MY £1200 A NIGHT DATE One writer road tests male escorts, from budget to blowout
The male escort business is booming. Its new clientele? Young, ambitious career women who want more than a one-night stand*. THEA DE GALLIER investigates
I have only seen my date on a computer screen, but I have looked at so many pictures of him I feel as though I know him. There’s the picture of him on a beach with his top off looking intensely into the camera. And the one of him in a top hat in what appears to be a nightclub. Most of the pictures show him with other women – cradling their heads, or kneeling at their feet. They are tender pictures, filled with intimacy. If I were a different sort of woman, I might be jealous.
The door of the restaurant opens and I spot him immediately. He’s almost twice my age, and looks like Zach Galifianakis (you know, the beardy one from The Hangover). That, or the sort of man who might try to flog you shell necklaces on a beach.
My first thought? He’s not really my type. My second? People pay this guy for sex?
Because they do. In their droves. You see, my date for the evening is called Seani Love (yes, that is his real name, I checked) and he is an award-winning male escort – Sex Worker Of The Year 2015, no less*.
In case you missed the memo, male escorting is now big business. Huge, in fact. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of male escorts rose by a third. Which is curious given we live in a world in which technology has inadvertently made free sex, or ‘hooking up,’ as my generation has decided to call it, plentiful. I say curious, because the more I have looked into male escorts (and, believe me, my browser history lives to tell the tale), the more it is clear they are not just servicing lonely, single
women, as the cliché would have you believe. Male escorts are going after a millennial audience – and they are getting it.
On his website, Seani doesn’t actually call himself an escort. He prefers to go by a ‘kinky boyfriend and a sacred sexuality expert.’ He is also one of the less pricey escorts I found, at £120 an hour. This, by the way, is cheap. Male escorts can charge anything up into the thousands.
I meet Seani in a basement sushi restaurant I chose (he lets his clients pick the meeting spot so they feel comfortable), and as we sit down, chopsticks poised, I wonder how different I am to the other women he sees. His youngest client is 25, he tells me. But most are aged between 30 and 40, and they’re looking for something more than a one-night stand.“They want to learn about their sexuality,” he says, looking at me with the full eyes-on-eyes experience, “to explore a fantasy such as BDSM, and have a sex life they’ve never experienced.” Some come for their first orgasm, or others pay the full £720 for the ‘boyfriend experience.’ The full ‘boyfriend experience’? It’s basically a night of “loving, fucking and being really intimate,” he says, entirely straight-faced.
I’m not going to lie: Seani is intense. Not like Zach Galifianakis at all, in fact. He takes his job and his clients’ emotional needs very, very seriously. He tells me most of his sessions are “tantric” and usually take place in the comfort of the client’s home, or his. He also, rather surprisingly, has a policy of not having sex with clients on their first meeting.“With a lot of people, they’re asking for what they want for the first time, which is a really big thing, and it’s one of the reasons I have that boundary.” There’s a silence. “I don’t even take my pants off,” he says.
What Seani and other escorts like him offer is legal, by the way. Current UK law states that while soliciting for sex in a public space is illegal, the act of buying and selling sex itself is legal. (Interestingly, advertising in public places such as telephone boxes is still illegal, while advertising online is deemed OK.)
Seani, who incidentally calls himself a ‘coach’ on his tax return, tells me he studied counselling for two years, which helps in creating a “safe space for people”. He’s into psychoanalyst Carl Jung. And yet… after approximately 40 minutes in his company, I’m telling Seani things about myself and my own sex life that I’d normally only reserve for very close friends. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Is it the way he speaks and looks at me: a soft and cadenced voice coupled with that intense stare? Or maybe it’s because he is so open in a way that’s free from bravado or sleaziness.
As I walk away, I feel a mix of emotions. I feel slightly guilty for judging Seani so quickly on his appearance, and surprised I was able to relax so quickly in his company. When I first began my research into this industry, flicking through the hundreds of online galleries and reading the multifaceted services these men offered, I’ll admit I was very wary, and suspicious.
Rules of attraction
Across town and a week later, I meet Madison James. Given Seani Love’s name is allegedly real, I have to assume this is the case with Madison’s, too. He arrives at the chic gastropub I have chosen for tonight’s date in a suit so sharp I worry he’ll take my arm off if I touch him. He’s tall, ripped, and with the sort of expensive-looking skin that says ‘this is a man who knows his way around the Selfridges beauty counter.’ He is also £1,200 a night. But for that he can make you feel like he is your actual boyfriend.
