RLCS, Revista Latina de Comunicacion Social
Revista Latina

DOI, Digital Objetc Identifier 10.4185/RLCS-2017-1158en | ISSN 1138 - 5820 | RLCS, 72-2017 | Audio-visual explanation of the author |

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How to cite this article in bibliograhies / References

C  Meneses-Falcón, J  Uroz-Olivares, A Rúa-Vieites (2017): “Flyers and Advertisements of sexual services in Madrid”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 72, pp. 145 to 164.
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2017-1158

Flyers and Advertisements of

sexual services in Madrid

Carmen Meneses-Falcón [CV] [oORCID] [gGS] Professor and Researcher of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, Universidad P. Comillas, cmeneses@comillas.edu,

Jorge Uroz-Olivares [CV] o[ORCID] [gGS] Professor and Researcher of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, Universidad P. Comillas, juroz@comillas.edu

Antonio Rua Vieites, [CV] [oORCID] [gGS] Professor and Researcher of the Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences, Universidad P. Comillas, rvieites@icade.comillas.edu

The objective of this study is to analyze the messages transmitted in the sex service flyers. We analyze 220 different flyers collected in the public thoroughfare of the city of Madrid, through an analysis of the discourse, content and quantitative of the main variables and categories. Flyers were classified into four groups, as they represented a person, group, business, or Asian commercial offer. Their counterpart was searched and analyzed on the web pages of sexual ads and contacted by telephone. The results show the advertising strategies contained in the ads, the reflection in them of the demand and the characteristics of a hidden sector of prostitution. All flyers offer a vision of free, voluntary and independent prostitution that contrasts with being one of the spaces of coercive prostitution, as several studies have suggested

Prostitution; sexual services; sex work; sexual Advertisement.

1. Introduction and state of the art review. 2. Methods. 3. Results. 4. Discussion and Conclusions. 6. Notes. 7. List of References


Translated by Yuhanny Henares (academic translator,
Universitat de Barcelona)

 [ Research ] [ Funded ] 
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1. Introduction and state of the art review

In the last years, advertisements and flyers of sexual services, offered in the windshields of cars as a way to contact potential masculine clients, main target of these advertisements, have increased in some Spanish cities, especially in Madrid. This boost can reflect, likewise, an increase of sexual services offer in a moment of economic crisis (Meneses & Guindeo, 2015), or a different way individuals and companies offering these services are making themselves known. Publicity of sexual services is not forbidden in Spain as happens in the United States, or limited like in Germany, because it is associated to the freedom of expression and information, as stated in the Constitution of 1978 (Coderech & Rubí, 2010). Besides, prostitution in Spain is not an activity typified in the penal code, and therefore, it is not forbidden or criminalized. However, in the last years, some cities have incorporated administrative sanctions when the contact or request of sexual services is produced in the street, fining this behavior regulated through municipal laws (Villacampa, 2012). Currently, the city of Madrid does not apply these kinds of sanctions because there are no municipal regulations sanctioning these behaviors, nevertheless this city is certainly showing concern due to the massive advertisement about sexual services in the streets (ABC digital, 9/5/2012 [1]). The high erotic level they show and easy access to minors, for whom it means a card collection game, has pushed parents’ associations to report the situation to the city government and it determines a possible regulation for these kinds of advertisements due to the messages conveyed to teenagers [2]. The attempts to forbid contact advertisements on newspapers have failed up until now because for many of these diaries, it represents their main funding source, which estimated to be 40 million Euros per year (Megías, 2013). The Spanish parliament has failed to approve said prohibition, even though it has been presented several times.

The contact with sexual services clients in Spain has been traditionally made through three modalities: streets, clubs, hostess bars and apartments or brothels. This last modality sometimes uses advertisements in newspapers or informal diffusion. However, the coming of the new technologies such as modern mobile phones (smartphone) and Internet has created a fast, discreet and risk-free form of contact (Caroço, 2011). Flyers, or publicity leaflets, and Internet advertisements have become a way of communication, publicity and awareness to buy a product or service from the hidden sector of prostitution (Cunningham & Kendall, 2009).

