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“For a good blow job, a man will do just about anything. What can I do with that knowledge? I have no idea.”
February 9, 2011 11:51 AM   Subscribe

How Tech Tools Transformed New York's Sex Trade is an article by Sudhir Venkatesh demonstrating the results from a survey of 290 sex workers in New York about financial matters. Venkatesh and Stephen Leavitt did a similar study in Chicago, posted to Metafilter previously. More information about Venkatesh's research on sex work on his website.
posted by lunit (37 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
A handjob is only $75 in the Bronx but $225 on Wall St?

IT'S NOT THE SAME PRICE IN TOWN AT ALL!!!!
posted by GuyZero at 11:54 AM on February 9, 2011 [55 favorites]


25% regular clients are sourced through Facebook! Wow!
posted by vidur at 11:58 AM on February 9, 2011


wait I can get mommy role play sex for the same price as a hj in the bronx? OH THE REGRETS, ALL THOSE HJS FLASHING BEFORE MY EYES
posted by nathancaswell at 11:59 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, I guess he really was doing "research" after all.
posted by theodolite at 12:01 PM on February 9, 2011


Facebook seems like a very safe method of getting a client if you're a sex worker (i.e. you have a lot of personal information about your client). I hope there isn't moral panic that forces Facebook to start evict sex workers off the site.
posted by Kattullus at 12:02 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always had the creeping suspicion Hell's Kitchen was populated entirely by in-call sex workers and now I know.
posted by The Whelk at 12:02 PM on February 9, 2011


I always had the creeping suspicion Hell's Kitchen was populated entirely by in-call sex workers

For a long time I suspected that MySpace consisted of 30 million prostitutes and one confused boy in Hackensack who couldn't figure out why all these hot ladies wanted to friend him.

I guess they've moved on to Facebook. MySpace now seems to mostly be bands promoting their crappy bar shows to other bands who are getting ready to promote their crappy bar shows.

Craigslist, of course, is mostly vice cops pretending to be prostitutes emailing vice cops pretending to be johns. They're not really doing much good with vice, but a few marriages have resulted.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:10 PM on February 9, 2011 [24 favorites]


Actually, this makes for a nice example of why numeric averages are lousy ways to sum up a lot of data. At the one extreme you've got streetwalkers charging an average of $75 for straight-up intercourse — and that's an average, meaning half of them charge less. At the other end of the scale you've got women charging thousands of dollars, with another multi-thousand dollar fee going to their escort agencies.

I imagine the spread is similar for other stuff, including handjobs. Which means that saying "A handjob in X neighborhood costs $100" or whatever is misleading. The truth has got to be more like "You could get a handjob for $10; you could get a handjob for $10,000. Depends on what you had in mind."

(Okay, it might take some real effort to spend $10,000 on a handjob in the Bronx. Cue jokes about divorce and/or blackmail.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:12 PM on February 9, 2011


and that's an average, meaning half of them charge less

Durr. Not "half." "Many."
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:13 PM on February 9, 2011


hey, its new york. Thats the appeal of the city: you can literally pay any amount of money for any good or service you care to name.
posted by pucklermuskau at 12:17 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm selling thousand dollar hugs cause I hear everybody needs one.
posted by The Whelk at 12:20 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope there isn't moral panic that forces Facebook to start evict sex workers off the site.

Facebook react to unexpected developments with moral panic? Nah ..... couldn't happen ..... ever .....
posted by blucevalo at 12:21 PM on February 9, 2011


Facebook? Really?

I, apparently, have the wrong (or right?) kind of "friends".

