Screening

On July 28th 2010 I appeared on a panel at the Desiree Alliance Conference in Las Vegas called “Developing a screening policy that works for you; keeping you safe and ensuring your success!”  The other panelists were Crysta Heart, Erica Smith, Marcus, Mistress Scarlet, Riley Nicole and Tracy Brassfield.

I wanted to be on the screening panel when Crysta asked if I could do it, because when I started doing porn in 1999, I did not know stuff to ask.  I did not realize for example that doing an SM shoot that they would leave marks that took months to have go away and that I should ask for extra compensation for that legal shoot.  In 2002 when I did my first gig as a dominatrix, when clients started contacting me, no one showed me how to figure out if they would be made of crazy, if they would stand me up, or if they would potentially be violent.  In 2003 when I saw my first escort client, I did not have the foggiest.

It is now 2010, and I still see select clients (see my Shaman page).  It is not the focus my life any more, but it is still part of my life.

At the end of the panel, I took the audio file we had recorded during the panel and transcribed the notes.  This was met with mixed opinions on the internet, and the following is an edited version of what I first put up- thanks to some insights that were provided.  So what I offer here are some guidelines, concepts, and ideas on what sorts of questions I used to ask folks, including easily findable (if you read many escort sites and follow their screening pages) programs and projects, and a hope that we each work together to help those who are trying to build a living do so more safely.

This is not an all-inclusive list, and screening your clients (for a variety of concerns, from physical safety to legal awareness, emotional concerns to “time wasters,” keeping an eye out for new folks who need extra help and more) is an art, not an exact science.  We found in discussion that tools that were fantastic for some parts of a group did not work at all for others (example of asking for complete legal names for high end female escorts for men almost never happens for many mid to high end male escorts for men).

This reference page is not in any way intended as advocating for any sort of illegal activities or encouraging anyone to engage in adult service provider jobs.

Thank you all 🙂

**

Many of the following tips apply to all forms of providing services, while further down, I discuss stuff just for Fetish folks and Adult Modeling…

These are some of the questions I have asked clients over the years.  I get concerned in general if I ask a question, and a client provides too much info but never answers what I asked:

Have you seen my website?
What has your experience of seeing escorts in the past been?
What was your favorite session and why?
What challenges have you had seeing professionals in the past? What would have helped those challenges?
What are you hoping for out of seeing me/getting together?
Have you seen anyone else locally?
Why do you want to see me specifically?
Where are you staying?
What kind of connection are you hoping to build with me?
I prefer to build recurring connections, is that something you are interested in?
Do you have any preferences I should know about beforehand?
Anything I can do to make this a more pleasurable evening for you?

I learned a few things along the way, through the panel or on my own…

Asking clients to please bring your favorite supplies you think we might need or enjoy.
To not discuss money or sex over the phone or explicitly on websites.
That some work uses specific slang, and knowing what that slang means will stop me from agreeing to something I do not in fact offer.

When I got started I had no idea that there were systems online I could look at, or that other service providers were willing to give references.  I had this perception that it was everyone for themselves, when in some areas this is not true!  There are people willing to watch each others back… in some parts of this work, but not all.

Some of the sites I learned folks can ask questions about providers, clients, and get date checks:

http://www.Preferred411.com
http://www.Date-Check.com
http://www.RoomService2000.com
http://www.providerbuzz.com/
http://eccie.net/
http://www.bigdoggie.net/

And I also learned that someone providing a referral does not mean they are giving a full reference for the client being reliable, safe, etc.  Asking the reference provider about how it went, and doing research on that reference, is important too.

I also learned some stuff about personal safety:

OTIS- Offender Tracking Information System
Put the client’s name into the system for your state (search on google using the above “Offender Tracking Information System” followed by the state you are working in for the OTIS system for your state

When checking for complete profiles, some great sites include:
http://www.whois.com/
http://www.pipl.com/
http://www.intelius.com/ (costs $35 for a search, but provides tons of info… no need to buy up to more expensive package, not necessary, $35 search is quite comprehensive)

http://www.NationalBlacklist.com
DC area?  Check this blacklisted list first http://blacklistednow.blogspot.com/

Requesting a picture in advance allowed me to meet people easier in the flesh, but also gave me something, along with name, email, and other details, that I could give to my safety/security/backup friend

Google the phone number they provide, are they giving you the real hotel number?  Call the real hotel number via phone listings and ask for their legal name.

