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Joy to The Word

Mar 1 2014 American Gigolo and the Escort StigmaCategory: Rants     02:05PM   1






A sexy young Richard Gere carefully puts together the perfect work uniform in American Gigolo.

The other day I was perusing the ads on Eros Guide, checking out the pretty woman pictures and their assumed pen names (“Madison”,”Sophia” and “Ashley” are quite popular), and then a guy's name popped up in a side ad that immediately caught my eye. He was listed as a "male escort for women only". I could only find one hetero-identified male escort in the San Francisco regional listing, and was surprised I couldn’t find any in New York (I would think that’s where they’d be since it’s the #1 city the ladies travel to.) Wonder if he gets a lot of work not having any online competition.

I've seen a few sites for gay escorts like Rentboy and Boyscort (aww, they have the cutest names but none advertise the “BFE”, the male equivalent of the GFE. Maybe it’s just a given?) I decided to research “Straight Male Escorts” and Cowboys4Angels (“For the Exclusive Woman”) came up #1 in my search. They like to emphasis the words  Straight and For Women Only. The site claims some of their guys are featured on the reality show “Gigolos” (I have yet to see the show but heard much of the "reality" is staged with paid actors.) Another show based on a male straight escort is “Hung”, a cute premise and yet completely implausible to me. Maybe why HBO canceled it. I also had a hard time believing Richard Gere’s machismo character in American Gigolo and his success. Dan Savage agrees with me on this one. Wouldn’t every male on the planet be doing this for a living he could?

The founder of Cowboys4angels, a “former runway and print model” is dressed in conservative attire next to another woman, and it looks like the photo was taken at a party to auction dates for a charity fundraiser. I have a hard time imagining a former model-turned-escort-turned madam, proudly showing her unobscured face in a business suit next to a smiling client. 

Under “Services” there are no rates listed but states,“Unfortunately there is a social stigma that male companions are providing a sexual service. The most important aspects of providing quality companionship are often ignored. At cowboys4angels we pride ourselves in providing our clients with undivided attention and engaging in intelligent often witty conversations.” Um, wait- there’s no sexual services with such attractive and half-naked gentlemen? And the “witty conversations”- can’t we get that for free at our girls night out at the bar? And how do we know if they’re intelligent or witty if there’s no background or education level listed under the gentleman's profiles?

The photos of the “cowboys” are all in tasteful black-and-white, mostly in beefcake poses showing off their unblocked faced and washboard abs, they looked like they could all be part an artsy tame calendar hawked at Pride Week in the Castro.  Maybe I’m being a cynic as there could be a quiet but significant demographic of women I’m overlooking. Maybe older wealthy socialite women want to be seen in the presence of younger and attractive men to boost their social status and make them feel young again. Look at Madonna and her 25 year-old boytoy Dutch model boyfriend. Do we really think about the deep and witty conversations she’s having with him? Madonna has 30 years of life experience on him plus 2 marriages, 3 kids and a few career incarnations. To his credit, he’s a model with got chiseled abs and they do training workouts together, so maybe there’s a fair exchange of experience and power for youth and beauty. 

Fabio is the #1 model celebrity that bored housewives fantasize about having an affair or paying for a date.   I  wouldn't want to be with a man who has nicer hair than me. 

The escort world can be a mirror that distorts and reflects our culture of how we view men and women's sexuality. If a male escort is getting paid to have sex with women, he would proudly announce it, put it on his Facebook and Linkedin account, get high-fived by his buddies and have a mythical hero status. If he was a man doing escort work with other men or doing gay porn (“gay for pay” as there’s a much bigger and better paying market than the straight world), he might be shamed and hide what he does from his friends and family. If he’s an ‘out’ gay escort, his family would just shrug and his friends would be jealous that he was getting a few bucks for what they do every night for free. Looking at the hypocrisy dynamic between men and women, our culture still thinks “good” women need to be saved, they can’t make rational choices and have no natural sex drive that could rival a man’s. Even with the sexual revolution 40 years ago and the pervasive marketing of sex in everything from shampoo to cars, the double standard still persists.

Imagine the tables turned and this was a man’s world:

“If you weren’t wearing that tight shirt that shows off your gorgeous abs and broad shoulders, you might not have been assaulted.”

“You're kind of ‘asking for it’,  walking alone and wearing a sexy outfit in public.”

“You must have been molested or on drugs to do what you do.”

“Why aren’t you looking for a serious relationship with a woman to settle down with?”

“You have a college degree, why on earth would you ever even consider doing that?”

“I would never wish for my son to choose to be an escort when he grows up.”

“Don’t you want a steady girlfriend? No woman would ever want to be with you if she ever found out you did this for work or enjoyed it.”

“How could you be seen in public or have sex with a woman who’s not beautiful and perfect?”

“The police won’t take your case seriously if they find out that you do escort work.”

“The serial killer murdered 28 young men that year but all were discovered to be male escorts, so the public doesn’t have to worry too much. The killer is still at large and the police have closed the case due to lack of resources.”

“You better not show your face or reveal yourself as you might want to get a REAL job someday.”

“You horrible slut.. Shame on you.”

My hope and wish for our next generation: one day we have no social stigmas around our sexuality, gender orientation and whom we choose to consensually love, marry, pay or fuck. One day we will look back in history like we looked back at the story of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter (“A” for adultery); she was forced to wear the letter as a stigma of shame and was publicly humiliated. Let’s leave the dark ages and celebrate our differences and the push/pull power exchange dance between men and women and know we are all equal in the end.

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