After numerous rumors and endless news stories about the site’s imminent demise, the inevitable finally happened. The US government has shut down BACKPAGE.COM, the country’s premier vehicle for the exchange of play for pay. No doubt law enforcement sees April 6th, 2018 as a red letter day. They’ve been after Backpage for years and have finally prevailed. But scratch the surface and the fed’s logic crumbles.
The recently voted-upon FOSTA legislation (which presumably enabled this takedown) is specifically designed to put the heat on human traffickers which oddly, the three principals of Backpage.com aren’t. But no matter. The feds feel the principals are providing a venue for traffickers. And that’s good enough for them. But what’s really going to happen in the escort game in this brave new world? That’s what “en”quiring minds want to know!
Well first, I don’t picture it going away. The business will simply morph – and not in a good way. Let’s say you’re a marginal operator working out of a hotel and posting on Backpage to attract clients. Life has been good in the Internet era. No longer do you have to work the streets to turn a buck. You can talk to prospective clients and get a feel for who you’re dealing with before making a decision as to whether you want to entertain the guy.
Now here comes the government to rain on your parade. No longer can you advertise your wares. What are ya gonna do now? Answer: You’re gonna go back to the streets and car dates. Life will instantly become much more dangerous. Sooner than later, along comes the pimp daddy. It’s his stroll. And you can’t work there unless he says so.
Bottom line: With Backpage, you operated independently and had a chance to keep yourself safe. Now you’ve got a pimp to ensure your safety! Wonderful! Hello! You’re getting trafficked! You weren’t before. But you are now! That’s what FOSTA has done for you! Thus, if there’s one group that’s rejoicing at the news as much as federal law enforcement, it’s the pimps of America. What a windfall for them!
Now that we’ve established what will happen with the scum belles of the trade, what about the middle and high end girls? For the moment, they can still advertise on Eros – though I imagine they’ll be the next to fall. But even that site’s demise won’t spell doom for those girls. They have regulars who will continue to call them for dates given that those regulars no longer have the multitude of choices they once had.
And the same goes for established agencies and houses with a long list of repeat customers. Not only will they survive with their steadies, but their old clientele who opted for indies on Backpage will return. And some of the marginal independents will be calling those big agencies seeking employment rather than working the stroll and experiencing all the potholes that entails. I’d imagine that the agencies are panicking right now. But they’re not seeing the big picture. They stand to benefit from the federal initiative as well.
As for the purchaser of these services…they’ll take a major hit. No longer will the consumer have the escort game’s version of Consumer Reports (with the attendant demise of TER). And their choices will be limited to established agencies and regulars. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. And they’ll find their way. Legislating the boner out of a horn dog’s crotch is about as fruitless as the war on drugs. Dudes wanna get laid. And people wanna get high…legal ramifications notwithstanding. Maybe the feds won a big battle. But they’ll never win the war.
On a personal note, I feel for Carl Ferrer, who I counted as a friend when he first founded his site. But the site as a corporate entity? Fuck ’em! When the feds came a knocking, they served me up on a silver platter. As did Eros. So why would I care what happens to either of them? Answer: I don’t.
I notice that one of the many governmental agencies involved in the Backpage takedown is the much feared IRS. That is never a good thing. I assume they’re gonna seize the principals’ assets as they did with me. Well Backpage! I guess you reap what you sow. Get ready for years of uncertainty. Trust me. That’s the way this is gonna play out. Your nightmare is just beginning.