Leaflets or flyers are also a way of communication in the consumption society which convey meanings, values, models, attitudes and behaviors (García del Castillo et al, 2009). All of them, like advertisement itself, look to sell a product or service highlighting the aspects that could catch the client’s attention the most. Influence of advertisements in our habits and behavior has been manifested in many researches and precisely due to its efficacy, it is still one of the essential media used by professionals and companies. Advertisements of sexual services are targeted to its main consumers, men, with an important erotic and sexual load to generate in them the need for consumption (Caroço, 2011), that is, they are a tool of sexual communication and persuasion for the masculine sector.

Different studies have analyzed the contents of prostitution advertisements with different reasons: to analyses the association between masochism and transvestism (Chivers & Blanchard, 1996); as a means of promotion of prostitution which shows individuals exploitation, makes  prostitute women visible and hides men clients (Hughes, 2003); regarding the impact of Internet in the relationships of clients and masculine escorts (Parsons et al, 2004); to analyze the contents of sex sales on the Internet (Lee and Castle,2006; Veena, 2007; Castle & Lee, 2008; Pruitt & Krul, 2011; Blackwell & Dziegielewski, 2013); the discussion between clients about feminine prostitutes about health and sexual unprotection (Langanke & Ross, 2009); information masculine escorts provide to their clients (Lee-Gonyea, 2009); language used on the Internet by prostitution clients ( Blevins, & Holt, 2009); about services offered and the health status in brothels (Chin et al 2009); sexual preferences of clients paying sexual services (Milrod & Monto, 2012); unprotection of sexual practices requested by clients (Adriaenssens & Jef Hendrickx, 2012); characteristics of communication in the contact between sellers and purchasers of sex (Jonsson et al 2014); the new risks of contact between purchasers and sellers of sex on the Internet (Jones 2015); normalization of masculine prostitution thanks to Internet (MacPhail  et al, 2015); analysis of commercialization of sex on the web of three European cities (Pajnik et al, 2016). But all these studies refer to advertisements on websites, to the chat between clients and masculine/feminine prostiutes, and in very few cases to advertisements in newspapers and magazines (Chivers & Blanchard, 1996), and none of them to advertisements of flyers (Rúa et al, 2016), because perhaps their distribution is not allowed in many countries (France and Portugal, frontier countries forbid it). Looking for advertisements of sex on the Internet is a more private activity and less exposing than distributing flyers in the street with contents of sex selling at everybody’s reach, which is what this research analyses.

Behind the advertisements of sexual services, there is a very old and polemic activity, with individuals favoring its existence or elimination from society. Consideration of prostitution and juridical treatment in states is very variable, being forbidden, regulated or tolerated (Weizer, 2005). Meanwhile, some academics, intellectuals and politicians have presented that prostitution is a way to degrade women, victimize them or a form of violence and oppression, but others it is an occupation just like any other, another way of making a living as long as it is voluntary and a service among adults (Vanwesenbeeck, 2013). From this vision, selling sex entails a type of job that can be comprised among personal services (Agustin, 2004). There is appeal to individual freedom and the rational decision from a women sector.  This position claims regulations and granting of rights to individuals practicing prostitution in those States without them, or forbid it.

In Spain, prostitution is not illegal, but it is not regulated either, therefore sexual services advertisements are tolerated. However, the Spanish penal code distinguishes between voluntary prostitution and coercive prostitution, besides sexual exploitation and human trafficking that can occur in all modalities of sexual services. These three aspects, coercive prostitution, sexual exploitation and human trafficking, are felonies according to Spanish judicial laws. In the last years, a wide control of establishments and hostess bars have contributed to hiding these crimes and displace them to apartments and brothels, due to the difficulty of police to inspect them without a court order (Carballo & Teresi, 2009). It is relevant to ask then, behind the contact advertisements or flyers is there only voluntary prostitution? To study the market of sexual services thoroughly may help knowing, distinguishing and localizing the two different types of prostitution. Jeffreys (2010) has indicated that in Holland, women dedicated to escorts in the prostitution sector group the most of women trafficking, minors and vulnerable population, given that controls are fewer and that most illegal prostitution occupies this sector.

