Understanding The Illicit World Of Sex Worker Code  

Jodi Smith
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It should come as no surprise that an industry already associated with slang and vernacular language actually has its own official language — you've probably even used some of the terms yourself, even if not in the context of sex work. Because the internet has become a popular place for sex workers to find clients, in order to get around the legal gray areas of their career, both the workers and their customers have created secret code words used to communicate in plain sight. 

It is quite normal for specific groups of people to develop their own communication methods and language to keep their activities a secret from individuals outside of their trusted circle. Hobos created symbols to let others know which houses were friendly and which to avoid. Drug dealers have their own hashtags on social media and clues in neighborhoods to let other people know what they have to offer. Even police officers, whose ability to effectively communicate without tipping off suspects or bystanders is important, have codes used on the job.

Some of the terms used in the sex industry have fallen out of favor, as sex lingo evolves out of necessity and a respect for the profession. There are other terms that shouldn't be used in the mainstream. As with any industry, these codes are vital to the safety and success of sex workers' trade, and aren't meant to be trivialized or used against them.

There Are Code Words For Any Desired Sex Worker Type Under The Sun
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When someone is looking for a specific sexual partner on an online sex worker forum, they can use acronyms or code words to communicate those preferences. Be warned that some of these may be offensive. For a very brief example of all the extensive terminology options:

- "Babyback" means that a "Petite, young, attractive Asian" is preferred.

- "Carpet Matches the Drapes" means the person is looking for a natural blonde.

- "LBFM" is an acronym for Little Brown F**king Machine.

- An "Amazon" is a woman that is considered tall, muscular, and somewhat masculine.

'Johns' And 'Pimps' Are No Longer Frequently Used Nicknames For Clientele

As with most internet cultures, the denizens of sex worker forums have chosen new monikers for their members. "Mongers" is a shortened version of "whoremongers" and still refers to a person that frequently enjoys the pleasure of a sex worker. In fact, according to a study in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, "john" and "trick" are both considered taboo terms now.

"Trollers" relates to the client now perusing the online sex forums instead of the streets in their search for company. Some forums also use this term to refer to people being rude jerks online. "Hobbyist" also refers to clients that spend a fair amount of money and time with sex workers. 

Where A Sex Worker Does Business Can Be Coded, Too
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There are different women in different situations that engage in sex work. As such, there are lots of different places for a client to meet someone they hope to "employ." And yes, they've got codes for that. For example, if you don't live near a real-life Red Light District, a "mall" is a website that has escort agencies and freelance sex workers. Potential clients can peruse and "window shop" for the woman they want.

An "Asian-American Massage Parlor" might be the location of a certain kind of sex service, but AAMP is used on message boards to denote it. A "Hostess Club" means that the women are strippers, but the location will let them make extra money through prostitution.

Clients Can Gain Sex Worker Street Cred By Knowing The Lingo

With most online communities, individuals can make a name for themselves through their interactions with others and how much time they spend in a particular site or message board. In the world of online sex forums, this person is referred to as a "pooner." 

If someone is a "pooner," they have proven themselves to be knowledgeable about the community and other "hobbyists" or "mongers" may seek them out to find information about the sex workers available on the boards. A "pooner" and their opinions of agencies or particular sex workers is held in high regard.