In the entertainment industry, this sort of practice is endemic. Apparently it has been so from practically the arrival of film to Hollywood. The late fashion maven Mr. Blackwell (famous for his annual “Ten Worst Dressed” list) chronicled his early adventures as a callboy during cinema’s golden age in his immortal autobiography, From Rags to Bitches. But where that tell-all tried to put its scandalous portions into some sort of philosophical context, ex-Marine and Iwo Jima survivor Scotty Bowers’s recently released Full Service is all about the then-young (and apparently ever-available) rentboy and his friends’ adventures with the era’s stars.
So what is the difference between a sugar baby, an escort, and a hooker? According to Seeking Arrangement, two years is an arrangement, whereas two hours is prostitution. Yet is a sexual relationship that is openly about cash simply prostitution under another name? The more romantic might insist that exclusive repeated use of the same call girl can eventually constitute a relationship à la Pretty Woman.
To complicate things further, there is the widespread suspicion that an unmarried couple shacking up together is, in Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s stridently screechy words, merely unpaid prostitution.
Money and/or power will always be sexy. Older folk with either or both will find themselves attracting younger people in a way that few old codgers at the local VFW bar will. Whether or not either party in the transaction is of admirable character is another question. But even among such folk the human need to “pretty things up” is always present. The young people of the Seeking Arrangement site often speak of needing help with school; the older ones feel required to express some sort of parental regard for their newly acquired chums. Self-justification is the sincerest form of delusion.
Being a kept woman or gigolo was not always considered the ultimate in prestige occupations. Breakfast at Tiffany’s had a happy ending because Audrey Hepburn’s good-time girl and George Peppard’s kept lad were able to leave their seedy lives behind for a more conventional relationship.
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