When the authors of this research started finding on their car windshields advertisements of contacts and sexual services, they wondered: Who is really being advertised? What are the latent messages conveyed? Does it mean there is a greater normalization of prostitution? Is it possible they are the reflect of requests, desires and likes of clients? To study client profiles from sexual advertisements offers a lot of aspects of a market that is hidden, stigmatized and of difficult access.

The objective of this research was: a) to analyze direct and indirect messages found in advertisements or flyers of sexual services distributed in the streets of Madrid as a potential reflection of sexual services demand; b) to determine meaning and values conveyed to potential consumers, as a client catching strategy and adaptation to them; c) delve and explore the possible type of prostitution behind these advertisements.



A sample of 220 sexual advertisements in the streets of the city of Madrid were collected – in car windshields or the ground-, from September, 2015 to May, 2016. Once gathered, they were numbered and recorded for their analysis in two computerized programs, SPSS v20 and Nvivo 11, proceeding with them in different phases.

First phase. The first analysis consisted in determining how many of them belonged to the same advertiser. By confirming the telephone numbers, there was a repetition of them in a group of flyers, so that 153 individuals or entities were behind advertisements. Therefore, 40 entities or individuals have issued two or more flyers, up to a maximum of 6 different flyers, with different messages and publicity strategies, that is, the variation was not only the color, but also there existed a variation of other possible components and messages. The messages contained on the different flyers and the possible demand that could be reflected in them, were analyzed. But a flyer is simple and considering that some of them referenced a website, we proceeded to a posterior phase.

Second phase. It was confirmed how many of these advertisements were also found on Internet and the differences of advertisements and contents messages in both kinds of advertisements, therefore the information of the flyer was contrasted with the information on the Internet. 20% (n=44) did not have any advertisements on the Internet, or at least the team didn’t find it, however, the rest could have one or several advertisements on different websites dedicated to the offer of sexual services.

Third phase. Contents, semiotic and discourse analyses of the flyers was made (Calsamiglia & Tusón, 1999), using qualitative analytical strategies in the Nvivo 11 program; and quantitative through extraction of main variables for its statistical analysis, so that the double of analysis allowed complementation and triangulation (Bericat, 1998; Bryman, 2006). For the analysis of flyers, we paid attention to the AIDA strategy (AIDA standing for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action) which analyses how the advertisement catches the interest of the recipient and arises the desire to acquire it (Ferraz, 1996; Sánchez, 1999) which has been applied to diverse studies about advertisement (Alberola, 2004), a model showing that was is intended is to persuade to sell a product. The analytical scheme is described on Table 1.

Table I. Analysis Scheme


Proposal for Analysis of Flyers

Attention and interest

  • Slogans
  • Images or iconography
  • Flyers color and format
  • Arousal of need to pay for a sexual service

Desire and possibility to acquire

  • Description and presentation of the product or service offered, latent or direct
  • Offers and promotions
  • Trust raised in the client: credibility or authenticity, safety, etc.
  • Incentives or claim to attract the client
  • Invitation to contact
  • Legal aspects

Another relevant aspect included in the contents analyses were meanings and values conveyed by flyers, since advertisement directly or indirectly communicates a content full of semantic connotations. The semiotic analysis of flyers done, was like the ones performed on advertisements (Álvarez, 2005; Ferraz, 1996; Madrid, 2003), stopping on the meaning, symbols and communicative messages conveyed, focusing on three of the main semiotic levels of analysis: axiological of meaning production, emergent-narrative of the meaning transmission and the Surface or discursive in the internalization of meaning (Martínez, 2005).

Fourth phase. Lastly, there was telephone contact with the 153 advertisers, but only response was obtained in 58 of them, which is 38% of the sample. It was a telephone interview were information was collected about services and prices, as per Pruitt research (2008), as well as the existence of risky behavior (use of cocaine and lack of protection in sexual practices). However, not all advertisers collaborated by providing information requested, as will be explained afterwards on results.

Flyers were classified qualitatively and quantitatively in several groups, comparing them with a series of quantitative variables and qualitative categories. The quantitative analysis started with univariant descriptive analysis and continued with the techniques of parametrical and non-parametrical contrasting (single factor ANOVA and Kruskall Wallis respectively as corresponded) which allowed to study the interdependency among said variables, establishing duly associations, and triangulating what was obtained using qualitative analysis.


