Sex Workers Turned To Twitter, iPhones, Tumblr During Spitzer Scandal

Twitter, iPhones, Tumblr, and other new communications tools were indispensable during the the Eliot Spitzer Ashley Alexandra Dupre scandal, sex workers say. Spokespeople for the profession organised a media blitz using these and other technologies. Wired’s Regina Lynn reports.

[Former sex worker and Desiree Alliance founder Melissa] Gira was attending the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, when she found herself thrust into the media spotlight during the Spitzer meltdown. (She was covering the conference for Valleywag.)

“The only way to survive the barrage of reporters and questions from the sex-worker organisations was to buy an iPhone,” she says. “South by Southwest was so horrible for iPhone peer pressure — I was hardly the only person to leave with one.”

Activists developed a list of current and former sex workers willing to talk about the escort industry, along with what types of media they could and couldn’t do, and whether they would give out their real names.

“Lots of people were at South by Southwest [when the Spitzer story broke] and didn’t have time to check e-mail every five minutes,” says Amber Rhea, organiser of the upcoming Sex 2.0 conference in Atlanta. “It didn’t matter. They used Twitter, text messaging — they did interviews with hardly any advance notice.”

Sex worker adoption aside, South by Southwest does appear to have been a watershed event for Twitter, which now appears on the verge of going mainstream.

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