“A woman does not need to pay”.
That’s what you are shortly replied, in Amsterdam. Because it’s obvious, isn’t it? A woman can get into any club, evening time, and pick up whoever she likes. She has no need to pay. Why on earth in the windows of the Red Light District, where you buy 15 minutes of sex for 50 euro just in the cathedral’s shadow, should there be men, too? What a naïf question.
A woman must rather shake them off.
It’s a one-way market. “But every woman is well aware that nothing is more dangerous than get-ting into a club in the evening, and picking up the first passerby,” Tomàs objects. “So that in three months we find you cut up in his fridge,” says. And then – do you think you would need to pay?, he whispers between my ear and my neck, my blouse between his fingers.
Because the market the other way round, men for women, does exist: simply, it’s a covert market. He is 42, he has the physique du role: Tomàs is a management adviser, and about three times per week, surreptitiously, offers himself as a male prostitute or gigolo. I have seen him for the first ti-me twenty minutes ago, in the hotel lobby. And in theory, we are not necessarily supposed to end up in bed together. “The key feature of my work isn’t sex. Let’s say that it’s half listening and half sex. All in all, it’s mainly play for fun,” he smiles, but in the meantime he has already dimmed the lights, decided for piano solo music, poured wine in two glasses: and his hands are already on my back, and they glide dangerously downwards. The date lasts four hours. Or more, if you prefer, but not less than that. Because it all starts with two massages, a relaxing one, according to Tomàs’ definition, where you still wear a couple of centimetres of cloth, the other one – he brushes a fin-ger against my lips, as to wipe away any word: his hands, intensely, more and more downward. We are not necessarily supposed to end up in bed together: but he has prudently introduced a knee between my thighs, now. And it’s worth more than thirty hands.
Men in the windows, actually, have been tested. It was 2007. For one day only, yet; concluded with zero customers. But the mistake wasn’t the idea: it was the window. Because the one that works, of course, is the internet. And not only in Amsterdam.
Regulars are out there. And they are the opposite of what we might imagine. A minimum of 250 euro, plus the hotel and miscellaneous things: because with a man and 15 minutes, a woman would still be there asking him his name – for a matter of time, more exactly, and therefore of costs, the gigolo market is an élite market, attended by so called career women. The first one I meet, after briefly promising her complete anonymity, is easy to recognize: actually, it’s easy to recognize each other, because she is a journalist like me. A TV journalist, and so flawless head to toe – that peeks out from a size 12 high heel. “I am single now, and of course I have no difficulty in winning over a man for a one night stand. On the contrary: usually they hunt me. Only, I work in male dominated environment. And in a heartbeat, I would be marked as a bitch: as a man who switches woman every night is not. A man can afford to say: I love women. It is not only socially allowed: it is socially valued – isn’t it?, the cool man no woman resists. If I said: I love men, and that’s all, because that’s the truth: men are funny, sex is funny, should I be the one who says that, it would be just be vulgar.”
Regulars are mainly between 25 and 45. And mainly like her. “But they reach me for the most di-verse reasons”, Tomàs explains. “In the end, each of them is a world apart. From the thirty-year-old at her first sex experience, who considers virginity as an hindrance, by now, as a sort of obstacle, to the lady of a few days ago: cheated by her husband. She wanted him to understand how do you feel. The wound. The dismay, the disillusion. I arrived, and her husband was there: he had to leave me alone with her. Then, as usual: couple that, let’s say, dislike routines, wives who miss something, within their marriage, but not enough to break it off, and many, many wo-men who aren’t in confidence with their body, and by consequence, with sex, women who barely know themselves, who are afraid of themselves, in some way, of instincts, of emotions, and yet they have partners they adore, and that they fear to lose because of that. Because they feel some-how chastened. Incomplete. And exploring, with me, exploring yourself is easier. They call me not to get something else, another man, but to get more in depth what they already have. At the end of the day, yet – yes: the only thing you share is that usually I look at you, and I think I should be the one who pays.”
