While it seems like escort websites have been around forever, it is in fact a phenomenon only 20 years old. And I distinctly remember the first day I was introduced to the concept.
Back in 1996 when I got my job at Action mag, the advertising options for escorts were limited. Screw and Action were the only two publications which featured display ads (pictures of the actual girls – or fakes representing them). The NY Press, Voice and NY Mag sold only tiny line ads to their adult advertising customers. And that was it! That was the entire smorgasbord of options!
As a result, Action had a big reputation when I was first hired. The paper worked…girls knew it…and I was immediately treated like a player in the community simply by virtue of my employment at the paper. It was a little strange but hey! No problem. Hot women treating me with respect? That didn’t happen when I drove a cab!
My initial employment duties included a lot of writing (mostly fiction) and collections from existing advertisers. I was given a list of accounts for which I was responsible. Daily faxes came in indicating who owed how much and when. And it was my job to sweat them for payments by phone…go collect the cash when they were ready…and then report back by fax how successful I’d been. Action customers were mostly shitty payers (something which I eliminated when I went on my own) and the collecting part of the job sucked.
Now to the epiphany. One day I arrived at a classy Upper East Side incall at which I’d apparently gained the confidence of the owner. As I entered, she requested that I stick around after her payment as some guy would be pitching her on advertising on his website. Easy peazy! Vanessa and a couple of her girls were big-time cuties. I could make time.
Just a few minutes after the request, in walks a friendly dude with a laptop under his arm. Bear in mind that at this point, those gizmos went for like 2 g’s – and the Internet was still pretty new. Brian (who later became a good friend) opened his thingy…logged onto his site…and then showed us the four clients he had on Ny-exotics.com. Homey was not really a sales guy. But he didn’t need to be. I got it immediately.
Only guys with money would respond to the ads because (hello) laptops cost two grand. The responders would be educated because nobody who drove a truck for a living even knew about the Internet. And finally, the owner of the site had no print costs and even more important, could post ads immediately upon receiving the clients’ money. That was a big problem at Action. Girls would buy an ad and then wait weeks for the paper to come out. Instant gratification always wins the day with consumers.
Brian immediately commissioned me to sell ads for his website. He could tell I was on board. After leaving the girls and Brian, I got on my cell phone and called the boss to say “Today, I’ve seen the future of the escort advertising business. The death knell for print has been sounded. Be apprised.” Joe thought I was nuts. There was no way the web would usurp his lofty position in the marketplace.
Well…the rest is history. Within 3 years, Action was out of business and Screw was hanging by a thread. Print continued on a limited basis but has at this point effectively and completely died out. The Press folded. And the Voice and NY Mag discontinued their adult ads. Every so often I get it right. And the day I met Brian was one of those rare moments.