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Email Icon Get our newsletter. Chevron Right Icon Submit a story tip. Last year, Davies decided to put herself first. She started going out more. She went to a rock concert and screamed her lungs out like a teenager.
She hired a personal trainer and lost 10 kilograms. When she looks in the mirror now, she sees someone who looks at least a decade younger. Meanwhile, her husband scolds her and says she's going wild.
The unfairness of his affairs gnawed at Davies: She confronted him one night: Later, when Davies joked with a friend that she might as well just hire someone for sex, her friend's response - "Well, what's stopping you? She ran some online searches and came across a Sydney-based escort with the professional name Ryan James; a blond, clean-cut calendar boy.
Her main concerns were cost, discretion and health risks. Just looking at the physical appearance of the guy - and the fact that he's a personal trainer - made me feel more confident. Adria says he spends time making himself look good and expects the same from clients. Several emails and text messages later, Davies flew from her Queensland home to meet James in the foyer of a Sydney hotel. After heading up to her room together, James asked for his money and then asked Davies to take a shower.
After the shower, they moved to the couch, where he started to undress her. It was the first time Davies had taken off her clothes in front of a man other than her husband or her doctor. She knew this was a job for James - just work, nothing more - but says there was still a thrill in knowing that having sex with her wasn't going to be a chore for him. All Davies will divulge of the experience are the comments, "Believe me, it was good.
I certainly wasn't disappointed. Ryan James looks exactly as he does in his online photos: For seven years, he had a brain-corroding desk job in finance. It is a job, but it's a very enjoyable job. There are a few things James wants to clarify about his profession. First, he's not in this job because he has an unusually high libido. As soon as they're with a client they're not particularly attracted to, they fail.
James thinks for a minute. Second, he says, no one is forcing him to do this. In fact, he's never heard of any heterosexual male escort who's been forced into the profession - they choose to be there. Finally, says James, there's nothing wrong or damaged about him, or anyone else he knows who works in his field. I read him a quote by writer, Fairfax columnist and anti-pornography crusader Melinda Tankard Reist: Some are doctors, lawyers or psychologists, but they prefer not to do that as they find this work more rewarding.
After her session with James, Davies felt renewed. She sent him a text message that said, "Thank you so much - I've had the experience of a lifetime. You're an amazing person that's [sic] made me very happy.
As she tells me this, Davies starts to cry. It was a moment of feeling self-worth and feeling special, feeling like I was someone It had been a long time, "a hell of a long time, probably the majority of my marriage, to be quite honest" - since anyone had made Davies feel that way. He is lovely to me, he makes me feel like a woman. It's business, but I still feel very desirable with him. Davies is now a semi-regular client of James.
When he comes to the hotel room, she now knows to leave the money on the side table before they start. She also feels her time with him has helped clarify her relationship with her husband, settled old scores about his affairs - at least in her mind - and made her reconsider the potential for other men in her life. It's impossible to determine how many male escorts work in Australia, but agencies and workers will tell you there are more female sex workers than male, and definitely more male-for-male sex workers than male-for-female.
Exclusively heterosexual male escort work is still a niche industry in Australia. The market is so new that Cameron Cox, of Sydney's Sex Workers' Outreach Project, says that five years ago one Sydney escort agency even approached gay male sex workers to do "straight for pay".
But every straight male escort I spoke to said business had only picked up since they started working. The industry may be boutique, but if you're good, your client base will grow. Over the past year, James may only have had 30 clients, but many are repeat customers who book him every fortnight. Women like Davies - caught in unhappy relationships - form part of James's clientele, but he is also hired by businesswomen who need a date, young women, married couples and men who want to watch him having sex with their wives.
Similarly, there's no such thing as a "typical escort". If you're interested in escorting and don't resemble a muscled, waxed calendar boy, you needn't despair. In the US, there is an escort named Sugar Weasel who will, upon request, arrive at your home or hotel dressed as a white-bodied clown.
Another male escort named Vincent splits time between Washington DC and Toronto and describes himself as an "adult entertainment entrepreneur". Vincent is in his 70s. Apparently, both are popular.
John Oh, 41, is a cm, Sydney-based male escort with pale skin, prematurely grey hair and big hands. He looks like a handsome naturopath.
Most of his clients are older women who have teenage or grown-up children and the idea of having sex with someone in their 20s gives them the creeps. Forty-seven is a very specific age, I say. A lot of women get to 47 and find themselves single again. Oh's one-bedroom Sydney apartment, which he rents exclusively for sex work, is a slick, modern affair that resembles a hotel suite. There's a stainless-steel kitchen, a large flat-screen TV hooked up to music, and an acoustic guitar on a stand.
The mattress on the bedroom floor doesn't have a base and still has crumpled sheets, most likely from his last booking, which only finished an hour before we meet. When a client visits Oh, he'll buzz her in and then they'll share a cup of tea or a glass of wine. It's all rather wholesome. His next step is always to offer a massage so he can initiate more physical contact without the client having to request it. They've come out of a relationship - a marriage of 20 or 30 years - so they may have had very few partners in their lives.
The prospect of getting back into dating is hugely intimidating. What they're looking for is a soft beginning. Her seven-year relationship with a woman had ended and she wanted to ease herself back into the world of men without resorting to the bar and club scene. Ward is a likeable, energetic year-old, based in Sydney, who works as a cosmetic surgery nurse - "Botox, fillers, that sort of thing" - and has an infectious toucan squawk of a laugh. She wears sequinned, body-hugging clothes and has bold magenta streaks in her hair.