Sex and Second Life

Here I am, dressed like a street prostitute with black and purple hair and a belly piercing, lying on my back on a table in front of a Latin American "baroque" building. I'm wearing a skimpy black bandeau top that exposes the bottom of my breasts, and a magenta skirt; the strap of my magenta undergarment rises above my skirt. My feet are adorned by magenta-coloured 8"-high exotic dancer shoes; at the bottom of my right calf, a "Queen of Spades" tattoo can be seen. On my right ankle, there are two ankles can be seen; the bottom one has the four letters of the word "SLUT" hanging from it.
Tulum Township, August 2021 (Rated: Adult)

This day marks a cumulative fifteen years in Second Life for me – around two years on my first account, and thirteen as Mona Eberhardt. However, my rezday isn’t the starting point for this post. I’m not interested in boring you with yet another “I’ve seen this development and the other in SL” retrospective. The main reason for the current post is my previous post, where I mentioned that I’ve spent a little over four of these years working in-world as an escort / exotic dancer. I think this is about as good a time as any to share my thoughts on that time in my SL.

The experiences I had in those years, the fantasies and desires I indulged in, and helped others indulge in, the friends I made, are all part of who I am now. The time I spent exploring that side of me helped me get in touch with my desires, fantasies, and fetishes. Furthermore, working in SL’s sex industry was my choice. Although I’ve moved on, I don’t look back upon that time with guilt, sadness, shame, or regret. So, I don’t hide it, and I don’t try to dress it up with daft euphemisms, such as “courtesan”.

…But Why?

Of course, being all too familiar with the fact that people have a surprisingly hard time minding their own fucking business, I prefer to keep my RL and SL identities as separate as possible, and be very picky as to who gets to know what. So, few of my Real Life friends, acquaintances and relatives know I use SL at all; fewer know that I have a relationship in SL. Only one knows I’ve worked as an escort in SL, and no one in my RL circle knows my SL nom de plume.

So, this one RL friend of mine to whom I revealed, way back in 2010, my in-world past employment asked me a question that had me stumped: “I don’t get it: in the real world, you’re ‘conventionally attractive,’ you have a decent job, and you can have your choice of men. Why did you choose to be a virtual hooker?” Back then, I shrugged and merely said “because,” which is a perfectly adequate answer. But still, this got me thinking: what was it that drew me to this particular in-world profession?

The Allure of Second Life

I believe the first step to answer this question is to identify what makes SL itself so attractive to me, and to others like me. Despite its hardware requirements, clunky interface (after all, it’s a very old platform), its lack of an endgame, and the overwhelming number of 3D graphics terms you find yourself having to understand, it offers quite a lot. For starters, you can find a decent choice of items you can use to shape your avatar at relatively low prices, a set of in-world creative tools, and a chance, by default, to keep your RL and SL identities as separate as you want. This last bit is liberating. These attributes allow you to explore your whims, desires, and fantasies (sexual or otherwise), without worrying about RL repercussions, and even reimagine and / or reinvent yourself, your background story, your entire existence. In this digital realm, you can do and be just about anything you wish.

Many people reinvent their childhoods in-world, seeking to heal the wounds their RL ones left them with. I’ve seen people do things that are physically impossible in RL – either subjectively (i.e. a person who’s disabled in RL enjoying a complex dance in SL) or objectively, such as growing wings and flying, or transforming into fairies, merfolk, elves, even cyborgs. I’ve seen people create stuff in SL that they could never possibly build in RL, because they could never hope to bear the cost it would incur, or because the laws of Physics get in the way. This, combined with Linden Lab’s “do whatever you want, just don’t be a dick” attitude and the fact that it steers well clear of employing creepy, Facebook-like, data collection methods, provides a liberatingly and therapeutically safe space for creativity, self-expression, and self-exploration, including people’s in-world experimentations with romance, sex, and gender.

On the other hand, RL societies, even “progressive” ones, employ all sorts of gender-based emotional, legislative, and physical violence (slut-shaming, kink-shaming, harassment, guilt trips, discrimination, ostracism, forced birth laws, beating, rape, murder) to “discipline” those who stray from the patriarchal, heteronormative, gender binary, monogamous, male-centric orthodoxy. In other words, if you’re a woman who leads an “exceedingly active” sex life, if you dress “too provocatively” or in a manner that doesn’t match your sex, if you’re a sex worker, or if you’re (gender)queer, RL society will go out of its way to make your existence unbearable.

In this, I’m not different from the scores of people who have embraced SL for this purpose. It gave me a chance to indulge in all those things societal norms and established perceptions about gender roles made it impossible for me to explore safely in RL. Thanks to SL’s extensive built-in safeguards, I’m practically always in control of what happens to my avatar, although several other users in the past thought my avatar’s state of (un)dress was a sexual invitation, and one addressed specifically to them, to boot.

Stopping unsavoury persons from continuing to interact with me in-world is just a mouse click away, and I don’t need to explain to them why I don’t want them in my SL. The same goes for getting out of a place where I don’t feel comfortable – even in the early years when griefing attacks were far more frequent than they are today. We can vew dating and sexual exploration in SL as a safer, at least physically, form of what we oldbies did on the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and other similar platforms.

How It All Started

So, in terms of sexual exploration, SL became my playground; I felt free and safe. I could do and be things that would make me “less respectable” if I did and became them in RL. But how did I start with in-world sex work? Well, in the beginning, I sought a job. I wasn’t a skilled builder yet, and I most certainly wasn’t a scripter. I also didn’t have the equipment and qualifications to be an in-world DJ or musician. So, my options were effectively limited to working at a club; I could be a hostess, a dancer (go-go or exotic), and / or an escort. I tried all three as a trainee and as a new professional, and found out that escorting was the job with the highest earning potential. So, I decided to go with a combination of escorting and exotic dancing. So, I guess you could say I was being pragmatic.

