My brother is a virgin and turning 30 in a few weeks. He said he wants to hire an escort just for drinks and conversation for his birthday, but he doesn't really know how to tell what's a reliable service or what criteria he should be looking for to tell whether an agency is legit, reliable, etc. I'm very happy he came to me with this because I can tell it's not something he wants to share with many people — but I don't have any advice or knowledge to pass on regarding this and I want to respect his privacy by not discussing it with everyone in our social circles. Do you have any advice in regards to what he should be looking for?
— My Younger Brother's Romantic Order
"Look to social media," said Mistress Matisse, a writer, sex worker, and sex workers-rights activist. "Now that so many review boards have been taken down, social media is the best way to find a good independent escort."
About those review boards: Law enforcement agencies, always on the lookout for ways to "save" sex workers by making their jobs more dangerous, have gone after online sites, aka review boards, where clients rated and ranked escorts and — more importantly — escorts communicated with each other about safety, clients to avoid (flaky, rude, unhygienic), and clients they absolutely shouldn't see (erratic, threatening, violent). Elizabeth Nolan Brown wrote a great piece for Reason about the issue last fall ("The Truth About the Biggest U.S. Sex Trafficking Story of the Year," September 9, 2016), and everyone should go read it at Reason.com.
Anyway, MYBRO, back to your brother and Matisse's advice.
"I'm not saying 'no social media' equals 'bad escort,'" said Matisse. "There are lots of good escorts who don't have much of a social-media presence. But if you want to get to know a little about who someone is before you meet them, that's just how you do it now."
Another rarely discussed, perfectly legal alternative to figuring out if an escort is for real: Pay them to meet up for drinks and conversation, which just so happens to be all your brother wants (or all he's willing to tell you he wants).
"Obviously, this is not a good option for the budget-conscious," said Matisse. "But if you want to test your chemistry and create some trust on both sides before booking a private date, it's a solid way to go. Note the keyword, though: Pay her for her time. (Most ladies have a public social meeting fee that's lower than private-time rates.) And remember the basic rules when you do decide to set a private-time date: Don't ask about sex and don't talk about money other than to briefly acknowledge that you have seen her rates and agree to pay for her time. Expect to use condoms and to abide by the rules of whoever you're seeing."
You can follow Mistress Matisse on Twitter @mistressmatisse.
I've been reading your column for years, and it has definitely helped me develop a sex-positive view of dating, relationships, sex, and otherwise. I've been seeing a girl recently who revealed to me she's a cam girl. I'm totally okay with it. She makes a great living, it's important to her, and it turns her on — all great things! But it's something she likes to keep to herself, and for good reason, obviously. People, however, are obsessed with what other people do for a living. So what's the best answer for when I'm asked what she does? She's as unsure of what to say as I am. I'm bringing her to a company event (I work in finance), and both of us are sure everyone is going to ask what she does (cocktail party small talk is the worst!). What are your thoughts on this subject and other things in a relationship like this?
— Man Behind The Cam Girl
Say this: "She's an independent contractor with a video production company — she makes her own hours and works from home. It's a great gig. Oh hey, how about them Bears/Colts/Cubs/Broncos/Braves/WhateverTheFucks."