The website Rentboy.com is accused of connecting male sex workers with clients, enabling prostitution, which is unlawful virtually everywhere in the country. It operated fairly transparently, giving annual parties, announcing a scholarship contest for escorts and promoting the motto “Money can’t buy you love … but the rest is negotiable.”
It’s somewhat baffling, though, that taking down a website that operated in plain sight for nearly two decades suddenly became an investigative priority for the Department of Homeland Security and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn. This week, the website’s founder and six employees were charged with violating federal law by facilitating paid sexual encounters.
Kelly Currie, the acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, trumpeted the case against Rentboy.com, calling it an “Internet brothel” that “made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution.” The website pulled in $10 million over the past five years, charging escorts for publishing their profiles, according to prosecutors. That’s less revenue than an average McDonald’s franchise generates.
The criminal complaint is so saturated with sexually explicit details, it’s hard not to interpret it as an indictment of gay men as being sexually promiscuous.