The Erotic Review: Axis of Evil

Love em or hate em, TER is going to be around for awhile, I’m afraid, and even Dave Elms and his alleged unethical shenanigans aren’t going to change a thing. Do the math. TER’s ads on the Village Voice’s Backpage advertise they have “almost a million members.” The ad neglects to tell us what constitutes a “member” since one can be registered and not pay a dime, or choose to pay a monthly fee to access the VIP portions of the site. However, if even one-fourth of the “almost a million members” are paying $20 a month for membership, that’s $5 million dollars a month (or $60 million a year) in gross revenue. According to Quantcast, they maintain in excess of 866,000 unique hits per month, 93% of which are either “regulars” or “addict.” Even if Dave Elms got caught on an R. Kelly-style video pissing on a barely legal teen, TER would still be the Walmart of escort review sites. They’re not going anywhere.

As an escort, I’ve come to terms with my love-hate relationship with escort reviews in general, adopting a sort of “nature of the beast” attitude. What offends me about TER, however, is the exceedingly negative, hostile attitude toward working girls in general. Here’s a direct quote from the Backpage ad: “DID YOU GET RIPPED OFF AGAIN? Didn’t read her reviews, did you? Don’t let them get away with it. The reason why these rip-offs exist is because up until now there was nothing you could do about it. By submitting a review you are not only warning thousands of guys in your area, you hitting them where it hurts…”.

Well, here’s a big, fat, cherry-flavored FUCK YOU to all those who feel compelled to perpetrate the hooker-as-social-deviant myth while happily profiting from the very thing they seem to despise. There’s a revolution on the horizon, and it’s wearing ass-kicking stilettos.

See related New York Times article, “Sex Trade Monitors a Key Figure’s Woes

19 Responses

  1. That’s the thing that I heard from the women I interviewed — even if they had big issues with how TER is run, it was seen as so central to the online biz, there would be no way to topple it. Elms is in jail right now for charges unrelated — as far as we know — from operating TER, unless possession of firearms and narcotics were a part of running TER. Even if he were charged with what he’s been accused of — rape, extortion — the chance he’d do time is so unlikely — about as unlikely, it seems, as TER going anywhere.

  2. […] The Erotic Review: Axis of Evil « Bound, Not Gagged “Here’s a big, fat, cherry-flavored FUCK YOU to all those who feel compelled to perpetrate the hooker-as-social-deviant myth while happily profiting from the very thing they seem to despise. There’s a revolution on the horizon, and it’s wearing ass-kicking stilettos.” to sexwork rights advertising internet assholes […]

  3. “As an escort, I’ve come to terms with my love-hate relationship with escort reviews in general, adopting a sort of “nature of the beast” attitude.”

    I agree that the guy who runs TER is a shit that deserved to go down.

    However, I think review sites in general serve a worthwhile function in keeping the business honest, analogous in a lot of ways to the feedback system on eBay. Say what you will about not wanting to perpetuate the idea of sex workers as dangerous deviants, one doesn’t know from answering a random ad what one is really paying for or who one is getting the services of, and a worst-case scenario is being outright ripped off (and I know guys firsthand who this has happened to); customers are entirely within their right to warn each other away from such danger. For anybody else, I would think a customer going into a situation with a reasonable idea of what their getting and reasonable assurance that their not going to be ripped off makes for a better, less tense situation all around.

    The biggest downsides are that 1) there are some guys like the TER owner who will try to game the system, or otherwise use the review system as a kind of blackmail, and 2) except for a few sites, sex workers don’t always have review sites for customers, or at least bad customer lists, which I think would go a long way toward equalizing the situation. (Based on some of the stuff I’ve heard, the porn business could really use this, too.)

  4. As someone who’s spent way too much time reading TER but has never seen a print ad, I am surprised by this article. Then again, I have done little at the site but satisfy my voyeuristic impulses by reading the reviews. But those reviews I have read have been almost universally working-girl-positive.

    I can’t speak to what the print ads are trying to say, but in the reviews when someone screams rip-off they’re talking about showing up for a meet and having the supposed provider take their money and then claim they’re only selling companionship, not sex.

  5. We’ll work in that next. Several of us are in the planning stages of how we’re going to get rid of the third party bosses.

