The escorts of San Jose are not the typical sex workers that you’d expect to find at a hotel.
They are a growing, diverse and lucrative industry that’s booming thanks to Airbnb and Uber, and one that has helped put San Jose on the map for women in the city.
They’re also, in some ways, like a new breed of escorts.
Escorts, according to Airbnb’s chief operating officer, Amy Karp, are an important part of the city’s tourism industry, and the companies they work for are helping San Jose draw in a broader audience.
The hosts, she says, are “exciting and creative” and “love to serve.”
But, as the hosts of “The Escorts” blog, the website where guests can read about escorts and learn more about their profession, they have their own concerns.
For many hosts, the job is just a stepping stone to other opportunities.
For others, the experience is just one step closer to prostitution.
And for others, it’s a dangerous business.
We live in a world where we live in this world where sex workers are a criminal group that has to be controlled, and they have to be stopped, said Karp.
“Escorts are like that.”
The industry is also evolving, with companies like Airbnb expanding into the region and more companies offering more options to clients.
But the business has also evolved in ways that have not always been in the best interests of the hosts, many of whom say they’re paid less than the typical escort.
One of the biggest changes, according and frequent guests at “The Stars,” a popular San Jose hotel, has been the change in how guests are treated.
“We don’t have the same respect that we used to,” said “The Cheerleader” host, who goes by the name “Mimi” and lives in the Bayview, a luxury apartment building just west of the San Jose airport.
A lot of our clients feel like they’re being exploited and like it’s not fair, Mimi said.
They feel like it doesn’t matter that they have a job that they do and that they are treated with respect.
“It’s not about sex,” she added.
“We’re not here to have sex.”
Another guest, “The Lady,” said she’s worked with many women who were initially hesitant to work with escorts but found it rewarding and empowering.
I’m not going to tell them to do anything I’m not comfortable with.
And it’s good for them because they don’t feel like a whore anymore, she said.
“The thing is, when you have a client, you do have to trust that they know what they’re doing and that it’s going to be okay.”
A host in a hotel suite on San Jose’s waterfront.
On the other hand, “Mum” said that she has been working for years, but she’s seen a shift in how escorts are treated, especially from her colleagues who are often called upon to escort guests in and out of rooms.
When I go into a room with them, I’m the one doing the job, she added, and that’s not always the case.
Some hosts have had to work on their own to make ends meet, with their own personal escorts who are paid to help them and who can take care of them.
But the host also has to take care when it comes to the guests, because guests don’t always feel safe in hotels with escort-hosting rooms.
“You need to have a safe place to stay,” said Karr, “because people can get scared and upset.”
In 2016, a host and her mother were stabbed to death in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Police were called to the scene after receiving reports of a man who allegedly assaulted the couple’s daughter and her friend.
The man was later arrested.
Karr said the incident, while horrific, was not a reflection of the escorts in San José.
Karr said it’s important to protect guests in hotels.
“They are there to serve the people who come in, and if you don’t treat them with respect, you will be hurting them,” she said, adding that hosts need to make sure that they provide the guests with the proper security and privacy, and also to protect their own safety.
Mimi and “The Girl” are both in their late 40s and live in the Mission.
Their stories were the subjects of “San Jose’s Escorts,” a series that debuted on “The Star” and was the first episode of “This American Life.”
It aired on the podcast site in October, and was an instant hit.
Since then, the hosts have published more stories about their experiences on the blog, which has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.