3. Results

From flyers

Flyers of sexual advertisements have turned in the main modality of advertisements of apartments and brothels, in some Spanish cities, because they are a very economical way of gaining awareness, because advertisement on written media are more expensive [3]. On the other hand, up until now, there is no legal impediment to use this advertisement modality in Spain.

Flyers analyzed can be classified based on many criteria: by its quality, by what it advertises (massages, services or both); by whom is advertised; by what they want to highlight in their design (services, prices, zone, promotions, etc.). In this research, we have decided to classify them into four groups: those where an autonomous or independent person was advertised (n=61, 27.7%), those were organized through a group of women to offer their services (n=62, 28.2%), those where a company or corporation offered their services (n=66, 30.0%) and those from companies offering oriental massages (n=31, 14.1%). These last two could be gathered into one group, but the advertisement differences were so considerable that we kept them separated as an analytical strategy.

Finally, target population were mainly men, almost exclusively. A few included couples and only one offered services to women. However, when we got in touch with this advertiser, we confirmed that their clients were men as well.

We delved in the frequency of the words contained on advertisements or flyers (Fig. 1). The word Euro outstood in all advertisements analyzed, since sexual services are another product of the consumption society and they are done to earn money, which is connected to the main reason of prostitution (Pruitt and Krull, 2011).

Fig. 1. Word cloud obtained from the contents of analyzed flyers (with Euro, and without Euro per group)



Erasing the word Euros

2 Independent




Erasing the word Euro (Fig. 1), and observing the frequency of dominant words in each classified group, there is an interesting prevalence in semantic terms. Hence, in the flyers of individuals advertised as autonomous or independent the following words stood out: Location, Independent, Alone, Years, Discreet or Discretion, Picture (real), Engaged, and Receive. It was being conveyed that the service was offered in a discreet manner, with engagement in the relationship stablished with the client, without intermediaries, and in the same location where the advertisement was done, that is, there was no need for mobility, which may indicate that it was targeted to the male population of the area.

In the flyers where a Group of women was advertised, the following words stood out: Years, Girls, Free drink (alcoholic), New, Location, Hotels and domiciles, Older; therefore, it was conveyed that the service was done in the area, that it was a new group of girls or that there was a new girl in the group – because it could be understood both ways-, a drink was offered and that services were also done in domicile and hotels. Lastly, regarding older, it was a reference to age, that is, that advertisements were destined to clients of older age.

In flyers, which seemed to belong to some Company the following words prevailed: Massages, Hotels, Drink (alcoholic), Relax, Private, Ladies or Escort, Services. The message offered to clients was very different from the previous ones. The massage was a more discreet service, relaxing, private, offered by escort or ladies, words that replaced girl, or alone, which were found on previous flyers.

In the flyers that were grouped as Asian the following words were dominant: Minutes, Orientals, Massages, Services, Drink (alcoholic), Hours, Girls, Free, Date, Go out. They were massage companies that sold a massage service with or without sexual arousal at the end. Time was essential, and with reference to oriental massage as more appealing element.

Finally, the word cloud of the first group puts an emphasis on the personal relationship with the client, without intermediaries; the second one emphasizes on youth and being a group of new girls in the area, that is, choosing between a diverse offer of girls. In the third and fourth one, oriental massages stand out, as well as relaxing and the time that might be spent with the client, which is associated to price, highlighting dates in the case of Asian advertisements and the reference to price, standing out the date in the case of Asian advertisements and the reference to a website or email with the word Com.

On figure 2 there is an example of a flyer from each group analyzed.

Fig. 2. Example of flyer of each group considered: Asian, Group, Company, Independent






In a second phase, by analyzing the contents of slogans, images or iconography, description of service and the confidence to generate desire and the action of acquisition, three subjects were identified: cost accessible to any men, services offered and who offered them, and characteristics associated to the encounter.