But this doesn’t tell the whole story. I actually enjoyed this profession, at least for the most part. I must say here that I was unaware of Brooke Magnanti‘s work. As for my knowledge of the RL strip club circuit before joining SL, my only contact with it was when my then-boyfriend dared me to visit such a club. There, he rather audaciously bought me a half-hour lap dance session in one of the club’s VIP rooms with two stunning dancers; a guy and a girl. If it sounds arousing, I must tell you I exited the room with the stupidest smile you can imagine. So, although this remained for quite some time my only RL strip club experience, not to mention my only RL same-sex experience, it was a bit of a light bulb moment for me: I realised that I wasn’t bi-curious, but actually bisexual. It also made me see the sensual and erotic side of working as an exotic dancer; so, working as one in SL sounded exciting and – why not? – transgressive.

I was going to defy RL societal norms. As an exotic dancer, arousing those around me and captivating them with my appearance, my flirting, and my sexually charged speech in chat and IM was no longer something I should be ashamed of, or something I should avoid for fear of sexual assault: it was something I’d be complimented and even paid for. And as an escort, I could be paid to have sex with others, on my own terms, and in an environment far safer than anything RL had ever provided me with.

Exploring Kinks and Fetishes as An SL Escort

It goes without saying that, even before I joined SL, I was already familiar with a wide variety of adult content: from “saucy” lifestyle mags to the usual suspects (Playboy, Penthouse) and all manner of cheesy porn magazines; from watered-down, flaccid softcore movies to moderately erotic (such as 9½ Weeks and La Leçon de Plaisir) ones, and then all the way to hardcore movies and websites. I became familiar with the works of photographers like Suze Randall or Eric Kroll, and I loved comic artists like Milo Manara, Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri, Sardax, John Willie, and Michael Manning. Much of what I’d seen and read there became part of my fantasies.

I know that, in RL, many of my fantasies will always remain fantasies. Some require costly attire and equipment that I can’t afford; some are physically impossible and / or dangerous; some others could expose me to the most venomous and vitriolic gossip imaginable. In SL, these barriers are largely removed: you can build your dream home, complete with the most well-equipped BDSM dungeon, for a fraction of the price of a couple of RL sex toys; your avatar can do, and be put through, utterly implausible things. Finding people to participate in some of your fantasies is far easier than it is in RL.

It’s true that, outside LL’s infrastructure and control, there are some gossip cesspools run by subhuman pieces of trash catering to the foul, cannibalistic appetites of even lower forms of life; LL can’t protect you from them. But, if certain long overdue and extensively commented upon permabans that were imposed during Ebbe Altberg’s tenure are anything to go by, they seem to be more than willing to show such people the door.

I wrote earlier that I’m just one of the many people who take advantage of SL to explore their fetishes and kinks. As a matter of fact, when I was an escort, many of my clients hired me to help them experience their non-vanilla fantasies. Some of them weren’t exactly my cup of tea; some others were fantasies I also had. Through my interaction with my clients, I was also given the opportunity to experiment, to see if what I fantasised about felt right when viewed on-screen while imagining myself being at the center of such scenes, and even discover new desires and kinks and, as a result, expand my horizons further.

One of the things I learned right from the start was that, if you want to make it as an SL escort, even the most stunning looks won’t help you much if all you do is click on whatever sexual attachments your client(s) and any other escort(s) that may be participating in the session are wearing. Sex in SL, being an extension of old-school chatroom / IM cybersex, relies greatly on text-based role-play, commonly referred to as emoting. In the context of an escort club, it refers both to chatting flirtatiously with your patrons – especially – after they’ve just tipped you and to your role-play with a client who’s hired you for a sex session.

To be good at it, you first need to have a good grasp of your partner’s (or client’s) language (I’m talking B2 on the CEFR’s scale or higher); you need to know how to use your partner’s (or client’s) attachments and yours; you need to be familiar with the furniture and / or custom animations you’re using. Most importantly, you need to be capable of putting together detailed, engaging descriptions of the scenes you and your partner(s) / client(s) are creating at the time, but also engage in a “call and response” manner with what your partner(s) / client(s) just sent in the chat / IM window, and type your text fast enough. You don’t want your session to read like two (or more) parallel, unrelated, and out-of-sync monologues.

So, Is Everything About SL Sex Work Great?

While my experience as an SL sex worker has been fun, not everything about it is good. First of all, there’s a huge supply of escorts and exotic dancers, and demand isn’t exactly infinite. So, getting hired can often be hard: even back then, there were extremely slow days at the club; there were days when people came to the club, but none of us got hired, and tips – if any – were insultingly low. Then again, there were days when I logged off having made upwards of L$5,000 within three hours of work, although that wasn’t very often. If you’re expecting to become a millionaire in SL by escorting, you need to reconsider.

But that’s not all: all those things I documented in my previous post were based on my experience as an escort: there were clients who were very difficult to communicate with. Others were really pushy and didn’t understand any part of “I’m not available right now.” Others didn’t know what they wanted and expected me to guess for them. Others had no respect for our boundaries, especially w.r.t. our RL. Others wanted us to satisfy kinks that were just plain against LL’s ToS and Community Standards. There have been times when I got booked by clients whose role-playing skills were pathetic, and working with them was tedious and exhausting. Other times, connection issues were so terrible that sessions were disrupted, and clients needed to be refunded. There were also occasions when we had really problematic people at the club: back in those days, griefing wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, and it could cause quite a headache; we’ve also had visitors who only came to pick a fight.

