No, I will not vouch for you

Sex work is weird. It’s a place of vulnerability and compassion and interconnectedness within which we all take risks in order to enjoy the company and touch of another. There have always been those who wish to use the vulnerable nature of the work to take advantage of others. The people, mostly women, who offer their intimate services have devised many ways to lower the risk inherent in occupying space, naked, with a physically stronger stranger. I make use of the threat of the law on one hand and a client’s reputation on the other.

The threat is easy: once I’ve verified who you are, I can check to see if you’ve hurt others before, and later find you if you hurt me. The reputation is somewhat harder. It takes time, and not all reputation is equally convincing. Some of it is downright useless.

For example: some clients lean into their OKs on p411 for reputation. For those who don’t know, an OK is simply a yes answer to “did you see this client and he did not rob or harm you?” There is no room for nuance or explanation, and no difference between ‘was the worst client I’ve ever had that wasn’t bad enough to blacklist’ and ‘gave me the best time of my life.’ On TNA board it’s called a vouch. TNA also has a ‘friends’ list that could mean anything from ‘favorite regular client’ to ‘Posted a comment I agreed with once.’ The vagueness of these definitions renders them worse than useless; they offer a false sense of security. It makes it easy for a boundary pushing creep to keep moving on to new providers, without risk of them encouraging each other to hold him accountable.

It’s easy to see why I don’t accept those one-time check marks as security for not just my safety in-session, but the likelihood you and I will actually like each other. It’s maybe less easy to see why I don’t give them.

I want providers to ask me. I want to get an email from pretty Jane at proton mail dot com, with her url in the footer, asking me if I have seen this nice boy and if so, was he actually nice? Partly because I get excited to network and share within my community. Partly because I’m a lil nosy and like to know what people are up to. But mostly so I can tell Jane that he’s got a huge D and if she has internal condoms, to have them on hand. Or to tell her that he takes 20 minute showers and to allow for that. Or that he’s allergic to cats or is really shy and will need her to make a move or that he will ask for a million off-menu things but never gets mad when you say no.

I bend over backwards to offer comprehensive but not gratuitous references to whomever asks, and I commit to incorporating feedback into my references. I have had providers reply to me about clients and it was extremely helpful moving forward both for me, and for future reference requesters. I don’t reply to reviews (except in unusual circumstances), vouch for clients, and rarely give OKs.

I’m writing about this because I’ve been asked more frequently for these things lately and I’ve never learned to like saying no. I want things to be as easy as possible but sometimes, in order to make things better, they need to be harder.

Fellow providers: if I have seen a client, I will ALWAYS give you an honest reference. It will ALWAYS be timely. I will ALWAYS accept feedback if my client was not as expected and I will NEVER out you if you give a bad reference or negative feedback. I adore my clients but I am not unaware of the presence of bad actors; I will never sacrifice the safety of my colleagues to spare someone’s feelings or protect my own ego. I am not jealous, and I am lucky enough to be able to refuse clients who mistreat others. If you’re on the fence about reaching out, please see this as my invitation.

My dear clients: Know that I am as generous with references as I am with everything else, that I will give you a fair shake and that I won’t share more than is necessary to prepare your future date. I am honored to share your delights, your quirks, your needs, and your kindness with my respected colleagues. Know that if I say no, I have spent as much time sweating over it as I have over every instance that led to me writing this. And if you reach out to someone who isn’t willing to do due diligence, consider yourself blessed when things don’t work out.