The Life of an Escort in Urban Japan

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YOU MAY THINK all escorts are all young, muscular men or slender women. This is an understandable generalization, but the truth is, anyone can be an escort. The Internet has shed light on a vast range of fetishes. I have been paid for Skyping while eating a meal by a client who apparently likes to fantasize that he himself is being consumed. There is something for everyone (though probably not someone for everything).

         Most of the escorts that I know—I am based in a large Japanese city—appear to be in their twenties. At forty, sexual cougar narratives become a stylish ascot that  an older escort dons with pride. Moreover, not all escorts have “perfect” bodies. The gay dating world itself teaches us how bodies other than jocks can be desirable.

the escort         As an escort, I have to know what my client likes. I have pictures of me bearded and clean-shaven, for example. I will groom myself if the client desires me a certain way and if I equally desire his offer. Practically speaking, despite the diversity in sexual attraction, I do try to look a certain way. I want to look familiar, unthreatening, but at the same time something special. You don’t want to force your client to adapt to your eclectic sense of style. It’s the other way around, at least initially. Thus, I have to abide by the categories we all know. I used to be quite slim, but I do not have the face of a twink. Thus I’ve had to squeeze into the nearest category, that of jock.

         I am wary of the police. Thus I never discuss pricing or specifics via text. It’s all transacted over the phone. Screenshots of a chat can be used as procurement evidence. With first-time clients, I take all precautions. For example, I block anyone who rejects my offer or gives me reason to suspect insincerity.

         Escorts are thus a very diverse bunch. We’re simply people who are aware that our bodies are desirable and are willing to have interactions with other bodies to make money. Beyond that, we may not have much in common. I’m a graduate scholar and I have escort friends working for KFC (“Finger lickin’ good!”). I also have escort friends who carry a small Qur’an in their purses before meeting a client.

         Clients, too, are a diverse assortment of men. It would be wrong to assume that all are old or unattractive. I’ve had clients that I would gladly have had sex with for free if encountered under different circumstances. In some cases I have developed a relationship that went beyond the purely sexual. Ejaculations are such superficial events. I am strangely proud of my friendships with clients and enjoy conversations with them. There are some who don’t only want to stimulate the body but also the mind. Compliments from a client make my heart sing. If one calls me beautiful, I know he really means it. I know it isn’t a ploy to get into my pants, because he’s already there.

         Generally speaking, however, it’s true that most clients are older, less fit, and more advanced in their careers than I. They pay per hour or per ejaculation. Whatever the deal is, I am expected to honor it, and so is the client. However, there are cases of clients wanting to squeeze every cent out of their payment. Sometimes they become sentimental after ejaculating and want to cuddle for a while. Who doesn’t love cuddling? Free cuddles make the world a better place. But if you start thrusting, thrust a 20,00 yen into my wallet first.

         In escorting, aesthetics certainly play a part. If I perceive that a client is as desirable as I am, chances are I won’t ask for much. However, the wider the gap between our “hotness,” the more I’m likely to ask for. The client’s perception, conversely, determines his willingness to pay the asked amount versus bargaining for a lower price. Clients who want to focus on their careers or other credentials than looks. This simply means that they have less aesthetic capital (“hotness”) and have to make it up in other ways.

         Thus one’s body becomes a business in its own right. One can invest in his asset to increase his hotness quotient—anything from an expensive haircut to plastic surgery—and thereby command a higher price from clients. However, not all escorts are able to make this investment; many just get by.

         There are, to be sure, occupational hazards in being an escort, some of which derive from the fact that business is conducted on something of a black market due to the illegality of prostitution, and also to the intimate nature of the exchange. A few such hazards would be the following:

• Clients coming up short on the agreed-upon price, in which case one has little recourse (you can’t exactly call 911).

• What I call “lust in translation”—the language barrier that makes it difficult to know what the other person is saying. I should mention that the language of transaction is usually English. (I am a Lebanese man living in Japan.)

• Being late for or breaking an appointment. This is something that I, as the service provide, do everything I can to avoid.

         I feel no guilt about escorting. I have a background in sociology, which has taught me to break down and flush out any socially-constructed opprobrium about honor, religion, or whatever. I get tested regularly for STDs despite always practicing safe sex. To be sure, there are clients who will offer more for bareback sex, and there are escorts who need the money. For me, it is a way to connect with people, make a little money, and do a little sociological research on the side.

 

Intesar Toufic (a pen name) is a Arab man living in Japan.

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