The advent of voice chat in SL didn’t help matters at all. Some girls and guys started offering voice chat, even cam sessions. This threatened the in-world sex industry with a race to the bottom w.r.t. escorts’ rates, but eventually it got sorted out. What took too long to get sorted, though, was the pressure exerted upon escorts by clients and some club managers. Club managers wanted to appear competitive; clients wanted an experience more akin to phone sex. However, many escorts, including yours truly, didn’t want to use voice chat in their sessions. Many were self-conscious about their accent, as English wasn’t their native language; others felt this would interfere with their RL; others simply weren’t of the same sex in RL as their SL avatars.

Personally, I’ve always felt my accent in English leaves a lot to be desired and I was worried it’d ruin the atmosphere and mood. Furthermore, even then, I wasn’t living alone in RL; I felt having my RL boyfriend hear me having – essentially – voice sex with other men was too invasive. Typing away was OK; I could take a short break if I had to, it was relatively quiet – my laptop’s keyboard was certainly no IBM Model M. Furthermore, at least in my eyes, offering my client a well-written narration, prompting him to not only read it, but also come up with something on par with it, made sessions more intriguing and rewarding.

Of course, not all patrons saw things this way. Among those patrons who demanded voice chat sessions, started heckling those of us who didn’t offer this service: they started haggling for lower rates, claiming we’re men in RL and threatening to expose us on the gossip cesspools I mentioned earlier, and so on. Many girls left the profession back then, because they didn’t want to put up with all this nonsense. I remember my income from escorting was seriously decreased at the time; all of my non-voice colleagues were dealt a similar blow. When some escorts started offering cam sessions and RL photos, things got even worse.

Why I Moved On From SL Escorting

Although I’ve always been an avid SL user, I come here to have a bit of fun, explore a bit if I can, meet my friends, and escape for a while from RL and its troubles and stress. By late 2010, the dust had settled, and I had already met Mistress Ani, who was then just starting out as an escort. She and I hit it off right away, and became best friends. However, I felt it was time for me to move on. I had quite a few good memories from my escorting days; during those days, I was able to indulge in several of my fantasies and fetishes, and I’d made some decent money.

But that’s not all there is to it: in my erotic explorations, I found out I had a really strong latex fetish, combined with a desire to immerse myself in the world of D/s (Dominance and submission). Due to the bizarre nature of the look I wanted to adopt, I quickly understood that, as provocative as it may be, it wasn’t what clients expected to be offered, and it wouldn’t be popular with them. So, some time in May 2011, I ceased being an escort.

Looking Back

I’m not nostalgic about those days. I don’t regret them, either. I had good times, I played around to my heart’s content, I made money. I had some unsatisfactory times, too – even rough ones: the voice / cam drama; the slow days; some frustrating clients. But the negative events and experiences don’t matter anymore, because, above all, I got to know Mistress Ani. She’s always been by my side, through thick and thin; She’s always been my rock, my confidante, my best friend. Now I know we’ve loved each other from the beginning. Now, She’s my Mistress; I belong to Her completely, and I couldn’t be happier; I’m Her permanently sealed submissive rubber doll; Her slut; Her toy; Her property. And this makes me look back on my escorting days, and all of my virtual existence, and smile.

Mistress Ani (on the right), whispering to Her rubber doll.
Mistress Ani and Her rubber doll…

Style Credits (Main Picture):

  • Mesh Body: Maitreya Mesh Body – Maitreya Lara v5.3 by Onyx LeShelle
  • Mesh Head:  LAQ Bento – Motion Capture – Gaia 3.07 by Mallory Cowen
  • Skin:
    • Body: LAQ ~ Lina BOM skin (No brows) – tone 3.0
    • Head: LAQ ~ Gaia Skin [3.0]
  • Makeup: Included with the head’s HUD
  • Manicure & Pedicure: alaskametro<3 “Pride” nail art appliers by Alaska Metropolitan
  • Tattoos:
    • Izzie’s – Izzie’s – Cellulite 1 by Izzie Button
    • QoS tattoo on right ankle (made by me)
  • Eyes: IKON Perspective Eyes – Coffee (S) by Ikon Innovia
  • Hair: *ARGRACE* RIE – B&W
  • Piercings:
    • PUNCH / Diamond Nose Ring (two of them worn on the left side of my nose) by Celandria Resident
    • (Yummy) Cleopatra Nose Ring – Diamond Flower Nose Ring – Silver by Polyester Partridge
    • EarthStones Belly Gems – Treasure – Maitreya Treasure Pack by Abraxxa Anatine
  • Bangles: Izzie’s – 80’s Rainbow Bangles mesh (l)
  • Anklets:
    • EarthStones Petit Vigne Anklet – Fatpack (R)
    • VOBE – B.Toes Anklets Slut Right (Silver) by Leó Streeter (leoo streeter)
    • ~~Ysoral~~ .:Luxe Anklets Ariel :.(Maitreya)(Left) by fenixdragon Rau
  • Shoes: {Livalle} Luscious -Platform Heels- Magenta (MAITREYA – Customised) by Lindsey Warwick
  • Top: :::insanya::: RaverTop Solids – M.LARA by Tatyana Ultsch
  • Skirt: :::insanya::: BiaSkirt – M.LARA (longer)
  • Bikini Bottom: [BB] Mini Bikini – FISHNET – Maitreya – BOTTOM by Belzebubble
  • Pose: Le Poppycock – *Linger A* by … (adapted with the AnyPose HUD)

On Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/2mkWBx4

Here I am, dressed like a street prostitute with black and purple hair and a belly piercing, and leaning against a streetlight. I'm wearing a heavily cropped black tank top that exposes the bottom of my breasts, and a magenta skirt; the strap of my magenta undergarment rises above my skirt.
Tulum Township, August 2021 (Rated: Adult)

On both my first Second Life account and my current one, I worked quite a few years (October 2006 to June 2008, on my first account, and September 2008 to May 2011, on this one) as an escort and exotic dancer to cover my in-world expenses, or part of them. However, even in those early, heady years, an SL escort’s job wasn’t easy.

