The Girlfriend Experience (GFE) blurs the boundaries between a financial transaction and a romantic relationship. It ranges from a transactional sex relationship to a client paying an escort to pretend to be his girlfriend during the session. Hence, the Girlfriend Experience.
Within the sex industry, Girlfriend Experience is a common term for a sexual encounter in which both the independent escort and the client are willing to engage in reciprocal sexual pleasure and some degree of emotional intimacy. A “girlfriend experience” generally involves more personal interaction than a traditional call girl or prostitution arrangement. There is a focus on not just having sex, but also having more of a comprehensive experience.
more about the Girlfriend Experience
By Anna Davies
On a recent weekend evening, Jenna, a New Yoek escort based on the Lower East Side, happily crawled in between the soft, luxurious sheets of a hotel bed with her client.
But before having sex, the duo spent most of the evening cuddling and watching the “Star Wars” trilogy.
“He was a big movie buff, and his wife never watched movies with him,” says the 25-year-old.
He paid her $2,500 for the geeky encounter.
Informal interactions such as this are common for Jenna and other women-for-hire who specialize in “the girlfriend experience” — a service recently made popular by the sexy Starz series of the same name, which follows Christine Reade (Riley Keough) as a law student-turned-escort.
More than straight sex, the girlfriend experience is the ability to act like a well-heeled plus-one at an A-list event, recall important biographical information with repeat clients, stay the night and say good morning with a wake-up kiss. “The physical needs of a client are important, but equally important are his emotional and psychological needs,” says Ellena 26 year-old Chicago escort. “You’re there to treat the man like the most important person in the world.”
Before women become girlfriends-for-hire, most dip their toes into the sex industry in other ways. Jenna, who recently relocated to Los Angeles, began as a cam girl charging people to watch her perform solo sex acts online. “I’d get offers to sell my panties for $200 a pair.”
In her 30s, Jess Brighton moved from the Midwest to Washington, DC to become an escort. After losing her job in finance, she reached out to a few agencies. She found several online and made her pick after cross-referencing on the Erotic Review.
“Instantly, I got profitable out-calls, sometimes as many as 10 a day. I didn’t have any say in which men I’d see or how much time I’d spend with them,” recalls Brighton, who quit the business in 2014 to launch a career as a relationship expert. “My life included no friends or social life. Not possible.”
Brighton would earn a few hundred dollars from each encounter. But more than a quarter of that would go right back to the agency. At the time, the majority of her requests were for run-of-the-mill sexual favors, such as blowjobs and girl-on-top sex. Brighton says she preferred the Girlfriend Experience more because it gave her a chance to get to know her clients.
But, for many, specializing in the girlfriend experience is a sweet spot that lends itself to more cash, as escorts are paid for an entire evening, not just an hour in the sheets. The sex is mostly vanilla; if a client has a kinky request, the escort directs them to a fetish expert more able to address their needs.
Once she switched to exclusively being a girlfriend-for-hire, Brighton was making up to $20,000 per month from two or three clients.
But many escorts say that where “The Girlfriend Experience” on TV gets it wrong is the amount of sex these women actually have with their clients. In reality, it’s just a small part of their duties.
“Clients really enjoyed bringing me out on the town,” Brighton says. She would often accompany them to important business dinners or events, being introduced as a new associate. “I’d worked for nearly a decade in the financial service industry, and they loved that. They wanted me to actually contribute to conversations with their colleagues and not only be arm candy.”
In addition to her “Star Wars”-obsessed client, Jenna also spent an evening with a high-rolling real estate lawyer in his hotel penthouse suite — to play a drunken game of hide-and-seek.
“I had a lot of fun with these guys,” Jenna recalls. “Yes, I was paid and, yes, more often than not we would end up having sex. But I worked pretty hard to vet clients and didn’t really have any creepy experiences.”
Adrienne, a Dallas escort, agrees that giving a satisfactory experience goes beyond the bedroom. As an independent contractor with a Dallas escort agency says men often book her for a week at a time. When hired, she’s expected to be by her client’s side 24/7. They often take her on fabulous vacations or exciting national sporting events, like the Super Bowl.
“I have some clients who have been seeing me for years,” says Adrienne. “They like that I listen to them without judgment. Some of my clients are widowers, and they just want to feel like someone is taking care of them.”
There are also material perks beyond the hourly rate.
Brighton was once preparing for a “Fifty Shades of Grey”-esque sexual romp. After being blindfolded by a client, she was secretly whisked off to his private jet. Then, flown to Paris for her birthday.
“It was incredibly romantic, and I loved every moment,” recalls Brighton. She unfortunately couldn’t tell anyone about the date of a lifetime. “I think that’s the hardest thing — you have this connection, but you’re essentially being paid to only exist [to these men] when they want you. The rest of the time, you’re supposed to disappear.”
Of course, not every client is a catch. If a guy didn’t strike Brighton’s fancy, he had bad hygiene or couldn’t hold a conversation, she’d make an excuse not to see him again, or simply ignore his calls. “That’s not an option if you work for an agency,” she notes.
Marcia is a Brooklyn-based songwriter in her 30s who wouldn’t disclose her last name for professional reasons. She has had plenty of dates whom she considers awkward or shy. She charges $500 on WhatsYourPrice.com. to men desperate for companionship over drinks, nothing else. It was considered part of her job to relate to these men and bring them out of their shells.
But no matter what the guy was like, Brighton says the money made it worth it. “You’d better believe I set up and contributed to a 401(k) each month with my cash.”
Adrienne agrees that the escorts she knows have an end goal in sight. “I sock away a good amount of cash each month. It’s my goal to use that money to open a dance studio for kids in my hometown,” Adrienne says. And while it may not be a long-term career, she doesn’t feel stigma about her chosen profession.
When Brighton quit the industry, she says it was all thanks to her clients. “They were men at the top of their fields in politics, law, business. They gave me a ton of free business advice. Even today, they’ll see what I’m doing in my relationship coaching job. They call me up to tell me how they were always my biggest fans; they’re so proud of me.”
Marcia agrees that the relationship is mutually beneficial. “Clients have also given me tickets to concerts. They would introduce me to key contacts in my industry.” she says; adding that these favors do not mean she lowers her rate.
“A lot of men just want to have a drink with a beautiful woman,” she says. “It’s a myth that the only thing they’re looking for is sex.”
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