More men than ever are offering their company and “additional services” to cash-rich, time-poor women looking for the frisson of uncomplicated hook-ups. But while the rewards for male escorts can be handsome, the rules of the game are not as simple as they fırst appear.
Prospects looking a little precarious right now? Perhaps you escaped the latest office cull, but there’s no guarantee your job will be around this time next year. As for a bonus, unless you’re a golden man at Goldman Sachs, you can forget it.
It wasn’t long ago that early retirement beckoned, courtesy of a pension fattened by the fruits of your financial wizardry. That is, the proceeds of property flipping when the market could only go one way. Now the bank won’t let you forget about the 90 per cent mortgage on that maisonette in an area of south London that never really up-and-came.
How to fund that investment – don’t even think of calling it an asset – when even a hair-cut is looking like a discretionary expense?
Chin up, chaps. There might just be another option. Imagine being wined and dined at some of the country’s most exclusive restaurants. Flying to the Riviera at a moment’s notice. Enjoying exciting sexual encounters with powerful women, who won’t expect the promise of a phone call the morning after. And being paid for the privilege. But there is a downside, a rather large one. You’ll need to spend the odd night making a lonely woman feel good about herself, which means listening to her stories. If you can stomach that, you may be ready for the world of male escorting. No, honestly, hear me out.
Demand for chaperones has never been higher, say agencies touting for staff. “There is a particular shortage of male escorts in the current market,” says Platinum Select the largest provider of Male Escorts, “overwhelming demand for male escorts to accompany women to work functions, weddings, dinners out, as well as just to provide company for an evening”. If the agencies are to be believed, there are legions of women with sufficient disposable income to pay for company, even in these straitened times. Which raises uncomfortable questions about the much- discussed pay gap between the sexes and even the whole concept of the glass ceiling.
It’s an attractive calling. But what if your waistline has expanded and your hair is migrating from your head to your back? Not a problem, says the Platinum Select agency, which stresses aspiring escorts “do not have to have model looks and the perfect body”. A forgettable appearance could even be an advantage. Most women are looking for “boy-next-door looks” to avoid awkward questions
It makes sense. Stout Stella from accounts may arrive at the office Christmas party on the arm of George Clooney’s twin, but good luck to her in convincing colleagues that she met her new beau in the local gastro-pub. Ditto for lesbian businesswomen, who make frequent use of escort services, particularly when travelling to London from abroad. A nondescript date raises no eyebrows, thereby deflecting speculation over a woman’s sexuality.
Of course, the occasional client chooses a James Bond type way out of her league, just to wow an ex. But these punters account for a small portion of the business. Most are looking for unremarkable men aged between 19 and 61.
If neither looks nor age is a barrier to success, why haven’t men deserted the ruinous hours of the City for a glittering second career? Not all of them have what it takes, according to seasoned escorts. “Contrary to misguided belief, not everybody is fit to do this job,” says Brian Fox, who works independently as an escort. “In a way it’s like the X Factor. You either have what it takes or you don’t.”
According to Fox, it’s important to discern what a client is really seeking when hiring an escort. “This could be a conversation, entertainment, romance, massage. In any instance, a good escort will know how to satisfy a woman’s needs,” says Fox. He may have a point. I speak from great personal experience when I say that there are few men skilled in this area.
Perhaps even more problematic is the social stigma attached to the business. Bankers may be reviled in the aftermath of the credit crunch, but try telling your buddies you left the morally bankrupt world of hedge funds to become a male escort. The escorts who spoke to GQ have rarely come clean to family and friends. “Absolutely not,” says 28-year-old Richard, who also works as a designer in London. “People have the wrong idea.” But Fox maintains he is open about his job. “I am not doing anything illegal, distasteful or disgraceful. I am simply providing a service to clients I choose to provide the service to.”
In his early thirties, Fox is already an industry veteran, with six years of escorting under his belt. Most of the other escorts who spoke to GQ have been working for less than a year, and none expect to remain active for the long haul. It’s a career choice that could lead to some uncomfortable discussions with the potential in-laws over Sunday lunch. Tellingly, none of the escorts interviewed is in a relationship. Brian, a 36-year-old agency escort, stopped working for a few months after starting a relationship with a former customer, while Fox plans to hang up his dinner jacket when he decides to “settle down and have a family”. He started in the business when a mentor retired to marry a long-term client, which speaks volumes about the hazards in combining escorting with traditional domestic life.
And sometimes a client may be looking for more than dinner and the cinema. Some agencies advertise as offering non-sexual encounters, although these are in the minority. Platinum Select makes a great play of its honourable aims.
There appears to be more demand than ever for male escorts.