Photo via Flickr user Jason Rogers. Last Friday, Jeffrey Hurant plead guilty to promoting prostitution. He was the final defendant on a lawsuit against his website, Rentboy.
I'm a Male Escort, and the Rentboy Raid Is Horrible for Sex in America
Some say the lawsuit is an attack on a marginalized group, and for those escorts who used Rentboy to vet and communicate with clients, the effect of last August's raid was felt long before Hurant entered his plea: One year on, the absence of the popular listings website has made their profession riskier, done nothing to tackle larger issues within the sex work profession, and has forced a lot of queer businessmen to think on their feet.
Luckily, you'd be hard pressed to find more industrious folk. Hurant founded Rentboy in as a site where men could pay to spend time with other men. According to Lawrence v Texas , it is legal to pay for a person's time; what happens in that time is their business. The site carried disclaimers making clear that those escorts who advertised there were offering companionship, not sex, though the Justice Department says that was mainly what was on offer.
But it expanded into much more than that: Through their nonprofit Hook, the company also offered ' harm-reduction classes ' called "Rent University" on sexual health, financial advice, and business acumen. The office's papers and computers were confiscated, and Hurant was handcuffed and arrested while his house was searched.
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Ares Apollo said he first saw news of the raid on escort reviews website Daddy's Reviews. James, in an article for Cosmopolitan in , said whatever happened between two consenting adults behind closed doors is never a part of the original agreement. Tommy, an escort with the website, talked about his experiences with female clients and what they sought from an escort.
I think that they want somebody who will really pay attention to them, who's really listening. I'm able to really care about their lives and where they've been.
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Tommy also revealed that his attempts at dating women who were not his clients did not go too well as many would not accept that he was an escort; his travel and long working hours did not work in his favor either. Another escort, Ryan James, clarified a few things about the profession in an article in Sydney Morning Herald.
“Rentboy has made this a safer business to be in.”
He denied the popular belief that he was in the profession because of a high libido. In addition to listing on Rentboy, I freelanced in-office for them doing graphic design. The people who worked at Rentboy—seven of whom were just arrested—were there for ages. You very rarely hear about pimps in Even escort services are on their way down.
What they achieved through this site, while illegal, was an absolute, unalloyed good. I hope people realize the level of presence Rentboy has in the gay community. Or, had.
They had floats at Pride parades. Their Hustlaball is a giant party they have in five or six cities around the world.
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What surprised me about the raid was I thought there was sort of an understanding. That probably sounds naive. What scared me about this is I just moved my business to a larger space. It goes to the business. I have all these obligations.
I have a small client base, but I think some people might be scared. The clients are compromised in this raid, too. When you write to a Rentboy escort, it masks your email address initially. Rentboy was the No. Celebrities use it. Political figures. Sometimes, kind of important ones.
I had one guy, a closeted foreign politician that I like very much. He is a really big deal. Rentboy has made this a safer business to be in. I was joking with friends: This site drove like 95 percent of traffic to us. Obviously, something else will step in.