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A look back at Craigslist's Adult Services section

Craigslist said on Wednesday that it had permanently closed the section of its sites in the United States that carried sex-related advertising . . . — New York Times

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Craigslist's Adult Services, the busiest street corner on the Web, which housed ads for a wide range of sexual services, legal and illegal, was terminated Sept. 3, company officials said Wednesday.

It was about 14.

It died under intense scrutiny after a tumultuous life. In August, 17 state attorneys general sent Craigslist a letter demanding it shutter the sex section.

Its death drew praise from those officials and others fighting sex crimes, and mourning from free speech advocates. It will be missed by gawkers and casual browsers who peeked into the abyss for regular fixes of moral superiority.

Adult Services, known until 2009 as Erotic Services, was conceived humbly in San Francisco, born of our need to touch and be touched and our fascination with the depths and cobwebs of human desire.

Nurtured by the anonymity, speed and freedom of the Internet, it grew to consistently garner the highest number of individual visitors across the classified advertising site. In 2007, across eight major American cities, twice as many visitors browsed ads for erotic wrestling and tantric massage from men in kilts than browsed for used cars.

At its end, Adult Services advertising was expected to bring Craigslist $44 million this year.

Adult Services was the virtual version of pre-Giuliani Times Square, a hot, wet, messy red-light district where men with "100 roses" sought to do things best left unsaid here, with pizazz but limited skills in tact, grammar and punctuation. Women beckoned them with an array of poorly worded promises.

I'll have your aching joints, twisted knots and tired muscles eating out of my attentive, detail oriented hands!

Adult Services found fleeting widespread fame in the wake of the case of Philip Markoff, a young medical student in Boston accused last year of killing a woman who offered masseuse services through Craigslist. Later, the sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, sued Craigslist for "facilitating prostitution."

There was plenty of that, but Adult Services also offered seemingly innocent advertisements from those exploring, um, fantasies in a new, always-connected world.

I am looking for a good looking attractive female who would be willing to clean my flat once a week whilst nude.

And:

Looking for a woman to attend a nightclub event to make an ex jealous, just involves some hand holding and dancing (when my ex gf is near). Email with details (how much you want for the job etc). If we see her early on in the night we can leave right after. Thanks

And:

I will pay you $1 USD to sit in my bathtub full of noodles while you wear a one piece bathing suit.

I will not be home, nor will anyone else while you do this.

I will leave the key for you, and you will sit at your leisure.

I will require at least a 5 minute stay.

A neighbor will watch the front door from across the street and using a supplied stopwatch, will time your entry and departure.

Please supply your own footwear.

The noodles will be cooked, and therefore slippery.

DO NOT bring any sauce. I will season the pasta after I return home prior to dinner.

Within moments of its demise, advertisers and consumers who frequented Adult Services began migrating to other sections on the site. Posted recently on Tampa Bay Craigslist personals:

not to waste words. I am going back to jail in October.

I have not been held or kissed in over 30 years

just once, I would like to be with someone

A look back at Craigslist's Adult Services section 09/16/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 17, 2010 11:20am]
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