In all seriousness, I wonder at the inevitable media frenzy when some hack editor gets his hands on that bit. It was pretty easy to hound Craigslist into shutting down the adult section of that site, but Facebook doesn't really work that way. Kicking users is probably the only way to go, and, well, good luck with that. I don't think this would even make it to the whack-a-mole stage, as there probably isn't any good way of telling who's a sex worker and who isn't. It isn't as if they're going to list their "Occupation" as "Prostitute".
posted by valkyryn at 12:23 PM on February 9, 2011


I wonder what effect Groupon will have on the trade?
posted by Kabanos at 12:31 PM on February 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


If Venkatesh isn't careful, he's going to get typecast.
posted by box at 12:33 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the author really wanted to know about how the sex trade adapts to new technology he would have befriended male prostitutes as well.
posted by peeedro at 12:51 PM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


If the author really wanted to know about how the sex trade adapts to new technology he would have befriended male prostitutes as well.

His quoted price of 150$ as an average seemed low to me. I'd always been told it was more like 200$-250$ - a quick glance at rentboy.com confirms this, professional sex workers obviously charge more then "casual prostitution", like you'd (used) to be able to find on craig'sl list but I wonder how much of that is because while there may still be some female streetwalkers in town, there is are no male "trade". Gay liberation effectively killed it.
posted by The Whelk at 12:55 PM on February 9, 2011


I guess Elliot Spitzer got screwed in more ways than one.
posted by briank at 12:56 PM on February 9, 2011


Actually, briank, according to Venkatesh, Spitzer didn't pay enough.
posted by Kattullus at 1:00 PM on February 9, 2011


I wonder what effect Groupon will have on the trade?

Gropeon.com is already registered.
posted by benzenedream at 1:16 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Venkatesh isn't careful, he's going to get typecast.

I suspect that wouldn't bother him much.
posted by kenko at 1:20 PM on February 9, 2011


What I'd like to read are Venkatesh's grant applications.
posted by Hylas at 1:28 PM on February 9, 2011


Gay liberation effectively killed it.

My boss is a former male prostitute and from the way he describes it there was never much streetwalking involved. Alot of incalls and outcalls, going to motels and homes and whatnot.

I'm trying to think of some good reasons why female sex workers would tend to congregate on the streets but not their male counterparts. Also male sex workers don't usually dress in lowest common denominator crap clothes like the female ones do - is there even a male equvalent to the neon green tube top?

The more I thin about it the more I see that even drug-addled homosexual prostitutes have more invisible knapsack privilege than many women in our society. It's shocking to me to think that my dipshit meth-head boss has had it easier than others just because he has a penis vs. a vagina.

Something has to change.
posted by Avenger at 1:34 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The rise of Facebook for getting clients is fascinating. It makes total sense, but it's not something one would automatically think of.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:41 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to think of some good reasons why female sex workers would tend to congregate on the streets but not their male counterparts.

At first blush, I'd guess that male prostitutes would be more vulnerable to random violence and police harassment for advertising their goods on the street corners. As far as I know, the "street walker/blue collar" male prostitutes congregate at public parks and beaches where it is more accepted for men to be out on their own for a walk. There is a more deniable cover for a gay man at a public park, a truck stop, or a beach when confronted.
posted by peeedro at 2:02 PM on February 9, 2011


How much is grilled cheese?
posted by chavenet at 2:12 PM on February 9, 2011


In all seriousness, I wonder at the inevitable media frenzy when some hack editor gets his hands on that bit.

Aaaand...here we go.
posted by neroli at 2:14 PM on February 9, 2011


At first blush, I'd guess that male prostitutes would be more vulnerable to random violence and police harassment for advertising their goods on the street corners.

When I lived in Hollywood in the 1990s, there was no lack of male hustlers on Highland and Santa Monica. I know this because I lived with a lot of them.

But they tended to look like young gay kids. They'd stand at bus shelters, waiting for a ride, and, when a car would pass, almost imperceptibly touch their crotch. Then a car would stop, someone would ask if they wanted a ride, and they would hop in.

I was on that corner about three weeks ago and didn't see any husters. But it's been 20 years and so my rentboydar might have rusted. Or perhaps they have moved to some other corner. Or perhaps they have all moved online.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:41 PM on February 9, 2011


I wonder what effect Groupon will have on the trade?

