Sex on rent: The strange and desperate life of a Delhi gigolo

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There are hundreds of such eager pitches on online forums, men promising to fulfill a woman's dreams for the right price.

The gigolo I meet isn’t six feet tall, and isn’t well-groomed. In a half-empty café in south Delhi, the man looks a bit awkward. He is short, stout, and dark. Sophistication is not this man’s strong suit, but he is upfront and ambitious. He watches blue films everyday to master sexual positions, and other intricacies of pleasing women if they were to choose him. But the need here isn't for money per se. This raging libido, he says, he can’t control.

He is also frustrated with the way things have failed to work out for him in this career of choice. “I think I am not good looking,” he says, “But I don’t even the have the money to groom myself. I am raw.” He scanned newspapers for massage parlour classifieds, and called them, but they didn’t want him.

Once, a woman had called him from Nagpur, asked him to send her photos of his organ, and then enquired about the size. She said she would be in Delhi soon, and would try him out. A few days later, she called, but only to ask if he would recharge her phone connection. He hung up.

“It is not easy to make it in this profession,” says the man, apparently unmindful of others in the café, “I don’t want to be the upscale guy who entertains and gives a ‘boyfriend experience’ to women who are elitist and wealthy. I just want the housewives of this city. The ones who live in middle-class colonies, and aren’t delusional to look for company. They are women who just want sex, and they want it raw.”

He is aware of the odds stacked against someone who is dark, and isn’t fluent in English, and lives in a one-room tenement after having walked out of his family home in Jamia Nagar in Delhi. He says he doesn’t have a girlfriend, and the prospect of money along with sex is something he saw as a good career choice.

His house is bare except for a little bed and a table. He does odd jobs to get by, and sometimes at night, he stands near restaurants and pubs at the New Friends Colony market hoping to be picked up by flashing a red handkerchief. This used to be the calling card in old days. It still works. But nobody has ever picked him up. He isn’t expensive, he says. Depending on the time to be devoted, he offers himself for anything between Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000. A few of his friends got lucky, and he waits for his chance. Meanwhile, he is preparing himself by watching videos, and reading sex stories online.

There is no question of morality here. There’s ambition, and there’s desire.

The man stirs his coffee, and looks around. “You know, Delhi is full of desire. Underneath its middle-class sheen, there is a lot,” he says. There is sex on sale in the parks, and sex in the hostels, if you have the money for it.

Right in the middle of the coffee shop, he insists on showing me a few clips on his phone. He also says he is willing to offer his services free for the sake of the story.

*****

In another part of the metropolis, a single woman in her thirties is trying to recover from a love affair with a gigolo who happened to be her trainer at one of the city’s posh gyms. He was popular with other women, and it began to bother her. The last time she saw him, she was so upset that she gave him an ultimatum. “F*** me, but don’t f*** with me,” she recalls having shouted at him.

There are women with libido, and money, and loneliness, and they aren’t shy of paying for sex. They have their referrals, and they have their connections. As Gabriel Garcia Marquez wryly observed, ‘Sex is the only consolation you have when you can’t have love.’

The single mother, who works in publishing, and walked out on her husband with a young child, says she knows she needs to find a man who can support her. She had given herself a year to settle down, and was scouting online dating sites for potential matches. She wanted social mobility, and maybe love.

It is partly why she worked out at the gym with a vengeance for a size-zero figure. She says the trainer made the workouts fun… and then came other kinds of fun. He would call her, and text her, and she couldn’t resist the attention. At first, she demurred, but later, as she streaked her hair, got a new set of clothes, prepared to start dating again, she decided that there was no harm in a little fling.

But it all ended in a mess, she says. She had even visited other cities to meet men, most of whom were merely looking to bed her. They would even ask her if she was good in bed. She was bored, and tired. The beautiful man at the gym with his abs and charm, she figured, would do if she could convert him.

Then the fling too turned to heartbreak.

She knew he wasn’t only sleeping with her but with other bored housewives with their manicured nails, and polished skin, and money that helped him take care of his family in Himachal. Then he said he was going to get married but would continue sleeping with her. But by then she had grown bitter. She would see his photos with other women, and would wonder if they too were lonely like her. And if he’d promised them the moon, as well. The gigolo who spoke love, but meant business.

*****

[big-image title="ShutterStock" src="https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Delhi-gigolo.jpg" ]

"Peckham emphasized that this was work. The escort ‘would have to remain the perfect cavalier, attractive, entertaining, and ingratiating throughout an entire evening, even if he didn’t like the woman who had hired him’. In other words, his men would have to practice the same tiring arts of flattery and fakery that women had perfected over centuries of boring dates on the arms of wealthy men," writes Joanna Scutts in her article on the ‘Gentlemen for Rent’ in the New Yorker about Ted Peckham, the founder of Guide Escort Service in New York.

The 'tiring arts' are no less necessary in Delhi.

Over a series of emails, the  trainer who runs a website called Gigolo Training tries to explain the essence of a good male escort.

"Of course they need to have a high level of fitness too, they need to look good, they need to love women and enjoy pleasuring women. But the most challenging part of the training is to learn how to exude masculine energy. Not every man is accepted for the training. Few men pass muster," he says. "For instance, you have to be always extremely well groomed, down to the last detail, all the time. You have to dress, look, smell good and be in great shape all the time. You have to be projecting enthusiasm and a sunny persona all the time. These are challenging but in a good way."

It is a tough game, and survival means being responsive and resilient. He teaches men not to disengage. He tells them to read the signs.  "Many men have the tendency to lose interest in the woman as soon as they ejaculate. The earlier passionate man now abruptly disengages and wants to do something else. Either make a phone call or smoke a cigarette or watch TV or just put on his clothes and leave. It is this volte-face that women resent,’ he says.