The slogan with the iconography used was part of the strategy of attention and interesting towards client, to arise the desire to buy the service. While the slogan in the fourth group put an emphasis on massage and access to oriental women, the third group highlighted the access to a space of relaxation while being accompanied, of luxury, since the word escort was very associated and related to certain distinction. On the second group, slogans referenced a group of girls, generally Latin and who were a novelty in the area as we already mentioned. Lastly, those ladies working alone emphasized on this in their slogans. On table 2, the slogans dominant in each one of the groups were summarized.

Table II. Slogans dominant in advertisements





In your area

Novelty in your area
New girls
Spanish and Latin

Latin bonbons

Oriental massages
Oriental girls

What iconography can be found depending on the generalized groups and slogans? In general, it was a provocative iconography and images, with a significant erotic load, standing out those feminine body attributes that attracted men the most: breasts and buttocks. Three feminine iconographies stand out:

  1. The curvy woman, represent in majority by Latin American women; very associated to groups of women or those who were autonomous.

  2. Asian women, with childlike face; it was clearly the iconography of flyers groups as Asian.

  3. The slender and thin figure characteristic from the feminine image of fashion and seductive and provocative advertisement aesthetic. Predominating on flyers we have grouped as companies.

  4. We can talk about a fourth group of iconography, which didn’t use the figure of women but some fetishist element such as shoes or lips.

More than one advertisement shares two out of three iconographies. In many of them there was an iconography of the suggestive, free, independent woman with a very potent sensual and sexual load which was called Lilith iconography (Martínez-Oña and Muñoz-Muñoz, 2015). Two meanings stood out: one more seductive and sensual and the other more explicit and direct, which in some cases was closer to rudeness, since it is possible it is targeted to different kinds of clients. It was about offering sexual stimuli, provoke the desire to catch attention, on the clear strategy of achieving the purchase action. 

On table 3, the results of the quantitative analysis about the contents collected from flyers are reflected. The main variables analyzed are described and there is a comparison between the four groups described (G1, Autonomous or Independent; G2, in Group; G3, Companies; G4, Asian) to detect the possible existence of statistically significant differences. Therefore, it is observed that color flyers, printed both sides, were much more usual in the group of Company and Asian (100%), that in the group of Independent or Group, but there are no differences in typing errors that some flyers showed. Practically all flyers had a mobile phone and there were differences when a fixed number appeared, more usual in groups comprised by Companies. The same happened with the presence of some website or QR code. Advertisements groups by Independent included location less, the contrary than Companies or Asian. Flyers representing Groups used more the Internet channel as alternative, which was much less used by Asian. Regarding origin, as it was logical among Asian, the origin was oriental, in Group there was a higher concentration of Latin women and Spanish women just as independent. The advertisements which showed prices less, were the Asian group. Reference to a 24-hours availability was focused on Company and Asian advertisements. The type of service exposed more explicitly was mainly seen among Independent and Group; however, reference to a massage offer was groups in the other two groups, Company and Asian. Lastly, the name of women and/ or reference to age was grouped again between the Independent and Group groups. Most differences mentioned were statistically significant.

Table III. Analyzed variables of flyers contents







G1, Autonomous



G2, Group



G3, Companies



G4, Asian











Color (yes/no)








Printed on both sides (yes/no)








Typing errors (yes/no)











Telephone contact


Mobile telephone (yes/no)








Fix telephone (yes/no)








Fix and mobile (yes/no)








Website (yes/no)








QR Code (yes/no)








Location (yes/no)








Internet channel (yes/no)











Not mentioned





















Spanish and Latin





















Reference to price (yes/no)








Reference to schedule (yes/no)








No reference







24 hours







Part time







Type of service








No reference







Only massage














Name of individuals (yes/no)








Reference to age (yes/no)








From internet

From the 153 individuals or entities advertised, there were internet advertisements in 109 cases. Many of them, in several websites were advertisements of sexual services. Information contained in these advertisements was wide, diverse, explicit and detailed. A summary of results obtained after analysis were presented.

  1. Individuals offering sexual services were foreign women, mainly from Latin America and Eastern countries. A reduced group mentioned to be Spanish.

  2. All advertisements offered a picture of the person offering services, some were explicit from face and body, with the most outstanding physical characteristics, as well as age and ethnicity.

