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

Cosmopolitan (UK) - - Contents - *with reg­u­lar guys

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.

Seani: into long talks and star­ing com­pe­ti­tions

Firm and fully func­tional – his shoul­ders, you guys

“Dr James will see you now”

Thea wished she’d paid for the ‘smile ex­pe­ri­ence’

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