ManServant Trying to Make “Porn For Women” Happen

sasha baron cohen thong bathing suitWhat do women want? A combination of service and adoration, according to the ladies behind the San Francisco start up that Julieanne “Boobs Radley” Smolinski describes as “Uber for good-looking men you can boss around.” And women are willing to pay for it, by the hour.

“It’s not a stripper who gets naked and rubs his greasy body all over you,” the site reassures or disappoints, depending on your idea of a good time. “It’s a ManServant: a gentleman who treats you like a queen. Book one for a bachelorette party or any gathering to be your personal photographer, bartender, bodyguard, and butler all in one.” … So if I have this straight (and I don’t know that I do), the idea is to provide a group of classy high-femme straight girls with a fully clothed, light-submissive Chippendale. A stripper who doesn’t strip. Khajah and Wai Lin both have advertising backgrounds, so some of the copy on their site is surprising in its schizophrenic, Manichean approach to female sexuality.

Beneath the repeated oath that women don’t want to leer at a man’s body or see his penis is the promise that you can pick the exact kind of man’s body that you won’t leering at: “Blonde to brunette, James Bond to Middle-Earth, if your type lives to serve, we’ve got him,” they promise. Well, great. I’ve always wanted to not fuck James Bond.

Guffaw. Seriously, though, it is kind of upsetting the degree to which we are commodifying all human relationships these days. Have money? Hire a sugar baby / ManServant! Want someone to be nice to you? Pay them! Is this the natural, though cynical, extension of a market economy? Or is it somehow empowering that people can exchange money for the fulfillment of fantasy?

Thorny theoretical questions aside, the whole endeavor is pretty much worth it for Julieanne’s commentary, which I encourage you to read in full. It deals skillfully with the layers here: the absurdity of the situation, her own privilege in being the person with the checkbook, and yet her Gentleman Companion’s privilege, still, in being the dude — one whom she retains the stereotypically female need to please.

ManServants are not cheap: They cost $125 an hour before assorted extra fees. The base rate does not include anything that you eat or drink, cover charges, or transportation. While they are paid handsomely (per the website, beginning at $80 an hour), you can’t buy your ManServant booze or snacks or really anything, which is both atypical of the traditional escort experience and deeply unsettling, even if you think of them as cater-waiters with a dash of boyfriend cosplay.

To pay someone to talk to you and compliment you quarter-hourly and provide you with company and not “take care of them” feels borderline negligent, like those high school football players who die of heat stroke because they’re not allowed to have water.

The bottom line is that I was very worried about making this guy pretending to be Theodore Roosevelt uncomfortable.

Perhaps the only clear takeaway is that if you’re an extroverted Bay Area-based guy, you might find that being a paid-by-the-hour Gentleman is a good way to cut down on your student loan debt. As long as you don’t mind coming up with a new compliment every 15 minutes.

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