"Well, I don’t do that. And I train my guys not to do that. I will feed her or hold her close or whisper sweet nothings or just look into her eyes and let her know that I valued the intimacy that just happened… Although a man can be trained do this, he cannot be trained to want to do this; that can only come from within. Either a man has it or he does not. This is one of the key characteristics I observe in a man before accepting him for training."

A gigolo is not just meat and muscle, or an expert in positions. He is also company.

‘Some of my clients are from the media and the business world. A few of them very well known,’ he claims, ‘I have been the sounding board for their product launches, I have tweaked their TV  commercial scripts, I have helped her choose brand names for her product lines, I have played devil's advocate to help her resolve dilemmas (personal and work-related), I have helped brainstorm her powerpoint presentations... all, while being wrapped around each other, naked. So yes, we invariably end up becoming good friends and do what good friends do.’

And unlike female prostitution, there is very little shame involved. According to a male model, it’s a way for him to make ends meet. With no men’s fashion weeks to earn them money, he says, they end up as gigolos, and strippers. “We get Rs 5,000 for a show. We have to maintain ourselves, and still earn a living,” he says, “We end up doing this, and it isn’t so bad.”

Gigolos are looked down upon a lot less. An older gigolo can still be hired because his appeal has less to do with his looks and more to do with his persona. For gigolos, the career pressure is different. They need to be present all the time, alive to their clients’ whims. ‘Physically, mentally, sexually present—100 per cent present. Sad but true,’ says the trainer.

****

The men who come to the trainer for coaching are regular guys with regular jobs. "I used to be a regular guy too, remember? If you meet them at a social event (the ones I have trained), they would look no different from the others, except perhaps more sexual," he says.

The trainer once was a biotech engineer by day, and a gigolo in the after hours. In his words: "I used to be an awkward and nerdy guy with poor social skills, and lonely weekends. I did not even have a girlfriend. But I was always fascinated by the idea of being a gigolo. The idea of getting laid while getting paid for it seemed a fascinating way to make a living (even though, at the time, it was just a fantasy)."

Until one day the fantasy came true.

"While travelling on a work-related assignment, my fellow passenger in the plane started making small talk, as usual. It so happened that I was particularly bored that day, and did not feel like indulging in small talk. So when he popped the inevitable question, 'What do you do?' I decided to have some fun. I calmly replied, 'I am a gigolo'," he writes in an email.

That’s how it began for him. The fellow passenger retreated into a stunned silence, and just as he was about to alight, the man came over to him and asked for his number. ‘It turned out that he wanted to hire me for his wife. After a few days she referred me to her friend, one thing led to another, and soon, my calendar was full with appointments,’ writes the trainer.

Gigolos who service rich middle-aged women can earn up to Rs 30,000 for a night. But they also come cheaper, as low as Rs 1,000. Those who become gigolos are mostly men who also want a good time besides money. But it isn’t easy. There are many men in the arena who are yet to find takers. They have advertised their best points. Some have even gone on to list their penis sizes on social forums in an act of desperation to find clients. But that doesn’t always work.

The gigolo trainer says not all men make good gigolos. "Most are seeking just a 'good time', they just want to get laid. While others come for the challenge of it. The former don’t make good gigolos because they are in it for just their own fleeting pleasure. The latter have more potential because they see it as a game and are willing to put in the time and effort to get skilled at the game. And as you know, mastery at anything happens only with sustained effort not by dabbling at it," he says.

*****

“Funny, you’re funny. I like that. A woman is meant to be looked at or else she'll just fade away. Let's see what you can do.”-- Selima in <i>FadingGigolo<i>

A male gigolo is the product of loneliness at one level, and the independence of women in cities. He fills the void, offering everything a lonely woman may desire—from a ‘boyfriend experience’ to sexual intimacy, the kind of sex that’s seen as deviant, or just company. There are those who are just looking to hold hands, and just talk.

Love can’t be bought, but company is another matter, and once these women have broken that first barrier, it’s easy to find men who will be at their disposal. So long as they pay, nothing will be refused.The gigolo trainer says that clients range from housewives, working professionals and the staff of foreign consulates to NRIs, tourists and college students, among others. They have to be above 18 years of age, he says.

Women can find men within their budget in several ways. There are websites that provide men for a fee. On Topix.com, there are too many men in the game. Their pitches are stereotypical, though. They aren’t selling tenderness but sex, and maybe a bit more. But online advertisers rarely find clients easily. As one woman says, she isn’t going to get just anybody home, but only someone through a referral. Nobody wants to waste time with novices, she says. Then, as one gigolo notes, there are those old ways, like dropping a red handkerchief, or carrying one at well-known locations outside a discotheque, or a club late in the night.

But of course, in the midst of desire, as with everything else in India, there's the matter of class. Gigolos from small towns are often mesmerised with the women they service, women who are empowered, and used to asserting themselves. They fall for them, and are sad to be treated as playthings, called only when needed, even passed around.

A filmmaker who was exploring the lives of gigolos in the city says the men range from models to personal trainers, or they’re just frustrated men on the lookout for sex. But there are class barriers. She recalls one male escort who had fallen in love with his 36-year-old client, and would keep her photo in his wallet, and would feel sad when she wouldn’t call him. Or call only when her husband wasn’t around, she says.

And of course, the women too fall victim to delusion. This happens all the time, says the Mumbai-based trainer. "Women falling in love with you and looking you up, finding your home address and couriering you gifts...or worse, showing up at your house with the gifts.

Creepy," he says.

In the shadows of desire, everyone seems to have taken the blue pill. Falling down the rabbit hole of loneliness has its price. As Lou Reed in Walk on the Wild Side, croons, ‘Little Joe never once gave it away / Everybody had to pay and pay.’

Updated Date: Aug 13, 2015 14:51:01 IST