It’s always been a job that requires pretty serious role-playing and emoting skills, and substantial, regular investment in your appearance and equipment: clothes, shoes, skins, hair, accessories, sex-related avatar components (genitals, nipples, and the like). An escort needs to look the part, and sound (or read, if s/he prefers to avoid using voice chat) the part, if s/he wants to get hired.

Getting hired isn’t easy. Escorts in SL spend much of their time waiting for a client to show up and hire them, dancing on the poles of the club they’re affiliated with, or standing around on the sidewalk as street prostitutes outside clubs and on the streets of sims or parcels dedicated to SL sex services. Of course, the abundance of in-world escort / strip clubs and SL’s small user base don’t do SL’s sex workers any favours.

Some escorts are fortunate enough to establish a fairly steady income, as they’ve become popular among their club’s patrons, have managed to establish a contact list that includes several regular clients who’ll book them on a more or less regular basis, and have a satisfactory stream of occasional clients (i.e. not regulars). Of course, there are always the tips for their pole dancing and strip-tease. Others are less fortunate.

As far as I’m concerned, over time, more people became aware of me and my work, and so there were days when I found myself logging in and being greeted by a flurry of notecards and IMs; most of them were from people who weren’t my regulars. Many of them led to successful and enjoyable sessions. My regulars were a delight to work with, and for.

Sadly, many other potential clients’ messages were of the “r u available” and “hey baby” (I’m intentionally keeping the spelling intact) variety. Rarely did these messages culminate in a session. Others were explicit to the point where red flags were raised all around me. I must say I’ve often turned potential clients down because it was nearly impossible to communicate with them, or because I didn’t feel comfortable to work with them.

The Importance of Communication

I mentioned before the difficulty SL escorts are having w.r.t. getting hired at all. This, however, is no excuse for anyone to treat them with disrespect for their work, their time, their personalities, their boundaries, and their safety. Unfortunately, sex is still surrounded by shame, guilt, stereotypes, taboos, and all sorts of sexist notions.

These factors poison gender relations and, if we add the stigma our societies attach to sex work, we can begin to understand the extra damage that’s inflicted upon client – escort communication and cooperation. In this post, since the vast majority of clients are men and the vast majority of escorts are women, I’ll focus on the male client – female escort dynamic.

Many potential clients, especially ones who have little or no experience with sex in RL and / or with RL sex workers, have insecurities and / or feelings of guilt about hiring an escort, so they’re really shy about it. Others act in a downright unpleasant, machismo-fuelled, manner and exhibit a complete lack of respect for the escort, her work, personality, boundaries, privacy, and safety. Others expect the escort to guess what they want / need.

Just as a potential client has the option to not hire this escort or the other, so does the escort have the option to turn a potential client down; I’ve already said I’ve declined to work with certain clients during my years as an SL sex worker. In this post, I’ll give you some pointers as to what will make an escort feel confident that it’s worth responding to your IM or notecard rather than ignoring it.

Sex Work Is Work, and Sex Workers Are Professionals

Whatever stereotypes you may have been raised with w.r.t. sex work, cast them aside – a sex worker, in RL or SL, is a worker; a service provider – the fact that she offers sexual services rather than, say, legal advice doesn’t matter at all.

When you’re looking to book an escort, remember that the exact same rules apply as when you’re looking to book a professional in any other business sector – RL or SL.

I know that drawing parallels between sex work and such pedestrian and unsexy jobs may be a bit of a buzzkill, but that’s the way it is. Booking an escort to please you sexually is no different than calling a technician to fix your computer or your fridge, or booking a sim landscaper to help you with the design of your virtual land. You must always have in mind that you’re booking someone who’s spent money to acquire a set of tools, time to learn and hone a set of skills, and is making their skills and talents available to you for a price.

Being Online Doesn’t Necessarily Mean “I’m Available Right Now”

Just because an escort’s in-world ad board indicates she’s online doesn’t mean she’s available to come to you right now. It may come as a bit of a surprise to many, but SL escorts do have a (second) life outside their line of work: much like everyone else, they occasionally do other things in-world. They might take time off work to explore, shop, enjoy some private time with friends and / or romantic partners, even attend in-world classes (scripting, building, pose making, 3D modelling, and so on). So, when you message an escort, don’t assume that she’s “on duty” and that the only thing keeping her from responding to your urges is her being busy with another client.

Does this mean you shouldn’t IM or send a notecard to an escort who is online right now? No. By all means, go ahead and send that IM or notecard. It’s perfectly OK for you to initiate contact with the escort even when she’s offline. Just keep a few things in mind:

  • If the escort is offline, it may be best to send a notecard rather than an IM, as her IMs may get capped;
  • If she’s online, she may very well be unavailable and unable to respond to you right away or meet you right now; you should accept and respect that, and not pester her to respond to you.

Do Your Homework Beforehand

Most SL escorts are quite open about their in-world profession, and provide information about it (time zone, experience, services offered, fantasies, desires, fetishes, and kinks they’re willing to cater for, their limits, rates). You’ll typically find this information on their SL profile in notecards provided by the ad boards in the club where they work; some have even signed up with websites dedicated to promoting SL escorts and maintain detailed profiles there.

Unfortunately, both I, and other escorts I know personally, have come across potential customers that don’t bother to read a sex worker’s notecard and / or profile. So, when they contact her, she has to spoon-feed them information that was right in front of them, but they didn’t bother to look at it. Not knowing the basics, such as the sex worker’s rates, when and where you want to meet them, and whether the services they offer can cover your personal desires, needs, fetishes, and kinks, is no way to initiate an intimate encounter. And no, you can’t say “oh, I’m a virgin and / or beginner, so I don’t know about anything like that,” because no one’s going to believe you.

