A writer who claims to be a former booking agent for a high-priced New York escort service gives the inside scoop on the employees and the kinds of men that patronized them. (There's no evidence the author is who she says she is, but it's still interesting!) As for the men:

Remember that scene from Casablanca, when Captain Renault declares that he is shocked, shocked to find gambling going on — just as the croupier hands him his winnings? I keep thinking of that scene when I read about all those politicians who are baying for Spitzer’s blood. Because I know, and they know, that almost all of them have been escort agency clients too. Show me a rich and powerful man between the ages of 35 and 60 who has never paid an escort for sex, and I will show you a man who is a very rare exception.

But why would a rich, powerful and handsome man pay for extra-marital sex? Aren’t there tons of women waiting to throw themselves at him for free? Yes, there are. But those women always want something: they want attention, intimacy and romance. They want to enjoy the high of sleeping with a powerful man. Escorts don’t want or care about any of those things. At least one of the articles about the 22 year-old escort who slept with Spitzer implied that she didn’t even know who he was. Based on my experience, I think it’s highly unlikely that she knew or cared. She was in it for the money, and she had as much to hide as he did.

One high-powered New York attorney explained it to me like this: “Of course I love my wife. Escorts have nothing to do with that. She comes to my hotel room and I don’t have to know her name, because they all use fake names like Amber and Kimberly. I don’t have to worry about how she feels or what she wants. It’s a simple exchange: I give her a thousand bucks, we have a good time for a couple of hours, she goes away and we never have to see each other again.”

A thousand dollars is nothing for these men. Money has little value; because no matter how hard they try they will never be able to spend their hundreds of millions. And if you are about to say that for a thousand bucks those girls must supply the best sex in history, then you really do not understand this world. Because it is not about sex; it is about power. And the simple act of ordering up an anonymously pretty 22 year-old girl to do your bidding in the salubrious confines of a luxury hotel suite is an act of power.

Of course there's an obvious selection bias here: the only rich and powerful men the author would come into contact with are prospective clients. Maybe I'm naive about wealth and long-enduring marriages, but I know plenty of people with both who don't fit this author's mold.

The fates of the women are even sadder:

Yes, I did become cynical, jaded and confused. On the one hand I could not deny the basic reality of supply and demand. None of these girls was coerced into selling her body for money. Most of them came from middle-class backgrounds, and many had been accepted to universities. But they dropped out as soon as they discovered that they could make $20-30,000 a month as an escort.

Then they got addicted to the money and the lifestyle. And then one day, usually between the ages of 25 and 28, once they’d developed that knowing, experienced look that clients instinctively disliked, they found that themselves in a classic bind: they were addicted to high living but could no longer pay for it; they had no marketable skills; and years of late nights and lazy days had left them with no self-discipline. What to do? The really smart ones pulled themselves together and, with the help of a sympathetic client, started some kind of a business. Others married rich, cynical, older men in a sort of paid-wife arrangement. Those were the most common stories. I did not inquire into the fate of the girls who sort of faded away. I did not want to hear about their loneliness and poverty.

So the value of the escorts declined rapidly as they aged. Meanwhile, the value of the clients increased because they accumulated more money and more power. I could not make my peace with the power imbalance, even though I understood intellectually that the men would always want to pay women for sex, and there would always be women who wanted to be paid for sex.

Perhaps the initial money is just too hard for these women to resist, despite the obvious long-term damage they're doing to their lives. But again, the author can only write about the women she came into contact with, all of whom were at least considering prostitution. I know plenty of beautiful young women who would never have done it, for any amount of money. Or maybe I'm naive about them too.

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