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  • Venus Rayne

Support Sex Workers By Boycotting This Disgraced Directory

It's time we had a chat about Scarlet Blue - what used to be thought of as the "classiest" directory for independent escorts, a favourite for both clients and peers alike for both quality providers, clients, look, feel and navigation. I realise most of you may have found me using the directory at some stage or other. It has been the first and foremost advertising space in the mid to high end independent escorting sphere in Australia for years.


The directory was created and owned by a former sex worker and hit a really special niche in the advertising market because it provided a premium service which justified its premium rates, and unlike other platforms there were no clumsy and crass add ons like bumps and VIP banners. You simply paid for your tier of advertising and you would get the level of exposure relative to your package - say, if you purchased a home page package you would appear on the home page of the website, or a city slider would place a banner at the top of the search page for your city, and all other profiles would randomly reshuffle so that everyone got an equal amount of exposure while clients scroll through profiles. It was simple, fair and effective. The high cost of advertising was justified. The system worked well and providers were happy with it. Another important factor that made the directory unique was that it was for independent escorts ONLY. Any agencies were not allowed to use the platform. It was specifically intended for independent escorts so that agencies and brothels who are larger businesses with more capital than independent escorts could not hold a monopoly as they do on many other advertising spaces. It also assured that clients could hire independent workers and were guaranteed to meet the provider in the ads rather than having to contend with the bait and switch technique that agencies adopt - baiting the client with an image of one person, and then sending whomever was available instead. Sometimes they are a similar description to the person in the ads and sometimes not at all, sometimes they offer the same services as advertised, but often they do not. This process is generally done without the worker's or client's knowledge and can be incredibly dangerous for the unaware worker, if say for instance, a client gets angry and aggressive when they don't get what they paid for or they assume that the services advertised are ok and unintentionally cross the boundaries of the substitute provider. Very dodgy stuff.


So, what's changed? Sometime in 2019 Scarlet Blue was sold off to an international company and is now linked with an infamous figure who runs a cohort of other advertising platforms and is not positively viewed in our community. Since then, their reputation has been in steep decline due to the unethical and exploitative practices they are choosing to implement.


The first plan of attack for the new company was to increase the amount of home page and city slider spots to accommodate double the providers in those more visible slots, however they did not lower the cost of these homepage and city slider spots. Increasing the amount of providers in those visible spots decreases the prestige and visibility of the function. So they essentially cut visibility and value of those select spots by half and didn't lower the cost of those tiers. Pretty shitty, right? Another factor that has been discussed in the community is the unfairness of those who were selected for these positions. People who had been on the very long waiting list for years were not selected for these positions while escorts who had been on the site for a few months at most had somehow made it into these slots. Fishy.


The second thing we started seeing were ads that were clearly agency run providers and an increase on reports of scams. Clients had come to trust Scarlet Blue and would willingly give deposits and personal info over to providers who requested them. I know personally and by many accounts of my peers, a large number of clients have told us about how the person that turned up looked absolutely nothing like the person in the ads or how several of them had given over large deposits only to be completely ghosted. This was virtually unheard of on Scarlet Blue up until that point. Advertisers were carefully screened and any reports of agencies or scams were dealt with effectively, however this new company clearly had no interest in integrity and only saw the dollar signs of all the new advertisers signing up.


Since then, there have been a slew of technical issues with the site - galleries and statistics and twitter not working for months - and a stripping of several valuable features - for advertisers in certain states they removed the selfie section of our ads, which clients LOVED, because they simply couldn't be bothered screening them for advertising violations. They took away website hosting that people had paid for, and a bunch of other stuff I'm forgetting. Again, no decrease in fees or refunds for those affected - and a drop in traffic and SEO. Meaning the value of advertising with them had dropped even further and instead of dropping costs they in fact increased the cost of advertising in this time. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and sex work was (and still is for some states) criminalised as part of lock down procedures, the platform saw fit to add a ludicrous optional $75 per month VIP Banner add on. It was clearly an attempt to make up for the losses they were experiencing due to the fact that many of us are either legally prohibited from working OR aren't comfortable working while a virus with no vaccine was circulating, and had taken down or paused our ads. Those marginalised workers who could not afford to take time off were slapped with this additional $75 fee for what was marketed as more visibility, but was honestly just an ugly red banner slapped across the ad that covered the faces and bodies of these beautiful providers. To an independent provider $75 is a lot to add to marketing costs, but to an agency with the capital it's nothing. So, all of the agencies snatched up this offer and are now circulating with a monopoly on that function. And you're correct, once again they did not lower the baseline pricing for advertisers despite stripping them of visibility and value.


