Sometimes, a piece of television is more than just entertainment. Sometimes, it makes you think about who you are as a person. Sometimes, it helps you grow, and figure out who you really are.
Showtime's Gigolos is not one of those shows.
According to Showtime, Gigolos is:
"An extremely rare and uncensored look into the personal and professional lives of five hot guys in Vegas who like to hang out, have fun and get girls, but in their case they get paid for it. They find themselves in some unexpected positions as they balance relationships, friends and family with the demands of their female clientele. A reality series like no other, Gigolos is not only provocative but also surprisingly heartfelt. It's a wild ride for these real-life escorts who never miss a trick."
According to me it's the illegitimate love child of a soft core porn and a reality show.
It's The Real World, if they were paid to do what they do in a house instead of paying them to pretend like they're working at a juice bar.
It's The Bachelorette if every contestant's occupation was listed as "Guy Fieri's biggest fan", and every night was in the fantasy suite.
It's also very confusing. Watching an episode of Gigolos is going to leave you with a lot of questions.
1. Are gigolos really a thing?
Yes, but also not really.
Male escorts are 100 percent a thing, and yes, there are women who pay men for sex. But there are a lot more men that pay men for sex.
If you Google male escorts, you see a lot of articles about men that are escorts, women that have hired escorts, etc. But you won't really find any statistics.
I think that's because every single one of those articles is secretly written by, at most, 100 individuals worldwide. And up to half of them are aliases of Cowboys4Angels founder Garren James.
Gigolos came to air mostly largely due to an interview James did on The Tyra Banks Show. People were fascinated by the idea of a business built around straight male escorts. Showtime jumped on the idea and hired James, and a stable of men, to create and star in a reality TV show.
But, last year on the HuffPost Weird News Podcast, James admitted when he started the company, the website was populated with the profiles of "fake men"—that he "lied pretty much about everything" to The Tyra Banks Show producers.
He then says by the time Gigolos premiered, he'd “made it all real”. I agree with The New York Times’ review from the show's 2011 premiere: a "look at women-only gigolos in Las Vegas is a little like a cooking show devoted entirely to vegan steak recipes.”
2. How is this legal?
It comes down to word choice. A prostitute is someone who is paid to have sexual relations. An escort is someone who is paid for their companionship.
According to Cowboys4Angels FAQ page, this is something a lot of people ask. More than half of the questions are about legality.
In the first episode of Gigolos, James explains everything to his newest hire,Vin Armani (a.k.a. what you'd get if the Grim Reaper made sweet love to an Abercrombie ad).
"We are a companion service and clients pay a rate per hour. First thing you're gonna do is collect the money from the client and then from there, whatever happens between you two is two consenting adults. It's illegal for you to take any money after that for any sort of sexual services or whatever."
Basically, you can pay for sex as long as you pretend like you're not paying for sex. Exchange the money up-front. instead of leaving it on the nightstand on your way out.
Except later that episode, escort Nick and his "date" have sex within minutes. And later Jimmy is told he's being hired to have sex with a man's wife.
So again, how is it legal?
Because he wasn't paid.
TV Guide writes, "At the end of the show's credits, a typical porn disclaimer stating that everyone having sex on camera is of legal age pops up. Then, in small print at the bottom of the screen is: 'No one depicted in this program was remunerated in exchange for engaging in sexual activity.'"
In real life, you can play with that loophole a little more easily. But when it's filmed and police can see what actually went down? Showtime had to cover their asses by making a reality show about escorts into a "reality show" about "escorts". It's exactly as ambiguous as that makes it sound.
3. Who are these women?
What woman in her right mind says to themselves, "I think I'll hire a male escort…and allow cameras to film our sexual encounter"?
Well, I guess we already know they weren't paying for sex. In fact, they were paid to be on the show. Garren James told Slate all the female clients on the show were compensated for their participation.
And if my internet browsing history has taught me anything, it's that it's not very hard to find people willing to have sex on camera in exchange for money.
4. Why is that guy so tan?
His name is Brace, and he's so tan because it's hard to fly that close to the sun.
He's so tan because that's how his body reacted to the lightness of his spirit.
He's so tan because like the sun, too much exposure to him will cause you to burn.
5. Why are you talking about a TV show from 2011?
BECAUSE IT'S STILL ON THE AIR!
Gigolos has been on the air for six seasons. Six.
And this year, Nick insured his penis for $1 million.
So, yeah, this juggernaut of quality content ain't stopping yet.
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