A HISTORY OF THE TORONTO ESCORT SCENE 1982-2000:
(A CLIENT'S POINT OF VIEW)
I started hobbying in November, 1982 - I forget the exact
date, but I remember I was very nervous. The girl was called Erica. She was
sexy, dark-haired and about twenty and she told me it was just her second call.
She seemed almost as antsy as I was. Like all early '80's escorts, she only did
outcalls, paid for her own taxi (no drivers back then) and wore the required
formal attire of a dress, high heels and pantyhose. She worked for an agency
called "French Quarter" which had an ad in the Yellow Pages featuring a pouty
"Parisian" model in a slit skirt, bad '70's hair and a BERET - I'm not kidding
The fee was $190.00. Two separate cheques: $150.00 for the girl (negotiated hurriedly in my living room) and a $40.00 "agency fee". Pretty average prices for the time.
Allowing for a conservative 100% inflation rate over the last eighteen years, I must have paid Erica the equivalent of $380.00 in today's money. The call was practically identical to a full-service call nowadays: 1-hour long, no French kissing, but DATY and covered BJ with one shot on goal. (Some things almost never change).
As far as I know, the escort industry had just started up in Toronto. Through the '70's, the only way to meet a working girl was to go down to the Cabbagetown stroll - downmarket, grimy, potentially dangerous and infested by LE - or to somehow figure out if a girl hanging out in a bar was a call girl and make your offer one on one. The "escort agency" idea probably started in New York City ("dating services" were sometimes used as fronts as well). After a few years, the idea filtered up to Toronto the Good - and caught on to stay. For the first time ever, prostitution could be advertised and made accessible, safe and (for a girl and client involved in an outcall) totally legal.
The scary-high price structure of those early years probably reflects the Manhattan roots of the escort agency idea. My guess is that T.O. agencies simply took the NYC prices and transferred them to Toronto. The fact that those New York prices may have applied to very upscale call girls and some of the T.O. agencies were very average in quality didn't matter. Most T.O. consumers had never used an escort agency before and had no point of comparison.
Initially, there were only a half-dozen agencies. In the early '80's, they all advertised in the Yellow Pages and The Star. NOW and EYE didn't yet exist and The Sun refused to run escort ads "on moral grounds" (LOL). There were no incalls as Toronto's Finest took particular pride in busting any girl who tried to work out of an apartment.
The girls were much the same then as now and so were the "rules" as to what a girl would do on a call. French Quarter was the largest agency and had a floating population of about twenty girls - including a cute, nineteen year old tease called Kelly who had the fortunate habit of visiting her clients dressed only in a raincoat, stilettos, black garter belt and nylons. (Aah yes, my first regular!!) I used to see her in my office which was a second floor walkup over a bank in High Park. I can still remember the sound of her heels clicking up the stairs outside my office door.
Calls were arranged in exactly the same way as nowadays - by phone to a receptionist. Of course, there were no pictures back then and no computers. So you had to take the phone girl's description on faith.
Prices soared in the first couple of years. From $180.00 - $190.00 in late '82, they hit $225.00 - $250.00 by late '83 and stabilized at about $275.00 in the mid '80's. Again, multiply these figures by two to get present-day equivalents in the $500.00 - $550.00 range. That's per hour, Chum!
The business also started to take on more of its present-day advertising profile. By '84, NOW and EYE had arrived and were the favourite places for running escort ads. As ads could be placed on a weekly basis, girls could now set up business on short notice - without having to make sure they got Yellow Pages listings well in advance. Indies and small agencies started to spring up.
The next big change happened around 1988. The Supreme Court of Canada declared the then anti-soliciting law unconstitutional and Big Bro took three years to redraft the law and have it approved by the courts. In the interim, street prostitution went CRAZY!! It wasn't unusual to find a couple of hundred girls working the Cabbagetown stroll on a weekend night. Not only hardened "pros", but college girls and secretaries put on tube tops and tight miniskirts and headed down to Jarvis Street to make extra spending money.
This created a legal ripple effect. With the strolls out of control, LE had WAY too much on its hands to bother about incalls. By the late '80's, incalls were not only occurring, but had become the preferred way of doing business for many girls. After all, they were safer than outcalls (particularly if you worked with another girl), more convenient and often more lucrative. Not only could a girl or agency dispense with taxi costs, but travel time between calls was eliminated, thus allowing a busy escort to stack calls back-to-back. In the period '88-'95, most upscale girls chose to work incalls in the downtown core.
The greater time efficiency of incalls allowed for ½ hour calls as an option and this made the biz even more profitable. With increased revenue came deflation. In 1988, incall appointments had run $250.00 per hour and $200.00 per ½ hour. By 1991, these prices had often dropped to $200.00 and $150.00 respectively. By 1993, the prices were sometimes as low as $180.00 and $130.00.
One of my favourite late '80's incall girls was a sexpot called Kasey. She's still in the business and now runs Toronto's oldest and most reliable incall service, Friends.
Another agency operated out of a penthouse apartment at 40 Gerrard East - complete with ensuite jacuzzi and porno tapes. The owner was a working girl with a Marilyn Monroe look - curvy and blonde - but the real star of the agency was Shenice. Shenice was one of the best (and hottest) escorts ever to work T.O. A 21 year old Italian beauty from Niagara Falls, she had centrefold quality looks, incredible warmth and personality, a great sense of humour and she was a 100% mind-blowing GFE. Five-feet-nothing of toned, tanned, tight curves and smoldering dark eyes. If I could travel back in time for a one hour "quickie" with any escort I've ever met, my choice would probably be Shenice.
