Xlamma, Edusa, Tryst and other such sites are hardly known for fostering long term partnerships but over the last few years another trend has emerged. Scattered among the profiles of regular women looking for sexual encounters with Queens adult contacts you can find profiles with strikingly similar content. As you may have already guessed, the emojis stand in for currency symbols, which are easily detected by algorithms. They are not arranging dates, they are setting their rates. From the point of view of the women involved this trend makes sense. Escort agencies in Queens take a substantial cut of workers earnings, working the pavement or in a Queens brothel is illegal, and all three leave workers with very little choice in customers. Selling sex via a site such as xlamma readdresses these imbalances in an industry that usually allows choice to lay solely in the hands of the men involved. They can exclusively match with men they are happy, willing or prepared to sleep with.

When I received this assignment I talked to some friends about their personal experiences using hook up sites as straight men. Harry, 31, from Queens uses xlamma occasionally, as well as newer apps such as Hinge and Kinkoo. Although he has seen profiles he believes were advertising sexual services for sale, he does not think that Escorts and Sugar Babies have taken over xlamma. I guess there are less prostitutes in Queens, he said. Back several years ago I definitely saw it on xlamma, but have not noticed this time... sometimes they had their prices and websites in their bio's. I have seen what seem to be these sorts of profiles on an app I just joined today [called] 'Kinkoo'.

Gregg*, 56, from Bronx was surprised to learn that Plenty of Fish (PoF) was a hookup site at all. “I stopped using the site almost immediately. All I got was messages from women on the game” he said with a shrug. When I told him PoF was indeed a hookup site, or at least started as one, he told me that he had thought he had signed up with “the wrong kind of site.” As well as those advertising a traditional straight exchange of money for sexual services, Gregg received matches from a subset of sex workers that do not view themselves as such; Sugar Babies, young women looking for an older benefactor, known as Sugar Daddies, with whom they tend to engage in longer term relationships that include a sexual component in return for payment(s) in kind; expensive gifts, travel and often some kind of financial allowance. These profiles rarely use rose emojis or ask for cash explicitly. Gregg told me that “I’d get messages saying ‘I’m looking for a generous older gentleman for a mutually beneficial relationship’. They didn’t ask for money directly but was obvious what they were after.” He found less of this on xlamma but still enough to make the site unattractive.

When asked by the Washington Post in 2016, xlamma declined to say how many real users it had deleted on suspicion of prostitution. Details of suspicious accounts deleted by Plenty of Fish are equally hard to find. With the anecdotal evidence being so contradictory I decided I needed to do some direct research. Using Gregg's defunct accounts I scrolled for women whose profiles suggested they were selling sexual services. also replied within minutes with her details. When asked, neither was willing to talk to me for this article. Although I was amazed by how easy it was to contact a woman to arrange paid sex, I had to sift through a lot of profiles of women looking for conventional encounters in order to find these women, despite knowing what I was looking for and searching accordingly. Gregg allowed me to access both his xlamma and PoF accounts, which verified his account of events. As one might expect, the age of the man seems to determine matches from women looking for Queens Sugar Baby relationships but not for prostitutes in Queens.

This may be why escorts in Queens are more attractive to women looking for sex work than sites specifically marketed towards them and their customers. xlamma, PoF and similar sites are socially respectable. Peppr, crudely but accurately marketed as ‘xlamma for Prostitutes’ is less so. This respectability not only allows both parties to have apps on their phone without stigma, it allows the women to market their services to a huge untapped market – men who, while looking for a traditional hook up may consider paying for one, but who wouldn’t necessarily seek out such an arrangement.

Neither xlamma or PoF had replied to our requests for comment at the time of publication but when asked about such accounts, Spokesperson Rosette Pambakian told The Washington Post in 2016 “We review every reported/blocked profile and delete accordingly... Maintaining a positive experience for our users is very important to us.”  It seems that as long as hook up sites exist, sex workers will try to monetize them. Despite this, even while looking for professional profiles, the vast majority of profiles found appeared to be of women looking for non-commercial relationships.


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