At which point Groupon will have a whole new meaning.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:45 PM on February 9, 2011


I'm not really into the whole group thing. Let me know when they offer threeons.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:05 PM on February 9, 2011


At first blush, I'd guess that male prostitutes would be more vulnerable to random violence and police harassment for advertising their goods on the street corners. As far as I know, the "street walker/blue collar" male prostitutes congregate at public parks and beaches where it is more accepted for men to be out on their own for a walk. There is a more deniable cover for a gay man at a public park, a truck stop, or a beach when confronted.

Just to set you straight, female prostitutes are more vulnerable to violence.

Female prostitutes congregate for protection, and they kinda have a sense of camaraderie. I've been propositioned quite a bit in DC while walking back from clubs on weekends...I'd always do my best to either ignore them or say "no thanks". I never really figured out what to do as there were usually 3 or 4 other women who would yell at me. Thats a pretty fucking good reason to congregate...it even sounds kind of fun.

Its just too bad my drunk ass would almost run home in near-tears because I was verbally bullied by prostitutes. But it still sounds kinda fun.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:37 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always had the creeping suspicion Hell's Kitchen was populated entirely by in-call sex workers.
This explains why Gordon Ramsay is so upset all the time. It also makes me worry about his roux.
posted by arcticseal at 1:06 AM on February 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


A handjob is only $75 in the Bronx but $225 on Wall St?

So all those bonuses really are flowing back into the local economy.
posted by robertc at 6:58 AM on February 10, 2011


Something has to change.
posted by Avenger at 5:34 AM on February 10


Eponysterical.
posted by gen at 4:07 PM on February 10, 2011


So all those bonuses really are flowing back into the local economy.

grossest pun of the week award.
posted by GuyZero at 4:09 PM on February 10, 2011


Well, having lived in what at least used to be a very gay-friendly neighborhood in Houston, seeing male prostitutes on the street was fairly common. Common in the "every night" way. Also lots of transvestite or transsexual prostitutes. (This was 15-10 years ago. The neighborhood is all half a million dollar townhouses now, though, so it's gone.)

I imagine that it's typically the case that you get male streetwalkers in areas with a large gay population, or that has a reputation for having lots of gay men. Because the demand is there. Otherwise, I imagine it makes more sense to make contacts through the web or a phone service or whatever.
posted by threeturtles at 9:32 PM on February 10, 2011


With a name like "Facebook", one would expect to hook up with some face, no? Book a blowjob, for sure. Isn't that the secret intention of the service anyway?

When I lived in LA, the hustlers in West Hollywood were regularly being harassed by the police. I even took photos, first time I saw this happening. I was at the diner (a unique place on Santa Monica Blvd, can't recall the name), and watched a couple young guys leave, and walk to the bus stop. In no time at all they were being harassed. I was offended, because they couldn't be accused of "loitering", since they'd just got there.

The waiter, however (gay, of course), was all about how the hustlers were "reducing his property value" and the street needed to be "cleaned up". Apparently, it didn't matter that this was West Hollywood, and as much a part of the gay culture as he himself was. I've seldom been so disgusted with gay-kind.

Historically, young gay hustlers are out there selling some joy for the simple reason that they need money. Often enough, it's been money for stupid things like food and shelter, or shoes. Often enough, they've been boys thrown out of their family homes for being queer. Or maybe they left, because it was just too crazy living where they were unwelcome.

If the need for that hasn't gone down to an amazing degree, I'd be shocked. And of course, our old friend AIDS is still around, to remind people of good reasons to stick to masturbating alone, or otherwise play safe.

And all that is completely apart from adults who wish to buy better sex, or adults who want to make money selling better sex. That's a different matter, and I'm fairly sure the gay sex workers don't need Facebook.
posted by Goofyy at 12:13 AM on February 11, 2011


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