How I Became an Expert on High-Class Hookers


Recently, CNBC interviewed me for an hour-long special documentary on high-class prostitution, due to air on November 11 at 10pm and 1am — a date and time when hopefully we will no longer be worried about politics and our minds will be back on the important stuff: illegal sex.

CNBC just posted a promotional clip for the documentary, and just in case my parents see it, I would like to clarify the following:

1. I became a so-called expert on this subject only because of my research and report on the late “D.C. Madam” Jeane Palfrey for Vanity Fair.

I found what she, her employees, and some of clients said sufficiently fascinating to follow up with some research on other high-class madams, such as the late Madam Alex in California (famous for supplying the world’s richest men with extraordinarily beautiful women) and the French courtesan Madame Claude (who was arguably the best madam ever: legend has it she transformed street girls into women so stunning intellectually as well as physically that they often married her very powerful clientele).

I also started to cast around and ask what was going on in New York and across America. I wanted to know about the risks people take to be with prostitutes: what happens in an encounter with a woman at the top end of the profession? Why would a man risk everything for an exchange with a stranger?

The simplest answer, I found, lay in the word “risk.” That’s the point. The men — often high-rollers in finance, government, or industry — want, need even, to be made to feel vulnerable. There’s the thrill, and the reward.

2. I myself am not a high-class prostitute. Nor even a low-class one. It is true that Palfrey, even in the face of prosecution, made the startling suggestion that I would make an ideal employee. Given that she hired women who were both educated — they had college degrees — and extraordinarily attractive, I will not deny, partly, that this suggestion was as flattering as it was comic. However, despite the credit crisis, I have not yet felt any inner call suggesting I make my body my vocation. So note to the vice squad: please, no calls.