"When you are starving and want a quick bite, you go to McDonald's or a diner. When you want an upscale dining experience, you go to an expensive restaurant. That's a great way to look at the difference between regular and high-class escorts," Marike van der Velden tells me.
Marike founded Society Service—now the number-one high-class escort agency in the Netherlands—when she was only 21 years old. Men who want to spend the night with one of Marike's employees drop a minimum of 1,150 euros. That fee gets them more than just sex: The women will actually get to know their clients before they take them to bed. They are skilled at creating a certain mood, which is elevated by going out to dinner first—and those dinners have an entire etiquette of their own.
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Marike tells me that etiquette works both ways: "We tell the client how he should behave, but we also teach our escorts how they should conduct themselves during a night out with a client."
The first step is finding a match. The client tells the agency what he's looking for and Marike chooses a suitable woman from her roster. "There are guys who hire an escort purely for companionship, or because they enjoy fine dining and don't have a partner to take to expensive restaurants. Others need a date for a business dinner, to impress the people they work with." Sometimes the women are asked to play the girlfriend, or the co-worker, and every once in a while they function as interpreter. "I have 45 ladies working for me and they're not just pretty faces—they're very intelligent. One of them speaks five languages, for example, and often gets hired for that very reason."
Once the match is made, a location has to be determined. "For 50 percent of all dates, the client picks the restaurant after we offer some suggestions. Other times, I will make a choice based on both the client's and the lady's preferences," says Marike. Reservations are never made under the name of Society Service, and not all restaurants need to be upscale. If a small Mexican joint is the most romantic place a client can imagine, the date will happen there.
Etiquette prohibits kissing in the restaurant, and the same goes for other kinds of physical contact (that includes Fifty Shades of Grey-type stuff under the table), but a kiss on the cheek or hand is allowed.
There is a three-month period between the job interview and the first date an escort goes on. In that time, they are trained through rehearsal dinners and entire days of studying etiquette. They learn the basics: how to hold a glass of wine or Champagne, how to make a toast, how to use a napkin and different kinds of cutlery, the proper way to sit, who walks through a door first and who sits down at the table first. "It's not about knowing the exact way to extract an escargot from its tiny shell without making a mess, and they don't have to be intimately familiar with a shrimp fork, but the escort always has to be able to follow the client's lead. If he behaves according to official etiquette, she needs to do that, too."
The most important quality of a high-class escort, aside from being beautiful and smart, is knowing how to improvise. Every man comes with his own set of expectations, habits, and behaviors. That means every date has its challenges, and the woman has to know how to work with them. The training teaches the women all kinds of tricks and rules to get through a meal with a customer.
Marike filled us in on some of the details:
Challenge 1: Finding the Date The client and the escort never meet at the restaurant; instead, they get together at the client's hotel or home. If the escort doesn't recognize the client upon entering the restaurant, it can cause an embarrassing situation.
Challenge 2: Keeping Identities Hidden Discretion is very important. Neither the escort nor the client want anyone else to know what is actually going on. Both the staff at the restaurant and the other patrons often see that something's off when a gorgeous, younger woman is dining with an older man. Still, it's the escort's job to make everyone believe that this is just a regular date.
Etiquette prohibits kissing in the restaurant, and the same goes for other kinds of physical contact (that includes Fifty Shades of Grey-type stuff under the table), but a kiss on the cheek or hand is allowed. Furthermore, the escort is welcome to stand out from the crowd because she's the most beautiful woman in the room, not because she's the one showing the most skin. She'll dress in clothes that don't reveal too much. If the client wants to see her in a tight, short dress, she'll have it in her purse so she can change into it later, when they get to the client's hotel room.
When a friend or acquaintance of the escort happens to be at the restaurant, the client doesn't say a word. After all, he doesn't even know the woman's real name. She'll make up an excuse, for instance about catching up with one of her father's old friends, and he'll play along. The same rules apply when the client runs into someone he knows.
The waiter is an important step in the quest for secrecy. He has to remain discreet at all times. If the escort shows up at the restaurant the following week with a different client, she doesn't want him to greet her like she's an old friend. She would rather he pretend she's never been there before. That's why escorts always encourage their clients to leave a tip of at least ten percent, which is considered high in this part of Europe. This way, the waiter is happy, which means the escort is safe because he'll keep her secret.
Challenge 3: Alcohol Official etiquette holds that alcohol is the enemy.