  6. […] here’s another opinion from an escort who thinks TER is the Axis of Evil. Topics: Escorts, Internet | Leave a Comment […]

  7. I don’t know where else to post this since can’t seem to post into the main blog but would like to get this info out:

    Phoenix PD wants David Elms of TER put away for life
    After Phoenix arrested him for conspiracy to commit murder, assault, weapons and drug charges
    Now Seeks blackmailed for sex escorts – anonymous contact set up

    If you or for guys or all gals, if you know an escort that has been blackmailed into sex for reviews to stay on TER etc please pass this on.

    Yes, this is ironic, when the usual enemy (law enforcement) is on our side to get rid of a dangerous, abusive person in the industry (David Elms TER). This has nothing to do with the TER board, only the dangerous owner.

    I had a long phone discussion with Detective Christina Bill (yes like mans first name) of the Phoenix Police Dept Vice unit. She welcome me getting this message out to escorts. The following are high points of the conversation:

    She is trying to put together a case against David Elms that would put him behind bars permanently. She asks for our help to do so. She is very compassionate towards what is going on and understands that escorts CAN be victimized by people like Elms.

    Det. Bill agrees with the attorney in LA who I have had many discussions with – that blackmailed sex is the same as criminal felony rape. He is the attorney who filed the recent Federal Civil case against Elms on behalf of “Jane Doe” an escort, now the murder for hire victim in Phoenix

    Phoenix PD wants to get Elms on more felony charges but needs escorts to come forward from anywhere in the U.S., not just Phoenix. Det Bill needs to speak with Escorts who have been Threatened / Harassed / Extorted by David Elms. Gals can contact her anonymously with the procedure discussed below.

    Detective Bill could care less about misdemeanor prostitution offenses. She tells me she has already cleared it with the County Attorney’s office, not caring about being an escort if you come forward.

    She seeks help from escorts that have been harassed in any way or have exchanged sex and or money for TER reviews not be taken down etc. She would like as many as possible in order to get a Grand Jury indictment BEFORE his arrest, with a prearranged agreed on large bail by the Court so he won’t just get small bail next time. The Prosecutor, County Attorney’s office and Phoenix major crimes unit were shocked at the low $150,000 bail by a judge that had no real background info on him when arrested a few weeks ago for conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated assault, weapons and various drug charges.

    I have arranged with her a way for gals to come forward anonymously. She just wants the opportunity to talk to you.

    To protect escorts confidentially they/you can call the Police Community Hotline at 602-426-1231.
    Tell them you have info on the David Elms case for Detective Christina Bill.
    You can leave any name. She told me you can call yourself “juicy” for all she cares.
    Just leave a phone number that she can call to talk with you.

    This is a case similar to the 2005 case of “Rapist Who Choked Providers Till Passed Out , Raped and Robbed Them” I report on at http://www.sexwork.com/Phoenix/rapist.html I worked with Scottsdale PD and got escorts to come forward who all said they were very comfortable working with both the police and the County Attorney’s office. A fast response, and an outstanding investigation got him arrested quickly. He is now serving a sentence of over 100 years in prison. Escorts could have gotten formal immunity but after working closely with the Country Attorney I don’t believe any escorts thought that was necessary.

    As we know from the NY Times article that he was found raping a women at gunpoint in a hotel. But she was too scared to press charges. Apparently she reported this to police when she called 911 but the California authorities could only get him on weapons and drug charges which is why he is now on probation.

    I realize the irony that some of the same police that busted Desert Diva’s, now want to befriend escort victims of David Elms because of what he has done to so many escorts and the risk he poses. As Christina told me “I am ready to get rid of this guy.” She sounds to me both very compassionate for the plight and sensitivity of escorts but she is VERY determined to get more charges on Elms.

    He is now out on bail. He is clearly in violation of his probation in CA. But he has beat a probation violation before and it was only on drugs and weapons charges. Phoenix PD will work with the California authorities on details of any Arizona new charges and his parole violation on priors in CA.

