn't that the role of an escort? Like for most escorts whose personal blogs are linked to their professional page, you just cannot take their word for whatever they say. It is a fantasy. It is, if only partly, a fiction. Yes she was too perfect. What? A perfectly shaped, educated, bi- young woman, who's completely open about her relationship, her desires, her dreams and work? And who happens to be a student at the same, but not any kind of student, one who studies in a field closely related to her current underground line of work? That has to be too perfect, right? Because it gives her open doors to justify her explorations and her behavior, or to give her a safeguard against any form of criticism.

But, it could also just be that it is a natural pattern. You are drawn to what you study. You want to interact with it, you want to feel the dark side. And so what if on the side she seems to perfect? I find lots of people everyday on the street who seem perfect, seen from afar. Behind closed doors, it's probably a completely different story.

The web is what it is: a virtual world, where any input is the result of already someone's exaggerated perception of themselves, and every output is filtered through the prism of the global readership and your own perspective. Not so much you can trust about any of that. It takes a bit of faith, sugar-coated with a lot of caution.

All that being said, I can understand your fear of faux-hos and other fakes drawing innocent and easily influenced minds to darker alleys...
But for that, I guess the virtual web is no different than the real world. It takes some guidance, some leadership, some education, and a bit of luck to find your way around it. And I think we are still a few generations too early within the computer age to fully grasp the impact of it all. Technologies keep evolving way too fast, and we actually don't cope that well with the progress we're making, technologically.
We still have to define the ethic framework around it, make our minds about its legal implications, and figure out what is good or not. There is, at the time, not so much of a thing you can call "common sense" when it comes to computers. Most people would know that if you have a drug-dealer down the street, maybe he's not the best guy to go to to ask for some change. Or that the dope he sells you might be cut. Or that the area where you find most street-workers aren't maybe the best ones for you to come back from work. You'd better avoid this park, at night...

Yet a lot of people online do not really think twice about downloading pirated software (because, hey, the pirates give it away for free, for the beauty of the Revolution, right? Right?), or do not overthink either that maybe if they spend time on sleazy porn websites, maybe the makers of these don't have only their best interests at end, or that other mal-intentioned people might be lurking around.
Dark alleys are dark alleys. Sure, luring people without a clue to come get a look around is probably bad in the short term for them. From a more evolutionary perspective, it just means society will get burned and learn from its mistake, and somehow, someday, we'll finally have defined that general feeling about all things virtual, that "common sense" on how to deal with them.

Also, something that just popped into my mind again... I remember reading people complaining about the pictures on Alexa's website not being hers.

Right, but did she ever pretend they were? Maybe she did at first, in which case I discovered her too late to get that piece of the theater. But personally I was never under the impression that they were hers. Just some decoration, some frosting on a shop's vitrine.

Also, you said on one of your blog's posts (Sorry, cannot remember which one right now), that escorts agencies are not like they're portrayed on TV. I'll give you that because I can see the gross exaggeration of course, but I think it could sometimes be very easy for those fakes out there to portray something believable in writing. On TV, they definitely go to far. Too glamourous, too cliche. But it's TV. Enunciation is perfect, expletives are controlled.

However, I wouldn't be able to count the agencies I've come across since I've met G. which try to sell that dreamy picture, and actually make the girls believe that they are goddesses and that their sexuality is the supreme power in this world (OK, we can see how this works, we get it, we all had basic philosophy classes or whatever. this is just still crap). And when I see then some real hookers complain about how some people try to make everybody believe that they were lured into that business and victimize them, well I'm sorry, but for all the ones I've met, including G, the patterns often fit. I may dislike psychiatrists and the simple idea of profiling people, but stats don't lie for a population. You can manipulate them, you can present them in a light that supports your point of view. But the numbers themselves do not lie. If you ask the right question (always a tricky thing with research in the academia, actually: it's pretty hard to come up with survey-based research that isn't biased, and when you know it is, it's even harder to not have it been repeated in other journals with the impression that is IS unbiased. 6billion people on earth don't really account to the same social behaviors, genes and environmental characteristics on the whole...). A lot of girls (I don't say majority on purpose) had some issues, and then get easily lured in something. Influencing people is God damn easy, once you get a feel for it and know what ropes to use.

In the escort world, it depends a lot on what country you're in, for starters. The escorting (or even street-prostitution) industry are very different in my opinion from one country to another. It's not in Spain what it is in the UK. It's not in the UK what it is in Australia (and geez, they're usually pretty close on lots of things). And it's not the same at all between Australia and the US. And then let's not get started with the status of prostitution in Asian countries, or in Eastern Europe, or in African countries. Hookers who pretend to give advice because they know what prostitution is know NOTHING. They know what prostitution is about in their own corner of the world. And usually a pretty small one.
And in many of these other corners, the reality is different. And while I agree with you about the glamorous exaggerations, I still have seen things that were so far-fetched that you can see how producers will fill in the gaps to just make it look better on-screen.

Just send me an e-mail and I'll send you the name of an agency and their website. Their recruitment motto always cracks me up, I just cannot believe the shit they put in the girls minds, and that it works. But it does. When I met G., she didn't confess to following similar ideas in her first agencies, but the fact is that she did. It's almost as if they make the girls become pseudo-James Bond Girls, you know? With sort of a second identity, a true self that they now know of and can internally nurture and cherish, allowing them to feel good about themselves and superior. Which is all good for the agency. They just write a big manual which just carries the idea "you girl, men dumb, men want you, you in power", but with a lot more decoration around it. And they believe it, and then you have to go through a pretty hard deconstruction process.

G. was not brainwashed when I met her. I wouldn't say that. She was conscious of what she was doing. Conscious of having been a silly girl who could have done some other things, have solved her problems in other ways (and that's probably the most painful thing to realize, after all... this is very sad). But she had this deep certainty that she was above it all. That she's untouchable, that she's good at what she does (mind you, she is!), and that this whole thing IS glamorous. Horrible, but glamorous. When you're young and horny as hell, and someone tells you it's a good thing, hell yeah, you follow them with a big bright smile.

These thing work pretty much the same way any kind of low-level cult or self-control workgroup works. It's just ridiculous, but it works. Guess that's another point where humankind hasn't reached a decent level of common-sense to protect herself.
Education is everything. But that's the thing: often, the girls who start miss that. They miss a framework who gave them the rules, and they miss the guidance to make them realizes they're blinded by their foolish youth and its feeling of indestructibility.
On the other hand, the ones who start later do it for similar reasons but often with more control over their decision, and feel appalled and offended that you can only suggest they are acting like a bunch of sheeps. So they shoot you in the foot when you try to avoid this thing from happening for other ones, saying that you interfere.

Maybe I'm reading too much into all this. Maybe I'm judging too much.
After all, my perspective is pretty slim as well. I dived into this when I met G. I went through everything I could, didn't spare myself any confrontation, in virtual or real life, to get to the core. With her, her colleagues, her friends, and some clients. In different countries. I retraced her steps to understand her, and others.
But in the end, it's just a handful of persons, in a handful of countries.

What the fuck do I know right? "I know one thing, it's that I know nothing", is a pretty humbling concept to always keep in mind.

Post a Comment


Share |


My Girlfriend is an Escort

[ status ]