Society Service tells clients up front that they are expected to not get drunk. Beer breath and a limp penis aren't very attractive, and it's important that both parties are having a good time. Sometimes the client will overdo it and drink too much, in which case the escort will excuse herself to go to the bathroom. Instead of using the facilities, she'll find a way to speak to the waiter and request more water and less wine. Usually, the waiter will get the hint.
A high-class escort isn't supposed to drink more than she would if she were to drive herself home. It's important that she's elegant throughout the night and respects her own boundaries.
If he eats his pizza with his hands, she'll quickly put down her knife and fork. If he uses his small dessert knife to dissect a fish, she'll do the same.
Challenge 4: The Client's Odd Table Manners This is where the escort will use a skill most of us learn in high school: copying someone else's work. The client should never feel like he is doing something wrong. If he eats his pizza with his hands, she'll quickly put down her knife and fork. If he uses his small dessert knife to dissect a fish, she'll do the same.
This gets complicated when men of different nationalities enter the picture. When sitting across from an Arab, the woman will never cross her legs, because showing the bottom of one's feet is considered impolite. When a Chinese man burps while looking her straight in the eye, she can't let him know that Dutch people find this incredibly rude. If the way an American man cuts his food up into tiny little pieces before eating the baby bites with just his fork bothers her, she doesn't show it. Even if he is rude to the waiter, or drenches his food in half a gallon of ketchup, she doesn't give him a look of disapproval and swallows her chuckles or disgust.
Challenge 5: Staying in Shape Going out to dinner every other night isn't the best way to stay fit. Because a lean and healthy body is the escort's most important tool, she'll be sure not to overeat by telling the client before the meal that she's lactose intolerant. Saying you're on a diet isn't very sexy, and by blaming the lactose, she avoids heavy cream, cheese, and ice cream. Most dishes turn into diet versions of themselves when you omit ingredients with lactose.
Challenge 6: Keeping the Body Ready for Sex A high-class escort never forgets she has to be just as attractive after the meal as she was before. This informs what she orders. She'll never get a dish with a lot of garlic, unless the client suggests it. After dinner, she orders tea instead of coffee, because the taste of coffee can be quite intense during kissing. Aside from that, she's free to order what she wants. Escorts usually don't smoke for the reasons mentioned above, unless the client also smokes.
In the world of high-class escorts, even using the bathroom comes with its own set of rules.
Challenge 7: Playing the Game The most important task of the escort is to make sure the client feels comfortable. She laughs out loud when he tells a boring joke and doesn't correct him if he is under the impression that R. Kelly is the president of the United States. If he spends an hour talking about the stock exchange or tells endless tales about his grandfather's vegetable garden, she pretends to be interested. A real escort will act her way through the meal.
That doesn't mean she always has to lie. If, for instance, she doesn't like the food, she is free to mention that in a respectful way. Saying that "something is gross" isn't allowed. Etiquette class teaches the women to focus on the positive instead of the negative: "I'm going to eat a bit more of this, it's so good."
Challange 8: Use of the Facilities In the world of high-class escorts, even using the bathroom comes with its own set of rules. A woman won't pee too often and only goes between courses. To maintain the myth that women don't have a butthole intact, she only goes number-two before leaving the restaurant. Nothing spoils the mood like a hotel bathroom that smells like shit, especially if the client decides he wants to take a bath with her.
Challenge 9: Choosing the Right Wine Etiquette courses don't teach women the difference between a Château Palmer red and a Château La Croizille Saint-Emilion. If an escort doesn't know enough about wine to order for herself, she'll drink something else, or ask the waiter for a recommendation. Pretending to know about wines won't end well if the client turns out to be a connoisseur.
If the client chooses three different wines of varying prices, she will leave the final decision up to him. Bottles of wine can run up to 500 euros in expensive restaurants and if she requests something he wasn't planning on ordering, she doesn't leave a good impression. It's better not to take that risk.
Challenge 10: Resisting Temptations While on the date, the escort only has eyes for her client. She doesn't use her mobile phone and won't flirt with other men. That sounds simple, but outside of her work, the escort does have her own social life, activities, and preferences. If a handsome man tries to get her attention while she's at a company party with a client, she's not allowed to engage.
A high-class escort will also contribute more to the meal than just her looks. She's at work and her job requires a certain set of skills, just like any other. "Etiquette helps, but the ability to act and improvise will determine if a woman is cut out to be a high-class escort. And those aren't things you can really teach," says Marike.
For a more elaborate look behind-the-scenes of Society Service, the strict rules Marike follows when selecting her girls, and interviews with both clients and escorts, check out Marike's book Escort Bible (in Dutch), published by Uitgeverij Komma.
This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES NL.