The latest, yet another add on. This one is a bump or boost function. For the LOW LOW price of $9 a pop - other websites are $2 and under - you can bump your ad to the top of the formerly randomised and fair list of providers for your city. This further pushes marginalised independent workers who cannot afford this function - which to be useful would have to be used 3 times per day hiking up overall costs astronomically - to the bottom of city searches and pushes those agency ads to the top of the list all of the time. AND THEY DID ALL OF THIS DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC THAT HAS OBLITERATED OUR INDUSTRY. Where other platforms like https://tryst.link/ and https://availableangels.com.au/ were offering free ads, discounts and extra services to help out with the pandemic, Scarlet Blue has been hiking rates, stripping value, exploiting sex workers and encouraging an agency monopoly! A shocking and disgraceful display and a completely apathetic way to treat the affected community that made the business successful in the first place.


So what do we do about it? Providers Because of the platform's long standing reputation with clients and monopoly on "high class" advertising, we can't all just stop advertising with them. It is still the number one destination for clients seeking mid-high end "independent" escorts. Many of us only make money from the site because that is where clients go and we all have bills that need to be paid, so if you can't afford to boycott the site completely here are some tips that may help encourage clients to move over to other sites like https://tryst.link/ and https://availableangels.com.au/ - Stop allowing their access to your twitter for the available now function - use the function from other sites like https://tryst.link/ and https://availableangels.com.au/

- Stop tagging them in your twitter posts, linking them on your sites or giving them ANY exposure whatsoever

- Tell all of your clients to stop using them and give them alternatives like https://tryst.link/ and https://availableangels.com.au/

- Write to scarlet blue and tell them how disgraceful and distasteful this whole price gouging ordeal has been. The more people complain the more likely they are to listen.

- Write blogs and articles linking to other more ethical sites like https://tryst.link/ and https://availableangels.com.au/ to help raise their SEO

- Up your rates for Scarlet Blue to help cover costs and offer incentives like lower rates or extra time for clients who find you and book through other platforms like your website https://tryst.link/ and https://availableangels.com.au/ (perhaps don't mention this too blatantly on your SB ads as it may be flagged, but perhaps say something like "check out my twitter/website for inscentivised rates" or something similar.


Clients and allies

At the end of the day higher advertising costs need to be made back somehow. These costs will be passed on to you so it is in your best interest to help us move away from SB to more ethical and better functioning sites like https://tryst.link/ and https://availableangels.com.au/


- This one is really easy for you. STOP USING THEM. STOP IT. Cancel your membership if you have one. I don't care what excuse you want to say about the layout and functionality of other sites - https://tryst.link/ which is Australian sex worker owned and run and https://availableangels.com.au/ are excellent for layout and functionality.

- Tell your friends to stop using the platform.

- Write to scarlet blue and tell them how disgraceful and distasteful this whole price gouging ordeal has been. The more people complain the more likely they are to listen.

- Write blogs and articles linking to other more ethical sites like https://tryst.link/ and https://availableangels.com.au/ to help boost their SEO


It is really such a shame that during this time of uncertainty and economic difficulty for the sex worker community, one of our biggest advertising platforms that many of us rely on has seen fit to kick us while we're down. Sex workers are a passionate and powerful community and we will not stand for such blatant exploitation. Please do what you can to join us in ushering in a new era of ethical and compassionate advertising by sex workers for sex workers.


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