Respect Their Boundaries and Limits

As I wrote, the information in an escort’s notecard typically contains information pertaining not only to her rates, time zone, services, the desires, fantasies, fetishes, and kinks she caters for, as well as the things she simply won’t do. Although most SL escorts are pretty flexible and open as to what they’ll accommodate, there are some activities that some of them find unappealing. Also, there’s a certain type of activity (i.e. sexual ageplay) that the overwhelming majority of SL escorts won’t even touch, as it’s considered downright criminal (and rightly so) in RL and, as far as Linden Lab is concerned, it’s prohibited outright by its Content Guidelines.

So, if what you want to include in your session is something that the escort doesn’t feel comfortable with, respect her boundaries and move on to someone else who’ll accommodate you willingly; don’t try to coerce anyone into satisfying a fetish they don’t feel comfortable with, because you can find yourself on the business end of an abuse report, plus you can get into legal trouble, and rightly so. Finally, just because a woman is an escort doesn’t mean she’s obliged to compromise her relationship (RL or SL) to accept you as a sexual partner. Yes, escorts do have relationships, and these are often long-term ones. You should accept and respect that.

Also, you should understand something that really should have become a no-brainer by now, but unfortunately it seems that too many people still haven’t gotten the memo: it is never a good idea to send unsolicited friend requests and / or teleport offers. Never. It’s invasive, it’s intrusive, it’s creepy, and it’s very likely to get you blocked by the escort and banned from the clubs she works at.

Respect Their Privacy

Until voice chat was successfully implemented in SL, in-world sexual roleplay involved avatar manipulation (i.e. selection, sequencing, and adjustment of animations, and control and manipulation of virtual genitalia and erogenous body parts), and text-based emoting. Rapidly-typed and well-written emoting was what really separated the best and most successful escorts from the lesser ones. Back then, sex work in SL was viewed as both a way to make some money and as a way to safely explore such fantasies: it was understood and accepted that there was a wall between RL and SL, protecting client and escort.

Although voice chat has been available in SL for many years now, many escorts choose to not offer voice or cam sessions, in order to protect their privacy and their RL. Many escorts have families in RL, so it should be quite obvious why they wouldn’t want to go on voice and cam. Then, there’s always the risk of revenge porn. In some other cases, the escort’s RL sexual / gender identity is indeed different from her avatar’s, and this could easily cause them to be subjected to transphobic bullying and “exposed” on SL’s infamous gossip cesspools. Finally, others aren’t native English speakers and fear, rightly or not, that their accent might be a disadvantage for them.

So, for many SL escorts, voice and cam sessions are unacceptably invasive. If you really want a voice or cam session, look for someone who does offer such a service and don’t pester those who don’t in any way; don’t question their reasons, don’t question their RL gender; don’t haggle for a lower rate, and absolutely don’t even think of threatening them with “exposure” on the gossip cesspools.

But even in your encounters with escorts that do offer voice and cam sessions, you must respect their privacy. Don’t ask about their RL details, don’t take screenshots or video recordings of their cam session with you, and don’t record your voice chat session. This is not just utterly creepy behaviour; it’s a violation of LL’s ToS and Community Standards worthy of getting you permanently banned from Second Life itself. It’s also a crime that can get you in very serious legal trouble, especially if you’re an EU citizen or the person you’re after is an EU citizen, as the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR) is very strict regarding such matters – and rightly so.

Scrooge Never Got Laid

I know haggling has long been associated with sex work, especially with street prostitutes. You might feel tempted to act disappointed try to get a discount from an escort that doesn’t offer voice and / or cam sessions. Don’t do it. Don’t even think of doing it. For starters, it’s completely disrespectful to the sex worker. Would you try to haggle the price at a restaurant? Would you try to haggle with your lawyer? I think not. Second, many clubs have standard rates that all of their staff follow. Even freelance escorts don’t sell their services for less than their colleagues who work at clubs; escorts simply don’t do the “race to the bottom” thing. Third, given the L$ – USD / EUR / CAD / AUD / whatever other RL currency exchange rate, haggling will make you look like a miser and a tosser, and you’ll end up being ignored by all SL escorts – maybe even banned from many clubs; they do inform each other about bad clients, you know.

Now, let’s tackle the subject of tipping… Yes, you may wind up being a regular at a certain club, and becoming a regular client of one escort, or more. It’s understandable that, if you’re at the club where they work and they’re working their shift at that time, you’ll want to tip them more than others. However, it’s rude to systematically neglect the other escorts, dancers, hosts, and DJs. You don’t have to tip them all. Also, the tips you give to those staff members you do tip don’t need to be in the L$1,000 area, but they shouldn’t be insultingly low, either; as a rule of thumb, tips below L$50 are insultingly low.

The lower part of the crossed legs of a woman leaning against a wood-panelled cafeteria's wall. Her ankles are adorned by silver ankle bangles; on one of them, silver letters forming the word "SLUT" are hanging. She is wearing 20 cm (8 inch) high, magenta-coloured platform shoes similar to the ones worn by exotic dancers. Her toenails are painted in the colours of the Rainbow Flag.

Why “hey baby” and “r u available” Don’t Work

Two messages escorts receive very often from potential clients are “hey baby” and “r u available”; these are very poor conversation openers. I’ll examine “hey baby”, as it’s the worst of the two. There are people who think it’s a good, “friendly-flirty” way to start a conversation, and they often use it when trying to initiate a flirty chat with a woman they’ve never talked to before.

The truth, however, is that it’s not. It’s a tired, overused cliché that every woman online expects total strangers to send her at least twice a day in her IM window, often followed by a gratuitous dick pic. I’ve been online for more than twenty years now, and I can guarantee that no one out there appreciates receiving this message from a person they’ve never talked to before. Also, it gives the impression that you think there’s a level of intimacy that simply isn’t there and that you believe you can ignore that the woman may be in a relationship. Therefore, it can be perceived as creepy and disrespectful. So, unless the person you’re addressing it to is your baby, just don’t use it. It was never welcome in the first place, and it hasn’t aged well.

