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On how the site helped them make money

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Harpy Anna: Our business has been declining for about a year. I feel like maybe about four years ago, it was like really, really good. Backpage was popping. You didn’t have to take clients you didn’t want to take because you were always going to get calls. But then, over the last year — whenever they took out the escorts section — that affected business. (In January 2017, Backpage removed its Escorts section, though advertisers soon moved to the Personals section.)

Trinity: When this happened, I only had $100 to my name. Backpage offered me options to do gift cards, and I would go to Best Buy and buy $150 gift cards. I had just done that the day before. That was $150 down the drain.

Natalia: I had a pending $85 in credits for Backpage. This whole weekend, which is usually the first weekend of the month after rent, is usually one of our busiest weekends. We basically lost everything because I didn’t get any phone calls whatsoever.

Harpy Anna: There is this thing that Backpage guys do, the predatory ones, not the typical client, but people that just prey on sex workers. They will wait until the end of the month and try to contact you, and try to get you to lower your rate, because they might think that you are desperate because you have to pay rent and bills soon.

I had a regular client for several years and then, he went kind of off the deep end and assaulted me. I haven’t been in contact with him at all. The day that Backpage went down, it was like within the next two or three hours, he was texting me like, “Hey, what’s up? Hey, can I come over?” Just really trying to … I don’t know, capitalize on the fact that people are going to be in panic mode.

Glenn: I’ve been helping out a couple of women who had started out working on Backpage — they were working the streets for a while and I would just run into them. And they basically begged me to help them get on Backpage. These women are living in overpriced motel rooms, where they’re charged by these opportunistic motel owners. They could be homeless and in agonizing withdrawal within like five or six or seven hours. So they have to take care of that every day, they have to take care of their habits, and that’s what I was thinking.

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