    I think Christina Bill will put you at ease and I am convinced she is absolutely sincere in having no interest in your profession. From reading many boards, it is obvious many guys and gals know of his blackmail for sex victims so please spread the word to anyone you think may have been blackmailed to provide sex to Elms

    A post on the ladies only section of a LV board caused quite a stir. She says she was not directly on the LV board but an escort posted for her but it appeared to be her. The board owner confirmed she was real police (as I did also) and it was agreed she would be banned as soon as she posted the notice for LV gals to come forward. She realizes the sensitivity of the situation. The post clearly identified her as Phoenix Police. She is not trying to sting anyone, only put Elms away as he has proved himself very dangerous.

    The AZ Grand Jury did not indict on the conspiracy to commit murder charge but has indicted him for felony aggravated assault and drug charges. Phoenix PD and the County Attorney want to get him for felony rape as we know he has been guilty of for many years with many gals in different states.

    I have long history and details about this and prior cases at http://www.sexwork.com/terbad.html This is why he hired a hit man to come after me as well as the escort that filed the Federal civil charges. As someone pointed out, he better pray we both keep very healthy, since everyone knows who to look at if anything should happen to us. Yes, it shook me up when I was contacted by police by phone, and have now met with the “hit man” and other major crimes officer. It is now in the hands of the police as the hit man fortunately was an undercover police officer in the major crimes unit and Phoenix PD and the County Attorney are very serious about getting more charges on him for everyone’s safety.

    I was trying to work with the LA Attorney who filed the Federal Case wanting gals to come forward but we were unable to arrange a direct escort friendly LE contact in California. Now with the murder for hire etc arrest in Phoenix, Phoenix and County Attorney really want him on more felonies – felony rape for any escort who was blackmailed into sex with him.

    Dave in Phoenix
    sexwork.com

  8. “Detective Bill could care less about misdemeanor prostitution offenses. She tells me she has already cleared it with the County Attorney’s office, not caring about being an escort if you come forward”

    Can this statement be put in writing for public release?. It would go a long way to convincing escorts that they will not be investigated for prostitution or any other criminal offenses related to their occupation. I’am asking because it is frequently the case the police officers will keep information and come back around to sexually harasse and extort escorts another time.

    Are the police willing to get behind legislation that makes any crime against an escort a hate crime with special mandated sentencing?

  9. Detective Bill is the lead detective in the August 2008 Desert Divas bust “the largest prostitution bust in Arizona history,” according to inside sources.

    DaveinPhoenix is the author of “Why SWOP is the Enemy of Sex Workers” (http://www.sexwork.com/coalition/SWOPisEnemy.html). His websites regularly diss SWOP.

    Be wary.

  10. Yes, because while I support SWOP to some extent they will continue to fail trying impose public nuisance street hookers on the public. I totally support zones etc, that have been tried in Europe and failed.

    There is public support for not wasting police resource’s and for decrim on in PRIVATE consenting adult sexwork but include street hookers and it will continue to fail both in the U.S. and most of the World.

    The NZ situation has neighborhoods in an uproar .

    I want to help the street hooker – get them off the streets into safe legal incalls or other options. I have even worked with a safe house group many years ago in Minneapolis to help street girls be safe from their pimps and off drugs etc.

    The efforts to include street hookers resulted in the SWOP big defeat both in SF and Berkeley. I am practical lets get decrim of PRIVATE sexwork which does have a chance of public support if related to wasting police and Court resources. It is also backed by the Lawrence vs Texas case where private prostitution law may be unconstitional. And we have a NY case where paying for time with an escort even if sex expected is not prostitution if there is no direct sex for money.

  11. I pointed out the irony that yes Det Bill unfortunately did too good of a job and was the lead detective in the Desert Diva’s bust. But murder and assault are far more important to her with what Elms had done and is rape of women for so many years.

  12. Dave, you’ll not sell your argument here. Sex in exchange for compensation between consenting adults shouldn’t be illegal no matter what types of people engage in it, nor where they negotiate their business. Public sex is illegal, so there should be no argument there. And street-based sex workers are no more a public nuisance than any other type of street-based advertiser.

    But like Maxine, I am also curious if the ladies can count on a written agreement of immunity to arrest or prosecution in exchange for information. Knowing that LE has been known to use wiretapping, etc. to go after sex workers is enough to make most extremely distrustful.

