first published in Glamour magazine
WHEN I meet Celine she is wearing a floor-length Marc Jacobs coat over Chloe jeans, a TSE Cashmere sweater and Jimmy Choo spike heels. She jokingly calls herself a "label whore." In reality she is also a whore in the more traditional sense of the word.
Celine, a 20 year-old Economics undergraduate at New York University (NYU) has never had a pimp and she never walks the streets (she takes cabs everywhere instead) – but she is a fully-fledged hooker. In between lectures at NYU she gets paid $300 an hour for sex with strangers who are old enough to be her father.
"I don’t see sex and love as being inextricably connected," says Celine, a tall, slim blonde with long legs and perfect skin. "I can make more cash on my back right now than I’ll maybe ever earn with a straight job," she admits, tossing back her sleek, shoulder-length blonde hair (kept sleek and straight with a $700 Japanese straightening process four times a year at Frederic Fekkai). "And it’s easy. Nobody keeps tabs on you, especially not in a big city college like NYU. Nobody is in your business at all."
A self-confessed shopaholic, Celine is simply not interested in making do on the $1500 a month allowance her parents send her. "That’s just rent and food money," she says with a shrug. "That just covers the basics. It doesn’t leave me with enough cash to actually go out and have fun."
Celine’s attitude is not unique. A new breed of university students in America are going on the game in order to live out their college years in style. These students-for-hire don’t have drug habits or money issues (they all come from comfortable middle-class homes) and they are not yearning to be rescued. They have sex for cash so that they can splurge on Prada shoes and meals at expensive restaurants.
Celine makes around $3,000 a week for having sex with four or five different men a night, three nights a week. She became a hooker a year ago. "I know it sounds corny, but living in New York is constant pressure to spend cash. Everybody is amazingly groomed and every shop you go into has like a million outfits that you are just desperate to own. I would go into Barneys Co-op and not be able to afford a single thing in the store. Not even like a hair-clip. My parents have always paid my living expenses but I couldn’t hit them up for designer stuff. I’d been fantasizing about becoming a hooker and making loads of cash for a while – but I didn’t think I’d ever have the nerve to actually do it."
One day last year Celine took a deep breath and called an escort agency she had seen advertised in the Manhattan Yellow Pages. "I was interviewed in an apartment in midtown by the guy who owns the agency. My hair was shorter back then and he suggested I grow it longer or get hair extensions – because men like something to grab hold of when you give them oral sex," she smirks.
"Then he asked me to undress, gave me a bottle of body lotion and asked me to massage him. He told me to treat him like I would treat a client so I did and we had sex in three different positions. It was totally gross, he was quite old and really fat. But afterward I felt like there was nothing left that I wouldn’t do. He called me with my first job that night.
"I don’t feel bad about the sex at all now. I tell my boyfriend that I’m in the library when I’m really seeing a client and I just get on with it and do what I have to do. Sometimes I get really turned on and have an orgasm but most of the time it’s a bit boring and just something I do to get what I want. "It’s a hell of a lot less demeaning than working as a waitress or something. And I always reward myself by getting a manicure and pedicure and going on a shopping spree at Bergdorf Goodman or Barney’s every Saturday afternoon."
Celine may make it sound glamorous but this is certainly not a job for the squeamish. Student call-girls have to have sex with men they find physically repulsive and endure clients who insist on urinating on them or ejaculating into their perfectly made-up faces.
"The things that shocked me when I started don’t shock me at all now," laughs Jenn, a statuesque blonde Aviation Management student at Toronto’s Georgian university, and a part-time prostitute. "I do most things – Greek (anal sex), Russian (where a client thrusts his penis between a girl’s breasts until he ejaculates all over her cleavage). The only thing I won’t do is sex without a condom."
Like Celine, Jenn became a hooker in order to indulge her passion for shopping – and she is unapologetic about the way she funds her glam lifestyle. "I actually enjoy the sex and I really get off on knowing a man is having to pay $250 an hour just to have sex with me," says Jenn, 22, as she strolls barefoot around her apartment in Toronto. "They really respect me."
A self-confessed shopaholic, Jenn has been a prostitute ever since she started university four years ago. "Toronto is very expensive," she says by way of explanation. "And doing this lets me actually concentrate on my studies. Money is not an issue, I can afford pretty much anything I want right now. That’s a pretty great feeling."
Jenn initially worked for an escort agency but went "freelance" once she had acquired a steady stream of regular clients. Now she advertises her services on the Internet and has sex with around twelve men each week. Last year she bedded more than 500 men and made $140,000.
Jenn’s boyfriend John stares at her adoringly as she checks her email for messages from potential clients. Her email monicker is "Ample Aphrodite". John, a 41-year-old caterer, met Jenn a few months ago when he paid her $250 for sex. The next time they had sex, Jenn didn’t charge and they’ve been together ever since. John, who lives in upstate New York pops over the Canadian border to spend weekends with Jenn and goes out to a local coffee shop while Jenn has sex with clients.
‘It doesn’t bother me at all," he says. "I’m an open-minded guy. She’s in control of her life."