  3. Three type of services were offered: a) accompaniment and company on trips, dinners or any other event, in which elegance and presence was offered; b) offer of different sexual services of all kinds, but we highlight two of them: the solely sexual and those entailing listening, spending a pleasant time or girlfriend service; lastly, c) accompanied consumption of psychoactive substances, specifically cocaine. In this case, the reference in the advertisement was “White Party”, which was found on 14 advertisements and in 9 the reference was to party or party-loving. None of the flyers analyzed had any information about this consumption.

  4. Another information included in Internet advertisements was the location or geographical area, or the possibility to move to domicile or hotels, prices associated to the service, and the time the client wanted to consume, discretion and availability, which could be partial or 24 hours.

The advertisements strategies to catch the client were eye-catching, using an erotic-pornographic language at the same time a lot of engagement, closeness and personal dedication was offered. In this sense, the girlfriend experience entailed both things at the same time.

From the interviews

People who answered the phone were women in their majority. Before our request about services and prices, only in one case we were encouraged to go to the place so to provide the information we were asking. The remaining advertisers offered the data requested. Telephone interviews were very short, and in six cases they hung up, interrupting the conversation, due to different reasons, among them, because they felt offended when they were asked whether services could be made without protection.

If I were sick I would do it gladly, so that all scoundrels who want to fuck without rubber could screw up, but since I am healthy I use rubber (F156)

In other occasions, there was a tender answer to this request, either with negative or certain humor.

Honey, but… (“Ask the group of girls) Is there anyone who wants to do it without condoms? No, my love, here the girls, we do penetration with condoms … (listen to laughter in the background) so I do not know my love, I cannot tell you, you know that in this job we need to do it with condoms, the penetration for cumming, my life. (F108)

However, oral sex is offered without protection as long as the service has a higher cost or it means choosing a longer time of service (which also entailed a higher cost). Except in two cases were all services were explicitly offered with condoms, for the rest oral sex was done without protection.

Services are done…, one blow-job with rubber and penetration. And 20 minutes are 30 Euros, it is a blow-job without rubber and we fuck (F147)

It would only be French, without condom. Then penetration, everything with condom, my love (F134)

But in three cases, which coincided with flyers classified as Asian, all services were offered without condoms. Regarding the type of services that were performed we found that: a) Anal sex was not offered by a sector of advertisers, specifically in a dozen of cases it was explicitly rejected;

We do all services expect the natural French until the end and the Greek one. It is the only thing girls don’t do (F130)

b) in four cases, which coincided in flyers classified as independent, they only attended clients one by one; c) in some cases sexual services were not offered, but erotic massages instead, especially in two of the advertisements

R…we are a center of erotic massages. All massages are done manually. You have the most basic massage, were the massage therapist wears underwear. You cannot interact with her, you have half an hour from 80 Euros and the hour from 150 Euros. 40 minutes are massages of greater erotic load and the cost is from 120 Euros.

I: Ok and in those…. ehhh… can there be natural French and so on.

R: No no…nothing about that. No, in this center we do not do those things (F76)

R: Among the services we offer, all massages have a muscle relaxing part with hands, then an erotic part with the whole body, the lower belly, arms and the end is always manual. Within these there are different kinds of massages. There are massages which are more passive, where the massage therapist touches you, but you cannot touch her. And then we perform other massages of greater erotic load where you can interact with her, there is also erotic shower, buttock massages, there are many massages

E: and so, said that the ending is always manual, you cannot finish any other way

R: yes, it is always manual (F152)

d) in other cases, there was a special offer of services as an advertisement claim, which was not found in the flyer and which was offered by the phone, or in Internet advertisements.

Look honey, this weekend we had an offer of two girls for the price of one ok? The girls are very nice, with jacuzzi, two women for 150 Euros. What do you think about the offer? (F173)

e) As we have seen on Internet advertisements, we asked whether the “White Party” was offered together with sexual services, in 17 cases the response was affirmative as shown in these responses:

White party, yes, we do it if you bring it (F177)

Uuuu… Of course, we do!!!!, the three of us are crazy about having a white party today. (F173)

Also, it was concluded from the analysis the trend that, if the advertisement said it was “mature”, and classified as independent, the answer to the white party was negative and they only received clients individually. Finally, it is worth mentioning that women offering services were predominantly Latin (Dominican, Colombian, Brazilian, Ecuadorian, Paraguayan …), except in the Asian group. About had a dozen referenced Spanish women.


