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By DOUGLAS QUENQUA APRIL 17, THIS is it, Melvin thought: Craigslist is about to get me killed. He had already done this at least a dozen times, using classified ads he had placed on the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist. But this craigslist dating sign up, all he found was a dark, scary room. Luckily for Melvin, what he had wandered into was something a bit more poignant: This is probably not the hedonistic situation most people envision when they think about Internet hookups.
Nor was it a violent encounter that makes headlines, like the murder on April 14 in a Boston hotel room of a year-old woman, Julissa Brisman, who had placed an ad for masseuse services on Craigslist, or the killing last month of George Weber, a radio news reporter who was stabbed in his Brooklyn home, police say, by a teenager who apparently answered a Craigslist ad seeking a sexual partner. Although sex is solicited online in many places — legally and otherwise — the Casual Encounters are a major hub, offering to do for casual sex what the rest of the site does for no-fee apartments, temp jobs and old strollers.
Like bathhouses and sex clubs, the Casual Encounters section caters the erotic underbelly of society, where courtship gives way to expediency and anonymity is a virtue or at least a turn-on. The section was introduced in late and is available in craigslist dating sign up cities served by Craigslist, for users gay and straight, male and female. The ads range from prim to raunchy; a good number of people include photographs of precisely what they have to offer.
The site has a policy against posting pornographic pictures, but it does not seem to be enforced very vigorously. In an exploration of the Casual Encounters world, more than e-mail messages were sent to users requesting interviews before the recent murders. About a dozen frequent users, mostly men, consented to phone or e-mail interviews, some of which took place over the past three months. Two men, Michael and Melvin, were willing to meet with a reporter in person, as long as they were identified only by their name on Craigslist.
Ads in the Casual Encounters section account for 2 percent of all Craigslist postings, according to the company. Our users like the ability to be both candid and, initially, anonymous. Within Casual Encounters, the most traditional of the categories — men seeking women — seems to raise the most tantalizing questions, given the reasonable assumption that most women and even a few men would prefer earnest courtship to a quickie with a stranger, no strings attached.
For instance, does it really work? Tales of sexual encounters via Craigslist run the gamut from the erotic to the bizarre. Nola, a year-old saleswoman who lives in Manhattan, posts elegantly written ads seeking a man who will meet her in a public place so she can go to the bathroom and remove her panties, which she will then hand to him in an envelope. Michael, who is handsome and projects confidence, says he craigslist dating sign up an artist who began using the site to find models who would pose nude for him.
Craigslist, he said, often fulfills its promise of delivering erotic thrills for a minimal effort. Other men tell of sad, isolated women using the craigslist dating sign up of easy sex to find companionship. Melvin, who has thick brown hair and a pleasant, soft-spoken manner, said he began using the site when his wife left him for another man six months after their wedding. Melvin concedes he could easily be describing his own state of mind after his divorce.
Indeed, Melvin has dated a few women he was supposedly meeting just for sex, and even went out with one young woman, a recent transplant to New York from the Craigslist dating sign up, several times without ever receiving so much as a kiss. Erick Janssen, a researcher and associate scientist at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, said that some need sex and sexual novelty more than others.
Tom Brady, chief medical officer at the CRC Health Group in Cupertino, Calif. Casual Encounters is also a haven for people with sex addictions. Nola, for instance, said in a telephone interview that she got an erotic thrill from giving men her used underwear, knowing they would serve as fetish objects. Nola has acquired a stalker as a result of her actions, but still distributes her panties. She does not have sex with the men she meets online, meets them only in public places, and keeps a file of their names and photos, making sure a friend knows where to find it.
That there is prostitution on the site is no secret. InNassau County set up a prostitution sting operation focusing on Craigslist; around the country, the police routinely arrest prostitutes operating on the site. Craigslist dating sign up Encounters users say those people have simply resurfaced on their turf. Also rampant is the search for drugs.
Other sites have popped up in recent years to siphon off the Casual Encounters crowd, like AshleyMadison. There is no pretense that anything but sex is being offered, which is just fine for people with louche tastes looking to avoid polite society. A version of this article appears in print onon Page ST1 of the New York edition with the headline: Recklessly Seeking Sex on Craigslist.
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