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Muffled, and at the other end of the phone line, I hear a faint "I have to take this call, OK. Just leave the money there on the table." This is how our conversation started.
To learn more about how prostitution has moved from the street corner to the less-easily-policed land of the Internet, I rang the number of a Little Rock woman who advertises on Backpage.com offering, among other things, a "girlfriend experience." We'll call her Heather.
Heather says that for a price, over $100 an hour, "anything goes." I can't confirm her story, of course, only what she said in her phone interview.
She's a young single mother, speaks with a soft country accent and says she posts ads on Backpage to feed her three kids.
"I really want to stop doing this but it's a lot of money," she says. "I make about $1,500 a day. I've quit once and tried to go and work at a gas station but they were only paying me like $225 per week. I guess you could call it prostitution, if that's the way people want to look at it. I see it more as taking care of my family."
After being busted for prostitution, Heather's a little more careful about which clients she accepts, although her ad isn't subtle. Photographs show her, clothed, in provocative poses.
"I get a lot of calls using the site, and being the only girl that does dominatrix and anal, I make a lot more money than a lot of the other girls. So I'm able to support my family. I'm just trying to survive," she says.
Heather was arrested as part of a sting operation after meeting an undercover cop at a motel, which is why she only does in-calls now, where the customers come to her. She says without an avenue like Backpage, prostitution wouldn't be an option for her.
"Like a hooker walkin' the street? I wouldn't do that because you'll end up getting killed or something. This way I'm able to screen my clients and I don't do out-calls. I don't try to get busted. I try to be discreet. I don't have too many people coming to my house each day and I have a lot of repeat clients already," she says.
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