5. Discussion and conclusion

Advertisements or flyers of individuals practicing prostitution are constructed according to market strategies that, even though it is a behavior that is part of the private sphere, it is mercantilized and advertised as one more product of consumption society (Bernstein, 2001). From the flyers, it is concluded that it is a service with an accessible cost to any man, only target of these advertisements, which offered is encompassed by foreign women with a predominance of Latin American women; which might mean a racialization or ethnicization of the sector of sexual services. It has been mentioned that the ethnicity in the sex industry can be translated in low prices of sexual services, depending on the social context it belongs to (Jones, 2015). In this research, we have not found this depreciation, but on the contrary, it is used as an exotic, diversity and attraction element towards clients.

The analysis of advertisements showed that it is not exclusively sex what is being bought in these kind of services, but also companionship, closeness and relief, that is, intimacy without responsibility (Pruitt & Krull, 2011) which is well referenced in many flyers with different messages. Among them, we need to highlight the girlfriend service or experience, where sex is one more element, because what is sold is an affective-sexual relationship as it was not paid (Blevins & Holt, 2009).

Connections between drug consumption and sexual services have been manifested in numerous researches (Cusick, 1998; Surrat et al, 2004) and in this study, it appeared as well. Cocaine consumption (White Party) by some sectors of clients who demand sexual services is produced as one more offer or service, because this consumption increases both the clients to be attended as well as incomes earned (Meneses, 2010). Generally, this kind of consumption is instrumental for individuals practicing prostitution, although the progression towards compulsive uses and risky behaviors, specially unprotection have also been mentioned as associated to the consumption of this substance (Meneses, 2007). It doesn’t seem that sexual services have changed, but their management instead.

In many studies, the existence of a sector of prostitution clients who demand services without protection has been mentioned (Veena, 2007; Adriaenssens & Hendrickx, 2012; Lian et al, 2014), generally increasing the price of service and, based on this demand, the offer adapts to it. Meanwhile, in the study about advertisements of sexual services performed by Pruitt & Krull (2011) there were no references to sexual practices without protection, in this research the majority of advertisements offered oral sex without protection. In this sense, the study performed by Lian et al (2014) is more compliant, where it was mentioned that clients that searched for sex online, showed low rates of protection during oral sex and other sexual practices. It is possible there is a higher tolerance to certain unprotection in some sexual practices as a claim to get more clients. In the advertisements, we have classified as Asian, this lack of protection was found a lot, not only for oral sex but also for the remaining services, as well as the offer of very young women or use of drugs. Tolerability and complaisance found on these advertisements towards the desires of certain clients, both in Internet and telephone interviews, make us elaborate the hypothesis that it might belong to the sector of coercive prostitution, being the sector where more control and vigilance there should be to avoid it. Certain forums and advertisements on the Internet can provide information about non-voluntary or forced prostitution (Jones, 2015). 

It has been suggested that the type of women offering sexual services in the Street is different from the Internet, hostess bars, apartments or brothels (Caroço, 2011). That is, there is a significant difference between the hidden and the visible sector regarding risky behavior (Raphael & Shapiro, 2004) and sexual services (Monto, 2001), however, in this study we haven’t found a great difference in these aspects, given that there can be different risks, although undoubtedly organization and articulation of services is done differently. If Internet advertisements need access to this platform through an electronic device, the flyer is accessible to all kinds of clients through its distribution in the street, but to make contact, both kinds of advertisements need a mobile phone allowing you to request sexual services. The new technologies have facilitated an increase of individuals offering sexual services, since they offer more discretion, new spaces of encounter and more options to get clients (MacPhail et al, 2015). In this sense, it has been reflected on those advertisements we classified as independent or group, corresponding to women who organized themselves to get clients within a non-stigmatized space as the street or a hostess bar could be, where she could be identified as a prostitute.