Are they too eager/pushy?  Are they happy to see anyone and not screen you at all?  These are often not a good sign.

I found out there were things that other providers do:

Work verification systems- does their name appear in company directories?
When you search their business name, is it a legal business?
If you book a session with one person and extras show up, be wary of surprise extra folks
Investigate your hotel- indoor/outdoor access (can folks watch you walk in and out of your room), if the chain is known to be anti-establishment.
Not see clients who are first timers at the club they work at.
Doing straight sessions with nothing extra for first time clients.
Make friends with other workers in clubs, having people to watch their back.

There are some great resources out there!

If folks are new, recommend them to
http://beforeyoucome.blogspot.com/
“Advice for a Good Experience”

Check out this great Screening suggestion list at SWOP-Michigan:
http://www.swop-mi.org/swop.verify.htm
And this great safety resource collection of links at SWOP-USA:
http://www.swopusa.org/en/safesex.html

Different folks handle their information and funds different ways…

Deposits/ pre-gifts are encouraged by some
Paid calls in advance are encouraged by others
Amazon wishlists (making sure that universal wishlist folks don’t give out your home address on the receipt)
http://www.NiteFlirt.com
(using the donations system)
Paypal can freeze your accounts if associated with adult work (including adult sites)

Keep your own files on your computer in an easily searchable manner is recommended by some.  When a number comes in, search the system- has this person called before?  Same with email addresses.  Some clients will change their name and try again, but use same number/edress.
Consider investing in a non US-based database system for your database, such as Safe Office

http://www.securecompanion.com/

Google calendar is publicly accessible- do NOT put an email address in google calendar, it will notify them of the file their edress appears in (and often time, your legal name/info)

There are some concerns that are less about screening and more about overall safety:

Make sure you are not traveling without money- being broke leads to cutting corners and taking gigs that you feel bad about out of desperation.

Before your session- lock your computer/phone (password protect) as some clients are looking for stuff for post-session
Make sure not to leave keys out/accessible
Let clients know you are doing safety calls, have plans later that night, and/or that someone knows where you are

Research your complete tour in advance- search for the city, county and state laws, legal issues, the terms for your kind of work in conjunction with all of the above.

Physical health: Do you have supplies for staying healthy?  In lots of sizes and materials beyond latex in case of allergies?
Do you know how to visually do inspections?
I personally do not take folks “on their word” on health information.

Providing STD testing information for all sexually active folks is a great way to help the world at large, and many counties offer free services.  Whether to link this with your own work is up to you, but I think it is important activism for the world at large.

**

Adult Modeling
Whether appearing in film or video, I tended to ask folks…

Where can I see your portfolio? OMP site?
Who has been your favorite model to work with? What did you love about working with him/them/her?
What project is this for?
What are some of the names of the films you have shot in the past? (then look them up and see how widely distributed they were)
What kind of project is this?
What would you like me to bring with me to the shoot? (if nothing, I tended to be very wary)
Can I get a password to that site beforehand?
If private collection: Can I see a few of your favorite pics you have shot from shoots in the past?
Do you have a space my driver/escort can wait during our shoot?
Do you pay by the hour, camera hour (hours of footage recorded) or project?
How long do you expect our shoot to last? (followed up by “oh good, I can have someone pick me up at X time then,” or “fantastic, I was hoping to do Z afterwards and a meeting friends there.”)
How many people are on your crew? (safety in numbers with unknown artists)
Should I plan for hot lights or flash? (if photo, shows you know difference)
Who will my co-stars be?  (be wary of surprise co-stars, and consider writing those co-stars in advance and creating a connection)

**

Pro Dom(me)/Pro-sub/Fetish

Some of my favorite questions…

What has your experience of seeing dominants in the past been?
What was your favorite session/scene and why?
What challenges have you had seeing professionals in the past? What would have helped those challenges?
How involved are you with public kink?
How long have you been exploring kink?
How do you identify in kink? (Bottom, submissive, slave, kinky, fetishist)
Please fill out this checklist for my entertainment/enjoyment…
Have you read my website? (Then quiz them)
What about X activity is hot for you?
Whom have you seen before? What was your favorite part of playing with them? (then checking said reference)
Why don’t you see them any more?
What is the hottest thing about kink for you? (is it a real person answer, or is it “being in total subservience to…” etc)
What are some fantasies you have had involving seeing me?

