RENT BOYS

AT­LANTA GAY MALE ES­CORTS JUG­GLE TABOO PRO­FES­SION WITH PER­SONAL LIVES

GA Voice - - FRONT PAGE - By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS psaun­ders@the­gavoice.com

Jack Gun­ther, 21, was get­ting off of his bike in a Whole Foods park­ing lot one day when an older man in a Cadil­lac pulled up and asked if he had a minute. Gun­ther walked over and the man told him he’d like to take him on a date, then maybe take him home af­ter­ward.

“I was like, ‘No thanks,’ and I started to turn away when he said, ‘I’ll pay you for your time,’” Gun­ther says. “And I stopped in my tracks and said, ‘What does that mean?’”

It meant what Gun­ther thought it meant. The two later went out, had sex, and the man paid him for his ser­vices. Soon af­ter that, Jack Gun­ther (who uses that as his stage name) started go-go danc­ing, then strip­ping, then es­cort­ing. Now five years later, at age 26, he’s es­cort­ing full-time. He’s just one of hun­dreds of gay male es­corts across the city of At­lanta who advertise their ser­vices on web­sites like Rent­boy, Men4Ren­tNow and Rent­men.

The pro­files re­sem­ble ones you’ll find on dat­ing and hookup apps like Jack’d and Grindr, with risqué pic­tures and stats, with one no­table ad­di­tion: price. Hourly, overnight and week­end rates are typ­i­cally listed. Some even in­clude links to the es­corts’ Twit­ter, Instagram and Tum­blr ac­counts where po­ten­tial clients can find out more about them.

MOST CLIENTS ARE MEN MAR­RIED TO WOMEN

Jay­den McLane (who uses that as his pro­fes­sional name), a 22-year-old from Cony­ers, started es­cort­ing two years ago af­ter be­ing told about it by a friend’s boyfriend who had been es­cort­ing for nearly 20 years.

He says he’s al­ways had an open mind about sex, and that the ex­pe­ri­ence was “weird” at first, then grew eas­ier.

“Now it’s just a breeze,” he says. “It’s re­ally easy money.”

How­ever, McLane and Gun­ther say es­cort­ing isn’t al­ways about sex. Some­times their clients just want com­pan­ion­ship for a night on the town.

“There’s mar­ried men that just want to talk to some­one about feel­ings they’re hav­ing,” says McLane, whose clients are mostly in their mid-40s or older. “It’s just a whole other world.”

Gun­ther also says most of his clients are mar­ried to women and are in town on busi­ness, but that he some­times gets gay clients who are closer to his age.

ES­CORT­ING AF­FECTS LOVE LIVES

Nei­ther McLane nor Gun­ther wor­ries too much about his safety, say­ing they go with their gut when get­ting to know a client.

“I go by how I feel when I speak to a per­son,” McLane says. “It goes off my vibes. I’ve left a few sit­u­a­tions be­cause it hasn’t been the most com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment. So far I’ve been a pretty good judge of char­ac­ter.”

Gun­ther con­curs, say­ing, “Es­pe­cially when I was be­gin­ning this work, I just talked my­self down from all that [con­cern about safety] and in­stead used my in­tu­ition and trusted peo­ple. I find that my clients are great guys who just ba­si­cally want to have a good time.”

Nei­ther is cur­rently in a re­la­tion­ship, and Gun­ther says the job has taken a toll on his love life. He says he’s al­ways been sex pos­i­tive and con­sid­ers him­self a “sex worker ac­tivist,” but that he’s been burnt too many times to con­tinue to be an open book about it.

“I used to go into dat­ing with an open dia­logue around es­cort­ing. That fil­tered out men who thought they could han­dle it, then a few months down the road it got to be too much for them to han­dle,” he says. “As I’ve got­ten older, my life is as pri­vate as ever and we all have a few se­crets we can keep for a lit­tle while.”

He doesn’t plan to tell any fu­ture dates about his es­cort­ing un­less the re­la­tion­ship gets se­ri­ous.

HOW LONG CAN THEY KEEP ES­CORT­ING?

Nei­ther will go into de­tails about how much they make or how of­ten clients hire them, but both say they live com­fort­ably. McLane’s hourly rate is $150 and Gun­ther’s is $250.

“I don’t have many wor­ries, I can put it that way,” McLane says, laugh­ing.

But real­is­ti­cally, how long can they keep do­ing it?

McLane says there is too much game­play­ing in the dat­ing scene, so he sees him­self do­ing it only for a few more years.

“I’m not fully es­tab­lished yet,” he says. “I can make my­self a lit­tle bit more happy.”

Gun­ther says as long as he stays fit, he can see him­self es­cort­ing into his 40s.

“I’ve got no rush,” he says, but adds, “At the same time, it’s hard and I’m be­gin­ning to think im­pos­si­ble for me to find a boyfriend or a lover. I’d like to get out of it soon but I don’t re­ally have a game plan there.”

And while the grow­ing ex­po­sure of sites like Rent­boy and oth­ers helps es­corts pick up more clients, there are down­sides.

“The public eye is turned to­ward it more,” Gun­ther says. “It’s great on one hand but on the other hand some­times I feel like I walk into a bar and peo­ple know who I am and they’re like, ‘Oh there’s that hooker,’” he says with a laugh.

Male es­cort Jay­den McLane doesn’t worry too much about his safety, but has left sit­u­a­tions where the client made him feel un­com­fort­able. (Photo by Pa­trick Saun­ders)

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