When I see him, I feel like the gastropub may have been a bad
“£720 will get you a night of loving and fucking”
choice. Madison has the air about him of a man who likes the finer things in life. Most of his dates take place in Michelin-starred restaurants or five-star hotels (which, FYI, the clients pay for on top of his initial fee). As for a weekend away with him…“We’d go somewhere really romantic – like the Lake District, for example. Weddings are also a popular one, because women don’t want to turn up alone. We’ll come up with some back story of how we met. I’ve even been to weddings where one or two inappropriate conversations have taken place. We’ll be sitting around drinking and talking, and the client’s friend will be stroking my leg. They don’t know I’m an escort. I’m assuming they weren’t best friends [with the client]!”
Emboldened by alcohol, I ask him for some of his wildest anecdotes. “I’ve done all sorts,” he says, with a smirk.“I remember one time in Hyde Park. There was this lowhanging tree. It was summer, and we stripped down to our underwear and crawled under the tree and had sex. I’m sure there were some people who cottoned on to what was going on because of the moans. There was another time I was in a club with a client; we were by the stage dancing and she put her leg up and really wanted me to finger her, so I did. Personally I thought I was being discreet, but we got kicked out!”
Being with Madison is different to Seani. He’s not sleazy, but he is much more suave, and I feel far more giddy in his company. But then this is the secret to his success. Madison has to fancy you before he can be hired. Seriously. Rather than having an initial meet-up session like Seani, Madison will ask to see a picture of any new clients first, to gauge if he’s attracted to them. I balked at this initially – he looks so flash it felt judgemental and cruel. But as our date goes on, I realise it’s less to do with looks than him being able to offer the intimacy required in the situations his job creates.“There’s got to be some sort of general attraction, whether it’s mental or physical,” he says. “[Before anything sexual happens] we usually have a chat about life, and what she’s looking for; how I might be able to make her feel a certain way. What I’m trying to do is understand what pushes her buttons and what she’s missing. I want to give it to her in a way that’s as authentic as it can be.”
These preliminary talks, he says, are one of the biggest differences between male and female escorting. “Typically, a female escort, in my experience, wouldn’t necessarily need or require the same
arsenal of skills as a male escort,” he asserts.“Guys can hire a female escort for 15 minutes and we know what will take place in that time. Typically, a female would hire a male escort for a couple of hours at least, and during that time they’re interested in companionship. If there’s a spark, they’d want something of a more sexual nature, but not necessarily.”
After around two hours in Madison’s company, we part ways, so he can go to a “business meeting”. I get the feeling that if I were to hire him for his full range of services, he’d definitely show me a good time. His brooding confidence is certainly alluring and, like Seani, his openness (not to mention his equally intense stare) broke through any of the reservations I initially had.
The more time I spend in the company of each of these men, the more I realise how wrong the impression I had of escorts was. Both have a very specific set of skills that don’t involve the bedroom at all: listening, keeping the conversation flowing and being entirely non-judgemental. And not only were my ideas of what an escort does shattered, so were my preconceived ideas of the men themselves. Seani may not have been my type at first, but as I left, I felt a deep connection to him, while Madison proved himself to be more intelligent and thoughtful than his flashy exterior suggests.
A few nights later, as I’m at home alone in front of the TV, my mind wanders back to Seani and Madison. I could be on Tinder right now to pass the time, I think to myself, but the sole reason I deleted it was because of how awful all the dates I went on were. From the guy who cuttingly told me I’d done “quite well, considering you went to state school”, to the man who opened the date by declaring he was still in love with his ex-fiancé, but happy to have casual sex, I hadn’t met a single person on there who’d made me feel desired or respected. With this in mind, I can totally see why escorts are becoming more popular.
Is it all an act? Despite both men’s assurances they genuinely did care for their clients, I can’t help feeling that it’s their job to ham up the adoration. They have a knack for making you feel like you’re the only woman in the room. Escorts won’t bring tales of their own failed relationships to the table or be lazy in the bedroom; you’re guaranteed a good time with them. Of course, the one thing they’ll never give you is a genuine, loving relationship, but given that that’s becoming harder to find even in the real world, it’s no wonder some women opt for the glossy fantasy men like this create.
Firm and fully functional – his shoulders, you guys
Seani: into long talks and staring competitions
“Dr James will see you now”
Thea wished she’d paid for the ‘smile experience’