Iconographies used on analyzed advertisements match meanings indicated in other advertisements, such as perfumes’, referring to the myth of Lilith (Martínez-Oña & Muñoz-Muñoz, 2015), as subject and object of lust, main claim for selling sexual services. By looking at the iconographies shown in advertisements, both flyers and Internet, which highlight parts of the feminine body that are more appealing in sexual terms, make it look that only sex is sold, and not a sexual activity as has been mentioned in other studies (Veena, 2007) and which contrast with what many clients want, something more than sexual practices. It is worth mentioning, in flyers, that the advertised picture is real, generally the breast exhibited in advertisements, as different from deceitful advertisements, just as it was noted on clients’ forums (Blevins & Holt, 2009), because there can be false advertisement among them. 

On the other hand, messages suggest that advertisements show an image of prostitution which is voluntary, autonomous and recreational, very different from institutional messages that show it as a forced, non-voluntary or human trafficking activity, contributing with these advertisements to a greater normalization and tolerance to the offer of sexual services (McPhail et al, 2015). Advertisements are targeted to masculine clients, offering them messages with appealing interests and desires and, therefore, call by the phone. It is then when again different appealing strategies are articulated. If the client seems interested, different kinds of approach will be used, from the affectionate and close tone, to the spicy and seductive, or humor when the client’s request is not as desired. Advertisements of sexual services can generate a culture about sexual behaviors with more acceptance and normalization than in previous decades, with a new vision of individuals practicing prostitution. In this sense, most of analyzed advertisements offer an image of women that has been criticized in other advertisements, due to its degrading nature and contrary to women dignity (Megías, 2013). Due to reiteration and messages contained in the iconography of flyers, it seems it is this image and vision, these kinds of advertisements need for selling sexual services. Therefore, before a vision of the prostitute woman which is a victim of her own misfortune there is shown, through these advertisements, a different, independent and liberal woman which uses her body to get economic benefits, main reason to be of prostitution (Pruitt & Krull, 2011; Bernstein, 2001). It is about conveyed a narrative far beyond the forced prostitution, human trafficking and sexual exploitation, although we are aware that behind this iconography these social phenomena also happen.

In summary, contents of advertisements are leaded by clients demands, with patented differences according to the type of prostitution shown behind each one of them. In the cases of companies, a more professional image of the service is shown and therefore, a greater quality of it is conveyed. When there is a group of women behind advertisements, a prostitution targeted to the profile of men looking for variety and novelty is offered. Those which are more permissive in an offer of sexual services which is more tolerant towards risky behaviors and with the possibility to focus on certain non-voluntary prostitution, are seen in Asian advertisements. Lastly, the advertisement of a prostitution more individualized and autonomous, looks to offer a service targeted to men who want something more intimate, personalized, and who look for more discretion, offering more engagement when it comes to performing said service, focused to this kind of men who prefer to repeat with the same woman once they find the person who convinced them the most. The image of free, voluntary, independent prostitution is offered in all advertisements and the different groups offering it. It is an element that curiously contrasts with the reality of the fact that these are services offered in apartments, which is a sector that due to its privacy and scarce control from authorities, it is likely to hide a huge part of coercive prostitution in Spain.

*Funded research. This article is a result of the research project entitled “Making victims of human trafficking visible: acting against women trafficking for sexual exploitation purposes”, reference: CSO2014-5520907732, funded by the General Director’s Office of Research and Management of the National Plan of R+D+i, of the Ministry of Science and Innovation.


6. Notes

[1] http://www.abc.es/20120509/local-madrid/abci-prostituta-parabrisas-201205081715.html

[2] El Mundo, 25-11-2015 (http://www.elmundo.es/madrid/2015/11/25/5655e35be2704e6c798b465a.html)

[3] 5000 flyers have an approximate cost of 20 Euros. ( http://www.iflyer.es), on the other hand, a newspaper advertisement has a price which is several times more, depending on the type of newspaper and the place where it is located on the page.


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How to cite this article in bibliographies / References

C  Meneses-Falcón, J  Uroz-Olivares, A Rúa-Vieites (2017): “Flyers and Advertisements of sexual services in Madrid”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 72, pp. 145 to 164.
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2017-1158


Article received on 29 December 2016. Accepted on 2 February.
Published on 10 February 2017.