What’s with those ads for clubs of “sex-starved women”?

Dear Cecil:

Can you give me the Straight Dope on the so-called sex clubs whose ads proliferate in the back pages of weekly newspapers? Many of these ads feature women who claim to crave masculine company. As something of a veteran of the singles scene, it has not been my experience to find sex-starved women overflowing the local bistros. Methinks it's all a front. Probably the prospective member is asked to pay an exorbitant fee which the club uses to hire hookers as dates. This would circumvent the state's prostitution laws as technically the member is paying for an arranged date as in any other dating service, with the sex ostensibly being free. What's the story?

Cecil replies:

Cecil replies.:

You can’t get around the prostitution laws with a scam as transparent as that, friend, although I don’t doubt that a lot of escort services try. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re also not talking about “ear sex,” a different animal entirely. The sex clubs you’re referring to are basically in the business of assembling and selling lists of women. It’s an interesting racket — sleazy, but interesting. I talked to the owners of a typical operation, D&S Publications of Chicago, in 1983. Here’s what I found out.

D&S is run by (and named for) two women, Nanette D. and LaVerne S. They advertise for women in magazines like Soap Opera Digest, usually using some noncommittal wording like “meet special friends.” The women who respond receive a form letter and an application from an innocuous-sounding organization called Nation Wide Friends.

The application form asks the woman whether she’s interested in dating, marriage, or “intimate sexual friendships/encounters”; it also asks for her measurements, and requests that she describe her “special sexual or romantic fantasy.” D&S composes a one-paragraph listing for the woman, and adds her name to one or more lists. The woman pays no fee.

D&S advertises for men in such publications as Hustler, Oui, Cheri, and (naturally) various alternative weeklies. In contrast to the women’s ads, the men’s ads are quite explicit — e.g., “Call Tracy to contact her Sex-Starved Girls Next Door.” Men who respond to such ads typically are directed to send in $30, for which they receive an eight-page tabloid newspaper entitled “America’s Love Clubs.” The edition I saw contained listings for 183 women around the country. They also receive a flyer offering additional “specialty” lists for $10-$30 on such topics as “Big Breasted Women,” “50 Young Nymphos,” and so on. Another flyer offers provocative “photos of the women in our club” (actually they’re professional models) for $10.

The women in the Love Club newsletter supposedly all have a desperate craving for sex, but what they’re really up to is anybody’s guess. D&S promotional material says no “pros” (i.e., prostitutes) are listed, but Nanette and LaVerne admit that beyond a cursory screening they have no real way of keeping hookers out. Many of the women listed in the Love Club are obviously in it for the money, although what exactly the man gets for his bucks is unclear. A typical ad from a “sexy model” reads, “For details on possible meetings and my sample photo, with information on more, send SASE and $5. Faster contacts and more hot moments for those who show how generous they can be in first letter.” At the very least, we have here a woman with her own kitchen-table mail-order photography business.

Some of the ads, it’s true, have the ring of sincerity to them. Nonetheless we must consider a few straightforward facts. Nanette and LaVerne say they have approximately 1,000 female club members. Of this number, they say, 75 percent are interested in “mating and dating,” rather than sex per se (D&S also publishes a newsletter entitled “Welcome to Club Nice,” a conventional lonely hearts listing, which when I checked contained the names of 471 women.) The Love Club newsletter, with its 180-some names, is updated once every three months. At the same time, D&S typically receives an astonishing 13,400 calls per month, mostly from men. Not all of the callers end up mailing in $30 to receive the Love Club newsletter, of course, but clearly we have an enormous horde of sex-starved men chasing after a relative handful of available women. Sounds just like your experience in the local bistros, doesn’t it?

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

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