This Startup Has Created A Facebook For Escorts
You’re never more than a few clicks away from all kinds of adult entertainment online – pictures, erotic movies, whatever your heart desires.
Now a site called Slixa is trying to harness the power of social media for the world’s oldest profession.
The site functions as a localized directory of escorts, erotic masseuses, dominatrixes, fetish workers, and the like. Each one maintains her own personalized profile page of autobiographical information, pictures, and rules on how customers should behave.
It’s got a clean, modern design. It’s incredibly intuitive to use. And it doesn’t look anything like the cheap-looking text-only ads of Backpage.com, where many escorts migrated after CraigsList banned hookers.
It works like this: You browse the site by city, reading the profiles of local escorts. When someone catches your eye, all you have to do is reach out to her. Entertainers’ email addresses and phone numbers are publicly visible to anyone browsing the site, so this is a pretty straightforward proposition.
In a roundabout way, this is the Internet’s picture menu of sex.
User registration is free, but not required. The only impetus to have an account would be to follow your favorite escorts’ status updates, like a sexy Facebook newsfeed.
If you’re a prospective customer looking to hire an escort, you pay nothing to use the site. You have unlimited access to entertainer profiles and their contact information. Escorts obviously make money from their clients while Slixa gets its share by charging the escorts for their presences on the site. All standard pages are free right now, but entertainers can buy ad upgrades for a small fee to get increased publicity throughout the site.
Escorts use “credits” to buy a page (also called an ad) on Slixa, with each credit costing $1. To get your ad some exposure on a given city’s page, Slixa charges 30 credits per month. To get it listed on the main homepage for some serious site-wide exposure, it’s 375 credits for a 14-day period.
Spokesperson Lee Ann Jennings told us that “Slixa has signed up more than 3,000 entertainers in seven months with no signs of slowing down. Escorts and other adult entertainers continue to join at a rapid rate, which of course we’re very happy about. The really significant thing is that we’re more interested in quality over quantity.”
The site is completely bootstrapped, run without any venture funding – “Just the way we like it,” said Jennings.
And how much use does the site get? Jennings revealed that the company has “a strict privacy standard we adhere to, so we don’t share any of our traffic stats with third parties. As for what percentage are hiring from the site, we don’t track that information, as those discussions take place off-site, between the consumers and the entertainers for privacy reasons.”
If you’re into the idea of Slixa as long as your privacy is protected, this appears to be a non-issue.
In interviews, the only feedback we got from escorts using the site that even came close to constituting a “complaint” is that Slixa is still slightly under the radar and hasn’t hit critical mass yet. One entertainer in New York City who requested to remain anonymous said that she would like to do much more business over the site in the future, but acknowledges that “it takes time to build a new brand. So, I believe in the site very deeply. I know it has a great future ahead of it, as it’s specifically addressed issues that are a problem for other sites.”
And what problems do these other sites have?
They “are either so poorly designed or have such low-functioning capacity that entertainers get lost in the shuffle (and if they don’t want to be, they have to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars just to get any attention to their ads). Slixa does a fantastic job of creating a space where entertainers who invest in their business with high quality photos and ad copy have a chance at getting attention, without having to compete with cam sites or pornographic advertising,” this escort said.
We had all kinds of legality questions. What’s the difference between an escort and a prostitute, and how is Slixa able to operate in the clear?
We reached out to Adrianna Carter, an escort using the site to publicize her wares, who told us that “escorts are high-end companions. Prostitutes sell sex for money.” This appears to come down to the subtle difference between selling your time and selling your body.
We also spoke to Lisa Love, an escort operating out of Dallas, Texas, who explained it the same way: “Well, an escort has companionship for sale. A prostitute has sex for sale. I personally like to be described as a ‘provider’ because I provide the combined services of a therapist, girlfriend, best friend, and ego-booster, you could say. But as a provider, I sell my time. Now, how we choose to spend our time – that’s all up to the client.”
However, if you’re going to use the site, be smart. Atlanta lawyer David Schnipper told us that ads for adult companionship will dance around the specific details of what to expect, instead using keywords like “massage,” “time,” or “companionship” to stay in the clear. But law enforcement obviously knows what’s happening. They’re just far less likely to care until someone complains or gets injured.
We were obviously curious about the financials here, and Slixa pages readily tell you the rates you can expect to pay. As the site caters to a clientele that is often of some means, encounters can get expensive quickly. Each escort sets her own price, but as an example, here’s how much one New York City escort charges:
- Two hours “get to know you” – $1,800
- Five-hour dinner engagement – $6,000
- Overnight bliss – $10,000
We interviewed one such high-end escort (her name is being withheld at her request), who said that really enterprising and hardworking women can make as much as $400,000 a year, and six figures a year is common income for escorts in general.