And some things I learned/developed along the way…

Having folks strip at beginning of session for me helps me maintain control of situations and make sure clients are not hiding anything.
Staying calm and in control in strange situations is key.
Folks will say the most curious things, and it is hard to know if they mean them.
I tend to shy away from hyper-demanding people who have never had a session with me yet.
I tend to shy away from whiny people.
Encouraging a pre-gift from my wishlist or that they think I would enjoy.
That if I am meeting a new client, I have the right to meet them in a semi-public place… especially if I make it into part of the scene in a covert way.

**

Agencies/Houses/Managers

How well does your house screen your clients for you?
Would your phone person take the call?
What information do they take for you?
Look through the first list- what do they do?
How established is your house/agency/manager?
What cut do they take?  Is it fair?
What behaviors do the other folks in the agency do?  Are they putting you at risk with their behaviors?

**

If traveling in general:

Look at local lists of “bad johns”
Having backup people in each location
If meeting in public, girlfriend/associate who can be hanging out with you or nearby when guy shows up to get a visual look at them
Clear info that you are expected elsewhere at some point and would be missed if did not call

**

Notes to All

Avoid impulcity, desperation, fear, intimidation or lack of self-respect or personal boundaries… these lead to poor choices.
If it is too good to be true, it probably is.
Are they providing too much info while not answering basic questions?
Double check your uncertain feelings with friends and allies.
Be concerned around dramatic changes in plans
Consider your physical safety concerns- security person, someone in next room

Make sure to build up layers of reference: how many points have they provided?  Does this seem to be a good full picture?
Negatives in building references trump positives

Listening to your body wisdom (if heeby jeebies, online or in person, what is your body telling you?)

A note to male escorts- be aware that because of cultural taboos, and a different culture in men for men hiring, that some of these systems for screening such as asking for full legal names may be far more challenging if possible to do at all.

**

Important links for all Adult Service Providers:

Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP)- http://www.swopusa.org/
Sex Workers Outreach Project- Michigan- http://www.swop-mi.org/
Desiree Alliance Conference- http://www.desireealliance.org/
Network Of Sex Workers Project- http://www.nswp.org/
Prostitute’s Education Network- http://www.bayswan.org/penet.html
The Sex Worker’s Project- http://www.sexworkersproject.org/
$pread Magazine- http://www.spreadmagazine.org/

Regional or National lists/resources:

Asia Pacific Network of Sex Work Projects http://apnsw.org/apnsw.htm
Bay Area Sex Workers Advocacy Network (BAYSWAN)- http://www.bayswan.org/
Call Off Your Tired Old Ethics (COYOTE, USA) http://www.walnet.org/csis/groups/coyote.html
Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters (Taiwan) http://coswas.org/
Cybersolidaires (Montreal, Canada) http://www.cybersolidaires.org/
Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (Sonagachi Project, Kolkata, India) http://members.tripod.com/~subratosensharma/jana.html
Empower Foundation (Thailand) http://www.empowerfoundation.org
European Network for HIV-STD Prevention in Prostitution http://www.europap.net/
European Network Male Prostitution http://www.enmp.org/
Exotic Dancers Association of Canada http://www.exoticdancerscanada.com/
International Collective of Prostitutes (England, UK) http://www.prostitutescollective.net/
The International Union of Sex Workers (England, UK) http://www.iusw.org/
New Zealand Prostitute’s Collective- http://www.nzpc.org.nz/
Prostitutes of New York (PONY, USA) http://www.walnet.org/csis/groups/pony.html
Red de Trabajadoras Sexuales de Latinoamerica y el Caribe (Argentina) http://www.redtrasex.org.ar/
Scarlet Alliance (Australia)- http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/
Scottish Prostitution Education Project (Scotland, UK) http://www.scot-pep.org.uk/
Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT, South Africa) http://www.sweat.org.za/
Sex Workers Project, New York (USA) http://www.sexworkersproject.org/
Stella, Montreal (Canada) http://www.chezstella.org/
Zi Teng (Hong Kong) http://www.ziteng.org.hk/

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Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and in 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” and "Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond," among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. Welcome to his world, and your chance to expand your mind and heart alike.

10 Comments:

  1. Add me to the list of people who aren’t thrilled with putting this information out there publicly. I think providers are very good at sharing with one another about safety — we’ve been doing it for thousands of years.