I’ve established it’s not a good way to start flirting with someone. Now let’s see if it’s any good for approaching an escort. Again, it’s not. It’s got baggage from its use in flirting, and it takes this baggage here too. In fact, it’s even worse in the context of a communication with an escort, because it implies that you believe you can ignore the escort’s possible relationship status, simply because she provides sexual services. Of course, this brings us back to the issue of respecting the escort’s boundaries.

Other than that, making “hey baby” your message to an escort shows that you don’t recognise the escort’s work as work, and her as a professional; that you’re not taking her and her work seriously. Of course, I know very well that sex, including cybersex, is typically confined to rather intimate settings and that it serves as a way for people to unwind. It’s perfectly understandable that the overall atmosphere is more casual and light-hearted than a consultation with your accountant. But still, the interaction between an escort and you is, at its heart, a business transaction. So, it should be treated like any other transaction with any service provider – if you were reaching out to a scripter, a builder, a sim landscaper, or an SL photographer, how would you talk to them?

It’s also completely devoid of any information that’ll help the escort determine whether she can work with you. Make no mistake: providing this information is your responsibility, not the escort’s. Don’t force the escort to guess. When the escort receives a “hey baby” message, the only information she gets is that it that you sent it; so, she’ll go have a look at your SL profile to see if she can glean any information as to what sort of person you are, and what you may want in a session.

Another reason why “hey baby” doesn’t work in your favour is that it shows you don’t understand something crucial about the nature of your interaction with an escort: although your session with her, once it’s under way, often resembles an actual date or sexual encounter with a sex partner or lover of yours, setting it up can’t resemble any conversation you’d have with someone on an online dating platform like Tinder, Grindr, or what have you.

You see, online dating and booking a sex worker are two entirely different things: when dating online, you’re trying to start a conversation and see if you and the other person can establish some sort of rapport before determining whether something emotional or sexual can develop between you and the other person. On the other hand, when you’re booking an escort you need to offer and collect very specific information.

On the other hand, “r u available” may not be as annoying and intrusive as “hey baby”, but it’s still not helpful. The reason is that it doesn’t give the escort any information to help her decide if she can work with you or not. It burdens the escort with undue guesswork, and that simply isn’t the way to kick things off.

Offer Sex Workers The Information They Need Upfront

I know I’m repeating myself, but I don’t care, because this basic principle can’t be stressed enough: no session between you and an escort can start, much less be successful and to your satisfaction, if the escort you’re trying to book can’t decide whether she can work safely and comfortably with you. To do so, she needs some basic information about you, something that messages of the “hey baby” and “r u available” variety don’t offer. In RL, they offer the escort precisely zero information about who’s sending them, when they want to meet the sex worker, how long they want the session to last, or what they want the session to involve.

Now, things in SL are a little different. When we receive an IM or a notecard, we obviously know which avatar sent it, and we can have a look at their profile. More often than not, however, we run into completely empty profiles. Of course, it’s your prerogative to keep your profile empty, and you have every right to write as much, or as little, about you on it as you want. However, the combination of a blank profile and a “hey baby” IM won’t make it more likely for us to respond to you.

If you want to communicate successfully with a sex worker, you need to let her know what sort of service(s) you’re looking for, how much of her time you need, and where and when you’d like to meet them: your SL home, some free sex area, one of the rooms offered by the club the sex worker works for, etc. In other words, scheduling your service by an SL sex worker shouldn’t be any different or less specific than scheduling any other work – however mundane and pedestrian this may sound.

Hold Your Horses With The Explicit Messages

Although SL provides a very welcome and liberating degree of anonymity and separation of one’s RL and SL, there are always ways in which any user’s RL privacy and safety can be compromised, from malware like the infamous RedZone and other “alt detection systems” to revenge porn and “exposure” on SL’s infamous gossip landfills. If this applies to ordinary romantic / sexual liaisons, things can become much worse in the field of SL sex work: as is the case with RL sex work, SL sex work can feel, or even become, unsafe for the escort.

Sex work may be ubiquitous in SL, but in RL it’s criminalised in many jurisdictions. Although SL by default allows you to keep your SL activity somewhat disconnected from your RL identity, escorts who reside in states and countries where being a sex worker and / or hiring one is illegal can be placed at risk, especially if national or state authorities decide to target SL-facilitated sex work. It goes without saying that, among escorts that live in such places, those offering voice and cam sessions face a greater risk.

So, it makes perfect sense for them to not want to have explicit conversations about sex or money, especially with these two combined. When I was still a sex worker, some SL escorts who live(d) in the US and were also escorts in RL had told me that mention of sex in a potential client’s first message was a deal-breaker for them, as it was too dangerous. I still remember one former colleague from the US who’d received a notecard from a guy, in which he wrote at length, in great detail, and in very graphic terms, how much he loved certain sexual practices. She chose to not respond to him at all. Initiating your communication with an escort with explicit messages shows that you’re not taking her safety seriously. Yes, your goal is to have sex with the escort you’re talking to. But, as I wrote earlier in this post, you must treat her as a professional, and you must not pose a safety risk for her, however unlikely you may think she might end up on the business end of an anti-prostitution crackdown.

While we’re at it, I want to point out that you really, really don’t need to go off bragging about your sculpted / mesh / animesh dick. Besides what I wrote about why explicit messages aren’t a great idea to initiate contact with an escort, either in RL or SL, there are other reasons that I’ll explain below:

For one, bragging too much about your dick, and endowing your avatar with an unrealistically huge schlong says things about you that you really wouldn’t like – besides the visual difficulties it poses when the time comes for you and the escort to have sex.

