I worked him over orally for awhile. He seemed to enjoy that but couldn’t keep a hard-on when he was penetrating. I tried to go back to oral, but he just couldn’t turn on again.
The “I” in this non-blushing statement was Faye Desiree, a prostitute. The “he” was a client who previously canceled one appointment, then showed up half an hour late for a second. Although Ms. Desiree described the client as attractive, young and fit, she also noted that he was acting strangely, mumbling and avoiding eye contact. In the world of late-night television, the near future would likely involve an ice pick and copious amounts of red corn syrup.
This encounter, however, was being retold on the discussion boards of TBD, a.k.a. The Big Dog, a website devoted to prostitutes and the men who pay to love them. I first heard about TBD on public radio, during a Marketplace report on the underground economy. An “escort consultant” described the various ways in which prostitutes market their services. Sites like TBD, she explained, had advertisements, reviews, and discussions, all about prostitution.
Aside from the hookers-to-the-stars who occasionally turn up in the news, prostitution often calls to mind a downtrodden lot abused women badly in need of therapy and creepy men who are one ATM-card swipe away from becoming pederasts. A social-worker friend of mine used to work with Hollywood street kids whose primary currency was “survival sex,” and my own view is that such an assessment is too kind.
Still, the notion of escort reviews was irresistible, and off I went to the laptop. The site was there, as advertised, at bigdoggie.net, but the escort-review feature was restricted to members only. Not wanting to rule out a future run for public office, I wasn’t inclined to join. The discussion boards, however, required no incriminating credit card to access.
Like any other message board on the Internet, TBD comprises notes which participants post by topic. Successive posts create an ongoing discussion, or thread.
Much of what transpires is a simple exchange of information: a guy trying to track down a specific prostitute, a hooker announcing she’s visiting a certain city. (One escort recently posted details about her upcoming visit to Alabama, mentioning that she was into, among other things, spanking. This led a fellow escort/spanking devotee to suggest that it might make sense for the two working girls to get together and spank each other.) The longer threads, though, were often frank, surprisingly literate discussions about what the participants referred to as “the hobby.” The first note I saw was Faye’s.
| Although such enthusiasm wasn’t about to change my feeling that these were folks I didn’t want to be trapped with in an elevator, the boards hit on a personal weakness. Some people listen to police scanners; I have a thing for eavesdropping on subcultures that seem to clash with preconceived notions. In this regard, TBD rarely disappoints. Reading it is like buying a copy of Street News and discovering a headline that proclaims: Transience Kicks Ass!
For example, the amount of retro formality found on the boards is disarming. Hobbyists and providers often refer to each other as “ladies” and “gentlemen” and are quick to discuss appropriate behavior for those in the hobby. Anyone who disregards their informal code earns the cutting epithet of “slob.” Most of the gentlemen who rhapsodized over Faye said she was on their “must-see” lists the next time they were in her state. This sort of thing often occurs in discussions, and dialogue usually goes like this: “What an interesting point about the wildness of Alaska and the ruggedness of the human spirit by the way, let’s have sex.”
Many of the participants have already slept with each other, so it’s not unusual for a hobbyist to sing the praises of one provider to another hobbyist, and for the provider then to thank the guy who recommended her. This might happen in a discussion that innocently started out about favorite movies. With barriers to sex virtually nonexistent, getting together or having been together comes off with all the gravity of an introduction in the straight world. Yes, nice to fuck you, too.
Predictably, the boards exhibit a total lack of shame about sexual interests that might strike the mainstream as perverse. A hobbyist might be looking for an escort with a “really great schoolgirl uniform,” or the provider with the “biggest nipples in town,” or someone who has “given birth and is still lactating,” or even “pregnant and starting to show.” (As it happened, there was indeed a young lady who was four or five months along and still working.) But the quality most central to the site is something referred to as GFE. As a TBD neophyte, I saw the term used repeatedly but didn’t understand what it meant. I only knew that it was a compliment. “A real GFE,” a hobbyist would write, praising one of the providers. Or a provider, announcing her arrival in town, would refer to herself as “true GFE.” Finally, I found an on-site glossary: GFE stands for “girlfriend experience,” and it refers to a session involving:
A provider that makes the experience seem unrushed, enjoyable, fun, relaxing and more like a “real” date than a quick commercial encounter. In practice, though, it seems to depend on chemistry, personality and mutual expectations, as YMMV (“your mileage may vary”) for both the provider and client and involves either the illusion or reality of passion on the part of the provider.
To the outsider, this might translate simply as “someone who can fake it.” TBD participants, though, would suggest it is something more. One hobbyist I spoke with earnestly described his encounters as, “very passionate, very caring, very intimate, for a fixed amount of time.” A madam also addressed the paradox: the hooker-john relationship is business-based, but it doesn’t mean that the individuals involved can’t become friends, like each other or have fun. “The women who can remember that tend to like their work and can have a good life,” she said. “The others end up quitting or on drugs.”