A month after Backpage decided to disable the part of the site that made it famous, a former escort who used the service tells his story to The Normal Anomoly:
Sex working is a glamourized business in the gay and trans communities. I did an article a couple months ago with Dominique Alford that depicted his journey through escorting, but this guy I talked with today had a very interesting experience that resonated with me. His name is Tyrice Black. I have known Tyrice since he was maybe 18 or 19 and he is a cool kid that came from not ever being around gays to being engulfed in the community overnight-- literally.
Tyrice graduated high school and moved with his cousin in the same day. He held down a job and started experiencing the gay life in Killen, Texas. If you don't know much about Killeen, Texas: it is an Army base and it is filled with LGBT people looking to get away from defending our country and being who they are and loving who they love in their off time. Anyway, he was introduced to sex work by meeting a transgender woman for the first time who considered herself a massage therapist, which can be a "prettier" word for escort or sex worker.
Months went by and she finally convinced him to post his first ad on BackPage. His first "date" went pretty bad as he walked into the room and found himself having sex and not receiving his payment. By the way, "date" is a term used for people who pay for time for sex workers; another more unpolitically correct term is ""trick. This taught him the game and also scared him into shying away from posting another ad for some time.
A couple years later, he was put on by a dude that was more of a professional in the game of escorting. In his words he says, "This guy was more on a grander scheme. Had a sugardaddy that would send him thousands of dollars. He said to me, 'Watch me. I'll show you, you know, how to talk to the client, how to work your ad." So, this guy teaches him the ropes and he starts making big money. 200 incall and 400 outcall. That's good money, but he was still holding down his job while doing it. In that way, it was more so out of fun than anything.
Then, he moved to Dallas and started working at Babylon (before it became what it is today) and was able to get a good following stripping and then dates would come home to him for his services. He had learned how to play into being a "twink" which dates liked and, since he had a large Caucasian fan base, the whole BBC (Big Black Cock) fantasy. Life was good. Hotel rooms at the Ritz-Carlton and riding in nice cars were the norm. He then meets a guy through BackPage visiting Killeen one weekend thinking he was a date and he ended up being an escort, too. They decided that they would work together and ended up getting in a relationship.
With his love for the guy and the fact that they now had to provide for each other solely through sex work, the career that he was formerly having so much fun doing turned into an actual job. He needed money to take care of things and things started to fail. That 200 and 400 dollars a client turned into 20 and 40 dollars because now it wasn't a hobby, it was a job. And, in this job, he had to survive and clients weren't consistent. Before he knew it, he was having to give clients head for 10-15 dollars to make sure he had something to eat for the day.
"A lot of people talk about the life in such a glamourous aspect: about the free schedule and the traveling. Nobody talks about that time you had to get that dick sucked or suck that dick for that $20 just to get you something to eat or the time that you had to do everything for nothing," he says.
He tells me that he has had to personally walk around with his belongings on the streets of different cities because he was kicked out of the hotels and motels he was staying in for nonpayment. In his opinion, BackPage and sites like that have made people "comfortable out here struggling to be a hoe." He feels as if putting a price tag on your body can do nothing but cause you to devalue yourself. In his experience, it has its moments of being lucrative, but they aren't consistent and so you find yourself struggling to survive and, if you're always struggling to survive, then you'll never be a survivor.
Further, he doesn't believe that anyone is forced to become a prostitute-- even if you are transgender. "Trans people can find a job if they want to and they don't want to. They resort to this work and I ain't never met one that was happy-- and I done met a thousand of 'em. And then all trans want to exude sex. You see them all over social media in their bra and panties and wonder why all they can do is have sex... and be a fetish. Stop looking to sleep with the CEO and be the CEO."
I truly appreciate this story and I think it is going to start a much bigger conversation about how sex work and self-esteem are connected or disconnected. Also, how we can hide behind comfort and call it necessary. My sense of morality can't leave out without saying that I know there are some people who are forced into sex work, but there are very few. I will also say: most people that I know that feel they have no choice don't actively try and do anything else. I am not here to scrutinize one's sex life or how they make their coins, but I do think we should loose the "it's necessary and no choice" talk and move towards, "Can we legalize this because this is what I like to do?" conversation. Below is a poem he wrote:
"Available? Willing and able? Mobile? Have a place comfortable? Great reviews, your name is real, reputable. You said you were where again? Did I mention I'm feeling real charitable? Name ur price!"
Oh, how nice My price, You ask? The price. There's not a Benjamin that can make this right. No amount of or donation amount for the humiliation. Just to answer your loaded question.
The inflictions, Your infliction. You buy a notch, I'm selling attention. You come in I'm already ready for it to end. We begin, I cry desperately within. You graze my chin. Eww cold lips, so thin. "In front of the mirror?" How can you admire this skin I'm in? Filthy Dirty, Passed around, Bought and sold. You'd ask me a number I'd wouldn't know whom or where to begin.
A whore you explore, The slut u implore. What more? How deep of the cut to the core? Does it even matter? Or Wait that's what you're paying for!
It's done. Condom flushed down the toilet. How ironic. There goes my morals hopes and dreams with it. I say to myself, "I can't wait to quit this shit!" Door slams shut "Good he left" Time to shower. Wash off the pain smelt. Scrubbing Bubbles nor Comet can clean this filth. I'm like dirty laundry, heavily stained, Something Shout can't get lift.
Eyes closed as I think of a life: the days my name will be in lights! Face on the front on People's front page and not Backpage. A life I'm happy and content not bought and sold for mere cents! "Oh I can't wait to live to experience. Ima be somebody, you just watch this shit."
Knock knock knock "Damn who is it?" "What time is it?" Damn my next client here, It's 6.