Jenn’s face lights up as she starts to talks about her favourite pastime: shopping. "I’m the shopping queen," she squeals. "I buy a lot of clothes for my friends as well." In the past year Jenn has spent $30,000 on clothes, $3,000 on manicures and facials, and $3,000 on lingerie. She blows the rest of her earnings on rent (her Toronto apartment costs $3,000 per month) and going out clubbing. "I don’t save a lot of cash. I can’t put my earnings into the bank because they are illegal earnings so I’ll spend it straight away. Occasionally I’ll deposit a big wad of cash into the bank and pretend that I won the Bingo."
Prostitution among student call-girls is more about greed than desperation, according to Tracy Quan, a call-girl and author of the semi-autobiographical novel "Nancy Chan: The Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl".
"Most of the prostitutes I know are materialistic, very attractive girls who like to shop," she says. Tracy, a petite and pretty thirty-something with long glossy black hair, started having sex for cash while she was a student in Canada and loved it so much that she eventually dropped out of education to pursue prostitution full-time in New York.
"I enjoy the sex and the people I meet. I got a job in a Manhattan brothel when I was 19 and I was just thrilled to be working there," she says. "It was an upmarket place that looks like a regular apartment from the outside. The madam worked from her private book – she didn’t advertise, so it was very safe. Our clients were lawyers, Wall Street bankers, doctors and fashion designers. "Some of the more famous fashion designers would pay me for sex by bringing me a dress from their showroom."
After a couple of years at the brothel, Tracy stepped out on her own and built up her own clientele of regular clients, charging $500 an hour. "I look on it as a business although I’m no business genius," she confesses. "I’ve never banked any of it. I just spend it. I’m a bit irresponsible with cash."
Tracy hasn’t invested in property or stocks and shares. "I’m a bit irresponsible with cash," she says. But she has invested in her appearance; she is immaculately groomed and the closet in her upper east side apartment is packed with expensive clothes and accessories.
"I indulge in Wolford bodysuits and Bottega Venetta handbags," she says. "They look good with everything."
The publication of Tracy’s book may render her too notorious to continue as a hooker but she says she has no regrets and feels prostitution has afforded her a well-rounded life so far. "I never have to take public transport," she says. "I go to the theatre regularly and I eat out in great restaurants like Cipriani."
Later, I talk to Lisa, a recent Cornell graduate (English Literature) dressed in dark blue Earl Jeans and a Dolce & Gabbana coat. I meet Lisa at City Bakery, a trendy Manhattan café famed for it’s hot chocolate (and frequented by the Sex and the City cast). Lisa orders a salad and mineral water and confides that she is "basically a courtesan".
"I’ve always gone for rich, older boyfriends," says Lisa, a stunning 28 year-old New Yorker who looks like a shorter version of Naomi Campbell. Prostitution is the first job Lisa has ever had. Her father (an accountant from Connecticut) is so generous that she could afford to wear Chanel and Helmut Lang to her university lectures. However, when she moved to England to embark on a Master’s degree at Cambridge, Lisa decided it was time to stand on her own two feet.
She had sex for cash for the first time in London last year – with a wrinkly 67- year old entrepreneur she met at a cocktail party. "He took me to lunch the next day, asked me if I needed anything and when I mentioned a Calvin Klein dress I’d seen in Dickins & Jones, he bought it for me. I had sex with him that night at the Dorchester. During foreplay he asked me to lick his anus because it really turned him on. I was only able to do it by visualising the shopping trips I could have in the future if I kept on the right side of him."
A year later and back in New York, Lisa still sees her first client (who is married with children Lisa's age) when he flies into New York on business once a month. He writes her a cheque for 1,000 pounds each time they meet, showers her with gifts and pays the rent on her TriBeca apartment. Lisa sees her six "other boyfriends" (all married men in their 50s and 60s) more regularly; two or three times a month. She pretends to her parents and friends that she is a freelance publicist. "I don’t have a boyfriend though, that would just be impossible when a client is paying my rent," she says with a shrug. "It’s tricky leading a double life."
Besides being tricky, leading a double life is also emotionally corrosive, according to New York psychotherapist Dr Patricia Lyons. "Leading a double life could impair these girls’ future self-image and self-esteem. The fact that they are college graduates and potential college graduates makes them different from women who turn to prostitution because it is all they have available to them.
"If they go ahead and tell their boyfriends the truth about their pasts they will probably never secure that their partner really loves and respects them. And if they don’t tell, they’ll have to deal with the constant fear of being found out."
Although Jenn confessed that she was a hooker to her mother and younger sister years ago – she had kept her night job a secret from her friends at university until one day last year wen she was exposed during a computer class. "Some of the other students found my web-site in the middle of a packed classroom and started screaming and ridiculing me. It was soooo humiliating.
But Jenn remains undaunted. "I’m not sure when I’m going to give up being a call-girl," she says. "My clients really respect me, although they often seem surprised when they find that I can hold an intelligent conversation.
My intelligence always makes them ask me why I do this for a living. "I tell my clients that I do this for the same reason they work in merchant banks and in law firms – for the money. I could make $250 a week as a waitress or I can live it up on $2,500 for a few hours’ lying on my back. It’s a pretty easy choice."