Monday, January 19, 2009

The world of high end prostitution

Last night, after the news, I was surprised to see that CNBC had a much-advertised special on high-end prostitution.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/26869953

The prices for some of the girls were impressive. $10,000 for a night. $25,000 for a weekend. Wow. And to hear them talk, there’s a steady flow of business in all the big cities.

There are even websites where johns rate the hookers. Only they aren’t johns and hookers anymore. That too has moved upscale. The guys are hobbyists, and the girls are providers.

Anyway, on these sites the guys rate the girls on various features. Some, like looks, are to be expected. But the biggest rating factor in the high end was a total shock to me.

It’s called G F E. What’s that, you ask? It stands for Girl Friend Experience. Here’s what the show’s producers say: “The most popular item offered by escorts today is called the Girlfriend Experience, known by the acronym, the GFE. The definition varies but most agree that it involves some facsimile of real romance.”

These johns (hobbyists) are rating hookers on the quality of a fake romantic experience?? Are they nuts? Wouldn’t you think any guy who could afford twenty five grand for a weekend with a hooker could get the real thing, not a bought imitation?

It seems like everything today is some kind of “experience.”

You can go to Disney World and Busch Gardens for a jungle experience, or a scuba diving experience, or whatever else you see. The thing is, they are nothing like real jungles or real scuba dives.

You can go to Aspen and buy a log cabin, and live the pioneer experience for two million dollars. But nothing could be father than the experience of living in a log cabin in the Colorado wilderness 100 years ago.

Somehow, our society has embraced the concept of “experiences” – sanitized, glorified, or stylized versions of some real thing. I can understand that for something truly exotic or dangerous. But dating and romance? Isn’t something wrong with that picture?

I am sometimes struck by fake displays of emotion in other people. It seems like this is sort of the ultimate fake . . . going though life with a string of bought “fake” romances. What happened to searching for the real thing? Are these people that lost of clueless?

I would have thought that most people who could afford the rates shown in the show would have developed the ability to attract a desirable mate. I guess I was wrong, or maybe it’s them that are wrong.

It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when people are buying romantic experiences and then rating how “real” they feel. If they have to buy them, can they even know what real truly feels like?

One of my friends suggested that the focus on a "girl friend experience" might be an attempt to make the overall behavior feel less shameful to the guys. Perhaps there is some of that going on. But if they are sensitive to that, why wouldn't they seek more conventional relationships?

Do these people really believe they can have a good life plugging in bought "girlfriend" time amidst bought time at the personal trainers, or at work, or elsewhere that money and people's time change hands.

Maybe they can. Maybe it's me who's all wet. There is no shame to paying a personal trainer to be your friend and whip you into shape; few people would criticize that. So maybe society should not be condemning this either. But it just feels like there's something missing.

I should say that I am not personally opposed to prostitution. If people want to exchange sex for money, I don't see any reason to outlaw it. I don't feel an urge to try it, but if you do, I would not criticize you for it. What I question is the "paid girlfriend" concept, and the idea that any guy who could afford those rates should have more conventional relationships available. I wonder what's going on behind the scenes in these people's minds.

The producers go on to say, “Many high-end escorts today consider themselves to be modern day courtesans, carrying on a role popular during the Italian Renaissance. Historically, courtesans were described as “a higher caliber of prostitute -- a woman who was not only young and beautiful, but who could grace with wit and charm.”

I always thought wives or girlfriends performed that function for most people. Do they mean to say these guys have wives at home but they pay a provider ten grand to accompany them to a party for their wit and charm? Could that be for real?

Did these people all make profound errors in mate selection originally or something?

And how do the providers feel about the whole thing? Are they fake too? You have to wonder how all these people feel about the whole thing at the end of the day. Could it really be all great and rosy like they say, or is it really kind of sad and shallow?

8 comments:

Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog said...

This is quite an interesting concept. You might be interested in the Showtime series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which is based on a real-life high-end prostitute's experiences. I watched the first season (I think the second season starts soon), and she had several clients request the GFE, and yes, her "girlfriend" persona was very different from her real personality. There are also a few anonymous blogs of high-end call girls floating around the interwebs that you might find interesting. This is one that comes to mind.

cath c said...

geez, i'd have to agree with you on the fake concept. i don't 'do fake' very well - disney, busch gardens fake eurpoean atmosphere, etc, down to fake smiles. while i don't find small talk unbearable in getting acquainted, i find it unbearable after any meaningful discussion has been introduced into a friendship.

the courtesan thing just p*sses me off. and the prices! go buy a high-end car and 'entertain yourself' in it. you'll get more mileage.

(i tried to make this response as g-rated as possible. i hope i wasn't too vague with the last paragraph!)

cath c said...

and i meant a collective 'you'for the guys who pay, not you, john!

Kim Stagliano said...

John, John, John, women have been giving men the fake romantic experiece in exchange for money since time immemorial. It's called marrying for money for her. Marrying for looks or youth for him. Happens every day. This is a more realistic business arrangement without the messy and costly divorce.

There's a saying among older women, "Marry for money and you'll earn every cent." I'm sure there's an equal emotional price for the men.

Fascinating post - Woof.

Thomas said...

I'm reminded of a few slogans I've heard --

"No sex for free."

" 'Cheap' is doing it for anything less than love, a baby, or $200. "

and

"All work is sex work."

Seriously, all work is gendered in some way, and we all get through the day by selling ourselves in some way. Whether we're selling our confidence, our charm, our charisma, our wit, our ability to bond with a customer, our ability to project the impression of technical savvy or that the customer is getting an "insider deal," everyone who works with other human beings is in some way an illusionist. Even small farmers and factory workers have to exhibit a bit of hucksterism in order to sell their services, fit in with others, and keep their jobs.

So please don't knock the call girls. They're legitimate artisans, just like any others. And if some guy is willing to pay them $20,000 to go on a date and discuss the latest movies, then all that goes to show is that they are extremely good at their jobs. I personally would much rather that rich playboys spend their money on prostitutes than that they invest their money in GE or Lockheed Martin to be used to make on weapons of war. At least money spent on entertainment trickles down into the local economy.

Patty H said...

John, did you ever read MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA? It describes in great detail the geisha's world in early 1900s Japan (even though it's fiction). She was trained & groomed in all ways to be the ultimate female companion to men who had the status & the money to pay for her company. The geisha's house mother (read: pimp) collected moolah in accordance with how popular & in demand her geishas were. Sex was not necessarily involved unless you had a special "sponsor" which was a long-term committment (involving sex in exchange for financial support + status for the man). So that was a fake love relationship, also, but societally accepted.
I have read that in Tokyo today, they have Love Hotels, where people on a date can rent a room for sex. The rooms are decked out in all kinds of themes, like Disney, Elvis, etc. Maybe pretend-love relationships have always been around; we just find new trappings for them. As for me, I would rather love & nurture my offspring, pets, trees, friends, random children, and garden plants than be in a love relationship that is not based on 2 people wanting the best life for each other, and living that every day.

Jacob said...

Prostitution has no doubt gone high scale and there are a plethora of sites which all "hobbyists" to submit reviews of "providers". If you want to know what the real definition of the GFE is then take a look at this thread from a forum of one of these well known escort sites: http://www.naughtyreviews.com/forum/hobbyist-hangout/how-do-you-define-gfe

Johnny Ancich said...

A lot of marriages are fake, so GFE is no shock.