With the rise of the incall services, the outcall agencies started to lose ground. By 1990, the Yellow Pages agencies had almost all been bought up by one super-agency which operated a slew of 323-, 461- and 947- numbers. (We can call them "Coxwell", but they had (have) a couple of dozen names and phone numbers). Coxwell practically monopolized outcall services in the early '90's and ran their business in an unpleasant way.
Prices were jacked up to the $300.00 level. Bait and switch and hidden charges were the order of the day and girls were encouraged to get the guy off and get out of his place as quickly as possible. While many of the girls at Coxwell were good-looking, the service itself was so appallingly bad that outcalls started to develop an unsavoury reputation.
My best outcall experiences of the early '90's involved an independent called Paige (aka "Christie Brinkley look-alike"). Paige was a tall, slender blonde model from Calgary who worked the T.O. scene for a year or so before marrying a rich guy and moving on. Stylish and educated, she was also a GFE and a life-style submissive. You can imagine the possibilities!
In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the newly redrafted street solicitation law and Big Bro ruthlessly blitzed the strolls. In a couple of years, the strolls were virtually shut down. Many girls simply stopped working. Others - often the more upscale ones - joined incall agencies. However, many girls were too "rough" or downscale to be welcomed at the relatively genteel incall shops. By about '93', these girls were being absorbed into a new phenomenum - "budget" outcall agencies.
These were basic "no frills" agencies which used agency drivers (rather than taxis) and usually employed less sophisticated girls. The old outcall "dress code" of dresses, heels and hose was left behind. To compete with the more upscale incall joints, the budget agencies slashed their prices to the bone: $150.00-$160.00 per hour outcalls were the norm. The Coxwell agency was by now largely discredited in the eyes of savvy local hobbyists and preyed mainly on unsuspecting tourists. As a result, the accepted outcall price in T.O. became the budget price of around $160.00 per hour. (This was about 1/3 of the early '80's price in real dollar terms).
The incall agencies continued to flourish into the mid '90's. Friends/ Sanctuary and Downtown Oasis were both established and popular. Friends had a run of smart, gorgeous university girl "stars", including Sylvia - a stunning, curvy Latina U. of T. student - and Claire, a Dutch-Indonesian girl with thick, waistlength dark hair. Both were favourites of mine, as was a Friends alumna called Lauren who had gone indy. Lauren was a cute, blonde cheerleader type from a small town near Windsor who had the interesting practice of performing "Jack and Jill shows" with her Teutonic, personal trainer boyfriend. Different. Fun. Interesting.
By '95-'96, the incall wave had spread into the suburbs and a couple of dozen joints of varying quality - often rip-offs - had set themselves up across Metro. Big Bro decided "something must be done" and he launched a serious blitz on the incall places. This blitz devastated the incall sector so badly, it still hasn't fully recovered. A number of places were busted - including Friends. Others went out of business for a while - among them Downtown Oasis. It took a while for the hardier of the incall joints to get back on their feet. In the meantime, a couple of outcall agencies were established that were more reliable and better quality than the budget agencies. Allison's Angels and Select Company both formed in this period and have made a continuing good name for themselves.
In late '96, Unforgettable became (I think) the first T.O. agency to have a website. It also had two of the hottest girls in town: Ashley and Bridget. Ashley was about 25. She had stylish short blonde hair and a toned petite body and she worked part-time while she set up her business as a film set hairdresser. Bridget was the quintessential ingenue - 18, sassy, artsy. (She reminded me of Claire Danes). Both were GFE and both were bright and lots of fun.
Another outcall favourite of mine was Pamela (aka "Dutch Model") who worked for a small North York agency. Pamela was a cute, curvy blonde college girl with a modelling background and a taste for kink. Sometimes, her "true confessions" about stuff she had done with her boyfriends - group sex, exhibitionism, swing clubs, s/m - were as much fun as the actual sex we had together.
On the whole, the period 1997-1998 was my least favourite time as a hobbyist. Many of the outcall agencies still had a budget-y air about them and the incall places were only just getting back on their feet. It was hard to find girls I liked and I came close to dropping the hobby altogether. Many upscale customers had become chary of the post-93 outcall agencies because of their frequent lack of quality. With customer alienation came diminished profits and continuing bargain basement prices. In addition, many agencies lost girls through indifference to their escorts' security. Unforgettable in particular had the reputation of failing to protect their girls from weird and aggressive customers. My perception of this era is that the proportion of upscale girls dropped off greatly. The business was in a downswing.
I recovered my interest in hobbying in 1999 and this was a direct result of the internet. Lavishly-illustrated photo-sites made it immediately apparent if a girl was attractive and an agency stylish. By late 1999, agencies like Executive Choice had far surpassed Unforgettable's old website in quality. As a girl's appearance could now be shown to a customer before the actual call, it became feasible to price different girls at different levels. EC joined the minority of existing agencies which were run in a considerate and business-like way and who pitched their girls to a more elite clientele and it quickly became the most succesful new agency on the scene. The net also facilitated the rise of super-pricey escorts like Mai-Ling who were able to advertise themselves and their attributes on a world-wide basis.
This pretty much brings us up to date. I could write about the review boards, but you already know about that part of the story.
I hope this history has been interesting and has helped to explain the quirky and colourful way our local escort scene developed. Some of you may disagree with a few of my comments. If so, please post your own thoughts and maybe we'll end up with an entire archive of personal memories.
Written by Oagre
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