  13. swolpv,
    as long as the police have dual mandates to bring safety and arrest us for prostitution, we as workers can’t count on anything.
    But as sex worker rights activists, getting those agreements in writing are important because it is an exercise in getting le to agree to something that we want which is to stop arresting the workers for working. It’s important because it forces them to take a stand; is it more important for you as le to bring equal protection or is it more important for you to arrest us for prostitution?

    As activists in our community ,we function primarily using political activism, getting agreements in writing is a step. It’s how we build relationships, it’s how all parties have something to go back to together to say; hey this worked well in this area, but not in other areas. It is something to work off of for change.
    We activist and workers know that even when we win decrim, the cops are going to continue to use their badges as means deprive us of equal protection and in some cases continue to use their position to exploit us. We know this because they have continued to do it other marginalized communities; black people, women….
    Getting those initial agreements, we can always go back to it and say, you didn’t keep your end of the deal, or you didn’t put this in writing and you negotiated in bad faith.
    Now that is theory,
    In actual cases,
    I’ve seen workers make these kinds of written agreements with le to limited benefit. obviously. In my case in Seattle, I saw immunity agreements that said the workers had 2 years to run escort agencies without police targeting them for sting operations in exchange for testimony that lead to conviction of others. Their testimony in many cases were rendered not crediable on the witness stands because they had finacial reasons to say whatever the police needed them to say. Prosecutors fought tooth and nail to keep those agreements away from the juries. Those agreements helped get the arrest warrants at the very least.

    But for their efforts, those workers who signed immunities agreements got to exploit other workers without fear of repercussions, they got to sell drugs, they got build other relationships with other corrupt parts of le that they used to their benefit after their years expired…..la la la la la.

    Ultimately, we as workers and as sex worker rights activist want decrim so know body has to choose between their safety and coeresed cooperation with corrupt authorities.
    As for wirer taping…I would say the police use everything in their power everyday to exploit us for their own personal and professional gain. Some are reading this and jacking off to us as we speak, for free and without our permission.

  14. Last night flipping through the TV channels, I came across a show called “Real Vice Cops.” A sting operation at a hotel resulted in the arrest of a 25 year old worker. The arrest was her fifth, qualifying her for up to five years in prison. I am not certain of the state because I was so mad I was screaming at the television and did not catch the mention of which state she was working in. She has two small children.

    Fuck the police and you know what Dave, fuck you too. Workers and former workers stand with all workers whether they work out of cars, hotels, hot tubs or houses.

    Perhaps clients should practice the same solidarity with the clients who can not afford the $300 indoor fee.

  15. As to recourse for the clients, If you get a bad date call the Better Business Bureau.

  16. In response to Dave’s comments, some people have said that it would have been easier to get Prop. K passed in SF if it would not have decriminalized street prostitution, but I don’t entirely agree. Prop. K got 41 of the vote, so it wasn’t a huge defeat like Dave said, and it was a higher percentage of the vote than Measure Q received in Berkeley a few years ago, so we’re making progress and I think we need to stay on the path we’re on. Efforts to end the criminalization of prostitution could loose votes by excluding street workers because this would be classist, which would turn some people off. We may also loose activists by doing this.
    Also, in terms of Lawrence vs. Texas, street workers could be protected under this ruling if they don’t public sex acts. Just because they work the streets to get customers doesn’t mean they’re engaging in sex acts on public streets. They normally go to private places.

  17. For anyone scanning this who is not familiar with AA, I simply want to tell each group has its individualised “personality” and draws in different types of individuals. The early a.m. meeting that I go to has, predictably, for the most part people who are professional employed people who wish to commence the day on a positive mark.

  18. […] deserves to be punished as severely as he sees fit. “DID YOU GET RIPPED OFF AGAIN?” asked one TER print ad. “Don’t let them get away with […]

  19. TER in’t alone in issues like this I have heard story or several review sites and/or directory site owners trying to take advantage of the girls. That why it’s good practice to build and maintain your own online site and/or blog. Copy reviews to your own site and keep your site updated with content don’t depend on 3rd party’s. Create a mailing list and keep clients update via email. Use everything you can to your advantage but don’t depend solely on review sites and forums. Work on getting ranked in Google it’s free traffic and with a little work it can be had.

    Jason Maze
    http://MazeModels.com

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