    I use screening techniques primarily to protect myself from legal hassles. I would rather people in those industries spend their time wondering about which methods I’m using, rather than having a list to help them figure out how to work around me.

    I understand the points about why to make this information public. I disagree. Surely there are other ways to get information out there without such a public blog.

    It bothers me that someone outside of the industry is making this decision for me, for other escorts.

    The Desiree Alliance does not speak for most escorts, though I know they’d like to. Their work is admirable and good, but the average provider in flyover country doesn’t care. She just wants to be able to screen and have privacy, LOTS of privacy. She doesn’t want to be political, or make a statement.

    Does this blog help more than it hurts? And is even a little hurt okay?

    Beverly ;-*

  2. I was a member of the Screening panel at DA 2010 and I fully support the dissemination of this information to anyone who is trying to work more safely.

    These resources and tips were suggested by seven different panel members as well as audience members. Some of the advice given in necessarily contradictory and incomplete. We are all human and we do not all agree on the best ways to do things.

    Do your own research. If you want to check out the resources posted here, please do so at your own risk. This is not legal advice; none of us are legal professionals. These are starting points, not hard and fast rules. Follow up, follow up, follow up!

    I was asked to post my opinion here and I have donne so. I will not waste more of my time and energy defending my right to help others who are less fortunate, less experienced and/or less educated than myself, in whatever manner I choose.

  3. Beverly,
    “It bothers me that someone outside of the industry is making this decision for me, for other escorts.”
    I just wanted to address this one point- all of us on the panel do work as escorts or adult service providers, myself included. None of us are “outside of the industry.”

  4. I, too, was a panel member. As a panel member I never intended on providing a “how-to” on screening. I wanted to provide a variety of different resources that different facets of the industry might use. What I feel comfortable with may not be what another provider would be comfortable with.
    I don’t believe that how escorts screen is necessarily a trade secret. We all use different methods or a combination of methods. I never use one piece of information but a combination of pieces to verify that I will book an appointment. As for only being able to access screening information. There are many adult service providers that are reputable and have only a desire to keep themselves and others safe that would never been granted access to post on private message boards. These decisions are often left to moderators that may use personal bias.
    I do believe that empowering those that want to educate themselves about screening is vital to create an environment that is more safe for our entire community.
    As others have said, please do your own research!

  5. You state that you are “simply hoping to help the safety of all involved”. Yet this post itself puts adult workers in jeopardy by revealing screening methods and the only people who seem to appreciate its existence are those who attended your conference.
    If you truly do care about the safety of others, please consider making this post private before it ends up reprinted on a review board somewhere.

  6. Jenny and Beverly- I am definitely inside the industry. It bothers me that each of you post the same requirements and links publically on each of your websites, yet preach that we should remove them from this blog.

    ~ Crysta

  7. This is nuts!! Information is “our” world should stay in “our” world.. Even the resource list, really??? Some people have never heard of some of those places, let’s just link them right to them.. Screening is different depending on the provider, but still let’s help the fella’s slip through the cracks.. Esp. with new, younger provider’s..
    Who ever had the idea to Blog about escort’s in anyway is just brilliant…

  8. should this information be shared? absolutely. anyone who supports decriminalizing sex work would realize that in legalizing it, transparency would increase.
    why is it so horrible for clients to know that we screen them? for anyone against this concept, try looking at the glass half full: clients – especially inexperienced clients – can learn a bit more about the escort’s side of things, ie, why he or she screens in the first place – and perhaps better understand our perspectives and situations.
    Lee, i think you should keep the post up. i agree with your point that many of these ideas are already on the internet, and Crysta’s point that everyone deserves access to this sort of information. your compiling it is, IMO, far more helpful to a great deal of people than it is “damaging” to the few who feel these are special, secretive tactics. thank you for doing this.

  9. Thanks Lee (and the other panel members) for sharing the information and defending the right to help others.

  10. **Dear ALL**

    I have done a major re-write of the site, taking down anything that I would consider “hard to find/extreme insider” information, clarifying my own point of view, adding some new resources, etc. In 2 days I will be taking down the negative comments or comments that do not apply any more as they pertained to the old version that is down.

    This is not intended as a form of censorship, but instead that those notes have been listened to and acted upon. I will also be taking down some of the positive comments as well that apply to the old version only.

    I appreciate having had so much feedback, and my hope is that we keep making the world out there a little bit better for the folks working in it 🙂

Comments are closed