As it turns out, all it takes is an attention-grabbing personal ad, according to a Los Angeles lawyer and self-proclaimed prankster who goes by the alias Henry Russell. Russell spent a year posting fake advertisements on the online community website Craigslist in an experiment to see what people were willing to do, and he has turned 29 of his best findings into a new self-published book, "Craigslist Casual Encounters: The Hilarious and Disturbing World of Seeking Sex Online.
The year-long project produced an estimated unique that he published in all 50 states. Hisalways posted in the casual encounters section of the site, which is known for being the destination for users looking for casual sexual relationshipsgarnered more than 10, responses, he said. Russell requested anonymity for this story out of fear that some people may attempt to retaliate against him, physically or otherwise.
One of the earliest postings -— and one Russell said is on his list of favorites -— was written from the perspective of a woman who had just been dumped and was looking for a guy who was willing to take the brunt of her anger. And while Russell did post some sexualsuch as a request to have sex while dressed up in bear costumes, he said, the that were not intended to illicit sex generated the most interesting responses.
Many responses respected the "no sex" requests, while others tried to turn anything they could into a sexual innuendo.
The responses Russell received varied, some impressed with the advertiser's audacity, writing, "Pretty odd but bold request. Russell said he used an alias to protect himself, and never let a back-and-forth exchange progress to the point where he says he "really thought" the person would do what he was asking.
One ad attracted particularly disturbing responses, said Russell, who posted as a man looking for L. Lakers basketball tickets in exchange for a night with his wife. Russell said one man with whom he exchanged e-mails and who claimed to be in Chicago went into detail about his incestuous relationship with his sister.
Russell said that when the conversation got out of hand and the man allegedly said he wanted to have a daughter for his son to "experiment sexually with," he forwarded the information to the Chicago police. Responders to the Lakers ticket ad seemed more than willing to give up their seats at the game for a night with the poster's wife, writing posts such as, "I'll definitely swap my tickets for your wife.
I hope you are for real. Another responder said he was especially interested because his girlfriend was away, and wrote, "My girlfriend is out of town and I am lonely so such a barter would possibly be of interest to me.
Russell admitted that his experiment was less than honest, writing in the introduction to his book, "I'm probably going to hell for writing this book and having fun at the expense of so many people. But Montana Miller, an assistant professor in the department of popular culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, said Russell's project may help other Craigslist users.
Miller added in a subsequent interview that the "casual encounters" section of the site, where Russell posted therepresents an "extreme segment of society. Russell, who was not shy in admitting that he hopes to get a book deal or a screenplay out of his experiment, said he hopes his work is helpful to the online community.
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