It’s a complicated question with more emotions than answers at the end.
As I get ready to reopen my personal website this week, after weeks and months of work invested – not just by me, but a designer and photographer as well – it’s impossible not to think of one of the parts of this work that I’m the most uncomfortable with: the reviews.
For those unfamiliar, the primary source of your reviews as a male escort or companion (or whatever your noun is), is Daddy’s Reviews and the message forum that goes with that site. It’s a space for consumers or clients or customers (or whatever their noun is) to talk about their experiences and reassure each other that a particular provider is satisfactory or worth their time. But it’s also a place for the opposite; often presented in the form a troubling and nuanced vivisection of every element of a provider’s personhood and personality.
Like any review or opinion aggregate site you might encounter (Yelp or Angie’s List, spring to mind) the reviews and the forum serve an important purpose for a clientele that is already fantastically underserved when it comes to resources and education. I can’t imagine what it must be like to spend hundreds of dollars on what is essentially a total gamble on an experience with someone you’ve never even met. It seems to me the very FIRST thing I’d try to do as a customer is accumulate as much information on someone as I possibly could. Daddy’s would be a great first stop.
But as someone on the opposite side of that, I’ve witnessed some really terrible things said about people I like and admire on these message boards by people who had met them only briefly. In more than one case, had never met them at all. Sometimes providers will create forum accounts so that they can dispute inaccuracies or fight back against perceived slights against them. Some are epic posters who generate a good amount of attention and new clients from their enthusiastic forum writings. Occasionally, though, this behavior can make them look defensive and stand-offish.
To translate it to another scenario: maybe you’re looking to hire a plumber. I don’t necessarily want to hire the guy who’s on the Daddy’s Plumbers forum all day long trying to yell back at disappointed customers. I’d just as soon not know anything about that plumber.
And that’s pretty much been my tactic: just keep scrolling. I’m aware the forums exist, and it’s been brought to my attention by long term clients that my name comes up there from time to time. But I can’t see a scenario where my reading what people are saying makes me love this work more, or makes me a better provider. And I definitely can’t see a scenario where someone will be won over by my boisterous defenses against negative comments. There will always be folks sitting and waiting to tear you down. It’s inevitable.
So where does that leave me? I’ve got a handful of reviews (all positive so far, but full disclosure: when people offer to write reviews for me, I almost always discourage it, which accounts for the slim offerings on my Daddy’s Reviews page. It seems like a professional minefield and fertile ground for disappointment for new clients who read reviews as a menu of what to expect. What I do and how I spend time is different with every single person I meet, so if one is trying to replicate someone else’s experience, they’re in for a bad time) and a profile for posting travel updates or whatever I think will be useful. But I cringe just typing in the Daddy’s URL. I know I’m in for a lot of supremely negative talk and warnings from jilted customers about guys I know in real life.
I’m not sure what the solution is.
I know the reviews and forums are practical and necessary. It isn’t even remotely fair for someone to hire with expectations put in place by overzealous ads and altered and outdated photos, without the chance for any real research. But what good does it do providers to be torn down by reviewers for maybe just having a bad day at work? When one’s product is one’s personality, it can be a tricky thing to always be on 10.
For my sake, and for my business, the value I place in sites like Daddy’s is that of oversight. This work is unregulated (one of the innumerable injustices of criminalization) and there’s nothing to stop anyone from lying outright about their abilities or appearance, which is deceptive and unfair to clients.
While I’m hesitant to spend any time reading the forums, knowing that bad word spreads has likely encouraged me to respond to messages more quickly, be more attentive on dates, and be more forthright in my dealings, overall. It isn’t worth the cost of a lie when someone is just trying to spend time with you. It isn’t worth the hit your reputation will take when you can’t stop checking your phone and seem distant and disconnected. And most of all, while discussions of me and what I do make me wrinkle my nose up when I think about them, I see why this is important for the guys who use it.
The best I can do is to believe that this work is important (it is) and treat everyone who reaches out or makes a plan with me with as much kindness and respect as I’m able. If you’re reading this, and you think I haven’t done that, I encourage you to reach out to me and tell me about it. You can tell the Daddy’s Reviews guys as well, but bring it to me directly. I promise not to argue back, and I may even have an explanation to offer. It could be something as simple as a miscommunication that was nobody’s fault. Or I could have been having a bad day and taking it out on the wrong person. I’m human. It happens.
I’m still gonna steer clear of the forums as much as I’m able. But I guess I get it.