Jason Itzler, a New York City hustler, came to an eye-opening realization: Men who pay for sex feel worse afterwards instead of better.
What men want from an “escort,” he realized, was an experience like the real thing. So he marketed a “facsimile of love” through his “escort service,” NY Confidential. By taking a “quick vacation,” he promised, the guys would “make an investment in the future”; they would get their money back in productivity in just an hour once they got back to their desks. His business card bragged that his product was “rocket fuel for winners.”
In his New York magazine article, Mark Jacobson describes Jason often, in Jason’s own endless stream of words and the reasons behind his extraordinary success, including his manic behavior when he was pocketing as much as $25,000 per night as the owner of what he claimed was the “world’s greatest escort agency,” and finally his spectacular failure.
Sometimes, even in tawdriness, there are elements of truth.
After being imprisoned and reflecting on his trajectory as the self-styled “King of All Pimps,” Jason’s self-centered ramblings were quite revealing.
Before starting NY Confidential, Jason claims to have had an epiphany about what men really want in sex: “the girlfriend experience” what he calls the GFE.
What is his GFE?
Jason instructed his escorts to repeat a mantra three times before entering a room to meet a client. They were told to imagine themselves in love with the guy and say three times: “This is my boyfriend of six months, the man I love, I haven’t seen him for three weeks.”
This mantra is the magic formula, says Jason. And the ratings would seem to back him up. His top “girl” got $2,000 per hour with a two-hour minimum. At one time, the girl, Natalia, got seventeen straight ratings of 10 (an experience described as “once-in-a-lifetime”).
Jason, who is bipolar and has had multiple bankruptcies from previous schemes, admits that such ratings were inevitable because once a guy pays big money, he doesn’t want to admit that he got less than he paid for. Guys, he says, “are brainwashed that way.” Others say that the ratings guy was paid a hefty bribe every month to ensure top ratings. Still others reveal that Jason pre-interviewed clients in a manner calculated to make them think they had to prove they were good enough to be a client for NY Confidential.
And, some of his clients now complain that Jason strong-armed them into using his words to describe their experience. He bragged that NY Confidential offered “the single greatest experience ever, a Kodak moment to treasure the rest of their lives.”
Except that what Jason sold was a facsimile. The guys were looking for “love”; they got diamonique a glossy substitute, but a fake nevertheless.
But those who are looking for the real thing could learn some lessons from Jason.
For any lie to succeed it has to be based upon an element of truth; complete falsehoods don’t pass muster. So, Jason hit on something that would obscure the glittering emptiness of what he was selling; his epiphany, “the girlfriend experience,” was born.
Jason described the “girlfriend experience”: It’s about getting the guys to a place where they “used to be free” and where they can feel “comfortable.” In other words, his girls had to convince the guys that it is “all-about-you.”
Obviously, Jason’s GFE concept is inherently flawed, exploitative and riddled with contradictions. Intimacy is not a performance. True intimacy cannot be faked, nor can it be bought. The potential of sexual intercourse cannot be realized when a price is involved. For its value to hold, the gift of one’s self must be given voluntarily and received as an irreplaceable, priceless treasure. The givers must be equally vulnerable and the intimacy must be mutual. And, one of the basic results of sexual intimacy a powerful bonding that gives joy and meaning to the experience is short-circuited without commitment.
Apparently, Jason finally “got” that. From his prison cell he offered an astounding bit of accidental insight. The problem with NY Confidential, Jason said, is that it didn’t go far enough. If you really want the girlfriend experience, he now believes, “You can’t stop with a couple of hours. It has to be a lifetime commitment.”
Sometimes, in the middle of artificiality, there is a sliver of “real” and truth comes through.
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., is senior fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.