Good Housekeeping Article November 2004 – Vivienne Parry
‘Hello. I’d like a man in his mid-40s who has good teeth, nice manners and looks great in a suit. Can I pay by cheque?’
Just because you’re single, there’s no need to miss out on candle lit meals or a partner for dreaded work dos. Why not rent a man for the evening, no strings attached? We sent Vivienne Parry out with four male escorts to mark them on their wit, charm and value for money
Road-testing male escorts is not something we’ve previously felt Good Housekeeping needed to do. But with the increasingly open use of dating agencies and many more women feeling confident about being single nowadays, we felt that the moment had arrived. So, my brief was four different social events, four different escorts and strictly no hanky panky (but do, I was told, find out whether they’re offering it).
One of the main reasons for having an escort if you’re single or older is that you want a great night out without having to worry about a relationship or all the messy stuff. In the past, women would never have dreamed of paying for a man’s company. Now, many don’t have a problem with it, especially when they have to go to the sort of big social function that requires a partner.
Having a man escort you is both comforting and useful. It means your not prey to every drunk in the room and can call the shots about what you want to do and when you want to leave. But you do want to be sure that there are absolutely no misunderstandings about ‘extras’ and ‘tips.’ We used just one agency, Cavendish Knights, which was recommended to us by the UK Professional Escort Association as a firm that offers a guaranteed non-sexual escort service. Cavendish Knights boasts that all it’s escorts are vetted through the Criminal Records Bureau and explains that a ‘mathematical formula’ is used to decide who they’ll accept on their books.
There are around 400 men listed on the agency’s web site, all searchable by age and region, along with a photo. There’s also a brief note of their interests and availability, which allows you to browse for someone who appeals and can also be booked on the same day you want. It costs £65 an hour. While you have to pay all the costs of the date, if you prefer you can arrange in advance for the escort to pay for you and then claim it back via the agency, who will bill you later. Personally, I prefer doing it this way. Meeting a bloke and having to hand over and envelope of readies for them to ‘treat’ you somehow doesn’t do it for me.
I my book an escort should be relaxing, feel-good company, someone who’ll look after you and be attentive and complementary without making you feel uncomfortable. He should take charge where necessary (as in ordering wine or getting a cab), Be presentable, appropriately dressed for the occasion and have impeccable manners. I chose four men, each from a different age group. Mr P, my long suffering husband of 26 years, murmured encouragement as I perused the pictures of potential dates on the web site: ‘Way too good looking. Next.’ I have to say, he’s never taken quite so much interest in my work before.
THE DATE – A play at the National Theatre (The Night Season), followed by dinner at a London restaurant
REMARK OF THE NIGHT – ‘Would you like my jacket’
VERDICT – Delicious, charming, and form an orderly queue please, girls
Determined to pick a boy young enough to be my son, I turned to the 20-somethings. Rob’s Smile and biography caught my eye: ‘Nightmare work functions are my specialty,’ it said. Rob was delicious. In fact Rob should be made available on prescription to all women old enough to be his mother. He sent a text saying how much he was looking forward to our evening. When we met, it was clear he knew exactly what smart casual meant (Tim, pleas take note) and his smile should be plugged into the National Grid. In real life, he was an engineering graduate, working for a multinational. He immediately said I looked wonderful and how much red suited me. Lying through his teeth, of course, but he wasn’t’t half convincing. He was very easy to talk to and, as yet another actor took off all their clothes, he laughed as much as I did. We were having such a good time that the women next to me hissed, ‘Be quiet.’ Walking over Waterloo Bridge, Rob asked me if I was chilly and wanted his jacket. It was worth £65 an hour just for that. At dinner he was engaging and engaged, interesting and interested. He said he really enjoyed his evenings as an escort, and had a good laugh. Afterwards, he made sure I got a cab, and sent a text saying what a wonderful evening it had been. You could take him anywhere, or go to the gruesome event with him in tow and yet still have a great night. His mummy should be very proud. Just Lovely
THE DATE – Posh dinner at the Circus restaurant, Soho
REMARK OF THE NIGHT – ‘I’m only a working class boy – you choose the wine’
VERDICT – Perfectly pleasant, easy to talk to and genuinely good conversationalist
His biographical notes described Raymond as Irish, Laid-back and a good conversationalist, therefore a perfect escort for a posh dinner. Mind you, after Frederick, the table itself could have won prizes for witty repartee. Raymond was wearing a suit and tie but confessed he’d blown it with the footwear (big suede boots). He had a rather alarming haircut, which made him look a bit of a thug, when in fact he turned out to be rather a gentle soul who, by day, was a primary school teacher A Dubliner, Raymond was extremely easy to talk to and I found that the time passed very quickly. He said that he knew nothing at all about wine, so I would have to order it. To win absolutely top marks on the escort scale, he probably should have had the confidence to ask the waiter for his recommendations about what we should drink. Otherwise, though, he was very pleasant, in a non-memorable way. I got the impression that he could genuinely talk to anyone. He was quite serious, and also funny in a self-deprecating way but once again, my complimentometer ticked in vain (oh all right, so it’s me, not them). By the end of the evening, he, like Escort 1, was using me as an agony aunt service. However, in his defense, people I don’t know from a bar of soap do feel driven to confess all to me on the train. At the end of the evening, he found me a cab. A perfect gent, I thought.
SO IS IT WORTH IT FOR NIGHT OUT?
‘PAYING £65 AN HOUR MAKES YOU A PICKY CONSUMER
Something odd happens when money changes hands. You begin to think of the blokes as washing machines. Whereas with a dating agency, men are in the same sorry boat as you, and a rotten date gets put down to experience, escorts are a different matter. Paying £65 and our turns you into a picky consumer. Anything less that the full 1500 spin and you want your money back. I must say it concerned me that men are accepted to this agency by telephone, rather than a face-to-face, interview – maybe that needs reviewing. On the other hand, a Criminal Records Bureau checking process is admirable and you should always confirm this is the case.
Safety wasn’t the issue I thought it would be. In the interests of research I raised the subject of ‘extras’ with them all. All of them professed horror. Actually, I think a greater concern for them is that some women might mistake professional attention for genuine attachment.
Is it worth it? If you have an escort like Escort 2 and there’s an event you need a date for, then yes, but it’s expensive. I’d choose them on the basis of whether their biography brings a smile to your face. If necessary, try them for an hour before committing yourself, but don’t feel guilty if you don’t like them. You’re the one who’s paying.
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