Complex is an ironic name for such a shallow publication. When your major “News” categories include “Rides” and “Girls” alongside “Sneakers” and “Video Games,” it doesn’t bode well for thoughtful commentary. So reading “10 Downsides to Being a Gigolo” didn’t really surprise me: most media discussion of sex work is divided between horror stories and not-so-subtle nudge and wink humor anyway. It is striking how shows like Showtime’s Gigolos can entrench existing assumptions, however. So, while a companion may be subtly different from a gigolo, here is my point by point reply to these supposed downsides:
10. Being Professionally Obligated to Have Sex with Undesirable People
The first problem with this is the assumption that sex is an obligation. While it certainly is safe to say that I have sex with the vast majority of my clients, if I ever felt uncomfortable or unable to perform, I would give them a refund and call the whole thing off. That said, I have had sex with clients who I wasn’t attracted to physically. It is indeed part of the job and, for me at least, it becomes more about finding aspects of personality or focusing on the pleasure that your partner is getting out of the experience. Of course, that’s something men should pay more attention to in bed anyway.
The second problem is the assumption that any woman can and should get casual sex “out at a bar.” This may be true, it may not. It really doesn’t matter. Women don’t come to companions or escorts because they can’t get sex anywhere else. They do it because, unlike that guy you picked up in the bar, a companion is focused 100 percent on you, on what you want and how you want it. This explains why quite a few of my clients have been very attractive and have no trouble picking up men; they’re just not satisfied by what they’ve found, so they’re willing and able to try something different.
9. Working a Job that Allows Women to Openly Critique Your Junk
I hate the word “junk.” But let’s just say that it’s one of the reasons I got into this business. And it is occasionally the specific reason I get hired. That said, there’s always someone bigger or better or just different out there. If you’re an adult man, you should probably be comfortable and confident about your penis by this point. If not, sex work is the least of your worries.
8. No Health Insurance
I have health insurance. It’s not cheap, but it’s not extravagant. Most companions are young and healthy. STIs are certainly a concern, but no more so (and probably less so) than in a one-night stand. Regular testing can be obtained for free in many places. And you can always write off condoms as a business expense on your taxes.
7. Double the Awkwardness of First Date
Being relaxed and confident on a first date is probably the first and most important qualification for working as a companion. Meeting someone new who you’d never have met otherwise and learning about their life is fascinating. Sure, awkward first dates are never fun, but we’re all adults here. This isn’t middle school and girls don’t have cooties.
Beyond that, the article assumes that the dinner date is just foreplay for the sex. That’s not true. Again, women come to companions to get something the random guy in the bar isn’t providing. A nice dinner, good food, genuine conversation and connection is what a companion offers. The more you can be yourself, the less awkward the date will be, whether it’s a paid date or not.
6. Hiding Your Life From Your Family and Friends
This is the only point that the article actually gets somewhat right. I kept my side job a secret for the first nine months before I finally “came out” to most of my close friends. I still haven’t told my family, but I don’t think they’d disown me. I intend to tell them after I’ve quit. A sort of “here’s a crazy story…”
But yes, lying is problematic and would be even more so with children. But I have a good friend with a beautiful family and an open marriage who is going into the business. This couple has been entirely open with their kids, and all is well. So, honesty is often the best policy. In the end, the social stigma around sex work is the real problem.
5. Never Being Able to Have a Normal Relationship
I’m currently in a great relationship where my partner knows what I do. She acknowledges that she gets a twinge of jealousy when I go off to see a client, but it’s only about once a month on average and the benefits outweigh the costs. I’ve been honest with all of my lovers about what I do since I started. They’re usually more curious than disturbed. And why shouldn’t they be? Many people have open dating relationships with multiple lovers or go on dates with different people over the course of weeks or months. Maybe “normal relationship” is the problem here.
4. The Importance of Upkeep
Maybe it’s because I don’t sell myself as a manicured metrosexual playboy, but this has simply never been an issue. Sure, you need some basic trimming and have to keep in decent physical shape. Yes, you need some nice clothes, but the same decent suit I have for weddings and job interviews works for more formal dates, and most women prefer jeans and a dress shirt.
3. Getting Roped into Bizarre Sexual Requests
This is actually extremely uncommon. Most women just want good sex, not crazy sex. There have been a few exceptions, but I enjoy trying new things. And “banging someone’s wife as their husband watches and cheers on” is actually quite fun. If it gets too bizarre, I can always say no.
2. Getting Stuck Playing Therapist
The assumption that men hate talking about how women feel and that they hate “cuddling” may be true on Jersey Shore, but grow up. I make more per hour than most PhD psychiatrists. If that involves some compassion and lending a sympathetic ear, embrace it. The idea that being “on the clock” makes things worse is also laughable. If I can help someone with the problems in their life and get paid to do so, what is there to complain about exactly?
1. Reporting to a Pimp
One word: independent.
It’s easy to poke fun at a show like Gigolos because all it does is reinforce existing stereotypes. But the “downsides” in this article come straight out of freshman year of high school. If civilian men are determined to act like children, it’s not terribly surprising women turn to companions in the first place.