But this is something Tomàs explains you later. When he holds you tight, skin to skin, in that island of half-light and whispered words, mutual discover, where there seems to be nothing else, around, or when he slips again the ring on your finger, as to return you to your own life, to whom you belong to, and he invites you out for dinner. For the time being, he is totally focused on his role. You can ask him whatever you want, there are no patterns: no limits. No rules. Except for one: he is the one who starts. With this massage where you are there, on your back, and – useless to specify: he is a professional: a juggler of the wait. Your back is turned, you cannot see him, it’s the only rule, only feel him: only feel yourself: and you don’t even have time enough to realize that you have really come here, and now really you are naked with a stranger, because he has such an intense way of touching you, everywhere, of being driven by your any reaction, your any shudder, any breath – and every time: of stopping a millimetre before. With that knee always the-re, between your thighs, and only the lust that slowly, powerful, fill and invade you, and it’s the most beautiful of rules, in such a speedy, absent-minded world, while he pampers you, everywhe-re, he fumbles your nipples, he recoils, he comes back, the palms of his hands to the side of your breasts, while he revives your entire body, and it is no longer a matter of erogenous spots, whilst it’s everything, now, an entire body, it’s the most beautiful of rules, when you would already like to twist, already to say: Take me, Take me now – adhere to it and wait.
Tomàs never says ‘my customers’. He is a professional, yet he says: my women. At rock bottom, he is curious of you. Usually the date follows a month and a half of message exchange, or phone chats, and questions are mutual: he tries to understand who you are, how you are. “Because tru-thfully speaking, the taboo involved in my work is a different one,” he says. “It’s not about the woman who looks for sex. It’s about the woman who looks for pleasure, I mean: the woman who wishes to get, and not to give. To do something for herself only. That’s why you can ask me wha-tever you like, but at the beginning I want you to stay there, nothing else. In my hands. I want that everything, for just a moment, is tailored to you. You are burdened by thousands expecta-tions, thousands responsibilities, restrictions. Thousands anxieties. You are used to give a lot, get little, and to believe that if you have little it’s because you didn’t give enough. Because you don’t deserve to have. And instead you get little because that the way our society has been built: in the service of men.”
“It’s strange, indeed. Whilst every man aims at making you feel special, the beauty of Tomàs is that he makes you feel – he makes you feel normal. He frees you from insecurity. For just a mo-ment: from fears. And he also helps you to put in context, to understand that… that you are not the only one,” F., 34, tells me. She is a lawyer. She is a criminal lawyer, she is skilled with words. But not now, whilst she sits in front of me in a café, charming, and unaware of it, and looks fragi-le elsewhere. “My childhood, then… then my teens… Let’s say so: it hasn’t been plain. A relation-ship poorly failed. And for me it’s troublesome to trust. To open myself. It’s – orgasm. It’s not easy. My last relationship wrecked because of that. Also because of that, and you cannot imagine how much I loved him. I was so frustrated, so disheartened, and” – we were supposed to talk of sex, we end up talking of pedophilia. Because we have this idea of sex through payment as something for men, or women, who refrain from any emotional involvement. And instead it’s quite different. “There is an emotional exchange, definitely. It’s not just sex. And it’s a deep exchange, much dee-per than usual, exactly because in the end you are with a stranger, and the agreement is clear, you are sure that there is complete discretion, that Tomàs will disappear: and so – I know it sounds weird: but you can open yourself totally,” she says. “And you eventually realize that you are not the only one”. Because whatever your background is, Tomàs, indeed, is likely to have met many women with a background like yours. “You realize that you aren’t wrong. That that’s how your life has been. And that now – now it’s a matter of learning to enjoy life. Even for four hours only. Learning to forget.” Because it’s true. You can do whatever you like. Stop whenever you want: it’s all tailored to you. Four hours of complete freedom. You can be whatever you like. Even what you are unable to be. Or you don’t know you are. Because everything is so relaxed, here, so sweet, sensual – so out of the world. At some point, simply, you realize that he isn’t touching you only with his hands. You are on your back now, your eyes still closed as he demanded you, because there’s one rule only, that you must let things go, for once, let yourself go, and get, nothing else, feel, feel yourself, and yet he’s touching you with everything else, now, now there’s a body, over you, an entire body, and a voice, warm, whilst he brushes against your neck, he asks – may I? before overwhelming you, kindly. For just a moment.