Whenever I have to describe the publication I work for to anyone only vaguely familiar with OC media, I usually start innocuous: "It's that free paper you pick up at the car wash or coffee shop."
But that often gets a blank stare. So...
"You know, the one with the sex ads."
Ahhhh. That usually does it.
Even so, it's been weird sitting in Weekly World Headquarters, scrolling through the "exotic services" section of Orange County's Craigslist, where any colleague passing by might glimpse "Come DUNK your Cookies in this tall glass of MILF ; )" over my shoulder. But I endure the risks. This is journalism.
Craigslist has announced that tomorrow it will shut down its "erotic" section and replacing it with a more-heavily regulated "adult" services area. The move came in response to criticism (documented in our cover story here) that Craigslist erotic services had essentially become an online whorehouse. And whorehouses, we all know, are illegal.
So, let's see what we can learn from the soon-to-be deleted OC "erotic services" marketplace...
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Lesson #1: Yes, it is an online whorehouse. I know this isn't a groundbreaking observation, but, golly those massage ads sure talk a lot about sex and money. One bears the touching headline, "An Angel Must Have Sent Me." Then it lists the angel's hourly prices and "safe sex" practices.
Lesson #2: These prostitutes are sneaky. Instead of asking hundreds of dollars, they ask for hundreds of "roses." And then they put disclaimers: "By contacting me either through phone or email you agree to this contract and these terms and hereby acknowledge that you are NOT part of any l.a.w. enforcement agency using this advertisement for entrapment or for arres.t [sic]." Pretty savvy, though I guess some sheriff in Illinois figured this stuff out before me.
Lesson #3: Octomom, is that you? "OMG MY 48DD TITS R OVERFLOWING WITH WARM SWEET MOMMIES MILK!!!!!" (link nsfw, obviously)
Lesson #4: OC erotic services reveal nothing about Orange County. I mean, really, these ads are pretty generic. Sure, listings for "Asian barbies" and "MILF Mania" fit with certain OC stereotypes, but why aren't these ads peppered with the anti-immigrant non sequiturs of the average OC Register web comment? Where isn't anyone offering massages for "your little sheriff"? The upside to these omissions is that when Craig Newmark bows to mob pressure by shutting this whole thing down, we may lose a piece of our free speech rights but we won't be losing a much OC cultural history.