Published Apr 21, 2014 Updated Mar 2, 2020, 5:55 am CST
They choose a star ranking and write a description about what they liked and didn’t like about the service. To find new spots, an advanced search feature shows the highest-rated locations on Google Maps, with links to phone numbers. Users talk about their experiences and debate their favorites in the forums. The conversation between reviewers sometimes steers off course; they participate in Super Bowl bets and talk about their marriages.
It sounds like a description of Yelp, but this is a far seedier sort of review site. RubMaps, a subscription service that encourages user reviews, focuses on under-the-table sex work that occurs at undercover brothels. It’s a comprehensive guide to all of the fake massage parlors in the U.S. that give clients sexual services. Users call themselves “mongers” and are led by “Mongo,” the webmaster and ringleader.
Screengrab via RubMaps
“Mongos” post forums and blog posts like “Simply Boobs” and “Best in the area” to discuss their favorite picks and personal stories. But not everyone is happy in the forums; there are posts that critique services rendered and even a blog discussing how President Donald Trump’s administration could affect parlors across the country.
The “mongers” who frequent RubMaps rate their experiences in detail, and trade information about accessing undercover brothels. There’s a glossary on RubMaps with a NSFW rundown of the online community’s lingo, from “Roman shower” to “babyback.” I don’t want to tell you what either of those things mean. Getting full access to the guide costs money; users pay to access most of the content. There’s a monthly $14.95 option, or a yearly $99 option.
Screengrab via RubMaps
That RubMaps appears to flourish is a mystery. It publicizes illegal services in a way that’d be of great interest to vice units around the U.S., so it is strange that the parlors repeatedly reviewed haven’t contacted the site to take down their information. RubMaps makes it extremely easy to hunt down black market blowjobs, which is convenient for deviants but also opportune for the police. Looking at the RubMaps forums, it’s clear the community members are concerned about the police. There are mentions of LAPD crackdowns and discussions about how to avoid law enforcement all over the U.S. Yet members continue to out these fake parlors as sex dens.
RubMaps has a funny name, but it’s an exploitative community. Researchers at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation found that some of the “mongers” ignore that certain sex workers appeared to be trafficked. So this handjob guide is less of a joke and more of an example of the way that people can reinforce bad behavior by endorsing it in online communities.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to provide relevant context.
Kate Knibbs is a notable tech reporter and pop culture essayist. A former staff writer for the Daily Dot, her work has appeared in Gizmodo, the Ringer, AV Club, Digital Trends, Popular Mechanics, and Time.