San Francisco sex workers feel market strain as FBI shuts down MyRedbook.com
SFGate – Like many young professionals, Jolene Parton starts her day by getting online. But instead of doing research or answering her boss’ queries, she’s checking to see if anybody wants to hire her for sex. Parton, who asked to be identified by the name she uses on the job, is one of thousands of sex workers in the Bay Area, many of whom rely on Internet ads to generate nearly all of their business.
The FBI’s seizure of MyRedBook, one of the Bay Area’s most popular prostitution websites, and the heroin-overdose death of a Google executive in Santa Cruz, who was allegedly injected by a prostitute he hired on a “sugar daddy” website, has underscored the digital transformation of the world’s oldest profession.
But the change continues to fuel debate. While police have focused on shutting down the online flesh trade – or have used websites as entry points for undercover stings – some sex workers say they have found an avenue to do their job that is safer and more independent than the streets.
“The Internet has been the most widely used form of sex work advertising for the past 10 years now, maybe even longer than that,” said Parton, 26. “It’s where the clients are, it’s where you get business, and it’s just so much easier to go into it for yourself and not have to pay somebody else to do that work for you.”
Last month’s seizure of MyRedBook, and the arrests of two Northern California residents who allegedly made millions running it, particularly upset some sex workers because it was one of the few places on the Web where they could advertise for free.
First off, good to see that the girl from the Blind Melon “No Rain” video ended up on her feet.
Second, ever heard of Craig’s list? Or Tinder? I mean maybe it’s because I’m a straight white guy in his mid twenties that understands technology, but I feel like there are probably a zillion ways that you can pitched a prostitute online these days. Don’t necessarily need a website that is specifically geared towards hiring a prostitute to grow your business. You hand out favors, refer a friend, maybe get a group on going, little stuff like that to keep the clients coming.
Not to mention, the “husky redhead with extended earlobes” market is pretty niche so I’m thinking you’re not going to be running up against a lot of competitors in that channel. You’re like the flaming hot Cheetos of prostitutes, there’s really not too many other options that are really that similar so you’re probably going to have a lot of repeat clientele. Now of course, if she’s trying to diversify her consumer base, I can see how a website such as Red Book would certainly can help a working ginger out.
But maybe Jolene is smarter than everyone else by complaining to SFgate and having her contact information put out there in the story. So I guess after all, she’s got it all figured out. You go girl.