Escort Ads in the Yellow Pages Gave Pimps The Edge

Before the Internet, if you wanted to find companionship you would look up “escort” in your local yellow pages. Big and bold as you please, Honolulu’s yellow pages had several half page ads around the year 2000. Local woman, foreign woman, older women, younger women—lots of variety. Alas, there was not always truth in advertising. These ads had different numbers but they rang one phone. The owner of the ads we shall call “Steve,” a black man who answered the phone in a mellifluous Barry White voice, with a standard “May I help you?” I never found out how many thousands of dollars it cost to run those ads but it was far beyond the means of a street sex worker. If you wanted to make $300/hr and say goodbye to $20 dates on the side of the road, you worked for Steve. The internet has made it possible for women to place their own ads, and they don’t have to give up half their earnings to a Steve-type who would pressure them to show their commitment to “what we are creating together” by giving up all of the money in a show of trust.

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