Monday, September 26, 2016

One Nine Two: Negotiation

I'm still thinking about "The Girlfriend Experience" and what one might expect from a professional companion. I do remember some years ago--- maybe eight or nine years ago now ---and a blog by a girl who called herself Debauchette.  She had one of the first (and one of the best) escort blogs. She was clever and witty and literary and a fine writer. I miss her blog. Debauchette always called herself a professional companion. I liked the usage--- back to hetaira, of course, back to the idea of providing more services than just sex. Acquiring the services of a professional companion is about being able to afford the fees, but it's also about a certain kind of compatibility. You're paying for high-end services, but you have to be able to let your companion know what those are. You have to be able to provide a script outline that she can work with.

You'd be working with someone who comes with her own talents and background. I'm imagining it as like hiring a name actor.  You give someone like that a basic outline, and then rely on their own talents. If I were to hire someone like Riley Keough's character, I'd be trusting to her interpretation of the film script in my head. That ability is what justifies her fees.

Yet I'd still have to sit and look at her across a table and explain what I wanted. That's an awkward thing, a terrifying thing. It risks being judged boring and jejune--- much worse than being judged perverted. And it requires you to be able to put what you want into words. That involves self-justification--- again, obviously. There's the temptation to explain and over-explain, to try to show that what you want isn't a bad thing, that you aren't a bad person. Any attempt at explaining what you want is all-too-likely to turn into selling yourself, with all the anxiety you'd feel at a job interview. Explanation also requires that you be very sure about what you really want and that you be willing to admit to yourself that you do want these things.

That's likely to be the hard part. This is what I am; this is what I do. That's hard enough to say into a mirror about perfectly ordinary things. Think about admitting that to a high-end professional across a table: This is what I am; this is what I do. She's probably heard it all before, but would you ever believe that? Would you want to believe that? Would you ever fully believe that she wouldn't laugh or recoil in disgust?

It's much easier to get the envelope of cash ready than it is to put together a clear statement of what you want and what you need. I need you to make me feel like this. I need you to do these things. I've always agreed with the old, old saying that if you know someone's sexual fantasies, you know what the person really is. That's one of the more terrifying things I've ever heard.

Sitting across the table in the darkened bar at the four-star hotel, trying to explain what you're looking for from Riley Keough's character--- can you do that and maintain any sense of yourself and your self-worth? And, too, do you know yourself well enough to ask for what you want?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

One Nine One: Judgments

I spent some time last weekend watching a cable series called "The Girlfriend Experience"--- watching the first season all the way through. Well-written, though with some soap-opera touches that weren't necessary. The actress who was the star--- Riley Keough ---was wonderful. My type, of course: tallish, painfully thin, cold and calculating. I enjoyed watching it, though I suppose that it did leave me sighing not only over Ms. Keough, but over the idea of high-end escorts.

My own version of a Girlfriend Experience would include the things I think you know about. The girl would be dressed for a role in my films-in-the-head, with all the class markers I look for. and with a very clear set of scripts. I'd be paying--- I'd be more than willing to pay ---for certain kinds of attitude and conversation. The girl would probably need a syllabus and a reading list, which says so much about my own past and about my desperate need to feel like sex and books can be combined.

I'd be willing to pay for a girl who could perform as my leading lady in my films-in-the-head. I'd certainly be willing, although it's clear that I could never afford someone who has the skills I'd want.

I'd certainly be deeply afraid of disappointing whoever I'd paid. I'd be afraid that she'd feel like her skills were being wasted, that her talents far exceeded my ability to appreciate them.

I know that there are websites for clients of high-end escorts to rate their providers' skills and performance. There seems to be a whole set of polemics about the sites, about "hobbyists" using the sites to punish escorts by harming their business. Some of the sites seem to be infected by the whole Yelp Era attitude--- demanding, arrogant, and all-too-ready to take offense...and looking for a way to extort extra services. That's all very ugly.

There are also sites now where escorts can rate their clients. Fair's fair, I suppose, and escorts have a very clear need for a place for exchanging information about clients who might be violent or obsessive. Let's take that as a given. Yes, by the way, I am thinking of Wodehouse stories, of the huge ledger where Jeeves and other valets write down their judgments about their employers. Still, though--- there's something frightening about being a client and being rated.

A small parenthesis--- what is the correct term for someone who pays for an escort's services? Apparently there's a discussion in the demimonde about whether "john" is acceptable these days, though I don't know the details. I suppose I'd be okay with "john". It's  a usage that goes back a long way; I grew up hearing it. "Customer" or "client" would be a bit antiseptic, but fine as well. It's "punter" that I hate rather a lot. I think I hate "punter" almost as much as I hate "wank"/"wanker". Working-class British slang always manages to be cruel and dismissive and offensive. "John" or "client", then, but never never never "punter".

I would be terrified of being a client and finding a website where escorts rated clients by performance or looks. Please understand--- a site that discussed clients by the difficulty of their requirements or their tipping levels wouldn't be a problem. That's just business. It would be a site that rated clients as people that would be upsetting. Again, be very clear. I'd never use a rating site to rate escorts. If I had a problem or a compliment, that would be between the girl and me, or at most between the me and the girl's booker. I'm not a Yelp Reviewer type. And site that rated clients would leave me afraid ever to book an escort again.

After all--- let's be clear. One of the underlying things about booking and escort is that you aren't being judged as a person. Both parties negotiate a price for a certain specified set of activities and for a scripted scenario. It isn't about you at all.  You don't have to be afraid or ashamed of your looks or skills. You're paying to be part of something: the script matters, the exchange of money for services matters, not you.

There's an old, old (very male) saying that men don't pay prostitutes for sex; they pay them to leave after sex. I've never quite understood that, but I do know that part of what I'd be contracting for in any arrangement with an escort would be freedom from judgment. My preferred scripts have some level of difficulty, some level of complexity that requires skills worth so much.  That's fine. I'll pay for professional skills. I'm paid for mine every day at work. But I'm also paying to be treated with a cool professionalism. I'd be paying so that I wouldn't see contempt or derision in the girl's eyes. To be part of a set of scripts is one thing. To be judged as a person is another.