Thursday, March 9, 1995

Tom Zillich

p. 8.

Tricks of the Trade

Sex trade workers strive to protect themselves from violent customers with "bad trick" sheet

Andrew Sorfleet is hoping to protect fellow prostitutes from abusive customers by publishing a bad date list. Photo by Doug Shanks

Allison has been on a few "bad dates" but none worse than the time she was held hostage and beaten by a man in his car.

"He was pretty remorseless," recalls Allison, a 20-year-old who works as a prostitute in the Richards Street area. "He didn't do it for long, but it was frightening."

As a warning, Allison told her hooker friends about the incident and gave out a description of the suspect. It's the kind of news Andrew Sorfleet wants to track.

A resident new to the West End, Sorfleet is a prostitute who intends to publish a "bad date," or "bad trick" sheet to improve safety for workers in the sex trade.

He did the same in Toronto for several years and sees the need for the service in Vancouver.

"It scares bad dates," says Sorfleet. "If a guy sees his name and number (published in a pamphlet), he's going to think twice about doing it again."

The list would be compiled through information from prostitutes and others in the sex trade who have been assaulted, held hostage, ripped off or otherwise treated poorly. Names, phone numbers, addresses, times of incidents and other relevant details would be printed.

"Most workers already have lists and phone each other, so it's just a matter of getting people to share the information," says Sorfleet.

He's not worried by the possibility of civil suits from bad date suspects who feel they've been wronged.

"We've never had any false reports," says Sorfleet. "These boys and girls take this very seriously."

An informal bad trick sheet is already published in Vancouver by social workers.

"But lists are better when they're run by people in the (sex trade) business," says Sorfleet. "The trust and the communion is already there."

Most "boys" in the sex trade business don't get bad dates, says Sorfleet, but's it's a big problem for females who work the streets. He says information gathered could also help police track down a suspect.

Simone, an escort, says she was once attacked by a man who tried to bite her. She says a bad trick sheet would be a good tool to "have some sort of track on these people -- Vancouver is relatively safe, but there are people at risk out there."

Publishing names of bad dates would help stop the violence against prostitutes, says Capri, an escort.

"Usually, if the girls don't report them, nothing's going to be done about it," she says. "This would definitely help." The list would be published using a computer data base by a new group, the Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver, or SWAV. Sorfleet was behind SWAT in Toronto. He intends to have SWAV act to educate sex trade workers and work for them in the political arena. Phone SWAV at 687-5689.

Sex Workers Alliance... [Vancouver '95] [News by region] [News by topic]

Created: October 3, 1998
Last modified: October 4, 1998

CSIS Commercial Sex Information Service
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710