Second, escorts are sex workers; I was one myself. It’s their job, and it was mine, to have sex, so we’ve seen, sucked, and fucked numerous dicks in SL. We know all of them, and we know everything about them. Escorts aren’t extremely easy to impress, and – more importantly – they don’t care. An escort’s job is to give you a good time, not judge you for your age, body size, dick size, masculinity, whether your avatar’s attachments are state of the art or not, your RL social standing, or even your fashion sense. These things are entirely superficial, and you shouldn’t need to worry about them in your communication and sessions with an escort. But you also need to help her feel safe, comfortable and confident about working with you.

Dressed like a street prostitute with black and purple hair, I strike a pose at a paved plaza, before a park bench made from black wrought iron and blue wooden planks; behind the bench, there's a patch with trees and wide-leaved shrubs. I have my back turned towards the camera; my legs are crossed, with my right leg placed behind the left. My right arm is bent under my breasts, while the left arm, which is adorned by a rainbow-coloured plastic bangles, is raised upwards, with its hand resting on the top of my head. My stripper-style platform shoes and my garments are all magenta: I'm wearing an extremely short skirt that leaves my buttocks almost completely exposed; a g-string, whose straps are exposed above her skirt; a bikini top; and a leather collar with a steel chain attached to it.
Tulum Township, August 2021 (Rated: Adult)

Style Credits:

First Photo:

  • Mesh Body: Maitreya Mesh Body – Maitreya Lara v5.3 by Onyx LeShelle
  • Mesh Head:  LAQ Bento – Motion Capture – Gaia 3.07 by Mallory Cowen
  • Skin:
    • Body: LAQ ~ Lina BOM skin (No brows) – tone 3.0
    • Head: LAQ ~ Gaia Skin [3.0]
  • Makeup: Included with the head’s HUD
  • Manicure & Pedicure: alaskametro<3 “Pride” nail art appliers by Alaska Metropolitan
  • Tattoos:
    • Izzie’s – Izzie’s – Cellulite 1 by Izzie Button
    • QoS tattoo on right ankle (made by me)
  • Eyes: IKON Perspective Eyes – Coffee (S) by Ikon Innovia
  • Hair: *ARGRACE* RIE – B&W
  • Piercings:
    • PUNCH / Diamond Nose Ring (two of them worn on the left side of my nose) by Celandria Resident
    • (Yummy) Cleopatra Nose Ring – Diamond Flower Nose Ring – Silver by Polyester Partridge
    • EarthStones Belly Gems – Treasure – Maitreya Treasure Pack by Abraxxa Anatine
  • Bangles: Izzie’s – 80’s Rainbow Bangles mesh (l)
  • Anklets:
    • EarthStones Petit Vigne Anklet – Fatpack (R)
    • VOBE – B.Toes Anklets Slut Right (Silver) by Leó Streeter (leoo streeter)
    • ~~Ysoral~~ .:Luxe Anklets Ariel :.(Maitreya)(Left) by fenixdragon Rau
  • Shoes: {Livalle} Luscious -Platform Heels- Magenta (MAITREYA – Customised) by Lindsey Warwick
  • Top: :::insanya::: LailaTop – M.LARA by Tatyana Ultsch
  • Skirt: :::insanya::: BiaSkirt – M.LARA (longer)
  • Bikini Bottom: [BB] Mini Bikini – FISHNET – Maitreya – BOTTOM by Belzebubble
  • Pose: BellePoses – Natalie by Belle Vanilla

Second Photo:

  • Mesh Body: Maitreya Mesh Body – Maitreya Lara v5.3 by Onyx LeShelle
  • Mesh Head:  LAQ Bento – Motion Capture – Gaia 3.07 by Mallory Cowen
  • Skin:
    • Body: LAQ ~ Lina BOM skin (No brows) – tone 3.0
    • Head: LAQ ~ Gaia Skin [3.0]
  • Makeup: Included with the head’s HUD
  • Manicure & Pedicure: alaskametro<3 “Pride” nail art appliers by Alaska Metropolitan
  • Tattoos:
    • Izzie’s – Izzie’s – Cellulite 1 by Izzie Button
  • Eyes: IKON Perspective Eyes – Coffee (S) by Ikon Innovia
  • Hair: MINA – Kayla – Black and greys by Mina Nakamura
  • Piercings:
    • PUNCH / Diamond Nose Ring (two of them worn on the left side of my nose) by Celandria Resident
    • (Yummy) Cleopatra Nose Ring – Diamond Flower Nose Ring – Silver by Polyester Partridge
    • EarthStones Belly Gems – Treasure – Maitreya Treasure Pack by Abraxxa Anatine
  • Bangles: Izzie’s – 80’s Rainbow Bangles mesh (l)
  • Anklets:
    • VOBE – B.Toes Anklets Slut Right (Silver) by Leó Streeter (leoo streeter)
    • VOBE – B.Toes Anklets Whore Left (Silver)
  • Shoes: {Livalle} Luscious -Platform Heels- Magenta (MAITREYA – Customised) by Lindsey Warwick
  • Top: [BB] Mini Bikini – FISHNET – Maitreya – TOP by Belzebubble
  • Skirt: :::insanya::: BiaSkirt – M.LARA (longer)
  • Bikini Bottom: [BB] Mini Bikini – FISHNET – Maitreya – BOTTOM by Belzebubble
  • Pose: Sorry, but it’s been a while, and I don’t remember which ones I used

Third Photo:

