The idea of being a male gigolo having sex with women for money is still stuck with the idea of either being cocky lovermen or the humour of 16-year-old virgins (yes, Deuce Bigalo: Male Gigolo, we’re looking at you).
The reality of male escorts is obviously different.
Garren James is a college graduate with an American football scholarship. He became a male model, quickly learning what women want. And he’s used that knowledge to set up one of the biggest male escort agencies in the world.
James’ agency Cowboys4Angels is the subject of a smash reality TV show on cable – and the Las Vegas entrepreneur is unrepentant about his career.
Despite that, it was a pair of chance encounters that changed James’ life.
In 2006, he was on his first date with a prospective girlfriend and, with sparks flying between the pair, she decided to tell him about her work as the owner of an escort agency offering dates for men.
“No one would believe that the men were not gay and that they did not see men on the side”
One look at her website was enough to convince James of the merits of escort agencies. As their relationship blossomed, he became more open to the idea of creating an escort company offering dates for women.
The result was Cowboys4Angels, but it wasn’t all plain sailing.
“It was a slow start,” says James. “No one would believe that the men weren’t gay and that they didn’t see men on the side.”
That perception started the day James appeared with the other notable woman in his life, Tyra Banks, as a guest on her popular US chatshow.
Now featured in Showtime’s hit cable series Gigolos, Cowboys4Angels’ website has gone from strength-to-strength, offering escort services offered across 12 different US cities.
Despite all those preconceptions about escorting, James is adamant it’s all good, clean, honest work – for those that can get it.
Loaded: What are your requirements before joining Cowboys4Angels?
James: We get about 10 new requests a day and the first thing we look at is the photos. To work in this industry, you must have professional photos. We look for college-educated men. Once they pass that, we make a short phone call to hear how well the man can hold a conversation.
If they pass, that we do a video interview to see his mannerisms. We then move on to the background check, a face to face final interview and a meet-and-greet from one of our regular clients. Once he passes all that, he will then go up onto the website.
“Always remember this is a business and just like in any business, you must invest for it to grow.”
From there we constantly keep tabs after every appointment to make sure the man is getting consistently good reviews. We’ve had over 15,000 employment requests and only represent 90 men, so we are extremely selective.
Loaded: What advice would you have for anyone looking to become an escort?
James: Get professional photos if you want anyone to take you seriously. Having amazing photos for a male companion is the equivalent of having a college education in the corporate world. Before your photoshoot, I’d recommend four to six weeks of extreme diet and cardio to help bring out any abs.
Always remember this is a business and, just like in any business, you must invest for it to grow. Spend money on the best photos possible. The quality should be something seen in a magazine.
As far as advice for when you are on a date, the short answer is to leave your ego at the door. Strong ego means you’re important and it’s all about you. But it is never about you and always about making a client happy.
Can you talk us through the price structure for Cowboys4Angels?
We try to give a discount for the more time booked on each appointment as a thank you to our clients. As the men move up the ranks or receive press and notoriety, the rates go up.
Rates therefore range from as low as $300 an hour to $2,000 for an overnight date, $5,000 for a weekend trip and $15,000 for a week.
Loaded: Have you noticed a particular surge in demand for male escorts?
James: It was so slow starting in the beginning, because no one took us seriously. Also, at first, we were not word of mouth. Many women don’t tell friends and family about the wonderful service they experienced. It’s more of a private thing, so they keep it as their little secret.
Thankfully, we are more of a hot topic in the press now. We’ve had many news appearances and those things help established our professionalism. We’re more accepted and we get many calls that start with ‘My friend told me she had fun with your company and now it is my turn!’
“We do not ever discriminate against any woman and our goal is to make them all happy.”
We started eight years ago and the last two years we increased by about 50% of appointments from our first 6 years. The surge and acceptance of a woman hiring a man is very strong right now.
Loaded: Your series on Showtime is a hit – has that helped take some of the stigma out of escort work?
James: The Gigolos show has been an amazing project to work on. It features some of our best men who all have very different personalities yet who treat all the clients the same. You can see that no matter what the age, weight, race, economic range, or education level of a client, she is treated with love and respect.
We do not ever discriminate against any woman and our goal is to make them all happy. It has also shown the interaction of the men so you can see they are real and ultimately nice people. I definitely think the show has changed viewers who once looked down the industry. It’s ironic, because so many fans now look up to them and give them praise.
Loaded: How much does the average escort earn per month, roughly?
James: I had one of my men give me a Rolex last year and on the back it said ‘1Milly club.’ He has been with me for five years and informed me he has kept track of his bookings and that he calculated that we had booked one million of total sales for him.
It is about the level of service the men are able to provide to the clients. Men are rarely booked on a daily basis with new clients – women tend to book longer appointments.
These female clients seem to prefer booking the same person to meeting someone new.
So the salary of a male escort based on his ability to make someone happy and want to see him again. It is not all about the mighty dollar.
Loaded: What are the key requirements for being a good escort? Your website talks about the need for “emotional maturity”.
James: You must be tall and handsome, but that’s just the start. The emotional maturity we speak of is being able to act older than your age. A client likes a younger good-looking guy, but if you act like a child to a mature woman she will never be happy. You must also be extremely outgoing in order to make someone feel comfortable immediately.
“I often open application letters featuring naked men in strange poses with lots of oil and lubrication”
Dates are often short, so you have to have that ability to make women feel at ease quickly. You must also be very well educated and have had some traveling experience. Many appointments will be on a trip with a client and the more you know about tips on traveling the better.
Another must quality is humor. If you can’t make someone smile and bring joy into the conversation, you will fail.
Loaded: Do you think there will always be a need for escorts and, if so, why?
James: Escorts are the quick and easy solution to finding the perfect date. No strings attached fun for people who are often too busy with a career to have the time for a steady relationship.
As women continue to rise to the top of the workforce and have the economic means, I only see the industry increasing.
Loaded: Have you ever had any famous clients?
James: Over the years, we have had clients on the Forbes list, CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies, famous authors and A-list celebrities.
We would never name drop though, no matter what. The women that visit us value their privacy and famous clients especially want to feel safe.
There are no mailing lists or group texts about new men and our escorts never get given client email addresses or cell phone numbers – they do not even know their last names. Once a client uses the service, we have a strict no contact policy.
Loaded: Tell us about some of the weirdest applications you have received…
James: Our website specifically says no nude photos and so many times, I open a photo to see men naked and in very strange poses with lots of oil or lubrication. I guess you can say this is the only downside to my job.
The sixth season of Gigolos is currently on Showtime in the US and Cowboys4Angels are on Twitter and at www.Cowboys4Angels.com.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.