By Catherine Wylie
A student and staff member at QUB has chosen to come and speak to The Gown about his decision to become a male escort. With such extortionate university fees (which are likely to rise) and the impending recession, is turning to a life in the sex industry really the answer? The answer it might not be, but the last seven years has seen a 50% rise in the numbers of students doing so. Felix (not his real name) revealed to The Gown, however, that it wasn’t vital financial outgoings that encouraged him to pursue working as an escort. “I’m terrible with money. I don’t smoke or drink, but I have a passion for shopping and buy exactly what I want. As soon as my loan comes in I’m straight on to eBay,” he said. So, before you register with an online agency in a panic worrying about fees and the like, don’t bother. “It’s not necessary for students to become escorts,” Felix continued, “But when I discovered that my mate made £500 in five hours, I found myself researching it on the net and before I knew it I had registered.”
Felix’s secret life as an escort began in the summer of 2007, and since then he has had a string of meetings with women, all across the water. He was happy to show The Gown his profile on the agency’s website, where the homepage exhibited an extremely provocative image of a scantily clad woman. After a quick read at his profile, there were some points of note. Felix refuses to allow clients to visit him in his own home, but will consider visiting the house of a client, so long as he believes that he won’t be put in danger. “Ideally, I prefer hotels as there are lots of escape routes,” he said. On his profile, there is shockingly a “Yes” beside “Offer a Massage?”. Felix claims that it was his naivety that led him to agree to this, but says he should have known what it really meant (Sex!). When asked why he hadn’t edited it since discovering the true implications of the deal, he claimed, “I don’t know, that’s interesting. I’ll do that.”
There is no denying that the whole scenario screams “seedy”, and Felix agrees that it’s the seedy side of things that everyone will always think of first. However, he is keen to defend his antics. “I have never ever had sex with my clients,” he said. So what are his clients like, and why do they feel the need to turn to an escort agency for the company of another human being? “It’s generally people who don’t have many friends, and some of them are attractive, particularly the ladies under 34. Of course there are the weird ones. There are psychos who think fate has brought us together and after five minutes are telling me they are in love with me.” Although he has cited 50 on his profile as the maximum age of clients he would accept, he plans to lower it to 40 due to a “50-year-old” lady who looked more like 80-year-old requesting his company.
Intrigued at the workings of the system, The Gown probed Felix about exactly how a date is arranged and how the website benefits from the whole affair. He pays a monthly £30 membership fee to the website, and then awaits emails from ladies who wish to have him on their arm at a wedding, school reunion, or simply just a night out on the town. If the date suits him, he will then check the price of flights and choose a hotel before passing the details of the cost on to the lady in question. He told us about his first job and how nervous he was. “I told my mates that if they received a blank text from me then I needed assistance from the police in the particular area of London I was in,” he recalls. However, his first experience was easier than he thought. “As soon as I stepped off the plane, she greeted me and talked to me as though we knew each other for years, before leading me to an awaiting taxi. We went to a club which was oddly rather like the Limelight, but with lots of Z-list celebrities. She was a 29-year-old secretary.”
So how does it feel to be an escort and how does he cope when people find out? “I don’t like lying to people about what I do,” he said, “And I don’t think that what I do is wrong. I earn £60 at the very least per hour and therefore I am able to easily pay my rent, other bills and buy things that I want. I certainly wouldn’t earn money like that in the Union.” On the subject of telling other people about being an escort and dealing with their reactions, Felix remembers having to take a night off from the Union at very late notice due to a planned rendezvous with a client. Not wanting to lie or come up with an elaborate excuse, he simply told his boss that it was somewhat of an emergency and that he could earn a lot of money that night. Unconvinced, Felix resorted to showing him his profile on the website.
In regard to his family, he didn’t want them to know anything about his secret life as an escort. However, his brother found out and initially disowned Felix, warning him that if their parents were to find out that it would put them in an early grave. Thanks to a radio interview Felix conducted on a Northern Irish station, his parents recognised his voice and were surprisingly understanding, to the point that they now fully support him.
Felix hasn’t been on a date with a client since before the summer, but hopes to continue with his racy shenanigans for the foreseeable future. And, just so you know, the boss let him have that night off from the Union!