Perfect man for hire
The Male Escort business is booming, but what makes a woman pay for a stranger’s company?
FEATURE: HEATHER BISHOP AND SIÂN REES
Here’s a modern dilemma for women – you’re invited to a work function or wedding and the invite is “plus one,” but you’re not in a relationship. So who do you take? Welcome to the world of male escorting, where a not-so-small fee will buy a night with your fantasy man.
It used to be taboo, but increasing numbers of women are taking the plunge. “Women are more open about their needs these days,” explains Cary Cooper, professor of organizational psychology at Lancaster University. ” They work, they have more disposable income and they want access to the same services as men. And, of course, a lot of professional women don’t have time for relationships and are just looking for a companion for the evening.”
“My Friends Didn’t Guess”
Could an escort convince your friends that he’s the new man in your life? We sent undercover reporter Siân Rees to find out? “Good looks aren’t a prerequisite then,” smirks a work colleague. Three of us are hunched over the computer screen clicking through the pictures on Cavendish Knights’ male escort web site to find my “date.” I pick Sean. He looks cute and the few words that accompany his picture don’t make me cringe. Some of his co-escorts look as if they modeled their write up on Cilla Blacks Blind Date Format. Within a matter of minutes I have booked Sean online, opting for the three-hour minimum. The fee is £65 an hour. A day later, someone from the agency calls to pass on Sean’s mobile number, nut I’m beginning to feel anxious. I thought I would feel mischievous and excited but I feel like a loser – and I know I’m only hiring an escort for an assignment. I wonder how women feel when they do this for real.
I call Sean a few days before the date and we agree that on the day we’ll meet up in London’s Sloane Square before joining my friends for a birthday dinner. He asks me what he would wear. I realize that despite a lifetime of thinking otherwise, I’m not very liberated after all. I don’t want a man to ask me what he should wear. I want him to tell me where to meet him and pick the time. But despite that, I’m feeling a little less worried. Sean sounds incredibly, well, normal. And his accent has a hint of Ewan McGregor. Delicious. Maybe this won’t be too bad after all D-Day. The taxi is due in minutes. The bed is piled high with clothes but I am still in my underwear. I am sweating and stressed. I imagine my girlfriends calmly dressing with reassured comments from their partners. I try to convince myself that as I am paying him, what he thinks doesn’t matter. But I’m not buying it. I’ve endured several blind dates, but this feels worse. Before I blind date, your friends always assure you that you’ll have fun even if you aren’t physically attracted. But I’ve chosen Sean purely on looks and have no idea of his personality. As my idea of an escort is Richard Gere in American Gigolo. I am picturing a perma-tanned smoothie with confidence bordering on arrogance.
I calm down once we meet. Sean is good-looking but not catwalk stunning and very easy-going. I recognize him instantly and he pecks me on the cheek. Walking along we talk tactics. The agency will invoice me for his time later, but we agree that he will pay for dinner then I will refund him. He suggests we keep our story simple, so we agree we met two weeks earlier, in a bar. I give him a brief rundown about me and discover Sean works in IT and lives in East Dulwich.
Introductions at the restaurant are a little awkward and the conversation is slighted stilted. When the waiter gives the cocktail menu to Sean, he insists I choose first. There’s a silent consensus of approval and conversation buzzes again. I chat with my friend’s husband but keep an eye on Sean. He talks easily with a banker and a friend studying fine wine. I begin to relax. It feels easier than introducing a real new man to my mates
During dinner he is sandwiched between myself and the gorgeous Adrienne. Her wedding ring is off her ample cleavage is displayed and she’s flirting outrageously. Sean manages to pull off the perfect mix of friendly flirting while refusing to forget about me. At one point Adrienne claims that she has met him years before, adding: “but your hair was different.” He quips back, “Oh and you were a man,” then winks at me. The man is worth his fee.
When his soup arrives and he is surprised and confused to find it’s cold, I could kiss him. Forget American Gigolo, I’m now thinking Pretty Woman, when Julia Roberts’ character can’t cope with the snails.
As more wine is drunk, Sean becomes slightly tactile but not lecherous, and the date ends on a pleasant – but purely platonic – note. It turns out I was his first “client.” He comes highly recommended. Not one of my friends guessed!
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