  • Mesh Body: Maitreya Mesh Body – Maitreya Lara v5.3 by Onyx LeShelle
  • Mesh Head:  LAQ Bento – Motion Capture – Gaia 3.07 by Mallory Cowen
  • Skin:
    • Body: LAQ ~ Lina BOM skin (No brows) – tone 3.0
    • Head: LAQ ~ Gaia Skin [3.0]
  • Makeup: Included with the head’s HUD
  • Manicure & Pedicure: alaskametro<3 “Pride” nail art appliers by Alaska Metropolitan
  • Tattoos:
    • Izzie’s – Izzie’s – Cellulite 1 by Izzie Button
    • QoS tattoo on right ankle (made by me)
  • Eyes: IKON Perspective Eyes – Coffee (S) by Ikon Innovia
  • Hair: *ARGRACE* RIE – B&W
  • Collar: Mon Cheri – Luci Leash Collar ML by Freya Olivieri
  • Piercings:
    • PUNCH / Diamond Nose Ring (two of them worn on the left side of my nose) by Celandria Resident
    • (Yummy) Cleopatra Nose Ring – Diamond Flower Nose Ring – Silver by Polyester Partridge
    • EarthStones Belly Gems – Treasure – Maitreya Treasure Pack by Abraxxa Anatine
  • Bangles: Izzie’s – 80’s Rainbow Bangles mesh (l)
  • Anklets:
    • EarthStones Petit Vigne Anklet – Fatpack (R)
    • VOBE – B.Toes Anklets Slut Right (Silver) by Leó Streeter (leoo streeter)
    • ~~Ysoral~~ .:Luxe Anklets Ariel :.(Maitreya)(Left) by fenixdragon Rau
  • Shoes: {Livalle} Luscious -Platform Heels- Magenta (MAITREYA – Customised) by Lindsey Warwick
  • Top: [BB] Mini Bikini – FISHNET – Maitreya – TOP by Belzebubble
  • Skirt: :::insanya::: BiaSkirt – M.LARA (longer) by Tatyana Ultsch
  • Bikini Bottom: [BB] Mini Bikini – FISHNET – Maitreya – BOTTOM by Belzebubble
  • Pose: Kokoro Poses – Rafaela by Kokoro Kiyori

Flickr album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmWsNus7

I’ll be blunt: The majority of the media coverage of Second Life has been sub-par for far too long. It’s been a combination of an overhyping and dismissal as a “failed project” rollercoaster, and gossipy sensationalism focusing on the virtual world’s sexual aspect in a scandal-mongering manner. Another problem with much of the coverage SL has seen in its eleven years of existence is the attitude of many journalists / pundits: they don’t let facts get in the way of their story.

Marlon McDonald
Marlon McDonald, prolific contributor for Moviepilot.com, wrote yet another scandal-mongering article on sex in Second Life.

One would probably expect something better after all these years. But, sadly, cut-throat clickbait competition for notoriety and / or ad-generated revenue makes the gossipy, sensationalist, scandal-mongering, stereotype-milking approach every bit as attractive for web-based outlets and columnists as it’s ever been for their “old media” counterparts. So, I’m not surprised to see the same old stories get regurgitated ad nauseam by pundits new and “established”. A recent example of such a pundit is Mr. Marlon McDonald, prolific contributor to Moviepilot.com. In his quest for page views and notoriety which will get him featured on the website’s homepage in his chosen category, he wrote yet another article (archived, as Moviepilot has bitten the dust long ago) in which he presented Second Life as little more than a cesspool of debauchery, pornography, virtual prostitution etc.

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The much-criticised "bikini babes" ad.

The much-criticised “bikini babes” ad.

In my previous posts (here and here), I discussed – belatedly, I admit – the “bikini babes” banner ad that was used by Linden Lab to promote Second Life. There has been much criticism and outcry from all kinds of sides, for all sorts of reasons.

On the academic front, Liz Falconer, professor of Technology Enhanced Learning and Director of the Education Innovation Centre at the University of the West of England (UWE), said that this sort of marketing plays to a stereotype (the young male gamer) that is not attractive to the academic world. For more details, please listen to the 15th installment of The Drax Files Radio Hour podcast, where she was interviewed along with Stylianos Mystakidis, e-learning manager at the Library and Information Centre of the University of Patras, Greece.

Jo Yardley pointed out (rightly) that this ad, by being a campaign on its own rather than part of a more inclusive campaign, gave a skewed and one-sided view of Second Life to the public at large. Others said that such ads present SL as a sex haven, which presents problems for other parts of its user base – for instance, it’s been claimed that, because of such marketing, users with child avatars are more vulnerable to being wrongly accused of being paedophiles. There are aspects of these criticisms that still need to be discussed, and I intend to draw upon a comment posted here by Trinity Yazimoto, and upon discussions I’ve had with various people since I posted my first post on Saturday. So, I’ll dwell on this matter a little bit more.

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In my previous post, I discussed an attitude that tends to portray Second Life as a whole in a negative manner simply because there is a strong sexual side to it – what I have called the “X-rated smear of Second Life“. In that post, I touched upon the general culture that lies behind this attitude and targets mostly women, aiming to control and censor them. Today, I’m going to turn my attention more to the proponents of the “let’s appeal to the mainstream” line of argumentation, through the academia and its attitude towards SL that is largely driven by the same factor.

The Drax Files Radio Hour, Show #15. Image courtesy of Draxtor Despres.

The Drax Files Radio Hour, Show #15. Image courtesy of Draxtor Despres.

In the wake of the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education 2014 Conference, the 15th installment of The Drax Files Radio Hour podcast was dedicated to the usage of virtual worlds (and Second Life in particular) in education, and featured a joint interview with Liz Falconer, professor of Technology Enhanced Learning and Director of the Education Innovation Centre at the University of the West of England (UWE), and Stylianos Mystakidis, e-learning manager at the Library and Information Centre of the University of Patras, Greece. The interview provided some important insights for anyone interested in understanding the relationship of SL and virtual worlds in general with the educational sector.

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