Prostitution, high-profile on the Net

AFP

Monday, July 23, 2001

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Faye Desiree, a 37-year-old mother of two and a self-described "high-tech call girl," spends more time dealing with her clients through her Web site than she does in the bedroom.


"Oh honey, I'm on that keyboard constantly," said the raven-haired Santa Cruz, California, resident. "It's the future of my profession."



Once confined to dark streets, prostitution is now a high-profile stop on the information superhighway, and has been quick to adopt the latest interactive features.



At Fayedesiree.com, visitors are treated to an extensive collection of Internet technologies: explicit photographs, video clips documenting Desiree's expertise and treatises on "tantric" sex practices.



Also included: a 24-hour live video camera feed featuring scheduled trysts between Desiree and a whole host of friends and clients. So far, Desiree said she has signed up several hundred members to her website, charging $20 per month.



Those wishing a more intimate connection can use e-mail links to set up meetings that cost 20 times the membership price.



"If you want to make a good living at this, you have to be online these days," said Desiree.



And, apparently, one has to keep up with the latest advances in the field.



One of the more popular sites dealing with the sex-for-hire profession is Erosguide.com, where women and men post pictures and thinly disguised invitations for meetings.



"Virtually every city in the US offers adult-related entertainment, from escorts to sensual massage to strip clubs to fetish and fantasy play to adult toy stores," said Erosguide founder, Byron Mayo.



"Traditionally, finding these local services was a process of looking through phone books, alternative newspapers or just word of mouth."



Mayo, whose business is based in Oakland, California, said the Internet now "makes it possible to economically present far more information in a much more accessible fashion than ever existed before"



Erosguide now caters to 30 US cities, and is set to unwrap its service in Toronto and London by the end of the summer. Mayo said non-English sites will begin in 2002.



Sites like Erosguide have given rise to popularity rankings of sex workers.



At SFRedbook.com, men and the occasional woman keep up a running system on San Francisco-area "providers" -- the current politically correct euphemism for prostitutes. The site contains extensive and explicit reviews, supplemented by chat rooms and bulletin boards where men and providers exchange information, arguments about fees and more than the occasional insults and taunts.



There's also a constantly updating database of provider rankings, which grades the skills of the providers, all categorised by sexual preferences and geographical area.



The site operator, who asked to be identified only as "Steve", said SFRedbook now contains 15,121 reviews, which are searched regularly by more 8,000 users.



Ironically, this can be quite convenient for law enforcement officials, who use the various sites while investigating vice crimes.



"It's a great resource for us," said Sergeant David Acosta, a vice cop in San Jose, California. Acosta said his department has already made several arrests by using the websites.



"We can find out who's doing what, and it saves us a lot of leg work."




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